The Soprano Girls were an American pop rock girl group comprising of Phineas and Ferb characters Candace Flynn, Isabella Garcia-Shapiro and Stacy Hirano. Hailing from the city of Danville, the three girls had been best friends since they could remember. Discovering that they had a natural talent for music, the girls had come together to play since their beginnings. Their catchy music and their cute looks would later captivate young minds all over the world, just like how Phineas and Ferb did.
This chapter covers the background story (or backstory, as Heinz Doofenshmirtz put it) of the band, pieced together from various media sources like magazines and online interviews.
In the beginning, Candace and Stacy had been best friends since they met in the third grade. The daughter of the former 80s one-hit wonder star Lindana (Linda Flynn-Fletcher), Candace Flynn also loved to sing. She encouraged Stacy to sing along when they became best friends.
During karaoke sessions, Candace invited Stacy over and they were having a time of their lives singing to whatever song that played on the TV. Linda and Lawrence Fletcher praised Candace and Stacy for their “amazing” singing after their sessions.
Candace and Stacy grew so close together, it was the only friendship the former could cherish. Before that, Candace spent much of her time playing with her very own Ducky Momo toys, even to the point of forming a pretend musical stage with the children’s plush. She was emotionally lonely during her early elementary school years, occasionally bullied by her classmates. Her only companions were some of her understanding teachers.
In 2004, at age 5, Isabella began visiting the Flynn-Fletcher house on her own, regularly. After playing with Phineas and Ferb, she went upstairs to Candace’s room to play with and talk to her. Besides those activities, Candace taught her to sing. The two girls grew so attached to each other, Candace was like the older sister Isabella never had.
In the summer of 2005, on their eighth grade middle school, Candace and Stacy had the idea to busk in public places to earn some pocket money, thinking that operating a lemonade stand was too boring and cliché for them. At Danville Mall (an older shopping complex that preceded Googolplex Mall), the duo sang classic pop and rock songs from the 80s to the then-present day, unusual for kids to be liking adult pop music at that time. Some shoppers were mesmerised by the girls singing, they gave them a tip. All the money was used to buy some light snacks for themselves.
For a while, Candace had two friends, but they never met before. One day, by accident, Isabella, while shopping with her mother Vivian, saw Candace and Stacy singing in the mall atrium. Instantly, she recognised Candace and began cheering for her loudly, much to the surprise of Vivian and the two teenage girls.
The situation turned awkward. Candace and Stacy was astonished and embarrassed to abruptly see a little supporter acting childishly in front of them. However, with the help of Vivian, who also recognised Candace, the ice was gradually broken over the three girls as Isabella was introduced to Stacy. At first, the latter was reluctant to befriend the former at first, so Candace had Isabella sing for Stacy to prove that a common friendship between the two could be formed, which turned out to be proven and smooth sailing afterwards.
Eventually, over the course of a few weeks, the three girls formed a close bond with each other over a common interest - singing. Together, the trio hanged out more often. They went swimming at the community pool, played at the public playgrounds and the video game arcades, and went window shopping to find their ideal Christmas presents.
Usually, after their window shopping, they went to the mall atrium and busked for the shoppers. After their performances, Candace, Isabella and Stacy used all of their earnings to order some fast food meals.
The girls also went to Danville Park to sing for the park strollers. They received the same positive reception as when they were at the mall.
But just singing over a poor quality music accompaniment from their CD player did not enchant the passers-by deeply. Sometimes, their device ran out of battery so they were forced to be creative with a cappella, which did caught a little more attention. At the same time, the girls noticed other adult performers with instruments who got more attention than them, and concluded their singing wasn't enough.
In an endeavour to increase their flair, the girls learned how to play musical instruments at Danville Community Centre every weekend. Soon, they no longer had to bring along their CD player, now that they were confident they could play music on their own. With Isabella as a newly-gifted child musician, the girls wowed the passers-by with their guitar sounds and cute singing, and they earned a little more as a result.
The three girls initially did not consider a professional career in music, instead performing just for fun. However, after a positive reception at a Christmas charity event in 2007, along with comments from the guests that the girls should go full-time, did they actually consider forming a band.
It was also one of the first times the Danville community had acknowledged the girls as a wonderful kids cover group.
Meanwhile, on 17 August 2007, the animated show Phineas and Ferb was previewed to the world, introducing Candace and Isabella as characters, not just the titular stepbrothers who were the protagonists in the story.
1 February 2008, saw the release of Flop Starz, where Candace’s plan to be a pop star was disrupted by her brothers’ one-hit wonder band, who seemed to get all the glory. It was the first time Phineas and Ferb began on a regular basis, also introducing Stacy as a character.
