By: David Staton
Surely You Know Better!
I have always been amazed how many church people can compartmentalize their church life from how they live their lives Monday through Saturday. I have been in ministry all of my life and I’ve also worked secular jobs during many of my years in ministry. I will probably speak for many folks in ministry in this article. I am going to address a few issues from many different views concerning business and ministry.
My dad always told us kids that if anyone tries to get you to ignore common sense in anything, we should stay away from that person. There have been times when I ignored what my dad taught me, and I can tell you that I have regretted every one of those times. He always told us that God created you with a brain and if you don’t use it, you will live a life with a lot of regrets. Your brain is what allows you to make important choices.
How do we choose to follow Christ and live according to the scriptures? You have to use the brain that God so wonderfully created and placed between your ears. Common sense is not living a faithless life, it is using wisdom based on biblical principles and learning from past mistakes. I heard a great preacher say once that those who won’t listen must feel. It’s the difference between foolishness and wisdom. What you are about to read is based on common sense, biblical instruction and what I have had to feel.
First topic: Recording
This is directed to gospel artists everywhere. The average budget for a recording by a major artist is anywhere between $20,000.00 and $40,000.00. With any recording project, time is money. When you see someone advertise that they can produce a 10 song project for $2950.00 and it will compare with anything on the radio, surely you know better! When you get in the studio and realize your budget recording only allowed enough time to get three songs done and now you have to come up with additional money in order to finish 7 more songs, surely you knew better.
Then when a radio promoter tells you they can take your demo quality recording and get you on the charts, surely you know better! And on the occasion that someone does manipulate the charts and gets that demo quality recording on the air, please know that the entire industry and most fans knows better. If you were in any other genre of music, it wouldn’t even enter your mind that such a scenario could be possible. But somehow, since this is GOSPEL music, we open the window and let common sense sprout wings and take off.
To all of my artist friends, surely you can hear the difference. Surely you know better. If you don’t, I’m telling you with all the love I have for you and gospel music, you may want to consider a different way to make a living.
To all of my radio friends, surely you can hear the difference. Surely you know better.
If I’m wrong about the last two, we are in really big trouble.
This is for my fellow artists who are struggling and those who consider themselves leaders in the gospel music industry. If Macintosh / Apple Computers didn’t set retail prices and just gave away their products for whatever people thought they were worth, do you know how much that iPhone 5S, iPad or mac laptop would be worth? You guessed it, nothing. Then imagine the board of directors and stockholders of Apple sitting around a conference table as each one gives their opinion on why the company is about to go bankrupt.
The first one says, “I think it’s because there are too many little computer companies with inferior products that is killing our industry.” Another says, “I think we just need to make more products.” Another says, “I think we should train these smaller companies to make better products so there wouldn’t be so much junk in the marketplace.” Someone speaks up and says, “Forget the laws of supply and demand and let’s just work harder and make more products.” Each one gives their opinion and no one even addresses the fact that Apple has stopped setting a retail price on their technology and they are giving away their products. The obvious problem never gets addressed and Apple continues to give their product away. How can anything that Apple creates have any worth if they keep manufacturing with real numbers, real overhead but they only ask for donations?
If you are or have ever been a leading artist in our industry and you can’t figure out this little parable, let me just go ahead and say it. STOP SINGING FOR FREE! Why should anyone go to NQC or any other promoter’s event, stay in a hotel, pay a ticket price and have to buy food when most any of the artists on these events will be somewhere this year within an hour from my house singing for a love offering? Does that mean you will work less? Probably! But when you do work, there will be some worth and value to your music and what you do. I’m amazed that this has gone on for so long and everyone is still wondering why the crowds are getting smaller. YOU’RE GIVING AWAY YOUR PRODUCT! Not many people value the music and what you do. How can it have worth?
