In May 2018, I was sitting in my car scrolling through social media. Someone had shared a video on their page from a group called “We Three” from America’s Got Talent. I clicked on it to listen and watch. I made it a few verses in and the tears begun to flow. By the time the song was over I was sobbing uncontrollably and realizing this was a song whose lyrics were resonating with me on a personal level.
“We Three” is a trio band. Its members are three siblings hailing from Oregon. Joshua, Bethany, and Manny took to the stage for the first round on the infamous talent show to let the world know just what they were made of. They professed the song they were about to sing, “Heaven’s Not Too Far” was one they wrote about their mom in her final months before she passed from cancer. It was through her eyes, as she was about to say goodbye to her three children.
For the millions who heard and watched this video, this song was filled with words of healing. For me, it was coming to grips with something I was going through that I was keeping private. I have contemplated sharing this story in this article but after meeting these three in the interview, I learned it’s ok to be vulnerable, and it’s ok to be real and to put it all out there.
My worst fear had become a reality a few days before I heard this song. A self check and some pain revealed a lump in my breast. After a visit to the doctor, it was confirmed that I would need a biopsy. My parents and sister were the only ones who knew. I was in most ways going through those days alone. I wasn’t really letting anyone in and I was acting tough and strong. But on the inside I was silently collapsing to my knees that as single mom I could be leaving my three girls behind. That song, for me, was everything I felt my girls might be living. The line, “I can hear the tears coming from my daughter” hit me with a reality that I wasn’t quite sure I was ready for. Within that next week I listened to that song so many times, and decided that if Joshua, Bethany, and Manny turned out to be this incredible, then “My Three” (Emma, Maya, and Ava) would be ok as well. In the end I was one of the lucky ones and happy to report the biopsy results came out with great news. I made a choice to not tell the girls but I guess like the band, sometimes it’s easier to say things through our passions, so here I am. I hope if they read this they know I just wanted to protect them for a moment.
When I heard “We Three” was coming to Ponte Vedra, Florida I knew this was one group I really wanted to interview. I needed to meet the ones whose song held the lyrics of saving grace for me. Right off the bat when they came out to greet us, I can say that they were just as genuine as the video I saw. They shook our hands and had smiles so big on their faces. You could tell they are really loving being on the road, meeting their fans, and making time for media. That is something you don’t always see. In the green room with them, it felt more like we were sitting and having a conversation than and interview. But I knew they had meet and greets waiting on them so we jumped right in.
Me: I know you have probably been asked this question a bunch, but walk me through the moment of walking on stage, and being there.
Bethany: “I think we got more nervous than we were expecting. We had dealt with performances and nerves before and I think in our heads we were just like ‘this just is another performance’. Playing is playing so we kind of thought in our minds we would be ok. And then right before we were like ‘I’ve never felt this this amount of nerves before’. Even my mouth completely dried out. We were drinking so much water, and we had cough drops and we had no idea.
Manny: “Mainly because of the four celebrities that are about to judge you. And so you know in the end we were most nervous to do the talking portion. So once we finished that it was like, ‘yes, nailed that!’ and now we can do what we do.”
Bethany: “Cause the producers made a big deal what you say before you play can make or break your performance.”
Manny: “Cause they don’t see the video that America sees before you play. They have like a little description of you on their paper, just very, very subtle. So it is your job to get across what your story is, what the song is about, what you’re doing.”
Joshua: “And there are questions too. Sometimes they will ask a question that maybe doesn’t quite allow enough to your story, like an important piece. So the producers are telling you how to maybe redirect a question so you can explain a certain or important piece of your story. So, all those things going in to it, it was nerve wracking for sure.”
Me: So each article I try to focus on one thing, that I am kind of trying to teach my three children and that I myself am trying to learn as I get older. And for me validation is something I struggle with. Wanting to feel like I am validated but also wanting to realize that I don’t need that validation. So when you guys got the reaction you got, is there anything on that you could tell me? Did you feel validated, or did you already feel that within you?
