Bowie twins find success early in bluegrass career

Thursday, Aug. 17, 2006

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Christopher Anderson⁄The Star
Seventeen-year-old twins Maria (left) and Sarah (right) Fitzmaurice warm up in a back hallway before performing at Old Town Bowie Grill on Saturday. The twins, who have been singing together since elementary school, recently began performing traditional bluegrass and just returned from playing a national bluegrass festival.

In a little over five months twin sisters Sarah and Maria Fitzmaurice of Bowie learned to play the mandolin and guitar and were invited to one of the biggest venues in the country for bluegrass musicians.

Mentor and manager Pete Reichwein took note to the sisters’ playing at a bluegrass jam in February and since has taken the girls under his wing. Their interest in bluegrass music has transformed the girls into avid instrumentalists.

‘‘[Reichwein] has taught us so much,” Maria Fitzmaurice said. ‘‘He has taught us the most important thing is to connect with the audience and to laugh off mistakes, the audience has to have a connection with you and not feel you’re on some pedestal.”

Reichwein was able to get the girls invited to the Grey Fox Festival in New York, which was held from July 13 to 16.

‘‘The musicians that I heard on the radio and thinking I would never be able to talk to them were so approachable,” Sarah Fitzmaurice said.

The sisters have performed at several venues that include the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis and Old Town Bowie Grill.

The 17-year-old identical sisters have been singing together since they were in the elementary school.

‘‘I love performing and the people’s response to you when you perform well is great,” Sarah Fitzmaurice said.

Mother Diana Fitzmaurice said the transition to bluegrass was bound to occur given the fact the girls father is a fan of the music.

Sarah and Maria have entered a genre that is predominately male and less vocalized, aspects that they have begun to change.

‘‘Sarah and Maria vocals are more bluesy and country,” Band member Brandon Snellings said. ‘‘They bring a lot of soul and sing with a lot of feeling.”

The girls practice seven days a week, three hours a day. Prior to bluegrass the girls sang country-rock for two years.

Maria said that throughout their brief music career their parents have been the strongest support system for her and her sister.

Maria and Sarah Fitzmaurice are the youngest of five children.

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