Now, I know I’m going to get comments from the spiritual elite that will want to talk about how these artists need to sing for the right reason and preach about the artist’s lack of faith while ignoring their own lack of responsibility. All of a sudden, their spirituality just asked someone to ignore common sense and do something stupid. If you have six guys who each have families, riding on a bus that blows out $100 bills from the exhaust pipe, how can you ignore common sense and lose money? Surely you know better!
To the pastors and promoters who book these artists in their church or at their event, surely you know better. Even if the artists don’t own a calculator to figure their real expenses, you have a responsibility for any ministry that is coming to minister and edify your church. I realize that the default response is that if the artist is right with God, they’ll just drive blindly across the country and hope and pray that someone at your church cares enough to invite folks to come to this free event.
I would love to know how 1 Corinthians 16 gets ignored in all of the planning. If you’re going to take a biblical position on this, don’t just pull the lack of faith card; let’s look at real biblical instruction. The apostle Paul told the church of Corinth to do what the Galatian church did. Paul told them to take up multiple offerings the first day of every week and set aside some so they wouldn’t have to take up an offering while he was there.
In other words, don’t burden the folks who are visiting the night of the event to take care of the ministry coming in, set the money aside and plan ahead! The need should be met before the bus gets fired up. If there is a debate that singers are really ministers, then you should really examine the ones that are and bless them like they will bless your church. I have been on too many buses that have travelled for 20 plus hours to get to a date that is only guaranteeing them a love offering that night and refused to get them a hotel room.
My first thought is shame on the artist for neglecting common sense and putting your families at risk because you have not put any kind of value on what you do. After we arrive at the church and there’s only 50 people that show up, my second thought is shame on the leadership of this church for putting no value on this ministry or the event itself. It’s not worth more than a collection that night and it’s not even worth putting some effort into trying to fill the seats.
The gospel has more value in a third world country. You don’t have to bring a sound system, lights or even a singer. Just show up with some bibles and people will literally risk being tortured or killed to hear the gospel. Why do ministers who sing or preach have such little value to the American church? Someone has to put value on this if it’s going to last. So I say to both the pastors and to the artists, surely you know better!
I’m not trying to place blame on the artists or the churches, I’m just saying that we all need to wake up and use some common sense. There are thousands of part time, regional artists who don’t do this for a living that will sing for free and that’s fine, but if you are a professional artist and you devote all of your time and money into your ministry, there should be a difference between you and the artists who do this as a hobby.
The difference should be apparent in the quality of the music, the vocals and your overall presentation of the Gospel should be so powerful that it’s obvious that you have worked and perfected what you do. All of this should make churches want to work toward an event where no financial need is left unfulfilled because you have made sure that no spiritual need is left unfulfilled that night.
For the artists who feel like this should strictly be entertainment, I applaud you. There is nothing wrong with Christian entertainment. In my opinion this should have a ticket price and if it’s worth the ticket price, folks will show up. If not, you need to up the entertainment value by maybe making the music worth the price. If you think that people will pay a ticket price for a generic concert that most regional artists do, well…surely you know better.
To anyone who is wondering what the difference is between music ministry (which does have an element of entertainment value) and strictly entertainment, surely you know better!
David Staton is a monthly columnist with SGN Scoops digital magazine.
This column was originally published in April 2014 by SGN Scoops.
For current SGN Scoops issues visit http://www.sgnscoops.com/
Tags: Can You Handle The Truth, Christian Music, David Staton, Gospel artist, gospel music, sgn scoops, SGN Scoops digital magazine, southern gospel, Truth
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Driven Quartet has been traveling the nation’s highways singing Gospel music since 2007. Owner Jason Funderburk was literally born into the industry, as he grew up watching his father Danny sing with the Cathedral Quartet. Now his quartet is making their own mark on Gospel music with their new recording and a strong sound, mixing memories of the Cathedrals with a more youthful flavor and energy.
