Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 7, 2014

Sisters sing country for a cause

Walker County performing for James Vester benefit Saturday.

By Lindsey Ziliak
Kokomo Tribune

---- — The Walker sisters sang in the streets of Nashville for the first time nearly a decade ago and were tickled to find that they earned $4 in tips in 10 minutes.

They were in fourth and seventh grades at the time.

The girls later went back with an hour’s worth of music and once again sang their hearts out on Broadway Street.

This time they left with $200 in tips.

“We were so excited we took a picture of it,” the now-15-year-old Sophie Dawn Walker said, with a laugh.

After that, they joined their dad in forming a family band they call Walker County.

The band brings soulfulness with an underlying tone of southern rock and traditional country.

And on Saturday the family will perform at Rhum Academy of Music as part of a benefit concert for the family of slain solider James Vester.

Vester, 32, was shot to death in December when he responded to a Craigslist ad on the west side of Indianapolis. He had been trying to buy an iPad for one of his parents for Christmas.

His wife is now trying to set up a scholarship in his name. Proceeds from Saturday’s benefit will go toward the scholarship fund.

“When we heard the story, we wanted to help out right away,” 18-year-old Ivy Dene Walker said. “We feel honored to be chosen for this.”

Ivy and Sophie’s father, Billy, plays lead guitar for the band and always dreamed about playing music with his daughters. In fact, he taught them to play all of the instruments they play today – guitar, mandolin and bass. Sophie also plays drums.

The girls say they can’t imagine playing with anyone else.

They call themselves the “families family band.” They love seeing families enjoying the music they create. They practice, play and write all of their songs together.

The songs reflect real life experiences and family stories. “Cowboy song” is about a cousin and his life story.

Ivy and Sophie said it will be special to perform “Only in my dreams” for Vester’s wife. Ivy wrote it to share support for military families. Knowing friends and family in the military and seeing how hard life is for them provided her inspiration for the song, she said.

It may hit home for the Vester family.

“I wanted you to stay right here,” the girls sing in the song. “When I wake, the pain is raw and real. I know you’re gone and the wounds don’t heal. You had to leave. You’ve been away for far too long, but a soldier’s wife must stay strong. You’re with me, only in my dreams.”

Lindsey Ziliak, Tribune Life & Style editor, can be reached at 765-454-8585, at lindsey.ziliak@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @LindseyZiliak.