MINNEAPOLIS -- The Steeles, five brothers and sisters whose holiday soul and gospel performances have packed local theaters for the last 25 years, will stage their final Christmas shows in the Twin Cities this weekend, ending what's become a Minnesota tradition.
Jevetta Steele delivered the news as she and her siblings performed on a recent broadcast of Showcase Minnesota.
"We won't forget you," she said, "and I hope you won't forget us."
She later told KARE 11 the Steeles aren't abandoning the Twin Cities, where they'll stage their final Christmas shows on Dec. 11 and 12 at the Fitzgerald Theater, they're just branching out.
"Oh, we're not giving up on (the Twin Cities). It's just, producing the show here is very, very expensive and a bit difficult. And for us to expand a little bit, we need some time."
The Steeles say they want to write a new show, hit the road, and perform for new people.
It won't be the first time others have heard the Steeles, whose music has been in movies, on Broadway and in TV ads. But this will begin a new chapter for the brothers and sisters, who have spent most of their stage time in Minnesota and got their big break after performing a song called "Strange" at the 1980 Minnesota State Fair.
Each of the Steeles was born in Gary, Ind., but followed big brother J.D. to Minneapolis after their father, J.D. Steele Sr., was killed by a drunk driver in 1973.
They've produced six CDs as a family, eight solo albums, and they've been backup singers for an A-list of superstars, including a fellow Minnesotan, Prince.
"What makes me special is I'm the oldest," J.D. Steele said when he was asked what set him apart from the others.
He added, as his brothers and sisters laughed, "And I deserve a lot more respect than I be getting from my family, y'all!"
Fred Steele, the second oldest brother, calls himself the "harmonizer."
"I used to be the keyboard player," he said. "And then Billy came and he just stole my job."
Billy, the youngest Steele, is a three-time Grammy winner for his work with the group Sounds of Blackness.
He's in good company alongside Jevetta, whose 1987 song "Calling You," from the movie "Bagdad Café," was nominated for an Academy Award.
Jevetta is in charge of staging, choreography and costumes for the family. She also handles business affairs with Jearlyn, a WCCO-AM radio host.
"I am best at being a group member," Jearlyn said modestly, to her mother's delight.
Sallie Elizabeth Birdsong was watching her sons and daughters rehearse, and laughing along with them.
"I want them to be successful and never forget where they came from," Birdsong said, "and how God has blessed us down through the years, and how he gave me strength to finish raising them after their father died."
The Steeles wouldn't tell us exactly what's next. Just that their ideas are big.
For more information on The Steeles and their Christmas Show go to http://www.thesteelesmusic.com/.