Metal Chick of the Month – The Harp Twins

Can you feel the wind of the north, my dear Camille and Kennerly?

How about we celebrate insane six years of The Headbanging Moose with two very talented women who have the unique ability of transforming the heaviest and most intense metal classics into serene and touching ballads only armed with their ethereal harps? I’m talking about Camille and Kennerly Kitt, known worldwide as The Harp Twins, who have achieved an unprecedented success not only among metal fans but in countless other music genres and entertainment segments, leading them to tour across several countries in North and America, Europe and anywhere else where their whimsical sounds are truly appreciated. And no, you’re not seeing double, as The Harp Twins are indeed identical twins, providing your avid ears double the pleasure with their refined skills by mixing all types of rock, metal and soundtrack arrangements with the gentle sounds flowing form their harps. Not only that, Camille and Kennerly are also accomplished actresses, showing there’s no actual limit for this talented American duo.

Born in the city of Chicago, Illinois, United States in 1989, with their heritage being mostly Norwegian mixed with Swedish, Finnish, English, Scottish, French, German and a little Cherokee Indian, Camille and Kennerly began playing the piano when they were children, followed by the harp when they went to junior high school. The duo was drawn by the beauty of the harp, saying it seemed like a magical instrument to them. By the way, their first harps (small, pre-owned lever harps) were bought with money they got from jobs such as babysitting and dog-walking, in order to show their mother they were really serious about playing the instrument. Classically trained in piano and also capable of playing a little percussion, the two blonde harpists also love to sing, which can be seen in some of their own original compositions and cover songs, although of course their main focus is and will always be their mesmerizing harps.

Having already played their electric harps, acoustic and electro-acoustic concert grand harps in several concert series, festivals, fairs and conventions in front of the most diverse crowds, even playing for US presidents, tech geniuses and global leaders, Camille and Kennerly have released over 100 singles online since the beginning of their career, as well as some very interesting cover albums, developing a huge cult of followers worldwide through their social media and becoming undoubtedly the most famous harp duo in the world. All that success is not in vain, of course, as both sisters hold a Bachelor of Music degree in Harp Performance and graduated with highest honors (“Summa Cum Laude”) at Wheaton College Conservatory of Music, located in Wheaton, Illinois, not to mention their previous years in a music studies program at a local college where they were in the Honors Scholar Program and represented the college at several collegiate summits.

Despite being formally trained in classical music and having the aforementioned degrees, their true obsession in music has always been taking the harp to new heights and exploring new grounds, nurturing a deep passion for arranging and performing rock, metal and soundtrack music as a harp duet, as well as their Nordic-inspired original songs thanks to their Scandinavian origin, always without any backtracks, studio productions or record labels involved, beautifully representing what it truly means to be an independent artist. And after listening to their duet arrangements of contemporary songs from artists including Iron Maiden, The Rolling Stones, Metallica, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, Enya and Journey, among many, many others, you’ll be able to fully understand why they have chosen to follow such distinguished path, embellishing the airwaves with their gentle, melodic and classy harp fingering.

As already mentioned, The Harp Twins, who by the way perform on Venus “Classic” Concert Grand pedal harps and Lyon & Healy “Silhouette” Electric lever harps, have several albums released (also in physical format) apart from their hundreds of online singles and videos, with their YouTube videos totaling over 106 million views with over 600,000 subscribers as of September 2019. For instance, their cover of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven alone garnered over three million YouTube hits as of September 2019, while their version of Iron Maiden’s Fear of the Dark received over 11 million views as of September 2019. Their six self-produced albums are Harp Attack (2013), Harp Attack 2 (2015), Harp Attack 3 (2018), Harp Fantasy (2013), Harp Fantasty 2 (2016), and Winter Lights (2017); while the Harp Attack series are dedicated to covers of Rock N’ Roll, Hard Rock and Heavy Metal songs and the Harp Fantasy series focus on covers of video game, anime, film and television soundtracks such as Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Pirates of the Caribbean, Final Fantasy, Star Trek, Star Wars, Vikings, Silent Hill and The Lord of the Rings, just to name a few, Winter Lights was their first-ever holiday album, including two new original songs and ten new arrangements of holiday classics from years gone by. Furthermore, their music has also been featured in countless media like National Geographic, The Huffington Post, ABC News, Conan O’Brien’s TeamCoco, AMCtv.com, Guitar World, Revolver, and many more, having also been praised by different music icons like Megadeth, Billy Idol, Kansas and Within Temptation, who shared the twins’ music on their official social media.

