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The Jenkins
Capitol Records Nashville
Current album: The Jenkins (self-titled debut album)

It is inevitable that there are going to be comparisons of the Jenkins and the Judds but let me be the first to say that there really shouldn't be. Except for the obvious talent quotient of both families, and the fact that both sets of artists are mother and daughter(s), comparing the Judds and the Jenkins is like comparing apples and oranges. Nothing against the Judds, after all, they didn't just raise the bar when it came to family acts, they blew the bar sky high. But I am pretty certain that the captivating Nancy Jenkins and her two mega-talented daughters, Brodie (17) and Kacie (19) are about to raise that bar to new heights.

This is charm times three. Beauty times three. Talent times three. I think that makes them a triple, triple, triple threat in any competition but actually, after meeting them, I don't think they really have any competition. They are definitely in a league of their own and what an elite league it is.

When we began the interview, one of the first things Nancy said was, "We have never been a family to go on vacations. All the years while the girls were growing up, we pretty much stayed close to home and now we are ..." Kacie interrupts and finishes her mother's sentence with, "hardly ever home!" Nodding in agreement, Brodie adds, "Yeah, only this is like a million week vacation." "Really!" Nancy interjects before Kacie quickly adds, "Now, going home is like ..." in unison all three finish her sentence, "a vacation." All three laugh. Then, as if just realizing we are there, and in a gesture to include us, the youngest one says, "Oh. Um. Sorry. I'm Brodie, she's Kacie and she's Nancy ." Yep, in a marvelous, albeit alluring, league of their own.

Interviewing this remarkable trio is like going home to a family reunion and sitting down, around the kitchen table, with your favorite sister and two nieces. Comfy, casual and hilarious. The Jenkins women finish each others sentences and occasionally interrupt each other with "oh no, don't tell that." Or one will start to tell a story and the other finishes it before glancing at the other two and bursting into spontaneous laughter; no doubt, at an inside joke. In fact, their story telling is as pleasing and effortless as their vocal harmonies.

There are a lot of elbow nudges when Nancy (the mother) is speaking and the girls carefully scrutinize every word. There is the occasional "eyes rolled upward" symptom which seems to afflict most teenagers when their parents are talking, especially when the parent is relating a story about them. But, for the most part, they act like three girlfriends who out on the town and having a great time.

In a serious moment as Nancy praises her daughters for their professional behavior, Brodie quickly lightens the moment with, "I really like doing these interviews 'cause we get to hear her say the nicest things about us and I'm going to remind her how great we are the next time she gets on me for not straightening up my room." More elbowing and laughter follows.

Their harmonies are flawless and their music is appropriate for who they are. They sing about situations and/or feelings that they know, in fact, they wrote seven of the ten songs on their album and they told us that all of the songs were created from personal experiences.

When I asked where they get their material, Brodie says, jokingly, that you can "Blame It On Mama" (the title of their first release from the debut album) when the songwriting is personal. "I might have just broken up with a boyfriend, I'm all upset and cryin' and here comes Mama with a pen and paper saying, 'Tell me exactly how you feel right now.'" As Nancy protests, and Brodie grins from ear to ear, Kacie nods her head in agreement and adds, "Really. We read her lyrics sometimes and say, 'Wow, this sounds like what I told you yesterday.'" Nancy protests again, "Stop saying that. People are going to think you are serious." More grins, a few more elbows nudges and then out and out laughter once more.

When asked about how they came to sing professionally, Kacie replies, "We've been singing our entire lives. It's not like we came up with an idea one day and said, 'hey, let's sing together.' It wasn't like that at all. It just kind of happened. Brodie and I have always, always, sung together."

Brodie adds, "We sang in school, we sang in church, we sang any time anyone wanted us to sing and we always were able to harmonize."

"And Mom always sang to us," Kacie says.

"Yeah, and with us too," Brodie adds.

As the story goes, it all came together during a high school talent show where Nancy was producing for the fourth year in a row. In previous years, it had just been the sisters who sang. But this year it was a spontaneous idea for the three of them to sing together. They performed the song "Guardian Angels." Kacie sang lead, Brodie sang high harmony, and Nancy took the low harmony.

"It was magic," Brodie says.

"We bring the Jenkins family household with us wherever we go with our music," says Brodie. "You can call our songs 'conversations put to music' because they are."

I can verify that. Sitting down with the Jenkins trio really is like sitting down with family -- only difference is, when you're at the table with the Jenkins girls, the good times, the conversations, and the laughter is multiplied times three.

Pull up a chair and give a listen to one of their "conversations put to music." This is one family get-together you sure don't want to miss!

Brodie is absolutely right, they're magic.

Feature article by Cheryl Harvey Hill

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