Jason Funderburk joins SGM Radio on an In Depth interview and tells us about the new CD, Takin’ You There. “This project contains some old Cathedral favorites and we have a song included on here that my Grandaddy wrote called “Whiter Than Snow,” says Jason. “ My Dad makes a cameo appearance on it and it will surely bless your heart. Our latest single is “Would Not Be Surprised”.” [Editor's note: Published May 2013]
Will Lane on bass, baritone Chad Smith and Wesley Smith singing tenor join Funderburk in Driven, and their combination of traditional quartet vocals is very reminiscent of Cathedral days. “A lot of folks may not know that we have Wesley Smith as our new tenor,” says Funderburk. “He has been with Palmetto State and Dixie Echoes. Wesley brings a lot of variety to our concert setting. We do a large segment of our concert with piano, bass, and acoustic guitar.”
Funderburk says his favorite song to sing with the group is “Between a Rock and Hard Place,” as well as, “Whiter Than Snow.” Gospel music is in his blood and he loves to travel and sing the message of Jesus Christ. “ My favorite thing about traveling with these guys is that it’s like traveling with three brothers,” says Jason. “We are a family. I would not be scared to say that we get along with each other off stage just as well as we do on stage because of our kinship.”
“Will is our encourager. He is always ready to sing no matter the circumstances,” shares Funderburk. “Chad is our accountability partner. He keeps us grounded in our devotions. And Wesley, he is our down-to-earth guy. He helps keep our stress level down. Well, at times!” laughs Jason.
Thoroughly seasoned in presenting a well-rounded concert, Funderburk says a Driven Quartet presentation is carefully arranged. “I try to construct a good evening of fellowship, ministry and laughter, as well as making the environment comfortable for the guys. I believe that God has allowed me to share the Lord with others through song and I truly enjoy it. I try to always keep others uplifted and strive to be as organized as possible.”
Sharing the Lord with others requires a commitment to regular communication with Him, which Jason says comes through personal devotions. “I try to strengthen my relationship daily with the Lord. I begin each new day reading a passage from a very special book that my best friend gave me entitled God Moments. This helps get my day started off on the right track,” says Funderburk. “Another one of my favorite authors is A. W. Tozer.”
”Something that has really spoken to me lately is our church’s recent study of the book of Daniel,” Jason comments. “The strength and faith of Daniel has been a very big source of encouragement at this time of my life.”
Funderburk shares that one of his goals for this year is to spend more time with his family. “I keep my family strong by good open communication and continuous love,” says Jason. “I keep them strong in the Lord by depending on Him with all decisions we make and allowing Him to lead, guide and direct our paths. The one thing I cannot live without is the love and support of family and friends.”
On a more humorous note, Funderburk admits that he isn’t always as strong as he should be. “One habit I know I should break but can’t would be eating sweets after 9pm!”
Jason has been in the Gospel music spotlight for many years but claims there are things that might take his audience by surprise. “One thing that very few people know about me is that I love to fish and hunt,” he says. “And my favorite TV show is Duck Dynasty.”
Jason Funderburk and Driven Quartet continue to share the “Boundless Love” of Jesus Christ through new songs and old, bringing the timeless message to audiences of all ages. As Jason says, they are “Lovin’ the Lord, Lovin’ Life” as they are Driven4Him.
For more information on Jason Funderburk and Driven Quartet, as well as their tour schedule, visit: http://www.drivenqt.com/home
SGMRadio was happy to chat with the Jason Funderburk, owner and lead vocalist of Driven Quartet, as we continue our feature entitled “In Depth With”. We will try to allow you to get to know your favorite artists just a little better by asking questions you may have always wanted to ask. If you have a favorite artist please email us and tell us what you would like to know about them! Email here: email@example.com
First published by SGM Radio website in May 2013. For current features, visit http://www.sgmradio.com/
Tags: Christian artists, Christian Music, driven, driven quartet, gospel music, Jason Funderburk, Lorraine Walker, sgm radio, southern gospel
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SGN Scoops writer and Gaither homecoming favorite, Lou Wills Hildreth, is currently recovering at home following ankle surgery. Lou is under the care of her husband Howard, their son Dr. David Hildreth and daughter Kathryn Mumaw.
