“Music for the soul.” That is how Monique and Chauntee Ross, better known as the duo, SistaStrings, described their unique sound when Rock the Green first featured them in June of 2020 as part of its Rock the Stream series during a turbulent summer in the COVID-19 pandemic, read the blog here. Their performance, which also was partnered with the wonderful community organization, Pearls for Teen Girls was nothing short of jaw dropping. The Ross sisters and their friends, including Buffalo Nichols and Johanna Rose, put on one of the most passionate and energetic streaming shows in the series, blending classical, gospel, Americana, folk, soul and funk stylings together to create “music for the soul.”
This Saturday, SistaStrings returns to their hometown for Rock the Green's (FREE) 12th annual Earth Day Celebration presented by Milwaukee Riverkeeper at the Harley-Davidson Museum from Noon-3pm. Due to the chilly Wisco forecasted day, the Celebration has been moved indoors to the newly renovated event space, The Garage, with stunning views of the mighty Menomonee River flowing alongside it. The zero waste celebration features a concert by SistaStrings, Klassik and last minute addition to the lineup, Milwaukee 17-year old rap artist and poet, Jonah Denae.
SistaStings has been keeping extremely busy these days playing with Brandi Carlile (which included a stop in New York for Saturday Night Live last year), as well as opening for Pink.“The Pink tour is huge! It is in stadiums which is totally different than anything else we’ve ever done,” Chauntee enthusiastically shared in a recent conversation with Rock the Green. “It has just been wonderful growing, connecting and getting other projects off the ground. Brandi has been so supportive and always introduces us on stage as SistaStrings. We truly love the support from all of the other artists and the community feeling on this tour. It has been exhilarating!” Monique beamingly added, “It’s also awesome because Milwaukee’s own Kid Cut Up is playing as well, doing DJ sets. The Milwaukee music scene is getting noticed fo’ real!”
While big shows have a lot of benefits, SistaStings loves the more intimate gatherings like their appearance on the world famous Rock the Green Pedal Power Stage this Saturday at the Harley-Davidson Museum just the same, if not more. “We are so excited to play at Rock the Green,” Monique continued, “We’re just overjoyed from the love, support and care that we get from our community.”
The zero waste and sustainability mission of Rock the Green is something that speaks to the Ross sisters. Chanutee explains, “It’s been a crazy few years as a human being. I feel like I’m constantly being stretched as a person to be a positive force. When organizations like Rock the Green give us opportunities to use our music and art to advocate for good, it really makes us feel great!”
Joining SistaStrings is their longtime friend and musical collaborator Klassik who will be opening the show. Like Sista Strings, Klassik has been keeping creatively active with a wide variety of artistic projects including a dramatic play. “Anytime I get to share the stage with my chosen family, it is a special occasion,” Klassik shared recently. “I went to Lloyd Street School and celebrated Earth Day every year. I even remember watching Captain Planet on the tv. We live on a planet with finite resources, but are not protecting them the way they should be cherished. We need to focus on awareness and compassion for each other and this beautiful planet that we live on. I am blessed to advocate for ways to make our lives more intertwined and shedding more light in this world is something that really speaks to me. I love being able to put my ideas and voice to use for good and for civic advocacy.” Klassik has also been working on a lot of new music which is likely to be featured during Saturday’s set along with tracks from his deep catalog.
The Menomonee, Milwaukee and Kinnikinnick Rivers will all be a big focus for the morning of Earth Day as Milwaukee Riverkeeper embarks on its annual spring river clean-up. “We’re expecting more than 4,000 volunteers to come out and remove over to 100,000 pounds of trash,” Milwaukee Riverkeeper Executive Director Jennifer Bolger Breceda shared with Rock the Green. The annual spring clean-up has become a tradition in Milwaukee, much like Rock the Green’s Earth Day Celebration, and Milwaukee Riverkeeper knows how to keep things fun with prizes awarded for the most unique “treasures” pulled out from the river.
Bolger Breceda is very happy that more people are choosing to enjoy the recreation and revel in the scenic beauty provided by Milwaukee’s rivers. This has, in turn, led to a greater sense of stewardship for many in the community. “We love that more people are interested in going beyond the clean-up and finding ways to stay connected and help beautify their neighborhoods and our city. Our Adopt A River program has become very popular with over 100 different adopters working year round to keep their portion of the river clean. Sadly, the number one find for most volunteers during our clean-up is single-use plastics… straws, plastic bags, and other similar debris. Continued efforts by individuals and community groups to get the trash out of the river and keep it out is essential, and I’m proud of how the Adopt A River Program has encouraged many great people to do this work”
“Good earth,” “gathering place by the waters,” “gathering place,” “the good land”… these are all translations of words that Indigenous groups such as the Potawatomi, Ojibwe, Odawa (Ottawa), Fox, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Sayk and Oneida have used to describe Milwaukee. We hope that you find a way to do something for Earth Day to help protect and sustain our “good land” and join together with neighbors from throughout the city to celebrate Earth Day at Rock the Green’s Earth Day Celebration.