The Beu Sisters: Family First: With a Pop!
Four gorgeous Florida sisters ranging in age from 27 to 15, put out a smooth sound that is a blend of pop with a tinge of blues and country. No artificial studio "doctoring" for these girls who create and polish their own four part harmonies. Candice, Christie, Jilaine and Danielle's album "Decisions" is full of personal music that all teens can relate to.
These "surfer girls" grew up in New York watching their talented parents on the Broadway musical stage. The tight-knit sisters, who are part of a family of eight kids, list their influences as ranging from 40's Big Band to modern hip-hop. Their music is popping up in films, most recently, The Lizzie McGuire Movie. When we chatted with Candice, 27 and Christie, 25, they had just returned from the L.A. premiere of the film and were getting down to business rehearsing for a new album in a Florida studio.
TeenMusic: How do you pronounce your last name? Is it Bow or like New?
Candice: It's like "New". But always, our whole, lives, when we made reservations for a table at a restaurant, they always call us the wrong name so we're used to it.
TeenMusic: You were just out here in L.A. Sorry I missed you. How did your song "You Make Me Feel Like a Star" get picked for The Lizzie McGuire Movie?
Christie: Our producer Steve has friends that he sent our album to so I guess they liked the song and thought it would fit so we got chosen.
Candice: We had the opening song for How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days and it happened the same way. The funny thing is we found out about both movie soundtracks on the same day. Our song is supposed to be on an episode of "American Idol" too.
Christie: There are some things coming up on t.v. Maybe our song in a pilot but I don't want to jinx it.
TeenMusic: Your dedication on the CD is to your Mom. What was the most important advice she ever gave you?
Candice: One of our songs on our album is called "Decisions" and that was a song that Christie and I had written from a true-life experience my sisters went through. The first line of the song is "don't just go from one nest to the next". My mom has said to me, "it's not where you go or where you rest, it's the flying in between". So, it's all about finding yourself and your independence and not going from your mom's house into marriage.
Christie: When I was twenty years old, I was engaged and she really liked the guy a lot. She wasn't against him but she wanted me to find myself first and figure out who I was before I went straight from my mother's house into being somebody's wife. The bridge of the song is a reflection of what my mom said, "Do I want to go from being somebody's daughter to somebody's wife to somebody's mother. I need my own life". I listened to that advice and it's probably the best thing I ever did.
TeenMusic: Is she still a big advisor in your lives?
Candice: Yes. Bigtime. She was in show business for 40 years so she's been on every side of it. We grew up backstage watching. We've seen all the sides. Mom knows the ins and outs of the business and how hard it can be and she's always there to guide us along.
TeenMusic: You don't all still live together? Where?
Candice: We all lived together up until last summer. There's eight kids in our family but seven of us were all living in the same house forever. I was the only one lucky enough to have my own room at the time and everyone else had to share a bedroom. Christie moved out a year prior to that. Now my sister Christie and sister Jilaine are roommates. I live with a friend of mine and Danielle still lives at the house with mom but we're all basically about ten minutes away from each other.
TeenMusic: Your music isn't electronically enhanced and your harmonies are natural. Did you refuse any studio "doctoring"?
Candice: When we met our producer [Steve Greenberg] for the first time....we started singing together about eight years ago and I always arranged the harmonies and I think that's something that he heard. He didn't want to change that at all. He wanted to keep the harmonies. The way I arrange harmonies is a little different. He really wanted to let that be part of our signature sound so on the album I got to be the vocal director and arranger for the album. That's my favorite part too. I love that creative side of it.
Christie: But I think that's one of the things that attracted him to us to begin with was the harmonies. It took over a year and a half to make the album and find our sound. He wanted to still have pop tracks but with what he used to call our "country" harmonies. Over the year and a half it kept evolving into what it is now.
TeenMusic: "Stop, Stay Away from my sister" is a cool song. Do you all protect each other that strongly from jerk guys?
Candice: We absolutely all watch out for each other. I try to be the cooler big sister to my younger sister. It's funny, as soon as we're out in a situation where guys may be looking at her (Danielle), I'm the quickest one to be the mother hen. 'Don't look at her'. I feel like 'oh my God, I'm turning into my mother already'. I did it just the other night at a premiere. There were these guys there that were trying to talk to Danielle and I saw them and someone had grabbed her too hard on the arm and she shook a little. I jumped up. I was like 'I am not afraid to come over there'. And the guy is like 'oooo, big sister protecting little sister'. That's right.
Christie: The song is actually a true story. It's just about growing up in our town and we'd deal with some guys who would be into Candice, then into me then they'd be checking out Jil.