Lou is well known in Southern Gospel and is recognized as a member of both the GMA and Southern Gospel Music Association’s Halls of Fame.
Please join us in praying for Lou’s healing. She would love to hear from all who are praying for her. Please write to Lou at PO Box 271106, Houston TX 77277. Email can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to welcoming Lou back to Creekside Gospel Music Convention in November for her “Lou Hildreth Honors.” We trust that all of her friends will join her for that event. For more information, visit http://www.creeksidegospelmusicconvention.com/
Tags: gma, hall of fame, Houston Texas, Lou Hildreth, sgn scoops, southern gospel
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(Nashville, TN) The Gould Family a releases new hit song to radio from their new recording “Love Beyond Measure.” Tim and his daughters Christa and Kelsey are the new up and coming artists with their tight family harmony that touches the hearts of the young and old alike.
Their song “Lord, I’m Ready to Fly” is what they believe got them on the main stage at the National Quartet Convention and is the song they think will get them on the charts.
“We love this song because of the message it tells. No matter how old you are God has a plan for your life and if you are willing to trust Him and let Him guide you, you can soar to new heights. Before you can soar you must first be ‘Ready to Fly’” Tim said.
Penned by Amber Maxwell, “Lord, I’m Ready To Fly” is and uptempo song that radio is sure to enjoy.
The Goulds are a family who enjoy spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ through song. They are based out of Joplin, Mo. and travel the country wherever God opens doors. The Goulds have sung alongside many groups including The Lesters, The Mark Trammell Quartet, The Isaacs, The Blackwood Brothers, the Kingsmen, the Crist Family and many others.
Be looking in the near future for new music and dates from The Gould Family.
If you are interested in booking the Gould Family contact them at Signature Artist Agency / Duane Garren (417) 236-9090 .
Tags: Gould Family, southern gospel, Southern Gospel Radio, the isaacs, THE LESTERS, The Mark Trammell Quartet
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(Nashville, TN) Soul Vision, of North Carolina releases “When We Step Inside the Gate” through Patterson Promotions radio compilation #15. The song is already being heard by fans on the airwaves and is at the #1 position on Southern Gospel Times for the first week of August, 2014.They have been recognized from previous national radio release “I Know Who The Lord Is” on PP Vol.13. The group members are Patrick Case, Denna Reese, Randall Mull, and Myron Bishop. Pauline Patterson notes, “This great group formed in 2008 and they really do have a mission of seeing souls saved. I am honored and blessed to work for them again!” Concert promoters can receive a free press kit by contacting: Evie@EHA-Nashville.com, 256-303-8354, or 615-856-0910 or contact the group directly at: www.soulvisionministries.net or email@example.com For additional radio info: Patterson Music Group: 606 528-0033, www.pattersonpromotions.com
Tags: Patterson promotions, Soul Vision, southern gospel, Southern Gospel Music
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Cleveland, TN AG Publicity is proud to announce the signing of, an inspiring and anointed man of God known for his dynamic preaching and singing, to an extensive publicity contract. John has received multiple top ten and top five nominations for various awards as presented by The Singing News Fan Awards, The SGM Fan Awards, ICGMA’s Gold Cross Awards and The Diamond Awards. In 2007, the SGM Fan Awards honored John as “Favorite Soloist” as voted by Gospel music fans. In 2010, John was the recipient of “Favorite Tenor” as a member of Tony Gore & Majesty.
“I’ve known Deon Unthank for years and I’m glad to finally be able to work with him and AG Publicty. They have a great reputation in the world of Gospel music and I’m sure we can go far together.” Lanier said.
Unthank commented “John Lanier has been a friend for a long time and I am still impressed with the amount of energy his ministers with night after night. Watching John on stage is contagious. I always find myself moving my hands and feet and almost jumping up and down like John does. He preaches with the same enthusiasm.
As a singer, John exuberates the joy of serving Jesus Christ and encourages believers to worship freely. As an evangelist, John’s passion is to win the lost to Jesus Christ and to rekindle the fires of revival in the church.
