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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Franklin, TN (February 18, 2017) – Tony and Julie Griffith have recently welcomed vocalist and pianist Joseph “Bryce” Lee, as the newest member of The Griffith Family. Bryce has made the move from Dallas, GA to tour full time with the duo.
Since The Griffith Family stepped out in 2015 and made the move to Nashville and into full time schedule, the group has not only grown and expanded what they do musically, their focus on ministry has expanded into evangelistic events where Tony preaches and both Tony and Julie share their personal testimonies.
The past two years have seen this Family cover a lot of ground, literally, with a touring schedule that has taken them from the deep southern United States and beyond the northern border into Canada. During that time they’ve performed annually at popular events such as Dollywood’s National Southern Gospel & Harvest Celebration, The National Quartet Convention along with television appearances on networks, including TBN. In addition to those highlights, the group has garnered multiple charting songs from their first two albums, ‘The Griffith Family’ and ‘Give His Love Away’, released on Mansion Records.
For more information, visit The Griffith Family here.
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Tags: gospel music, Mansions Records, The Griffith Family
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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.
For the newest issue of the SGNScoops magazine 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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Featuring Music from Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, The Erwins, Southern Raised and Episode Host, Jody McBrayer
Signal Mountain, TN (February 1, 2017) Harmony Road TV, the long running Gospel music video program, is set to begin its new season beginning this weekend. The revamped program features new hosts, new music, and a new look. The first of the program’s revolving hosts is Stowtown Records artist, Jody McBrayer.
Music and video on the program include Ernie Haase and Signature Sound (featuring Devin McGlamery) with “From My Rags to His Riches,” and “Good News from the Graveyard,” from Southern Raised. The program also includes “I choose to be a Christian,” from The Erwins and Jody McBrayer’s powerful video, “This is a Son.” All the music this week is from Stowtown Records artists.
Now in it’s fifth season of broadcasting on The Heartland Network, NRBTV, The WALKTV, WATC57 in Atlanta and many more outlets, Harmony Road TV is available to over 90 million homes weekly, across the nation and internationally. Information on networks and times can be found online at their website here.
“All of us at Harmony Road TV are thrilled to begin this new era for the program. We’re excited to present great new hosts, new music and a fresh look.” said Roger Spears, Executive Producer.” “Our goal through the years has been to present the Gospel through music and video, to a large, varied audience. We do this in hopes of reaching the lost, and encouraging the church. Our format, stations, and networks allow us to share this great gospel music, not only with loyal fans, but to those who are new to the genre. We feel these new episodes will help us reach that goal,” he concluded.
Viewers will recognize Jody McBrayer, from one of gospel’s top new trios, Stowtown Records artist, Cana’s Voice, from his time as a soloist, and a member of one of Christian Music’s top groups, Avalon. His video “This is a Son,” is a challenging message to all of us, and is based on his experiences working with homeless through the Bridge Ministry in Nashville.
Beginning with this episode, Harmony Road TV has teamed with Choices of Chattanooga to present a series of messages aimed supporting their ministry, while promoting a “culture of life,” throughout the country. More information on Choices can be found at www.choiceschattanooga.org.
Hosts for future episodes include Kenna West, T. Graham Brown, Darrell Freeman, Rick Francis, Crosby Lane, Mark Bishop, Jospeh Habedank, Sue Duffield and more.
The episode was taped at the Mansion Music studio in Franklin, Tennessee, and was directed and edited by Rob Walls of Varnish Films. Rob Patz of Coastal Media is also a producer at Harmony Road TV. The programs were taped at Mansion Music, Jim Oliver’s Smokehouse in Monteagle, TN, and at the National Quartet Convention in Pigeon Forge (aboard the Harmony Road TV, I-Tour mobile studio).
For more information on Harmony Road TV, visit their Facebook page and website.
