The Williamsons

Kramers Music

Creekside Gospel Music Convention

The Great Passion of Jesus Christ

Written by Staff on March 26, 2015 – 4:26 pm -

great_passion_play_-_picture_of_christEaster is a time of joy as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and we acknowledge all that means for us: eternal life, abundant life and salvation from a life of sin by a God Who is eternal. But the full celebration of Easter must include the fervency of Palm Sunday, the shock of the overturning of the Temple’s money tables, the quiet closeness of the Last Supper, the grief of a prayer on the Mount, the betrayal of a friend at midnight and then capture, torture and a farce of a Court decision. Then more torture, a long climb up to Golgotha with a wooden cross, an agonizing and earth-shattering death, followed by the cold darkness of a borrowed tomb. So many emotions, so much passion before the glorious morning of Easter.

 

Many of us have seen the longest week in history portrayed on stage and in film during the season of Easter, but in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, they perform the Great Passion Play (GPP) outdoors, several days a week, from May until October, in a 4,100 seat amphitheater. Beginning with the raising of Lazarus from the dead, the drama tells the complete story of Jesus’ final week until His Resurrection and Ascension. The Play is a must-see event, with hundreds of actors and live animals detailing this special historical event.

 

Randall Christy of The Gospel Station, has attended the GPP many times over the years. From 2008 until 2012, attendance had declined to the point where the Play was closed due to lack of funds. Christy says, “I felt compelled to find out more. The Board of directors of the Passion Play had closed it for good, sold the animals, locked the gates, turned off the lights to the Christ of the Ozarks. I was strongly convicted to try and do something about this, and could not believe that the Lord wanted the Great Passion Play to close.” Christy immediately began to work on reviving the Play, working with the local bank and raising funds to initiate the 2013 season. Facilities were renovated and the area of The Holy Land Tour was also opened for the first time in five years.

 

Untitled_Panorama1 editThe park facilities of The Great Passion Play not only include the staging area but also a Bible Museum, Art Museum and Holy Land Tour, with historical exhibits and actors that introduce guests to various Biblical characters. It’s an educational experience for all patrons and is regularly visited by school and college groups. “The Great Passion Play has some of the most rare Bibles on display, such as an original 1611 King James Bible, first print, first edition, in mint condition as well many others worth seeing,” says Christy. “We also have several masterpieces in our art collections with some from the 1500’s and 1600’s, as well as a very old sculpture of Jesus Christ dating to 800AD.”

 

The Park also hosts Christian Music concerts, seminars and special Christmas activities. One of its most well known outdoor exhibits is the great Christ Of The Ozarks statue, standing 67 feet tall with the arms of Christ spread out to welcome all to come and learn about Him.

 

Rick Resurrection with angelRandall Christy decided to initiate the return of the Great Passion Play because of the message the Play and the Park had in common with his well-known music website, The Gospel Station. “Every song we play on the air is about the Gospel of Jesus,” says Christy. “And so is the Play. We are extremely mission minded and the Great Passion Play is the latest in our family of ministries.” He adds, “We are in a culture war in our country and if Christians do not fight it, who will?”

 

The Gospel Station has always been a ministry for Christy. “It’s more than just music, it’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are not just a radio business, selling air-time. Our people are personally involved in global missions and ministry, with a goal of seeing one-million people come to the Lord. So far we have seen over 326,000 accept Christ, all of them with local pastors to follow up, and most of them in public schools of foreign countries. We have a burden for kids, homeless, widows and orphans. Gospel music is one of the best ways to reach people with the story of Jesus Christ and one of the most effective ways to encourage Christians in their daily lives.”

 

The Gospel Station’s mission team has traveled far and wide, including Nicaragua, Nigeria, Kenya and Costa Rica. Christy says, “Without our Vision Team, the supporters who share this vision, we could not accomplish all of these things for the Lord.  Reaching people for Him is the main reason we are here, in His service.”

 

IMG_1320Christy adds, “I pray every day, ‘Lord please help me reach more people than I ever dreamed I could reach’ and He is.”

 

Randall Christy is currently on the Board of Directors for the Great Passion Play, a group of men determined to continuously improve on areas of the Park and expand their facilities. The Gospel Station will have a presence at this year’s Ozark Gospel Music Convention and there will be a special presentation of the Great Passion Play during one of the evening concerts. Christy encourages, “Please make the trip to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, this year with your family and your church to see the Christ of the Ozarks, the Bible and Art Museum, The Holy Land, and most of all – The Great Passion Play.”

 

IMG_1366For more information on the Great Passion Play visit http://www.greatpassionplay.org/

 

To listen to the Gospel Station click on to http://thegospelstation.com/dyn/index.php

By Lorraine Walker

First Published by SGN Scoops digital magazine in April 2014.

For current issues of SGN Scoops click HERE.

