|Glaser Drive is, from left, Doren Glaser, Eden Glaser Mehl, Faige Glaser Drapkin, Chaya Glaser, Erik Nausland, David Keesey, and Elly Geldwerth. Abbie Sophia Photography|
It makes sense, really. There was music everywhere. They were a family immersed in music, four sisters who sang together for years, a talented songwriter, and dreams for the future that always included music.
What else could the Glaser sisters do?
“I always wanted to be a singer in a band,” said the eldest sister, Faige Glaser Drapkin, 34, who, with her sister Chaya, one year younger, helped make that dream come true.
Chaya, too, wanted music to be “a big part of my life.”
Much of it had to do with the link between music and family. “When I saw the Mamas and Papas on Ed Sullivan, I actually thought they were a family,” she said. “I loved their harmony, spirit, and colors, and it looked like they loved what they were doing! I knew that I wanted in on that beautiful fun too.
“Then, I learned that they weren’t a family – at least not by blood – but that didn’t change anything.”
So, although, according to her older sister, she has a “phenomenal” talent as a song writer, Chaya didn’t want to sing her songs alone. It was all about family.
“I started arranging them with Faige,” Chaya said. “Then we started singing and performing around the city.”
The sisters grew up in Teaneck and San Diego. Faige, a music and Jewish studies teacher at Congregation Rodef Shalom on Manhattan’s Upper West Side – now married and the mother of a 16-month-old – has returned to Teaneck, where her parents live as well. Chaya, a music teacher at the Ramaz School, lives in Manhattan.
After several years of performing as a duo, “my two younger sisters,” Eden and Doren, “got older and moved to the city,” Chaya said. “It was a natural transition to have them join us.” Doren is an early childhood special education teacher, and Eden, whose full name is Eden Glaser Mehl, works in the fashion industry.
So then there were four, and Chaya, Faige, Eden, 26, and Doren, 25 – together with three musical friends: a drummer, a bassist, and a guitar player – formed Glaser Drive, which performs throughout the New York area. In March the group released its debut EP, “Come and Find Me,” a CD that contains five of their songs.
The group recently participated in the Cape May Singer Songwriter Festival and has been asked to give two performances at the Make Music Festival on Governor’s Island in June. Also in June they will perform at Manhattan’s Rockwood Music Hall.
The band, incidentally, was not named after the sisters’ family.
“It’s named after a street in San Diego,” Faige said.
Describing their music as “folk Americana, with a bit of rock, depending on the song,” Faige said that “Chaya writes most of the music. Her lyrics are phenomenal. They really paint a picture.” She added that whoever looks beyond the voices and the rhythm into the words will “see that they’re very beautiful, very descriptive.”
“Something happens and I want to write about it,” Chaya said. “The melody follows the experience.”
Both Faige and Chaya play guitar, and all four singers use percussion instruments or tambourines when the music calls for them.
Faige said that singing with her sisters is a joy.
“It flows,” she said, citing, for example, the process of working out harmonies. “We go over the same word, or same three words, over and over. It’s intense, but then we reach the ‘aha’ moment. It sounds beautiful.”
Or sometimes, she said, Chaya will make up the harmony and teach it to the other sisters.
Harmonies are arranged so that singers can “weave in and out and no one is left singing a whole part,” Chaya said. While she and Faige are sopranos, “Eden and Doren are altos, but can also sing soprano.”
Performing with her sisters, often in front of friends and people she knows, “there are connections,” Faige said. “Our other life is there when we’re performing. It’s an experience every time.”
Chaya said that with a family so close, they do occasionally “butt heads,” but, “as someone said, ‘The family that sings together stays together.'” Even when “we get intensely passionate about our visions for a particular song, we end up having fun.”
Both Chaya and Faige credit their family with influencing their lives. “Dad plays jazz piano, both parents sing, and my mother plays folk guitar,” Chaya said. “Both parents sang us to sleep, and they were always singing show tunes.” As they grew up, the children also were close with their great aunts and uncles, “who sang four-part harmony versions of spirituals.”
“They would sing to us all the time,” Faige said. “They sang old folk and gospel tunes and Yiddish tunes.”
“We listened and enjoyed their spirit,” Chaya said, noting that Jewish songs helped draw the family closer to tradition. “Every Shabbat, the whole family sang.” Each of the sisters also attended a Jewish day school.
Chaya said that she and Faige are 15 months apart, and Eden and Doren are 14 months apart. There is a seven-year-gap between the two sets of Glaser sisters.
In the beginning, she said, “because we were older, Faige and I had more experience singing; but now we kind of all even each other out.”
Chaya said it’s not likely that Faige’s new status as a mother will hinder her participation in the band. After all, she pointed out, “We had a performance 25 days before her due date.” She estimates that the group has performed some 20 times a year since becoming a full band in 2012.
Until Glaser Drive hits it big, the women all will keep their day jobs, Chaya said. But she is passionate about teaching, Faige said, so if the group does taken off, she’ll want to continue to teach.
For more information, go to the band’s website, www.glaserdrive.com.