Two years ago, two Mercersburg-area sisters won the “Win an Americana Record Deal” contest through a company called AirPlay Direct, which sources music to radio stations all around the world. Thanks to the exposure, Brechyn Chace and Larissa Chace Smith — now known as The Hello Strangers — have performed in venues around the mid-Atlantic and will host a show at Millheim’s Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks this weekend.
Music has always been a part of the Chace family life. While their grandfathers were both professional musicians, their paternal grandfather played trombone with Les Brown’s Big Band and sang with Doris Day.
Growing up, the Chace sisters always loved singing and performing for fun at home with their siblings. But it wasn’t until they lived in Austin, Texas, in 2006 that they started writing in the genre of Americana/alternative-country/roots.
“Performing together as sisters is definitely a unique experience,” Smith said. “Harmonizing with your sibling is one of the coolest feelings you can have as a singer. Our harmonies, mixed with our original songwriting arranged around those harmonies, are definitely the backbone to our sound.”
For the past two years, Larissa and Brechyn have been preparing for the record with Nashville, Tenn., producer Steve Ivey.
“It’s been very exciting to work with an award-winning producer and have the connections through the contest we never would have had,” Smith said. “It has been the most humbling and exciting experience we could have dreamed of.”
While the Hello Strangers primarily play Americana at a surface level, they also have an appreciation for myriad musical styles, from jazz to folk.
“I would say you can hear other influences in our music, so it’s hard to put a specific label on what we do,” Smith said. “We sometimes use other genres of music, such as indie folk and alternative country. Some of our songs are more formulaic, such as our honky-tonk song ‘Ruined,’ and others are more folk-rock and cross-over, like our song ‘Runaway.’ ”
Smith said the recording sessions in Nashville gave a new dimension to her stage singing.
“I felt like I had a glow of confidence and no matter what, we were making a great record and had come so far with our performing that I could be happy with just that,” she said. “But of course we always set our goals higher and higher, and we really hope we can use the album and connections in Nashville to really bolster our career. We’d love to tour on a larger scale and really get our music out there.”