Pop culture is often defined and evolved by the music it creates. In turn, music has the power to influence those within a culture. Teens and pre-teens often think they must bow to the standards of the crowd to have the respect of their peers. The members of Aurora hope to show them a different way. With their infectious, beat-heavy pop music, twins Rachel and Racquel Smith and their slightly (by 11 months) older sister Lauren are capturing the hearts, ears and feet of listeners everywhere with their self-titled debut on Red Hill Records.
With a sound that is reminiscent of those dominating the modern pop scene--Britney Spears, The Backstreet Boys, Christina Aguilera, and the Latin-influenced pop of Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin-the music of Aurora is similar to what many teens are listening to right now. But it's the words of Aurora that will set them apart.
"We know how difficult it is to grow up in today's society and resist a lot of negative influences," says Rachel, 21. "Through our music, we want kids to understand that they can stay away from some of the things their friends may be doing and still have fun. That's what the song 'Different Drum' talks about."
"We have been fortunate to grow up in a Christian home," says her twin, Racquel. "Not everyone is as lucky as we were. Learning about Jesus, knowing Him and following His example from a young age has definitely impacted the choices we have made. One of our goals is to reach out to the kids today who aren't aware that there is someone who cares about them at all times - whose love is unconditional. Some of those kids will be in the church and some won't. We just want to go where God is leading us and share that with our peers."
The tight harmonies of the Georgia-born members of Aurora are homegrown. Lauren explains, "When we were small - the twins were four years old and I was five--our mom used to sit us on the counter in the kitchen to keep an eye on us while she was cooking. To occupy us, she started teaching us harmonies. She would sing low harmony in the ear of one of us, high harmony in another, and then lead in the last. As we grew, we just kept it up."
All of the girls were busy with activities in high school, from cheerleading to theater and sports. Since all three girls play instruments - (Racquel plays the piano, Rachel plays the guitar, and Lauren also plays piano)-- they lead the praise and worship at their church for several years. Eventually, they began performing in churches in and around their hometown.
Even though they were raised with Christian values, each girl says that at one point early in her teens, she recognized her faith was a relationship, not a bunch of rules. "I was in a gym class in fifth grade, walking around the track outside, and I really started noticing how beautiful everything was around me - the trees, the grass, the sky," says Lauren. "I spent the whole class period praising God for everything that He has given us. I felt His presence then like I never had before. That was a turning point for me."
The twins both say the realization was more gradual for them, but they learned that their faith was a daily thing, not something that they just did on Sundays. "I started to realize that it was something you had to put effort into, like any relationship," says Rachel.
As they began singing together in churches, the trio felt God was leading them towards using their talents on a full-time basis. They did an independent project and decided to send it to several labels. "We prayed over each package we sent out," says Lauren, "because we wanted God to make it very clear to us whether or not this was a path He wanted us to go down."
After hearing back from several interested companies, the sisters prayed some more and felt like Red Hill Records was the direction that God wanted them to go. "They are very ministry focused, and that's what we were looking for," explains Racquel.
From the memorable hook of "Mercy Me" to the Latin-tinged "Loving Me Like You Do" and the rhythm-heavy 'Forget Me Not," there are plenty of tunes to groove to. "With this project we feel like God's given us an opportunity to use all of our talents-- combining singing and dancing with our experience of being on stage. And at the same time, we get to affirm the values that we feel kids today need to know are important," finishes Lauren.
With Aurora, kids will know that having fun with God is definitely the most fun that can be had.