As a metalhead, I’m pretty sure you’re eager to listen to Camille and Kennerly playing some of your favorite metal classics of all time, right? Well, all you have to do is subscribe to their YouTube channel, sit down and enjoy their harp versions for, but not limited to, Rush’s Closer to the Heart, Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, Dio’s Rainbow in the Dark, Metallica’s Fade to Black, Iron Maiden’s Run to the Hills, and Megadeth’s A Tout le Monde. Go visit their official YouTube channel, or buy their music from CD Baby or from Apple Music, relax and enjoy these and countless other classic like Send Me an Angel, Smoke on the Water, Sweet Child O’ Mine, Hotel California, Don’t Stop Believin’, Every Breath You Take, and so on.

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Camille and Kennerly always say they switch off playing melody and accompaniment, even within the same piece, and also that apart from all cover songs they do either by request or by their own choice, they have also been composing original music for their harps for years, which can be seen in songs like North and the music theme for their own animated logo. In addition, you can also find Camille and Kennerly as guest harpists in the intro Time to Set You Free,  from the album The Second Big Bang, released in 2017 by Brazilian Melodic Power Metal project Soulspell. And regarding her main influences and idols in music, the twins mentioned in one of their interviews that their earliest musical influences were rock and classic rock because that’s what their mother used to listen to, including bands like The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Billy Idol, Van Halen, ZZ Top and Johnny Cash, later expanding their range due to their classical training to most artists and bands who think outside the box and follow their own path.

Although their main focus is obviously on their harp career, the duo is also famous for their acting and modeling skills, being members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and AFTRA and having already acted in theater, film and television. For instance, in the season 6 finale of The Walking Dead, they played a walker nicknamed “Ouch That’s My Hair”, who was fought and killed by the character Carol, and had roles as “The Marcelli Twins” in the dark teen comedy Blacktino (as you can see in the official trailer by clicking HERE), from 2011, as well as appearances in many other movies like Delivery Man (2013), Elephant Medicine (2010) and The End of Lost Beginnings (2009), and in several commercial such as a national Japanese commercials for Chupa Chups lollypops. Still talking about their film career, Camille and Kennerly always like to mention that they do all their videos by themselves, arranging the music, finding the filming location, making their own costumes, filming everything with a small hand-held video camera on a tripod, recording the sound in their own living room and editing the video themselves. Needless to say, there’s no such thing as playbacks or any other “magic tricks” in their videos, as what you hear is exactly how it’s being played by our multi-talented twins. Also, when asked about their life on the road, Camille and Kennerly said in several interviews they have lots of memorable moments to share, like when they represented the United States at the World Harp Festival in Paraguay, where they had extensive support from the American embassy resulting in a full concert the day after the event to a sold out theater, and all of their performances at several Walker Stalker Cons, playing right before panels with Norman Reedus, Andrew Lincoln, Chandler Riggs and Greg Nicotero. It’s impossible to list all events they have participated so far in their career, featuring in all types of public, private, philanthropic, academic, corporate, cultural and political events, proving once again how talented and professional they are.

Of course, there’s no Camille and Kennerly without their harps and vice-versa, and that’s why it’s important and truly interesting to know more about the girls’ ethereal weapons. Their acoustic concert grand harps are 6’3” (or 1.9 m) and weigh 90 lbs (or 40.8 kg), while their electric harps are 4’ (or 1.22 m) and weigh 16 lbs (or 7.25 kg); regarding the number of strings, their acoustic concert grand harps have 47 strings (which can have three different pitches, those being flat, natural and sharp), their electric lever harps have 33 strings (which can have two different pitches, either flat/natural or natural/sharp), and their Harpsicle Harps have 26 strings. In addition, although it’s possible for the twins to use distortion on their electric harps, they don’t actually do that due to the difficulty to use distortion while still continuing the melody and accompaniment; however, you can enjoy Camille and Kennerly blasting distorted harp sounds on their cover version for Billy Idol’s White Wedding (by the way, Billy Idol himself even said that “if you live long enough you get to see this version of White Wedding”), and a slight effect in their Doctor Who Theme and The Smith’s Asleep covers. When asked about how they manage to carry their harps everywhere and how they handle their weight while playing, they said they put a strap on their backs to do that, but that they also bruise their hips from the straps if they wear the harps for too long. They love the freedom of movement, though, helping them to properly perform rock songs with their electric harps. Some people like to ask them why they don’t move even more while playing, and they said it’s tougher to reach a necessary balance with the harps than with a guitar or violin, for example.

