May 19, 2023
Dollywood’s Flower & Food Festival Presented by Covenant Health has bloomed across the park, bringing with it all of the sights and tastes of a beautiful spring. Luckily, the fun doesn’t stop there. We here at Dollywood are excited to also bring lively musical experiences to our guests.
The Hall Sisters have returned for another year to entertain guests in front of the Robert F. Thomas Chapel in Craftsman’s Valley. This sibling quartet plays a truly unique blend of Christian pop that allows their skills as vocalists and mutli-instrumentalists to shine through.
Hailing from North Carolina, Jessica, Natalie, Lydia and Valerie are sisters who have shared a love of music and bringing joy to others with their talents since childhood. Though the sisters did not initially set out to become a musical act together, the stars aligned and a one-of-a-kind musical group was born. They were asked to sing acapella together at a fine arts camp in 2008, and it was then that they discovered the beautiful harmony their voices create.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Natalie and get a deeper insight into what bonds the group together and how they strive to inspire their listeners.
Q: How would you describe yourselves to guests who will see you for the first time at the Flower & Food Festival?
Natalie: We are four sisters who love to bring people "into our living room" and have a grand time! We do a wide variety of music from country to pop to big band to fiddle, but no matter what we try to put our sound into that song! If guests come, we hope they leave with a smile on their face because that's what really matters!
Q: You have mentioned in other interviews that you grew up in a very musical household. How has this upbringing contributed to your creative process as sisters?
Natalie: Our parents always had music on in the house, and they shared with us the music that meant a lot to them. My mom loved groups rich with harmonies and hits from the 60s, 70s and 80s. My dad loved the singers from the 40s and 50s, so we grew up on music from those decades. When we were first getting started in music, we would take the songs we grew up on and Jessica would arrange them and then we'd perform it. If our parents never passed on their love for music, who knows what we'd be doing!
Q: You have performed at the Grand Ole Opry, Carnegie Hall and the Country Music Hall of Fame. What were those experiences like?
Natalie: Absolutely incredible. Even though we were young when we performed on those stages we knew when we stepped out on that stage that it was different. Those stages have had artists that we have looked up to and inspired us to do what we do, and knowing that made it extremely special to be on each stage. The Grand Ole Opry always has a special place in our hearts because we were nervous being on the other stages, but when we stepped out on the Opry we felt right at home. I don't know what that is, but we all agreed that the Opry just felt like home.
Q: This is your third year performing at the Flower & Food Festival. What have your experiences performing at Dollywood been like? What are you most looking forward to returning to Dollywood?
Natalie: Dollywood from the very beginning was special for us. From moment one, everyone there just made us feel right at home! They made us feel welcomed and like we had always been a part of the Dollywood family, and that just meant the world to us! As performers, we are used to going into a venue and leaving and that's it. You don't typically get to make many friends or lasting relationships. Dollywood has given us a family and a safe haven to go back to! Going back last year and coming again this year we feel like we aren't here to work but feel like we are here for a very long family reunion! And that is a gift we are very humbled by, and it's also something we are forever grateful to be a part of!
Q: What motivates you to create music and perform together?
Natalie: Doing music for us is not a hobby or a job, music to us four is a calling. We truly believe we have been called to do this and if we hadn't, we would have quit years ago… it has given us a bond that is tighter and stronger than anything else. Our bond keeps any one of us from quitting. It also helps with the creativity of our sound. Because each one of us has different tastes and personal interests, it flavors our creativity. When you bring all those different creative flavors to the table, you get our own unique Hall Sisters sound!
Q: What talents or hobbies do you have outside of music?
Natalie: Jessica is all music. She loves arranging, listening to and creating music. She also loves to cross-stitch! I love to cook, write, help assist our dad (he's a dentist) and work outside. Lydia is an amazing artist! She draws and works on her artwork (that she sells at Dollywood). She also loves nature, photography and working outside too! Last but not least, Valerie loves to create whatever she wants to create. She makes jewelry, she paints and is into fashion!
Q: What is the best piece of advice you have been given as a group?
Natalie: Some of the best advice we have been given has come from our amazing vocal coach. She is one of our greatest influences and one of our favorite things she has told us is, "Performing is not about being perfect - it's about creating magic." We came from a place where we thought we had to be perfect on stage and created a lot of fear in us. She has just taught us that it isn't about perfection but creating something special for the audience. If you're so wrapped up with having to perform just right, the audience will know it, and it can take away from the performance.
Q: You are all multi-talented singers and instrumentalists. How have you honed your craft over the years?
Natalie: Hours and hours of practicing! We have practiced individually and together as a quartet for over fifteen years, which has led to many, many hours of practicing. But practicing only takes you so far. Performing helps hone your skill on so many different levels. But the greatest thing of all that helped hone our skills is mistakes! Mistakes have helped season us. You learn from mistakes better than just about anything! Whenever you mess up, just see it as a good thing and learn from it! It takes the pressure off and makes you better for it!
Q: How do you feel your music makes an impact in the world?
Natalie: We want to give hope and joy to anyone and everyone that hears us. It doesn't take but five minutes on your phone to see that our world is hurting. The four of us have gone through a lot of pain so we know what it feels like to hurt and feel hopeless. But because God has brought us through all of that, we want to show people not just with our music but who we are. There IS hope and there is joy! It goes beyond our music to who we are, and I think that is where the impact lies.
Q: What message would you like guests to walk away with after seeing your performance?
Natalie: To be yourself. The world is so loud telling us how to look and act and it can make you feel like you just aren't good enough. We want people to leave knowing they are original. That God made them special and that it is more than ok to be yourself! The four of us have fought so hard to not be like what the world tells us to be, but to be who God made us to be. When you walk away from our show we hope you come away having seen four sisters being true to themselves, doing the music they love while being totally original.
Dollywood strives to create an environment in which family and togetherness thrive. As you can imagine, is no better musical act to ensure that this comes true for our guests. The Hall Sisters will continue to perform at Dollywood throughout the duration of the Flower & Food Festival, ending on June 11. For more information about the Hall Sisters, their website can be found here: https://thehallsisters.com/
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