100 Greatest Women, #76: SHeDaisy

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April 18, 2008

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#76

SHeDaisy

When SHeDaisy hit the scene in 1999, they seemed like a quirky pop-country hybrid, two parts Shania Twain and one part Dixie Chicks. From the beginning, they were used for target practice by staunch traditionalists and industry cynics alike. But clever songwriting and infectious production have kept these sisters around, and their music is as interesting as it’s ever been.

SHeDaisy takes their name from a slang word in the Navajo language that means “my little sister.” Kristy, Kelsi and Kassidy Osborn hail from Utah, and started singing together as kids. For a long time, their performing name was The Osborn Sisters. They quickly made a name for themselves in their home region, and when they moved to Nashville, they signed with RCA records in 1989, while all three were still in their teens.

Unfortunately, the album they recorded for RCA was never released. They spent the nineties developing their craft, changing their name to The Violets before settling on SHeDaisy. Big sister Kristyn became the primary songwriter for the group, while little sister Kassidy handled lead vocals. In the late nineties, the stars finally aligned for them. The one-two punch of the massive crossover impact of Shania Twain and the breakout success of female trio the DIxie Chicks made 1999 the perfect year to launch SHeDaisy. Their new label, Lyric Street, was looking for a signature act, and SHeDaisy fit the bill perfectly.

The trio scored a #3 hit with their debut single, “Little Good-Byes”, which showcased their slick harmonies and Kristyn’s poison pen (“Took the hourglass, left the sand, now you’ve got time on your hands.”) Their first album, The Whole SHeBang, sold briskly, and produced another three top twenty singles on its way to selling platinum.

Then things got a little strange. Lyric Street only had SHeDaisy selling records for them at the turn of the century, though another group called Rascal Flatts was showing promise. So the sisters soon found themselves recording a Christmas album, Brand New Year. It was mind-blowingly fresh and creative, so even though it came early in their career, it was a good risk. But nothing can explain why Lyric Street felt the need to release The Whole SHeBang: All Mixed Up, which was their entire debut album, remixed.

By the time they were ready to release their true follow-up, changes in both their personal lives and the country music industry collided. Released in the spring of 2002, Knock on the Sky was a stunningly ambitious album, equal parts creative production and incisive songwriting. Kristyn’s divorce led her to write deeply personal songs that showed talent only hinted at on their debut.

But lead single, “Get Over Yourself”, started to falter after a quick start at radio, with programmers complaining about the glut of “man-bashing” songs that had been dominating the format. They didn’t know it at the time, but the door was closing for women at country radio, and a seven-year period of women dominating the genre was about to come to an abrupt close. SHeDaisy became the first casualty of a backlash against country women with pop leanings, one that would find Lee Ann Womack, Faith Hill and even Shania Twain herself struggling to get airplay. To make matters worse for SHeDaisy, Rascal Flatts had taken off in a big way. Lyric Street was no longer dependent on them to make ends meet, and stopped promoting Knock on the Sky after only two singles.

Undaunted, the sisters resurfaced in 2004 with Sweet Right Here. It became their second gold album on the strengths of “Passenger Seat”, “Come Home Soon”, and “Don’t Worry ‘Bout a Thing.” That last single returned them to the top ten for the first time in five years, and it was rich with references to the backlash two years earlier, with lines like “Ever knock on the sky and had it fall on your head?” and “Ever been accused of murder on Music Row?”

In 2006, their fourth album, Fortuneteller’s Melody, was released. It featured a more organic production, and had the sisters showcase their harmonies in stripped-down settings. Other artists began borrowing Kristyn’s songwriting talents, with cuts appearing on albums by LeAnn Rimes, Jann Arden, and Carmen Rasmussen. Currently, the ladies are preparing their fifth studio album, which is expected later this year.

