Elaina Smith Music

Creekside Gospel Music Convention

Peace Beyond Our Understanding

Written by Staff on August 29, 2014 – 12:31 pm -

Windy SkyBy Jennifer Campbell

Have you ever experienced something in life that tried to rob you of your peace? There are minor instances where our peace is suppressed only momentarily, such as when we have a flat tire on the way to work. Sometimes in life, though, we endure hardships that seem too difficult to bear. I know firsthand what the latter feels like. Six years ago, on August 2, 2008, my mom went to be with the Lord.

That night, my world was shattered. But even in the midst of the most horrific night of my life, Jesus Christ wrapped His loving arms around me and my dad. Although our human eyes saw what looked like a devastating storm raging in our lives, He showered our hearts and minds with peace beyond our understanding.

All of my life, I have read Philippians chapter four and it is still one of my favorite passages of scripture. But it wasn’t until I went through the tragedy of losing my mom that I truly began to understand the meaning of verse 7. Here is the verse in context: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV). The Apostle Paul tells us that we should not be anxious. That means we should not worry about anything. Instead, he tells us to pray in every situation.

Mountains and snowYou might be thinking, how could I possibly pray when I am upset, stressed, or grieving? I know, it sounds nearly impossible. But I can tell you that a life with constant anxiety is much more difficult than a life with prayer at the center. That night, as we called loved ones to give them the devastating news, Psalm 121:1-2 ran through my mind repeatedly. It says, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” I looked up at the silhouette of the mountains under the moonlit sky and prayed that God would give us strength in the coming hours, days, months, and years.

You see, even as I stood outside our camper with a broken heart, I knew that Jesus Christ was not only standing beside us, but He was holding our hands, to keep us from falling. He is the Prince of Peace. Although the circumstances were anything but peaceful, Jesus brought peace to our troubled hearts. My dad and I sat beside my mom and sang, “Living by Faith.” Our faith was the only thing that kept us going in that heartbreaking moment. We prayed that God would send the Comforter to us. Through our faith in God, we were showered with the peace that Paul wrote about. We had peace in a situation where it doesn’t even seem to belong, according to our human perspective. This kind of peace is a peace that exceeds all understanding.

One day my parents and I were enjoying a family vacation in the mountains and the next day, my dad and I were going to the local funeral home. My dad and I were exhausted, physically, mentally, and emotionally. But we still had peace. It wasn’t the peace like one feels while lying in the sun at the beach or listening to the raindrops go pitter patter on a metal roof. This was the kind of Heavenly peace that I cannot understand nor fully explain. Inexplicable peace that comes from Heaven above when the current circumstances seem like peace should not be found. That is the kind of peace Paul writes about and the kind of peace that we experienced that night.

joans water and lightSix years later, I still miss my mom daily. But my dad and I have found a new normal and a new purpose. The same God who gave us peace in the midst of a tumultuous storm six years ago is the same God who gives us peace now, whether we are on the mountain top or in the valley. Life without my mom is not easy, especially on days like her birthday, Mother’s Day, or on August 2nd. But our lives are made glorious by the peace and joy that comes from knowing Jesus Christ! He is the reason we live, the reason we laugh, and the reason we love! I thank Him every day for His countless blessings and His peace that passes all understanding.

joan sunrise smallI want to encourage you today. Whatever it is you are going through put your unwavering trust in Jesus Christ. He will never fail you. The peace that comes from knowing Jesus Christ as your personal Savior is unlike any other you will ever encounter on this earth. With Jesus Christ living in your heart, you will experience a truly abundant life. Through the good times and the bad times, He will guard your heart with peace like no other. He will fill your heart with joy unspeakable! You will be able to face each and every day with the calm assurance that God will give you peace beyond your understanding!

Jennifer Campbell writes monthly features for SGN Scoops digital magazine.

For more devotionals as well as artist features, see the latest edition of SGN Scoops digital magazine at http://www.sgnscoops.com/

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The Whisnants: All Is Well

Written by SGN Scoops Staff on July 15, 2014 – 9:03 am -

Whis_Window_croppedBy Jennifer Campbell

Forty three years ago, God sought out a few individuals from Morganton, North Carolina for a special purpose. He knew they had a heart to minister to others. He knew they would tell others about Jesus. He knew they were up to the task, despite the long drives, the sleepless nights, and the struggles along the way. For more than four decades, these individuals have stayed true to the calling that God has placed on their lives. Through every bump in the road, The Whisnants know that God is in control and they can say with confidence, all is well.