In this episode, Phineas and Ferb’s one-hit wonder band was called PFT (Phineas and the Ferb Tones), which comprised of the said two stepbrothers, Isabella, and Fireside Girls Adyson, Gretchen and Milly. The brothers, inspired by their mother’s one-hit wonder career in the eighties, wrote a song titled Gitchee Gitchee Goo which found instant popularity throughout the world.
Meanwhile, Candace and Stacy were auditioning for The Next Super American Pop Teen Idol Star at Googolplex Mall, and it was then the siblings crossed paths, because the former was the hundredth contestant.
After realising this, Candace refused to participate and attempted to show her mum what her brothers were actually doing, without success. Meanwhile, the boys staged what Linda told them about her career, i.e. throw a diva tantrum, and having their song as elevator music.
Nevertheless, Candace’s brothers still warmly invited her to sing at their band’s “final” reunion tour. She did so after being consoled by her then-friend Jeremy Johnson. End of story.
Back at home, after the episode airing, Candace, Isabella and Stacy were in a brainstorming session, thinking what they were going to do next, and how were they going to present themselves when they would begin their career.
After that, they made a joint declaration that they were forming a musical act, and they called themselves The Soprano Girls.
This is what Candace said about the formation of the band, according to a July 2010 interview excerpt on the weekly Perfect Teen magazine:
“We decided to put our passion to the test, so we had to come up with a good name and look for our little act. So Isabella, Stacy and I were in my bedroom, discussing plans to form our band. For our looks, we chose to continue with our casual image, which is from our TV show about my brothers, because it’ll be instantly recognisable to anyone who knows us.
“Now for the band’s name, it was a tough one to make up. We tried to use words like ‘mesmerising’, ‘expresso’ and ‘amazing’, but according to some of our friends, it sounded lame and out of place. Then suddenly from thin air, Isabella was reading the TV guide on the newspaper and asked what a ‘soprano’ is. We were clueless, so she borrowed my Oxford dictionary and checked the meaning. So turned out we did have such high voices, so after a lot of naming debate I cannot remember, we reluctantly agreed to name our band ‘The Soprano Girls’.
“Once we decided to form our band, the first thing we have to do is to write songs. Usually we are given songs written by someone else, and we sung them to show off our singing ability. But wouldn't it be better to truly own a song? So from our experiences Stacy and I decided to write from our hearts. Isabella was still learning how to write in elementary school at that time, but she’s quite good in her grades from what I can see so far, so hopefully she can write songs too.”
After the formation of the musical group, upon consultation with some of Stacy’s friends, the trio had decided to focus their efforts in original songwriting and promoting their newly-formed act.
So the girls sat down in Candace’s bedroom where they brainstormed lyrics for their new demo. They also took some weekend songwriting lessons at Danville Community Centre in a bid to boost their confidence in the skill.
Luckily, Candace did have a spare room so the girls used it to record their new EP. This had lead Phineas and Ferb to wonder what the noise was all about in that spare room, and when they peeked into the room, they were amazed that their sister and Isabella could actually sing and play instruments on their own. So the brothers offered to help them with their demo.
Initially, Candace refused, but after a plea from Isabella and Stacy, she allowed her brothers to record some parts that could enhance their sound. Phineas had done some guitar work while Ferb played the drums and strings.
At the end of the recording session, Phineas and Ferb did wish the girls good luck on their musical career.
Meanwhile, at the parents gathering at the Flynn-Fletcher household, Linda Flynn-Fletcher, Vivian Garcia-Shapiro and Dr. Hirano, the girls’ mothers, were aware of their intention to start a music career. At first the mums were concerned that their daughters were too young to be doing music and they should be focusing on their studies. However, Vivian said that they would support their daughters’ music career if everyone else in the community supported them. Candace and Stacy’s mothers were in doubt, but eventually they decided to take a wait-and-see approach.
On 15 March 2008, The Soprano Girls released their self-titled EP. They enlisted the help of their friends to distribute a limited run of their CDs with handwritten doodles on the inside cover. They also started their social media presence by opening their Facebook and MySpace accounts for the first time, where they posted their tracks online on the latter as free-to-listen.
The Soprano Girls EP was categorised as soft acoustic pop and easy listening, roughly in line with certain songs Disney produced at that time. The cover was a hand drawn doodle done by the girls themselves, with even more doodles at the back cover.
There were six tracks in the demo. Some of the tracks were written from Candace and Stacy’s personal experiences with puppy love relations to their male classmates in their school days, and later, their “real” crushes. Isabella wrote a song after knowing her ever creative neighbour Phineas. One track, Best Friends, celebrated the band members’ friendship. Other delved into positivity, inspiration and empowerment.
