#tbt - The Fascinating Local History of Another Successful Sister Act -- The Shepherd Sisters
On today’s ThrowBackThursday column, we remember the mellifluous tones of Middletown’s singing siblings, “The Shepherd Sisters”
“We Grow Talent” — That’s a slogan Southwest Ohio could rightfully adopt thanks to generations of musically-gifted locals who’ve gone on to entertain the world over.
Think McGuire Sisters, Doris Day and former “Miss America” Susan Perkins to name a few.
Rightfully included among Middletown’s music royalty are the singing Shepherd Sisters -- Martha, Judith, Gayle and Mary Lou. The siblings made their mark on the American music scene in the 1950s and ‘60s after growing up in a music-loving household, the children of Mr. and Mrs. S.D. Shepherd of Coles Road.
Endowed with beauty, poise, personality as well as impeccable harmonies, the siblings seemed destined for fame and a place in music history. They accomplished both.
Originally a trio, the Shepherds became a quartet when sister Judith, “who was still in high school,” joined the act.
“First there were two… Then there were three... Now there are four…,” announced a front-page article in the November 24, 1957, Middletown Journal.
“The number of the Shepherd Sisters can’t increase anymore because the youngest one, Judy, has just joined the act,” it reported.
“But there are no limits to the ascent of their reputation and ability in the musical world. It’s star billing now!,” the article continued.
By the time the story was published, the “girls” had already toured Europe, cut a hit record called “Alone,” and appeared on popular TV shows including Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand.”
From the beginning, it was obvious there was no stopping the success train once the talented Shepherd sisters stepped onboard.
A chronicle of their musical achievements – in America and abroad – can be found in their collective online autobiography titled “The Shepherd Sisters,” available at:
It documents their long, impressive musical career. The following are just a few of the many highlights :
“Their first big break,” an appearance on ‘Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts” popular TV program
Their hit song, “Gone With The Wind”
Performances on the Alan Freed Stage Shows, Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand and Irving Field’s “Biggest Show of Stars Rock ‘N Roll Caravan”
The recording of “Alone,” perhaps their most famous number
Performing with superstars such as Paul Anka, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chubby Checker, Fats Domino, Danny and Juniors and many others.
Entertaining audiences around the world
According to their autobiography, the Shepherds even appeared “on one of the first ‘music videos...Way before MTV there was a unique film jukebox with ‘movies’ and the girls were featured on it.”
Indeed, any attempt to list all the musical accomplishments of the talented Shepherd Sisters would be futile. Might as well try to count grains of sand.
Eventually, Martha retired from the music business, leaving MaryLou, Gayle and Judith to perform. They sang together for the last time in 1976.
As best as could be determined, Martha died in 1992, Judith in 2009 and Gayle in 2018.
May their enchanting music live on.
Vertical photo at right: From the top: Marylou, Gayle, Martha, Judy.
(1)“The Shepherd Sisters -- Martha, Judith, Gayle, MaryLou,” an autobiography from “The Official Site of The Shepherd Sisters” available at : http://www.theshepherdsisters.com/pages01/story.htm
(2)Newspaper Image : ”Shepherd Sisters Get First Break” from the Sunday News Journal, May 16, 1954.
(3)Newspaper Image : “Dissatisfaction Virtue, Shepherd Sisters Feel” by Iona Blevins. From the “Sunday News Journal,” January 29, 1956.
(4)Newspaper Image : “Shepherd Sisters Head For ‘Big Record’” by Irene Barr. From the Middletown Journal, November 24, 1957.
The newspaper articles cited above are available for viewing on microfilm at MidPointe Library-Middletown. They can also be accessed by logging onto:
www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary > Research Databases > Magazines and Newspapers > Newspaper Archive > Name of newspaper and date
Other images from Google Images.