Known for their upbeat, family-friendly shows, The Duttons weren’t always performers.
In fact, matriarch Sheila Dutton admits she never really saw the value in performing until she had the chance to do it with her kids.
“As a matter of fact, if you were to pick someone, the most unlikely thing that I would be doing would be performing out on a stage with my family, but the kids really wanted to do it together as a family,” she says. “We never made a conscious decision to be performers or entertainers. It was just one thing kind of led to another.”
The Duttons will show off their performance chops as the musical entertainment at the Lovin’ Life Expos on Jan. 24, at the Sundial Recreation Center in Sun City and Jan. 26 at the Mesa Convention Center.
The family has been hitting stages full time since 1991 and has since become a force. They landed among the top 10 finalists on “America’s Got Talent,” voted America’s most musical family by Nickelodeon, won several awards for performance and entertained thousands at their theaters, including one in Mesa.
The Duttons first brought their show to sunny Arizona in the winter of 2005 and have since made it their winter home.
In 2010, the Duttons partnered with East Valley High School in Mesa to renovate and update their auditorium. Shows that blend bluegrass and country kick off on Jan. 14, and continue every weekend through March 31.
What began as just mom, dad and their four children has grown to include their in-laws and grandchildren. Dutton says the family ties run deep. Everyone is closely involved in all aspects of the business.
She says working, performing and touring with family has brought them closer together.
“We traveled over a million miles giving all these concerts around the United States,” she says. “So, they grew up together in the bus and I always said that the best way to help families be together is to get in a bus and then if they have issues, they have to work them out.
“They can’t run to their bedrooms or to their friend’s house. They have to sit and talk about it and work it out. So, the kids learned early on to forgive each other really quickly. I think that was an unexpected advantage of touring.”
She says there is more to The Duttons than performances and accolades. The music comes down to the fans. Sheila says she was amazed to learn how their shows could bring joy to audiences.
She recalls fans telling her that
their performances encouraged them
to reunite with their own families or pursue music.
Dutton isn’t quite sure what the future holds for the family business. As the children have aged, they’ve pursued different lines of work. However, there is a third generation of Duttons who may choose to take up the mantle. No matter what lies ahead, Dutton says she feels they are forging the right path.
“We just feel so honored and blessed that we’ve been led into something that we didn’t even see the value in the beginning,” she said.
“It has enriched our lives, provided us with the best friends in the world that we have met through performing, provided us with a second family who we had adopted and given us an opportunity to work on something that makes a difference and that is really a positive thing in our lives.”