Six years ago, two musicians from drastically different origins met at the Savannah music staple, Jazz’d Tapas Bar.
One was a local percussionist, Butch Braddy, and the other hailed from across the world in Kazakhstan, a large nation bordering Russia and a former state of the USSR, Aiman Beibitbayeva.
Today, the couple is a locally known husband and wife musical duo that combines percussion and violin in a pairing as unexpected as their meeting.
“When we first met and she brought up the idea of forming the Free Spirits Orchestra, I was a little hesitant. Combining violin with percussion is something out of norm,” explains Braddy.
But similar to their romance, he states, “when we started playing it just came together perfectly.”
Realizing their dream of combining musical talents and forming a life together was not without challenges. The couple had to persevere through the long process of immigration, but, now, Beibitbayeva sits on the cusp of becoming an American citizen, a very special milestone for the couple.
Beibitbayeva is a classically trained violinist from one of the premier music schools in her home country. After training from age four to 24, she became nationally recognized within Kazakhstan, earning the first chair violin position in the Almaty National Symphony Orchestra.
Braddy, on the other hand, is a locally grown talent. He grew up in Georgia, but found his love for music at an early age. He played music all the way through grade school and college and toured extensively, both nationally and abroad, with his former band, Positions. His unique flavor of percussion sound shines through his performances and is even represented in his personally designed drum set that he has labeled “the Hobo Drum Kit.”
Now, Beibitbayeva and Braddy combine to form the Free Spirits Orchestra, and play all over Savannah and the surrounding area, though they have their eyes set on expanding and traveling with their act.
The pairing takes a massive list of songs from a variety of artists and genres and recreates them in a unique blend of classical sounds.
“We play everything from Led Zeppelin, to AC/DC, to Latin Music, true classical work like Bach, and a bunch more!” Braddy said with excitement.
For fans wanting to listen to their work outside of live performances, many audio and video recordings are available to the public on their website freespiritsorchestra.com
The couple originally named the act, “The Free Spirits,” but changed the name after a radio host commented that the powerful group sounded more like an orchestra then the small musical outfit they actually are.
That energy and sound carries through with each performance.
The Free Spirits Orchestra truly lives up to their name through creating unique art in ways many would think impossible.
Through ignoring expectations and forging their own musical path, they have carved out a niche within the Savannah music scene.
They cater to a special blend of music fans that includes lovers of classic rock, pop, true classical, and more.
Local music fans who want to experience the Free Spirits Orchestra can find them performing around Savannah and the nearby surrounding area including, but not limited to, the Mansion on Forsyth Park, the Grove, and Savannah Bananas games.
While they play at a variety of spots, playing at the Jazz’d Tapas Bar frequently is a special treat for the couple as they consider it their origin location.