Tags: ernie haase and signature sound, Erwins, gospel music, Harmony Road TV, Jody McBrayer, NRBTV, StowTown Records, The Heartland Network, The WALKTV, WATC57 in Atlanta
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Ella Cline, daughter of award-winning artist, Shellem Cline, is doing much better today after a night in the hospital. Ella’s fever broke yesterday and they saw a major improvement in her breathing after lunch as well.
Shellem would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support during this time.
Doctors have stated that Ella may return home later today, if she is able to go 24 hours without a fever and a breathing treatment.
Shellem stated this morning that, “Lacy and I are so blessed to have family and friends that believe in the power of prayer and lifted us up in their prayers yesterday. Ella has seen a major improvement and has not had a fever or even breathing issues in over 12 hours. The power of prayer is real and God is proving his power to us again. Thank you for your prayers and support!”
About Shellem Cline:
Shellem Cline is an award winning Christian artist from Statesville, NC. Cline began his professional musical career at the age of 18 and since then, has made a huge mark within the Christian music industry. His desire to see individuals come to know Jesus Christ is what sets the standard for his ministry and he believes that in every event he must give his all, just like Jesus Christ gave His all for us. He has created a style of worship that mixes laughter, funny music, inspirational stories with amazing gospel melodies to create a time of worship that many call dynamic. Shellem became a married man on February 22, 2014, and his wife Lacy joins him at most events and shares her talent of sign language as her husband sings. Shellem Cline will finish every Christian concert with a special invitation, inviting the unbeliever to come to Jesus and the believer to receive encouragement that only Jesus Christ can give.
Tags: God, gospel music, Prayer, SHELLEM CLINE
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Award winning Christian artist Shellem Cline is asking for prayers after his 16 month old daughter, Ella, was rushed to the hospital early Wednesday morning.
Tags: gospel music, Prayer, SHELLEM CLINE
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The Sneed Family Off to Exciting Start in 2017: “The News For Today” Music Video to Release
Glasgow, KY (January 16, 2017) – The Sneed Family has produced an accompanying video to their latest project, “The News For Today.” The video paints a picture of how the world is changing but that God still reigns.
Produced by Sneed Family member, Seth Sneed, the video is a warm presentation that embodies the poignant lyrics. “We filmed on location in Kentucky because we wanted to share that our family, like many others, want to spread the greatest news of Jesus, “ Seth commented. The video can be seen online and various social media outlets.
The Sneed Family is also excited to announce that the title track of “The News For Today” project placed in the Top 40 for the Singing News Chart for March 2017. According to statistics released by Singing News, the song was one of the chart’s fastest risers. The entire project features The Sneed Family’s heart for hope in today’s world.
“This news coincides with the celebration of the Presidential Inauguration, timing only God could have orchestrated. We are honored to be recognized by the music industry. This entire project has been God inspired,” said Jeff Sneed, The Sneed Family spokesman.
“The News For Today” is a song written by Aaron Wilburn that was inspired by current events and the fact that God still rules. “God has been convicting us to share hope. Aaron brought this song to us and we knew it was what God wanted us to sing,” Caleb Cowan stated.
The entire project was recently recorded at Ricky Skaggs’ studio in Nashville, TN. Ben Isaacs produced “The News for Today” using Southern Gospel well known instrumentation from Kevin Williams, Mathew Holt, Greg Ritchie and others.
A favorite to their fans, The Sneed Family provides an honest worship experience while providing encouragement.
Watch for them on stage as well as on television with their production of “Sneed Family Music”. The program is seen in over one million homes each week. The Sneed Family brings music, and interviews from the best in Southern Gospel Music. The show is now available online.
For more information on The Sneed Family, click here.
Links to download the video are available here.
The Sneed Family is available to bring the message to your church or venue. For booking information, contact Marie Lange, Monarch Talent Management at mtmagency.net
For more Gospel music news click here.
Tags: Ben Isaacs, gospel music, Greg Ritchie, Kevin Williams, Mathew Holt, Sneed Family
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