Candice: And now Danielle is fifteen and way hotter than anybody I ever knew at fifteen. So now they're checking her out.
TeenMusic: Is your single "I Was Only Seventeen" the story of one of you?
Christie: That was written by Steve Greenberg.
Candice: When Steve wrote the song, he had come to our town to visit us before we made the album and he got a real essence of what life in a small town is like and so, even though it isn't a definite story that might have happened to one of us, it is the story of living in a small town and that could apply to anybody. No matter who you are, you might have something in your past that you might not be proud of. When you get into a relationship and they start dredging up stuff you say 'hey why can't you love me now and not worry about what happened to me back then?'
TeenMusic: The publicity for Decisions says the record is "the soundtrack of your lives". Are there songs that don't apply to you on the record?
Christie: I think almost every song is something that we've experienced. With "Emily", that's a song I wrote for friends of mine who had children. I had a lot of single mother friends at the time. I wrote the song like five years ago. It was my tribute to them, a little lullaby song. The song on the Lizzie McGuire soundtrack "You make me Feel Like a Star", was written as a fun boyfriend, make-you-feel-good, song but when we started singing it on stage together, it took on a new meaning. It became singing with my sisters makes me feel like a star.
TeenMusic: How would you describe your sound pop/rock or something else?
Christie: I have a lot of different musical influences. We sang country before we got signed to a pop deal so I obviously have some left-overs from singing country for five years but I also grew up listening to Mariah Carey and hip hop and R&B. My producer says, I would be the product of Dolly Parton and Michael Jackson had a kid which is an odd combination.
Candice: MTV says we're like The Dixie Chicks meet The Jackson Five. We're happy with that. We try not to put a label on it.
TeenMusic: Who sings most of the leads or do you switch off?
Christie: On this album our producer was in charge. I do most of the leads on the album but everybody has a solo. For our live show, just so it doesn't get boring, we give everybody a little more time than on the album.
Candice: Each person was born with a distinctive place that their voice fits in the group. There's no competition. I was born with an alto voice and nobody else can go as low as I can go and Danielle was born with a super soprano voice. Jil has that perfect middle ground that glues everybody together. Christie has it all going on. She can pick up anybody's harmony and do it.
TeenMusic: Watching so many musicals backstage, why didn't at least one of you go into musical theater?
Christie: Just last night I went to see Chicago with my mother. We'd seen the Broadway show and went to see the movie. I was like 'I'm going to be the one following in your footsteps. Someday, I will be on Broadway'. You go up watching your mom be that glamorous and with that energy performing live, there's a part of me that wants to be like mom.
Candice: Maybe you and me both. You be Velma and I'll be Roxy.
(They start arguing over who will play which part).
TeenMusic: Did Christie always do the vocal arrangements for your guys? Was she the one always interested in music?
Christie: I don't know how I fell into it. But rather than singing melody with the radio, I would sing harmony and that's kind of how I taught everybody to learn the harmonies. I think everybody is capable of it. Jil is good at it too. Everybody has the capabilities.
Candice: We just put together a song yesterday in our rehearsals and Christie does the bulk of the harmony arrangements but when you are singing your own part, you'll just feel where it's supposed to do and Christie will say keep that.
TeenMusic: At what point did you all decide that you could be a group?
Christie: I had done every talent show, anything to keep myself on stage. By the time I got to my junior year I was bored with singing by myself. I knew everybody else was talented but we had never sang together before except me and Candice for competitions. Then all four of us got on stage and sang four part harmonies. It was magical.
Candice: When our parents divorced 9 or 10 years ago, everyone was ready to go their separate ways and having a rough time of it. Music brought us all together. It was a way to get everybody talking and healing.
There is nothing like singing with your sisters. There is a connection that we have... almost psychic.
TeenMusic: Favorite track on the album and why?
Candice: "Falling Out of Love with You". I like it because it's kind of '60's. We were big fans of The Cherelles. All my mom's music from when she was a teenager.
Christie: "Decisions" because that came out of the hardest part of my life. It was so hard to walk away from that engagement but it was the right decision. That means a lot but "Crushed" has a special place. It's a beautiful song, the first song we wrote specifically for the album that made the cut and my first lead vocal I'd done for the album. I cried when I finished it. I'd been dreaming about it [singing on her album] since I was three.
Candice: The story behind that for me, it was about a guy that I had a crush on in high school who had passed away a few years ago. So, whenever I think of that time I get sad. I dedicated it to him on the album.
TeenMusic: Weirdest fan encounter so far?