Bethany: “I think that one was one thing that we figured out with the experience, which is validation is helpful. But at the same time we got to our own part too. We got validated at one point and then at the end you know there was some negative comments. But for us I think we got validated to a point of recognizing that America really loved what we were doing and obviously the judges said nice things. But We gained a fan base and a following instantly and we want to completely commit to writing for you guys and working for you.”
Manny: “I think it made us really realize that we had a voice in the music industry. That we had something to say. I feel like a lot of times you feel like everyone has done everything. And once we felt like we went out and did something and people were like ‘oh my gosh I hadn’t necessarily heard it said like that before’ it made us go oh my goodness, I think I kinda know where to go. Not to say we know how far it will go, but that we are just going to keep doing it until this whole thing dies because we love it. But we felt like we had a little bit more of a clear path to go down.
Me: So no regrets for going after it and chasing your dreams? Cause that is another thing I am constantly trying to promote.
Bethany: “No, not at all. It is scary for sure!”
Joshua: “Yeah it is. But I think we live in a time where we can take chances. You know we have so much, living where we live. There are so many opportunities. So if we crash and burn and this fails, or whatever we are doing fails it’s like ‘ok well let’s try something else’. Not everybody gets that opportunity so I think it is important to recognize to go for it.”
Me:So personally for me, I am just going to be really honest. When I heard your song….I don’t think I have ever had a song make me feel
(Emma, my daughter chimes in) : “We were both crying!”
Me: Yes! I have never to do this day had a song that ever got me so emotional. So what was that reaction like? I mean you guys touched A LOT of people. How does that feel?
Manny: “It is really hard to put in to words. There is no intention in what we were doing. We literally just went out and said we were going to do this. This song means a lot, it tells the story and just seeing the reactions from people was just mind blowing. I think the most impactful one we got was hearing people say we helped them grieve through something. It was just like I don’t even know how you begin to do that. I didn’t know we could DO that.”
Bethany: “We got thousands and thousands of messages and you can’t read them all. So I would go at random and just pick one. Every ounce in a while there was like a grown man and he was 50 something and telling us he lost his mom when he was 12 and he never cried. And his story, he would just go on to say this is the first time he had cried in over how many years. It was just like we can’t intend for something like that to happen. We can’t go out and say, ‘we’re going to touch these people.’ It’s just crazy how when you be vulnerable, and you be honest and you be you and sometimes things like this happen and we are just super blessed that we got to help people in any way that we could.”
Joshua: “It was just an honor to be a part of that. It’s something bigger than us for sure.”
Me: So tell me one random fact about each of you that your fans might not know.
Bethany: “When I get to a hotel room the first thing that I do, is that I pretend that I am in my own bathroom. I unload all of my toiletries and I straighten them all out and it looks ridiculous. And I pretend like I am home for a second. And it is really weird and I don’t know why I do it. But everything has to be square. And then like random spots in the room are a complete mess. It’s not like I am type A, it’s just the bathroom and toiletries. I don’t know why.”
Joshua: “Uh random thing. I don’t know. I wrote a symphony when I was 15.”
Bethany: “Yeah you did! That was cool.”
Me: “Wow! That is really impressive.”
Joshua: “Yeah, that’s kind of random.”
Manny: “ I have to pee at least forty times before I go on for a performance”
Bethany: “I knew you were going to say that!”
Joshua: “Oh my gosh.”
Manny and Bethany say at the same time: “there have been two venues of tour so far that didn’t have a bathroom in the green room!”
Manny: “And so there is a bathroom but you had to go through the whole crowd.”
Me: So did you have to look at people?
Bethany: “No, we would like duck with a hood!”
Manny: “ I have never been so scared. I was like ‘I’m gonna have to go through the crowd, I’m gonna have to climb out a window’ I mean I am just going to have to go to the bathroom.”
Joshua: “Well occasionally I will like just go in the middle of the show too.”
Bethany: “ I didn’t know that. I could never do that.”
Me: “ Manny, you’re ok with me putting this in the article?”
Manny: “yeah, of course!”
Me: Where do you hope to go/want to go after the tour?
