The Zornes Sisters Middletown, Ohio
Songwriter/singer/pianist Elizabeth Zornes Mintus and her sister Brenda Zornes Boyer, also a talented vocalist/pianist have been singing together since ages 7 & 5 in southwestern Ohio. They grew up with a wealth of musical experiences in a town rich with its own symphony and civic chorus, and opportunities to participate in vocal and instrumental music education from elementary through high school. A branch of Miami University opened the year Liz graduated from high school, so she continued performing with the college choir as student director without even leaving town. Liz started piano lessons in 4th grade: their teacher was a wonderful Christian lady who played viola in the symphony and was willing to teach gospel style and “by ear” as well as classical training. By 8th grade, Liz was enrolled in a special program with the St. Louis Institute of Music whereby she attended college level music theory and harmony classes and, upon graduation, received her teaching certification. Serving as their church’s pianist and organist since Jr. High, both travelled with their beloved family singing group, the Zornes Family Singers, throughout the tri-state area of Ohio, KY, and Indiana.
However privileged to have grown up in such an awesome town with the opportunity to go from singing “The Hallelujah Chorus” with the civic chorus to singing southern gospel, bluegrass or country in groups from their church, Liz never felt comfortable enough to perform any of the songs she had been writing since junior high, with one exception. “Trust in God” was a song that helped individual family members as they faced health issues, etc. in their own lives. Suddenly, on a Saturday morning in October 2008, their lives changed overnight when the family patriarch, Homer Zornes, awoke having a hemorrhagic stroke: the bleeding was at the base of his cerebellum and he was airflighted to Cincinnati, the doctors thinking he’d never survive the flight there. He lived 2 years and their lives evolved around his care and recovery. After her Dad passed away, Liz lost her song. She couldn’t even sit at the piano without breaking into tears. She knew this was not what her Dad wanted, but she was overcome with grief. After a short respite from caregiving, they began the same journey with their Mother, Laura. After 6 years of providing 24/7 caregiving in their home to her parents, Liz and her husband, Ed faced their own health issues and required a year to heal. It was during this time Liz read a devotional that ended with the plea, “Don’t die with your music still in you”. After having said goodbye to the most important people in her life, God started preparing Liz to do something with all the songs she’d been writing. Liz explains: “Why I spent so many years singing other people’s songs ( and believe me, they were wonderful songs) but couldn’t feel what God had blessed me with was worthy to share, I can’t explain. God has helped me find the joy again in singing and writing songs, along with the desire and courage to try to have the words bless others’ lives. It’s scary and exciting at the same time. I could easily become immobilized with fear of failure if I didn’t believe so strongly this is what I’m supposed to be doing at this time in my life. Ed and I have 4 beautiful grandchildren. The 2 youngest girls and their love of music reminds me so much of me and Brenda. You’ll find the keys on my grand piano sticky from their little fingers, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. They’re our legacy, our way of sharing our heritage and love of God.”
Following their decision to start singing together again, Liz and Brenda attended Lyrics and Lore in January 2017: August will be their 1st time attending SMSWF 2017. Liz says: “We love singing beautiful, well written songs; but, our main emphasis at this point will be relating life experiences and inspirations as told through my original music. I thought I began this new journey to put out there what I had already written however, since receiving this new calling, I can’t stop the flow and wake up daily with new inspiration. We take great pride in continuing the legacy of music that our parents so lovingly worked hard to support. We don’t really have a certain sound or style – my songs reflect our diverse musical background. Hopefully one of them will be to your liking. We look forward to meeting and talking with new friends during SMSWF 2017 as well as continuing Lyrics and Lore friendships. Here’s to a great week in Gatlinburg. God bless.”