 

 

 

 

 


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Randy Byrd: Piece by Piece … It’s All Coming Together

Written by Staff on March 24, 2015 – 1:09 pm -

 

Mark Trammell Quartet

Mark Trammell Quartet

By Craig Harris

2014 brought bountiful blessings in more ways than one for Mark Trammell Quartet bass singer Randy Byrd

The pieces to Randy Byrd’s puzzle have miraculously fallen together. However, the “fit” happened a little later rather than sooner. Randy can vividly remember traveling to Robinson Auditorium in Little Rock, Ark., as a 12-year-old for a concert that included both the Kingsmen and the Cathedrals.

“I went home that night and I told my mom that I wanted to be a bass singer,” Randy says. “I got every Cathedrals’ album I could get my hands on. I tried to sound just like George (Younce, the legendary bass singer for the Cathedrals).”

However, Randy had to wait 28 years before even the outside edges of the jigsaw began to come into view. The road to full-time ministry was one that involved missed opportunities even from an early age.

“My first opportunity to ever sing was with the Bob Wills Family in Fort Worth, Texas,” Randy – who worked on an assembly line for 14 years in Missouri followed by a lengthy stint as a phone operator for a principal financial company in Des Moines, Iowa – explains. “Bob offered me a job full time when I was a senior in high-school. He offered it in October. I left home, and it all fell apart. The bass singer they ended up hiring was Jeff Chapman (currently a member of the Kingdom Heirs). Every time I saw him, I’d say, ‘You have my job,’ but I was proud for him.

“I never gave up. I knew it was a dream. With local groups, I had already lived a dream. I wanted to do it full time for a living. I wanted to be in ministry full time singing. My heart was to sing and minister. I wasn’t going to punch a time card somewhere.”

Randy Byrd

Randy Byrd

He had been singing with an Iowa-based local group, Majesty, for more than five years when an e-mail from Mark Blackwood settled in his inbox. That message was too hard for Randy to believe.

“I thought it was a joke, so I didn’t answer (initially),” Randy remembers. “I was just playing along (later on), so I answered it. It turned out that they (the Blackwood Gospel Quartet) were going to be in the area the next week. They had been there the week before and announced that bass singer Ken Turner would be retiring. Someone gave them my name. To this day, I don’t know who did it. Two weeks later, I got the job.

“This was the dream since I was 12. At the time, I was 40. I turned 41 later that year.” It was Randy’s first professional job in Southern Gospel Music. The group later changed its name from the Blackwood Gospel Quartet to the Blackwood Brothers.

He was with the group from that time until 2012, when he relocated to Arizona during a tough period in his life. That stay out West lasted just six months before he moved back to Tennessee.

“I applied for 200 jobs and got two phone calls,” Randy points out. “I got in my car to come back to Tennessee. I was in the car for 10 minutes, and my phone started ringing.”

Short stints with the Anchormen, LeFevre Quartet and Songfellows followed. He also did some solo dates. That’s when another Mark contacted Randy: Mark Trammell.

Mark Trammell Quartet - Cropped“I was just praying for God’s guidance,” Randy shares. “Mark called and asked if I would fill in (as the bass singer of the Mark Trammell Quartet). I said, ‘Sure.’ After the first week, he asked if he could consider me (as a permanent group member). I said, ‘God’s going to have to speak audibly.’

“I wanted it so bad. I had wanted it so bad with Mike (LeFevre). I didn’t want to do that again. I didn’t want to get ahead of God, but in my heart, I wanted it more than anything.”

Randy and Mark were acquainted since his tenure with the Blackwood Brothers. “When Randy came to the Blackwood Brothers, we sang with them not long after that,” Trammell says. “We hit it off with him.

“I started the process of listening to the other 35 (candidates for the bass-singing position), but I didn’t find anybody with the same kindred spirit and the same love of our music he had. As nice as they (the other candidates) were, I feared they would sing at the people instead of to them.”

Randy’s passion for the position was due in part to his fondness for his childhood heroes.

Randy Byrd 3027“My favorite group was the Cathedrals, and Mark stood next to my hero,” Randy notes. “My fiancé (Tracy Kelley) and I sat down and wrote three very specific things, fleeces to God. They were highly unlikely and very detailed. I told Mark that I wasn’t going to tell him what they were. He said, ‘I respect that.’ We prayed specifically about income and benefits packages that are not industry standards. In two weeks, all three of the fleeces took place.

“I shared that with Mark after he offered me the job. We both cried. When you are where God wants you, it’s good.”

The fit felt right from the outset. He officially joined the group in July.

“When he hired me, Mark said, ‘From the very first week you were on the bus, it felt like I came home and put my favorite old shirt on,’” Randy points out.

Mark adds, “It just worked. From the beginning, it worked because of like-mindedness. We have a lot of history. I can start an old joke that has been told, and he can finish it.”

Randy has been overwhelmed at the opportunity for many reasons, some of which pertain to past trials he has experienced. “When I left the LeFevres, I was so discouraged and distraught,” Randy remembers. “I felt like God wasn’t in tune with me anymore. Anything was a big deal to me. I understood him calling me to fill in, but to me, the likelihood of Mark Trammell offering me that job, it was more likely for the local high-school baseball pitcher to get a call from the New York Yankees.”

