Balancing Faith, Talent, and Humility
by Trapper S. Kinchen and photos by Beth Townsend
The Foto sisters work hard to remeber the purpose behind their music: to serve the Kingdom of God.
Millennials often look inward for answers to important problems, and that allows anxiety, panic, fear, and insecurity to overwhelm our faith. However—when we take a step back, look to Jesus for guidance, and put our skills to good use—there is nothing that can stop us from reaching our full potential.
The Foto Sisters are three Millennials leading incredibly interesting lives. Addy, 24, Katie, 22, and Gaylyn, 20 perform professionally as a vocal/strings trio. With sixteen years of musical experience under their belts, the sisters are well familiar with the difficulties of balancing faith, talent, and humility.
They began studying piano as little girls. Their parents wanted them to be as well rounded as possible, and music seemed like the ideal outlet for creative self-expression. It didn’t take long for the sisters to develop an aptitude for sound and rhythm, and, eventually, they began training on string instruments.
Not long after they got started, their mother signed them up for their first public performance. Addy said, “There was an ad in one of our home school papers asking for children to perform at an assisted living facility. So, our mom, who has a heart for elderly people, took us to play the piano.” Their recital was a hit, and the rest is history.
Their parents have also encouraged them stay humble, reminding them to use their talents for God’s Glory. Over time, they have reconciled their faith with their artistry by working together to express Jesus’s love through melody. And, even though they’re three members of a single group, each sister has maintained her own unique identity.
Sixteen years later, the Foto Sisters have become deeply accomplished and well-respected musicians. All three women are composed, confident, and wonderfully expressive. Katie says their father taught them professionalism, and she credits their mother for teaching them poise. She said, “Whenever we were being shy as kids, Mom would say, ‘girls, stop being so shy. That’s thinking about yourself and not considering others. It’s pride’.”
Their parents have encouraged them to stay humble, reminding them to use their talents for God’s Glory. And, even though they’re three members of a single group, each sister has maintained her own unique identity. Like the Body of Christ, they use their individual strengths to support the group as a whole.
Like the Body of Christ, they use their individual strengths to support the group as a whole. They even described the different roles each of them plays within the trio:
Addy said, “Katie is a mix between Gaylyn and myself. She’ll follow with creative ideas, and she’s amazing at getting tasks done. She’s just so diligent.”
Gaylyn said, “Addy is the most creative. She handles our arrangements and, most of the time, decides what we wear on stage.”
Katie said, “Gaylyn’s a very merciful person with lots of heart. She’s always driving us to feel the music from within. We call her the lioness or the sergeant, because she keeps us practicing.”
Of course, even though they often get along, the Foto Sisters have their fair share of arguments. Katie said, “We have strong disagreements sometimes.” But, in the end, they resolve their issues with compassion and mutual respect.
Like many Millennials, the sisters live at home with their parents. And like most of us, they sometimes struggle with finding a balance between asserting their independence and respecting their parents and one another. Addy said, “As of now, we’re three adults—plus mom and dad—living in the same house. So, we have daily struggles. Especially with mom and dad learning how to allow we three girls to make our own decisions. And it’s up to us to show them grace as they figure that out.”
They also rely on God’s Grace to help them muster the courage and energy to perform. Adrenaline and anxiety often well up before a show, but the Foto Sisters are professionals. They say a prayer, step out in faith, and let the Lord work through them to reach the audience. Here’s what they had to say about being on stage:
Addy said, “To be honest, my favorite part of music is the involvement of people. Getting to talk with people after a performance is the best.”
Gaylyn said, “For me, performing is about the buildup. You practice and practice for that goal, and when you’re performing you get to express yourself.”
Katie said, “I like to perform. It’s kind of thrilling. I like a little bit of pressure on stage.”
As artists, the Foto Sisters are constantly checking their pride. They work hard to remember the purpose behind their music: to serve the Kingdom of God. Katie said, “There are many times when you think you don’t even want to step out onto that stage. And you have to ask God to work through you, otherwise you’d have nothing to offer the audience.”
Even though their lives might seem a little idealistic, the sisters face the same emotional, spiritual, and psychological hurdles as the rest of us. It isn’t always easy for them to rely on God, but they spend a great deal of time seeking His presence. They also count on the emotional support of their friends. Katie said, “It’s all about being honest with the Lord and being accountable to people.”
Music is the Foto Sisters’ fulltime job, and it takes up most of their time. They practice on weekdays, perform most weekends, go back and forth between Baton Rouge and Nashville for recording sessions, and spend quiet time with God every day. Yet, on top of all that, they still manage to find ways to have fun. When they aren’t busy practicing, they play Ultimate Frisbee, cook, romp outdoors, shop, and spend time with close friends.
Long term, they aren’t sure what lies in store, but they are excited to continue making music for as long as God keeps opening doors for them to do so. For now, though, they have a sincere passion for sharing His Love with audiences through song. Katie said, “We definitely want to travel and perform more in the coming years.”
Their newest project, which will be released this month, is—as yet—untitled. The album, produced in Nashville, mixes incredible production value and epic arrangements with their signature, airy, performance style. Their new record—and all their other music—is available via their website www.thefotosisters.com, on iTunes, and through most other online music resources. You can also check them out on YouTube and Facebook.
No matter who you are, where you live, or what you do, God has an ideal plan for your life. But it’s up to you to surrender your pride, tap into your talents, and answer His calling. Nothing worthwhile ever happens without hard work. Just ask the Foto Sisters. If you’re willing to put forth the effort and seek God, Christ will help you meet every challenge with courage.