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Erin Stevens’ Younger Perspective on Chad McCloskey of the Ball Brothers

Written by Staff on September 12, 2017 – 1:27 pm -

Younger Perspective on Chad McCloskey of the Ball Brothers

Younger Perspective on Chad McCloskey of the Ball Brothers

A word from Erin…

Today, we turn our attention to one of the most underrated and incredibly talented young men in our industry. Chad McCloskey masterfully fills the baritone position for the Ball Brothers. Aside from the strong vocal abilities the Lord has blessed him with, what matters most is his soft-spoken manner and tender spirit, which is noticeable the moment you meet him. Whether you’ve been a faithful Ball Brothers fan for years, or if you’re newer to their music, this is your chance to get to know Chad a little better.

 

Erin: Being born in Wisconsin and growing up in Michigan, what did those early days look like once you discovered your love of singing? 

Chad: I come from a very musical family. My dad was the music director at our church, and my mom was heavily involved with various musical outlets such as choir, ensembles, and church specials. Growing up, I was fairly shy musically. I wasn’t particularly fond of the idea of standing up in front of people for anything, let alone to sing. As I got older, I was given somewhat of an ultimatum when it came to music. It was either sing or nothing, so I chose to sing. Once I got over my apprehension of crowds and my incessant fear of critique, I grew to love singing and jumped at the chance to sing whenever an opportunity presented itself. Fast forward 20 years, I now sing for a living, and I love what I do.

 

Chad McCloskey of the Ball Brothers

Chad McCloskey of the Ball Brothers

Erin: How did you and your wife Sarah meet?

Chad: I’ve actually known Sarah since I was around 10 years old. Her family, while in evangelism, used to come to our church and sing, and my family would occasionally take them out to eat while they were in town. We lost contact over the years, but in 2006, (we) reconnected at the church her dad was pastoring when my family went into evangelism. 

 

Erin: An early congratulations on the newest addition to your family coming soon. How do you personally juggle being a gospel singer, a husband, and a father to Brooklyn and Mason?

Chad: Thank you. We are excited about the new addition. When it comes to juggling family and work, I find it prudent to keep the two separate. When I’m at home, I always try to focus on my family’s needs above anything else. We have dinner around the table every night and try, if we can, to do an activity together any chance we get. When I’m traveling, I try to focus on the task at hand to ensure I do my job accurately and efficiently, but at the end of the day, I always call home to check in on everyone. Fortunately, with the development in technology, staying in touch with my family while I’m away is pretty easy. 

 

Erin: What are some new and exciting happenings the fans can be expecting from the Ball Brothers for the last half of this year?

Chad: We are currently working on a couple different projects. We have been in the studio working on a new Christmas album. We’re hoping to have it finished and out this year. We are also getting ideas together for some music videos we are hoping to shoot later in the year. 

 

Chad McCloskey of the Ball Brothers

Sarah and Chad McCloskey of the Ball Brothers

Erin: With the Ball Brothers’ incredible internet success, how has it impacted your ministry and opened new doors of opportunity?

Chad: The impact from our online success has been substantial at the very least. With the change in the market, almost anything can be accessed online, so we see it as beneficial to cater to that outlet more. Since the views on the Ball Brothers’ Facebook videos have skyrocketed over the last few years, we’ve seen immense growth in our fan base, as well as concert dates. God has truly blessed our ministry and we are so humbled by everything He has done for our group.

 

Erin: The jazzy, Michael Bublé-influenced tones to your voice are obvious to the listener. Besides him, who else are some of your top musical influences, and who would you normally be listening to?

Chad: I have a pretty wide range of music that I enjoy. I grew up listening to the Gaither Vocal Band, so they are an absolute must in my musical lineup. But I love groups from Journey to MercyMe to the Mullins. Some of the more singular influences would include Marshall Hall, Stevie Wonder, David Phelps, Michael Bublé, Frank Sinatra, and Bryan Duncan.                                                                                        

Erin: What’s the strangest thing a fan has ever said to you?

Chad: Where to start? While I was dating my wife, I had a man approach me after a concert asking if I would be interested in his daughter. After I told him I was already dating someone, he quickly took the defense and came behind the product table, got in my face and very angrily asked why I thought his daughter was ugly. I just slowly backed into the crowd in a desperate attempt to get away. Who does that?

 

Chad McCloskey of the Ball Brothers

The McCloskey family

Erin: Favorite food on the road/favorite food at home?

