By Laura McAlister
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The Küren Girls may be young, but in a short time, they are starting to make a big impact.
Formed about a year ago, the musical group is made up of four Over the Mountain teens and one Montgomery teen who all have a passion and talent for singing. They already have a CD, a website and songs for sale on iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby. They’ve performed more than 100 shows, including last year’s SEC championship baseball game.
In a short time, the girls have a long list of accomplishments, but what’s most important to them is expressed in their name. Küren is German for “cure,” and these girls want to raise awareness and funding for a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.
It’s not a very well-known disease, but it’s an important one to the group, especially Lowrey Patterson, 13, of Vestavia Hills. A close relative of Lowrey’s was diagnosed with ALS, often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It’s a chronic, progressive disease that affects nerve cells in the central nervous system, causing muscle weakness and atrophy and eventually leading to death.
“It’s very rare, and there’s no cure,” said Lynn Patterson, Lowrey’s mother. “Because it’s so rare, there’s not a lot of funding for it. That really falls back on the families that are affected by it.”
Lowrey and friends Jane Whitaker, also of Vestavia, Annie Stewart Miles and Kelsey Platt of Mountain Brook and Channing Glenn of Montgomery took up the cause and decided they could use their talents to help fund research for a cure for the disease.
All funds raised through the sale of their music and concerts go to research for a cure for ALS, said parent Terri Pratt.
Although it’s only been a year, the group has made progress in getting the word out about the disease and raising funds for research.
In addition to their songs – most are familiar, uplifting spiritual ones, though they do have one original single, “Keeping Faith” – they’ve also developed ways for their fans and supporters to raise funds for ALS research.
“We do have texting set up, so people can donate that way,” Lynn said.
By texting “EndALS,” or the numbers 20222, an automatic $5 donation will be made to ALS Therapy Development Institute, which strives to develop a cure for ALS.
While the Küren Girls said practicing weekly, in addition to live performances plus school and other extracurricular activities, can be trying, in the end it’s worth it.
“We just want to help Lowrey and support her family,” said Annie Stewart, 15. “We’ll keep on doing it until there is a cure.”
The teens spent much of their summer recording their CD. All have been performing since they were at least 8 years old, so they looked forward to the challenge. But it wasn’t as easy as they’d expected.
“I was surprised at how much goes into it,” said Kelsey, 14. “You have to record the same thing over and over and over again.”
“And, once you get it perfect, you have to do it perfect again,” added Lowrey.
As far as working and spending so much time together, that’s no problem for this musical group. Although only two of them attend the same school — Annie Stewart and Kelsey go to Mountain Brook High School — they were friends years before the formation of the Küren Girls.
Lowrey, Channing and Jane met in New York at an audition for “Annie the Musical.” They didn’t make the cut, but they did form a bond. They were around 8 years old then, and when they returned home, they decided to join the Red Mountain Theatre Company’s youth program, the Performing Ensemble. There they met Annie Stewart and Kelsey.
As the girls got older, they wanted to continue to perform on a broader scale while at the same time doing some good.
So far they have been able to do just that. Locally, they’ve played at churches, golf tournaments, ALS benefits, baseball games and more. In 2011, they hope to perform in some even bigger venues.
“We’ve been in discussion about doing something with Auburn,” Lynn said. “We’re also contacting the Major League Baseball association to see about performing the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ and things like that. We’re really excited.”
They also plan on producing more songs. To hear a sampling of their original song “Keeping Faith,” written by Abe Reybold and Brandon Robertson of Birmingham, visit otmj.com.
For more information and music from the Küren Girls as well as booking information and samplings of their music, visit their website at www.kurengirls.org.