Amber Nelon Thompson faces a variety of lessons in life and film
Feature by Craig Harris
Amber Nelon Thompson is becoming comfortable in front of the camera. The Nelons’ soprano is making her big-screen debut in A Question of Faith, which is slated for a release this fall.
“I play Michelle Danielson,” Thompson says. “It’s about three different families who go through some very, very trying times. One family is struggling with losing a loved one. Another family is living with a loved one who makes a mistake, and they don’t know how to help. Another family is struggling with the possibility of losing a loved one. All three families are kind of woven together in the end.”
The faith-based film was the first that she had even auditioned for, and the cast includes C. Thomas Howell (The Outsiders), Renee O’Conner (Xena: Warrior Princess), Kim Fields (Facts of Life), C.T. Stallings (War Room), Richard T. Jones (The Wood) and Christian recording artist Jaci Velasquez.
Tags: Amber Nelon Thompson, Craig Harris, faith focus film, gospel music, Kelly Nelon, Question of Faith, Say Yes To The Dress, the nelons
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2017 February – Rob Patz – Publisher’s Point – SGNScoops Magazine
Do you ever get scared of what is going to happen? Do you ever wonder if you are really going down the right path that God has selected for you? These are some of the things I’ve been thinking about this month as I am writing my Publisher’s Point.
There are times where I really wonder if where I am is exactly where God has selected for me to be, but I know in the end I have His hand on my life. If we pray, God is going to reassure us and give us peace. As for the first question, do I ever get scared? I would have to say almost on a weekly basis! Does that make me a less of a person? I don’t think so. I think it shows that I am mindful of what God has and what He is going to do.
I do worry a times that I will get headed in the wrong direction. I like to do things right away, I like things to be accomplished immediately so that I can move onto the next task. I’m goal driven. I like to say I can check that off my list of things to do today.
Unfortunately, we as Christians don’t always get clear answers right away. Sometimes, God asks us to wait, as He says, “Peace, be still.” Probably the hardest thing for me to do is to sit still.
I was in an airport recently and if you know about travel, there is a lot of downtime. For most people, they sit at the gate and wait. Unfortunately, that isn’t me. I walk up and down the main aisle because I don’t like to sit and I don’t like to wait.
I think this year that is one of the things that God is trying to teach me. He is teaching me that there are times where you have to wait, you have to sit still, you have to have the peace that comes from just being still. That is something I’m working on. I’m not sure I will ever be completely comfortable sitting and waiting, but I am starting to understand that God at times needs us to stay in one place to learn something!
I’ve started to pray almost daily that God will give me peace in the midst of my waiting. Are you at a point right now in your life where you are waiting? It’s God asking you to be still for a moment.
I would love to tell you that over this past time that I’ve been dealing with this, that it’s gotten easier, but that wouldn’t be the truth. While I sit here and wait, I learn to be thankful for the things that are around. Please don’t ever miss an opportunity to be thankful for that moment, even if God has you sitting at the gate, waiting to board your next adventure.
God is still in control. Until next month, this is the Publisher’s Point.
P.S. Don’t forget, I want to see you in Oxford, Alabama, March 23rd through the 25th. Over 30 great Southern Gospel artists in one location! More news inside SGNScoops.
For more Gospel music news click HERE.
Tags: Christian life, rob patz, Scared, SGNScoops Magazine
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By Jaquita Lindsey
Musical talent can often be captivating to an audience seeking to be entertained. More often than not, the admirer, or fan, leaves the performance blown away after an in-person experience. Although there is still a certain level of enjoyment to be had when it comes to artists who share the Gospel of Christ, the most important aspect of their music is songs that minister to hearts. I believe Sisters has both.
With astounding harmony and a heartfelt commitment to convey the love of Christ, Kim Ruppe Sheffield, Heather Ruppe Bennett, and Valerie Ruppe Medkiff create an impacting sound that is reaching the hearts of all ages and musical tastes.
Beginning of the Ruppe Dynasty
In 1974, Brenda Ruppe, alongside her husband Leo, began a music ministry under the name The Ruppes with Kim, then, age nine, and Heather, age eight. Valerie also contributed her part to the ministry at the young age of four. In 1975, the group recorded their first album, The Way, The Truth, The Life. From that point on, the family has experienced great success through the years.
