Unlike a lot of other sibling singing groups, the Shepherd Sisters were all real-life sisters. And even though the ladies had only one true hit record — “Alone (Why Must I Be Alone)” in 1957 — they managed to stick around for a number of years, during which they generated several dozen records, made countless TV appearances, and enjoyed a lot of success with their polished nightclub act.
The Shepherd family made its home in Middletown, Ohio, a small city near Cincinnati, and included eight children, most of whom were musically-inclined. In fact, three of the older sisters actually began it all by singing on local radio, but it was middle sisters Martha, Gayle, and Mary Lou who took it to the next level a few years later, although they retained the trio format for a while. (Younger sister Judy would later make it a quartet, but we’ll get to that in a bit.)
In the mid-1950s the new Shepherd Sisters began finding some success performing in the area and soon caught the attention of some experienced pros, who took over promotion for the group. Before long the girls began showing up in places like Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts and also became part of various tour groups, including one that spent some time in Europe. The group also recorded its first regional hit record, “Gone With The Wind,” which drew enough attention to lead to a number of TV appearances on programs like American Bandstand. During this period the trio also became a quartet when high-schooler Judy traveled to New York to visit and they invited her to stay.
It was an exciting time for the girls and they wasted no time in cranking up their record output, including the song that would become their signature, “Alone (Why Must I Be Alone).” Although the Shepherd Sisters — or the ‘Sheps’ as they were sometimes called — didn’t have another hit record after that, the group did continue to work for several years, spinning out a number of solid performances in the recording studio. The sisters also continued to perfect their stage act, enjoying a lot of success in clubs and hotels from New York to Vegas, even touring abroad again before eventually retiring to private life.