However, Randy is enjoying every minute of his opportunity in the “big leagues.” Read more »


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Road to the 2015 Diamond Awards: Favorite Industry Website

Written by Staff on March 19, 2015 – 12:00 pm -

gospel music todayThe 2015 Diamond Award Nominations are now open on the SGN Scoops website until March 31. Everyone is invited to the website to enter the Nominations area and list their top ten favorite picks for each Diamond Award category. You can vote today from the link below!

We are traveling the Road to the 2015 Diamond Awards during this nomination period, by highlighting the definition of each award category. The Favorite Industry Website award is for a news, magazine, supporting business, or event that supports or promotes the Southern, Country or Bluegrass Christian music industry.

diamond-2014On November 4th, 2014, the Diamond Awards were held at the 2014 Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge. The winner of the 2014 Favorite Industry Website was Gospel Music Today with Ken and Jean Grady. You can find their website HERE.

Who will you decide to nominate this year?

2015 Diamond Awards

2015 Diamond Awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to vote for your favorite nominees today.

The list of nominees will be posted on the site and fans will then nominate their favorites from this list, with a maximum of five names nominated per award. In
this way, the field of nominees will be narrowed to ten, voted on by fans once more and then narrowed to five. This final list of five will then be voted on by fans to find the one winner for each award.

Make plans now to join us for the 2015 Diamond Awards during the Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee from November 2nd through 5th, 2015. For more information visit www.creeksidegospelmusicconvention.com

2015 Diamond Awards Nominations can be found at http://www.sgnscoops.com/2015-diamond-awards/

The Diamond Awards are hosted by SGN Scoops digital magazine and Coastal Media Group.


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The LeFevre Quartet: Fulfilling Their Calling

Written by Staff on March 17, 2015 – 2:07 pm -

lefevre1By Dixie Phillips

Singing the Good News of Jesus Christ is a family tradition for Mike LeFevre. His roots in Gospel music run deep. “My father’s brothers, Urias and Alphus, started The LeFevre Trio in 1921.” Nearly a century later the LeFevre legacy lives on in Mike’s ministry with The LeFevre Quartet. “From the time I was a child, I had a dream to sing. Gospel Music was my passion all my life. In the beginning I sang for myself, but when I surrendered my life to Christ in 1988, it became my calling and I sang for the glory of the Lord.”

lefevre2Mike’s resume is very impressive. He began his musical career singing with his uncles after the legendary LeFevre Trio retired. Then he went on to sing with The Singing Americans, Brian Free and Assurance, and Gold City. Fans were quick to recognize his talent and ministry heart. He won “Favorite Baritone Singer” in The Singing News Fan Awards three years in a row.

135899The LeFevre name has long been regarded as one of the finest in the Gospel music industry. It doesn’t look like this will change anytime soon. The journey continues in Mike’s son, Jordan, a third generation LeFevre to answer the Call and sing for the Lord in an organized group. Mike is proud of his multi-talented son. “Jordan has been part of The LeFevre Quartet from the beginning. At first, he played the drums, but now he plays the bass guitar and sings lead.” Fans took notice of Jordan immediately. He earned the group a “Favorite Band” nomination in the Singing News Fan Awards, as well as the “Horizon Individual Award.”

Every quartet needs a gifted pianist. God blessed The LeFevre Quartet with one of the best in Michael Lott. At the tender age of five, Michael started playing the piano. At 17, he became a full-time pianist for The Bradys and later The Diplomats. Michael added, “As a born-again Christian, I am answering the Call of God on my life. I am thankful He has called me to The LeFevre Quartet.”

Mike LeFevre

Mike LeFevre

Thomas Nalley, tenor singer for the group, grew up singing in the church; but when his wife, Sarah, introduced him to southern Gospel music, Thomas became a fan for life. He, too, answered the Call to serve the Lord through song. His fans and colleagues appreciate his anointed singing and his compassionate heart.

Brandon Barry, bass singer for the group, fell in love with Gospel music when he attended his first Gospel music concert with his parents as a young boy. “When I heard George Younce and The Cathedral Quartet, I knew I wanted to sing Gospel music. When I was 15, I sang with my first group. I started singing full-time right after high school. Now, after 15 years of ministry, my commitment and priorities are to serve God with excellence. I want my heart to be true and pure as I carry out what God has called me to do for His kingdom.”

Jordan LeFevre

Jordan LeFevre

Mike feels fortunate that their group has been able to keep the element of live music incorporated into their ministry with Michael on piano and Jordan on bass guitar. “Down through the years there have been some musical variances, mainly because of advances in technology, but the message has been and will continue to be the driving force behind our ministry and music.”

Not only does the group have talented musicians and singers, but God has blessed them with some gifted songwriters. Brandon, Thomas, and Mike enjoy songwriting. Mike recently contributed a few ideas to Dianne Wilkinson for some great songs. Brandon writes for Phil Cross Music and does quite a bit of co-writing with Phil.

The group has been thrilled with their audience’s response to their radio single “Put It Right There.” Mike gave this testimony, “Numerous people have shared with us how the message of this song, combined with the power of Christ to change lives, has helped them conquer addictions. The song has touched lives all over the world.”

