There is something in the water in Langley that is producing a number of Canada’s rising music stars.
Alongside the likes of Dallas Smith, Chad Brownlee and Aaron Pritchett are emerging country/pop sisters Robyn and Ryleigh GIllespie.
“Yes, I guess there might be something in the water,” said Robyn, who will be performing with her sister at PeachFest. “I don’t know what it is. There is a lot of country music played here and you see trucks driving by with the windows down blasting Florida Georgia Line and Brad Paisley. People love it here.”
Robyn, the older of the two sisters, is the duo’s lead songwriter tapping into topics such as young love and having fun. She began writing at just 12 years old and taught herself to play guitar. Ryleigh began adding her own harmonies to her sister’s songs and in 2010 they were discovered by a veteran country music producer and Raincoast Music co-founders David WIlls and Paul Shatto.
Equal parts mud, makeup, glamour and fun, the sisters are quite at home quadding and fixing cars as they are performing on a big stage.
“We are a good mixture,” said Ryleigh. “I like to get dirty, as long as I can have a bath after and get any chipped nails repainted.”
This summer they have been busy preparing to release a new album and performing at charity events, the upcoming Harmony Arts Festival in Vancouver and the Cloverdale Rodeo. While both of the girls are animal lovers, this can get a little complicated for Robyn.
“The last time I got on a horse, about a year ago, I had to go on oxygen because I found out I am allergic. It was scary because it was so difficult to breathe. I had to go to the hospital and they said I only had 20 per cent air flowing into me, the doctors were astounded,” she said. “So rodeos do pose a challenge. In order to sing I have to take all these allergy pills.”
The duo’s debut EP, Love Always, plus live showcases and the 2010 B.C. Summer Games, the 2011 B.C. Country Music Awards, the 2011 Merritt Mountain Music Festival and the 2012 Canadian Country Music Awards have gained them a lot of attention.
Following B.C. Country Music Award nominations for The Horizon Award and Group/Duo of the Year in 2012 they joined the MDM Recordings family alongside Brownlee, Hayley and Jess Moskaluke.
Their first full-length album was released in 2013. It has been a pivotal step for the sisters. The album’s lead single, Just Another Sundown, has been played on Canadian radio and the accompanying video was picked up for American broadcast by Heartland TV Network (formerly The Nashville Network).
They are busy writing with teams in Nashville and plan on recording soon.
The duo also caught the eyes and ears of London Drugs executives during a Klipsch audio demonstration where they were asked to perform. Since then they have been holding intimate acoustic concerts at various London Drugs stores. Being up close and personal with their fan base has opened their eyes that they are becoming role models for young girls.
“We were playing in London Drugs when a girl came up and told us she was our biggest fan and she was learning to play guitar. She actually went all the way home got her guitar and brought it back just so we could sign it,” said Robyn. “It is when stuff like that happens that keeps us going. When you have a down day or feel nothing is going right we think of those little kids and our fans that care so much and how much we touch them with our music and it is so cool.”
Robyn Ryleigh and Friends perform their country, pop, rock music at the Penticton Peach Festival on Aug 7 from 8 to 9 p.m. at Okanagan Lake Park. Before the free evening concert they also will be stopping in at the Penticton London Drugs to perform from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The sisters will perform several songs off their self-titled album.