Chad: Mexican food. It’s a favorite at home and on the road.

 

Erin: Is there a particular song you sing night after night on stage that has a profound, personal impact on your heart?

Chad: The song “It’s About the Cross” is a definite favorite of mine. The message of the song to me is too penetrating to ignore. It’s an unbelievable and humbling thought that a sinless, perfect Jesus willingly laid down His life for mine. 

 

Erin: It’s true that music speaks when words fall short. But after all the songs have been sung, how would you encourage that listener out there who has come to the end of their rope?

Chad: I know this sounds cliché – and we hear it all the time – but the most comforting thing to me when I’m at my weakest is prayer. We may not have all the answers, but God does. One passage in the Bible that stands out to me on this particular topic is Isaiah 40:29-31 … “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might, He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.”

 

Chad McCloskey of the Ball BrothersClosing thoughts from Erin…

Our strength doesn’t come from our own efforts. It comes from Christ. When we’re on the mountaintop, we sometimes forget to give Him the thanks that He deserves. But it’s in our weakest moments that we remember that we are nothing without Christ. He is the breath in our lungs and the fire in our souls. May we not fall prey to forgetting that all glory and honor are due His mighty name. Isaiah 40:29-31 was an excellent reminder Chad gave us. I appreciate his heart, and I’m thankful we have men like him still singing the gospel and spreading the good news for all to hear.

 

And that’s my take on it.

 

Until next month, Scoops fans.

Connect with Erin: Twitter – @photosforkeeps Instagram – @photos_for_keeps

Who would you like to see Erin interview next?

By Erin Stevens

First published by SGNScoops Magazine in July 2017

For the current issue of SGNScoops Magazine click here

Read more Gospel.music news here.
Listen here to Gospel music online here.

 


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Younger Perspective on Elena Cragun of the Craguns

Written by Staff on August 23, 2017 – 2:47 pm -

Elena Cragun with the Craguns

Elena Cragun with the Craguns

A word from (author) Erin Stevens…

My heart is so full as I write to you this month. As I was putting the final touches on what you’re about to read, I realized how deeply touched you will be by my special guest’s heart for Christ and her love for His people. Elena Cragun of the Craguns is that special someone for you to get to know a little better, whether you’re an old or new Cragun fan. I know you will be blessed. Here goes …

 

Erin: Growing up as a pastor’s kid, what is your story of how you came to know Christ?

Elena: I was 13 years old when I became a Christ follower. I don’t remember the details of the message that was delivered in the evening service of the family camp I was attending, but I do remember the conviction that gripped my soul. I have no story to tell of terrible sins committed, but I can tell you that my heart was cleansed when I confessed my need of a Savior and received His gift of salvation. Being a (preacher’s kid), I had a lot of knowledge on what it meant to be saved and how to live a life for Christ. That night, head knowledge became heart knowledge. It was the best decision I ever made.

 

Erin: When did you begin singing with your sisters?

Elena: I began singing with my sisters when I was five years old. We sang for church services, camp meetings, and speaking engagements that my daddy held. We sang in both English and Spanish.

 

Elena Cragun with the Craguns

Elena Cragun with the Craguns

Erin: How did you and your husband Jordan Cragun meet? 

Elena: Jordan and I met the first time at a family church camp in Oklahoma. I hung out with his older sister, and he seemed to be always hanging around. He was 11, and I was 13. Our love story, however, didn’t really begin until five years later when we met again at Jordan’s cousin’s wedding.

 

Erin: How do you juggle being a mommy, wife, psychosocial therapist and singer?

Elena: I no longer work as a psychosocial therapist. I loved working in the mental health field, but I became a full-time gospel singer in August of 2013. So it’s juggling wife, mommy and singer. Basically, I survive by making lots of lists. I have two planners and a calendar that I live by, and I try to take it one day at a time. My favorite things to buy are Post-It notes, pens and notepads.

 

Erin: Congratulations on the latest edition to your family. How has Scarlett adjusted to life with her baby brother, Grant? Better yet, how have Mom and Dad adjusted? 

Elena: Thank you. Grant is just the best. Scarlett took a few days to grasp that this was the baby (that) Mommy was talking about, but soon after we came home from the hospital, she was smitten. Now she’s extremely possessive. I’ve heard her exclaim on several different occasions, “Hey, don’t touch him. Dats my baby Nant.” She’s adjusted quite well. Adjusting for Jordan and me hasn’t been so bad either. We get less sleep and drink a lot more coffee, but Grant is really sweet and cuddly. It’s all worth it.

