SWiMMiN' with SHeDAISY

Kristyn, Kelsi and Kassidy frolic in a tropical paradise

Story by Larry Holden • Photos by Morrison/Wulffraat

Once upon a time there were three beautiful girls. They'd heard that kissing a frog could change it into a prince. But they couldn't find any frogs, so they hopped into the ocean and kissed ... stingrays!

"I love Stingray City. It's amazing to pull up to a sandbar out in the ocean, jump into crystal-clear water up to your waist and - bam! - you're there with a hundred stingrays around you," declares a beaming Kelsi Osborn.

She and her two sisters, Kristyn and Kassidy - who perform as the platinum-selling trio SHeDAISY - are offshore Grand Cayman, an island in the Caribbean south of Cuba.

Along with other country artists, they're performing in a concert series called Cayman Country.

On the way to Stingray City, diving instructor Shannon Campbell explains how decades of fishing boats anchoring on the sandbar to clean their catch attracted stingrays and made them tame. He also tells the sisters about the "tradition" - everyone visiting Stingray City has to kiss a ray!

"I was scared of the stingrays," confesses Kristyn. "But I would've hated to leave the Grand Cayman without experiencing them - and besides, my sisters would never have let me forget I was chicken!"

"We all got to hold stingrays and cuddle them," gushes Kassidy. "They're really friendly."

So ... did the girls kiss the stingrays? They sure did!

"Boy, did I kiss one!" declares Kassidy proudly. "I was waiting for it to turn into a prince. It didn't, but it was worth a try."

Kelsi nods. "Kissing a stingray was weird. But I went for it!"

Even Kristyn puckered up. "Now I can say I kissed a stingray," she says. "Not everyone can say that!"

A few hours later, the sisters are on a crystalline beach releasing green sea turtles into the ocean to replenish the natural balance. Since 1980, more than 30,000 turtles raised on the Cayman Turtle Farm have been put into the ocean.

"I handled my turtle better than Kassidy and Kelsi handled theirs," boasts Kristyn. "All the turtles flapped their legs, but I propped mine on my hip, like you would a baby, and it got calm."

That night SHeDAISY performs on a stage with waves crashing 50 feet behind them. The opening act is Larry Stewart, formerly of the '80s group Restless Heart.

The next day, Kassidy goes scuba diving with PADI diving instructor Mike Wingo. PADI - Professional Association of Diving Instructors - is a primary sponsor of the Cayman Country concert series. "We were down about 45 minutes," notes Kassidy later. "I saw tons of fish, a sea turtle, a barracuda, stunning coral and living plants. It was amazing."

Kristyn, who wrote or co-wrote all the songs on the group's platinum smash debut album, THE WHOLE SHeBANG, spent time on the beach writing songs for the trio's follow-up album, set for release early next year. The CD's debut single, "Now," hits radio later this month.

"Whenever I play the first verse, everyone - men and women - has tears in their eyes," reveals Kristyn. "That verse deals with what things in life we wish we could have back. It came from my husband talking about losing his dad a couple of years ago. The song's hook is in the line: So why look back when there's a stunning, blazing, so amazing now."

As they watch boats drifting lazily out to sea, the now SHeDAISY ponders is this: What if kissing a stingray granted you a wish?

"I'd go for the new album to be multiplatinum like the first one," confesses Kelsi. "That would show me people still want to hear our music."

Kristyn pauses. "When you're a workaholic and write obsessively like I do - from the moment you get up, in the car, all the time - it puts a stress on your personal life. Having the business and my personal life blend together in a healthy way is what I want."

Kassidy agrees. "I'd like to find a balance in everything I do. It would be wonderful to wake up one day and say, 'Wow! Nothing is off-kilter in my life.' "

Bottom line: The SHeDAISY sisters want to enjoy life. And they'd like to say, as the Cayman natives proclaim many times every day, "It's all good!"

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