Jeff Whisnant is the only original member of the group.   As owner and manager for the group, Jeff sings baritone and runs sound on stage. He said, “We placed our ministry in God’s hands 43 years ago and have watched Him do miraculous things.  There is no doubt in my mind that God has His hand on this ministry.”

Jeff’s parents influenced his decision to enter into the Southern Gospel Music industry, along with Eldridge Fox, former owner of the Kingsmen. Jeff’s wife, Susan says herdad is the one whom she says has been the greatest musical influence on her life. She said he taught her to love to sing. In fact, she sang with her dad up until she met Jeff.   She fell in love with this genre of music when the Singing Americans came to her church years ago. She said the Nelons also inspired her, including songs such as “Oh, For a Thousand Tongues” and “Come Morning.” Susan stated, “That’s when I fell in love with Southern Gospel Music.”

Susan continued to say, her greatest life achievement so far has been raising their sons, Austin and Ethan.

“Being a mother is the greatest gift God ever gave me,” Susan said.   “I’d do it again. I’ve got two of the finest boys that I could ever pray for.   And I love my mom. My mom is probably is my best friend. Being able to be a mom and watch these boys grow and become men of God is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever been able to do.   On this Mother’s Day, I’m thankful for being able to be their mom and being able to be an example for them.”

The+Whisnants+WhisnantsWhen asked how she balances time between family and ministry, Susan said it was about the same. “The boys love being home,” Susan said. “When they were little, we’d just say that home is wherever mom and dad is, and if it’s on the bus, then that’s home, and if we’re in Morganton, that’s home.   Wherever we are is where home is.   It’s tough balancing it out sometimes.   I missed my grandfather’s funeral about two months ago. That was tough, because we were booked. I was going to cancel and my dad said, absolutely not. You go do what you’ve got to do. It’s tough to balance, but at the same time, I could not imagine not doing it with my family. That has been a blessing.”

For the Whisnants, the best part of traveling on the road together is just that: being together. Susan said her favorite part of singing with the Whisnants is being with her family.

“We watch movies together and just spend time together,” Susan said. “I love it. We eat together. We do it all. I love it all. That’s the best part, just being with my family. I couldn’t do it if I had to dread getting on that bus, and I’m thankful I don’t dread it.”

Jeff added, “The Southern Gospel life is not an easy life, but it is an extremely rewarding life. As for traveling and singing, I am having the time of my life.  Getting to travel with our family and the guys who work with us, I consider myself a VERY blessed man.”

Jeff and Susan will celebrate their 26th wedding anniversary on May 28. Their relationship with each other is evidence that they each have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

The Whisnants have had 13 number one songs, several Top 40 songs, and Singing News Song of the Year titles, including their latest nomination in 2013 for “All Is Well.” They have been nominated for Trio of the Year nine times and have received multiple individual nominations. Their list of appearances is extensive, including 18 appearances at the annual National Quartet Convention, as well as appearances on the Gospel Music Southern Style Program (INSP Network) and at the Gaither Video Taping in Nashville in 2007. By earthly standards, they have achieved success in this industry. But the greatest success is the fact that none of this matters to them.

“We’ve always said if we never had a charting song, if the radio never played our music, or if we never sang at a big venue, we would still sing, because that is what God has called us to do,” Susan commented. “Even if we were working full time jobs and singing on the weekends, we would do it because we love it that much. Back in 1988, we were interviewed and that was the one thing we said is that we want to be consistent and stay within the calling, being content with where we are.”

Susan also gives the following advice to young artists just starting out: “Stay within your calling. There are a lot of people that want to sing, but they can’t. If God’s called you to do it, He’s going to make a way. If that means singing in your church or wherever, stay within your calling. To a young group that is starting out, be consistent. Be content with where you are. Pray diligently that God will open the doors.”

Having traveled with the group most of his life, Austin Whisnant is no stranger to life on the road. In 2009, he felt called to step onto the stage with his family as the group’s bass player. At the young age of 19 years old, he loves traveling with his family. He gives the following advice to young artists just starting out: “Make sure you like traveling on a bus!”

Jeff and Susan’s youngest song, Ethan, is 16 years old. He says that he is destined to be a gospel singer as he gets older.

Austin and Ethan are currently working on a new project and there are plans for a new Christmas project by the group, which is tentatively scheduled to be released before the National Quartet Convention.

