Podcast - Ep. 7: The Burney Sisters Interview
The music industry has produced no shortage of teen and tween artists. Record companies have a long history of manufacturing boy bands and girl groups; hit-makers have written catchy songs for young artists in an attempt to appeal to a youth-centered audience.
But there's something categorically different about The Burney Sisters. Olivia Burney, who is 13-years-old, and Emma Burney, who is 11, have become show-me-state musical fixtures, appealing to a wide age range. The duo's "blood harmonies," as Olivia describes them, and stunning catalog of songs compare more to The Avett Brothers than The Jonas Brothers.
The sisters were given their first chance to record when they accompanied Rocket Kirchner, who is also from Columbia, Mo., on his album.
"It definitely gave us a taste of how the music industry worked," Olivia recalled before their recent Ready Room show.
"That was a really cool experience, getting to see that for the first time," Emma said.
He noticed their impressive harmonies. Olivia said being related to Emma is the reason their vocals are so tight.
"It's easier for us to pick up on each other's different tones of voice and everything. I think it's easier to harmonize that way."
Eventually, the duo would set out on their own. With the guidance of manager (and mom) April Burney, the duo released the single "Constellations" and the EP "Running Away" in 2017.
Following the first entries into their catalog, the sisters were chosen to perform at LouFest this past year. Despite the event being canceled, Olivia is still glad about being selected.
"I was so excited to play at LouFest," she said. "It was just such an honor to be among all those amazing artists."
The cancellation did not slow them down. The same month, The Burney Sisters released "Where We Stand" on Sept. 28. The three-song EP proves their talents go far beyond their years. And listeners can expect new music relatively soon, as the duo is working on a new album.
However, they have been underestimated by some, because of their ages.
"There were these two guys, who were going up to sit at the restaurant we were playing in front of," Olivia said. "He was like 'Oh, no, these screeching kids,' like, before we were singing."
But the skepticism was quickly replaced with amazement once the duo started playing.
"They tipped us super well," she said. "That was kind of a good feeling to show them we weren't what they thought we would be."
"I love to perform in front of [people] and show them that's not the case," Emma said.
But despite their unique musical talents (which include Olivia's superb songwriting), they are not unlike any other pair of siblings their age, quarrels and all.
"When we're actually really mad at each other, and she doesn't like some songs, and I don't like some songs, we'll announce [to the audience] the song we want to play, even if the other one doesn't. And there's no going back," Emma said.
But it's nothing on the level of sibling feuds like Liam and Noel Gallagher's with Oasis, of course. Instead, the two appear to be enjoying the journey together. And Mo. music fans appear grateful to have front-row seats to Olivia and Emma's promising careers.