The sister bond: Musical siblings create Joseph trio
The musical trio Joseph brings their born-to-sing-together harmonies, rousing rhythms and a guitar to The State Theatre, State College, Sept. 19.
The three Closner sisters are touring âstripped downã this summer, said oldest sister Natalie, 31, in a telephone interview. âWe are enjoying these shows where itás just us and my guitar. Itás interesting and itás how we started out. Itás powerful to fill a room with our three voices and just a guitar. Itás very intimate.ã
The sisters began singing together about five years ago and were selected as #SpotifySpotlight artist in 2016. Originally, Natalie toured in a band when another member sat her down for a conversation.
âThis musician friend called me out and said I wasnát having fun. He was right. He suggested I try something else. So, I texted both my sisters and after a little convincing they agreed to sit down and sing together again.ã
Her twin sisters, Allison and Meegan, 27, intially thought Natalie wanted them to be her background singers.
âWe didnát take it that seriously.ãAllison said in a statement. âIt was more commitment than I was expecting — I even tried to leave at one point, but after a while I was convinced.ã
The trio come from musical parents. Their father was a jazz vocalist and drummer and their mom was a drama teacher.
While children the twins preferred to stay out of Natalieás spotlight.
Natalie preferred performing music while the twins joined their motherás musical theater productions.
The Closners originally called themselves Dearborn, but a producer suggested they find a better fit that corresponded to the the strength of their music.
Allison put together a play list of their first albumás songs on a trip to visit their grandfather Jo, who lived in the eastern Oregon town named Joseph. She named the playlist âJosephã and an epiphany ensued both on their name and the membersá roles.
âIt hit us all — thatás what this is and who we are. These are the sounds of the land weáve lived on,ã Natalie said.
Songwriting morphed into a group exercise. During one session, when all were blocked lyrically, Natalie said Meegan retreated to her bedroom, started journaling and wrote the key phrase in âHonestã and from which the second album title arose — âIám Alone, no youáre not.ã
âShe wrote, àI canát say a true thing. Itás hard to be that honest.á Followed by àThereás always two thoughts, one after the other: Iám alone. No, youáre not.á And, the song came from there,ã Natalie said. âAs soon as she said the words I started to cry immediately. Theyáre opposing truths and related to when we feel lonely. Itás that positive self-talk you have to do and go back and forth with.ã
Natalie (the long, curly-locked one) compares songwriting as a âbirth storyã involving the three of them and often a collaborator. âOften, the chords come first and then we flesh it out and try to create a picture. It often starts with one element and then we create and unlock the barriersã … The goal each time is âto create something vulnerable and special.ã
âWhite Flag,ã another tune on “Iám Alone, No Youáre Not,ã came from the sistersá fears following an article predicting a massive earthquake in the Pacific Northwest. The vocals begin as a hum and reach a crescendo of strength and defiance — complete with foot stomping and hand clapping rhythms.
âReading that created a heaviness that was making us jumpy, scared and miserable,ã says Natalie. âIt became clear we had two options: Be scared and cowering backing away from the world in paralysis, or keep moving and live. Defy fear. Wear Peace. Find better ways to love the people in our lives instead of huddling together like frightened sheep thinking about earthquakes.ã
Joseph spent the past year enjoying the audience response to their music and writing new material, Natalie said. The Closners are in the midst of recording an album to be released later this year.
Staff writer Patt Keith can be reached at 949-7030.
If you go
When: 8 p.m. Sept. 19
Where: The State Theatre, State College
Tickets: $30, 272-0606