SHeDaisy

Essential Singles

  • “Little Good-Byes”, 1999
  • “I Will…But” (2000)
  • “Mine All Mine” (2002)
  • “Passenger Seat” (2004)
  • “Don’t Worry ‘Bout a Thing” (2005)

Essential Albums

  • The Whole SHeBang (1999)
  • Knock On the Sky (2002)
  • Sweet Right Here (2004)
  • Fortuneteller’s Melody (2006)

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<== #77. Helen Cornelius

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  1. Leeann says:

    I love SHeDaisy! Kristyn’s songwriting has always amused me and I enjoy their sound. It’s too bad that Rascal Flatts helped to squeeze them out. I really never thought of that angle. It’s ironic that Joe Don used to date Cassidy.

  2. cowboybleauNo Gravatar says:

    wow..I really didn’t expect them to hit the list. Go SHeDaisy!!!

  3. DanNo Gravatar says:

    My appreciation for them grows with each song I hear. Their multiple connections to Rascal Flatts are kind of funny; it kind of makes you think that the only qualitative differences between the acts are strength of songwriting (which SHeDAISY wins hands-down) and histrionics of lead vocals (which the Flatts take in a walk). Not that those aren’t important distinctions, obviously.

  4. Leeann says:

    Dan,

    I have to add the the differences that I hear between SHeDaisy and Rascal Flatts. First, the songwriting, as you mentioned, is much better from SHeDaisy, which is huge. Then their family harmony is something that I always like to hear. the production of their music is always interesting and they are superior to RF in their live performances.

    Then again, I guess the RF boys are laughing all the way to the bank.

  5. DanNo Gravatar says:

    Leeann – I completely agree with you in every dimension you mentioned; I guess I was kind of over-simplifying. Especially on the production end of things; to this day, after what must be dozens of listens, the galloping string parts at the beginning of SHeDAISY’s “I’m Taking the Wheel” still electrify me.

  6. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar says:

    This is a group that wouldn’t be on my list, although Kristyn Osborne might be on it as a individual apart from her group due to her songwriting talents.

  7. MattoBNo Gravatar says:

    If SHeDAISY goes back to Dann Huff has their producer (who they called SHeDann back in the day), then they have even more links to RF since he’s now THEIR producer too. I think “Fortunteller’s Melody” ‘tanked’ ’cause a ‘pop’ producer produced it (to coincide with radio still shutting out the females).

  8. I’ve always loved them and I’m glad to see them make the list. The thing that I like is Kristin’s writing, that’s what makes them stand out.

  9. JaneNo Gravatar says:

    Shedaisy has always been so good. I have all of their albums, and everyone has great songs. It surprises me they’re not more popular.

  10. Matt F.No Gravatar says:

    I’ve seen Shedaisy in concert before as part of a “festival” (it’s called Taste of Country and it’s held in Buffalo, NY at the AAA baseball stadium every summer). That year the youngest was either too pregnant or just gave birth, so they had another of the sisters singing in her place. Honestly, I don’t know if that’s the reason why, but they just did not sound so good in concert. I agree that their music is good in it’s own right (as far as style and radio quality), but maybe their live shows are what’s keeping them from being more popular. Has anyone seen them in concert with all three performing to prove/disprove my statements?

  11. Matt F.No Gravatar says:

    Well, I guess it wasn’t the youngest that missed the show. I believe it was Kelsi? I don’t remember…

  12. LeeannNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve never actually been to a live concert of theirs, Matt. I, however, think they’ve sounded pretty good in televised live performances.

  13. Jim KingNo Gravatar says:

    In the last live show I saw, they did an acoustic segment that was terrific, even with the kid sister. When they don’t sound good live, I think they are victims of having to shout over the band, and it’s hard to re-create their beautiful harmonies and counter-melodies when you are have to compete with an amped-up live band.

    As a fan, I’d put them much higher on this list, but they are certainly outside the traditional country mold. It’s a crime what country radio is doing to them and many other talented female artists. I hope their beauty, intelligence, talent, and commitment will keep them undaunted, and there will be much more SHeMUSIC to enjoy.

  14. PatrickNo Gravatar says:

    I didn’t even notice them on the list. “I’m Lit,” “Man Going Down” and “Get Over Yourself” are such great tracks…

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