Rose Rock Daughters: Roots and Faith
by Shelby C. Berry
Raised from the red dirt of Weatherford, Oklahoma, the Swaim sisters’ lives changed forever when their church nursery worker struggling with lung cancer was put on hospice in her home, recalled Kallie. “We would dance and sing to cheer her up and put on shows for her. When she passed, her daughter asked if we would sing at the memorial service. After that, someone else at our church asked if we would sing at a wedding anniversary. Our mom panicked and started praying. The Lord placed our kindergarten teacher on her mind, and she started teaching us music.”
Their piano had been passed down from their great, great-grandmother and that became the first instrument for Kallie, who was entering first grade.
“The first few years were very challenging, and I was a perfectionist,” said Kallie. “I cried longer than I actually practiced every time we sat down at the piano. My vocal coach encouraged my mom not to let me give up. We pushed through, and after the third year, I really started loving it.”
But when Kaycie got to first grade, she didn’t want to be like her big sister. She wanted to blaze her trail, so she chose to play the fiddle “like Pa on Little House on the Prairie.”
“I pretty much just didn’t want to do what my sister was doing,” said Kaycie. “I saw Pa playing the fiddle, and I thought it would be the coolest thing to play in my living room, have my sisters dance, and hoedown. I fell in love with classic violin, Irish music, and, of course, the bluegrass fiddle as well. It all blends.”
By the time Kambrie hit first grade, she knew what instrument she wanted to play – the mandolin. She had thought about it a lot and kept changing her mind, but all it took was an awe-inspiring concert by The Issacs to make her fall in love with the sound of this new instrument.
“After I watched Sonya Isaacs play the mandolin, I knew that was the instrument for me. Mama didn’t even try to talk me out of it. She just started praying and asking the Lord for a mandolin instructor,” laughed Kambrie.
Their local music minister John Gerber gave them the flyer on the Fine Arts Summer Academy put on by the Annie Moses Band in Tennessee. This camp introduced Kallie, Kaycie, and Kambrie to Americana and became a major turning point in their musical career.
“The camp had all instruments in one place,” explained Kallie. “There was nothing like it in Oklahoma. They were two weeks of the hardest part of our journey. We were overwhelmed, and we came home saying we were never going back. But there was nowhere else that you can get this kind of music education.”
The sisters ended up going to the camp for nine years. “It helped us grow as a group, and we had a great relationship with the Annie Moses Band because of it,” said Kallie. “They really helped us record and brand ourselves as a band in the beginning years.”
With these connections in Nashville, the Swaim sisters added the harp and the guitar to round out their spirited, soulful sound.
“I got started on the guitar out of convenience to help me with my mandolin,” said Kambrie. I fell in love, and the guitar brought out another side of me. It brought out a more serious side. And with that, we started doing more bluegrass music.”
Their sound turned into a musical melting pot and the girls prepared to record an EP. But they needed a band name. Rose Rock Daughters originates from Oklahoma’s legendary rock that looks like a rose and the rose of Sharon mentioned in scripture. Therefore, Rose Rock Daughters represents more than a band—it portrays hometown roots and faith.
“Our faith is why we do what we do,” said Kallie. “Without Him, we wouldn’t have the message to share. It’s an honor and privilege to serve God with our music. Our heart really is that we would be able to share a message of truth in a world that is searching for truth. Our goal is to proclaim the message of truth and beauty. A lot of music is just noise, and our goal isn’t to be a part of that movement. We want to inspire. Our gift is an honor, and we want to display that the best way that we can.”
With one foot in Nashville music-making and another planted in the red dirt of their beloved Oklahoma, the Rose Rock Daughters first made waves in music city performing at the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Cannery Ballroom and recording their EP and albums with the Annie Moses Band there as well.
After four years of attending The Fine Arts Summer Academy, the Rose Rock Daughters got the opportunity to sing in the camp’s gala at the Grand Ole Opry.
“Our PawPaw loves old country like Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson. He would have us listening to them in his truck,” said Kaycie. “And we were getting to perform on the same stage as those great musicians. This was the first year that we got to do our own songs for our band at the Opry. Our PawPaw was so excited that he got a plane ticket and came down. He had never come to Nashville to watch us before. It was so surreal.”
When COVID hit last spring, it birthed new creativity for the daughters who began arranging their songs and co-producing a Christmas album in the studio. The marriage of new and old styles was eclectic.
“We have a new passion for arranging music,” said Kaycie. “It’s quite humbling to see God work through you. Arranging the music brings more passion to it, and you can see that when we perform.”
While COVID prevented the Rose Rock Daughters from touring along with their Christmas album release last year, they are excited to hit the road to perform the music from their album in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and North Carolina. They will also release songs from their Christmas album on streaming platforms in September.
As they move into this new tour, the Rose Rock Daughters want to “be able to speak truth into people and speak beauty into them,” said Kallie. “We want to inspire the younger generation. We want to encourage families to work and play together. Our goal is to inspire younger generations to use their gifts to honor Christ.”