Brandon Barry

Brandon Barry

Marcie Gray, office manager for the group, said, “An interesting thing happened when ‘Put It Right There,’ written by Gerald Crabb, was released as a video on YouTube. Within a short amount of time it received around 130,000 hits and then the counter just stopped. We were so excited that it was reaching so many people, yet puzzled that it seemed to freeze all of the sudden, after the hits were climbing so rapidly each day. Then we found out what the problem was. YouTube had flagged it for copyright content and pulled the video. The link became invalid. The group’s record label, Activate Records, and their studio at Oak Tree Productions looked into it and proved to YouTube that we owned all of the licenses for the music and used the video material with appropriate permission, so YouTube put it back up. Unfortunately, the view history was lost, but even after all of that and without any promotional effort, the video has reached over 10,000 hits again. God is using that song, despite Satan’s attempt to get rid of it. The group has received numerous email testimonials from people who shared the video with a loved one or friend and used it as a tool to help them understand they needed healing only Jesus can provide. He is just waiting for them to, ‘Put it right there, in the palm of His hand.’”

Thomas Nalley

Thomas Nalley

Another song the Holy Spirit is using powerfully in the group’s concert is “Jesus Saves.” Mike is thrilled to see the audience’s response to the David Moffitt and Travis Cottrell’s original song. “It is an account of the life of Christ with a powerhouse lyric, speaking to the young and old, and breaking down barriers. It’s the message the world needs to hear right now—Jesus saves!”

Over the years The LeFevre Quartet has seen many souls altered at the altar. “Our group is inspired when we see someone surrender their lives to Christ in a concert. We get excited when someone walks down the aisle to the altar and gives God all their trials, fears, worries, and burdens. They leave the concert forever changed!”

The common thread resonating throughout the group is their determination to fulfill in the Call of God upon their lives individually and also corporately as a group. They are passionate about sharing the Gospel. Mike said, “We will continue in the capacity of God’s calling on our lives. Our daily prayer is that God would expand our territory. And as He does, we will answer His calling on our lives to the best of our abilities to tell the world, ‘Jesus saves!’”

Michael Lott

Michael Lott

The group and the family they leave behind realize there are sacrifices for their music ministry. Mike is quick to point out their ministry isn’t glamourous. There is a price for doing God’s will. “It’s always difficult when we head out to a concert and have to leave our families behind. We thank God for our wives and children who understand the Call on our lives because it’s their Call too. We pray when we stand before the Lord one day, we will hear Him say, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant.’”

God continues to pour out His favor and blessings upon The LeFevre Quartet. Many ministry doors are opening for them. They have appeared on the Jim Bakker Show, Trinity Broadcast Network, Dollywood, and Missouri’s Branson Belle.

The group has released two new CDs this year. The first was Something Familiar, for the fans who have requested songs like “Oh, What a Savior,” “I Know a Man Who Can,” “He Sent Me Running,” and “I Found Mercy,” written by Jerry Goff, who joined The LeFevre Quartet in the studio to sing it with them.

The second release in 2014 was Christmas Time is Here; their newest CD released just this month. It made its debut at National Quartet Convention and the first shipment completely sold out. The single from that album, “Children Go Where I Send Thee,” will be released to radio in the near future.

Mike LeFevre and friends at the 2015 Diamond Awards

Mike LeFevre and friends at the 2015 Diamond Awards

If you’d like to learn more about The LeFevre Quartet, go to www.thelefevrequartet.com. Check out their tour schedule at www.thelefevrequartet.com/schedule to see when they will be appearing near you.

Highlights from the 2014 National Quartet Convention feature The LeFevre Quartet and their hit song “Jesus Saves.” You can watch it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gm15sBdv8yM.

Written by Dixie Phillips

First published in SGN Scoops digital magazine November 2014.

For current SGN Scoops issues click HERE

For You Tube of writer Phil Cross talking about the LeFevre Quartet’s song, “He Left No Stone Unturned,” click HERE. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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SGN Scoops’ Fast Five with Mercy’s Reflection

Written by Staff on March 16, 2015 – 4:39 pm -

Mercy's Reflection

Mercy’s Reflection

Let’s Meet Mercy’s Reflection

Mercy’s Reflection is a mixed Southern Gospel quartet based in the Tri-Cities area of Northeast Tennessee. The group was founded in March 2011 with two goals in mind: to reach the lost and to uplift fellow Christians through the powerful lyrics of the songs they sing. The group says that they desire to create an atmosphere of heartfelt worship with each ministry opportunity>

Sherry Duke, alto vocalist with the group states, “If you are looking for a group to come in and entertain your congregation, then this ministry is not for you. However, if you are looking for a group to come and enter into true worship with, then Mercy’s Reflection would love to hear from you!” The other members that round out this group are: Jeremy White (lead vocalist), David Johnson (bass), and Travis Hardin (baritone). See below for contact information.

SS: What is the name of your newest CD and newest radio single?

