The Lovell Sisters have hit some milestones this summer. The young bluegrass/Americana trio have graced the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, been called "belles of bluegrass" in O magazine, and been on the front page of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. They've played to huge crowds at Bonnaroo, Telluride, and Merlefest, and they've performed with Elvis Costello, at his request.
Also this year, Rebecca, 18, got her drivers licence, Megan, 20, is officially no longer a teenager, and Jessica, the oldest at 23, is starting to realize that she no longer has to play mother hen to her younger sisters. The Lovell Sisters are officially adults.
"The three of us are getting older, and definitely finding our own voice," says Jessica, on the phone from Calhoun, Ga., where the sisters live with their parents and younger brother. "As the oldest, its really cool for me to work with my two sisters and see them change."
Attracting so much attention at a young age is impressive, and though the girls seem humbled by each new accolade, they're certainly not newcomers to the scene. Search for their name on YouTube, and you'll find videos of the sisters looking like babies back in 2006 on TBS' Storyline, showing promise and raw talent even then.
But despite their years on stage and on the road, the Lovells show no trace of the boredom or fatigue often exhibited by vets, particularly younger ones. Their stage presence is relaxed, and they're grateful to be on stage and sharing their music with the audience. Their personable nature uncannily lures viewers and listeners in.
"I think that the fact that the three of us get to interact draws people in to our interaction," says Jessica. "It's almost like everybody is part of our family. It's just a really cool, hard-to-explain thing."
And while the strong bonds between the three are palpable, their relationship is taking on new levels as they grow older.
"Most definitely, it's 100 percent changed from big sister-little sisters," Jessica, always the clear leader of the group, says. "We'll always be sisters, but it's now like, they're most definitely their own people. You never know what's going to happen, you never know what they're going to bring into my life."
Together they've made some big decisions over the years, most recently, and perhaps most significantly, to leave their record label, Lyric Street.
Released independently in July 2009, their latest album, Time to Grow, is more developed than their previous two efforts, showcasing their years of practice and the mastering of their instruments — the fiddle (Jessica), dobro (Megan), and guitar and mandolin (Rebecca). They collective work on writing songs, and they share singing duties in the studio and on stage. Most of the songs were written by the sisters, another step forward from previous albums.
"I think people want to learn something that they've never heard before," Jessica says. "That's something we're definitely growing toward, getting our own voice. I think the fact that two of those songs actually went on to become award-winners blew us away."
"Time to Grow," written by Rebecca, received an honorable mention in the International Songwriting Competition. "Distance," which Rebecca was tweaking up until the night before recording, won the grand prize in John Lennon Songwriting Contest.
"The record kind of grew into its own being, and drug us along," Jessica says. ""We haven't gotten a chance to see what Charleston thinks about this new project of ours," Jessica adds. "We're really looking forward to it."