After their release of their first ever demo online, in order to get more fans into their official fan pages, they continued to do what they had always done before - performing in public. They researched all the venues where they would perform their gigs, and contacted the venue organisers in a bid to secure a spot.
So while they continued to perform at malls and parks promoting their new image, the girls started to visit hipster cafes, birthday parties and community events in order to gain more exposure for free. Since some people could recognise the “kids cover” band with a brand new image, word-of-mouth, together with the increased promotion, had increased The Soprano Girls’ popularity gradually, to about 300 fans, including the girls’ friends who supported them along the way. That was around 30 April 2008.
The Soprano Girls continued to cover popular songs after the band’s formation, which explains the previous recognition of the “kids cover” group name. But they sought to change all that, now singing original songs alongside covers.
Meanwhile, the reviews were in for their demo EP. On average, it was rated 3 out of 5. Independent music reviewers noted that while their songwriting was of a beginner standard, and the songs somehow seemed to be inspired by Disney, the girls had a lot of potential ahead when it came to their music.
But life as an independent band was not easy, especially with commitments to Phineas and Ferb.
On 24 May 2008, Danville held a summer festival. That was in The Best Lazy Day Ever, where Candace’s crush Jeremy and his band were playing, who at a moment was briefly changed into a heavy metal band courtesy of Doofenshmirtz and Co. (Remember the Ugly-inator?) But in the end everything went back to normal, and Candace and Stacy got to be with the band of their crushes.
The fun didn't just stop there. The duo then immediately started playing music in the festival, without Isabella (she was sick that day, according to the Garcia-Shapiro family). But unfortunately there were only about 50 people left compared to the hundreds seen in the episode. Bad timing, indeed. Nevertheless, the remaining people were loyal followers of The Soprano Girls, some of them friends. They commented on how good their singing were, but were disappointed that Isabella did not come.
The girls were making some losses, as the only sales they made from their CDs came from their friends, the music reviewers and a few other strangers who liked the band, so they sold about 40% of their total CDs produced. Meanwhile, their MySpace songs were reaching 250 plays on average, with about 800 profile views, as of 30 June 2008. In comparison to Jeremy and the Incidentals, the average plays in each song were about 10,000 and the profile views were around 50,000.
Candace, Isabella and Stacy were a little disappointed for the fact that nothing had improved since their pre-formation days, and were discussing where to take the band next, but to no avail.
But one day, on the first week of July, they chanced upon a local Battle of the Bands competition in the Music & Youth magazine advertisement Stacy was reading. Deciding to seize the opportunity for more exposure, the girls registered, and started practising in the days leading into the big event.
To cut a long story short, on the day of the competition, they played well to the judges and the audiences, winning first prize. Even Jeremy whose band placed third was impressed with Candace’s musical ability. As a result, the Facebook fanbase for The Soprano Girls increased to 800, much to the delight of the girls.
Meanwhile, as time passed in Phineas and Ferb, the girls were gaining more real fans in the United States and overseas, to about a thousand or so in spite of the millions of viewers watching. Out of these thousand, a small percentage of fans were aware that their favourite female characters unofficially made their own music, so they followed the group as well. The non-Danville fanbase comprised 20% of the American population, which was 90% of the entire fanbase.
In other words, The Soprano Girls were barely starting to get noticed in the entire United States, and a little bit of the whole world. This was in Fall 2008.
Towards the end of 2008, some local media decided to interview and promote the girls.
For example, in the September 2008 issue of It’s All Tween magazine, the reporter interviewed Isabella Garcia-Shapiro, who became a Fireside Girl troop leader in late 2007. Isabella did express the stresses she had to juggle between playing at her band, being a Fireside Girl, and studying in school, but she did “have fun dipping my toes as a musician.”
She also added, “I’m quite honoured being the nice girl in Phineas and Ferb, and that also adds to my band, so that’s why it’s growing (laughs).”
“I'm still learning how to play the guitar, but being a pianist for The Soprano Girls is a piece of cake. My two good friends and bandmates already know how to play the guitar and bass.”
In another example, a local TV report in October 2008 briefly mentioned that The Soprano Girls were one of the youngest bands ever known in Danville, and the anchor presenter described the girls as “phenomenal”.
“Good luck getting a record contract,” one of the presenters wished.
Online blogs and music sites also joined in on promoting The Soprano Girls, and reviewing their demo EP. Despite the demo flaws, their cutesy looks, young age and their incredible singing and playing had melted some of the writers’ hearts, saying the girls had such great potential.
By December 2008, the Facebook fans for The Soprano Girls reached 1,100, while their MySpace profile views reached 2,000.