Less than a year after she and her sister arrived in Savannah, Kyrsten Roseman can say with certainty she's found her musical home. "It has opened its arms to us in a way I've never really experienced," says the elder half of the indie folk duo the Rosies.
Kyrsten, 22, and Kourtney, 18, arrived in October 2012 with a couple of acoustic guitars, a satchel full of original songs, and a telepathic way with the sort of delicately-embroidered vocal harmony that only siblings can achieve (there's a middle sister, too, but she's more into athletics than singing and songwriting).
Within weeks of landing in town, the Rosies landed a weekly gig (Tuesday nights) at the River House restaurant downtown. In addition, they've performed at most of Savannah's acoustic rooms.
Raised in Tennessee, the Roseman sisters began singing together at an early age — their parents, both musicians, included them in their touring gospel shows (Glen and Joyce Roseman also live in Savannah now, where they operate a business called String Up Jewelry, and the non-profit Concerts For Hope, Inc.).
"I did music for a long time on my own," says Kyrsten. "Ever since I could read and write, I was writing stuff. Probably 7 was my first poem. It slowly branched into music."
For many years, the girls were homeschooled. Entering public high school, however, Kyrsten had her world rocked. "For some reason — it wasn't because we were sheltered — I didn't have music," she says. "I didn't listen to other than what my parents listened to, Christian Contemporary radio and stuff like that.
"When I rode the bus my freshman year, they were like 'We've got to introduce you to the world of music.' And they did. It was amazing. I had a friend bring in 50 CDs, and we took that week and just listened to stuff. And then I started picking out the stuff I liked from what they threw at me, and slowly started building what I listen to now."
The songs she writes — some alone, others with Kourtney — show a wide and colorful variety of influences, none of them so obvious as to dilute the tactile strength of the Roses' distinctive sound.
"I range from Civil Wars and indie folk, Alison Krauss, bluegrass, and I'm even starting to like country," Kyrsten says. "Rock, '70s and '80s, Journey and the Eagles. And the whole other end of the spectrum, which is the new artists like Alex Clare and Adele. I try to pull from as many genres as I can and find something I like."
All six songs on Spectrum, the Rosies' debut LP, are self-penned (the sisters are just starting work on a second recording). The live shows blend their originals with choice, harmony-rich covers — everything from the Beatles, to Sarah McLachlan, to Iron & Wine.
"I love our mashups," Kourtney Roseman offers. "That's not a new thing — a lot of people do mashups — but I personally think we put a new spin on it, and really pull from different genres. One of our mashups has Lady Gaga and 'Sweet Dreams' by the Eurythmics, and then Adele, 'Rolling in the Deep.' Our latest one has White Stripes, Nirvana and Gretchen Wilson in it. I enjoy doing that."
Writing and rehearsing, she adds, are team efforts. "We do a lot of collaborating. It's really an equal effort. She'll say something, then I'll say something, and then it goes another way."
The Rosies, strangely enough, almost never happened.
"I wanted to be a solo artist when I graduated high school," Kyrsten says. "I wrote and recorded a whole album ... and I never really thought about her. She was kind of doing her own thing with acting and drama."
But illness, and the need for a string of corrective surgeries, sent the elder Roseman to Orlando, Fla. And little sister Kourtney came along to look after her.
"When she came to Orlando, we started singing together out of necessity," explains Kyrsten. "I wasn't able to work, so we actually started going over to Winter Park in the evenings to sing for tip money, and that would go towards rent and food and everything. When that started happening, we realized we had something special."
These days, she adds, she can't imagine singing without that other voice. "We're both on the same page," Kyrsten says. "Which is great."
Greyboy and O.A.R.
• California's groove-heavy band Greyboy Allstars will headline SCAD's free "New Alumni Concert" Friday, May 31 in Forsyth Park.
The jazz/funk band, formed 10 years ago by DJ Andreas Stevens and tenor sax player Karl Denson, have a new album out (minus Stevens, the original "DJ Greyboy"): Inland Emperor, says allmusic.com, is "a menagerie of sounds that are so evocative and mood-setting, they almost work as a soundtrack to a film."
Also on the bill for the school's end-of-the-semester show are Atlanta's Gringo Star, a longtime Savannah favorite, and R&B singer, songwriter and producer Mayer Hawthorne.
• O.A.R. (Of A Revolution) will perform June 8 in Daffin Park, brought to us by — I'm still trying to figure this one out — Spider-Man creator Stan Lee. Tickets are on sale now ($25-$70) at buyblitzticketscom.