Singer-songwriter Clara Waidley

Tybee Talent: Two sisters making waves with music

Singer-songwriters Clara and Hope Waidley reflect on their musical calling and finding home in Savannah.

Sisters and singer-songwriters Clara and Hope Waidley are Michigan transplants bonded through a shared love for surfing and sound. After settling on Wilmington Island with plans to relocate to Tybee in the coming weeks, the two have fallen in love with the Coastal Empire, relishing the natural beauty and proximity to the ocean—things they're particularly passionate about as surfers.

“We’re such water people. We love surfing and being on the coast. We grew up learning to surf on Lake Michigan,” said Clara. “Just the coast here and the islands and how wild it is. Growing up in Michigan, we grew up in the woods and it feels like the scenery and nature feels so similar to how we grew up there. Just having so much land and that kind of wilderness that is just so untouched. I love that part of it. And obviously, the town of Savannah is just stunning. The design is just incredible.”

Before moving down South, the sisters each spent some years in California, taking full advantage of the surf culture and music scene there. Coming from the Golden State, they were pleasantly surprised to discover the dynamism and verve of greater Savannah.

“Out of everywhere that we’ve traveled—and we’ve seen quite a bit of America—there’s just nowhere like Savannah,” said Hope. “It’s really difficult to find somewhere that has the ocean and islands and the marsh, and then also has a city as beautiful as Savannah is. It’s different and historic and has really lovely architecture and the ocean. It just feels like a one in a million place.”

Surrounded by the abundant history, lush beauty and charm of the Georgia coast, the Waidley sisters find ample inspiration for their music. The two perform separately with Clara releasing music under her name and Hope performing under the alias Pearl. They grew up performing in recitals in their youth, so music and appreciation for the arts is something that was instilled within the sisters from early on.

“I started writing songs when I was six. It just became a way to process, and I got older and in high school realized if God can use these songs to help me, then they can be used to help other people,” said Hope.

Clara shared the sentiment, recognizing the power of songs to provide solace, saying, “I just feel like it’s just a gift that if it can comfort me, I’ve always felt it could comfort other people. I realized when I was younger, I think, for me, wanting to write and do music and perform, it was kind of a process of elimination. I didn’t want to do anything else, so it felt like it was what I was called to do. Just any opportunity to play, I look forward to and writing has been such a way to help process and explain the world and have it make sense.”

Clara has been performing professionally for about seven years now, with Hope right behind her at six. Despite being sisters, they each have their own unique musical style that speaks to their individual artistry. Clara describes her music as a distinct blend of dreamy, grungy soft rock with a twinge of country, while Hope leans more into a 1970s or 1990s classic alternative rock, drawing comparisons to Fleetwood Mac or Janis Joplin sonically. Hope has a particular fondness for her recent release “No Man,” an encouraging free-spirited anthem. Among Clara’s favorites is her song “Radio Angel,” which was released last year. It’s a calm, acoustic song with sweet sleepy vocals. These two songs really evince the ways in which the Waidley sisters differ in style and sound. But what they share in common is their belief in the power that music has to bring people together.

“For me, music is an extremely unifying gift that we have as humans,” said Clara. “It’s always felt like worship, using singing as a way to connect with people. I just love the way that it brings people together. People who believe different things, who have different opinions, who are from different places, who are of different ethnicities, will all gather in the same room just to listen to an artist. It’s one of the few things we have that will get everyone together enjoying the same thing at the same time. I also think that good music can really help heal people, comfort people, change hearts and perspectives. It’s just a really big blessing.”

click to enlarge Tybee Talent: Two sisters making waves with music
Singer-songwriter Hope Waidley

Hope added, “I just love that music is so ingrained in life throughout your entire lifetime. It’s something that’s constant. It helps people feel the good and the bad in a way because there’s sad music, happy music, music for every sort of thing that you could be feeling, and it can make you feel ways that maybe you haven’t felt before. It can be a thing that helps you heal in a world where we have been told to be strong and not feel. It combats that and gives people space to explore all of those feelings. And obviously, the unifying experience where a song can bring everyone together of different backgrounds, and we can all have something in common over a piece of art is a really nice thing.”

The two perform a lot at festivals and markets around the country, particularly in California, but they also circulate the local music scene performing at venues like Zunzi’s in downtown Savannah and on Tybee, as well as Tybee’s Salt Island Fish and Beer and other local spots with live music. With summertime arriving, more gigs are on the horizon. The sisters are looking forward to future performances and releasing more music.

“I’m gearing up to put a song out again,” said Hope. “I have an entire concept for an album, but I think that’ll be a little bit later. We have to finish all the songs, but for right now, I’ll be putting out another song as soon as I can.”

Clara also has another release coming up soon, a song called “When It Rains.”

“I’m just working on promoting that and writing as much as I can,” she said.

They both are excited about their individual creative journeys, and they thank the local community for such a warm reception.

“We really do love Savannah, and it’s been really nice for us being here, especially how it’s been a retreat and really healthy for our songwriting brains,” said Hope. “Artistically, it’s been a really healthy place for us. We love and appreciate Savannah, and we love the people. Just thanking Savannah for being so welcoming to us.”

To keep up with Hope and Clara and their musical projects and performances, follow them on Instagram @hopewaidley and @clarawaidley.


Chantel Britton

Chantel Britton is a compelling storyteller with an ever-growing curiosity. She's built a rewarding writing career for herself in addition to serving five years as a Public Affairs Officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. She's an NPR nerd with a deep passion for all things travel, sustainable living and adventure. She...
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