Christie: The letters from jail. They are so bizarre.
Candice: There were three different letters from this guy in the Midwest in jail. He's talking to us like he knows who we are but then he'll say, 'I write this letter to the woman I still refer to as "Alice". It's so bizarre. He then acts like he thinks we're somebody else. 'Those fools at Blender let me know where to find you'. Creepy.
Christie: Our uncle has been our bodyguard. He has us send all the letters to him and he'll keep a check on people.
Candice: He was Yoko Ono's bodyguard right after John's death.
TeenMusic: Are you interested in acting? Are your sisters?
Christie: I think our little sister Gabrielle. She's ten. We're all open to the idea but everyone's focused on the music.
Candice: When we made our video, we'd done commercials when we were little. We made the video and we're like 'dang, we can act'. We always say we are open to it.
TeenMusic: What is your songwriting process?
Christie: Sometimes I'll start a melody or vibe and Candice will start lyrics.
Candice: I'll sit there with my pad of paper. We'll come up with the storyline and put a title to it. What I like to do is free writing while the music is going on, not lifting my pen from the page, like a brainstorm, then lift little words or phrases from that chunk. We bounce lyrics off each other.
Christie: We're a good team. I do most of the melody and she does most of the lyrics but it's also an even trade off. Candice grew up listening to a lot of jazz and blues and '40's big band stuff.
Candice: I was always more blusey.
TeenMusic: What would be an ideal date activity?
Christie: I'd like to have a fire in the backyard.
Candice: Better explain! We have a little fireplace there. I love sitting around, having a glass of wine. Something real mellow, having a good conversation, listening to music.
Christie: I like to go to clubs and stuff but most guys don't dance too much so I go out with my girlfriends but for a date, we have the most beautiful beach here. When there is a full moon you can watch the moon rise over the ocean. It's orange and breathtaking. That's a good date night.
TeenMusic: Who are you dying to do a duet with?
Candice: I really love India Arie. She is incredible.
Christie: Celine Dion was a major influence. Sublime was one of my favorite bands. I'm a surfer and that's my surf punk music. They have awesome harmonies. My brother plays guitar and we used to jam out to it. I was so upset when he passed away.
Candice: How about The Neptunes? When I want to get into that groove, their production is incredible. They produced the Justin CD. They rule.
Christie: I'd like to work with Mariah too.
TeenMusic: Who did you see in concert recently?
Christie: Def Leppard was playing in Datona but they were sold out. We're working on getting tickets to Justin and Christina.
Candice: Last year we saw Alicia Keys. Incredible. We love her so much.
TeenMusic: When you argue, what is it usually about and who is the peacemaker?
Candice: We do fight about petty little things like borrowing clothes and forgetting important things when you leave. We have a checklist and somebody will forget something. Those fights are over in a few seconds.
It's like when you fight with a friend. If it lasts for ten minutes it's a big deal. What we'll do is have a big pow wow and give each sister time to speak. Whoever has the problem isn't the peacemaker that time.
TeenMusic: Who is the Jokester?
Candice: We're all stupid and goofy. We goof off to ease the tension. If we had to pick one I think Jil can imitate voices and is funny that way. But we keep each other in stitches.
TeenMusic: When you are on tour, what do you do to kick back and relax?
Candice: We'll pack some popcorn on our trip and we'll watch some movies and have slumber parties in our room.
Christie: We're working our butts off all day and by nighttime it's more safe to stay in than go out, especially with a 15-year-old to make it fun for her. If there's a hot tub it's nice to relax your muscles.
TeenMusic: What is next for you girls?
Christie: We just finished recording a song for the Disney compilation CD which is called Disneymania. They have popstars re-make Disney songs. We did "He's a Tramp" from Lady and the Tramp. Candice does the lead on that one and she sounds amazing. She's got a very, sultry, blusey, jazzy sound. It's amazing.
Candice: Disney has a new feature film called Home on the Range and Alan Menken is writing a song specifically for us for the closing of the film. You dream these things are going to happen and now he's writing one for us.
TeenMusic: What would you like to say to potential fans out there?
Christie: It's okay and cool to hang out with your family. I know a lot of sisters don't get along and I can't imagine not getting along with my sisters. We have so much fun together. We have a blast. It keeps you grounded.
Candice: I don't like it when people put celebrities up on a pedestal like they're not real people. Not that we're celebrities but we're real people. We have good and bad days. We want everybody out there to feel comfortable around us and like they're part of our family too.
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Lynn Barker is a Hollywood-based entertainment journalist and produced screenwriter.