By Naomi Klouda
An unusual musical friendship started on Valentines Day 25 years ago. Two young female singer-songwriters performed on pizza nights at the Fresh Sourdough Express and such events as helping raise funds for the Tony Knowles for Governor campaign.
Sunrise Kilcher-Sjoeberg and Sharon Friesen-Schulz started in 1987 performing together, finding a unique match in their ability to create a certain sound and songs together. It’s a musical collaboration that aged with refinement through the years, so that today there’s an uncanny ability to finish each other’s music. But their performance gigs in public grew less and less after Schulz married, had children and took on full-time work as the speech and language pathologist at Paul Banks Elementary.
Concert goers will have a rare chance to see the two perform 7 p.m. Friday at the Homer Council on the Arts. Billed as a gallery concert with Sunrise and friends, or, as the band is called “Relatively Famous,” the two will be backed up by Marjolein Cardon on bass, Lindianne Sarno on violin and Tim Quinn playing banjo and ukulele.
“This is huge departure for us, to sing with the backup band on instruments,” Sunrise said. “It’s also the first time Sharon and I will present a body of original work.”
The two singer-songwriters compose music together, sometimes writing pieces down and other times improvising. “We have a natural collaboration. We just naturally hear what is there in one another’s work,” Schulz said.
Schulz has reminded Sunrise through the years to write her music down. Sunrise’s tendency is to compose songs, sing it through and depend on her memory. “She realized I was composing in my head and so she brought me a book. This started helping me to compile my music before there were computers,” Sunrise recalled.
Though Schulz was busy juggling other obligations, music was always important to her. She was born in Austin, Texas and grew up as the only child in a musical family. Her mother Rosemary Burke Belvin, is a country-folk-pop singer-songwriters.
Many times, however, she had to turn Sunrise down as performance opportunities came up.
“Sunrise would still call me. She kept calling me and inviting me to join her and perform. I appreciate that she never gave up on me,” she said.
Although no other musician that either of them worked with through the years seemed as close a match as one another, there was a long break between performances for Sunrise and Schulz until more recently. Schulz’s daughter Ayla graduates from Homer High this year. Son Luka is now 13.
Sunrise and Friends’ concert on Friday will feature original songs developed across the decades by the two musicians. The theme tends to be even more current today than it was back then: being earth aware. Teamed with Cardon, Sarno and Quinn, their music is said to “provide a rich tapestry that brings a new level and fullness to their music.” Sunrise and Schulz will accompany each other and play guitar or various percussive instruments.
The name of the group “Relatively Famous” was coined as a humorous play on words, since most all the members are related to someone who made it big. Sunrise is singer Jewel Kilcher’s aunt. Schulz has a cousin who produced the music for President Obama’s inauguration. Sarno is daughter of the physician Dr. John Sarno who is an expert on back pain for national television, and an author. Carden’s nephew is a famous cartoonist.
But for now, the spotlight is on Sharon and Sunrise as they celebrate the opportunities to come to build on their unique harmonies. Together again, they are looking forward to a 2012 CD adventure, the Seldovia Solstice Music Festival and “as much singing as life allows,” they wrote on the promotion for the Friday event.
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