 

Erin: Are there any exciting happenings the fans can be expecting from The Craguns this year?

Elena: We have a new album in the works we are very excited about. (It) should be releasing later in the year.           

                                                                                          

Elena Cragun with the Craguns

Elena and Jordan Cragun and family

Erin: Is there a particular Cragun concert in recent years that stands out as having a big impact on your life?

Elena: The Cragun concert that stands out to me the most was in Oregon. A dear friend of ours was in the crowd. She was battling cancer. She was past the time limit the doctors had given her to live. She didn’t have much strength, but I remember her lifting her hands and praising the Lord with everything that she had left. Even at the very end, she was giving her all in praise and honor to the King. What an awesome testimony. That certainly impacted me. She went to heaven just a few weeks later.

 

Erin: What’s a favorite blooper moment you can recall from being on the road?

Elena:  The most memorable blooper moment would have to be when I had to leave the stage in the middle of a concert to take care of Scarlett when she was a newborn. The babysitter was struggling big-time that night and could not get her calmed down. The way the venue was set up, infant cries could be heard inside. As a new mom, I couldn’t hardly handle it. It was not funny at the time, as I left the guys hanging for what I was told later was 20 minutes, but looking back it’s quite hilarious.

 

Erin: Books or movies? Homemade or eat out? Heels or flats? Spring or fall? Coffee or tea? Night owl or early riser?

Elena: Books. Homemade, especially since we eat out so much. Heels, I’m 4-foot-11 and need all the help I can get. Spring. I love this time of year. All the new birth and growth makes my heart smile. Coffee. It’s mostly cream when I make it, but I love me some coffee. Definitely, early riser.

 

Erin: What is a Scripture that you’ve held tightly to that means a lot to you personally? Why?

Elena: “The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy and with my song I praise Him,” Psalm 28:7. Life is full of surprises and setbacks, and I know I could not navigate through it all in my own strength. I am a weak, fragile, finite being. This fact was made very clear when I suffered a mini stroke on Christmas Eve of last year. I was still pregnant with Grant, and I was terrified. I had to lean on the Lord like never before, and I found that, with Him, I am indeed strong. I found that in this particular instance, He was my shield as the outcome could have been so much worse. Four months later, I am as healthy as can be, and I am beyond grateful. So, I will sing His praises and tell everyone what He’s done for me and what He can do for them.

 

Erin: Is the Lord challenging you to deepen your walk with Him in 2017? If so, how?

Elena: Yes. I have been challenged to deepen my walk with Him by committing to memory more of His Word and to teach my kids His Word. Scarlett is like a sponge. She literally repeats everything she hears. There’s no better time than now to teach her. I want more than anything for my kids to know what the Word of God says and for them to embrace it as the guideline for living this life.

 

Erin Stevens

Erin Stevens

Closing thoughts from Erin…

What did I tell you at the beginning? What a story this incredible woman of faith has to share. Thank you, Elena for challenging us and for being so vulnerable with our readers today. My prayer is that we will take the truth of Psalm 28:7 with us into these next hours, days and weeks. No matter the circumstance, no matter the struggle, may His praise be ever on our lips.

 

And that’s my take on it.

 

Until next month, Scoops fans …

 

Connect with Erin on Twitter (@photosforkeeps) or on Instagram (@photos_for_keeps).

 

Who would you like to see Erin interview next?

By Erin Stevens

First published by SGNScoops Magazine in June 2017.

See the latest issue of SGNScoops Magazine here.

Visit us on Facebook here.

Listen to us every day here.

 


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Erin Stevens gives a tribute to her Mum

Written by Staff on May 11, 2017 – 9:18 am -

Erin Stevens with her mum and dad

Erin Stevens with her mum, Tami, and dad, Rich.

People have the misconception that road life is glamorous. If you’re one of those folks, let me stop you right there. It’s hard. It requires a strong back bone, and a good sense of humor.

My mom grew up with the call of ministry on her life at a very young age. For the past 32 years, in full-time ministry, she has been the picture of grace and poise at my father’s side.

Erin Stevens with her family onstage

The Stevens onstage

So many know her as the eloquent lady on stage, but I know the hours she spends in prayer behind the scenes, booking our family’s dates, and I know the strength she possesses even on the toughest days. Not to mention, she makes the best Chocolate Turtle Cheesecake known to man.

