THE TOPP TWINS
Since 1981, Jools and Lynda Topp have been giving us a sense of ourselves through their comedic depiction of Kiwi life. Openly gay, the singing, yodeling twins make our sides split with their characterisations of died in the wool NZ archetypes, taking us back to a simpler, more naïve and self-deprecating era, while never shying away completely from the dilemmas that contemporary life throws up.
Conveniently birthed in the hick town of Huntly, the sisters started out busking in 1981, quickly graduating to the university touring circuit, and finally, hit the bigtime with packed town halls throughout the nation – something of a victory at a time when practicing homosexuality was still illegal. In the late 1990s, they scored their own TV series, which ran for three seasons and led to awards both here and in Australia. After a break due to Jools’ successfully treated breast cancer in 2006, they starred in the celebrated 2009 documentary film, Untouchable Girls, which broke box office records for a non-fiction movie, and won numerous international awards.
As of October 2014, they were as busy as ever, with a nationwide show called The Grand Ole Topp’ry receiving great notices and sell-out crowds. Although they’re most famous as TV stars, it’s the Topp Twins’ unusual approach to country music that’s the icing on the cake: their distinctive full-throated harmonies and original songs have won them numerous accolades, including Best Country Album (NZ Music Awards, 2005) and Country Music Group/Duo Award at the National Country Music Awards (2009), and resulted in six albums, from The Topp Twins Go Vinyl (1982) to 2009’s Honky Tonk Angel.
In 2018 Jools and Lynda were made Dame Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit.