It’s impossible to manufacture something as genuine or as damn-straight cool as the sister trio Michaelis.
Made up of Meagan, Mallory and Madeline—their surname doubles as their band name—the group has been winning over audiences throughout its native Texas since youngest member Madeline was only 5 years old. “They’d sneak me through the back door of the honky-tonk and then I had to leave right after the show,” says Madeline.
Now all grown up, the girls spent the past two years collaborating with visionary Nashville producer Dave Brainard (Jerrod Niemann, Brandy Clark) on their debut album, a collection of songs that marries the traditional country their father played for them while growing up with the ’90s showmanship of artists like Garth Brooks, Shania Twain and, another Texas trio, the Dixie Chicks.
With harmonies as tight as their sisterly bond and a sexy, swaying sound all their own, Michaelis is a breath of fresh air in an often stifled and male-heavy musical environment.
“There is no fabrication going on with our songs. It’s very much us and we’re part of their creation. Our songs are about love, our faith and how we see the world—and how we wish other people would see the world,” says Meagan, 25, who sings lead. Raven-haired Mallory, 21, rocks the rhythm guitar and, as the heart of the band, lays down the group’s signature low harmonies, while 18-year-old Madeline is the trio’s multi-instrumentalist, playing lead guitar, mandolin and nearly anything with strings, while providing a near-angelic high harmony.
“I hope people can admire the love in our family and our relationship when they hear our music, because we’re best friends,” Mallory says. “We’d like that to speak to people.”
Still, Michaelis is far from the Partridge Family. There is a distinct “don’t mess with Texas” aura about the ladies—as one poor soul in Ohio who got a little too fresh with Mallory knows all too well.
“Mallory kicked a drunk cowboy in the face once,” says Meagan with a grin.
“I was 16 and we were up in Ohio at a rodeo, and this guy was just getting way too close,” confirms Mallory. “So I gave him a little kick.”
That no-nonsense theme is all over the group’s utterly unique debut single, “Shoot Straight.” A warning to a guy to not waste Meagan’s time, the song has a mature sexiness rarely heard in today’s country music.
“The character in ‘Shoot Straight’ is just a cool chick. It’s how our dad raised us. I’m not going to be a clingy girl that is going to make you try to fall in love with me. Just tell me what you really want and let’s get it over with,” Meagan says.
But make no mistake. Michaelis is not a trio of crazy ex-girlfriends.
“When we write, we try to stay away from real sad subjects and man-hating stuff,” says Mallory, “because that’s not who we are.”
“22 Red Flags,” another standout in the band’s repertoire, looks at the warning signs—22 of them—that a potential lover gives off. “It came from relationships I’ve been in,” admits Meagan. “Some of them were all red flags. It was like, ‘get away now.’”
Fans, however, will be doing just the opposite once they experience Michaelis live. There is something magnetic about the group, a presence that draws in an audience and makes it impossible for them to look away from what’s happening onstage.
Part of the magic lies in Meagan’s Stevie Nicks-like stage presence (“She’s a rock star up there,” Madeline says of her oldest sis) and the three sisters’ distinct fashion sensibilities, which contribute to an undeniable visual chemistry.
But ultimately, it’s the songs that distinguish Michaelis.
“We took so much time perfecting and trying to come up with something that was special,” says Meagan of their intensive writing and recording regimen.
“And I feel we’ve done it. The songs will definitely stand out. And for us, they’re what it’s all about.”