Erin Stevens

Erin Stevens

I am truly blessed and honored that God handpicked her to be my mum. 

By Erin Stevens, staff writer for SGNScoops, member of The Stevens Family, photographer at Photos For Keeps By Erin.

For more on Erin click here.

About The Stevens Family…The Stevens Family, from Warren, Ohio, has been traveling in music ministry since 1985. Rich, Tami and Erin effectively minister the gospel to people of all ages through a variety of musical styles. They have completed many recordings, which showcase their creative songwriting abilities. They have written songs that have been recorded by artists such as Greater Vision, The Whisnants and The Inspirations… The Stevens Family has a special message and an apparent sense of direction in their ministry. Their music could best be described as Christ-centered and family-oriented. The purpose of their ministry is to offer encouragement and hope through the message of God’s Word in song…(for more click here.)

Thanks to Erin Stevens for her eloquent tribute to her mum today. Would you like to tell us about your mother? Email me today at lorraine@sgnscoops.com

For the latest SGNScoops Magazine,  click here.

For Gospel music news, click here.

 


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Younger Perspective on Logan Smith

Written by Staff on February 13, 2017 – 3:47 pm -

Logan Smith

Logan Smith

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.

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Kari Gooch: The “Quirky” Member of Karen Peck and New River

Written by Staff on July 19, 2016 – 2:00 pm -

Kari Gooch of Karen Peck and New River

Kari Gooch of Karen Peck and New River

Younger Perspective on Kari Gooch: By Erin Stevens

A word from the writer…

I have kept you all waiting long enough for this exciting interview! I knew it was finally time to help you get to know the daughter of one of the most prestigious, highly awarded and well loved ladies of our Gospel music industry. Who else could I possibly be referring to other than Karen Peck Gooch? Today, let’s dive into her darling daughter’s life, the sweet Kari Gooch, and find out what roadie livin’ looks like through her eyes.

 

It’s your turn to take center stage, Kari…

 

Erin: What was it like growing up with your mom being such a prominent figure in Gospel music?

Kari: As I get older, I see how loved and respected my mom is in the industry. Honestly, she has just been mom to me. She has always been there for me, and has always tried to put my brother and me before anything else.

 

Erin: For those that may not know the backstory, share what your first night on stage was like.

Kari: About two years ago, my mom got sick and completely lost her voice. I have always been really shy, and the thought of going on stage and singing terrified me! However, when my mom lost her voice, my Aunt Susan came to me and asked if I would help her sing, and I’ve been on stage ever since. Sometimes I still get nervous when I have to sing, but I’m trying to work through that!

 

Erin: How would you describe what it’s like being raised on a bus? Feel free to share pros and cons.

Kari: Being raised on the bus has definitely kept my life interesting! I practically learned to walk on a bus, so I have great balance. I’m really blessed to get to go different places every week, and to see things that most people my age have never seen. One downside to being raised on a bus is the space. When I was little, my brother, cousin, and I would try to think of different games to play. It’s really hard to play hide and seek on a 45-foot bus.

 

Karen Peck and New River

Karen Peck and New River

Erin: If you could do a duet with anyone in the music industry (any genre) who would it be?

Kari: One of my favorite artists right now is Tori Kelly, so I’d love to do a duet with her.

 

Erin: Are there any good books you’re reading lately that you’d like to share?

Kari: I am currently trying to finish up my freshman year of college, so most of the reading I do is studying for my classes. However, the last book I read for fun was “Good or God” by John Bevere.

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Erin Stevens’ Younger Perspective on Sarah Davison of HighRoad

Written by Staff on September 18, 2015 – 9:45 am -

HighRoad

HighRoad

A word from the writer…
As the heritage of Gospel music lives on in our hearts, it’s the new faces answering the call that keep the dream alive. Such is the case with a newer group to many of us, the girls of HighRoad. I had the joy of meeting Sarah Davison, pianist and vocalist for the group back in April at Singing in the Sun. Sarah’s love for the Lord and bubbly personality were the two things I quickly noted, along with her incredible, God-given talents on stage. So here we are, turning our attention to a sweet, born and raised Iowa girl, who just so happens to share in the same dream, to see this great music continue on from generation to generation. Take it away, Sarah!

Sarah Davison

Sarah Davison

Erin: Share with the readers how HighRoad got its start.
Sarah: HighRoad started after we graduated from college in Nashville. It began with just two of us doing home concerts and churches on Sundays, traveling in a little Honda all over the South! We took every chance to do it more, and now, we really feel that we are doing what we are called to do.

