On Sept. 21, 2021, Girl Named Tom performed on the Blind Auditions of The Voice, season 21, with their rendition of Crosby, Stills and Nash’s 1969 hit “Helplessly Hoping,” and immediately captivated the four judges and America.
Week after week, the Ohio-bred sibling trio of Caleb, 24, Joshua, 24, and Bekah Liechty, 20, captured the essence of their individual vocals, and their natural harmonies together, along with the help of their coach Kelly Clarkson, reaching into songs like Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind,” and Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain,” Ingrid Andress’ “More Hearts Than Mine,” and The Foundations’ “Baby, Now That I Found You” and a rousing rendition of Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida.”
Just prior to being crowned the winners of the show on Dec. 15, Girl Named Tom chatted with American Songwriter about how the show changed their lives, songwriting… and life after The Voice.
American Songwriter: How has your experience on The Voice impacted the three of you?
Caleb Liechty: It’s affected our whole life. It will be interesting to see how our hometown treats us differently if they do. Little things like that could really affect us in profound ways that we don’t know. We don’t know how we’ll handle that yet.
Bekah Liechty: As a band for two years, we put out some music, and recently, we’ve put out the music that we got to record at Henson Studios and to see that hit the charts has been a highlight of this whole thing, just imagining hundreds of thousands of people listening to our tracks, that’s like every artist’s dream. I think it’s given us a lot of reassurance that we are in the right place, and that we really can make an impact with this music thing we’ve got going. And that’s just a really good feeling.
Joshua Liechty: The progress we’ve felt week to week [on The Voice], has felt similar to what it’s been like for us the last two years. We’re slowly getting better every day, but then society’s perception of us has really transformed. To see our social media numbers skyrocketing is weird because we’ve been doing this for a while.
BL: It’s really that investment. It’s why we’re here today, to work on our craft.
AS: Have you had much time to write together and think of your own music? Has the experience of the past two years and The Voice made you rethink how you’re going to approach music after this is all over?
CL: I think our love of songwriting and our dedication to it has informed our experience on The Voice and how we’ve strategized. We try to keep great songs, simple songs. The songs that we write are the kind of songs we’ve tried to choose when we get a choice. And then there are other songs that inspire us as songwriters, more than like vocalists or live performers. At our cores, we’re all songwriters, and that comes through in what songs we choose to perform.
JL: I was just telling Caleb earlier today that Kelly [Clarkson] told us to really pick moments for harmony, and to let our individual voices shine through in arrangements. I think writing together is going to be really fun after this experience of having arranged a lot, so we can make sure that each of our voices is heard on songs, individually, and then also as a unit.
AS: This was definitely captured when you performed “Viva La Vida” (Coldplay) during the Challenge Week. That was the perfect song to showcase all of your vocals. When it comes to your original songs, how have songs come together for you all in the past two years?
JL: Usually one of us has an idea. Every song has kind of had a different journey. Sometimes the melody comes first. Sometimes the lyrics come first. Caleb has done the most writing of all of us, but if you originate the idea, then you kind of flesh it out as much as you can. Then we bring it to each other and say, ‘I’m stuck,’ or ‘what harmony would be nice here?’
CL: One of our favorite examples is a song we wrote called ‘Waters,’ which isn’t out anywhere yet, but hopefully we’ll get to release it. It was a poem that I’d written on my phone just on a whim during a walk. It was a good song, but I had no melody for it yet, so Bekah and I worked on it one morning when Josh was away. We got a verse that we all of a sudden fell in love with, but we couldn’t think of a chorus, but we didn’t force it. The luxury of having three people is that there’s three different minds. So when Josh got home, we brought it to him, and he just had a simple like, ‘what about this,’ and it clicked and the chorus was written. That’s not always how it works. We’re not able to be quite as collaborative and unified in our vision, but when it works, I think it can be really magical. We hope we can refine that process in the coming years.
AS: Being from Ohio, what do you feel like it extracts from you as artists?
JL: We’re the Rust Belt.
CL: I like that. Is that what we are?
AS: So you’re all rusty?
BL: We are. We’re old souls. Growing up in a small town, we interacted with a lot of older people and younger people. And so we were involved in a lot of different things that I think gave us a well-rounded nature and a lot of tolerance for people who are different and just realizing that uniqueness is important.
CL: And we want to reach all those generations with our music. We care what young folks think about us, and we care about older folks. It’s important to us to be able to write to all those audiences in some little way.
JL: We often say that we have a small-town feel, but we have a bigger worldview. Our songs reflect a small-town feel with the folky, country, and warmer stuff and it’s got lots of harmonies. And I think that’s a very Midwest thing, too.
CL: Our lyrics speak to a more global view
AS: Do you think of genre at all, or is that something you’re all still figuring out?
CL: One thing about growing up in Ohio means that we don’t have to fit in anywhere. There’s no expectations for how we’re going to sound as a band from Ohio, and that’s exciting to us. We hope we can make our own sound popular, but labels always want us to choose a genre, so that’s a challenge we’re facing at the moment.
AS: You’re all still so young, and there’s so much more that’s about to happen moving ahead. Do you know what kind of stories/songs you want to tell after The Voice?
JL: We’ve definitely been telling stories the last two years. We’ve been writing and we’ve been performing songs, but our first goal is to record those and get them out there. We’re constantly writing and there’s just so much happening in our lives right now, so the stories are honestly kind of all over the place, but it’s kind of beautiful. We have a lot of songs about death.
CL: A lot of death songs.
JL: We also have some breakup stuff and love songs, and with three different voices and three different life experiences, there’s a lot of story to tell.
BL: There’s a lot that I’m not ready to share yet, but I’m working towards sharing that. Just the fact that three siblings can get together, I love the realness that we want to share. We don’t want everything to appear to be rosy.
CL: There’s always optimism in what we write, somewhere so it’s not always dark. It’s real and then there’s hope thrown in which I think it’s important in today’s world.
AS: What’s next, post The Voice, when you all come back down to earth?
CL: Christmas with our parents.
BL: We eventually want to move to Nashville and record an album. People are always asking ‘where can I find that one song?’ and we’re like ‘it’s not recorded yet.’
CL: We hope to record the album and release it by next summer and tour around. It’s really exciting and we were able to perform some of these songs this past summer, so that has helped us filter down the ones that speak to people.
Feature Photo by Chris Haston/NBC