The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.
Front and Center: Bluegrass Fingerstyle Guitarists, The Constable Sisters
By Myki Angeline
If you love bluegrass music, particularly finger-picking guitar artists, then prepare to be wowed by Sisters Chelsea and Grace Constable. Best known for playing bluegrass style, Chelsea, 25, and Grace, 14, are taking the world by storm with their incredible talent.
This young, powerful duo have many performances under their belt, including the 2015 Nashville She Rocks Showcase. Plus, Chelsea became one of the first women to be featured in a Suhr Guitar demo video playing their Alt T Pro! You can view the video here. I caught up with the sisters to learn more about how they got their start and what inspired them to pursue a career in music.
To see their incredible talent, you can subscribe to Chelsea Constable’s YouTube Channel here.
WiMN: Tell us about your earliest music-related memories. When did you first pick up the guitar?
C: I started playing guitar when I was 11 and my first song I learned/performed was “Greensleeves” at church. I remember how challenging it was to play barre chords and do vibratos when I was first learning the guitar.
G: I started playing more seriously at the age of 10. My earliest music-related memory is trying to play vibratos. I remember trying to play “Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love” by Van Halen, and everyone would laugh because my vibratos were so bad.
WiMN: Being sisters, can you tell us what it is like performing together?
C: I love performing with my sister! She helps with my anxiety right before we play live and she’s always pushing me out of my comfort zone.
G: I too like performing with my sister. We can combine our unique styles to make something new, interesting, and different. It’s helpful to have someone whose been there and done that to guide you through the pitfalls.
WiMN: Grace is only 14 years of age. What is it like pursuing music while still being in school?
G: It’s challenging. Balancing practice with school work is hard, but if you love what you do, you’ll make time for it. Nobody ever believes I’m out playing unless they’ve seen or heard me around. There isn’t a lot of positive encouragement in school. When I was little and the teachers would ask us what we wanted to be, I’d always say “I want to be a rock star.” And they’d laugh at me and say “Good luck.” I consider all of the negativity to be positive fuel. It makes you want to keep going.
WiMN: You are most known for bluegrass genre of music. Do you play other music genres? Which has proven the most challenging to perform?
C: Yes, I play a variety of different styles including – blues, rock, country, gypsy jazz, and finger style.
G: I’ve played a lot of different styles, but the most difficult to secure, for me personally is gypsy jazz. It’s the phrasing that will get you, if you aren’t careful!
WiMN: Chelsea, you met legendary flat-picker Tony Rice. What was that like?
C: He was extremely nice and very respectful. Not to mention he was worried about signing the front of my guitar!
WiMN: Who are some of your female role models in the music industry, musicians or otherwise?
C: Jennifer Batten and Sierra Hull.
G: Adele Adkins, Koko Taylor, Jennifer Batten, and Ella Fitzgerald.
WiMN: Can you share your experience as young women in the industry? Have there been challenges?
C: In my experience with some of the companies I have been endorsed by in the past, they seem to be more interested in other attributes instead of their ability on their instruments. I just want to be judged by my skill as a guitarist in a male dominated industry.
G: As a kid being in the music industry, most people don’t view you as a reliable source, because you are a kid. You have to make yourself presentable, and know what you are talking about.
WiMN: Can you tell us about some of your sponsorships?
C: I am really thankful to have the association with Taylor Guitars, Suhr Guitars (amps and cabs), TC Electronic, Accusound Cables, AF Designs Guitar Straps, and Jim Dunlop Picks.
G: Taylor Guitars have been the best thing that has ever happened to us. They care about the quality of their instruments, and they are fully aware of the wood issues, and they believe in replenishing what they take. They also care about their employees, and their artists. That’s all I’d ask for.
Chelsea and Grace demonstrate their finger-picking skills with a tribute to Django Reinhardt, performing “Rhythm Futur” using Taylor Guitars.