SPANISH FORK Three years ago in Columbus, Ohio, the Cadet Sisters of Spanish Fork were completing the last leg of a four-month tour and Michaelle was down with a cold.
Then Michaelle got laryngitis, just as she and her sisters were to perform at a Christian conference televised live on 3ABN, Three Angels Broadcasting Network.
"Completely, my voice was gone," said Michaelle, who was going to sing the bass part of a song.
"Her part was needed, definitely," said mother, Ketty Cadet.
Backstage and minutes before they were on, the Cadets worried, not knowing how they were going to improvise for Michaelle.
"Right before we went up, we prayed," said her older sister, Natalie.
And the young women walked on stage, including Michaelle, who suddenly regained her voice for the song.
After they finished, a stage tech chatted with Michaelle about how she found her voice. Michaelle tried to reply but could not: Her voice was again gone.
The Cadets Natalie, 20; Tatiana, 19; Nadege, 18; Michaelle, 16; Melissa, 14; and Gianna, 6 whose group is called Cadet Sisters Ministry, have numerous similar stories during their 16 years as performers.
The group started with Natalie when she was 4 years old. The other sisters joined the group as their age permitted. Gianna, for instance, is beginning to perform more frequently with the group.
The Cadet Sisters have traveled to dozens of states to perform Christian music, spirituals, patriotic and popular music.
"Let me give you an idea," Ketty said about the Cadet Sisters Ministry's touring. "Last year, we drove about 23,400 miles."
They also have performed in Utah for Spanish Fork city's 150th birthday, for instance though they are less well known than some other artists, perhaps because they are not members of the predominant religion.
The family are members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, though their religious music tends to worship God in general Christian terms with songs such as "More Precious Than Gold" and "He Leadeth Me."
"In times like these, you need a Savior, in times like these, you need an anchor," the Cadets sing in five-part harmony, frequently a cappella, part of their unique style.
So unique, in fact, they sometimes struggle finding five-part arrangements.
"Girls have more narrow singing (ranges) in between alto and soprano," in comparison to boys, said their father, Eddy, who moved his family to Utah from the Chicago area for a job teaching environmental management at Utah Valley State College.
Natalie selects and arranges the music. She also alters songs to make them more appealing for youth audiences, although it's a delicate balance, she says, between aesthetic appeal and spirituality.
"Our music, when we arrange it, our first priority has always been, is it good with God?" she said.
The oldest three Cadets attend Utah Valley State College. The youngest are home-schooled. They sing one weekend a month during the school year and devote summers to the ministry.
They typically practice 30 minutes a day, except when preparing for a recording. They record at a studio in Provo.
The family prides themselves on their closeness, and they hope to inspire others through their music.
Linda Walton, a friend of the Cadet family and owner of a public relations firm in Provo, enjoys the Cadets' wide musical variety.
"I have a couple of their CDs myself," she said. "They are wonderful. You can't believe how good they are. The whole family is musical."
And woe to any man who marries a Cadet sister. The sisters refuse to let any man break their rhythm.
Natalie said a husband would make a good roadie.
"He gets to stick with us" at performances, she said.
"He joins the group," Tatiana said."The husband is in trouble," Eddy said.
If you go
The Cadet Sisters will perform Thursday at 7 p.m. at Utah Valley State College's Ragan Theater in the Sorensen Student Center for Black History Month. For more information, visit www.cadetsisters.com.
E-mail: [email protected]