The Roches were active as performers and recording artists from the mid-1970s through 2017, at various times performing as a trio and in pairs.
In the late 1960s, eldest sister Maggie (October 26, 1951 – January 21, 2017) and middle sister Terre (pronounced "Terry", born April 10, 1953) attended Park Ridge High School, but dropped out of school to tour as a duo. Maggie wrote most of the songs, with Terre contributing to a few. The sisters got a break when Paul Simon brought them in as backup singers on his 1973 #2 album There Goes Rhymin' Simon. They got his assistance (along with an appearance by The Oak Ridge Boys) on their only album as a duo, Seductive Reasoning (1975).
Later in the 1970's youngest sister Suzzy (rhymes with "fuzzy", born September 29, 1956) joined the group to form The Roches trio.
Around this time, they parlayed bartending jobs at famous Greenwich Village folk venue Gerde's Folk City into stage appearances, an experience they commemorated in their song, "Face Down at Folk City" (from Another World, 1985). It was here that they met many of their future singing and songwriting collaborators. Terre was now writing songs as well, and by the time of their first album as a trio, The Roches (1979), Suzzy had also begun writing. Robert Fripp produced the album. Maggie's "The Married Men" from this album was eventually to become the biggest hit of the songwriting trio -- not for them, but for Phoebe Snow. After Snow and Linda Ronstadt performed the song in a duet on Saturday Night Live, the Roches were invited themselves to perform on the show a few months later in 1979 at the behest of Paul Simon. They did two songs, both unreleased at the time, "Bobby's Song" and "The Hallelujah Chorus".
Throughout the 1980s, The Roches continued to release their music to small audiences, little or no air play, and only modest record sales. A 1983 episode of the PBS concert series Soundstage was devoted to an hourlong performance by the trio, and they appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in November 1985, where they performed their song "Mr. Sellack". In 1990, they returned to their Christmas-caroling roots with the release of the 24-track We Three Kings, which included the a cappella "Star of Wonder", written by Terre. After another pop album (A Dove, 1992), they recorded an entire album of children's songs entitled Will You Be My Friend?, featuring a song by brother David and various young backup singers, including Suzzy's daughter Lucy Wainwright Roche.
After a tour interrupted by the death of their father, The Roches released Can We Go Home Now (1995), the last original recording they released as a trio until 2007.
In 1997, the sisters formally put their group on long-term hold. They continued to work on solo projects and often collaborated on albums and performances. Terre teaches guitar workshops and has released a solo album. Suzzy, who has acted on the stage and in several movies, released two of her own albums and two with Maggie, with whom she has toured. All three sisters periodically participated in New York-area events. At the end of 2005, the three Roches (with brother Dave) reunited for a short but highly successful holiday tour. Several more appearances in the U.S. and Canada took place in 2006-07, and in March 2007, after a 12-year hiatus, The Roches released a new studio album, Moonswept. Following the tour for Moonswept, the Roches announced that they would no longer be touring, although they continued to make isolated appearances individually and as a group, mostly in and around New York City.
On January 21, 2017, Maggie Roche died of cancer at the age of 65.
Maggie had an "unusual" contralto voice - "almost a baritone." Terre provides a soprano that brackets the upper range of the sisters, while Suzzy fills in the middle range. While touring, the sisters accompanied themselves with guitars and keyboards, occasionally with additional musicians.
The majority of Roches songs were written by the three sisters, whether individually, in every combination, or collaborating with other songwriters. They also recorded their own arrangements of songs by a variety of New York folk artists, as well as a few covers of famous songs. Their three-part arrangement of the four-part "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah, featured on Keep On Doing (1982), is well regarded in a cappella circles.
Maggie and Terre Roche
Seductive Reasoning (Columbia, 1975)
I Gave My Love a Kerry (Earth Rock Wreckerds, 2004)
Crossing Delancey (1988), starring Amy Irving. Suzzy played Marilyn, a friend of Isabelle (Irving). The Roches provided several songs for the soundtrack. One of the songs that was featured in the film Nocturne, is also featured on the group's 1989 album Speak.
^Cocks, Jay (May 7, 1979). "Valentines from the Danger Zone". Time. Retrieved . She and Terre performed them first in the family living room in Park Ridge, N.J., then later on the back of a flat-bed truck in nearby shopping centers for the benefit of a local politician and the glory of the Democratic Party.
^Karas, Matty. "'Uncool' Roches finally fitting into the music scene", Asbury Park Press, June 20, 1991. Accessed December 9, 2017. "Terre Roche wasn't one of the cool kids at Park Ridge High School in the late 1960s.... She and Maggie sang together from a young age, with Maggie teaching Terre the harmony parts to songs. When they were in high school, their father, who lived in Greenwich Village before they were born and entertained them with stories about those days, drove them into the Village to sing in hootenannies at clubs such as the Gaslight and Kettle of Fish."