For most of us, family is that odd assortment of people who get together on the holidays. They bring casseroles. They bring flan. They call you by names no one has called you since you were six. They remember you when you crapped you pants. They give you silver dollars and pat you on the head and ask what you plan to do with the rest of your life.
But for a select few, family goes beyond. The brothers and sisters who eventually go away to college don't go away to college. No, instead for these folks, their siblings stand at the next microphone and smile. They depend on one another in ways we can only imagine. Their careers depend on each other. These next batch of folks that I've decided to highlight have marketed themselves less as brother acts or sister acts, but as full-fledged families. You can practically hear Papa counting the money on the side of the stage, laughing to himself, "Sure beats working for a living."
Personally, I would send my kids to the coal mines in a state with favorable child labor laws. But that's just me.
Danielson Famile: This Christian rock group play music that's simply too "out there" for conventional Christian music lovers. The family's world domination plans began simply enough when for his senior thesis at Rutgers University in God's Country--New Jersey--Daniel Smith handed in an album recorded with his siblings called A Prayer for Every Hour. Receiving an "A," Smith was flush with rock critic success and decided to keep going, recording more albums and receiving even more critical praise, garnering a (shudder) "cult" audience in the process and encouraging his "family" to perform in nurse uniforms. As a solo act, he has performed as a tree. Back to nature, indeed.
Kings Of Leon: They've got a lot of hair, which means the Followill brothers and their cousin will go very far. Good, ample hair is always a guarantee of success in this business. For some reason most of these families spring from religious backgrounds--perhaps proving the axiom that the family that prays together, PLAYS together--and the Kings Of Leon are no exception, having been carted around the south by their roving Pentecostal Daddy Evangelist Leon. For their part, they make loud, greasy southern-fried rock that only needs a little more gimmick before truly catching on. Maybe if they learn to play upside down?
The Carter Family: You can't go anywhere these days without feeling the effects of the Carter Family. Alvin P. Carter, wife Sara and sister-in-law Maybelle performed throughout the '30s and early '40s at a time when no one had any money and people anxiously awaited a world war to break up the depression and end the monotony of going hungry. Sara single-handedly spearheaded the autoharp craze, while Maybelle detuned her Gibson L-5 guitar for a "heavier" sound that has since been adopted by Nu-Metal bands the world throughout. They had funny haircuts and wore old people's clothes, but "Keep on the Sunny Side" and "John Hardy Was a Desperate Little Man" remain popular faves with Yahoo! users the world over.
The Osmonds: America is the land of opportunity. How else to explain the success of the Osmonds, a group so freakin' WHOLESOME that it's almost wrong? But in 1971 and '72, these grinning kids--with more teeth than dentally possible--captured the hearts and minds of people who spent their money on entertainment. They drew straws and Donny being young and cuter than Alan, Wayne, Merrill and Jay was chosen to be the leader and eventually teamed up with his sister Marie (who was left out of the original Osmonds team for nefarious reasons, no doubt) for The Donny and Marie Variety Show that was the single most important television event of 1976 (Bi-Centennial celebrations ran a close second.) These kids went from singing at county fairs alongside goats and cows to making TV appearances and generally running the country for a few short years.
The Jackson Five: Imagine you have many children. Children cost money. You are poor. You live in Gary, Indiana. You work hard. But it isn't enough. It's never enough. You see no way out. But these children have exceptional talent. You discover this after they play your beloved guitar without your permission. At first, you wish to punish the transgression. Then you hear them. Dollar signs begin dancing in your head. The itsy-bitsy one, Michael, seems to have the most talent. Things bode well. You let them perform in public. The public likes them. A lot. They win talent competitions. Diana Ross befriends you. Motown man Berry Gordy sees your family as the future. Ross and Gordy turn out to be right. Hit singles, TV shows, cartoons, fame, fortune, money. Other families try the gimmick with varying levels of success. To maximize exposure and profits, the kids are spun off as solo acts. The youngest one, Michael, becomes so successful he buys the music industry and several small planets. Life is good. Or at least better than when you started. Life doesn't imitate art, but makes for a swell TV Movie.