If you listened to the Womack Sisters' music without context, you might think you discovered some lost girl group from the 1960s. Maybe a Motown trio that never achieved mainstream success, or perhaps Phil Spector, in a spat of jealousy, banished their recordings to a time capsule.
Though Zeimani, BG, and Kucha Womack have deep family connections with greats from soul music's past, the Womack Sisters are a decidedly modern group. The trio will be presenting their debut six-song EP, Legacy, tonight, September 9, at a private event at Swan in the Design District.
"This is our introduction," BG tells New Times. "We believe in our music, and we're going to let that good spirit come out."
The sisters say they grew up on the road. Their parents, Cecil and Linda Womack, performed under the name Womack & Womack. Their uncle was Bobby Womack, and their maternal grandfather was none other than Sam Cooke. If those names don't mean anything to you (disappointing, to say the least), the Womack Sisters' catchy, soulful songs serve as a gateway to their family's rich musical legacy.
"Our parents surrounded us with music. Music was a spiritual outlet in our home. Like therapy or prayer for some families," BG says. "They had us harmonizing really young. They asked us to sing backup for them when they toured Europe and South Africa."
As children of touring musicians, the sisters said they grew up all over the place and have lived in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Thailand, and Kenya. They even called Fort Lauderdale home for a year in 2012. When their father fell ill, the trio moved to California to help take care of him. He passed away in 2013, and around that time, the Womack sisters started thinking about making their own music.
The sisters say they're sitting on a massive catalogue of original songs, but the first collection of recordings they'll release on Legacy includes only five of them. All three sisters share writing credits on the EP.
"One of us starts the song. It might be a melody, a hook, or a bridge, and then we'll bring it so the others can finish it," Zeimani explains. "A lot of the songs come from personal experiences that we set music to."
The first single, "Blocked," features smooth instrumentation backing their sultry voices. The sisters were mock offended when New Times asked if the music was sampled.
"No. We always want to use a live band. There's nothing like it," BG says. "We try to avoid sampling because a lot is lost when you're not actually working with the musicians."
The one song they didn't write on Legacy was a classic they were delighted to work on. It's "A Change Is Gonna Come," written by their grandfather.
"We want more change in the world. Our grandfather found inspiration in tough times," BG notes. "We're in tough times now, so we thought this was a good song to listen to. It's about togetherness and healing."
The 2020 film One Night in Miami, directed by Regina King, culminates with Cooke conceiving of that classic track. While the sisters are fans of the film, they weren't sure if their grandfather was egged on to write that song by his friends in Overtown, as that movie suggests.
Still, if the first time Cooke played that song was to a private audience in Miami, it's fitting that close to 60 years later, his granddaughters will share their rendition of that song to an audience in the Magic City for the first time as well.
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