World Jewel Forum / Just Jewel / Archives / 10-13-2007 / Kilchers Come Together For Show

Topie: Kilchers Come Together For Show
August 15th, 2007 02:39 PM
MrCC Thanks to Justin for finding this article. Be sure to watch the 6:00 minute video that includes some old yodeling by Jewel as a child. Awsome video. I could only get it to work in an embeded IE/Media Player.

Kilchers come together for show

by John Tracy
Monday, Aug. 13, 2007

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Imagine raising a family in the heart of the Alaskan wilderness 60 years ago, with no running water or television.

Chances are you've heard of the Kilcher family of Homer. They were fairly famous in their day, when they were known in Alaska and throughout Europe as the Trapper Family, a take-off on the singing von Trapps, made famous in "The Sound of Music."

Have you ever wondered what happened to those kids? Anchorage residents had the opportunity to find out last night at the Alaska Wildberry Theater.

In the 1940s, Swiss immigrant Yule Kilcher and his wife Ruth staked a claim on a hillside overlooking Kachemak Bay.

As their homestead grew, so did the family. Eight children in all were home schooled, before it was fashionable.

Imagine a beach as your playground, that is, when there was time to play. The kids were expected to pitch in, learning the value of teamwork as soon as they were old enough to carry firewood.

Meals were held around a table and every meal started with a song.

That's when my momma said and my daddy said, ‘Son, take your time, you'll find your song. My children, take time to find your song.'

Turns out, the Kilcher kids are still singing. Atz Kilcher, who was child number four, entertains audiences across the country with songs and stories inspired by his own family.

Last night Atz performed with three of his four children. The only one not present last night was his daughter, Jewel. They used to perform together all the time, but Jewel now performs on a bigger stage.

Talent in the Kilcher family runs as deep as Kachemak Bay. Jewel's brother, Atz Lee, still performs with his dad. Eldest son Shane writes poetry. Youngest son, Nykos, sounds ready to follow in his sister's footsteps.

Last night's audience was satisfied with so much talent on one stage and a reminder of the original singing Kilchers, who nearly 50 years ago, sang for their supper.

Last night, the clock was turned back on the stage of the Alaska Wildberry Theater. From eldest daughter Mairiis, who still farms in Homer, to the youngest, Catkin, a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, the Kilchers sang the songs of their childhood.

"It seems like when you're singing together it's like you go back in time. It's like it is now, as it was then," Mairiis said.

It was the dream of Yule and Ruth to build a family on a foundation of teamwork. Singing, it turns out, was just part of that.

Catkin said teamwork ensured chores were done on the homestead.

"Everybody has their own job to do. And if one person doesn't do a job -- the fire doesn't get built or the cow doesn't get milked -- that kind of thing, so you learn the teamwork and the working together," Catkin said.

Sunrise Sjoberg said the family puts aside individualism and comes together when they sing.

"I feel that maybe in each one of us there's something where we want to stand out, but when it comes to this kind of singing, it doesn't serve a purpose," Sjoberg said.

The Kilchers reunited 10 years ago at the hospital bed of their mother, who died shortly after. Their father, Yule, died a year later at the age of 85.

Atz said he remembers his father fondly.

"He was a hard man. And maybe he was impatient more than encouraged me, but you know what, that's what I'm choosing to remember. Not because I'm in denial, just because I'm happier that way. When I think, ‘You know what? They were supportive in the best way they knew how to be and we have all found our song.'" Atz said.

The Kilcher homestead is still in the family's hands, with brothers and sisters working together to turn it into a museum.

From his humble homestead in Homer, Yule Kilcher went on to become a politician and even helped write the state constitution.

Not all of the Kilcher siblings made it last night. Wurtilla, or Wurtzy as she's called, helped organize the reunion, but broke her wrist and was under orders by her doctors in Germany not to fly. She was represented by her husband last night.

Wurtzy is the grandmother of Q'Orianka Kilcher, the young actress who portrayed Pocahontas in the 2005 movie "The New World." The film also featured Colin Farrell.

There's a pretty deep gene pool there.

The family hopes to do something similar next year in an effort to raise money for their family museum. Atz said next time they will even try to get Jewel to put in an appearance.

(Edited by MrCC)
August 15th, 2007 02:46 PM
kelane6 This is just the script for the news spot. Check out the site for the video that went with it, it was great to see.
August 15th, 2007 02:53 PM
kelane6 wrote:
This is just the script for the news spot. Check out the site for the video that went with it, it was great to see.

Thanks. I was watchign the video while editing my post. Watch it by clicking the link saying "KIlcher family Reunion" on this page:
August 15th, 2007 03:07 PM
jewelwiki Wow...a family museum?

I've never seen Nykos spelled that way before; pretty interesting. Thanks for the post! :)
August 15th, 2007 04:54 PM
bigblue72 It's too bad Jewel couldn't attend.............I would have been cool to ALL of them together.......
August 15th, 2007 07:42 PM
Mark I'm pretty sure its spelled Nikos.

Here is a video and his myspace, which I just found.
August 16th, 2007 12:56 AM
jewelwiki Thanks for that, Mark... his song on MySpace sounds really good!

It looks like Atz Lee is in a band too called Twitching Sushi, and they have a funny song called the Yodeling death song. You can hear it and a few others here:

August 16th, 2007 03:59 AM
jayjsantana Cool guys thanks :D
August 16th, 2007 02:56 PM
kelane6 Yeah Nikos has some amazing songs and can really beat box great. I think Twisted Sushi is on a break and Atz Lee is doing some of his own thing too. The Kilcher Homestead has become a museum, and the family board is working on really setting it up. Hopefully it becomes a Homer tourist spot, you have never seen a more beautiful view than the one of the hay fields all the way down to the bay and the glaciers across the water. There is talk of a Kilcher Homestead games next summer to help raise money and from what the news said it also looks like a family concert might happen. I am saving my money now so I can go up next summer and will definitly be there if either or both go down. I'm sure if they do both they will happen together.
August 16th, 2007 03:07 PM
007 It's also great knowing someone who has such good information. You are an asset to this forum, Kelane!