The name of our newest project is I’ve Seen Him Move Mountains, which was released in September 2014. Our current radio single from that project is entitled, “Oh What A Difference,” which speaks to the difference made in the way we live our lives when God saves us and dwells within our hearts. We’ve been blessed by a wonderful response to this song so far.

SS: Can you name a great songwriter on this project and the name of their song?

Adina Bowman is a wonderful songwriter based in Kingsport, TN, who penned the title song on this project, “I’ve Seen Him Move Mountains,” which we intend to release to radio in the summer, as well as a great song called “Now I’m Found.” Adina happens to be the mother-in-law of Joseph Habedank.

We also have a resident songwriter among us. Jeremy White, our lead vocalist, wrote a powerful song entitled “He Took My Place,” which is told from the perspective of Barabbas.

SS: If you were all locked into a hotel room and couldn’t get out, who would be the first one of your group to find a way to escape and why…..

Jeremy would definitely be the first one to find a way to escape. This guy has so many irons in the fire; it makes the rest of us tired just watching him. The rest of us are just too old to care, and would actually look forward to the opportunity to get some rest.

SS: What is the one place you can all agree upon to eat on the road?

Cracker Barrel. Where else can you go to eat on a Sunday night and bump into five other Southern Gospel groups at one time?

 

SS: Name one person that inspires you and why.

It would truly be a disservice to try to name one person. Collectively, we all have been raised by Godly parents in Godly homes, and for that, we could not be more grateful. Our parents certainly modeled the life of Christ in front of us, and that has inspired us, ultimately, to desire to be a part of a ministry like Mercy’s Reflection.

SS: What is the most favorite song you all love to sing in concert?

We’ve had a few songs that we really enjoy singing in concert over the last four years, but most recently, it would have to be our rendition of the classic penned by Adger Pace and “Dad” Speer, “Heaven’s Jubilee.” People get up, clap their hands, and sing along with us! We’ve certainly been asked to do this one multiple times in a single service!

 

Thanks to Mercy’s Reflection for participating in SGN Scoops’ Fast Five!

For more information on the Mercy’s Reflection ministry, you can visit them online at www.mercysreflection.com , by email at mercysreflection@yahoo.com , or by phone at (276) 494-2813.

 


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LeFevre Quartet 2014 winners of Favorite Artist Website: Road to the 2015 Diamond Awards

Written by Staff on March 13, 2015 – 1:41 pm -

maxresdefaultWe are traveling the Road to the 2015 Diamond Awards during this nomination period, by highlighting the definition of each award category. The Favorite Artist Website winner must be an independent, artist-owned website that showcases a full-time Southern, Country or Bluegrass Christian music artist.

The 2015 Diamond Award Nominations are now open on the SGN Scoops website until March 31. Everyone is invited to the website to enter the Nominations area and list their top ten favorite picks for each Diamond Award category. You can vote today from the link below!

On November 4th, 2014, the Diamond Awards were held at the 2014 Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge. The winner of the 2014 Favorite Artist Website was the LeFevre Quartet. You can find their website HERE.

Who will you decide to nominate this year?

2015 Diamond Awards

2015 Diamond Awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to vote for your favorite nominees today.

The list of nominees will be posted on the site and fans will then nominate their favorites from this list, with a maximum of five names nominated per award. In
this way, the field of nominees will be narrowed to ten, voted on by fans once more and then narrowed to five. This final list of five will then be voted on by fans to find the one winner for each award.

Make plans now to join us for the 2015 Diamond Awards during the Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee from November 2nd through 5th, 2015. For more information visit www.creeksidegospelmusicconvention.com

2015 Diamond Awards Nominations can be found at http://www.sgnscoops.com/2015-diamond-awards/

The Diamond Awards are hosted by SGN Scoops digital magazine and Coastal Media Group.


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Jeff Steele: I talked to Lou Brock

Written by Staff on March 13, 2015 – 1:27 pm -

Lou Brock

Lou Brock

I surrendered to the ministry when I was 10 years of age. The legitimacy of my calling was put to the test early on. As a kid I used to stay up late and listen to far off radio stations. One of my favorites was KMOX in St. Louis, Missouri. They were Talk-Radio before Talk-Radio was cool.

One night they had base-stealing legend, Lou Brock, on the air and they were interviewing him. Then they opened the phone lines and invited calls from the audience. I tried to resist the temptation, I really did!  I failed.

Here I am, a 10-year-old kid, standing in the kitchen dialing over and over (on our brand new push button phone by the way), a radio station in St. Louis, Missouri!  Then, miracle of miracles, I got through! I was in line to actually talk to Lou Brock!

Nobody told me I might be holding for 45 minutes. Quite frankly I probably wouldn’t have cared if they had told me. They finally brought me on and I talked for a couple of minutes with Lou Brock and then it was over. I excitedly went back to bed and was unable to sleep. How do you go from a conversation to a far off place like St. Louis and a conversation with a big star like Lou Brock, to sleep?