John began his singing career in 1989 as a vocalist with Naomi & The Segos. In 1993, he relocated to Alabama and joined friends Tony Gore and Calvin Thornton to form the new trio, Tony Gore & Majesty.
John will be celebrating 25 years of Ministry with old fashioned campmeeting style services in Oxford, Alabama on August 8th and 9th. There will be great singing and preaching with amazing concerts after each service. Make plans to attend now.
Tags: John Lanier, SGM Fan Fair Awards, southern gospel, Southern Gospel News
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By Rob Patz
Josh and Ashley Franks both grew up in the church and with Gospel music in their home. Josh was traveling as a soloist and an evangelist when he met Ashley who sang with her mother in Hope’s Journey in 2006. They were married in 2007 and now have two children, Priscilla and Joshua. Since their marriage they have been traveling and singing as a duet as well as promoting several Gospel concert events throughout the year.
I’m glad this busy couple paused for a moment to answer my ten questions!
Rob: Brand New Single: “I’ve Not Seen A Mountain”…Does this song have a personal story or meaning for you?
Josh: I think back to Myrtle Beach two years ago when Priscilla was rushed to the head trauma facility in Charleston after she suffered a fall in the convention center during Singing in the Sun. That was a mountain we surely had no strength to move, but God stepped on the scene and moved it for us!
Ashley: This is one of those songs that can speak to any person at any point in their life. Personally, there has never been a mountain that I have faced in my life that God did not move for me. I am so honored to have the privilege of delivering this song to people night after night.
Rob: What is the best thing about having kids? What is something you could do without?
Ashley: The very best thing about having my kids is that there are two people on earth who think I am the best at everything. The love that a child has for its parent is comparable to nothing else. I could, however, do without the thousand loads of laundry I wash each week.
Josh: The best thing is watching them grow and learn. I’m amazed! I could do without the mounds of toys that are taking over our home.
Josh: 1. My Bible! 2. My ipod! [That’s all Josh needs!]
Ashley: The first thing I would want to take is my Bible. The second thing is a notepad and I guess number 3 would have to be a pen. I love to write everything! Feelings, lyrics, whatever. I just love to write!
Rob: What song do you each wish you had sung and charted first?
Ashley: Definitely “Four Days Late”!
Josh: “God on the Mountain”
Rob: What song do you each wish you had written?
Josh: “Amazing Grace”
Ashley: “Through The Fire.” That song defines my life; I feel like it came right from my own heart! Gerald Crabb is an excellent writer!
Rob: There are a lot of awful things happening in the world right now. What advice do you have for people who can’t understand why God would allow them to happen?
Ashley: My mom and I actually just finished a new song about this very thing. We don’t need to understand why God does or doesn’t do the things that we think He should do. We just need to trust that He knows more than we do.
Josh: I would tell them to keep holding on and fighting the good fight of faith. Unfortunately I don’t believe it is scriptural that things will get better, but God will protect His children.
Rob: Do each of you have a favorite Bible character? Who and why?
Josh: The Apostle Paul. He preached Jesus with boldness and told it like it was!
Ashley: I love the story of Elijah and Elisha. A true example of how we, in this generation, should have an even larger burden than the last generation to do God’s work. The elders paved the way and it’s our job to continue reaching people for Christ!
Rob: What is your favorite thing to do with your children at Easter?
Ashley: This year Priscilla is old enough to understand when you teach her about Jesus. She is learning already about the Cross and Resurrection. I love to talk with her about the Bible.
Josh: Celebrate the Resurrection in church, of course!
Rob: What is (each of) your favorite Easter song?
Josh: ‘There Rose A Lamb.”
Ashley: “He’s Alive” by the Talley Trio.
Rob: What are some new and cool things happening for you this coming year?
