‘Born Sisters’ Kristen and Kara Zack graduate from Padua to country music’s biggest stage

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Dialog reporter

 

A lot of folks from the area are in Dover this weekend for Big Barrel, the second supersized music festival at Dover Downs International Speedway in as many weekends. A pair of recent Padua Academy graduates are among them, but instead of camping out and catching all the acts, they are one of the acts.

Kristen and Kara Zack (classes of 2012 and 2015, respectively), who along with their three bandmates comprise Born Sisters, have been busy preparing for Big Barrel. The three-day festival includes nearly 40 country artists on two stages and features some of the industry’s biggest names, such as Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood. The party got underway Friday and runs through Sunday.

Kara (left) and Kristen Zack, graduates of Padua Academy, are on the main stage at the Big Barrel Music Festival. (Courtesy of Born Sisters)
Kara (left) and Kristen Zack, graduates of Padua Academy, are on the main stage at the Big Barrel Music Festival. (Courtesy of Born Sisters)

Born Sisters is opening the action Saturday afternoon on the main stage with a 40-minute set. For the Zack sisters, the invitation to Big Barrel has been a validation of all their hard work over the past few years.

“We’re just scratching the surface. This justifies all that we’ve done,” Kara said earlier this week. “If they want us to play for them, we have to be some kind of talented. It was just an awesome feeling.”

Kristen said Born Sisters – which includes Salesianum School graduate Brian Lafferty on lead guitar, banjo and harmonica; Jason Ogurcak on bass; and Dante DeShulla on drums – submitted a demo to Big Barrel’s production company back in December. They believed that being local and having a record of supporting the community, along with their talent, helped their cause.

“We really thought we’d be the perfect fit for this show,” Kristen said.

It took a while, but the invitation arrived in May. Since then, Born Sisters has been rehearsing while traveling between their hometown of Kennett Square, Pa., and Nashville, Tenn.

 

‘The bug bit us’

Kristen started playing guitar around age 11, and Kara followed soon after with piano and bass. It didn’t take long for music to become a priority in their lives.

“We started writing songs around the time I was 12 or 13. We kind of fell in love with performing and playing music,” Kristen said.

“We started with piano lessons, and it kind of just progressed,” Kara continued. “It was funny because we would perform some of our own original songs, and it kind of blew up from there. The bug bit us, for sure.”

Both were athletes at Padua, Kristen in soccer and Kara in volleyball, but music became the priority. They had to sacrifice some of the regular high school activities at times, but it has been worth it, they said. They added that they were fortunate to be at Padua.

“It’s totally like a sisterhood. We were blessed to be in that environment,” Kristen said. Kara added that their fellow Pandas should expect to be recognized at Big Barrel.

(Their Padua friends would likely call them Kristen and Kara Zagorskie, their legal last name. The ladies use Zack professionally, saying that was what their grandfather’s name was shortened to when he came to the United States from Poland.)

Born Sisters, which has released three albums, is managed by the Zacks’ parents, and Kristen and Kara do the writing of the songs and music. Kristen said she doesn’t think people realize how talented her younger sister is.

“It’s a lot to ask of Kara. She’s not even 18 years old yet,” she said. “It’s not what typical kids are doing. It’s a lot of precision and putting a lot of thought into every decision.”

Once Big Barrel is in the rear-view mirror, Kristen and Kara will head back to Nashville through July, then return to Kennett Square for August and September to perform several shows. They feel that their previous experiences have prepared them for a spotlight as large as Big Barrel’s.

“Everybody keeps asking if we’re nervous,” Kristen said. “Not so nervous that we could not handle it. Every show up until now has helped prepare us.

“This pretty much is our job. We’re so lucky to call this our job at this point.”