PUBLISHED IN THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 1998

 

 

By NICK KREWEN


If THE KINLEYS don't believe in kismet, maybe they should start.

The 27-year-old country singing duo of HEATHER and JENNIFER Kinley are newcomers to Nashville's recorded music scene, having released their debut album Just Between You And Me only three months ago.

But they've already received their first major award nomination for their hit "Please": a Grammy for Best Country Duo Or Group With Vocal.

"It doesn't seem real," says Jennifer Kinley, speaking on behalf of her twin Heather, over the phone from Nashville.

"At the same time, it's been so quick and overwhelming...a good kind of overwhelming."

For The Kinleys, whose husky voices and earthy delivery have suddenly placed them in the company of established veterans ALABAMA, DIAMOND RIO, ALISON KRAUSS & UNION STATION and THE MAVERICKS in competing for the award that will be handed out at New York's Radio City Music Hall on February 25, it's the light at the end of a very long tunnel that began when the sisters began singing at the age of 8 in their hometown of Philadelphia.

"We had been introduced to a bunch of different types of music in our younger years, and our parents introduced us to THE ANDREWS SISTERS , BING CROSBY and THE EVERLY BROTHERS," recalls Kinley, who provides harmonies behind her sister Heather.

" We were just fascinated with The Everly Brothers, in the way that the brothers had harmonized their voices together. We had been singing since we were eight, and had never done that before. So we were really intrigued and learned all about them. They had played (Nashville's) Ryman Theatre and The Grand Ole Opry and it was inspiring.

"Then we started listening to THE JUDDS on our local country radio station, and we were majorly hooked. We knew that's where we belonged."

After spending their teenage years divided between swimming -- they made the Junior Olympics in the 100 yard freestyle -- and singing such Andrews Sisters' classics as "Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree" and "Apple Blossom Time" on a local TV show, the sisters decided to go for broke and moved to Nashville a few years after graduation.

"We were 19," recalls Jennifer. "The first six years were hard. We visited Philadelphia a lot. We were tired of the waitressing and the odd jobs we were doing. We were tired of the constant financial problems."

They also had another unlikely obstacle: they were twins.

"I think being twins really worked against us," she admits. "I think people had a perception of, "Oh God. Cutesy twins. They probably dress exactly alike." They didn't see us as a solid love for music kind of act. I think Nashville had a bad taste in its mouth when it came to twins."

After six years of slugging it out in the trenches, The Kinleys met and befriended songwriting producers RUSS ZAVITSON and TONY HASELDEN, who took the sisters under their wing and encouraged them to find their own sound, eventually bringing them to the attention of DOUG JOHNSON at Epic Records, who signed them.

That was two years ago, and although the twins had performed several showcases over the years, Jennifer says she's glad their breakthrough didn't come any earlier.

"I don't think we were ready," she explains. "We were still searching for who we were. Both Russ and Tony helped us with that. We were also shocked to find out we could write some of these cuts. We were writing for years and never really had any confidence. We thought we'd be thrilled if we got one cut on the album, and for both Russ and Tony to agree to put five of them on, we were really elated.

"Now it's our passion," she laughs. "We can't quit writing!"

Jennifer says there's an absence of sibling rivalry between her and her sister, and that working together has more advantages than disadvantages. "We can just read each other," she admits. "We know each other so well and we're dependent on each other to the point where it's scary. I don't know what I'd do without her.

"In fact, the only thing that scares me is my dependence on her. My life centers around her. We've always done everything together. We've been together throughout our whole lives, from the first day of school to the first swim meet to the first time we went on stage. So we've gone through the two lives exactly together, just alike, and it just would be scary if I lost that."

Future projects include their first major market tour opening for CLINT BLACK and TRACE ADKINS that kicks off March 11 in Rockford, Illinois -- Canadian dates are pending -- and of course the trip to the Grammies.

Jennifer is still pinching herself.

"I think it's neat that I'm going to be in the same room with all these people I've looked up to and am in awe of," she says. "When I say I'm going to the Grammies, it doesn't seem like I should be saying that. But when I get there I'll be thinking, `Wow! This is actually happening. It's really true!"

 

-30-

DISCOGRAPHY

1997 -- Just Between You And Me

2000 -- The Kinleys

COLLABORATIONS

1998 -- Various Artists, Touched By An Angel -- The Album -- Columbia

 

THANKS: Jill Morison

 

1998, 1999 Nick Krewen, Octopus Media Ink

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