Whether it’s in music or in life, there is nothing more important than harmony.
There is a peacefulness when something is in harmony, a completeness that only comes when separate forces are allowed to work together for one goal and one purpose.
When two or more things are in harmony, the sum of their effort is always greater than the individual parts. It’s a lesson that sisters and musicians Meriah Gammage, 21, and Tessa Fulton, 19, have taken to heart.
“We can both sing just as well individually. But when it’s together and you can make the harmonies, the harmony for me, awwww man, you see, that’s where it’s at for me. For me, when I perform, it’s for that feeling,” Gammage said. “Just the chord it strikes within me, that’s what makes me sing.”
The two sisters have been playing together since high school at open mic nights, and more recently at weddings around Gillette. They’ve received high praise and encouragement from those who have seen them play and heard them harmonize.
“I think we were encouraged because once we finally decided to actually come out and perform, just the response we got was really good,” Gammage said. “It’s one thing when your family and friends are all telling you, ‘oh, it’s fantastic, it’s fantastic.’ Once you get out in public and you see that response. ...”
“From complete strangers, too,” Fulton interrupted. “It takes it to a new level.”
“It motivates you,” Gammage said.
Finding harmony in life
Sitting in front of the home they grew up in after their family moved to Wyoming from southern California when they were little, the two are at ease. Gammage, her husband, her parents and her older sister’s family are working to turn the serene 40 acres into a self-sustaining farm.
“Our goal is to remove ourselves from a system that, at this point, we feel is corrupt and misled and not working,” Gammage said. “It’s not a situation I want for my daughter. I guess, in essence, we’re doing it for her.”
When the two talk about modern society, they speak of a lack of harmony. And nowhere, for them, is that lack of harmony more evident than on the radio.
“I don’t listen to the radio here. The musicians that they play, in my mind, are jokes. The feeling behind it isn’t there. They’re doing it for the wrong reasons,” Gammage said. “They’re doing it for money. And they’re singing about things that I don’t want my daughter listening to. They make me uncomfortable listening to them with my mother.”
The pair talk of music that’s obsessed with money and sex, music that denigrates both men and women. It is music that hurts the soul.
“Things sink into our brains even without our knowing. We’re constantly being influenced by music with a negative message or values we don’t want the next generation to have,” Fulton said.
“I think its just time for a change, no matter what genre you prefer,” Gammage said. “It’s time for everyone to have the same message of love and compassion. That’s just really important to me.”
It’s a message the two are trying to deliver with their music.
Finding harmony in music
As the sisters tune their guitars, the conversation flows between them without pause or breaks.
It’s not that the two talk a blue streak. It’s just that they are so familiar with each other and understand each other, that they know what the other wants to say before she speaks. One finishes the other’s thoughts when they’re stuck trying to find the right word.
That harmony is on full display when they start strumming their guitars. A few words are exchanged about which song they want to play and that’s it. The music starts and the sisters are one.
Their voices blend perfectly. When they play, they play as one. Each stop and pause is in synch.
“I know what she’s going to do. I know when she’s going to get louder, I know when she’s going to get quieter,” Gammage said. “Not because that’s the way we practiced it, but because I know her.”
“It took a long time,” said Fulton. “But now it’s second nature.”
Even though they sing as one, they retain their individuality. Gammage, the mother of a 2-year-old girl, has a soothing quality to her voice. Fulton has more of a raw power behind her singing, something Gammage said reflects her personality.
They play with no other purpose than to make something beautiful and joyful. When asked what their musical dreams consist of, the response is just as modest as their music: to get a song played once on Sirius Satellite Radio’s coffeehouse channel.
“It’s not about fame or getting any kind of recognition for it. For me, it’s about helping somebody with my music the way I’ve been helped with other people’s music,” Fulton said. “I know that, even from hearing one song that really speaks to me, that’s enough. I want to be that for somebody. Doesn’t matter if it’s one time or a thousand times, it would be the same satisfaction to me, to speak to someone the way I’ve been spoken to.”
They’ve laughed when some have suggested they try out for American Idol. They’ve turned down several offers of rides to the auditions from friends and fans.
“That is not what we want to do. We don’t want to make a name for ourselves off a TV show,” Fulton said. “For me, my dream with music is to be able to touch an audience that really needs something to grab onto, something that helps them escape. Because when I’m singing, it’s an escape from everything.”
Platinum records and screaming fans have no appeal. Gammage said she’d rather know her music helped influence someone or helped get someone through a rough place in their life.
“For me, my music is to bring those people in, to find a common thing together,” Gammage said.