Erin: What is the story behind the name of the group?
Sarah: We decided on the name HighRoad back in 2010 when we first began singing and playing together. We brainstormed for a time and came up with this name after reading some scripture that said to set our sights on things above; to be ‘heaven-minded and take the narrow path toward achieving the goal of seeing our Savior someday.’ So the name HighRoad was a perfect fit – it says it all!

Erin: What was it like for an Iowa girl to travel all the way to the city of Nashville, and to attend college at Belmont University?
Sarah: Well, when I moved to Nashville, I had never even driven on an interstate. There are 180 people in the town where I grew up and we lived 10 miles outside that town! I was excited, yet terrified, but I knew that God had me here for a reason. I couldn’t have done it without my supportive family back home and the care packages of cinnamon rolls from Mom! Attending Belmont was a huge blessing and opened many doors. Of course, that’s where I first met the girls of HighRoad! I also interned at Universal Music Group during my senior year and after graduating I began working for country artist George Strait, at his management office. I learned so many valuable lessons by the work and people I met through school. I’m very thankful.

Erin: What was it like working with the masterful Ben Isaacs in the studio on your latest recording?
Sarah: We absolutely loved working with Ben. He is one of the most superb human beings and talented musicians I’ve ever met. Just being around him makes you want to do a good job playing and singing. We got to play our own instruments on this album too – that was a real treat for us. We look forward to sharing a lot more future memories with Ben and Mark in the studio.

HIGHROADIII

HIghRoad

Erin: Any ‘roadie mishaps’ or embarrassing moments you’d like to share?
Sarah: Oh boy! We’ve had a few and could probably write a short book. Last year, we actually drove to the wrong church in the wrong town. We pulled up and walked in the door and said, “Hi! We made it!” And their reaction was just a blank stare and finally someone said, “Who are you all??” We barely made it to the correct church down the road in time for the concert. But the biggest mishap that I’ve experienced was being left at a rest stop in West Virginia in my pajamas at 6:00am. No phone. No wallet. I had gone in for a bottle of water and walked out to see the bus rolling down the road. I ended up having a kind lady call the highway patrol and they found the bus on the road and escorted me out to it…in my pajamas. I was mortified. Lessons learned the hard way you never have to learn again!

Erin: Who would be the top three musicians on your Bucket List to share the stage with someday?
Sarah: Patty Loveless, Sonya Isaacs and Vince Gill

Erin: On your days off, what is your ideal, picture perfect afternoon?
Sarah: I love to crochet and bake. I have always had this idea that someday I wanted to open a pie shop that had live 20’s Ragtime music and homemade pies!

HIGHROADIII

HIghRoad

Erin: A ‘Younger Perspective’ must-ask question… What is your can’t live without, favorite food?
Sarah: I can’t live without my mom’s cinnamon rolls. She makes them from scratch and it’s an old recipe from our family.

Erin: I’m sure the fans would love to hear about how you came to know Christ?
Sarah: Absolutely! I grew up playing a lot of music with my dad who leads a Cowboy Church back home. I was baptized when I was really young and my parents always raised me to think of it more as a dedication since I couldn’t remember it. They told me, “If the Lord lays it on your heart to go forward and be baptized, do it.” And I did, one day when I felt the Holy Spirit so heavily. I knew what the Lord was doing in me and it changed me. It was the greatest day of my life and always will be.

Erin: What has the Lord been speaking to your heart in your daily devotions recently?
Sarah: Recently, the Lord has really been teaching me to trust. I lost my Grandma two weeks ago. I came home to see her one afternoon and she was in heaven by the next morning. It was really tough because she was so special to me; we were buds. I’ve been learning that it’s ok to grieve the loss, but even better to celebrate the gain. God has taught me a lot just in the last couple weeks since losing her. He has shown me that His plan and will are perfect. I need to trust Him in everything. Not just the little things that don’t always matter, but also the big things that are near and dear to me.

HighRoadAs the song says, “You never know what someone’s going through.” You might be experiencing the same type of loss as Sarah is walking through, or you may be healing from a great loss that dates back years ago. From experience, I can assure you that over time, it becomes easier to cope, but especially when you love deeply, the hole left in your heart is one that never completely heals. I think that’s a real picture of Christ’s love for us. He went to the Cross, died for our sins, took our shame upon Himself, but one day when we see Him in heaven, He will still bear the physical scars where the nails were driven in. Through time and eternity, those wounds will be a constant reminder of His unending love for His own. May His peace pass all understanding no matter where you are coming from in your walk today. Thanks to Sarah for sharing with us. Until next month, Scoops fans…

And that’s my take on it.

