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Sisters Morales To Make Rare Live Performance

Nathan Cone
Texas Public Radio
L to R: David Spencer, Lisa Morales, Roberta Morales.

I was trying hard to remember. Could it really have been 20 years since the last time Sisters Morales had visited us at Texas Public Radio? As Lisa and Roberta Morales made their way into our back studio, we all recalled being in this building before… and certainly at Cibolo Creek Country Club in early 1998, when my friend and former TPR colleague David Furst brought them to the stage for a live edition of the late, great “Sunday Night Session.” (You can hear that show at the bottom of this page, by the way.)

In the years since then, of course, a lot had happened. The acclaimed folk and roots rock duo, equally adept at Spanish ranchera-style music as they are with blues and rock, had recorded two albums with a major label only to have them left on the shelf. In 2009, they lost their beloved mother, Gloria, a brilliant linguist and talented musician herself. “The glue fell out of the family,” says Lisa Morales, explaining the band’s hiatus that began in 2011. Lisa recorded a solo album “Beautiful Mistake,” that she says “was kind of a grieving album,” with songs that were so personal they only needed one voice.

Roberta left Texas, but found there was something lacking, even in the beautiful scenery of Colorado. “I couldn’t even write. I’d put ideas on a tape player, and I wouldn’t even listen to it, until I came back to Texas.”

Both women say they came back even stronger from that loss, and when the time was right in late 2013, they were ready to re-form, with essential member David Spencer on guitar.

“Sisters [Morales] is not ‘Sisters’ without him,” Lisa says enthusiastically. “He is the missing piece [in our sound].”

That sound is unique in its crystalline harmonies that also allow each of the siblings to take either the lead or harmony vocal—sometimes within the same song!

“Alice [Blaker, bass player and wife of retired country musician Clay Blaker], would say ‘when you sing, it’s like there are three people singing,’” Lisa recalls. “There’s that thing that happens with sibling harmony. When we sing together, I do hear this other voice, as well.”

Growing up in Tuscon, the Sisters Morales were steeped in the sounds of rock and roots music, but also traditional Mexican sounds. To this day, Sisters Morales write and perform in both English and Spanish, sometimes mixing the two within one song.

“It just happens,” Roberta explains.

Lisa continues, “I always felt like I’m a vessel that receives, and you know, get up and go do what it’s doing, and don’t stop it, don’t get in the way!”

“They’re like blessings,” says Roberta.

And so are the Sisters Morales.

Lisa Morales’ most recent solo release is “Luna Negra and the Daughter of the Sun.” Roberta Morales is currently at work on a solo record that she says is “turning out to be a rock/blues CD.”

You can catch Sisters Morales in a rare performance on Thursday, October 4 at the Briscoe Western Art Museum. The band is headlining the Fall Fandango event, celebrating the museum's fifth birthday. Guests at the Briscoe will get an exclusive after-hours look at the special “Destino San Antonio” exhibition, showcasing vintage San Antonio in 3-D, then enjoy the concert from 7:00 – 8:30. Details are online at this link. To hear our full conversation, use the audio player at the top of this page.

From the TPRchives....

Nathan has been with TPR since 1995, when he began working on classical music station KPAC 88.3 FM, as host of “Tuesday Night at the Opera.” He soon learned the ropes on KSTX 89.1 FM, and volunteered to work practically any shift that came his way, on either station. He worked in nearly every capacity on the radio before moving into Community Engagement, Marketing, and Digital Media. His reporting and criticism has been honored by the Houston Press Club and Texas Associated Press.