Aside from being impressive harpists, Camille and Kennerly also have a variety of other interests and hobbies in their lives, keeping them absolutely busy pretty much all of the time. For instance, the twins are third degree black belts in Tae Kwon Do and former Tae Kwon Do instructors, which by the way caused two broken fingers to Kennerly while sparring one day, and stitches to Camille’s face as a result of puncture wound sustained while holding a board that Kennerly was breaking. In the end, those incidents made them decide to stop practicing martial arts and focus on their career as harpists. Our beloved blonde musicians were also competitive swimmers as kids (having both qualified for the Junior Olympics five times), are experts in rifle marksmanship, and are trained in horseback riding, not to mention their passion for other activities and hobbies such as hiking, working out, watching TV shows like The Walking Dead and Vikings, reading, writing, and so on. Moreover, the Kitt Twins are also actively involved in their community, supporting education and health initiatives for unprivileged children overseas, and volunteering for many years at a monthly deaf/hard-of-hearing social gathering (and yes, they know sign language), among other endeavors, as they strongly believe in the importance of giving back. The girls also sponsor a few kids in Ethiopia, helping to provide them school, food, clothing and medical care, always hoping more and more people will follow their steps to make the world a better place.

Last but not least, Camille and Kennerly’s connection as twins is beautifully externalized in the way they always look at each other while they’re playing, and in their twin costumes (which as mentioned are always put together by the twins themselves by mixing and matching things they already have at home), unless of course they need to dress differently for a commercial, film or media project. Having said that, if you want to have double the fun with the classy and mesmerizing music by Camille and Kennerly, or if you are an event organizer who’s searching for a truly unique attraction to captivate the attention of your guests on your next big event, you can get in touch with The Harp Twins by sending an email to HarpTwins@HarpTwins.com, and don’t forget to keep an eye on their Events Page on Facebook for all of their public performances, concerts and other events. And if you want to show your support to their distinguished work with their harps, as aforementioned you can purchase their music from Apple Music and from CD Baby, or simply visit their official website for all music, news, tour dates and other nice-to-know information about the unstoppable twins who give a beyond welcome touch of delicacy to our good old rock and metal music.

Camille and Kennerly’s Official Facebook page
Camille and Kennerly’s Official Instagram
Camille and Kennerly’s Official Twitter
Camille and Kennerly’s Official YouTube channel

“When someone tells us that our music has helped them through an illness, or inspired their child to learn an instrument, or even just given them some peace after a trying day, that means the world to us. As musicians, it’s the greatest feeling to know that our music has touched someone else in some way.” – Camille and Kennerly Kitt

Album Review – Van Canto / Dawn of the Brave (2014)

This a capella Power Metal band from Germany proves why the human voice is the most powerful music instrument of all.

Rating5

vancanto_dotbWhen German Power Metal band Van Canto presented their a capella Heavy Metal to the world for the first time back in 2006, especially their cover version for Metallica’s Battery, I thought it was a fantastic and unique idea, but I wasn’t sure if that project was going to make it through the years. As we all know, the absence of music instruments implies many limitations to the sound a band can produce. However, here we are many years later with Van Canto’s brand new studio album, named Dawn of the Brave, the fifth in their career and another prove that the human voice is much more powerful and versatile than we think.

There’s nothing new when comparing Dawn of the Brave with their previous albums, but it’s still a lot of fun to listen to their own compositions, as well as their always much-anticipated versions for different classics from all types of artists and bands.

