Meet the Malcolms: New Zealand´s Most Talented Family.

The Malcolm sisters have impressed the music world with their natural talent.

Far from the glitzy Hollywood recording studios and major label boardrooms, just outside Christchurch, New Zealand, five unique people share their lives, their dreams and goals together.

When Gordon met his wife Sally, he never imagined the profound way in which their union would positively impact the world. As a naturally gifted singer himself, Gordon is no stranger to the powerful connection music can have with people from all walks of life.

The couple´s three daughters are prodigious artists by nature, and their creativity has been one of the main driving forces behind the family´s most delightful moments together, in a home where music is always playing and smiles are never absent. Eighteen-year-old Aleisha Malcolm has already captured the attention of local and regional audiences, currently ranking number one on the digital talent show “Lockdown´s got Talent NZ” – however, the young and captivating singer and songwriter has also caught the attention of international music executives and has recently launched her official website, she is said to be working on her first original single and enjoying the process.

From left to right Sally, Aleisha, Nicola, Gordon and Olivia Malcolm at their family home.

Olivia Malcolm is a gifted amateur film-maker and often acts as the creative director of the group, visualizing and executing unique ideas that enhance her family´s artistic projects, while Nicola, the youngest sister also shines bright with her own unique singing style, at only thirteen, she has already been recognized as a breakthrough talent within her community.

In this exclusive interview, we got to know the story behind the family and where their musical journey has taken them so far.

Gordon, what was the first song you remember singing and the first artist that you consider a source of inspiration?

My first memory of singing was walking into my parents’ lounge at the age of 2 or 3 and seeing nine aunties and uncles sitting in a smoke filled room with my Father playing the Piano and everyone singing. They all saw me and sang me a Scottish song called a Gordy for me, which I was encouraged to sing along to as well. My Father was also the Barman, Bouncer and Entertainer for his Fathers two Pubs.

The first artist I can remember singing to is Billie Joel and his song Honesty. It hit a chord with me and I loved the melody.

Sally and Gordon´s wedding and the beginning of their new life together.

How did you and Sally meet, and when did you decide you both wanted to start a family together?

I first saw Sally running down the beach with her dog when I used to go training at the gym. It was a bit of a Baywatch moment for me, but I didn't approach her then in case she thought I was a creep!

I was in town with a friend of mine and went to Baileys818 Night Club. My friend was a bit intoxicated and walked up to this lady with flowing locks down to her waist, he then decided to give her hair a gentle pull and she spun around. It was then I realized it was the Baywatch girl from the beach. Here was my opportunity! It was not until thirty minutes later that I realized Sally was Deaf as the music was so loud we could not hear anyone speak. My friend Peter asked Sally's sister why she was talking to her more expressively and Kerri said, "Because she is deaf'. Peter ended up marrying Kerri and I got to marry my Baywatch girl.

We never talked about children before we got married but we both just took things as they came. We were married in Rarotonga and planted a coconut tree for 'new life' as part of the ceremony. We went on to have three daughters.

Sally, can you please explain to our readers how a hearing impaired individual experiences music? And what it has been like having your husband and daughters sing for you?

I contracted meningitis at the age of 21 months and was left profoundly deaf. Before that I had been fascinated with my Nanas piano which I headed for whenever we visited her. Even after I lost my hearing it still fascinated me as I could feel the vibrations, but it wasn’t the same. My grandparents both played the piano and piano-accordion and Nana sang.

My parents chose to put me through a normal school rather than the school for the deaf, as they wanted me to be socially comfortable in a hearing world. I learned to lip-read rather than sign right from the start, and adapted very well. Of course this meant I had to learn to speak as well. I can hold a conversation with most people when they get used to my speech pattern.

When my parents wanted my attention they would stamp on the floor, and as I was very aware of any vibration, this worked well. I was able to enjoy rhythm and if I held a balloon or an empty plastic bottle while music was playing, the vibration came through clearly. At school the class teacher would try to teach me to play the recorder. I followed the notes but would drive the family mad because I would play it too loud. In music class at high school the teacher would put me on the drums, a classmate would nod each time I was to hit them! I was not excluded at all, so I got a taste of how the hearing world did their stuff. When I tried to sing, I followed the words, but sang in a complete monotone, so I only sang in the car with my family.

When I was older, my sister Kerri would take me night-clubbing and I would be the sober-driver. My deaf friend Robyn, who speaks orally like me, would meet me there and we’d dance to the beat of the vibrations. The funny thing is we'd be able to talk across the table lip-reading, while hearing people couldn’t understand each other over the loud music! I love Rainn Wilson's quote, "Music is universal, even deaf people like to dance, love rhythm, and can kind of pick it up".

