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Thirteen is an unlucky number for most of the world.
But for the three women of Mormon choral trio Mercy River, 13 is part of who they are and what is most important to them even more so than music.
"If we keep our family first, things will fall into place," said Brooke Stone, 31, who sings the high harmonies when not tending to her three children in Layton.
Stone, Whitney Permann and Soni Muller have 13 children among them. Many of those children joined their mothers in the studio when the trio recorded their third record together, "Higher," released last month on Deseret Book record label Shadow Mountain Records.
The three first came together as members of best-selling LDS musician and producer Jenny Phillips' choir, and were hand-picked by Phillips when the musician wanted to write music suited for a trio.
Singing in a choir on an occasional basis was one thing. But becoming a member of the newly dubbed Mercy River was another thing entirely, since all three women considered themselves mothers first, wives second, and singers far down the list.
"It took me a long time to commit," said Permann, 31, a Spanish Fork mother of five who sings the lowest harmonies in the group. If she decided to become part of the trio, all of sudden she wouldn't be just a singer any more, she said. She would be an artist.
Stone, though, was enthusiastic from the get-go, and Muller, a Bountiful mother of five who serves as the tonal center, remembers thinking, "Oh, I get to sing more."
The first record led to the second, and the second to the third. "This album is more of a reflection of our personalities," Permann said. "We had more time, and more experience."
But although the trio have three albums under their belts, all three agree that family trumps all. If a husband feels that group responsibilities are overwhelming their relationships as wives and mothers, the women are allowed to back off from the group for a while, Permann said.
But for the most part, the husbands are supportive, even if that means that sometimes the family sits down at the dinner table to eat pancakes, Stone said.
"I think it is a misconception that we live the high life," Miller said.
"We always compare [music] to pregnancy," Permann added. "It can be an emotional rollercoaster."
Hitting the high (and middle) notes
Mercy River's "Higher" is available at Desert Book stores and online.