Their most notable song as The Ruppes, and one that still remains a noteworthy favorite to all, is the stunningly beautiful “Under His Wings.” The Ruppes had many other top songs including their first number one, “Angels In The Room,” from the album Seasons. Their 2001 album release Born to Serve yielded a Grammy nomination.
Leo and Brenda Ruppe committed themselves as Godly parents to raising their daughters to serve the Lord, using their vocal talents. Years of ministry brought many changes for the Ruppe girls, as they have gone their separate ways at various times. Through it all, they continued to minister and they remained very close as a family. Now, God has opened the door for them to come full circle and sing together as Sisters. They love every minute of sharing the stage together.
Tags: Brooklyn Tabernacle, gospel music, Heather Ruppe Bennett, Kim Ruppe Sheffield, Simply Sisters, sisters, The Ruppes, Valerie Ruppe Medkiff
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By Fayth Lore
While Hope Bowling has not been singing very long with her family, The Bowling Family, she is no stranger to Southern Gospel music. Hope’s father, Mike Bowling, sang with various groups and eventually went into a solo career. Hope’s mom, Kelly, sang with one of Southern Gospel’s most loved families, The Crabb Family, for years. After the birth of their third child, Mike and Kelly began to tour as The Bowling Family. Hope began singing with her parents four years ago.
I love seeing other young women singing for the Lord. So, I was so encouraged to see Hope standing on stage singing with her parents. Every time Hope walks on the stage, audiences across the country can’t help but fall in love with her humble and sincere spirit. Her voice blends perfectly into that family harmony that is unbeatable.
On the Road
Hope shared with me that she had mixed emotions about joining the singing group. She was extremely excited to be sharing the stage with her parents, but it was also a bit scary for a 13 year old. Four years into road life, Hope says that her favorite part is getting to see the world and meet new people. Ironically, she says she is also a homebody, so there are moments when she really misses being home.
Hope has two younger sisters, Katelanne (13) and Gracie (10). The three sisters have begun to sing a song or two in Bowling Family Concerts across the country. When the three sisters take the stage, you can see their parent’s faces light up with joy and pride.
Siblings have a special bond and Hope certainly shares that bond with her younger sisters. Hope said that if she could describe Katelanne in three words she would say funny, talented and creative. Hope would describe her youngest sister, Gracie as being spunky, determined and smart.
Answering the Hard Questions
If you have followed Southern Gospel Music for any time, you will remember about a tragedy that shook the lives of The Bowlings forever. It impacted the entire Southern Gospel industry, and sparked a national call to prayer. Recovery from their tragedy would have to be nothing short of a miracle. In 2010, The Bowling Family was heading down the highway in Belmont, NC, when all of a sudden their bus was hit head-on by a semi-truck going 60 miles per hour. This accident took a toll on the entire family, but Mike, Kelly and Katelanne suffered the most severe injuries. Hope was only 10 years old when everything happened, but she remembers that “It was a rough time.”
Some people ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people”? That question could be asked under the circumstances of what The Bowling Family lived through. I asked Hope how the accident affected her spiritually and mentally.
“I didn’t question, because I was a kid. I’ve been taught that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord. I have seen this first hand through our accident. I believe we are changed for the better.” Romans 8:28 has been a scripture that many Christians turn to in their time of suffering. As Christians, we understand that while not everything in life is good, God is working it all together for good. This biblical truth and promise of God is something to rejoice over.
Showing What Love Looks Like
First Corinthians 13:6 says: ‘Charity rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in truth. Jesus has told us through the Bible that He is the way, the TRUTH and the life. In Him, we can find life and life more abundant. Even in the dark times of life, we can have a joy in knowing the truth. It seems like so many people in our world are desperate to find hope and fulfillment in their life. I asked Hope how she felt that Christians could help spread the Gospel to unbelievers.
“I think showing the love of Jesus is really important, and something we as Christians can forget. I’m always reminded that actions speak louder than words.”
I have heard those words many times in my life too. Even Jesus spoke that faith without works is dead. It is obvious that in order to show the world what love looks like, it’s important that we live out our faith and rejoice in the truth. This Christmas season, enjoy the warmth of family traditions. But, don’t forget to spread the love of Jesus to a world in need of hope.
Pop Quiz for Hope Bowling
I love getting to know some of my most favorite Southern Gospel artists personally, and I’m sure you do too. So, I asked Hope some fun questions…
Fayth: Do you have any unknown talents or hobbies?
Hope: I play guitar. I love photography and playing around with makeup.
Fayth: Would you rather scroll through Instagram or check out the latest snapchat stories?
Hope: Scroll through Instagram.
Fayth: Would you rather eat your meal first or dessert?
Hope: Meal first.
Fayth: Would you rather ride the merry-go-round or the Fire-Hawk at King’s Island?
Hope: I’ve never been on the Fire-Hawk, but I love roller coasters, so Fire-Hawk!
Fayth: Would you rather watch Pride and Prejudice or Tangled?
Hope: Pride and Prejudice.
Fayth: Would you rather DIY or just order from Etsy?
Hope: Order from Etsy. I’m a bit of an Etsy junky!
It is always a joy to chat with the young ladies in Southern Gospel music. If you enjoy reading words of spiritual inspiration and getting to know these girls more, be watching for the next issue of What Love Looks Like.
Photo Credits: Candi Combs and Hope Bowling
By Fayth Lore
First published by SGNScoops magazine in December 2016. Feature has been edited.
For more information on The Bowling Family click here.
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Tags: Fayth Lore, gospel music, Hope Bowling, The Bowling Family, The Bowling Sisters, What Love Looks Like
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By Erin Stevens [From the December 2016 issue of SGNScoops magazine]
A word from the writer…
Tis the season for yuletide cheer, fa la la la’s and Grandma’s famous cookies. But it’s also time to give a little more and be a little sweeter. There’s a young fellow I thought of when I was preparing for this Christmas edition. Not a kinder, sweeter, more down-to-earth guy came to mind than Logan Smith. You may already be a fan of his pipes, but perhaps there are some things you don’t know about him…quite yet. With that said, let’s jump right in!
Erin: For those that might not know your backstory, when did your love for music begin?
Logan: My parents and grandparents raised me on classic Southern Gospel groups such as The Happy Goodmans, The Hinsons, The Rambos and The Speers. I admired them all, but the Goodmans brought an excitement to the stage like I’d never seen before. They inspired me to start singing this incredible music that lifts and encourages. I’ve been hooked ever since!
Erin: It appears you have successfully bridged the gap from being “the boy who sings like Vestal” to the talented young man you are now who has come into his own. How have you accomplished this and was it a smooth transition?
Logan: It’s been very smooth. It’s an honor to carry on the legacy of such a dynamic vocalist. I’m enjoying mixing in new songs from such talented writers of our time today, and still throwing it back and singing Goodman classics every night! The music never gets old. The singers fade, but the message in these songs is timeless.
Tags: Erin Stevens, gospel music, Hinson Family, Logan Smith, The Stevens Family, Vestal Goodman
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By Craig Harris
Rejection kept a door closed for Layke Jones. However, it also eventually led to an entryway for the aspiring performer. “My sophomore year of college, when Mark Lowry left, I auditioned for the (Gaither) Vocal Band,” Jones explains. “Being a (former) educator, he (Bill Gaither) said, ‘I can’t in good faith take you out of college.’”
After graduating from Anderson (Ind.) University, Jones landed his current position as a vocalist with the Jim Brady Trio in June. “He’s the reason I have this job,” Jones says of Gaither’s involvement. “He’s backed it hard.
“A guy with a Rolodex his size, I’m not sure why he would give me the time of day. It’s a God thing.”
Tags: bill gaither, gospel music, Jim Brady Trio, Layke Jones, sgnscoops
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By Justin McLeod
The Inspirations from Bryson City, North Carolina are one of the industry’s most storied groups. Southern Gospel legends from Archie Watkins to Mike Holcomb have begun and made their careers in the group’s traditional, four-part quartet style.
While not quite the College that the Dixie Melody Boys have, this group has also seen several groups spurn from its wake. Many on the group’s lengthy list of alumni can be seen in other quartets and mixed groups across the country, many of which have made a sustained impact on Southern Gospel music. One of the newest in this long line is the Georgia-based Saving Grace Trio.
Led by former Inspirations baritone Melton Campbell, this mixed trio has already gained fans thanks to their tight harmonies and, despite their recent beginnings, a sound reminiscent of a group that has been around for years.
