Monday, October 27, 2014

Aussie girl group with disabilities, The Sisters of Invention, on their way to being YouTube sensation

From The Daily Mail in Australia:

A gutsy girl group with a difference have unveiled their first music video which aims to challenge the way intellectually disabled people are often treated like ‘little kids’.

The five stars of The Sisters Of Invention all have learning disabilities, ranging from Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, blindness, a mild intellectual disability and Williams Syndrome.

They also all have fantastic voices – with Annika, who is blind, possessing pitch-perfectness, a skill envied by musicians around the world and singer Aimee’s Williams Syndrome working in her favour, with hyper-musicality an attribute of her disability.
In their first professionally produced release called This Isn’t Disneyland, Aimee, 28, is dressed as Snow White, Annika, 28, is Cinderella, Caroline, 29, is Tinkerbell, Jackie, 25, is Pocahontas and Michelle, 24, is Rapunzel – but it is no fairy-tale dress up competition, they are making a clever point.
In the catchy electro-pop tune the Adelaide-based band sing: 'This isn't Disneyland I'm not a novelty this is a real as it gets.' 

‘Sometimes people treat us like we are little kids. We wanted to say we are not; we are more than disabled people. The video goes to show we are not novelties,’ Aimee told Daily Mail Australia.

‘We are here to change opinions of disabled people in general,’ she added.

The band’s producer Michael Ross, who worked with the five women to write the songs on their upcoming album, said people have been surprised by the video.
‘When people think about a girl group with learning disabilities they paint a picture in their mind straight away.
‘But when they watch it they see it is not “second class”, they see it’s not “s**t” and they are surprised and they are like “oh my god I actually like this.”, he explained.
‘We want people to really like it and get something out of it.’

Michael has been working with the band for four years, to get them to the point where their natural musical talents have created broadcast standard records.

The Sisters Of Invention describe their music as alternative pop and they write all of their songs from personal experience – both the happy and the heartbreaking.

One of the brave stories of how they wrote their songs comes from Jackie, who has Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

During the writing of their tenth song, she came into the studio with the heartbreaking news that her cousin who was ‘as close as a sister to her’ had committed suicide. She was just 14-years-old.

‘Heidi had lived with us since she was a baby and committed suicide. We weren’t expecting it. So we wrote a song about Heidi, it’s called Tsunami Of Kites,’ Jackie said.
‘For a singer-songwriter to sit down and be brave enough to use that story and that experience in a song is incredible.

‘To put your ultimate truth and honesty directly in to those lyrics, there is nothing childish about it,’ Michael explained.

Meanwhile, Annika used the time when her school principal told her parents she would never be able to learn anything as the basis of another song. 

Michael said when people talk about intellectual disability they start saying words like ‘retard’ and ‘infantile’.

‘They think that you will forever be a child. So for these girls to actually be singing gutsy, blatantly honest, emotionally mature songs and to sign them so beautifully that in itself is enough to make people go “oh”.’
He hopes that next time people talk to someone with a learning disability they instead think ‘I have no idea what your are capable of, you might be able to do something just as amazing as The Sisters Of Invention’.

‘Here are five women who actually have a career as singer song-writers,’ he added.
The women have all been singing separately for years but got together as a group three years ago and named their band The Sisters of Invention ‘because we are all sisters and support each other and that’s what friends do,’ Aimee explained.

Annika added: ‘We are reinventing the rules of how people see us and so people can see us for what we are capable of instead of what we are not.’

The Sisters of Invention are from an Adelaide-based arts organisation called TUTTI, which gave them a chance to develop themselves professionally. Follow The Sisters Of Invention on Facebook and download their first single on iTunes.