|The first to believe were the Henderson sisters, Cathy and Kristen. Raised in Glen Cove, Long Island, by a family in which it was considered weird not to be a musician, they grew up with tennis racquet guitars and hairbrush microphones in their hands. "We'd tie strings onto our racquets, stick 'em into a bulletin board, and pretend we were plugging guitars into amps," Cathy laughs. "We were putting bands together with the neighborhood kids since we were two feet tall."They played their first official gig in junior high, at an aunt's wedding. ("We were the only band she hired -- a bold move," remembers Kristen.) They kept performing throughout high school, took a respite to earn college degrees and then rushed back to what they both knew they had to do. Moving to Greenwich Village, they found day jobs in order to pay for a little food, a roof, and time to start playing music again.From the start they wanted to rock, with Kristen on drums and Cathy on guitar and backing vocals. But they had trouble finding the right bassist; impatient to play, they shifted to a more folk-oriented sound; Kristen switched to guitar, and with two friends onboard they launched the first version of Antigone Rising in the coffeehouses and clubs of lower Manhattan.With strong songs and soaring four-part harmonies, Antigone Rising built momentum quickly. They were invited to join the Lilith Fair tour in 1998, on a bill that included Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant, Liz Phair, and the Indigo Girls. That same year they released their first, self-produced CD and were cited by Discmakers as one of the city's ten top unsigned bands. Over the next few years they grew their fan base, drove Vanna White through widening territory, earned a VH-1 endorsement as one of "ten acts to watch," and were featured in a Technics ad that ran in Rolling Stone, Spin, and elsewhere.Along the way Dena Tauriello joined the band; her dynamic drumming style, forged through gigs along the New Jersey club circuit, added urgency and pushed them closer toward the sound that Cathy and Kristen had always imagined. Yet something was still missing -- even though, without knowing it, they'd briefly come face to face with the person who would bring Antigone Rising to their full power.She already went by just one name -- Cassidy -- when they'd met. She was just out of high school, transplanted to the city from northwestern New Jersey, where she'd learned how to sing with a gospel choir in a one-room wooden church before working with bands around Sussex County. "The only radio station that could cut through the mountains and the trees and into our town played classic rock," she remembers. "Rush, Kansas, Pat Benatar: to me, that was the only music there was. It was all about very strong, dramatic, lead vocals that tell a story. And I loved it because I was -- maybe 'aggressive' isn't the right word, but I had a lot of spirit inside me that was jonesing to get out."At eighteen Cassidy had raced for New York, picked up a waitress job, and started making connections. She did solo shows, performed with bands -- and one day crossed paths with Cathy and Kristen. They rehearsed together twice and might have done more, but the time wasn't right. Restless, Cassidy left town, spent a while singing jazz standards in London, and then flew past New York to try her luck as a session singer in L.A.Through mutual acquaintances she heard that there were changes afoot back East, where Antigone Rising was now looking for a singer who could take them to another level. On an impulse she sent them a demo --"It was gorgeous," Cathy says. "We called and told her to get back here. And on the day we got together we knew this was it."Cassidy moved back -- she would eventually become Kristen's roommate in New Jersey. The band decided to start from scratch, withdrawing into a hole-in-the-wall rehearsal space and not coming out until they had figured out who they were. "We didn't want to be this acoustic girl band," Cathy points out. "We didn't want to be told what to wear. We didn't want to be told what to sing or how to write. We wanted to rock -- so we did."They let their old management go, took over their own booking, started living on savings and credit cards, and at Cassidy's insistence, quit their day jobs. "I came in and was like, 'Okay, if we're going to do it, we've got to do it,'" she remembers. "'You can't have a safety net. The only thing you can rely on is the music, and the music will give back to you.' So we all committed full-time to Antigone Rising and bought our van -- and we didn't even have any shows!""She was completely fearless," Kristen adds. "Cassidy was like, 'Let's do it!' And we were suddenly all able to jump without the net. I don't know if I could have done it without her."Inspired by their energy and ambition, Monterey Peninsula Artists Booking, whose clients include Aerosmith, Dave Matthews, and other superstars, signed Antigone Rising in early 2003 as the only artists on their roster yet to clinch a record deal. With Jen Zielenbach brought onboard in February 2004, they laid a new foundation based on slamming drums and Jen's jazz- and funk-inflected, "dare-you-not-to-dance" bass. A couple of months later they dazzled South By Southwest with a performance that was, in the words of Rolling Stone's David Fricke, "the killer Big Rock show of the festival, with Lynyrd Skynyrd-army guitars, the country-gospel harmonies of a biker Dixie Chicks, and a Janis Joplin-esque vocal dynamo named Cassidy."Signed now to Lava Records, Antigone Rising are about to explode. The milestones are passing faster now -- not long ago, after they'd opened for Aerosmith, Steven Tyler invited Cassidy to join him on vocals and the famous Run-D.M.C. dance on "Walk This Way" -- and their path is climbing higher, closer to the destiny that's always drawn them toward the stars.