(Connect with Erin, your Younger Perspective writer, on Twitter: @photosforkeeps & Instagram: @photos_for_keeps. Who would you like to see her interview next??)

By Erin Stevens

Younger Perspective by Erin Stevens can be seen monthly in SGNScoops digital magazine. For the September 2015 issue, click here.

For more on the great music of HighRoad, click here.

 


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Younger Perspective on Karlye Hopper by Erin Stevens

Written by Staff on June 16, 2015 – 4:57 pm -

The Hop

The Hop

I have the utmost joy of bringing this beloved article to you this month, on this particular day, at this precise moment. It’s an honor for me as a ‘Southern Gospel brat’ myself to write about and interview my peers in our Gospel Music world. While sailing on the Caribbean Sea a few months back, I beamed with happiness when Karlye Hopper accepted my interview offer. It’s my hope that you, as the reader, will catch a glimpse into the soul of the outrageously talented, tender hearted, incandescently brilliant and one-of-a-kind original that is Karlye Jade. It’s time to take center stage, Miss Hopper…

Erin: How have you been able to maintain your own identity while still being a part of the prestige that comes with the Hopper name?
Karlye: I don’t think it’s ever been a question whether or not I’m my own person. I know my place and that people know me as “the Hoppers’ daughter,” I’ll never not be that in this or any music industry. But, I have a pretty…um…“unique” sense of style and an outspoken personality. I’m also quite tall. That helps.

Karlye Hopper

Karlye Hopper

Erin: With the changes that have taken place as a family and as a group, when did you personally feel the call to join the ministry?
Karlye: Back in the summer of 2013, Connie (yes, I casually refer to my grandmother and the rest of the family by their first name-I like to keep from being presumptuous) completely lost her voice in the middle of a week-long tour. I got a phone call after the show that night… “You’re flying into Birmingham at noon tomorrow, bring a nice dress.” I sang alto––for the first time ever––the entire set that night, and the next night in front of 5,000 at the Mabee Center with the Homecoming Tour. (Yikes!) Since then, countless obstacles have been thrown at this group and caused more than one member to leave the road for extensive periods. Just filling in and helping out is why I started doing this, but the shy teenager on the back row is why I’ve continued. My youth and vulnerability (yeah, people can tell I’m not a pro and see my stage anxiety) have brought innumerable young girls to my side of the merchandise table; these beloved struggle with eating disorders, self-harm, abuse, etc.––the unmentionables of Christianity. I’ve been given a heritage, a platform and a privilege that allows me to, even if we don’t exchange a word, show these kids just like me, that God can put joy into a seemingly hopeless heart. Being young is hard, Erin, and we have to build each other up. I’m lucky enough to get the opportunity to do that to complete strangers in different cities each night.

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Younger Perspective: Kristopher Erwin  

Written by Staff on May 21, 2015 – 1:58 pm -

By Erin Stevens

Here at Younger Perspective, my main goals are to A) Let you get to know your youthful favorites a little better in the gospel music world, and to B) Keep it ‘all in the family.’ Family groups continue to be the key ingredient that unites our industry. It’s the younger generation spreading the Message that adds that extra, special touch alongside their parents and siblings. Many of you will remember when the adorable Miss Katie Erwin dropped by to chat with us last year. This year, it’s time to focus on one of her talented young brothers that help lock the tight, family harmonies of The Erwins. Please make welcome the soon-to-be 19 year old Kristopher Erwin. You never know; he may just break out in the B-I-B-L-E while munching on some lo mein, all while capturing it on film. Kris, the floor’s yours…

 

Erin: Being surrounded by music all your life, at what point did you personally feel called into ministry?

Kris: Growing up in an evangelistic home, traveling from church to church every week has always been the norm for me. My dad has been an evangelist for over 41 years. The first time I was on stage, I was about three years old. While my dad was introducing me, I reached for the microphone. Dad, expecting me to sing, “Jesus Loves Me” or “The B-I-B-L-E,” handed me the mic and I sang “Tomorrow” from the musical Annie.  So, that’s how my stage debut went down in history! In all honesty, singing has just been a natural part of growing up for our family. I suppose the best way to put it, is that I’ve somehow always ‘known’ I had a calling on my life.  