The final member of the group has been singing lead with the Whisnants since 2001. Aaron Hise was saved at the young age of six years old. He says the best part of traveling with the group is seeing the country, being on the bus with people he loves, eating different foods, and seeing people encouraged by their music and hopefully coming to know the Lord.

SN_bench_croppedIn 10 years, Susan said she hopes to be doing the same thing she is doing now.   She added, “Austin would be 30, so hopefully he is going to be married and maybe have a kid, maybe I’ll be a grandparent. But I want to be doing the same thing I’m doing and loving every minute of it!”

The group sees a lot of things in their travels, but two things rank as the funniest incidents thus far. Susan said a woman came to them, asking for pray for her feet because they were hurting.   They looked down and the woman had her shoes on the wrong feet. Susan recalls another humorous encounter: “Another lady asked us if she could pray for our hearing because we all, she thought, wear hearing aids, but we all wear ear monitors. She was praying that God would touch our hearing. That was pretty funny.”

So many wonderful songs have been written, but Susan would like to write a song titled, “Where Your Treasure Is, There Will Your Heart Be Also.” She said, “I wish I could write a song about that.   I’ve always thought, there are so many people, their treasure is in the wrong place and if they only knew that that is where their heart is, there’s no denying it. It’s just simple, where your treasure is, there will your heart be.   And if our treasure is in the Lord, I want my heart to be there. I want to live daily like it’s my last day. Jesus is my hope, my salvation, my whole world.”

Susan’s favorite scripture is Psalm 28:7: “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.” She commented, “I think I’ve always loved that scripture.”

During the interview, I asked Susan what she would say to God if she could talk to him face to face. She said she would thank Him for loving her unconditionally. She added, “I would thank Him for dying for me. If I’d have been the only one, He would still have loved me that much. And I want to thank Him for that. Also, I was thinking about this yesterday: ‘Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart’. I really want to thank Him for doing that for me, because every desire I’ve ever had. I’ve tried to delight in Him and He has proven His word is true.   It may not always be what I want, but He’s given me the desires of my heart and I want to thank Him for that. Thank Him for my family, my parents, and my upbringing. For every aspect of my life, I want to thank Him. So if I could talk to Him face to face, I would thank Him for every blessing and every detail of my life.”

The Whisnants would like to invite everyone to join them at the Gatlinburg Gathering in Tennessee this July. Mark your calendars now for the National Quartet Convention in Pigeon Forge for the first time this fall, and of course, don’t miss Singing in the Sun in April 2015.

“We were recently part of an entire week of Singing In the Sun in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina,” stated Jeff. “Eight-three people were saved.  There is no way to put a price on that type of reward.  Every once in a while God just blesses in such a way that there is no explanation except to say, that’s God.  Those times keep us going.”

It is in the difficult times of our lives that we need to remember that all is well. Susan said, “The song ‘All is Well’ is something I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that I want to say that. I want to try and fix everything, so when I can’t fix it, I get frustrated. I don’t care what problem it is or whose problem it is, I want to try to fix it. To stand and be able to say, even if the world’s crashing in on me, that God’s still God and all is well. I’ve had to really think through the words of that song and say, God help me to not only sing it, but to live it. I want to be able trust in Him in all things and even if it’s coming unraveled, I can still put my trust in Him and know that all is well.”

D1003Without doubt, the Whisnants live their lives in an effort to spread the Good News of the Gospel through song. Susan, Jeff, Austin, Ethan, and Aaron realize that the days are short and that Jesus is coming soon. Susan said, “In these last days, it is imperative that we as Christians get a backbone about us and to realize that there’s a lost and dying world out there. We think that we’re infringing on their privacy when we share Christ with them, when the truth is they are longing for someone to share with them the Good News of Christ. It is time for us to tell the lady at Wal-Mart she needs Jesus.   We have a job to do, and we only have a little bit of time to do it. We need to encourage each other and to be bold and be strong.”

No matter what is going on in your life, stand up for Jesus, even if you have to stand alone. Follow the lead of the Whisnants and share the message of Jesus Christ with everyone you meet. Tomorrow may be too late.   Put your trust in Jesus, lean on Him, and remember all is well.

For more information about the Whisnants, visit http://www.whisnants.com/.

Written by Jennifer Campbell.

First published by SGN Scoops digital magazine in the May 2014 edition.