Bethany: “We have got big dreams, I’m not going to lie. And I think we have lots of people who are allowing us to dream for the first time. Which is kind of weird because I have always been someone who plays it safe with my dreams.”
Manny: “ Well I think we finally have a team that is able to finally make some of these dreams be a reality, possibly. If we keep working hard and I think that’s the key. We’re just going to keep working hard and as hard as we possibly can and be super kind to everybody that we come in contact with. And we will see where it goes. We do have big dreams and we would love to get there but it’s going to take a whole lot of work to get there.
Bethany: “Our manager, at the end of the brief/pow-wow, he’s like ‘now get to work.”
Manny: “There have been some of the best days on this tour.”
Bethany: “and the some of the hardest days”
Manny: “some of the toughest days on this tour.”
Me: “and you are probably learning to not give up.”
All three: “Oh yeah!”
Manny: “We love the grind, we really do.”
Manny: “Every tough day is worth it.”
Joshua: “yeah, absolutely”
Manny: “when you get on stage, and you see people singing your lyrics back to you, it’s Like”
Joshua: “super cool.”
Me: so, last question and I try to end each interview with this one. And each of you have to answer this one. If you could go back and tell your 18 year old self one piece of advice, what would you tell them.
Joshua: “Oh that’s a good question.”
Bethany: “I would probably say that it’s ok to be confident in what you are doing. Especially if you have something in front of you. Rather than feeling like ‘I don’t deserve this’ instead be like ‘hey this is cool’. So It’s ok to be confident at times.”
Joshua: “Stop comparing yourself to others.”
Me: That’s a good one.
Joshua: “yeah. I would slap myself around, My 18 year old self.”
Me: See I got lucky. At 18 I didn’t have social media and comparing. It’s just so much worse now. It’s magnified trying to teach my girls that. So that is a good one.
Bethany: “One thing I feel about social media is if you want to share something because it makes you feel good, like share it! Don’t think about what everybody else is thinking. Why are you sharing stuff? I think your wife said that to me (as she looks at Manny) and I was like I really like that! If you want to share it, share it.
Manny: “Um, this is a great question. I have never thought about it. I feel like 18 wasn’t that long ago for me though.”
Me: yeah I kind of worried about asking you that, I’m not going to lie. (As we all bust out in laughter) But you can learn so much in even a year.
Manny: “No, exactly. It’s been four years. I would probably say write more music, write more songs. I would have gone and told myself to write a song everyday. And I would have let myself know that this is going to be the thing you do, so spend a lot more time working on it.”
At this point, we end on a great note. They graciously take a picture with my daughter who is a huge fan and I let them get to their VIP’s and ready for the show. I walk away and my daughter and I at the same time look at each other and say, “they were the nicest people we’ve ever met.” For the next hour until showtime we must have said it 15 times. I truly could not get over how unbelievably kind and gracious they were.
The show starts off with great energy. The same kind they give you in person. It’s full of great music, lots of laughs, very real and honest songs, and amusing interactions with the crowd and we all just sort fall more and more in love with these three. They play the favorite songs like “Lifeline”, “Sweater Weather”, and simply blow us all away with a great rendition of John Mayer’s, “Gravity”. Manny’s voice can win you over, but Bethany doing harmonies and belting out her own solo parts just adds icing on the cake. And then there is the sweet surprise of how just insanely incredible Joshua is on the drums and keyboard. I truly think his knowledge and talent of music and instruments is enough to make any person swoon. Towards the end they give the crowd the beautiful performance and sing “Heaven’s Not Too Far” and I just look over at Emma and think of My Three and am happy to just be in this moment.
In wrapping up this review and interview I would like the chance to say to Joshua, Bethany, and Manny:
Thank you. Thank you for being humble, and endearing, and truly caring about those around you and your fans. Thank you for opening up to the world and giving us music and lyrics that are raw and pure. Thank you for sharing your joys and pains with us. I have no doubt you will go so far in life. You give hope and inspiration to so many and I hope you carry that with you always. Your mother must have been one of the greatest women in the world, and we thank her for giving us You Three.
Photos and review by Cindy Marshall ~ Contributor