ST. GEORGE – Young siblings often have a hard time sharing and getting along, but one special group of sisters not only live together in harmony, they’ve been singing in harmony since they were toddlers.
On Nov. 10, the local sister act known as Mandee and the ABC Girls will release their first Christmas CD, “Our Greatest Gift,” and Thursday night, in conjunction with the album release, the singing sisters will give a special concert for St. George community members. The concert, taking place in conjunction with a 40th anniversary celebration at the Boulevard Home Furnishings in St. George, will be free to the public and feature many special guests – musical friends of the girls who have been invited to join them onstage.
“We’ll just have good messages, and we have fun. I’m excited,” Mandee Rodgers, 14, said.
Mandee is the lead namesake of the group, and the ABC Girls are her sisters: Aubree Rodgers, 11, Brittnee Rodgers, 10, and Christee Rodgers, 9 – a, b and c. For their Christmas album, the girls’ older sister, Kaydee Fridell, 23, also joins them on some of the songs. Fridell is married and has a young baby, Abigail, 3 months – possibly the next ABC Girl in training.
“We’re going to call her Abee – A-b-e-e,” Rob Rodgers, the father of the group of sisters, joked.
Tonya Rodgers, the mother of the family, said they tried to get Fridell to give her daughter a “d” name, so the baby could be the next letter in the alphabet for the ABC Girls. Aubree, the “A” of the ABC Girls, joked that it’s not too late to change the baby’s name.
“She doesn’t know her name yet,” Aubree said with a smile.
It’s certainly a family affair for this musical bunch. Mom and Dad manage their daughters’ blossoming music careers – the girls have performed concerts throughout Southern Utah, won numerous contests and even traveled to other states by request to share their musical gifts – and Mom coaches the girls in their voice training. Older sister Fridell accompanies her younger sisters on guitar for some of the songs on their Christmas album.
Mandee and Aubree have each written their own original songs, and one family goal, Rob Rodgers said, is for all the girls to eventually learn to write their own music. The biggest goal, however, and the impetus that started Mandee and the ABC Girls to begin with, is to spread positive messages and a love of God.
“We want to spread the gospel through our music,” Mandee said.
“And make the world a better place,” Aubree added.
Mandee and the ABC Girls came into being after a family tragedy occurred, and the Rodgers family has since worked to turn their grief into a tidal wave of positivity, hoping to help prevent other young people from feeling like there is no hope.
“I had a nephew that committed suicide,” Tonya Rodgers said, “ … and we just felt inspired so much that we needed to write songs that had a message in them for especially youth, for younger kids and youth – good messages to believe in themselves and know that they can make a difference in their life.”
In the midst of their heartache, the family members banded together and collaboratively wrote several inspirational songs that eventually became “Shine Brightly,” Mandee and the ABC Girls’ first CD.
“We want (youth) to know they’re worth more than sometimes they think they are, so that’s really the reason we all do it,” Rob Rodgers said.
Brittnee described the group’s music as “Christian pop.” While many kids in their age group like to listen to music with an upbeat sound, Mandee said, the lyrics they listen to are often negative and not at all upbeat. She and her sisters wanted to change that with their own music, she said – offering a popular music sound but with a better message.
“Some of the songs are actually meant to be a little bit of … self-affirmation,” Tonya Rodgers said. “When you sing the song and it gets stuck in your head, you’re actually telling yourself positive messages.”
“They teach you to believe in yourself and to be positive and to be kind and to serve others and things like that,” Rob Rodgers said.
And these young girls love to serve. Their favorite thing to do during the holiday season is visit care centers and sing to the elderly, Tonya Rodgers said. On Valentine’s Day this year, the girls visited shut-ins and sang to them.
Mandee and the ABC Girls also perform anti-bullying assemblies as part of their performance repertoire. They’ve performed their anti-bullying program at two local schools so far and also at a Christian school in Washington State, and they said they are eager to spread their positive message at other local schools.
Mandee and the ABC Girls released their first album, “Shine Brightly,” in February. To follow up with a second album in the same year is almost unheard of, Rob Rodgers said, but the girls’ Christmas CD became almost a force of its own.
“We know that God definitely had a hand in the Christmas album creation,” Rob Rodgers said.
In the months after “Shine Brightly” was released, Christian musicians from around the U.S. began reaching out to the family, offering to let the girls use their own original songs if they would create a Christmas album.
“Seven of the 10 songs (on the Christmas album) were from people that just reached out to us and gave them to the girls,” Rob Rodgers said. “They loved their music, they loved their voices and wanted to be part of that message they’ve given to the world through their first album.”
Christian singer/songwriter Travis Highter wrote two of the songs that appear on the Christmas CD. The family has also been in contact with a Christian pastor in Chicago who fell in love with the girls’ music, Rob Rodgers said. He sent her a box of “Shine Brightly” CDs and she has sold every one, he said, sending the money from the sales back to the Rodgers family.
The Rodgers are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Rob Rodgers said it’s been awesome to meet so many people from other Christian faiths whom they might not otherwise have met.
“We’re kind of bridging the gap with their music,” he said.
“Our Greatest Gift,” filled with a combination of traditional Christmas songs, new songs and one LDS children’s song called “Jesus Once Was a Little Child,” will be officially released Nov. 10. The album can be ordered on the Mandee and the ABC Girls website, and after Nov. 12, it will be available for purchase at Speed Lube stores throughout Utah and also at Bobby Lawrence Karate, 1397 W. Sunset Blvd. in St. George.
Mandee and the ABC Girls’ free concert will take place Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Boulevard Home Furnishings, 390 N. Mall Drive in St. George. The concert takes place during a private, invitation-only anniversary sale at the store, but concertgoers just need to tell the door greeters they are there to see Mandee and the ABC Girls in order to gain admittance.
- What: Mandee and the ABC Girls and friend “Winter Wonderland” concert
- When: Thursday, Nov. 6, at 5:30 p.m.
- Where: Boulevard Home Furnishings, 390 N. Mall Drive in St. George
- Admission: Free; tell door greeters you are there for the Mandee and the ABC Girls concert
- Details: Mandee and the ABC Girls Facebook page | Website
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