October 29, 2011 in Washington Voices

Musical ambassadors

Turner Sisters perform, teach around the globe
Jennifer Larue, Jlarue99@Gmail.Com Jennifer Larue
J. Bart Rayniak photoBuy this photo

An Otis Orchards living room provides a rehearsal studio for The Turner Sisters, a folk, old-time, Celtic, gospel and bluegrass group. They are, from left, Trinity Turner, Noemi Tuner, Addie Turner and their mother, Muriel Tingley-Turner. The group just released its second CD on Goat Soaps Records.
(Full-size photo)

Art quote of the week

“There is nothing in the world so much like prayer as music is.”

William P. Merrill (1867-1954), hymn writer


 The Turner Sisters will perform at the Mud and Spirits Pottery show, hosted by The Clay Arts Guild of North Idaho Inc., Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. The two-day free event (also on Sunday) includes about 15 functional and sculptural local potters and about 10 blues, bluegrass and old-time music groups. Check out www.cagni.org for more information.

 To find out about other events, to purchase a fiddling Christmas card or to purchase a CD, find the Turner Sisters on Facebook or email turnersisters@q.com.

The Turner Sisters and their mother turn back the pages to a time when meetings took place around a crackling fire or on a front porch. They ignore language barriers and cultural differences, playing music that connects with listeners from all walks of life.

“I enjoy the way music acts as a universal language. I have friends all over the world, with whom I would otherwise have little in common,” said Trinity Turner. “But thanks to music, we have quite a bit in common. Sometimes music is even better than spoken language at expressing what we are thinking. This is really something special to me.”

The sisters, Trinity, 19, Addie, 17, and Noemi, 12, are fiddlers and vocalists. Their mother, Muriel Tingley-Turner, also lends her voice and accompanies them on the guitar. Their genre is a mix of folk, grassroots, Celtic, and gospel – old songs that they arrange in their own special way. The music is a foot-tapping, soul-swaying kind of sound that they bring to festivals, private events, churches, senior centers, fundraisers and other venues from the Rockin’ B Ranch at Stateline to as far away as Japan.

They’ve gone to Japan twice, paying for their trip by teaching the fiddle (and Irish dance) and performing. On their latest trip, they realized just how connected we are. “As we began to play a song from an old book of hymns, we were told that it was a Japanese song,” Tingley-Turner said. “Of course we disagreed but we could not argue when they began singing it word for word, note for note.” The song, “Flee as a Bird,” was sung to Tingley-Turner by her mother when she was a child and she, in turn, sang it to her girls.

The girls are home schooled in Otis Orchards and have no definite plans for the future, just to keep playing music but not necessarily professionally. They have learned a lot through what they do.

“The girls have learned poise, public speaking, organization skills, marketing, music arranging, traveling and living in other cultures, flexibility and so many other skills through the process of what we do,” said Tingley-Turner.

Trinity is enrolled at Spokane Falls Community College, where she is focused on international studies. Already proficient in the language of music, she hopes to learn more languages and travel.

For now, they will continue to teach and perform; keeping an ancient universal language alive. “I feel better inside about situations when there is music around, so when I play music for other people I hope that they feel better like I do,” Addie Turner said, “I think music fills in holes that other things can’t. I see God in music.”

The Verve is a weekly feature celebrating the arts. If you know an  artist, dancer, actor, musician, photographer, band or singer, contact correspondent Jennifer LaRue by email jlarue99@hotmail.com.

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