Roberta Morales, who, with sister Lisa Morales, formed the popular folk duo Sisters Morales, passed away Aug. 1. Lisa announced her sister’s death on social media. “It is with my heaviest of hearts,” she wrote, “that Roberta, my beautiful sister, best friend forever, passed away yesterday morning,” adding, “She was a beautiful heart, an incredible singer, songwriter, musician. I was her echo when we were little. I tried to do everything she did. One day she went into the bedroom, took the guitar and wrote a song … I love her with all my heart.”

Roberta and Lisa grew up in Tucson, Arizona, learning to sing traditional Mexican music and developing their own brand of pop and roots rock. They separated after high school, but began performing together again in 1989, when Roberta sang background vocals for a band Lisa had formed. After moving to Houston, they attracted interest from the country music establishment in Nashville but ultimately opted for an independent path, releasing their debut album, Ain’t No Perfect Diamond, on their own Luna Records label in 1997. Someplace Far Away From Here, another combination of English and Spanish songs, followed in 1999, and in 2002, now based in San Antonio, the sisters released their third album, Para Gloria, an all-Spanish-language set dedicated to their mother, Gloria.

After Gloria’s passing in 2009, the glue that held the sisters together began to erode, explaining the band’s hiatus that began in 2011. Lisa recorded a solo album, Beautiful Mistake, with songs so personal they needed only one voice, while Roberta left Texas for Colorado and Arizona to write a children’s book and plan for her own solo debut. Both women said they came back stronger from that loss, and when the time was right, in late 2013, they were ready to re-form, grounded in the crystalline harmonies they were best known for. The initial reunion performances began in San Antonio in 2014 when the band reunited for a benefit show for a local San Antonio music promoter. They’d played random gigs ever since.

[Photo above by Cynthia Kinney]