The intro Dawn of the Brave sounds like they’re just warming up their voices for what’s about to come, and it’s already a good sign of the overall quality of the album. One thing I really enjoy about Van Canto is their “made for battle” lyrics, mainly because they don’t let us forget that despite the absence of real guitars, they’re still a Power Metal band, and that’s exactly what happens in the heroic song Fight for Your Live, which could have easily been recorded by Manowar (“We are at your side / Day by day, and night by night / Fill your soul with pride / Reminding you to fight for your life / Fight!”). It’s one of the top moments of the album, with a great performance by all members.

To the Mountains focuses on Inga’s powerful voice, with a more melodic approach that sometimes reminds me of Within Temptation or Epica, and it will surely sound amazing when played live, while it’s impossible not to sing along with Badaboom, the first single of the album, with its strong rhythm and addictive chorus. The following track is the first cover version in Dawn of the Brave: thousands of bands have already recorded a cover version for Europe’s biggest classic of all time, The Final Countdown, but I’m pretty sure none was able to do it a capella as Van Canto, and believe me, the result is marvelous.

Dawn of the Brave goes on with Steel Breaker, an average Hard Rock song not as interesting as the previous tracks, and The Awakening, a faster and more melodic track that will surely be enjoyed by the fans of the band. Then come The Other Ones with its powerful atmosphere and strong lyrics, and the second cover song of the album, Holding Out for a Hero from Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler, another excellent heavy version for a song that’s not Heavy Metal at all.

vancantoTheir last two own compositions in the album are called Unholy, a song with good lyrics and a nice rhythm, and the sensational My Utopia, which sounds like a mix of Stratovarius and Iced Earth (without the real shredding, of course). And finally, the album ends with two excellent cover songs: Into the West, an Annie Lennox cover taken from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King soundtrack (which in my opinion is one of the best soundtracks ever), and the one and only  Paranoid, from Heavy Metal icons Black Sabbath, with Ross taking the lead on vocals. The limited mediabook edition includes interesting orchestral, acoustic and other versions for some of their own songs, while the earbook edition comes also with a bonus DVD containing some of their own songs and awesome versions for all-time classics from Nightwish, Grave Digger, Blind Guardian, Manowar and Iron Maiden.

Alright, they’re not 100% a capella: they use a full real drum kit, played by the good Bastian Emig, but that doesn’t make the final result less impressive. Sly and the beautiful brunette Inga do an amazing job on vocals, but it’s the sound of guitars and bass produced by the trio of Ross, Stefan and Ike that gives Van Canto that “it” factor, in other words, that makes them so unique when compared to all other Power Metal bands in the world. I still can’t believe those guys are able to do those fantastic guitar solos just by using their voices!

In summary, Dawn of the Brave is a very creative album that everybody who enjoys some good singing should listen to and appreciate. The band surely proves to us all that no music instrument in the world can be compared to the human voice, which is the idea of the album art, don’t you agree? It’s an instrument so powerful it can even turn calm and smooth a capella music into pure Power Metal.

Best moments of the album: Fight for Your Life, Badaboom and My Utopia. Among the cover songs, the best ones are definitely The Final Countdown and Paranoid.

Worst moments of the album: Steel Breaker and Unholy.

Released in 2014 Century Media

Track listing
1. Dawn of the Brave 1:08
2. Fight for Your Live 3:59
3. To the Mountains 4:05
4. Badaboom 3:31
5. The Final Countdown (Europe cover) 4:55
6. Steel Breaker 3:40
7. The Awakening 4:13
8. The Other Ones 4:18
9. Holding Out for a Hero (Bonnie Tyler cover) 3:51
10. Unholy 3:28
11. My Utopia 5:13
12. Into the West (Annie Lennox cover) 4:25
13. Paranoid (Black Sabbath cover) 3:04

Limited Mediabook Edition bonus tracks              
1. If I Die in Battle (Orchestral Version) 4:45
2. My Voice (Orchestral Version) 5:29
3. Take to the Sky (Orchestral Version) 4:24
4. Neuer Wind (Jovian Spin Remix) 3:48
5. Lost Forever (Acoustic Version) 5:01
6. Last Night of the Kings (Choir Version)  4:11

Band members
Dennis “Sly” Schunke – lead vocals
Inga Scharf – lead vocals
Ross Thompson – higher guitar vocals
Stefan Schmidt – lower guitar vocals, solo guitar vocals
Ingo “Ike” Sterzinger – bass vocals
Bastian Emig – drums