Girl Named Tom staying true to selves

Sibling musicians navigate success while grandma helps keep things in perspective

Girl Named Tom is made up of siblings Caleb, Bekah and Joshua Liechty. — Girl Named Tom Girl Named Tom is made up of siblings Caleb, Bekah and Joshua Liechty. — Girl Named Tom

Girl Named Tom, the musical group made up of siblings Caleb, Joshua and Bekah Liechty, took part in a live­streamed Q&A hosted online June 5 by Anabaptist World. The interview is edited for clarity and length.

What sparked your musical interests? How important has the Mennonite church been for you?

Bekah: We grew up in a small town in Pettisville, Ohio. The town was about 500 people, but there were lots of churches, and church was a big part of our growing up. Our parents loved music, so we were steeped in music, and every Sunday we would go to church, Zion Mennonite Church in Archbold, Ohio. It was just such a gift to be steeped in that beautiful four-part harmony every single Sunday. We would be little ones standing up on the pews watching everyone singing, and it just really connected with our hearts from a young age.

Joshua: Mom would trace the different lines in the hymn book. It was perfect because you got to sing a soprano verse, an alto verse, a tenor verse, a bass verse. And so that’s how we kind of learned to read music, just by matching her. And it was our first performance space as well. We all took piano lessons growing up, and it was such a safe space to express yourself.

What has your life been like since winning The Voice?

Caleb: Most of the other contestants on The Voice were by themselves. Maybe you can tell how much we mean to each other — that was never more obvious than on The Voice, and when we were locked in that hotel room for months at a time we really leaned on each other in a new way. We had supportive family at home, supportive friends, Anabaptist World watchers were supporting us, which was huge as well, and kept our minds in the right place. But really the three of us were the biggest support network we could have asked for. I think Bekah might have been able to win by herself vocally. But, like everything else that goes into that experience, we were just stronger because there were three of us, and so it is a little bit of a cheat code emotionally, we could rely on each other in a really cool way.

How are you taking care of yourselves, living what most people would call a dream?

Bekah: Living in a town like Nashville, just being surrounded by a higher caliber of artists and really shaping your craft, it humbles you pretty quick. You realize, OK, I’m special, but I’m not unique in that I’m special.

Joshua: Making this our home in our own separate ways while being this unit is one way to stay grounded.

Caleb: For me, I get really high and really low kind of dramatically. We can sell out a theater one night, but the next morning I’ll get on my phone and look at our streaming numbers and realize our Instagram likes have been dipping, and I’ll get all in my head and depressed. So one thing that we’ve all three done is call our grandma or our mom. But it’s funnier when we call grandma because when you think of one of these little situations we’re all obsessing over and sad about on Instagram and try to tell grandma, she’s got no time for that. Like, “come on, that’s not a real thing to be worried about.” So being able to see our lives from the perspective of a 98-year-old has helped keep everything where it belongs.

Who writes the songs?

Caleb: Truly, every song is different. We’ve found every once in a while we begin to think, oh, this is a good way to do it, but then that way fails the next time and another random way that we’ve never tried before succeeds. It really is a mystery to us. Yeah, sometimes there’s a fourth person or a fifth person in the room with the three of us. It’s constantly surprising us.

Anabaptist World digital strategist Juan Moya and executive director Dani Klotz talk with Caleb, Bekah and Joshua Liechty. — Anabaptist World
Anabaptist World digital strategist Juan Moya and executive director Dani Klotz talk with Caleb, Bekah and Joshua Liechty. — Anabaptist World

How do you navigate being public personas with bringing attention to peace and justice issues important to you?

Caleb: That it is a very new thing for us. With having a massive platform, it’s just not something we ever expected to have. We have come to the realization that we just want to be ourselves. We want to be true to who we are.

Joshua: Growing up, social justice was always such a big part of our lives, our religion. Everywhere we looked, our grandparents did voluntary service and provided aid during World War II. When we were little children our parents would read to us not from picture books but some of the most impactful stories about heroes like Harriet Tubman, Dirk Willems, Ruby Bridges, Dietrich Bonhoeffer — all these people who made a huge impact in a nonviolent way.

Bekah: There’s oppression. There’s injustice. And we don’t want to ignore that. We want to be a part of the balm, the healing harmony. We have a lot of privilege and we’ve also had a lot of hurt and so the way that music has healed over and over and over again, we want to be a part of that.

Caleb: It’s a challenge to some of our fans. It’s not always comfortable, and that’s something that challenges us. It’s hard because we care about our fans so much and we love and adore them and appreciate them, but in the end we know that our fans love us for being ourselves and they remind us of that all the time: Don’t forget who you are. And this is who we are. We are nonviolent resisters, and we believe that music is a wonderful way to do that.

Bekah: This summer we’re ­going on a tour — to Montana, South Dakota, several places out west; we’ll also be in Illinois and Iowa, so go to ­ to see where we’re going. I’m excited!

Caleb: And we’ve always got new tour dates coming, so keep an ear to the rail for those, and also we just need some thoughts and prayers and good vibes for this next couple weeks. We’re going to be in the studio experimenting with some pretty cool people. We’re going to make more music, so we’re really excited.

The full video of the conversation is available on Anabaptist World’s YouTube channel.

Anabaptist World

Anabaptist World Inc. (AW) is an independent journalistic ministry serving the global Anabaptist movement. We seek to inform, inspire and Read More

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