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AJ (left) and Aly Michalka of the pop duo Aly & AJ.EXPAND
AJ (left) and Aly Michalka of the pop duo Aly & AJ.
Photo by Stephen Ringer

Disney Child Stars Aly and AJ Michalka Are All Grown Up and Rocking

It seems every child star has the same career trajectory: modeling, acting, making music, then failing miserably and posting #ThrowbackThursday photos of their time in the limelight. It also seems being a child star is not easy. The public has the pleasure of watching these young people grow up while critiquing and comparing them to their characters on TV. Though few child stars keep it together long enough to enjoy lengthy careers, talented sisters Aly and AJ Michalka have been making magic for more than a decade.

Most know the siblings from their Disney Channel debut in 2006. Their original movie, Cow Belles, allowed viewers to fall in love with AJ as "Courtney Callum" and Aly as “Taylor Callum.” From there, AJ appeared on Six Feet Under, General Hospital, and The Guardian, while Aly had roles on Easy A, The Roommate, and Hellcats. Though their acting careers have fluctuated, one thing has remained constant: their music.

The two pop stars grew up loving music. Born in Torrance, California, they were raised by Christian parents. Their mother, Carrie, is a musician and performed with the Christian rock group JC Band. The sisters have been playing guitar and piano since childhood. Their music duo, Aly & AJ, was formed in 2004. “Do You Believe in Magic” quickly became a single stuck in every little sister’s head thanks to the constant video airtime on Disney Channel. The 2005 song skyrocketed to number two on the U.S. Billboard Hot Singles, while its album, Into the Rush, sold more than 800,000 copies in the States and one million worldwide.

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The magic has stuck with them throughout their music career. From their holiday album, Acoustic Hearts of Winter, to their third album, Insomniac, the duo continued to push the pop agenda. “Potential Breakup Song,” their second smash, charted on Billboard's Top 20 Hit Singles, giving young girls everywhere another chance to sing off-key. Although Aly & AJ left their label Hollywood Records and briefly changed their group name to 78violet, they continued doing what they loved most: music.

By this time in any child star’s career, most people expect drama ranging from a baby out of wedlock à la Jamie Lynn Spears to musical flops like Victoria Justice and Miranda Cosgrove. But by creating effortless hits, Aly & AJ's career and music continue to grow. “It is surprising that fans still connect with the old music so much,” AJ said in an interview with iHeart Radio. “I really didn’t know how much people cared still about Into the Rush and Insomniac, but as soon as we play an old chord, it’s like people know.”

Signing to a major label at a young age was a gift that allowed the sisters to break through with opportunities most SoundCloud rappers couldn’t imagine, but it did limit their creativity. “If Aly and I had an opinion on a song or lyrics we wanted to represent, it was shut down sometimes, and it was a bummer,” AJ, now 28, said in the interview. Aly, now 30, added, “It makes sense being apart [from] the… Disney Machine.”

Though television has been responsible for launching careers and also quickly ending them, Aly & AJ’s fan base has kept the duo's music alive for more than ten years. Now that they're no longer signed to a label, they can let their creativity fly. “As an independent artist, we get to make all of the decisions,” Aly said. Their next decision, Sanctuary, is slated to drop later this year, allowing Aly & AJ fans to sing their hearts out to new material. In the meantime, the sisters' South Florida followers can catch Aly & AJ's live performance this Thursday at Revolution in Fort Lauderdale.

Aly & AJ. 7 p.m. Thursday, May 9, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-449-1025; jointherevolution.net. Tickets cost $24.

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