Cherryholmes was a successful American bluegrass band hailing from Los Angeles, California. The band was made up of six members of the Cherryholmes Family--father, Jere (Pop); mother, Sandy Lee; daughters, Cia Leigh and Molly Kate, and sons, B.J. and Skip.
The concept of starting a family band occured to Jere and Sandy Lee in 1999. In March of that year, their twenty-year old daughter Shelly passed away unexpectedly. In April, looking to bring some joy into their sadness, they took the family to a local bluegrass festival.
The music was uplifting. The experience was wonderful. On the ride home Jere and Sandy discussed the possibility of learning to play and teaching their children to play bluegrass music. They believed it was something the family needed to do after suffering the loss of their daughter and sister.
Jere already played electric bass and acoustic guitar. Sandy played many instruments including guitar, piano, and some fiddle and mandolin. Jere assigned each of the children an instrument. Cia, age 15, began on guitar. B.J., age 11, began on fiddle. Skip, age 9, began on mandolin, Molly, age 7, began on fiddle. Jere switched to upright bass and Sandy took the mandolin.
A structured homeschool schedule allowed them to learn and practice several hours a day. They began playing together in April and in July they auditioned, and were hired, for their first gig at Oak Tree Village, Oak Glen in the San Bernardino Mountains. They quickly became the sweethearts of the bluegrass circuit, playing reularly at bluegrass venues and festivals throughout Southern California and Arizona.
The Cherryholmes Family had never anticipated playing professionally. However, in 2000, they found themselves with an ambitious play schedule. In order to be a serious bluegrass band, they would need to have a banjo. Cia volunteered to teach herself bluegrass style banjo. Skip learned to play the guitar and Sandy taught herself frailing style banjo. Their show included Irish Step dancing and clogging as well as bluegrass/country standards and hot instrumentals.
In 2002, they sold their home in L.A., purchased a 26' travel trailer, and took their show to audiences in the Mid-west and the East. They earned enough in the first year to but their first tour bus. In spring of 2003, they came to Nashville, TN to make their first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Their musical career continued to sky rocket.
In early 2005, they signed with Skaggs Family Records (owned by Country music icon Ricky Skaggs). Their first release with Skaggs Family garnered them their first of five Grammy nominations. In the fall of 2005, they were the first bluegrass band to be nominated for both IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year and IBMA Entertainers of the Year. They took home IBMA Entertainers of the Year--the top award.
A feature in Polestar Magazine led to a relationship with Columbia Artist Management (CAMI) in New York City. CAMI booked them into theaters and performing arts centers and eventually into performances with symphony orchestras around the country. The family's amazing vocal and instrumental talent, along with their creative approach to their stage performance, found them traveling nearlyt a million miles in their tour bus to play for thousands at a diverse mix of bluegrass, country, roots and rock venues. From Lincoln Center in New York City to Bonnoroo and the CMA Music Festival in TN; from Stage Coach in So. California to NASCAR at the Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania, Cherryholmes was a hit with audiences everywhere.
Cherryholmes toured not only the U.S. but other parts of the world including Switzerland, France, Japan, the UK, Canada, the Maritimes and the Caribbean. They performed regularly on the Grand Ole Opry. During their career, they received five Grammy nominations and a Dove Award nomination. Their songs appear on Gaither Music CDs and DVDs. They have appeared on various PBS specials inclufing the award winning Bluegrass Underground. In March 2006, their story was featured in a Billy Graham Television special. They are included on the Famous Homeschoolers website.
On January 12, 2011, Cherryholmes announced that they had decided to disband the group. Jere and Sandy worte on their website "we believe it is only right that our young folks be allowed to follow their own dreams and goals for the future. With spouses to consider and differing career aspirations, they deserve the freedom to chose their own paths without the extreme interdependence that exists in a family business."
Cherryholmes performed their last show on May 7, 2011 in Galax, Virginia.