Ashley: God has opened many new doors for us in 2014. We are very excited about having a very busy schedule. A couple things we are excited about: being included on the Friday night program at the Singing in the Sun. We are also going to be appearing on Gerald Crabb’s Gospel Fest this August. For complete details, see www.joshandashleyfranks.comhttp://www.joshandashleyfranks.com/
Thanks to Ashley and Josh Franks for answering our questions and letting us in on their lives and their ministry. Be sure to visit their website and their schedule to find out when they will be appearing near you. Support this lovely family and their ministry as they reach the world for Jesus!
First published by SGN Scoops in April 2014. Written by Rob Patz, Publisher of SGN Scoops.
For current SGN Scoops issues visit http://www.sgnscoops.com/
Tags: Ashley Franks, Christian artists, gospel music, Josh and Ashley Franks, Josh Franks, rob patz, sgn scoops, southern gospel
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Find Out More Information About The Mark Trammell Quartet Homecoming Here
Tags: southern gospel, southern gospel concerts, The Mark Trammell Quartet
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We’re seeing it now more than ever: second and third generation singers in Gospel Music. Look at the vast amount of young people that are singing or playing with their respective family groups: Madison and Morgan Easter, Austin and Ethan Whisnant, Jordan LeFevre, Amber Nelon Thompson and Autumn Nelon, and the list grows longer each year. Southern Gospel is alive with many of today’s youth, and I get to prove my point with these artists, The Mylon Hayes Family.
I must admit that this article was piece of cake to write. It was also very difficult to write. It was easy in the fact that I know this family well and count them as dear friends. There’s lots I can say about them. It was difficult in the fact that, well, I know this family well, count them as dear friends, and there’s lots I could say about them!
MB: Give us a brief history of your family’s heritage in Gospel Music, how you got started and how you started singing with your family now.
MH: Dad and Mom were singing and playing in groups before they were married. In fact, they met at a singing. Mom was playing for a group and Dad was singing with another group. After their marriage, they started the Goodwill Quartet which was a combination of Dad and Mom’s families. This was in the late ‘50′s and ‘60′s. Then my sisters and I came along and Dad and Mom started singing with us in the mid-‘70′s as The Hayes Family. We made our first recording in 1978. God blessed us to sing together about 40 years. In 2011, Dad went home to be with the Lord. But even before his home going, Wendy and I, much like Dad and Mom, had a desire to sing with our kids. After Dad’s death, we felt the Lord leading us to start with our kids as The Mylon Hayes Family. So we were able to record our first CD in late 2011, early 2012 and we started singing in local churches at that time.
MH: As I mentioned, we had the desire to do it and it seems that the Lord has done the rest. For sure, we have seen God’s hand working out the details for this to happen. He has provided everything from transportation to the sound system, financial arrangements for the recordings to opportunities to minister. We’ve just tried to be obedient and available. It’s really been all God and we praise Him for it.
MB: What people or groups influence your family’s sound?
MH: Well, we do some things that are reminiscent of The Hayes Family. So that’s the biggest influence. The kids, Wendy and I love Convention-Style music and have studied it at various singing schools over the last several years. The kids have many groups they love to listen to as well and each of them would be an influence on the way they sing and interpret songs. Of course, Wendy and I were both influenced early in our lives by The Nelons, the Speer Family, The Lefevres, The Inspirations and others.
MB: Wendy, what does it mean to you to travel and watch your kids use their talents for Christ?
WH: It just thrills me to know that they want to. They could be out doing many other things but yet they have such a great desire to go each time we have the opportunity. They don’t complain about being gone on weekends. I can’t tell you the joy it brings to me to watch God use them even at this young age and to see Him work in their lives. Read more »
Tags: Christian artists, Christian Music, gospel music, Matt Baker, Mylon Hayes, Mylon Hayes Family, sgm radio, southern gospel
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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.”
When 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.
In 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.”
Without 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/
Tags: Austin Whisnant, Christian artists, Ethan Whisnant, gospel music, Jeff Whisnant, Jennifer Campbell, sgn scoops, southern gospel, susan whisnant, The Whisnants
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