When I met Gordon I noticed that he would sing a lot in the car. I could feel the vibration of the music in the car by the booming/beating and he would tap my leg with the rhythm of the drums. He'd then find the lyrics inside the CDs so I could read them and then lip-read him.

When my girls were little, I’d have the children’s musical TV shows on and I’d watch them dance around the house. Most would have subtitles I could follow to see what they were listening to, and sometimes I’d dance with them. Gordon had a sound system put in so I could feel the vibrations more when they had music playing. When the girls were little and there is just the four of us girls, when I am driving in the car, I would always put on music CDs for them, I preferred the ones with drum background music so I could feel a little more included with the girls.

We bought the girls 'Sing Star'', and they were great at it. They encouraged me to have a go. It informed me I was tone-deaf. They were so upset for me, but I thought it was hilarious. I had so many people commenting “Oh my goodness your girls can sing!” and I would be like, really? Gordon and I discussed it and we decided to put them into music lessons.

Aleisha and Nicola took singing lessons and Olivia and Nicola are taking piano lessons. We have bought them microphones and many instruments. Olivia has taught herself to play most instruments by ear, and prefers to play for the others and harmonize. I know how much joy music brings to our family, and I support them all the way. I love it when they all harmonize together.

I was offered cochlear implants ten years ago, but I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of them, so the audiologist recommended I see a specialist for new hearing aids. I had had several pairs over the years, but the difference in technology of these new ones was unbelievable!

So I guess I have been aware of music all my life, but more so having come from a hearing family, my latest hearing aids have helped me enjoy the girls singing. I can pick up 'pitch’ and the separation of their words, but nothing like a hearing person can. For them to sing to around me just makes me happy as I know that music is their world and that I am able to help them thrive by supporting them and just being there. They include me the best way they can by having lyrics printed out, and having the music up louder. I am very proud of them.

You have a beautiful voice, Nicola! How old were you when you first started singing? Is there a song you enjoy singing more than any other?

Thank you! I started singing as soon as I could talk. My sisters really influenced me to sing when I was little because they were always doing singing shows for our parents.

Nicola Malcolm.

As I got older I got more and more involved with singing and performing. When I was 9 years old I was the lead singer in a children's band for 3 years and we performed at the Santa Parade and other events. When I was 11 years old I played an orphan in 'Annie’ the musical in Christchurch and I have recently been cast as Gaelen in 'Legally Blonde' the musical, through my high school which is currently on hold due to the lockdown. I also play the piano and do piano lessons.

I don't really have just one favourite song, but I do like high songs such as 'Shallow' by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, 'Girl on fire' by Alicia Keys and 'Rise up' by Andra Day.

Liv, you sing and also play piano. How did you learn this instrument and have you written any songs?

I first started playing the piano by ear when I was four years old on my great grandmother's piano that was given to my mum and I could pick up songs really easily, dad was impressed so he and mum bought me a baby grand piano. I can play the drums, play ukulele by ear and have a guitar, a banjolele and a beat box to play around with. I started piano lessons when I was seven, so I could read music as well.

Olivia and Aleisha Malcolm.

I am 15 now turning 16 and can work out how to play any song just by listening to it. I did write songs when I was younger, but my skills with song writing have improved a lot since then.

I write more instrumental songs on the piano than songs that have words and I've actually never had a singing lesson before, but I can naturally harmonize higher or lower so that helps a lot when I'm singing with my sisters because it makes the songs we sing sound really cool.

Aleisha Malcolm.

So Aleisha, as the eldest sister how do you think music has helped you bond with Olivia and Nicola? How has it helped you bond with your Dad? And your Mum?

We’ve always sung together and enjoyed the same music! Throughout our lives we have learned to harmonize and work together on music and it’s created a really special bond! Creating music together and singing together is so special to us all! We’ve written some pretty funny songs about mum and dad’s love story too! Dad and I have always shared a bond with our music, the amount of duets we’ve done while in the car driving to places is uncountable! Mum hasn’t heard any of us sing before because of her hearing, but has supported all of us at every single gig we’ve done and been so encouraging towards all of our music. We literally sing all the time! Our home is probably one of the loudest homes to exist, we are constantly singing and harmonizing!

Aleisha Malcolm and Bev Wilson.

Are there any new covers you plan on recording together?

Of course! We sing together every day really, just not in a formal manner! We sing while we are feeding the animals or just wandering around the house or we harmonize with the ads on the television! We definitely have more family covers coming!

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