The Hi-Tops, a five “girl” group of talented musicians have already realized local success in the Louisville market, and some in the California markets. Now they are ready for regional and even more, national acclaim. One thing is certain. They are in it for the right reason.
“We are in this together because we love music and it would be awesome if we made it,” said lead singer Remington (Remi) Maxwell. “But we do it for the music.”
The Hi-Tops, at first glance, may appear to be just a novelty group. Five young ladies, aged 13 to17, and all quite attractive. They remind you of a modern-day Go-Go’s or Bangles, albeit, considerably younger. But this group is not just a “gimmick” band; they back it up with talent. And they are not just a “covers” band – they have a CD out with several original songs on it and have 10 originals to their credit. The ladies readily acknowledge that their songs are a joint effort along with their coach, Mark Maxwell, who is also Remi’s father, and Louisville music producer, Michael Sanders.
The self-titled CD is, with the exception of “The World Spins,” a collection of upbeat, up tempo rock songs that are ideal for moving on down the highway, knocking out the housework, doing outdoor chores, etc. Without looking at the CD cover, you quickly forget you are listening to a bunch of teenagers.
What you hear is a slick, professional production of precocious adolescents seeking stardom. It is worth the $10 investment to add to your CD collection.
The Hi-Tops are made up of Remi Maxwell, 16, lead vocalist and guitar; Jessie Madill, 16, on lead guitar; Ally Whitlow, 17, on the keyboards; sister Bayley, 13, on bass; and Madi Cunningham, 16, on drums.
The group is managed by Kim Elliot, aunt of Ally and Bayley, yet not a parent herself. That was a trait that Mark Maxwell was looking for when selecting the group’s manager. Elliott wears many hats for the band, including moving the equipment to and from gigs; booking the shows; and arranging the rehearsals with all of the conflicting schedules of the girls. She also plays “counselor” and “confidant” for the girls, and says that the band members often think of “me as being their same age, even though I am the adult.” She has been managing the group since 2005.
The Hi-Tops have it harder than other adolescents in that their parents demand that they get their homework done before they can rehearse or practice their instruments. Collectively, the band practices about 4 to 5 hours per week. Individually, the number of hours they practice their instruments varies and can range from 2 to 6 hours per week. And then there are the performances, which usually come up on the weekends.
“Not only parents, but siblings and friends will come out to help us set up and see us perform,” said Jessie Madill.
As young as The Hi-Tops are now, they were even younger when they got started at the band’s inception.
At Christmas 2003, Remi, Ally and Jessie each received 6 weeks of free music instruction at Mom’s Music in Jeffersonville, Ind., as gifts. At about the same time, Remi and Ally saw the movie, “Freaky Friday,” which featured a band. That movie got the girls thinking ‘why not us?’ So they asked Madi to join them and then, Bayley to complete the band. At the time, the bass guitar was “taller” than Bayley, who also was very shy. In due time, Bayley conquered both the “height” and the “shyness” issues to become the solid performer she is today.
The Hi-Tops have performed at a variety of venues. In California, in 2008, they performed for the National Association of Music Merchants in Anaheim. They then followed that up with a performance at Six Flags/Magic Mountain.
Closer to home, The Hi-Tops have performed at the Kentucky State Fair, 4th Street Live, the Hard Rock Café, Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom and the WDJX Birthday Bash. They were most recently noted in this publication at the Great Chili Cookoff, at Phoenix Hill Tavern on Oct. 9th.
As talented as they are, The Hi-Tops realize that they may not make it to the “big time.” Each of them desires to stay in music to some extent, even while going away to college to pursue some other interest.
Bayley would like to become a photographer and teacher.
“I am good at arguing, so I’d like to be a lawyer or a talk show host,” said Madi.
“I’d like to do something medically-related,” said Ally.
“I am good with deadlines, so I’d like to go into public relations or journalism,” said Jessie. Remi said she did not care what she did, as long as it was, “musically-related.”
Perhaps, the most important thing to note about The Hi-Tops is this: while young, they are very talented, while youthful, they are quite mature. And while they may be poised at a run at stardom in the future, they are also preparing themselves through education, in the event they don’t realize it.
If nothing else, The Hi-Tops serve as great role models for teenage girls in our community and beyond.
Wherever they play, and whatever youths they come into contact, will undoubtedly be positively influenced, by these five amazing teens who call Louisville and Southern Indiana, their home.
Photo by: Craig Schneider