Left to right: Meghan (Bass), Kendra (Guitar and Lead Singer), LaRae (Banjo), Alisa (Fiddle and Mandolin)
With the rarity of red hair in the world currently residing at less than 2%, families of gingers are hard to come by. When we see one, we stop right in our tracks.
But a band consisting of four sisters with red hair? And their name is Redhead Express? Well, you can be pretty certain that we’re going to pass out with excitement. Gingers unite!
Consisting of four sisters with a big dream, Redhead Express is Meghan, Kendra, LaRae and Alisa, who are all poised to take over the world with their gingerful music. They left their chilly home of Alaska in 2007 to pursue a life on the road, playing their beautiful, empowering Country music at more than 2,000 shows to date.
We got to know Redhead Express, finding out what they love most about their red hair, and their aspirations for their music.
How long has Redhead Express been together?
LaRae: All our lives – we’re sisters! But as a band, about eight years.
How did the band begin?
Kendra: The idea started when we were little kids. We had a VHS of The Dutton Family show that we watched until it broke. I always thought it would be cool to perform with my family like that.
LaRae: Our Mamma taught piano to all of us when we were five, and our Dad sang, so the love of music was inevitable.
Meghan: Kendra got a guitar at a garage sale, our neighbour played the banjo and LaRae just fell in love with it. Alisa was the best at the fiddle so we all gave that to her, then I was left. I didn’t know a whole lot about instruments, so in my mind it seemed like my sisters had already taken every instrument there was to play and I felt a little left out. That is, until our Aunt gave us an upright bass and I claimed it as quick as I could!
Alisa: When we finally realised there were enough different instruments in our family to start a band, we started performing in the town we lived in and other places close by. We figured that in order for us to get deeper into this new dream we created we had to get out there and learn from the people who created this music (which at the time was Bluegrass). In 2007 we left Alaska and started touring the country and exploring this Bluegrass music, which now has evolved into a study of Country music.
Meghan: I can remember one day when the family was all sitting in the living room brainstorming. “If we ever did become a band,” someone threw out, “then what would we call ourselves?” I can remember Alisa, who we call Giggles, jokingly saying, “Hey, what about ‘Redhead Express’?” Which was followed by one of her little giggling sessions. But much to her surprise, we didn’t think it was too bad of an idea. That was the beginning of The Redhead Express.
Who is your musical inspiration?
LaRae: We grew up listening to a wide variety: Alison Krauss, the Dixie Chicks, Eva Cassidy, 60’s-80’s rock and pop (Journey, STYX, Queen, ABBA, The Eagles…) Jazz classics, Classical, All the best Country (Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, 90’s Country).
Kendra: Goodness, there are so many answers to that question! I have many inspirations, but I think the Dixie Chicks have been one of my biggest influences/inspirations as an artist.
Meghan: As far as singing goes, Martina McBride was one of my biggest influences as a child. I owned just about every CD she’d ever made and had just about every song memorised. Alison Krauss is also a huge inspiration, because a lot of the parts I sing in the band are in that same high, soft register. The Dixie Chicks will always be my favourite band of all time – they’ve inspired me so much. For the bass, a man by the name of Mike Bub was my biggest influence. In my mind, he was the best upright bass player in the world. I ended up buying my bass from him – a 1939 Kay bass that I named Eddy.
Alisa: Stuart Duncan is one of my favourite fiddlers of all time. Svend Asmussen, a jazz fiddler, is another amazing. Vocal-wise, the Dixie Chicks, Collin Raye and Martina McBride are some of my greatest influences.
But as I grew older, I realised how rare it is and had so many people tell me they wished they had my hair colour
Have all four of you always had red hair? How many redheads are in your family?
Meghan: Kendra, LaRae and I have always had red hair, although LaRae’s seems to be getting more brown as she gets older.
Kendra: Alisa has a little help…shhhhh!
Alisa: I have to dye my hair to fit in.
Meghan: Thank goodness for good hairdressers and Clairol!
LaRae: But Alisa named the band – so we kept her. There are nine people in our family (Mom, Dad, and seven kids). Out of the nine, five of us have natural red hair. Mom used to have red hair too, but she gave it to all the kids. She’s a blonde now.
Have you always been proud of your red hair?
LaRae: Oh yes!
Meghan: To be honest, when I was younger, I never even thought about my hair. It was just hair. But now? I love my red hair!
Kendra: When I was a kid, I really wanted straight brown hair like all my friends…I just wanted to fit in. But as I grew older, I realised how rare it is and had so many people tell me they wished they had my hair colour. I love my red hair now!
Alisa: I love it even more as time goes on!
I was always complimented on my hair and heard things like, “Do you know how much people spend to get the colour of your hair?!”
What was it like for you growing up with red hair?
LaRae: I loved it, but for my family – it was miserable. I was the troublemaker of the bunch – the epitome of a fiery redhead. I drew on walls, pulled tacks out of sofas and threw tantrums. I was a pro at tantrum-throwing.