Here’s what I hadn’t planned on. At the end of the month the phone bill came in at our house! I understand people talk all over the world like it’s down the street now, but not back then! A long distance call was a big deal. It had my parent’s attention! They began an investigation that led to… ME!  They asked if I had made the call and like any good future Baptist preacher I responded, “Absolutely not!  No way, not me!”

jeff steele

Dr. Jeff Steele

Then my mother sat down on the bed and she said: “Now Jeff, (she didn’t call me Dr. Steele or anything) you know you’ve surrendered your life to the ministry. As a minister you must know that telling the truth is a very important thing. I want to ask you one more time: did you make this call?” Under that kind of pressure, I ‘fessed up and said, “Yes…yes I did.”

What’s the point of all this? As a kid I messed up. I did something that was wrong, and then I lied about it. I’m not much and I know that, but I think I turned out okay. My call to the ministry was real and I have been in full-time Christian service for 35 years. I’m saying: be encouraging to and about your kids. Yeah they are going to miss the mark you set sometimes but look at the big picture. See the long haul. God is watching over them and He loves your children more than you do. Lighten up some.  That C will become a B or even an A and if it doesn’t you will live and so will they. Look around as this New Year begins and enjoy the blessing of your children. They grow up SO fast.

Jeff Steele is a singer/songwriter/author. See his website HERE

First published by SGN Scoops in January 2015. For current issues of SGN Scoops digital magazine, click HERE.

 

 

 


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Younger Perspective: Michaela Brown

Written by Staff on March 12, 2015 – 1:19 pm -

MichaelaBy Erin Stevens

Welcome back to a brand new year of Younger Perspective! We’re starting 2015 on a bright, beautiful note with the multi-talented, Miss Michaela Brown! Get to know this gem of a young lady in the next few moments as we take a little trip to the Browns’ farm in Iowa. Maybe we’ll even stop at Blue Bunny Ice Cream on the way! Michaela, it’s all yours…

Erin: When did you feel the call into music ministry? 

Michaela: Music was always a part of our family! The day before my 13th birthday, they showed the Jesus film at our church and I rededicated my life to Christ. That night, I told Him I would be a willing life, ready to embark on an adventure with God. This music ministry has been just that! Over the past 15 years, I can see that guiding hand I prayed for so many years ago!

The Browns

The Browns

Erin: What does a typical day in the life of Michaela Brown look like at home on the farm?

Michaela: Mornings must include French Press coffee and quiet time. My sister-in-law and I work out together and my office is in town. Le Mars is the home of Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream and the CEO and his wife are dear friends. They started a ministry center and coffee shop across the street from the Ice Cream Parlor! Our offices are in that building and about a 10-second walk from the best ice cream in the world. That’s why I work out, so I can eat ice cream! The rest of my morning is spent working behind the scenes for The Browns, Stage to the Stove (my cooking and music company), and some design work I do. Violin practice is also a part of my days. During harvest season on the farm, you would just scratch all the above and find me in the field, out and about on the farm from sun-up until after sun-down!

Erin: At what age did you discover your love for the violin? Share the story behind the musician.

Michaela: My sister and I took piano lessons. There were some kids in our church who played violin and we wanted to play just like they did. So we started violin lessons too. My grandma gave us the idea to work up one song with a violin part in the middle; I stood there with my feet planted and played my little song. Adam joined me and eventually Andrew as well. We love the energy they bring to our concerts. We don’t just stand there with our feet planted the whole song anymore!

michaela cookErin: What was the inspiration behind compiling your cookbook?

Michaela: Mom and the fans thought I should write a cookbook! Ever since I was little, I was always doing something with cooking. Gloria Gaither asked me to do two cooking shows at her Fall Festival a couple years back; that was the perfect event to debut a cookbook. The second one is in the works!

Erin: It’s apparent from social media that you take your role of being an aunt very seriously!What is your favorite part about being Auntie to adorable little Tessa and now Baby Charlie?

Michaela: It’s one of the greatest gifts in the world! My favorite thing is watching them grow into little persons! I just spent some time with them; we made cookies, played, laughed, hugged and kissed. Everyone needs five days with a two year old and two month old!

Erin: As a chef, I’m sure this answer will be no easy task: what is your go to, can’t live without, all-time favorite dish to whip up?

Michaela: I love making desserts and pastries. I still can’t make a pie like my Grandma did, but I keep practicing!

Erin: Craziest thing a fan has ever said to you? Go!

michaelaMichaela: Well, I just got a marriage proposal through Facebook, does that count?!

Erin: What was your favorite part of filming the group’s latest music video? Give the readers a behind the scenes glimpse.

Michaela: COLD! It was in the 30’s with 20-mph winds. We threw our coats off, recorded a take, then bundled up and did it all over again. We shot it in front of a neighbor’s barn, and had to chase the cows out of the shot! Day two, we went to another neighbor’s farm that has all kinds of animals, so we had fun interacting with them while catching it all on camera. “A Place in the Choir,” music video will be released in January, so stay tuned!

Erin: As a young woman in ministry, how do you personally keep Christ the focus of your hectic lifestyle?

