If they sound like angels, and they do, it's because sisters Niyoki, Mikki and Malikah have sung together since they were toddlers, touring the country with mom and dad as the gospel singing White Family.
“It was mom and dad and brother and all four of us girls,” says sister Niyoki Chapman. 'Now was your dad kind of in charge of the singing and the group and the songs and everything?' “No, that was mom. She was the Joe Jackson of the family. she channeled that spirit.”
the sisters story took a dramatic turn though when, on a singing tour of Minnesota, they take a chance and marched into Paisley Park, the private Minnesota recording studio of rock superstar Prince, unannounced and uninvited.
“What did we say we're here for?” Niyoki asks her sisters. “The show tonight. We embellished some stories. 'You lied?' “I said embellished. So we said we're here for our sound check. Your sound check? Prince was there and we didn't know it. So he actually went to Prince and said 'there's a girl group at the door..' The guy told me that Prince asked him how do we look? He said they look good. We turned the corner and literally in all of his glory he's standing right there. We're like 'Oh my God!'
The sisters auditioned for Prince who hired them on the spot. For the next five years they and a fourth sister, Tia, sang backup vocals for the rock legend on stage, on tour and on his recordings.
“He'd allow us at some points to open for him,” says Niyoki. “and we would play double duty and come and sing background for him. That's just cool.”
It was very cool. The sisters from Fort Wayne, Indiana were living the high life; limousines, shopping sprees, mingling with the rich and famous...that's Jada Pinket Smith with them backstage. And singing back up for one of the towering figures in music history. They loved the lifestyle, loved the music and loved working with Prince, though working for a perfectionist had its downside.
“I remember I made a mistake,” says sister Mikki. “One time I had to sing a solo part of a song and I messed up the words and he turned around and his face was like EE! I was like almost forgot what I was singing it was so scary.”
“He loved our blend and loved our way,” explains Niyioki. “Our sibling bond, there were so many things he was attracted to the girls. Just the wholesomeness of our family and the gospel upbringing.
After five years the road, the lifestyle and being on call for performances 52 weeks a year inspired the girls to give up stardom and music legends and the fast lane and come home to Indiana. Niyoki Chapman works for Unity Performing Arts, Mikki Curry is an educator and Malikah King is in property management. But they still sing when the family gets together, talk about recording another CD and swap stories about that time in their lives when they rubbed shoulders with greatness, and greatness was impressed.