BY MELISSA COKER
They may be poor, wayfaring strangers—but stranger still, this knowledge may be just the motivation Sisters Wade Revival needed to keep on keeping on.
Back in the days of barely-pre-Y2K, many associated the name Sisters Wade (Julie and Deb Wade, respectively) with industry organizations such as Billboard magazine, CMT, TNN, William Morris Agency and (maybe most notably) Charlie Daniels. The group had a standing house gig at Tootsie’s in Nashville for two years and, as the story goes, one day Daniels walked into the bar to hear them and their band, the HipWaders, and immediately fell in love.
“These girls remind me of the babbling brook out back of my house when I was a kid—so fresh and pure you could drink from it,” Daniels once declared of the singing siblings.
Sisters Wade released their self-titled debut on Daniels’ Blue Hat Records label in 1999. In 2004 they self-released a follow-up, Walls of Time, but that title turned into a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy as the time constraints of raising a family, and other personal developments, soon became a barrier to a music industry career.
Fast forward to early 2019, and the duo decided to do a 20th anniversary reunion show with the Waders to celebrate that first album release. The success led to a thirst for more, and so the intended one-time event marked a real return for Sisters Wade—now known in this chapter as Sisters Wade Revival. By December of that same year, the recently reformed and critically acclaimed sister act was enjoying fresh success, thanks to the “Wayfaring Stranger” single. The track’s accompanying video, released in January 2020, quickly received over 1.2 million views, subsequently winning the clip attention at CMT.com).
Shortly after the release of this classic folk hymn, sister Deb was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and in January 2020, the Sisters Wade were left treading water as she faced major surgery for the removal of cancerous tumors.
Deb had a long recovery—sustaining some nerve trauma and, initially, some difficulty singing. But guitarist, producer and longtime friend Andy Most (Sisters Wade recorded “Stranger” in his home studio) got together with the two during her recovery—persevering and powering through (pandemic be damned) with consistent contributions to new music even during long stretches of lockdown.
The three decided to finish the Christmas record that they started prior to the pandemic. Deb is in remission and has recovered her voice, and both sisters are excited to announce a December release of their first Christmas album containing some of their favorite holiday songs, the completion of a collection they began unveiling with a 2019 release of “Silent Night.”
So with that gift-wrapped project in tow, they’re also diving jubilantly into the season with a full-band performance on Friday, Dec. 3, at the Walnut House in Murfreesboro.
The evening will also be streamed.
“The album will be available at our show,” says Julie. “With it just released there will be lots of new music! We will have special guests to join us on stage for a couple of numbers. We are really excited about the show . . . really proud of our Christmas record.”
Hard times in our world as well as the world of live music during recent times haven’t exactly been kept under wraps. One might even venture to say the sisters are one act in a long line of music-makers holding their breath and patiently “wading” to exhale.
Walnut House’s Ricky Martini has some thoughts on that Grinch-level lockdown, and why helping to keep the doors of music venues open makes good-spirited sense.
“We were just getting live music cranked up in high gear at Walnut House in March of 2020. Then we canceled everything. It was such a personal disaster . . . we worked really hard to put all those shows together,” Martini says. “Walnut House has picked up significantly in every way other than live music. We are so excited that Deb and Julie are coming back with this concert!
“Sisters Wade Revival is exceptional not only with two incredible vocalists,” he adds, “but also with an incredible group of talented and acclaimed musicians backing them. Fantastic acoustics in our main hall, excellent sound and lighting and all seating within 47 feet of the stage added to these artists . . . you won’t want to miss this show.”
This will also be Sisters Wade Revival’s first live performance with the HipWaders—Andy Most on guitar, David Spicher on standup bass, Chas Williams on dobro and Gregg Stocki on drums—since 2019.