For current issues of SGN Scoops, log on to http://www.sgnscoops.com/






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The Nelons “Living a Legacy of Love”

Written by SGN Scoops Staff on June 9, 2013 – 4:09 pm -

Nelons 1The Nelons

“Living a Legacy of Love”

By Jennifer Campbell

Southern Gospel Music is rooted in family, faith, and the mindset that musical talent should be handed down from generation to generation. The Nelons are the prime example of a family who lives this tradition every single day of their lives. Kelly Nelon Clark carries on the tradition started by her father Rex Nelon, just as her children are now a part of the legacy left by their grandfather. Kelly, Jason, Amber, and Autumn understand the value of Southern Gospel Music.

They also know that a close-knit family is priceless. Above all, they place Jesus Christ at the center of it all. Through their love for music, love for family, and love for Jesus Christ, The Nelons are living a legacy of love!

For Kelly Nelon Clark, Southern Gospel Music is a way of life. She spoke of her first recollection of Southern Gospel Music, “I’m sure I was at a concert where my father was singing with The LeFevres and if I remember correctly it was at the city auditorium in Atlanta, GA. I was probably three years old.”

Rex Nelon left a legacy that will always be remembered, both by his family and the countless individuals he influenced throughout his life. “My father would be the greatest influence in my life,” Kelly stated. “I watched how he handled adversities, the bus break downs, the constant staying on the phone to make sure the dates were on the books so that we could make a living. He handled so many things and he handled them well. He was such a good man and a man of great integrity. I don’t think he realized how many people loved him.”

Of course, Jason Clark is no stranger to Gospel Music either, having been raised alongside his bass singing father Dan Clark. Jason says, “I remember hanging out at their concerts, riding the bus occasionally, going to their rehearsals, then coming home and giving my very own pretend concerts for the audience of Mammaw & Papaw Clark in their living room. They have a picture of me in diapers, holding my microphone and giving the performance of a lifetime at the early age of two.”

Amber and Autumn also grew up with Gospel Music running through their blood. Amber said that music has always been a part of her life and that she has always wanted to sing Southern Gospel Music. Autumn echoed Amber’s response saying, “That’s all I have ever really known.”

The Nelons are comprised of husband and wife duo Jason Clark and Kelly Nelon Clark, along with their daughters Autumn and Amber. Throughout their musical career, they have garnered three Grammy nominations, six Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, and many other accolades. They have traveled from sea to shining sea and they have even journeyed “across the pond” on a Scandinavian tour.

“I love to travel because it has afforded us the privilege of seeing the world over, and experiencing so many diverse cultures,” commented Jason. “The ministry is more fulfilling than I could ever explain when I think about the marvelous love of Jesus and that I get to tell others about that through the medium of music is extremely humbling, gratifying, and sometimes overwhelming.”

Kelly added, “We have traveled here and abroad and the greatest thing are the friendships and relationships we have made and kept down through the years. We love and cherish our friends. Also to see a life that has been affected by something we have sung or said is worth all the miles we travel.” Whether they are at home or abroad, one thing is certain: Kelly, Jason, Amber, and Autumn love what they do because they are doing what they love.
Kelly said that singing has always been her dream. She commented, “From the first day of kindergarten it was just a part of me that I would sometime sing with my father. It was my dream and my desire and thankfully God granted the desires of my heart. I spent many days on the road with my father Rex Nelon, and I can honestly say it was always a joy. We were very close and we talked every day and I could tell him anything. I really miss that.” Read more »

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April 2013 Editon Of SGNScoops Magazine

Written by SGN Scoops Staff on May 2, 2013 – 5:35 pm -

We are stoked about the April edition of SGNScoops Magazine! The beloved, ever popular Triumphant Quartet is gracing the cover this month! Also in this issue, get the inside scoop on Ann Downing’s latest recording experience and enjoy part 2 of Lorraine Walker’s series on John Lanier. Our focus on Christian Country Music shines the spotlight on Barbara Lowman, and we’re highlighting 2 special young folks this month-Zach Flowers and Olivia Collingsworth. In addition to the latest gospel music happenings, April’s issue includes several articles of Christian interest. Sandi Duncan Clark reviews a book titled “Question Everything” and Dixie reviews “The Grasshopper Effect,” a book about small churches. John Mathis Jr. and Jennifer Campbell encourage our hearts with articles of inspiration and don’t miss a special word of encouragement by our new staff writer, Dr. Jeff Steele. This month offers music reviews, an honor to Mark Lowry, a concert review of The Easters and special coverage of the Tracy Stuffle Benefit Concert. Rhonda Frye encourages West Coast Southern Gospel fans to attend the Great Western Fan Festival later this month, and Lorraine Walker tells our readers about the tourist hot-spots in Pigeon Forge, home of the Creekside Gospel Music Convention. Thank you to our talented staff of writers and design team for another beautiful issue of SGNScoops Magazine. Remember…we’re always free, and always good! By all means… Please share with your friends, fans and family on your websites and social media outlets!