 

 

Erin: Anyone who follows you on Instagram would know you love all things Polaroid. What started that vintage hobby?

Kris:  A lifelong family friend from Beaumont, Texas (who we all call “Grandma”) gave me a box full of old Polaroid and Super 8 cameras; and of course, I started putting them to use. Now, I have no money, but instead a lot of neat Polaroid snaps that I enjoy sharing with everybody.  

 

 

Erin: Out of all the cities and states you’ve traveled through, what is your favorite stop to make?

Kris: I have such a strong love for New York City. I make time to visit multiple times a year. Some day, if I could, I’d live there in a heartbeat.

 

 

Erin: Is there anyone in our industry who has had a profound impact on your ministry and/or musical perspective?

Kris:  It would be impossible to name just one, but no individual has impacted our ministry musically more than Steve Hurst. He’s tremendously helped my siblings and I grow vocally and as a group. We could never repay him for the invaluable lessons he has taught us.

 

 

Erin: Share a behind-the-scenes look at the family’s recent studio recording process of Ready To Sail. 

Kris: This CD is our first project to release with StowTown Records. We wanted to define our sound with this project, and StowTown gave us the platform to do just that and more! The entire process was incredible, from cutting tracks at the Sony studios on Music Row in Nashville; to watching the incredible Wayne Haun produce; to walking into Lifeway Christian Bookstore and seeing our product on the shelves. It’s been an amazing experience. As an added bonus, we had the privilege of having Ernie Haase sing a song with us that he wrote. We trust everyone enjoys it as much as we did making it.

 

 

Erin: Everyone has one! What’s your number one embarrassing moment either on the road or on stage, or both?

Kris: Oh boy, this is a good one. I think I was 12. My brothers and I were singing at a church in the panhandle of Texas, and I got horribly sick to my stomach, mid-verse of an a cappella song.  Fortunately, I made it off stage before it got graphic (just barely!), but I did leave my brothers to finish the song as a duet (which I assume was just as bad as my instant illness).

 

 

Erin: Comedy or action movies? Snow or sand? Chinese or Mexican food? Bow tie or skinny tie? Hot sauce or mild?

Kris: Comedy. Sand. Chinese. Skinny. The hotter the better!

 

 

Erin: Is there a Scripture verse that has recently impacted you? 

Kris: John 8:36 – Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

 

 

Erin: If there were a particularly special moment you could go back to in your childhood, what would it be?

Kris: There are many wonderful experiences I wish I could relive, especially from family vacations and childhood Christmases. I was blessed with a godly upbringing. Growing up in an atmosphere where there was so much love; that’s something I will never take for granted. I’m honored to do what I love with my family. Let the memory making continue…

 

 

Erin: In this day and age where young men are being pulled and influenced by so many secular sources, how are you taking a stand for Christ and being a light to the guys looking to your example?

Kris: Even though I’m on the road, often I’m still faced with a lot of the same temptations that all young people have. I’m trying to be as genuine and authentic as I can be, while giving the entire honor to God. I try to live my life with the thought that I take Jesus everywhere I go, and therefore, He sees everything I do. I don’t want to do anything that could hurt my testimony. I only have one life to live for Christ, I want it to count, and ultimately, make Him proud. He deserves all the glory.

 

Now back to Erin…

Have you given Christ the secret places in your life? Have you opened every door, allowing Him access to the corners of your heart? I am encouraged to know there are godly, young men like Kristopher who still put Him first, who still strive to be more like Him every day. No one ever said it would be easy, but the heavenly reward far outweighs the struggles we face here on this earth. It takes a daily dying to self. Jesus tells us that if we give our very lives to serve Him, He will fill every void and heal every hurt. He will make us brand, new creations in Him. Today could be YOUR day to start with a clean slate, take up that cross, and be sold out to serving Him.

 

Thank you to Kris for stopping by and brightening everyone’s day here in the world of the ‘younger perspectives.’ You’re awesome, Kris! Praying God’s best over you and your family as you travel the long and winding road.

Until next month, Scoops’ fans… 

And that’s my take on it.

For more information on Kris Erwin and The Erwins click HERE.

First published by SGN Scoops digital magazine in April 2015. For current issue of SGN Scoops click HERE.


