Meet Macie and Marie: Hamilton’s teen Cunningham Sisters continuing legacy of inspiring performances

Macie and Marie Cunningham of Hamilton are The Cunningham Sisters, and you may be seeing much more of them soon.

They made it through audition rounds for the NBC show The Voice and are waiting to learn if they will appear on the show. But even if they don’t make the airwaves immediately, they’re happy to continue a several-generation family tradition of gospel singing locally.

They submitted a video performance to the show, and made it through the audition round. They may hear in a few weeks.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

“When we got the email that we got a callback, oh my goodness, I just got so happy in the moment, and we were all screaming, and we were all just freaking out, and so filled with joy,” said Macie Cunningham, 15, a sophomore at Hamilton High School. “I was just thinking to myself, ‘What if my life changes? That would be so crazy.’ It was so exciting.”

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

For Marie, 13, in the eighth grade at Wilson Middle School, “I like our connection,” she said. “With my sister, I can talk to her about anything, and when we sing, it just flows. It’s like the songs we sing, it’s like we’re singing to each other, and uplifting each other, and I like the connection I have with my sister when we sing.”

Parents Marc and Tara Cunningham have three other children, including Maura Cunningham, 16, who does the duo’s hair styling and makeup.

“They’ve been singing together most of their lives, like in kids’ choirs,” Marc Cunningham said. “As far as singing together as a duo, this has been over the past couple of years.”

Macie and Marie perform in services at their church, Hamilton Christian Center, and at other events. On Thursday, they will perform at the Healing through Art, Black History Edition event, on the second floor of 228 Court St. in Hamilton. The free arts showcase will last from 6-8 p.m.

Their great-grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Sr. of Hamilton, sang and played guitar with The Holy City Travelers, a gospel group, performing for various congregations across the region. They went even as far as Lynchburg, Va., where he originally was from.

Franklin had 10 daughters who were The Franklin Sisters, also gospel singers. One of them, Daronna Franklin Simmons, is Macie and Marie’s grandmother. Another of those daughters, Carolyn Cooley, still lives in Hamilton.

Marc Cunningham, a 1995 Hamilton High School graduate, grew up singing and played drums for both the Holy City Travelers and the Franklin Sisters.

“So music has always been in our house,” he said. “Our life was a soundtrack for music. We always had music going in the house. We would have little homemade talent shows where they would take turns singing in the karaoke machine.”

“My favorite thing about singing with my sister is definitely our harmonies,” Macie said. “Because I’m not going to lie. Me and my sister, we have really sharp harmony when we sing together, and I just love hearing it because I have an ear for music and I just love to hear such beautiful music.”

Marie says, “The songs we like to sing, we like to uplift people, and the songs we put out there, we want it to always have a message that comes with it. We hear a lot about the joy it brings to other people, and we love to do that.”

Listeners “feed off of our energy, and when we have good energy, they have good energy,” Marie said.

“They are culturally aware of what’s going on in the country, the division,” their father said. “We just want to unify people through love, through God and through music. That’s their goal, is just to make the world a better place by using their gifts that they feel like God gave them.”

Their relatives’ talents “brought joy to me, and wanting that legacy to go longer, onto the next generation of our family, because music is just like our passion,” Marie said.

Macie noted her father’s grandfather and mother both were great singers, and, “It trickled down to our dad, bringing music to our family. So we have a lot of musical roots.”

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

An upcoming Cunningham Sisters performance

On Thursday, The Cunningham Sisters will perform at the Healing through Art, Black History Edition event, on the second floor of 228 Court St. in Hamilton. The free arts showcase will last from 6-8 p.m. and there will be light refreshments.

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