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Since 2017, three DMV-based women have wowed audiences with an exciting blend of classical, R&B, pop and faith music. The String Queens are violinist Kendall Isadore, violist Dawn Johnson and cellist Élise Sharp. On Friday, May 12, the ladies will have two shows at AMP, Strathmore’s small, intimate performance venue at Pike and Rose in North Bethesda, Maryland.
In a recent interview with The Washington Informer, the ladies described how their paths kept crossing before formally becoming The String Queens. The 1-year birthday party for Dawn’s daughter was a rehearsal for an upcoming gig at a wedding.
“There was a different energy, sound and camaraderie when we came together. It sounded really good,” Johnson said about the wedding where they played standard classical music. “We said, ‘Hey y’all, let’s keep this going. Let’s have a couple of rehearsals and put a name on it.’”
The values for each member were aligned. All three women are school teachers. As The String Queens, they wanted to bridge the worlds of being in the classroom with kids, professional development for teachers and performance. In fact, right before our interview, the ladies told me they had just completed their day in the classroom between two D.C. public charter schools and a private school in Prince George’s County.
But do their students know who they were outside the classroom?
“They know because we have pictures up in the room, and we play videos, but they do not know it in its entirety,” said Sharp, a D.C. native. “Their parents understand a little bit more. No one really gets all that we are doing and all that we have done except our families. They see our grind. They see us leaving town and coming back. They see our awards.”
The Joy of Performing
Last month, The String Queens performed with Regina Carter, a jazz violinist, in a tribute concert at the Kennedy Center honoring all the newly named NEA Jazz Masters (including Carter). It was a powerful performance of four women going “full out” in front of a packed audience at the Kennedy Center.
Whether it is a large venue like the Kennedy Center or a smaller setting in the AMP environment, audiences will receive the same high-level performance delivered with joy.
“It can be two people or 20,000 in the audience. Our end goal as The String Queens is to deliver the best musical experience that we possibly can to the audience that has come to fill this room to see us perform,” Johnson said. “That’s always the driving force.”
To experience the sounds of The String Queens at AMP, go to the Strathmore website at https://www.strathmore.org. Learn more about TSQ on their website at https://thestringqueens.com.