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Thursday, July 2, 2009 02:01 pm

Singing with the stars

Springfield sisters to perform with CSI’s Gary Sinise in July

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Alyssa and Cassy Gaddis became Nashville recording artists with “The Price of Peace,” a hit song that honors soldiers and their families.
PHOTO BY KIMBERLY SMOOT

In just the past year, Cassy and Alyssa Gaddis, teenage sisters from Springfield, have become the bright-eyed faces of the National Guard music campaign.

Since Alyssa, now 13, penned “The Price of Peace” last summer, the girls have recorded the song in Nashville, starred in their own music video (which appeared in movie theaters across the country from May 22 to June 11) and performed for thousands of soldiers and their families.

This week the Gaddis Sisters will embark on a two-month tour to military bases and military kids’ camps in Indiana, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida. They’ll also team up with “CSI: New York” star Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band at the annual Rockin’ for the Troops benefit concert in Cantigny Park in Wheaton on July 18.

“Everything we’re doing is to sing to the kids or the families,” Cassy, 16, says. “It really is to finally give those families and kids the support that they deserve. They’re fighters, too, in their own way.”

The girls found their inspiration after attending several deployment ceremonies with their dad, Jim, who’s been in the military for 23 years and now serves as the command chief warrant officer of the Illinois Army National Guard.

“My dad’s in the military, so we’ve kind of lived our whole lives seeing him go away and come back,” Alyssa says. “It’s been rough.”

“You see these kids holding on to their mom or dad, and it breaks your heart,” Cassy adds. “You know they’re doing something so much bigger than themselves and their families, and they’re doing it for all of us.”

Last May, Alyssa, who’s been singing with her sister at area charity events and nursing homes for the past six years, sat down at the kitchen table with her dad and wrote “The Price of Peace.” By September, friends at State Farm Insurance heard the song and paid for the Gaddis Sisters to record it in Nashville. In November the National Guard paid for the music video and for its screening in movie theaters.

Its lyrics — The price of peace is paid by the families on their kneespraying tonight/By a soldier’s feet on some foreign street just trying to save a life/By a daughter’s tears as she sees her hero do what he thinks is right/The loss may run deep but if it’s love we leave/Well that’s the price of peace — tell the true story of every person who’s seen their soldier come and go. That’s what makes it so special, Cassy says.

“It’s not coming from someone acting like they know how it feels,” she says. “It’s coming from two military kids who are right there with you.”

The girls’ mother, Annette, agrees that it’s a tribute to the military — not just to the soldiers, but to their families, too.

“So many people forget about the families,” she says. “The soldiers are busy every day when they’re gone. For the families, time almost stands still. There has to be more.”

Cassy and Alyssa have since written songs that they’ll record in Nashville in a few weeks; their family also hopes to relocate to the Music City soon. They’re excited to meet Sinise at the July benefit concert and to perform their own songs, plus hits by their country idols Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift, on tour. They’re also arranging to perform “The Price of Peace” at the Pentagon and the White House.

“Everything’s grown from the song,” Cassy says. “This is what we want to do. We’ve always loved music.”

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