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Girls of 4 Heart Harmony are vocal about future

The four girls quickly name their favorite female music artists: Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson and Adele.

They are able to name just one girl singing group — Cimorelli — and explain that girl groups just aren't as popular or as plentiful as boy bands.

Kelly Coultas, Shelby O'Brien, Kassidy Gavagan and Taylyn Olney hope they will have a shot at changing that. The girls seem to be on their way. Their group, 4 Heart Harmony, is making the rounds locally and putting in time at a recording studio to make a CD.

"We sing everything," said Taylyn, 13, of Valrico, a student at Mulrennan Middle School. "Pop, country, Christian, Christmas."

The girls got together about two years ago. They had seen one another for years at local singing competitions and crossed paths in community theater groups. Taylyn and Shelby have known each other since they were in diapers.

Normally the girls sang solo, but sometimes they would find other singers to do a duet or trio.

At a Christmas show in Tampa, Shelby, Kassidy and Taylyn planned to sing with another girl. But the other girl got sick so they asked Kelly Coultas to join them.

Right away, the girls clicked. They had fun sharing the stage and their voices blended well.

"The harmonies were good," Kelly, 14, of Valrico, said. "All four of the voices blended together nicely."

The girls decided to form a group and spend more time singing together rather than alone. But they needed a name. They decided on "4" for obvious reasons. They chose "Heart" because they always sent the heart icon to one another in text messages. And they picked "Harmony" because they sing so well together.

They also needed to figure out when and where to meet.

The girls, who attend different schools, decided to rotate the weekly singing sessions at one another's homes. They got the moms, also known as chauffeurs, on board. And they got a voice coach, Bryce Mallernee, to help synch their singing voices.

The girls have quickly become best friends. During an interview, they helped finish each other's sentences and encouraged each other to take the lead. They say they truly like one another and never, ever fight.

Their moms said the group would not last if the girls or the moms had issues with one another. The moms eagerly support all the girls and happily split the carpool duty.

"We definitely have to depend on each other," said Jennifer Crum, Kassidy Gavagan's mom. "There's no room for fighting."

Despite the demands of family, school, homework, other after-school activities and other friends, the girls say the group is a top priority.

But handling it all is a juggling act, admits Shelby, 13, of Lithia, a student at Randall Middle School.

"A lot of the time we're doing homework in the car," she said.

Last month, the girls recorded three songs on a CD at Full Sail University in Winter Park. They got to spend time in the recording studio with sound engineer Darren Schneider, who has worked with Britney Spears and Aerosmith.

But the recording session was almost a bust.

Kassidy, 12, of Valrico got the flu right before the recording session. But, she chose to trek to Winter Park despite the illness, which included bouts of vomiting. She said she couldn't let everyone down, so she kept her bucket handy.

"I told her you don't have to go," said Kassidy's mom. "She said, 'Yes. Yes. I do.' '

"It was fun," the Burns Middle School student said.

The girls have taken their talented quartet across Tampa Bay. They hit the stage at the Strawberry Festival, St. Stephen Catholic Church Spring Jubilee, Nativity Catholic Church Novemberfest and several charity events.

In the beginning, the girls often had to send videos to score an invite. Now through reputation and the group's Facebook page, they've earned numerous bookings, including a few paid gigs.

Kelly, a Newsome High freshman who plays on the golf team, said she isn't a fan of solo performances anymore. She likes singing with the girls because they support one another — even when one of them messes up.

"With the four of us up there, we always have each other's back," she said. "It's so easy to perform with them."

They joke that they will keep the group — and their friendship — intact even when the oldest member, Kelly Coultas, leaves home for college.

"We're going to have sleepovers in your college dorm," Kassidy said, pointing at Kelly.

They all nod and giggle.

Monica Bennett can be reached at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

Girls of 4 Heart Harmony are vocal about future 09/11/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 3:32pm]
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