The sister trio SHeDAISY found itself with a big problem last spring: It was short one sister.
Kelsi Osborn, who sings high harmony on the group’s country-pop songs, had to take early maternity leave just as its summer tour was gearing up.
Kassidy and Kristyn Osborn were forced to find a replacement — and fast.
Enter younger sister Karli, a 21-year-old student and athlete at Lipscomb University in Nashville.
The youngest of six children, she knew she would be filling in at some point (Kelsi is pregnant with twins and due Aug. 17). She just didn’t know it would be so soon.
“I had to learn 25 songs in a month’s time,” said Karli, who’s majoring in business administration. “I’d do one song a day and repeat it over and over again so it would stick in my head.”
The tour runs through December, which means Karli will have to juggle her schedule when school resumes come fall. She only has one class left and figures she can do her homework as easily on a tour bus as at home.
“In college you learn to multitask,” she cracks.
Like her sisters, Karli grew up singing. One of her earliest memories is the four of them performing together at Disneyland when she was only 4.
But her sisters struck out for Nashville by the time she was 7, and while left at home with two brothers, her interests turned to sports.
“In high school I got to the point I had to decide whether I wanted to pursue a music scholarship or a sports scholarship.”
She chose sports — basketball, specifically — and last year started 26 games at point guard.
She never stopped singing, though. She minored in music at Lipscomb and sang in the school choir.
Her sisters knew she was the best fit for SHeDAISY — the only one, really.
“Karli’s experience on the court and off made her a natural choice,” said Cindy Heath, publicity director for their label, Lyric Street Records. “She’s used to the pressures and hectic pace, which has made it easier for her to perform night after night in front of thousands of fans.”
The Osborn sisters began singing in retirement homes, churches and local theater in Utah when they were very young. Kelsi and Kassidy were still in junior high when they moved to Nashville.
After recording an unreleased album, they spent five years working in mall department stores and performing at night.
Gradually, their hard work paid off and they landed the deal with Lyric Street. Their 1999 debut, “The Whole Shebang,” sold 2 million copies and spawned hits including “Little Good-Byes” and “I Will ... But.”
They also found success with their 2004 album “Sweet Right Here” and its single “Don’t Worry ’Bout a Thing.”
On their latest, “Fortuneteller’s Melody,” Kristyn, who writes most of the songs, collaborates with rocker Sheryl Crow and songwriter Don Schlitz, who’s penned hits for Kenny Rogers and Randy Travis.
For Karli, the tour is a chance to travel and apply the music theory courses she took in college.
It’s also allows her to experience life as a professional singer. If Kelsi returns to SHeDAISY as planned, the group could become a quartet.
Or maybe not. Karli is keeping her options open, including working at her father’s sports-apparel company in Utah.
For now, she’s where she wants to be.
“The name of the group ‘SHeDAISY’ is a Navajo word that’s slang for ‘my little sister,”’ she says of the group’s adapted name. “And that’s so appropriate for me.”