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Sisters by Choice bringing 1940s classics to Village Fair stage

By Staff | Jul 31, 2015

Sisters by Choice (left to right) Terri Aldrich, Jan Veikley and Pam Hopkins will take the stage during the 30th annual Village Fair at the Prairie Village Museum.

The Andrews Sisters were already a hot ticket when they hit the road to entertain troops during World War II. With their close-harmony, swing and boogie-woogie tunes, the Andrews Sister brought service men and women around the globe welcome sounds from home.

On Sunday, Aug. 9, Sisters by Choice will give audiences at Prairie Village Museum’s Village Fair a glimpse into what it might have been like to attend one of those USO shows.

Terri Aldrich, Pam Hopkins and Jan Veikley will perform signature Andrews Sisters songs, “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” and other hits from the 1930s and 40s, including “Lullaby of Broadway” and “Don’t Fence Me In.”

Taking the stage in period uniforms, Sisters by Choice convey the look and feel of a USO show with patter, advertising jingles, military tributes and choreography. Just as Bing Crosby did with the Andrews Sisters in the late 1940s, crooner Don Caldwell will lend his voice to Sisters by Choice on “Don’t Fence Me In” and “Accentuate the Positive.”

“It [1940s classics] might not be first thing people choose to listen to today,” Aldrich says, “but across the board people enjoy it. Good music is good music.”

How it began

Sisters by Choice was born in 2004 at a Minot Area Council of the Arts meeting. The council was desperate to fill the last date in Minot’s Oak Park free summer concert series. Aldrich, who serves as executive director of the council, was at the meeting along with Hopkins and Amy Martin.

“Someone on the executive board said, ‘You three ladies sing. Why not try to put something together?'” Hopkins recalls. “So in the middle of the meeting we sang ‘Amazing Grace’ in three-part harmony. It was great.” So the trio started looking for songs to sing.

“What we kept coming up with,” Aldrich says, “was 1940’s style stuff that we all loved. All of it seemed to be music performed by sisters, like the Andrews Sisters and the McGuire Sisters.” A theme emerged and things started to fall into place. Martin, who has since moved to Bismarck, sewed the first costumes.

“We weren’t sisters,” Aldrich says, “but we decided we could be Sisters by Choice.”

Since then, Sisters by Choice has performed in numerous venues, from concert stages to nursing homes. They’ve been backed by big bands, pianists and recorded soundtracks, which they’ll be doing at the Village Fair.

Crooner and the new gal

True to a real 1940s USO show, the Sisters by Choice act includes a crooner.

“Crooning simply means to sing softly,” says Caldwell, “and the invention of the microphone made crooning possible.” Without amplification, singers had to sing loud enough to be heard over accompanying bands and orchestras. But give a mike to a guy like Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra or Perry Como and he could croon.

A huge fan of Sinatra (No. 1) and Crosby (No. 2), Caldwell’s solos in the Rugby show will be the 1940’s hit “Fools Rush In” and big-band favorite circa 1943 “I Had the Craziest Dream.”

“We have a lot of fun with the music,” says newest “sister” Jan Veikley. “It’s fun singing close harmony like that. And it’s a high-energy show. I think people of all ages will love it.”

Also on stage

Rounding out the stage entertainment at the Village Fair on August 9 will be old-time musicians the Dakota Playboys, of New Rockford, and folk-contemporary trio Micah Scott and the Tremors, of Rugby.

The fair starts at 8:30 a.m. The first group to take the stage will be the Tremors at 11:30 a.m. Music will continue until the gates close at 5 p.m. Each group performs twice.

More information and a complete fair schedule can be found at www.prairievillagemuseum.com.

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