WHOA! SistaStrings is the real life sister duo of Monique (cello) and Chauntee (violin) Ross. Currently tearing it up on the road with Brandi Carlile and Allison Russell, The Ross sisters’ musical roots began with their intense classical training, family gatherings and in church. All five of their siblings played music, toured around with their minister parents and even had their own family band, Sisters of Praize, with older sisters Charice Ross on violin and Rickena Johnson on viola. After Chauntee was done with college, she and Monique teamed up again and ventured out in the Milwaukee music scene where they cut their teeth and tried their hand at all sorts of different styles: hip-hop, jam bands, electronic music and singer-songwriters. There, they met a kindred spirit in Peter Mulvey, who they started performing with in 2016.
SistaStrings officially made the move to Nashville in the summer of 2021. Once there, they started playing gigs with Allison Russell. Monique’s encounter with Brandi Carlile at Newport Folk Fest led them to both touring with her band. In our conversation, Lizzie and Cindy talk to Monique and Chauntee about being romantic string players thanks to their classical background, which also gave them very thick skin. They also talk about the decision to pursue a musical path into the folk and Americana world, which is a notoriously white space. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t an easy decision, but it’s one they have not come to regret.
Photo Credit: Samer Ghani