The group is made up of Campbell, who sings a lead/baritone hybrid that could be comparable to Soul’d Out Quartet’s Matt Rankin; Blair Campbell, Melton’s 17-year-old daughter, sings the alto part, while Terri Cook sings the soprano line.
Melton Campbell spent an off-and-on 15-year time span on the road with the Inspirations, ultimately coming off the road in 2015 in order to spend more time with his family. During his time on the road with Martin Cook’s bunch, Melton helped make popular songs like the powerful ballad “I’m Not Ashamed.” “[During] the 15 years that I spent with the Inspirations, I enjoyed getting to sing with my lifelong heroes,” Melton shares. “… I made many friends and lifelong connections throughout the 15 years and got to see so many different places and let’s not forget all the wonderful fans that I got to meet, many of which turned into great friends.”
Saving Grace’s inception can be credited, in short, to “a dad and a dream”. When Melton left the full-time traveling schedule of the Inspirations to spend more time at home as a father, Blair gave her dad a “condition” — that they got to sing together, and thus the idea for Saving Grace Trio was born.
“The biggest compliment for a parent is for their children to do something that they [themselves] love to do,” Melton shares. “Blair has been listening to Southern Gospel music since she was a baby… her dream for many years has been to sing. When I came off the road in 2015, I was coming home to be a part of my kid’s life and be around more than I [had been]… At that time, Wilburn and Wilburn had a song out called “Shoulders.” It really ministered to me and let me know that I am right where I need to be. It’s time for me to take the back seat and be ‘shoulders’ for my daughter’s dream to come true.”
Blair, while still just the tender age of 17, has already drawn comparisons to some of the industry’s top young stars, including Lauren Talley, who she also coincidentally calls one of her own ‘inspirations’ in music. She shares, “It is such a blessing to be able to sing with my dad. It’s always been a dream of mine to be able to stand on stage and sing with him. I thank God everyday for giving me the ability to sing and to share His word [along] with people that I love.”
Though Melton shares that he, as a natural baritone, is singing significantly higher than during his days with the Inspirations, the group’s really high notes are anchored by Terri Cook, a family friend and a veteran vocalist. Terri and Melton had previously sung together, and when they needed a high-note-hitter to fill out the trio, she was the first call. “God’s timing is always perfect!” Terri shares. “Little did I know that the trials I was going to face was God preparing me for this ministry.”
Already becoming known for their vocal abilities as well as their tight, family-like harmonies, expect to hear much more from Saving Grace Trio, including from their new CD, which was just recorded and will be released soon.
By Justin McLeod
First published by SGNScoops Magazine, November 2016
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Tags: Blair Campbell, Justin McLeod, Melton Campbell, Saving Grace Trio, SGNScoops Magazine, Terri Cook
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Mark Trammell is a legendary figure in this field and has one of the most recognizable baritone voices with a clear and smooth tone. Trammell, an artist many consider one of the greatest quartet men of his time, has graced the Southern Gospel stage for over forty years as of 2016 and shows no sign of slowing down.
Trammell has sung with many great groups including: The Senators, The Kingsmen, The Cathedrals, Greater Vision, Gold City, and now his own group, Mark Trammell Quartet. After leaving Gold City in 2002, Trammell decided to form his own group, The Mark Trammell Trio.
Trammell’s son Nick has a unique perspective of the early days of the group. “I could write a book on the formation of this ministry from my perspective,” Nick explains. “To keep it short, every single detail that needed to be in place, every door that needed to be opened, and every sign that needed to be given, took place with only the willingness of my father to take the step of faith away from what was comfortable, into what he felt like God was calling him to do.
“I can remember standing in our driveway the week after he left Gold City. He said look around you and remember this moment. There was literally nothing there to start a group with. No other singers, no sound system, no mode of transportation, not even a microphone. Within three months, most of that was provided with little more than prayer and patience. I still to this day stand in the driveway and look around every once in a while to remind myself of what we have seen God orchestrate.”
Tags: Blake Buffin, gospel music, Justin Gilmore, mark trammell, mark trammell quartet, Nick Trammell, Randy Byrd, SGNScoops Magazine
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The Power of Being Thankful
I read an article recently about a mother who stopped to get her kids some ice cream cones. She watched her kids take the ice cream and as they took their tasty treat from the lady behind the counter, the mom noticed that not one of them offered a simple thank you. As soon as they walked out of the ice cream shop, the mother took every single ice cream cone and threw them in the trash.