Michaela: Well, I’m not perfect and will be the first to admit some days I spend more time with Him than others… But I have come to truly cherish my quiet time with Him. I have some wonderful women in my life who inspire me to keep Him first in all things. It’s a daily journey and I love waking up to see what each new day with the King will bring my way!

brownsEven on those days when it seems we can’t find the opportunity to have our quiet time, I pray that we won’t be so quick to let it go by the wayside. We’ll never be perfect and our Heavenly Father doesn’t expect us to be, but that’s why we need that daily one-on-one time with the Lord. As we embark on this New Year, let’s try to keep Christ at the center of those hectic ‘every days.’ Thanks to Michaela for joining us today, and sharing straight from her heart. Until next month, Scoops fans…

And that’s my take on it.

For more information on Michaela’s singing family, The Browns, click HERE.

By Erin Stevens

First published by SGN Scoops in the January 2015 issue. For current issues, go to the SGN Scoops website HERE.


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Road to the 2015 Diamond Awards: Album of the Year

Written by Staff on March 11, 2015 – 1:45 pm -

Karen Peck and New River at Diamond Awards 2014

Karen Peck and New River at Diamond Awards 2014

The 2015 Diamond Award Nominations are now open on the SGN Scoops website until March 31. Everyone is invited to the website to enter the Nominations area and list their top ten favorite picks for each Diamond Award category. You can vote today from the link below!

We are traveling the Road to the 2015 Diamond Awards during this nomination period, by highlighting the definition of each award category. The Album of the Year must have been recorded by a full-time Southern Gospel artist and released nationally during the eligibility period of February 2014 to January 2015.

On November 4th, 2014, the Diamond Awards were held at the 2014 Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge. The winner of the 2014 Album of the Year was Karen Peck and New River with “Revival.” This CD produced the charting song, “Everybody’s Going Through Something,” as well as the hit, “Revival” which garnered a Dove Award in 2014.

Who will you decide to nominate this year?

2015 Diamond Awards

2015 Diamond Awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to vote for your favorite nominees today.

The list of nominees will be posted on the site and fans will then nominate their favorites from this list, with a maximum of five names nominated per award. In
this way, the field of nominees will be narrowed to ten, voted on by fans once more and then narrowed to five. This final list of five will then be voted on by fans to find the one winner for each award.

Make plans now to join us for the 2015 Diamond Awards during the Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee from November 2nd through 5th, 2015. For more information visit www.creeksidegospelmusicconvention.com

2015 Diamond Awards Nominations can be found at http://www.sgnscoops.com/2015-diamond-awards/

The Diamond Awards are hosted by SGN Scoops digital magazine and Coastal Media Group.


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Getting to know the ladies of Sweetwater Revival

Written by Staff on March 10, 2015 – 1:48 pm -

Sweetwater Revival

Sweetwater Revival

By Paige Givens

Sweetwater Revival is forging a path into new territory as one of the only all-female quartets in the nation. They have been affectionately called “The Female Quartet of Southern Gospel Music” by their peers in the industry, and they definitely deliver spirit-filled ballads, toe tapping numbers, hymns of old, and new melodies with the tight harmonies they are known for. The group hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and proves to us that Southern Gospel music has roots all over the nation, and even the world! Take a few minutes and get to know these talented ladies who are serving with their music and heart in the ministry known as Sweetwater Revival.

Sweetwater Revival

Sweetwater Revival

Katie Paull, founding member of Sweetwater Revival, was raised in a musical Christian home, with a pianist mother and worship leader father, Charles, who also sang in a men’s quartet with Roy Tremble of the original Cathedrals. Katie shares, “Music was like breathing for me. I remember being in college, walking the aisle to get my diploma, thinking, ‘This is it? It’s time to grow up and get a job and forget music?’ Not long after that I made an announcement to my folks that Nashville was my destination. I waited tables by day and made music contacts by night. I did everything from sending out press packets, going to writer’s nights, songwriting, meeting with producers, A&R reps at record labels, and singing in places like the Bluebird Cafe. God helped me learn a great deal about the music business during this time. A memory I will always cherish was one weekend when my father flew down to visit. We were eating at a restaurant. I suddenly spotted Vestal Goodman, the Queen of Gospel Music. My dad about choked on his tortilla he was so excited! I went to speak with her and tell her about my music. Standing next to me, without any hesitation she grabbed my hand and prayed for me and my future in music. That moment will always stick out in my mind. God has placed people like her all along my journey and He can do the same for each of us as we seek His will for our lives.” Katie would go on to sing with The New Speers. After this group eventually disbanded, the journey of Sweetwater Revival began. “Little did I know that moving back to Minnesota and working with my mom would be the realization of my greatest musical dreams!” Katie has been married for seven years to David Paull and they have two children, Elizabeth and Ethan.

