Adele, Lady Gaga, Rihanna…Delta Rae?

Quick – name five big stars in music! Adele, Lady Gaga, Flo Rida, Katy Perry, Justin Beiber?

Luckily, we aren’t limited to only five. Each year, Forbes, a leading source for business and finance, compiles a list of the top 30 musicians under 30 years of age who it believes are up-and-comers. The judges are powerful figures in the industry like Cameron Strang, Chairman of Warner/Chappell Music.

Yesterday, the 2012 list was revealed. Included are predictable but worthy names like the above five, but there are also new ones like Delta Rae.

What’s so special about Delta Rae? For one, most of its members grew up right here in Marin.

I had the pleasure of attending high school at Terra Linda with vocalist/pianist Eric Holljes, vocalist Brittany Holljes and vocalist/guitarist Ian Holljes. (If it isn’t already obvious, they’re siblings – and difficult to miss with their signature platinum blonde hair.) Known for their musical talent, they were members of ‘Til Dawn, a teen a capella singing group that performed at community events, benefits and schools, and the Jazz Choir at TLHS.

But it wasn’t until all three siblings graduated from college – Eric and Ian from Duke University and Brittany from UC Berkeley – that they seriously pursued a career in music. They hooked up with a few friends – vocalist Elizabeth Hopkins, drummer Mike McKee and bassist Grant Emerson – and created a band called Delta Rae. They spent months writing songs and devising a unique sound in their house in the woods of North Carolina, where they still reside. When they returned to Marin for the holidays, they played local gigs at Yet Wah in San Rafael and The Sleeping Lady in Fairfax.

In the summer of 2011, after raising $28,000 via Kickstarter to record an album, they landed their first meeting with a major record label. They met with Seymour Stein, VP of Warner Bros. Records and co-founder of Sire Records. The meeting did not go as expected. Ten seconds into singing for Stein, he stopped them. Then he hurried to the hallway and shouted to his colleagues, “You gotta hear these people! They sound so beautiful!”

Since then, their music career has exploded. Here are a few of their recent achievements:

  • Two appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
  • Co-headlining a national tour with ZZ Ward in early 2013
  • Performing for and meeting Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention
  • Becoming the VH1 You Oughta Know artist in October
  • An exclusive music video debut on Rolling Stone
  • Sharing the stage with big names like Augustana and One Republic
  • Over 29,000 Facebook likes

Why, you might ask, is it such a big deal to be on the 30 Under 30 list? Aside from the honor of being compared with established, internationally recognized artists like Adele, it’s a fairly reliable indication of success to come. The judges are notorious for predicting huge stars; last year’s list boasted Adele, who earned six Grammy Awards this year, and Kevin Systrom, who sold his company to Facebook for $1 billion in April.

So if you see them on the street next time they’re in town, make sure you get their autographs. They will be worth something someday.

Their debut album Carry the Fire was released in June and is available on iTunes and Amazon.

Click here to watch Delta Rae’s music video for “Dance in the Graveyards” on Rolling Stone.

Check out the full Forbes 30 Under 30 list here.

For more information about Delta Rae and their upcoming tour dates, check out their website.