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April 2013 Editon Of SGNScoops Magazine

Written by SGN Scoops Staff on April 10, 2013 – 6:33 pm -

sgnscoops0413_smWe are stoked about the April edition of SGNScoops Magazine! The beloved, ever popular Triumphant Quartet is gracing the cover this month! Also in this issue, get the inside scoop on Ann Downing’s latest recording experience and enjoy part 2 of Lorraine Walker’s series on John Lanier. Our focus on Christian Country Music shines the spotlight on Barbara Lowman, and we’re highlighting 2 special young folks this month-Zach Flowers and Olivia Collingsworth. In addition to the latest gospel music happenings, April’s issue includes several articles of Christian interest. Sandi Duncan Clark reviews a book titled “Question Everything” and Dixie reviews “The Grasshopper Effect,” a book about small churches. John Mathis Jr. and Jennifer Campbell encourage our hearts with articles of inspiration and don’t miss a special word of encouragement by our new staff writer, Dr. Jeff Steele. This month offers music reviews, an honor to Mark Lowry, a concert review of The Easters and special coverage of the Tracy Stuffle Benefit Concert. Rhonda Frye encourages West Coast Southern Gospel fans to attend the Great Western Fan Festival later this month, and Lorraine Walker tells our readers about the tourist hot-spots in Pigeon Forge, home of the Creekside Gospel Music Convention. Thank you to our talented staff of writers and design team for another beautiful issue of SGNScoops Magazine. Remember…we’re always free, and always good! By all means… Please share with your friends, fans and family on your websites and social media outlets!

Download This Months Magazine Here

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Gordon Mote: “Music, Family, Life!”

Written by SGN Scoops on March 7, 2013 – 10:38 am -

“Music, Family, Life”

Gordon Mote

By Jennifer Campbell

(published December 2012 SGNScoops Magazine)

GordonSitting on a piano bench at the young age of three years old, Gordon Mote began a journey that has literally taken him across the country and around the world.  For even as a young boy, God began preparing Gordon for a journey far greater than he ever imagined possible.  Now, he travels more than 150 dates per year and works on recording sessions for a wide array of Gospel and Country artists each week.  He has become one of the most sought-after recording studio session players in Nashville, receiving the Academy of Country Music Award for Piano/Keyboard Player of the Year in 2009 and 2011.  But through it all, Gordon keeps his eyes on the One who made it all possible: God.  He gives God the glory for his music, his family, and his life.

“I’m sure it was a big influence in me even knowing [Gospel] music because I’m sure Mama and Daddy didn’t listen to a whole lot of other at that time,” Gordon said.  “But I remember playing [piano] in church.  My first memories of playing piano were mostly gospel songs.  As I grew up, as a kid, I’d listen to all kinds of radio and I’d play anything I heard, if it was a television commercial, or a country song, or a pop song, or a gospel song.  But we grew up listening to Southern Gospel and as I got older, contemporary music.”

While Gordon has ventured into several genres of music throughout his career, there is still a special place in his heart for the music that started it all.  The timeless melodies and old familiar lyrics of the Gospel classics hold fond memories for Gordon.

“We had a radio station in our hometown, WGAD, in Gadsden,” Gordon stated, “and they had a Sunday morning program called Songs of Inspiration. That’s where we heard so many of the songs that my brother and I learned to sing.  That’s why the “Songs I Grew Up Singing” record I have out now is so important to me because it brings back a lot of great memories and it just proves that great lyrics and great songs can stand the test of time.  You put a new face on it and it’s like it’s brand new again.”

Gordon credits Bill Gaither for giving him the platform on which to begin his ministry.  He said his six years traveling with the Gaither Homecoming tour was a memorable journey, one that he cherishes to this day.  He still joins the tour on select dates whenever his schedule allows.

