These brothers sound 'Sharp'

Thirteen-year-old twins Kyle and Benjamin Sharp's musical seeds were clearly visible at age 3.

The brothers, who both have tan skin, brown hair and braces, are seventh graders at Thurston Middle School.

They like golf and football, but music takes center stage in their lives, with the duo, known as Sharp Turn Ahead, performing pretty regularly.

Kyle and Benjamin also came out with their first CD, a compilation of three studio-recorded cover songs and their first original, "California Ain't that Far." The song tells the story of the boys' move from Austin, Texas, to Laguna Beach four years ago with their parents, Carla [mother] and Brandon [father]. Dan McKim, a songwriting friend, helped the boys write the song.

Kyle plays the guitar while Benjamin thumbs the keyboard.

They often play at the Irvine Spectrum and performed in front of 90 spectators at Hennessey's Tavern in Laguna, their first local gig, for a two-night show in February 2012.

"It's amazing to see their growth," Carla Sharp said at the family home. "I have that proud-mom feeling. I love seeing how the audience reacts."

On a recent Saturday, Kyle and Benjamin set up just outside of Old Navy in a courtyard at the Irvine Spectrum. Benjamin stood at the keyboard while Kyle stood to his left with a guitar. Both wore flannel shirts and jeans. They had one amplifier and two standing speakers.

They opened with a Jason Mraz song, "I'm Yours." Their father, Brandon, started filming. This was the first time they had CDs for sale.

Benjamin signed a CD during a break for a group of three girls from Mission Viejo.

Kellie O'Brien saw the brothers perform before so she and Gabby Barba brought friend Kasey Bache to hear the twins in person for the first time.

"At such a young age, they are talented," O'Brien said.

Feb. 9 also marked Bailee Conder's 12th birthday. She and her friends were going to celebrate at Knott's Berry Farm, but Conder instead transferred her party to the Spectrum to hear Sharp Turn Ahead.

"She saw [Kyle and Benjamin] performing before and have been following them on Instagram," said Ragan Conder, Bailee's mother, who had set up a table off to the side of the stage with snacks and a birthday banner with Bailee's name spelled out.

The Conders reached out to Kyle and Benjamin through Facebook and the brothers played a song just for Bailee.

Ragan Conder is impressed with their musical acumen.

"To be in front of all these people at age 13 is bold, pretty brave," she said. "They are super-charismatic, very friendly, open, willing to talk to their fans. I'm enjoying it and I'm 35. It shows you don't have to be a 12-year-old girl to enjoy these entertainers."

Both Kyle and Benjamin sing during their sets. About 50 listeners stood at any one time listening to their songs. Two men took out their cell phones to record a tune.

"It's exhilarating with people watching who love music," Benjamin said during a break. "I don't think about it. I just go up and play."

Kyle and Benjamin spend four to five hours a week practicing music. They each have a specific teacher — Randy Rusk from the Guitar Center in Laguna Beach teaches Kyle guitar and Laguna resident Laila Scharf tutors Benjamin on the keyboard. Lynn Semelsberger provides voice lessons. Kyle also took guitar lessons while in Texas.

Kyle got his first guitar when he was 3. They bought plastic microphones and a karaoke set.

Benjamin took up the keyboard two years ago. Before, he was solely a vocalist. He models his music after Andy Grammer and Jason Mraz.

"It's upbeat music and their songs tell a story," Benjamin said.

Benjamin is two verses into writing a new song. He wants it to be "uplifting, like Andy Grammer's 'Keep Your Head Up,'" and focus on overcoming challenges in life.

When it comes to choosing a song, the two often get ideas from what they hear.

"If we like a song on the radio, we'll identify the artist, look up chords and run it by [Scharf]," Kyle said. "We'll talk it through. It can take one to two hours."

Benjamin had no keyboard experience before he started working with Scharf two years ago. He caught on quick.

Scharf tried classical music to help him learn chords, teaching the foundation of music theory.

"Now we work on [picking] songs for gigs and shows," said Scharf, who teaches students from ages 5 to 30.

"It's so much fun to teach a child who picks things up so quickly. This doesn't happen that often."

As for their future, Benjamin said they may audition for either American Idol or X Factor.

"It's amazing we've had this opportunity as a kid. I hope it follows us to some kind of fame," Benjamin said.

The CD has voiceovers of hits "Keep Your Head" Up by Andy Grammer; "Stop and Stare" by One Republic and "Details in the Fabric" by Jason Mraz.

"Upbeat music, songs that tell a story," Benjamin said.

The Sharps' next performance will be from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday in front of Old Navy at the Irvine Spectrum.

A rendition of California Ain't That Far is available on the brothers' website,

Twitter: @AldertonBryce

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