On the road and at home, Edmonds sisters stay in tune, in step

They may only be a “wee” bit Irish, but three sisters from Edmonds are making a national name for themselves as Irish step dancers.

The Gothard Sisters — Greta, Willow and Solana — began their musical careers playing the violin at a young age. Visitors to the Edmonds Farmers Market remember the girls playing violin there in the summers for tips. Then one day, the sisters went to see  “Riverdance” — featuring Irish dancing — and the rest, as they say, is history.

Inspired by the movie, the sisters would don ice skating dresses and costumes and dance around the house with the music every night. “Mom said, ‘You should do it (step dancing)’ but we really didn’t want to at the time,” recalled 24-year-old Greta, the oldest. “But she signed us up for classes anyway.”

As members of Seattle ‘s Comerford School of Irish Dance, the sisters competed in the World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland — coming in second, the best any U.S. teams have ever done.

Greta, Solana and Willow Gothard

Greta is quick to admit that the sisters’ heritage is mostly Scandivian and German with “a little” Irish, Scottish and English thrown in. And step-dancing is just one of their many talents: They also play instruments and sing.

There is no sibling rivalry, Greta said. “We really like each other. We get along really well.” And each sister has her specialty. Solana — the youngest at age 15 — is considered the singer in the family, while 21-year-old Willow teaches dance. Greta teaches violin and coaches classical chamber music ensembles. On stage, however, the sisters do it all, including fast fiddle numbers, singing ballads and dance numbers featuring not only Irish but country, flamenco and rock music.

To add to their repertoire, Greta taught herself to play guitar, and Willow and Solana have incorporated Irish hand drums called bodhrans into their performances. “I think we’ve reached the maximum (number of instruments) right now because it’s all we can fit on an airplane,” Greta joked.

While they play locally at venues such as the Edmonds Waterfront Festival and Seattle’s Triple Door, the sisters have been doing a substantial amount of national travel lately — thanks to a Nashville-based talent agent who saw them perform at the Jefferson County Fair and now represents them. The sisters now have recorded five CDs, including their Christmas CD, which is being sold locally at Manya Vee Selects, Nama’s Candy Store and the Edmonds Bookshop.

“My favorite part of playing — what I like the most — is when a mom or a kid will come up and say that they started playing violin or dancing because they saw one of our shows,” Greta said.

To see more performance videos of the Gothard Sisters, visit their You Tube link.

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