Discuss your existence.
We are sisters who were first inspired to sing and perform during our childhood when we LOVED and continually sang and performed together. Our mom, an accomplished opera singer, her brother a doctor of music, our aunt another doctor of music, and cousins are all either musicians, singers or dancers. It is in our blood. Diana, a classically trained musician (a College of Wooster Grad with a Degree in Music & Vocal Performance) played the piano and accompanied Elissa’s many instrumental, vocal and dance solos. We both studied piano under the late, great concert pianist Marianne Mastics. Our childhood living room was our very first stage as we amused ourselves for hours performing along with recordings and television variety shows. Little did we know that through the years, and summers performing at The Cleveland Playhouse, Oberlin College Summer Opera Theatre (Elissa was accepted at the age of 9, and Diana accepted as a teen), and Cleveland Institute of Music opera productions, we’d develop our own unique interpretive style.
As life would have it, and the years passed, we never thought we would be performing professionally. However, about 6 years ago, we sang 3 songs at a wedding, including “The Prayer”. When we sang our last note, the entire congregation stopped the wedding ceremony by standing up and giving us a standing ovation! After the ceremony, countless people came up to us and asked where they could purchase our CD. Now, we were quite surprised (deer in headlights) at that request, since we thought of ourselves as simply sisters singing at a wedding. That’s when we realized and said to ourselves, “I guess people like us! And maybe we should pursue our singing further!” And as luck would have it, Elissa’s friend’s husband, Pablo “Chino” Nunez, (JanMar Productions, Inc.) happened to be a Grammy Award Winning music producer, musician and arranger. When he heard that we sang, he wanted to hear us for himself. After listening to our rendition of The Prayer on-line (which is rarely sung by 2 women), he asked us to come down to his recording studio in West Palm Beach. He wanted to meet us and hear us live, because little did we know he was interested in producing our debut album. So we hopped on a plane and flew down to audition for him. We stood in front of him (about 4 feet away) in his office from 10 in the morning until about 4 in the afternoon singing practically every song we knew. He just sat in his chair and listened, and kept telling to “sing another one!” When we sang “The Prayer”, he had tears in his eyes. He was blown away. He said our harmonies (since we are siblings) are unbelievably tight, and we sound like the same person. He could not tell who was singing which part! He was so inspired, that he wrote an arrangement of “The Prayer” just for us to record on our album.
He signed us to a record deal on the spot, but the catch was…we would have to write 5 original songs for our album. Needless to say, the thought was a little daunting, but very exciting! So, on the plane while flying back home to Cleveland, we wrote the lyrics to “Daddy Hold My Hand”, the first track on our Album (Embrace Abrazo Abbraccio). (The album title is the word Embrace in English, Spanish and Italian). “Daddy Hold My Hand” (video: YouTube) is about our father who passed away at a young age. Dad was our biggest fan, so he was a huge inspiration. Our first public performance had our audience in tears by the time we got to the refrain. What a feeling!
After we wrote “Daddy Hold My Hand”, the flood gates opened! We couldn’t stop writing, and Christmas Garland (“Merry Christmas” in 6 languages with 2 simultaneous melodies) was the love child of Diana. Elissa thought, “What a great idea!” The languages wrap around the world, just as garland wraps around a Christmas tree. Then, we decided to produce a music video, and Elissa added, “We should wear the clothes native to the countries we represent in the song: United States, Italy, Spain, Germany, Serbia and France!” So, you will see, the video is fun and somewhat goofy, which is us being us. We have always been goofy sisters “acting” and joking around…and that is what you will see in the video: YouTube