Speaking of the Gaither Homecoming Friends, Gordon said the best part of being at a taping for the Homecoming Video series is what people do not see on the videos.  He says that the Homecoming Friends are like a big family.  They share stories, tell jokes, and even argue a little bit.  But at the end of the day, they care for each other and love each other like one big happy family.

Gordon is part of the younger generation of Gospel Music artists, so I asked him what it was like to follow in the footsteps of so many of the Gospel Music legends.  His response was that it is “weird.”  He said people always come up to him at concerts, complimenting him and his ministry.  And he said they say things about him like he would say of many of the legends.  He humbly said that it seems odd at times that people will pay for a ticket just to come see him.  But he said he enjoys talking to people and meeting new people, which is why he said his autograph line usually moves a bit slower than others nearby.  Surely, this is a trait of someone who truly loves what they do and appreciates the people who come to hear him perform. Read more »

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Canton Junction: A Faithful Journey!

Written by SGN Scoops on February 13, 2013 – 8:25 pm -

“A Faithful Journey”

Canton Junction

By Jennifer Campbell, 

(SGNScoops Magazine, November 2012)


canton junctionHave you ever encountered a crossroads in life?  Sometimes in life, we may not plan out the course our lives will take.  But God knows the path that we will travel down along life’s journey, and He knows where these roads will intersect.  One Sunday morning, four individuals joined their voices in song, unaware of the harmony that would bring them together as a group.  Matthew Hagee, Aaron Crabb, Michael Sykes, and Tim Duncan came to a crossroads.  Instead of going four separate directions, they faithfully followed God’s footsteps.  And His footsteps traveled down the road to Canton Junction.

Canton Junction was born from a special musical performance at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas.  As the group began to sing, it became clear that the harmony within the group, both literally and figuratively, was a rare find.  The group’s name, Canton Junction, means “the crossroads of different subjects or regions into one gathering point.”  On the day they came together to sing in one accord, that was their gathering point.  The different regions where they live and diverse musical backgrounds they come from represent the crossroads of different subjects.  Yet, no matter how different they may be, they sing for one reason and one reason alone: to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

While they are a quartet, Canton Junction represents so much more than four-part harmony.  They have dozens of GMA Dove Awards, Grammy nominations, and other accolades between them.  In addition, they have over 85 years of experience between them.  Their styles of music range from traditional hymns to the Eagles and Southern Gospel to big band.  Needless to say, there is something for everyone.  And the best part of all is that every song is sung for the sole purpose of sharing God’s grace with everyone who hears them.

For over a decade, the lead singer of Canton Junction, Aaron Crabb, traveled with the renowned group The Crabb Family.  During this chapter in his musical journey, he sang and produced 19 number one gospel songs.  This Kentucky-born individual has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Grand Ole Opry, and many other prestigious locations.  Yet all the while, he simply loves the Lord, his family, and singing.  Aaron holds a firm belief that God can use music to heal hearts and that the Truth gets us through the many obstacles that we may encounter.

Canton Junction is proud to have award-winning bass singer, Tim Duncan, on board with them.  An original member of Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, Tim describes himself as a “quartet man.”  He received the Singing News Fan Award for Best Bass in 2006.  Tim said his earliest memories of music were of his dad buying quartet records.  It was in these moments that he fell in love with the thrill of hearing long endings, the tenor soaring, and the bass booming.  Bringing to the table 16 years of full-time singing experience, along with his involvement with Billboard-topping albums and DVDs, he still remains down to earth.  For Tim, it’s not about the awards and honors, but instead, it’s about the reason he sings: he loves to make people happy by singing the best music in the world – music that communicates the Best News ever.

Continuing a six-generation legacy of ministry, Matthew Hagee sings tenor for Canton Junction.  Matthew grew up singing around the piano with his family.  He serves as Executive Pastor of Cornerstone Church, alongside his father, John Hagee, Founding Pastor.  Having graduated from Oral Roberts University School of Business, Matthew is also a gifted speaker and author, in addition to being an accomplished vocalist.  He has authored two books, “Shaken, Not Shattered” and “Response-Able.”  When he is not on stage, he lives a truly Texan lifestyle, trading horses and cattle in his spare time.

The group’s baritone is no stranger to gospel music, having enjoyed a long and successful run in Nashville as a producer, songwriter, and business owner.  Michael Sykes has produced award-winning albums for artists such as the Gaither Vocal Band, Russ Taff, The Martins, Jeff and Sheri Easter, and The Oak Ridge Boys.  His love for harmony, along with his tenure with Ponder, Sykes, & Wright, makes him a natural group vocalist.  Although Michael has received multiple GMA Dove Awards for producing and songwriting, he is a country boy at heart who has a gift for making music.