Meghan: I was home-schooled, so I got pretty lucky and was able to avoid being called ‘Carrot Top’. Even if I had, I don’t know if it would have bothered me much, I wasn’t really the kid that was ever too concerned about her looks…at least, until I turned 13.
Kendra: I don’t think it was much different for me than for any other child. Except that I was always complimented on my hair and heard things like, “Do you know how much people spend to get the colour of your hair?!”
Do you believe that your hair colour contributes to your personality and identity?
LaRae: Definitely. Obviously I don’t throw tantrums anymore, but as an adult, my redhead personality comes out in different ways. I’m strong-willed, self-motivated, creative, passionate, extremely good-looking, humble and proud of it.
Meghan: If you’re asking whether or not I have a bad temper? Well, it’s definitely not as bad as they make redheads’ out to be. But, I can be pretty feisty and hard-headed. That’s the Meghan now, but when I was a little girl, I was pretty shy and kept to myself most of the time.
Kendra: I don’t think my hair colour necessarily contributes to my personality, but definitely identity. Especially since the formation of our band, I am known as one of the ‘Redheads’.
I’ve always loved Anne of Green Gables. I really identified with her as a kid, because of her red hair.
Who is your all-time favourite ginger and why?
LaRae: Reba McEntire. Her confidence and poise is compelling, and I love her voice. I also admire how she’s managed to keep a good reputation over the years – people respect her.
Kendra: Can it be fictional? I’ve always loved Anne of Green Gables. I really identified with her as a kid, because of her red hair. That’s one of my all-time favourite series.
Meghan: Kirsten Dunst in Spider-Man. She is my celebrity doppelgänger! I looked like her even more when I was younger and I used to always try to style my hair just like she did. Spider-Man was my favourite movie, because Kirsten Dunst was in it.
Alisa: Amy Adams- she has a fun, spunky personality – and she’s a great actress!
If you eat well and take care of your body, it will show in the quality and colour of your hair as well.
What’s your best haircare beauty tip to your fellow redheads?
LaRae: Take your vitamins! Especially the good quality, whole foods-based kind. And ladies, I highly recommend taking prenatal vitamins – even if you’re not pregnant. They are honestly just the best combination of vitamins for women. We take them every day and our hair grows way faster and healthier (our cosmetologist loves us for it) and the red in our hair is more vibrant!
Kendra: If you’ve got natural red, don’t dye it! Otherwise, just take care of yourself. If you eat well and take care of your body, it will show in the quality and colour of your hair as well.
Meghan: Never, ever, EVER dye your hair!!!!
What is your advice to young redheads who are being bullied for their red hair?
Alisa: They’re just jealous – redheads are the bomb.
LaRae: Remember that with your red hair comes your strong personality – so utilise it!
Kendra: People who bully almost always bully because they are insecure about themselves, while people that are happy and confident, always build other people up. Every person in this world has great worth and you are beautiful just the way you are. Love yourself.
Meghan: Be proud of who you are. God made you the way you are for a reason. He loves you and in his eyes you’re perfect. And keep in mind that there’s also a redhead here in Tennessee that thinks you’re perfect too. Just hold that red head high!
I love how strangers will start up a conversation with me just because of my red hair. Red hair is like an unspoken, universal language.
What’s your favourite thing about being a redhead?
Meghan: I find it pretty entertaining all the comments and looks that I get for my hair. Most of the time I just smile and think to myself, “Yes, Ma’am/Sir., I am a redhead, staring at it won’t make it turn blonde.”
LaRae: I love how strangers will start up a conversation with me just because of my red hair. Red hair is like an unspoken, universal language.
Kendra: I love that it’s unique and uncommon!
Alisa: It’s a vibrant color and makes you feel more spunky. It also shows girls and boys that have red hair how great being a red head is, and not feel ashamed of their red hair.
Have you ever written a song about your red hair?
LaRae: Kendra has. She wrote one called ‘Firecracker’!
Which red-haired artist would you like to collaborate with? Why?
Kendra: Bonnie Raitt or Patty Griffin! I am a huge fan of their music and Patty is one of my favorite writers.
LaRae: Reba McEntire, because she’s awesome.
Alisa: Definitely Reba – she seems like a sweet and genuine person.
Meghan: I think it would be awesome to do a collaboration with Ed Sheeran. I love his style of music and I think it would be perfect to put our four-part harmonies behind his incredible voice.
When can we next see you perform?
Kendra: We are headed to Florida now! Playing in Key West and then the Strawberry Festival in Plant City. That’s right – redheads at the Strawberry Festival!
LaRae: We’re constantly on tour, so if you go to our website – we’ll probably be in your area sometime soon.
Describe in five words your mission as a band.
LaRae: Inspire and Experience Dreams Fulfilled.
What’s next for Redhead Express?
Meghan: Videos, videos and more videos! We’re busy right now cutting songs and making videos so that we have a new youtube video to release every month.
Alisa: Getting a song on the radio.
LaRae: My little baby, lovingly referred to as Mr. Chunk, will be 1 year old in February, and then Kendra, our lead singer, is due for her first baby in May!
Anything else you’d like to tell everyone?
Meghan: When all else fails, eat chocolate.