In 1979, three women from New Orleans got together to help out a friend. George Schmidt and his band, the New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra, had been hired to play a private party for some very wealthy clients. Their one stipulation was that the music could not stop. To fill the void during band breaks, George asked Holley Bendtsen to put together a group to perform songs by their mutual inspiration, the New Orleans jazz visionaries known as the Boswell Sisters. Holley recruited two more singers and George dubbed them the Pfister Sisters. They learned 5 songs and, at that gig, a New Orleans institution was born.
Original members, Holley Bendtsen, Suzi Malone and Yvette Voelker made their public debut as the Pfister Sisters at the 1980 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Since then, The Pfister Sisters have brought traditional jazz in three part harmony to bar-rooms, festivals, state penitentiaries, and foreign dignitaries. Their first 20 years found the "sisters" on stage with New Orleans royalty like the Neville Brothers, Ernie-K-Doe, Frankie Ford, Marcia Ball, Leigh "li'l Queenie" Harris, Charmaine Neville and Banu Gibson; and superstars in the ranks of Linda Rondstadt, Jimmy Buffet and Dr. John. They have performed on the wing of an airplane with Maxene Andrews (of the Andrews Sisters) and have sung Boswell Sisters songs side by side with the one and only Vet Boswell. Their first recording, New Orleans, presented a mix of traditional jazz, original songs and New Orleans "standards". Their second record, All's Well That's Boswell, was a loving tribute to New Orleans own Boswell Sisters, inventors of jazz vocal harmony, and presented several songs that were used only in film and were previously unreleased in an audio format.
In 1999, Debbie Davis joined the ranks when Suzi Malone relocated north. Shortly thereafter, the band began work on it's third record, Change in the Weather, earning popular and critical acclaim in 2003 as one of Offbeat magazine's top 20 recordings of the year. After Hurricane Katrina, they began touring, first to San Diego for a benefit gala, then with Dukes of Dixieland and Luther Kent aboard the Steamboat Natchez, headlining recovery concerts beginning in Cincinnati, continuing down the Mississippi River and back to their beloved home of New Orleans. In 2006 they spent 4 weeks in France as musical ambassadors, giving master classes in voice and "jazz roots" and performing to standing-room-only audiences. Since then they have made regular trips to Europe, touring and performing in festival and theatrical venues. Their original show, "Sing Sing Sing" played at Berlin's premier cabaret venue to four weeks of capacity crowds. Their fourth full length record, Puttin' It On, set sales records at the Ascona Jazz Festival in 2008. In December, 2008, The Pfister Sisters performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center for the ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards, honoring excellence in writing and broadcasting on the subject of music. In spring of 2009, after being honored in 2004 as Honorary Music Chairpersons, the Pfister Sisters were nominated by Gambit magazine for Female Performer of the Year.
Children (and grandchildren!) have kept them closer to home in recent years. Karen Stoehr, a long-time Pfavorite Pfister sub, joined the ranks permanently in 2018 when Debbie went solo. Holley Bendtsen, Yvette Voelker, Karen Stoehr and Amasa Miller are all residents of New Orleans and can be heard most often in their beloved City.