I had the opportunity to interview Matthew recently and found that he not only preaches what he sings, but also lives what he preaches.  I pray you enjoy reading his responses to the questions I presented to him.

Matthew said that it’s hard to remember when he first heard Southern Gospel Music.  He said, “It’s difficult to say when church music, family music, fun music was and is Southern Gospel Music.  It wasn’t until someone told us what we were listening to that we knew what to call the music that was such a big part of our everyday lives.  I have always loved Gospel Music of every kind and type.  From an early age my family memories are around the piano singing the songs of the church.  My father has always made it a point to pursue excellent, God-honoring music in our church, and as long as those two elements were first and foremost, then the style really didn’t matter.   From big band to bluegrass it all has a place.”

Now that he is a part of a Gospel singing group, Mathew says that following in the steps of some of the greatest Gospel Music Legends is nearly incomprehensible.  “To even be mentioned in phrases with people that you admire so dearly seems to be beyond anything we could have imagined for Canton Junction,” said Matthew.

Mathew said his greatest influence has been his father, John Hagee.  He added, “Outside of my father in music, there have been many – George Younce, Glen Payne, Lari Goss, Ben Speer, and Bill Gaither – not to mention the gentlemen I’m privileged to work with now.”

As a singer, the lyrics of songs become a very important part of your life.  Matthew said if he could write a song to describe his life so far, he would title the song, “Blessed.”  Concerning a song that has blessed him personally, he responded, “That is something that changes from day to day and season to season.   Whether it is a season of joy or hardship, the greatest endorsement I can give to Gospel Music is that it always meets the needs of the moment.”

Matthew is definitely a family man.  Matthew said, “Anywhere my wife and kids are happy is paradise to me.”  He and his wife Kendal are blessed with three children, Hannah Rose, John William and Joel Charles, and are looking forward to the birth of their fourth child in April 2013.  He says he balances his time between family and ministry by purposely devoting his time to whatever it is he is doing.  “When I’m with my family, I’m with my family,” Matthew said.  “When I am working, I am working.  Whatever I am doing at the moment is what I am 100% invested in.”

Matthew shared some wisdom to young artists who are just starting out.  He said, “Always honor God; make worship a priority and endure.”  Matthew said, “God is alive and well and watching.”  Canton Junction follows this advice, understanding the fact that we should live our lives in honor of our Heavenly Father, making Him proud when He watches us along the road of life.

More About Matt

Most Encouraging Scripture: Jeremiah 1:5

Favorite Restaurant: “What are you hungry for?”

Favorite Book: Whichever one is in my hand at the moment.  I love to read!

The group is excited to see what great things God has in store for them as they seek His direction on their musical journey.  Their journey has literally taken them around the world with their tour of Israel where they performed for Prime Minister Netanyahu.  Additionally, they recently recorded a live concert in San Antonio.  “It was one of the most exciting musical events that I have ever been a part of,” stated Matthew.  “We are looking forward to sharing the evening in a video release very soon.”

Canton Junction has experienced great success throughout the time they have been sharing the Good News through song.  And it is certain that they will continue to have tremendous success for years to come.  For Matthew, and quite assuredly the other members of the group, the best part of traveling and singing as Canton Junction is the “opportunity to see people blessed by the message of the music that we sing and to enjoy singing with friends that mean so much.”  That is what it is truly all about: the message in the music, the music along the journey, and the faithful journey traveled by Canton Junction.

Canton Junction recently celebrated their chart-topping radio success at a special luncheon. The quartet’s debut single, “Hold On,” written by Gerald Crabb, reached #1 on The Christian Voice singles chart, while currently holding the #2 position on The Singing News.  To order Canton Junction’s debut album, visit: http://www.differencemedia.org.


