(photo: Buzz)

Ava & Lily Rashed

Two Part Harmony

Profile | Jane Ledwell

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Ava and Lily Rashed, their parents David and Sue, and I re-watch together the broadcast of their energetic performance of Elle King’s song “Ex’s and Oh’s” on the semi-finals of America’s Most Musical Family.

The singing twins were ecstatic to finally share the excitement of the August contest recording with friends and family on the Island. Their performance of “What If I Never Get Over You” by Lady Antebellum had earned them a place in the semi-finals of the talent show, with just a handful of other young family acts from across the continent.

Said Ava, “It was still nerve-wracking, wanting other people to be happy with the performance.” Added Lily, “We felt really good about the performance but were excited for other people to hear.”

They hosted a “watch party” the night of the broadcast, and, Lily said, “Excitement was ricocheting off everybody!” “We were still biting our fingernails,” said Ava. While the identical twin sixteen-year-olds from Charlottetown didn’t move on to the finals, their performance made a sensation.

It could have been either Ava or Lily who said, “We blend really well together. It’s the bond sisters have with each other.” The twins really do finish each other’s sentences as sweetly as their voices blend. “There’s something about performing with family,” Ava says. “A feeling,” Lily agrees.

“Our harmonies are based on what suits one of our voices better,” Ava says. “My voice has vibrato in it, and it’s higher than Ava’s,” says Lily, and Ava chimes in, “I’m an alto, so I like a bit more soul and blues,” she smiles.

The path to an international televised competition came after the twins posted a video on Instagram of a performance they did during East Coast Music Week. They were initially skeptical of a DM on Instagram encouraging them to audition for a show coming up on Nickelodeon… but, Lily says, “When we found it was real…” “We rehearsed morning and night,” says Ava.

“We would take it line by line, harmony by harmony,” said Ava—“Note by note,” nodded Lily—“until it’s just muscle memory. To the point that it’s just for fun.”

Performing for international broadcast was still a challenge, “It does put a little bit of pressure,” says Lily, “but with the two of us on the stage, we can look at each other to reassure ourselves.” Ava adds, “Having a sister to lean on, we’re not alone. We know everything we’re going to do next.”

While the Nickelodeon performance was of covers, Ava and Lily are also earning a reputation for their own original songs. “We want to write so people relate to the lyrics,” says Ava. Their process varies, they say. “Sometimes I have lyric ideas, or a melody, and I take it to Lily, or vice versa,” says Ava. “Sometimes we bounce ideas off each other,” says Lily, “or sometimes one of us writes a whole song.”

“It’s like having a built-in co-writer, having a twin.” Ava agrees, “It’s a built-in inspiration.”

Ava and Lily’s musical family also has a built-in producer. Their father, David Rashed, was a member of the legendary 80s pop-rock band Haywire and now runs a Charlottetown recording studio. Ava says, “Even today, we were recording a new song.” Lily says, “Dad will help us out with instrumentation and production.”

They both enthusiastically say his input is always welcome. “He’s just doing it to make the song better,” Lily says, and Ava says, “We write our songs, and Dad makes the instruments stronger.” Along with their mother, Sue, the twins feel supported to write whatever they need to sing, no matter how sensitive the topic. “The four of us are way too close!” laughs Ava.

Aside from completing high school, the effervescent grade-ten students’ dreams all involve music. “We don’t have other passions than music,” Ava says. “We’re going to keep practising music, working hard on our instruments and our writing. We’re hoping this experience (with America’s Most Musical Family) will open doors,” Lily says.

“We want to make as many people as we can happy and relating to our music,” Ava says. Ava and Lily Rashed dream in two-part harmony, with family as their backup.

Jane Ledwellprofile