The Sherry Sisters and the Dean Hudson Orchestra
The Sherry sisters were a singing trio of real sisters out of South Dakota. Janie, Paula and Carolyn Manthey were their names, and they sang on the big band circuit for a number of years in the 1940’s.
They joined the Dean Hudson Orchestra on 4/13/48 and toured primarily in the East Coast from New York City down to Key West. They performed in many of the nation’s hot spots including the Roseland Theater in NYC, the Click Club in Philadelphia, the Peabody Club in Memphis and many armories, clubs and other venues. They sang alongside such greats as Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Vic Damone, Nat King Cole and many others.
Records included: “Waiting for the Robert E. Lee”, “Snap Your Fingers”, “Regardless” and “Why Fall in love with a Stranger?”. In addition, they made about 10 transcriptions on Lang-Worth and had a musical blend similar to the McGuire Sisters.
Sang ballads and up-tempos. Sang mostly with the lead highest, often with a Dinning Sister sound, high, lead & alto. Sometimes they sang in a Quartette or Quintette with male vocals – novelty songs like “The Pajama Song” or slow ballads like “Until”. In addition to singing all 3 sisters played various instruments and twirled batons too.
While the Sherry Sisters were on the road, they met their future spouses in the Dean Hudson Orchestra! Janie, who just turned 98 in October of this year, 2021, paired up with Bob Archer from North Carolina who was the transportation guy for Dean Hudson. Paula met her future spouse, sax player Laddie Popek of Illinois, while Carolyn met trombonist Phil Bowers of Wisconsin. Janie had 2 children, Paula had 5 and Carolyn had 8! Paula passed away a few years ago, but Janie at 98 is still with us and living at home, as is Carolyn at age 95.
The Manthey Meadowlarks
Previous to singing with the big bands the Manthey girls sang and performed with their family band “The Manthey Meadlarks” as they were growing up in South Dakota. This was considered Lawrence Welk territory and they played at a number of dance halls, churches and school events in the South Dakota / Minnesota area. They played bother modern and old type music.
The band consisted of the parents Tony & Mary along with their 6 children: Genevieve, Bob, Janie, Paula, Carolyn and Patsy. They played at many, many dances in the 1930’s. Each family member sang and also played various instruments, with mother Mary on the piano, father Anthony on Tuba, Banjo and Violin, Janie on drums, Paula on trumpet and Carolyn on trombone. Little Patsy was too young to perform but accompanied them wherever they went.
Sadly, father Anthony passed away in a tractor accident on the family farm, and the family sold the farm and moved into town. Janie, Paula & Carolyn, the three middle girls, eventually went “on the road” together with the big bands.
The Three Feathers
After completing school, Janie, Paula & Carolyn all worked at the Jacksonville, FL airport. At that time they started singing together at the local USO. Gertrude Duffy at the USO introduced them to Mr. McQuade, who was the Public Relations director at the local radio station WJHP. From March, 1946 to March, 1947 they had a live show 3 times a week every Monday, Wednesday & Friday at 6:45 p.m. The announcer was Speed Veal while Johnny Gilrup was their piano player and arranger. When Carolyn had her tonsils taken out Phyllis Ortegus was her stand in. They chose the name “Three Feathers” as this was the name of the whiskey sponsors at the radio station.
While at the radio station they started to perform locally and were introduced to Harry Candullo. He was the band leader for the house band at the well-known Peacock Club in Jacksonville, FL.
While Harry Candullo helped to promote the “The Three Feathers” his brother Joe Candullo is known for discovering the McGuire Sisters, another singing trio of 3 sisters. In later years Harry Candullo played violin on the Lawrence Welk TV Show.
They performed at this club for about 6 months and were approached by other bands who wanted to take the girls “on the road”. After reviewing a few offers (one wanted them to sign a 5 year contract) they chose the Dean Hudson Orchestra as it was a shorter contract and enabled them to travel.
The Sherry Sisters
The Sherry Sisters continued to sing non-professionally while raising their families. In 1989, Carolyn’s husband Phil Bowers got them on a Chicago Cable Television Show. This was the first time they sang on TV in many years. The band consisted of leader Phil Bowers on trombone, Bart Popek on base and Stan Meader on keyboard. At this time they first sang the “Sisters” song written by Phil Bowers. They were on 3 shows and the sisters’ mother Mary sang at 95 years old while playing the piano.
In 1990, the Sherry Sisters won a contest sponsored by Croft Original Sherry Company. They were looking for anyone named “Sherry” to appear on a radio broadcast. They chose the Sherry Sisters! The producer and sound engineer recorded the commercial in the Bowers’ living room in La Grange Park, IL. The commercial was heard on several stations nationwide.
In 1991 Jonathan Brandmeir, a Chicago news radio personality. approached the Sherry Sisters after seeing their Chicago Cable Television program. He was looking for a house band to be part of the Jonathan Brandmeier Television Show. Unfortunately, the show lasted one season and was not renewed. However, the Sherry Sisters were featured in the Chicago Tribune’s TV guide amongst other publications.
For the next 15 years, the sisters performed occasionally at picnics and weddings. They performed on the US Norway cruise ship with the Lee William Band in 1993. Around that time, Carolyn & Phil Bowers started spending their winters in South Padre TX. Phil lined up some dance jobs at local establishments including the Bahia Mar Resort, The Pelican and Coral Reef night clubs. The Sherry Sisters made annual appearances through the years.