For More information, visit Canton Junction on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CantonJunctionMusic

If you enjoyed this article, please download the latest issue of SGNScoops Magazine.  February’s issue highlights the ministries of The Nelons, The Browders, Lindsay Huggins, Gerald Crabb and more.   Here:

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“Simply Charlotte” (Feature Story on Charlotte Ritchie)

Written by SGN Scoops on December 6, 2012 – 10:25 am -

“Simply Charlotte”

Published in 2012 August Edition’

by Jennifer Campbell And Rhonda Frye


Some people are born with an innate love of music.  Others are blessed with the talent to be able to share their musical talent with thousands of people.  A select few have the gift of being able to also balance the responsibilities of being a wife and mother, all the while maintaining a busy schedule of traveling across the country.  This artist is no stranger to Southern Gospel Music, having traveled with the Nelons for five years and then Jeff and Sheri Easter for 12 years.  Now, she enjoys her third year traveling as a soloist.  This special individual is none other than Charlotte Ritchie.

Charlotte says of her solo career, “I’m really enjoying the solo thing.  It is different, but I am enjoying it!”  She said you don’t really realize how much planning goes into everything, since you are the only one planning your set, talking on stage, and seeming as if you have done all of this for years.  She said, “It’s a LOT!  You can’t turn to anyone else for help; you just have to do it.”

Even so, she has definitely risen to the challenge.  People are embracing her with open arms and she is grateful for their support.  “It’s really been amazing because even though I’ve been in the industry for a long time, when you start something new, you’re starting over,” said Charlotte.  “People have been so kind.   We have just been busy since day one and that’s a huge blessing!  We’ve been very thankful for that.”

If you ever have the opportunity to sit down and chat with Charlotte, you’ll find out that her heart is as a big as the state of Texas.  Not only that, but her love for God is greater still.  She gives God all of the credit concerning her solo ministry.  “God has opened a lot of doors for us,” Charlotte stated.  “That has been our prayer from the beginning.  God, You open the doors for us and we will go!  And He has, so that’s what we’re doing.”  Read more »

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October 2012 Edition Of SGNScoops Magazine

Written by SGN Scoops Staff on October 9, 2012 – 8:56 pm -

We are pleased to celebrate 75 years in Gospel Music with Ms. Lou Wills Hildreth in this edition of SGNScoops Magazine. Sandi Duncan Clark captured many of this living legend’s memories in this month’s cover story. Also in this edition enjoy ministry updates from Larnelle Harris, Voices Won, Freedom, Wilburn & Wilburn, the Hinshaws and Jim Mahalick. Get a peek inside the SGNScoops booth at the 2012 NQC as well as follow Charlie Sexton around as he talks to fans who attended this year’s event. Laura speaks with Gospel Music Historian, Dean Adkins, Sandi shares a conversation with Greg Bentley regarding “talent competitions” and Rhonda Frye speaks with Gloria Gaither about the new Gaither Homecoming Bible. See who released new music and find out who is topping charts! Enjoy several inspirational articles including one from guest writer, Janene Dubbeld and keep up with Jeff Hawes as he travels the world with Karen Peck and New River! Don’t miss the latest update on the Creekside Gospel Music Convention too! We excited to share about this year’s outreach project! This month is packed with the latest news in the world of gospel music delivered by a dedicated staff with many years experience in the Industry. Please share with friends and remember- Always digital, always free…… always good!

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August 2012 SGNScoops Magazine

Written by SGN Scoops Staff on August 8, 2012 – 9:10 pm -

We’re serving up another sizzling hot summer issue! This packed August edition unveils the list of the 2012 Diamond Awards Nominees! Also this month, Lorraine Walker, Sandi Duncan Clark, Jennifer Campbell, Charlie Sexton and Laura Kennedy presents the latest happenings in the ministries of Greater Vision, Charlotte Ritchie, Lynda Randle, The Skyline Boys, Jeff Steele and Jaidyn’s Call. Look behind the music with Rob Estep as he talks with Ben Storie, and focus on the young with Victoria Shirey as she shines the spotlight on Rebecca Reynolds. Don’t miss Rob Patz’ Publisher’s Point and enjoy a Media Minute with him along with Sylvia Green. Charlie Sexton covers the Lari Goss Celebration and Rhonda Frye catches up with Union Street, Roy Webb and Bruce Taliaferro on the road. Lou Wills Hildreth shares legendary memories, John Mathis Jr. offers a word of encouragement and Laurrette Willis’ reminds us to eat healthy! Jeff Hawes shares memories from his home town, and special guest writer, AJ RINALDI offers post-trauma faith sharing tips. We also share our excitement regarding 2 major upcoming events: The National Quartet Convention and Creekside Gospel Music Convention! See what songs are topping the charts and who is releasing new music in this all-digital, all free August Edition! And… Share with your friends!

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