Sweetwater Revival  Masters Voice Concert-editKorissa Olson grew up a pastor’s daughter in the mountains of Missoula, Montana with a family of six singers! She began singing at the tender age of two, traveling in the “Wally Wagon” and trailer, ministering at churches and camps all throughout the United States and overseas in Hong Kong, Japan, and in China. By the time she came to minister with Sweetwater Revival she had already professionally recorded three gospel albums with her family, The Erbele Family Singers; sung professional opera in Germany and New York, worked alongside producer Alan Moore (Sandi Patty, Amy Grant), and been honored at Estes Park Music in the Rockies. She is a sought-after vocalist in a variety of areas. Korissa does professional voiceovers on the radio and she is also a concert cellist. She and her husband Darren have two beautiful boys, Emerson and Everett. Everett was born with Galactosemia, a rare disorder discovered early by the newborn screen. Korissa has gone on to become a successful speaker and advocate for newborn screening, serving on the board for the Save Babies Through Screening Foundation

(www.savebabies.org). She is also able to spend time traveling with her husband, who is a full time professional European nature and landscape photographer (www.darrenolson.com), sharing God’s beauty from behind the lens. Korissa states, “No other genre of music has touched my soul like Southern Gospel music. I am so blessed to be back in my roots and part of Sweetwater Revival. I love my Sweetwater sisters! My prayer is that in every note of our music, the truth of the gospel, and the beauty of His Grace will shine through.”

Amanda Ellison has long been admired for her rich and soulful voice. She grew up a pastor’s daughter in Iowa and was saturated with music from a very early age. Amanda states, “As a little girl, music and love were poured into me. Some of my earliest memories involved my parents taking me to Singspirations, where people gathered to sing worship to God. As the melodies and harmonies filled the room, they filled the core of my being. I am so thankful to God for the gift of song. Music reflects my heart and my soul, it conveys every emotion when words will not do.” Growing up in a musical family she reminisces about memories such as washing the dishes with her sister, all the while singing and harmonizing. She states, “My brother used to say, ‘My life is a musical!’” Amanda is a well-known women’s speaker and worship leader with an amazing testimony. She considers her family her greatest achievement, calling her five children, “the most beautiful notes God has written in the song of my life.” Most of Sweetwater Revival’s audiences are intrigued to learn that four of those five children are two sets of twins! “God has certainly taught me to expect the unexpected!” she says. Amanda is often noticed for her sense of humor and remarkable ability to make people laugh. “If I had a motto, it would be words my mother has so often declared to me: Choose Joy. Those simple words filled with Biblical truth have affected my life at every turn.” Having sung at countless events, her deepest desire is to see others come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.

Sweetwater Revival

Sweetwater Revival

Kayla Krizek, was raised in a Christian home and is a Minnesota native. She remembers first being introduced to Southern Gospel music in her grandma Erickson’s kitchen. It was always playing on Sunday mornings. Kayla states, “At first I just listened, then later started singing along, and eventually we were singing and dancing together in her kitchen. Grandma would share her favorite songs with me, we’d watch the latest Gaither special together on TV, and we often pointed out to each other basses or tenors we especially loved. Grandma, you left me a legacy, an heirloom of music.” Like many professional vocalists, Kayla began soloing at a very young age in church. She attended the well-known Minnesota Christian college, Northwestern, where she pursued a Music Education Major. She also participated in almost every music and drama ensemble imaginable, winning numerous awards and scholarships. There she developed an even greater passion for performing and soon began appearing in many musical theatre productions throughout the metropolis of Minneapolis and St. Paul. She has played everything from Beth in Little Women, Liesl in The Sound of Music, Belle in Beauty and the Beast, to The Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Kayla states, “The Lord’s timing in bringing together this particular group of ladies ‘for such a time as this’ is so exciting, and an overwhelming blessing! I leave every rehearsal refreshed, encouraged, and wrapped in love. We can’t wait to share God’s love and power with you through song!” Kayla recently landed her most starring role, that of being a mother, as she and her husband Elliott welcomed a beautiful baby girl, Cora (Cordelia Grace) last July.

Cathie Paxson is the Manager for Sweetwater Revival and also a gospel songwriter of close to 500 songs. Cathie states, “I am humbled by the thought that the Lord could use me in this way. It is a love and a passion for the Lord that drives me to my piano daily. I think back over the years and see how God has led my life. At the young age of five, my dear, beloved grandfather bought me a new piano! He was a milkman and one of the dearest people in the world to me. Looking back, I know it took much sacrifice on the part of my grandparents to buy me such an expensive gift. What a cherished heirloom I was given! I could have never known, all these years later, that the Lord would allow me to write songs for His glory on this very piano.” About 95% of Sweetwater Revival’s music are songs that Cathie has written. Cathie states, “I feel overwhelmingly blessed that God gave Katie and me the vision for Sweetwater Revival and that we are able to share in this journey together. It is a joy to hear the songs I have written, sung by these girls that I am also thankful to call my friends.”

For more on Sweetwater Revival, visit their website today at www.sweetwaterrevival.com. Follow them on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SWRMinistries.

Photos by http://EricVestPhotography.com/ and Josh Stokes of http://stokesfoto.com

For a full-length feature on Sweetwater Revival, read the story by Paige Givens in the March 2015 edition of SGN Scoops digital magazine.


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