ABOUT THE COWGIRLS
The Opera Cowgirls are an alt-country band where grand opera meets the grand ole opry. Founded by Caitlin McKechney (mezzo-soprano/guitar/banjolele) after she was asked to open for a rock show at a local bar, the group also includes Sarah Beckham-Turner (soprano/cello), Maria Maxfield (soprano/dulcimer/egg shaker or tambourine), Jessica Sandidge (soprano/mandolin/rival egg shaker or tambourine) and Mila Henry (not a soprano/mini-keyboards/percussion). By blending the greatest operatic hits with some country flavor, the Cowgirls have proven that they can truly cover Puccini to Parton.
The Cowgirls have performed at venues ranging from dive bars to cabaret halls (with a beach bandshell to boot), including the New York-based BAM Lepercq Space, LIC Bar, Parkside Lounge, Pete's Candy Store, Le Poisson Rouge and The Slipper Room, and trips to Avaloch Farm Music Institute (NH), Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre (IA), Delaware Valley Opera (NY), Hopewell Valley Vineyards (NJ), Magic City Opera (FL), NightBlue Theater (IL), Opera North (NH), Painted Sky Opera (OK) and the San Francisco Ballet (CA). Thanks to Sarah's Texas connections at WTAMU, they are also quite big in Amarillo.
Guest artists include mandolinist Joe Brent, tap-dancing clown Brent McBeth, violinist Andie Tanning and violinist/musical saw player Philippa Thompson, as well as ensembles such as ARKAI Music and Hotel Elefant. In August 2022, the Cowgirls all performed in the premiere of Letters That You Will Not Get: Women's Voices from the Great War by Kirsten Volness, Kate Holland and Susan Werbe (The American Opera Project), after debuting the original song cycle version in 2018.
Digital albums include Pearlsnaps and Pearls (their five-song "thesis" EP) and A Very Merry Cowgirl Christmas (a trio of holiday favorites), both of which are available online through all major music platforms.
Individually, the Cowgirls each cover a vast terrain, spanning The Metropolitan Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Nashville Opera, New York City Opera, Opera Memphis, Opera on Tap, Opera Philadelphia, PROTOTYPE Festival, Sarasota Opera, St. Petersburg Opera and Tacoma Opera.
MEET THE COWGIRLS
Caitlin McKechney, founding Cowgirl, rocks the guitar and banjolele (a hybrid of a ukulele and a banjo). You often hear her singing Carmen while flirting with unsuspecting beer-drinkers, or belting out some Patsy Cline. She has performed multiple times in both Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee, but primarily on Mozart, Rossini and Bizet. She buys a new pair of boots each time she’s there, and now owns an impressive collection. Caitlin is mom to "Mikey", her little half-Greek, half-Irish, all-cowboy Covid baby.
Soprano-extraordinaire Sarah Beckham-Turner brings us her cello skills AND her Texas street cred, providing us with bass lines and baselines galore. In addition to her star power and spell-binding ability to work a crowd, she is also mom to “Sweet Baby James” Turner and little Caleb Vance. She currently lives in Amarillo where she is molding the future generation of opera singers at West Texas A&M University.
Mila Henry is our piano-mini-accordion-autoharp-bells-ukulele-slidewhistle player, who occasionally lends her sugary voice to a song or two. She can seamlessly transition from an orchestral score on a keytar to an improvised melodica solo that would make Mozart swoon. Most importantly, she is our style guru and owns a magnificent number of vintage cowgirl shirts.
Maria Maxfield, our newest Cowgirl, grew up in Colorado singing country music. After studying voice and becoming an incredible soprano, she waltzed on over to Tennessee and met Caitlin, who was singing opera on the side of a Memphis highway (this is not a joke). Maria joins us along with her dulcimer, Merlin, who magically taught her how to play in less than a day.
Jessica Sandidge is our California girl, gracing us with her mind-boggling high notes and Dolly Parton blend of strength and sweetness. She plays a beautiful Seagull Mandolin named “Pearl”, and also lends her sweet skills to our ever-evolving roster of tiny instruments. Always a rebel, Jess is a natural blonde amidst a brood of brunettes, which we think is super country.
Kate Bergstrom, harp
Joe Brent, mandolin
Meagan Brus, soprano (emeritus)
Chelsea Feltman, soprano
Jonathan Estabrooks, baritone
Rob Glaubitz, baritone
Brent McBeth, tap dancer
Sara Jacobi, soprano (emeritus)
Lindsay Ohse, soprano (emeritus)
Emily Jane Price, tap dancer
Nicole Sharlow, violin
Andie Tanning, violin
Brent Turner, tenor
Philippa Thompson, musical saw
Laura Virella, mezzo-soprano
Pete Wojtowicz, upright bass