About

Hailing from Hopkins, Minnesota, JILLIAN THOMAS was introduced to music at an early age by her mother, an accomplished violinist. Beginning at the age of three, TRPhotoWayStation2013-034_just jillianJillian accompanied her mother to orchestra rehearsals. Musicians would often comment that “she is the only child able to fall asleep during a Mahler symphony while the orchestra is playing triple forte.”

Starting out singing in choirs and at church, Jillian quickly developed a love for music, eventually studying classical and opera literature at the McPhail Center for the Arts in Minneapolis.  Jillian then joined her first a cappella group her junior year in high school. It was through these experiences that Jillian found her calling in life.

Influenced by Lizz Wright, Amos Lee, Citizen Cope, Nina Simone and many others, Jillian began writing lyrics and melodies, putting her own thoughts and feelings to paper. Jillian3 completeEventually she met three musicians in Washington, D.C. who shared her vision, creating the Jillian Thomas Band. Pairing Jillian’s raw, emotional lyrics with arrangements by her other band members, they created a unique sound that borrowed from folk, jazz, Latin, rock, and hip-hop.

Jillian believes that music is the only true universal language.  “No matter what language you speak or culture you identify with, there can always be an appreciation for the notes of a song that composes its melody. There is no need for lyrics, there is no need for a slew of instruments. Notes, strung together in rhythm and tone can have a profound effect in someone’s life.” It is through this aural language that Jillian has cemented her desire to pursue a career in music. She continues to say, “The first thing I do when I am sad, or happy, angry, exhausted, or peaceful, is turn on my favorite tune for that mood. Listening to the melody, harmony, words of the instruments and vocalist, I am then able to seek comfort, relax, have a burst of energy, smile, or just feel better than I had 3 minutes and 30 seconds ago. I want to do THIS for somebody. For me, this is one of the greatest and most powerful gifts I can give someone. Comfort.”

 

BETHANY WYSHAK, of Brooklyn, New York, is an indie folk artist with classical roots.  Growing up on Boston’s North Shore, Bethany fondly remembers watching her mother on the TRPhotoWayStation2013-036_bethanyballet stage, phrases of the orchestral score still floating through her head to this day.

While her mother studied classical ballet, Bethany pursued the vocal arts.  She started out singing musical theater and eventually transitioned to opera, earning her Master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music in 2010. Bethany is also an experienced choral singer, performing with the National Chorale at Avery Fisher Hall and receiving the 2008 Harmon Choral Award from George Washington University. In recital, Bethany’s voice has been praised for its purity of line, emotion, and tone.Bethany4 BEST

The transcendent quality of the classical canon is what drew Bethany to music.  In particular, she developed a love for art song while attending the Songfest program at Pepperdine University. She believes that “a singer committed to her song will communicate volumes to the audience, even while singing pianissimo. It is this commitment that brings the audience into another world, allowing them to release their everyday concerns and escape for three brief but beautiful minutes into another realm of existence.”

Inspired by her love for art song, Bethany discovered that she could attempt to harness the power of song in her own writing.  Whether classical or folk in genre, a song reflects a certain time, place, or experience that can take on a new shape or meaning each time it is heard.  She feels a committed singer can inspire the listener to re-imagine his or her connection to the song.  Bethany’s lyrics and melody aim to give the song a personal touch, and the singer a freedom of expression, that translates effortlessly to the listener.

Her major singer-songwriter influences include Patty Griffin, Vienna Teng, and Alicia Keys.

 

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“I remember it so well,” Jillian Thomas laughs as she describes her first encounter with Bethany at an audition.  “I was so intimidated by her confidence and musical ability,” she continues.  “I would soon come to find out that she is one of the sweetest people I know.”  This dynamic duo joined forces in 2004, when they both auditioned for their college all-female a cappella group, the GW Sirens.  It was through this ensemble that a musical camaraderie was nourished, and a true friendship cultivated, between Jillian and Bethany.

“I was captivated by Jillian’s utterly soulful and powerful voice, and her magnetic presence, both on and offstage.  She inspires everyone around her,” Bethany adds.  At the start of their junior year in college, Jillian became Music Director and Bethany Assistant Music Director of the group.  TRPhotoWayStation2013-043_bothThrough these new roles, the two ladies truly began to understand each other’s unique vocal capabilities, musically supporting and complementing each other.

The two songbirds eventually both followed their passion to New York.  Immersed in the vibrant musical landscape of the city, Jillian has finished her studies at the Institute of Audio Research, and continues to dedicate herself to the art of audio engineering. Bethany is a member of the Artistic Planning team at the New York Philharmonic.

One evening as the two friends were catching up in the West Village after work, an idea was born – “Do you want to sing together again sometime?” – and their musical paths converged once again.  Jillian and Bethany began writing songs influenced by folklore and down home Delta blues roots.  While Wandering through varied genres and musical styles, they remain grounded by their Downhome roots, and welcome you along in their journey.