A female vocal trio of Sue Smith, Tannis Slimmon and Jude Vadala, the Bird Sisters formed in 1985 when the participants met while performing separately at the Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. The festival itself had been co-founded by Smith and Vadala. At that time Slimmon was a member of R&B band Reverb, Vadala was a member of bluegrass band This Side Up and Smith was a member of folk rock act Grapevine. Through the encouragement of mutual friends they decided to work together, starting with a basic collection of a cappella cover versions. Among the first to hear the results was Common Ground bass player Molly Kurvink, who described their singing as like ‘bird sisters’, giving them their name. Their debut came in 1990 with the FLO cassette for their own TBS label - recorded with the help of funding from their fanbase. By asking them to buy the album in advance they were able to secure enough finance properly to record the tape with producer and engineer Jeff Bird. They applied the same fiscal rationale to the recording (with Ken Whiteley) of 1992’s Different Stories. This time, sparse instrumentation was employed instead of the pure a cappella approach of their debut. A much more ambitious set, 1995’s She & She & She, was recorded from May 1994 to February 1995 in Ontario with the assistance of John Switzer (Jane Siberry, Waltons). With the songwriting distributed equally between the three partners, the album attracted strong regional and national praise, though the trio were keen to point out that they had no ambition to move away from independent distribution.
Bird Sisters Biography