The kids, obviously upset, asked why she would do such a thing. The mom explained the importance of being thankful. This may seem extreme, but that mother probably made a lasting impression on her kids about how important it is to be thankful.
We live in a self-serving, entitled, what’s in it for me society. It’s hard to find people who are truly thankful for anything. My wife and I try our best to instill thankfulness in our kids. We do our best to make sure that “Thank You” is part of their regular vocabulary.
A great example of the power of thankfulness can be found in Luke 17: 11-19 when Jesus heals 10 people plagued with the most horrible disease of that day, leprosy. They all walked away, enjoying the healing, restoration and freedom they thought they would never see again, yet only one of them turns around to thank Jesus, who so graciously had just made them whole again.
Not long ago, someone asked me a question that I think every Christian should answer. The question was, “If you could be any kind of Christian, what kind of person would you be?” I had never been asked that before, but after thinking about it, I answered. I would want to be the kind of Christian, that should scripture continue to be written for future generations, my name would be mentioned.
I would want my faith to be so strong, that demons tremble when I walk into a room, and I would allow God to use me in such a way that I would not just be a footnote, or lumped into a generalized context.
What kind of monumental thing would you have to do to be mentioned in scripture? This one leper was worth being mentioned simply because he was thankful! Wow! Let that sink in for a minute. A simple “Thank You” was enough to get you mentioned in scripture. There was enough power in a simple thank you, to have the Son of God point you out of a crowd.
Think about the people in your life that give you so much. Think about your kids who love you unconditionally, or your wife who supports you and pours so much into you and your kids. Think about the employer that believes in you enough to continually give you a salary to provide for your family. Think about your pastor who spiritually feeds and equips you spiritually.
Now do something that has so much power and go to each of them and thank them for what they mean to you Then think of a God who created you and gave you everything and more than I just mentioned.
Thankfulness! It’s a powerful thing!
By David Staton
First published in SGNScoops Magazine in the November 2016 issue.
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Tags: Christian living, David Staton, sgnscoops, thankfulness
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By Dusty Wells
One of my favorite cherished memories that I hold onto, of my many years of traveling, ministering, taking care of and walking alongside of the late prolific songwriter, artist and my friend Dottie Rambo, was listening to her tell me stories of how she was divinely inspired to write certain songs. Or how she would come up with ideas for her lyrics and music….you see Dottie was not one that liked to be put into a room and told to write something. She hated having deadlines for writing for a new project. She always wanted her heart, life and soul to be open, honest and vulnerable to where she was on her own journey.
Dottie lived what she sang and then she sang what she lived. She chose to live her songs and then share them with the world. Many days and nights of our traveling together or sitting at her house doing work during the evening, I would hear her crying out in pain from her back problems. I knew one of the only things that would help is when she would get in the anointing, so I would start asking her to tell me about her life, her journey, the fans she loved and the story behind the songs.
I had the opportunity to tape many of those conversations via an old cassette recorder that she loved to tape on while recording new song ideas. She always wanted to have a book out on the Story Behind the Songs. We would always end up with tons of used Kleenex tossed aside, and tears and laughter taking us to new places. She had a story for everything or so it seemed. I loved listening to her and I loved to encourage her to tell me more.
This morning as I was out walking, I was doing a little praying and seeking God for some certain answers not only for our life but also for several friends who are in desperate need for answers. I looked around at the beautiful foliage and greenery that surrounds the lake which we live close to, and I was reminded so gently that God is all around us. Yes He is in the churches where we worship, in the concert halls we sing at,and in the grand cathedrals that were built in His honor. He is found in all of those places, but He is right here in our hearts. That is His dwelling place. I felt Him in a fresh way and I knew He was right there with us.
I started humming the classic Dottie chorus, “Holy Spirit Thou Art Welcome,” and all of a sudden I remembered her telling me the story of how that song came to be.
The Rambos (Buck, Dottie and Reba) had been invited to sing behind the Iron Curtain in the early ‘70’s. They were told they could sing any and all of their songs, but they could not talk about God or the blood of Jesus if they were to talk and share in between the songs. All they could do was sing the Gospel. Nothing else would be tolerated.
Tags: Dony McGuire, Dottie Rambo, Dusty Wells, Gospe music, Reba Rambo- McGuire, sgnscoops
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