GOODRIDGE, Minn. — The Jensen Sisters from tiny Goodridge are making their way through the country.
Kendra, 20, and Kansas, 16, from the northwest Minnesota town with a population of 130, on Sunday, Feb. 16, won the Midwest CMA New Artist of the Year award at a ceremony in Medina. The Midwest CMA is made up of music artists from six states, including Minnesota. Members vote on the winners. The Jensen Sisters were chosen from among five nominees in the new artist category.
“We were really, really surprised,” Kendra Jensen said. “We didn’t think this was going to happen for us.
“There’s so much competition here in the Midwest, and we’re fans of all of it. All of the artists nominated in that category could have taken it home — any one of them.”
The sisters got their start singing in front of audiences four years ago when Kansas convinced Kendra to sing “Good Hearted Woman,” by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, at a Goodridge High School talent show. After the performance, they started getting requests to sing at other events, and eventually, began writing their own songs in addition to singing covers.
The Jensen Sisters — so named because that's how the check was written out for their first paying gig — also performed at the Midwest CMA award ceremony. The sisters sang “River Song,” which Kendra Jensen describes as a “simple little tune about life.”
The song will be one of several on a full-length album that Jay Ernest Kalk and Jonathon TeBeest, of Minneapolis, are producing. The Jensen Sisters album will debut this year. The sisters’ extended-play “Highway Hippie,” released in May 2019, climbed to No. 10 on the iTunes country music chart, Kendra Jensen said.
“”It’s been a super incredible journey for us,” she said.
The two sisters are looking forward to seeing where the journey takes them. They appreciate the support they’ve received from everyone who has helped them achieve success and believe they owe it to them to continue working in the music industry, Jensen said.
“We’re going to see where it goes. At this point, we’re full-bore. There’s no shame in admitting we have a dream. We’re going to give it our best,” she said.
For The Jensen Sisters, living out a dream also involves taking care of day-to-day tasks, such as attending classes and studying. Kansas Jensen is a junior at Goodridge Public Schools and Kendra is a second-year student at Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls.
This summer, like last, the sisters will go on tour. Their 2019 tour took them across North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana and Wisconsin.
“We’re looking forward to another summer of being out there,” Kendra Jensen said.
This week, the sisters are focusing on the practical things of life.
“It’s back to reality for us,” Kendra Jensen said.
While the sisters appreciate, and are excited about, the Midwest CMA New Artist of the Year award, their success hasn’t — and won’t — change them, the sisters said.
“We’re still going to empty the dishwasher and do the laundry and go to school,” Kendra Jensen said. “It’s really, if anything, going to make us work harder.”