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Younger Perspective: Reagan Griffin

Written by Staff on April 28, 2015 – 2:37 pm -

Reagan Griffin

Reagan Griffin

By Erin Stevens

It’s one thing to impact thousands of people’s lives through the example of your ministry, songwriting, and personal life, but it is entirely another thing when you are your children’s hero. The shoulder they run to in times of defeat, the hug they crave after a long day at school, and the sounding board to all life’s ‘wonders and whys.’ That is exactly the case in the life of Rodney Griffin. Today I am delighted to introduce to you his darling daughter, the lovely Miss Reagan. Get to know this young lady, budding with talents, and a remarkable dedication to serving others. Reagan, take it away…

 

Erin: What was it like growing up with your dad being such a prominent figure in Gospel music?

Reagan: It was always normal for me to see him leave every weekend. That’s just who he is. Dad loves what he does and I love being his daughter. I take so much pride in his ministry. 

 

Erin: When did you first discover your love for the piano?

Reagan: My love for playing began in church a few years ago; that was a huge push for me! I’ve recently started having fun playing the ukulele too.

 

Erin: It’s apparent on social media that you are becoming quite the scarf maker! How are you enjoying your latest businesswoman endeavor? 

Reagan: Honestly, it’s a blast! When I have spare time, I love to just sit and crochet. It’s quite relaxing.

 

Reagan's dad, Rodney Griffin

Reagan’s dad, Rodney Griffin

Erin: For those who are missing out, try to put into words the magical joy that comes from growing up with your family at ’the happiest place on earth?’

Reagan: Disney World is such an exciting place! It has always been somewhere I look forward to going back year after year! I feel like I’m a little child all over again when we walk inside. 

 

Erin: What is your life-verse or verses? And why?

Reagan: One of my favorites is Proverbs 3:5-7: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil.” It reminds me that, yes, I will fail me, but God won’t.  

 

Erin: While being a junior in high school, what are the most effective ways you have found to be an example of Christ to those around you?

Reagan: My youth pastor has a quote he always says: “Treat everybody like somebody.” There is much truth in that statement. Everyone wants to be appreciated. I’ve discovered that when you take time and really listen and pay attention to someone, they will notice something different in you. Another way is to simply go out of your way to do extra, tiny deeds. Whether it’s picking up empty water bottles left after practice, or throwing away the gum wrappers left in the church pew; these are things that are overlooked as ‘unimportant.’ Someone has to do them. Let’s be that person. 

 

Erin: Who would you most likely be found jamming out to on your iPod?

Reagan: I love the 1940-50s swing music: Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, and Nat King Cole. 

 

Erin: If there was one defining moment in life you could relive, what would that be?

Reagan: Last year, I was chosen to be the Singing News Fan Awards ‘Trophy Girl.’ I had the privilege of walking on stage and presenting the awards to those I look up to. It was an incredible experience that I’ll remember for a long time!

 

Erin: Being surrounded by Southern Gospel fans since you were little, what is the craziest thing a fan has said to you?

Reagan: I was standing to the side of a walkway with some friends, listening to my dad sing, when an older lady came up behind me and said, “You know I’m stalking you, right?” With a nervous giggle, I said “Uh, okay.” and moved a little closer to my friends. 

 

Erin: Are you a songwriter like your dad?

Reagan: When I was growing up, my best friend, my sister, and I wrote several little songs with the most obnoxious tunes. “Poor Little Doughnut,” “Mr. Dan and The Hotdog Stand,” and one about cowboys. I don’t think you’ll be seeing those up on the ‘One-Hit-Wonders Chart’ anytime soon.

 

Erin: In closing, how would you personally encourage young ladies in their walk with the Lord as you make steps every day to become closer to Him?

Reagan: I am learning more and more all the time about how much God cares for me. As young ladies, we tend to compare ourselves to the other girls around us; therefore, finding our self worth in the wrong things. God wants to be that one person we go to when those insecure thoughts cross our mind. He wants to wrap you up in a big hug and say, “I love you. I made you just the way you are.”

 

We all come from different walks of life, but I am certain that Reagan’s moving words can speak to every heart. You may be 18 or 80, it doesn’t matter; insecurities plague every age group. Coming from a mind so sharp and a heart so full as Reagan’s, I pray you can see that YOU are enough. You are capable enough when you lean on Jesus as your Rock. When we are weakest, that’s when He is the strongest in our lives. Thank you, Reagan, for gracing us with your presence and allowing us to see a glimpse into your life today. May God’s hand of blessing rest upon you. Until next month, Scoops fans…

 

And that’s my take on it.

For current Younger Perspective features, see the latest SGN Scoops magazine 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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