These last couple months our family has been tracking NBC’s show The Voice. I know quite a few of you have as well. The draw has been Girl Named Tom, a sibling trio in their 20s that grew up in Zion Mennonite Church in Northwest Ohio. Over the course of watching we learned that past shows have been dominated by soloists. Last week Girl Named Tom became the first group to make it into the finale, and last night it was revealed that the show’s audience around the country (including us!) voted them the season’s winners.
Their popularity is a bit stunning. As of this morning their songs claim the top two stops on the i-Tunes chart. They have four in the top eight, and seven in the top 40. Their songs, all covers, are getting listened to more than any other artist in any genre.
I am not much of a connoisseur of pop culture, but here are a couple observations (and hopes?) from this fun little foray. The other singers almost always relied on a big band, bright lights, and showy staging. Girl Named Tom often sang unaccompanied with their own instruments and no flashing lights. The other top singers were excellent soloists, but while each of the three Girl Named Tom members are very good singers, their blended harmonies are a whole other creation.
So it’s partly a feel good story. Small town Mennonite siblings conquer LA through the nonviolent weaponry of the vocal cord.
I would also like to think their popularity is a bit of a commentary on our present culture. Beautiful harmonies are hard to find these days. That kind of careful listening and collaborative creating require and produce a different kind of energy than the strong individual voice. It’s an energy and beauty that has apparently captured an audience hungry for it, at least for now. The Voice gets a makeover into The Voices.
As one who is still trying to learn to sing harmony, I’m grateful to be part of a community that values the aesthetic and its deeper meaning of how we do life.
If you have not yet had the pleasure of listening to Girl Named Tom, or if you want to indulge for the 100th time, I recommend starting with their opening blind audition Helplessly Hoping and their semi-final cover of Joni Mitchel’s River.