By Marcie Gray
â€œWhile time marches on for a world in need of Jesus, you can find 11th hour using each moment for His glory.â€ What a great introduction on the 11th Hour website for this Southern Gospel trio from Monroe, Louisiana! In 2007, at the tender age of 16, Amber Eppinette answered the call when she and a friend formed 11th Hour. Amber was at a revival when the Lord revealed to her that she was to take her music ministry on the road. Raised in a family full of preachers and singers, it was only natural that Amber felt comfortable when called to ministry.
Two years ago, Grant Gibson, from Jasper, Alabama departed Debra Perry and Jaydenâ€™s Call to join 11th Hour as second tenor. Jaquita Lindsey completed 11th Hour by filling the alto position. Hailing from Camden, Arkansas, Jaquita was introduced to Amber by Nicole Watts Jenkins who was singing soprano for The Perrys at the time. Each member of 11th Hour brings significant vocal experience to the group, and the harmonies flow freely. Equipped with a unified mission, smooth harmony and cherished friendship, 11th Hour is blessed with a powerful ministry that spans the gap between generations.
11th Hour is gifted with a unique style, giving them a versatile approach to ministry. They are just as comfortable singing classic Southern Gospel music with friends like Greater Vision as they are leading worship for a youth camp, where they incorporate contemporary worship music into their repertoire.
Amber, Grant and Jaquita all agree that they are a very close-knit group of friends who enjoy spending time together, even when theyâ€™re on the road between dates. When asked to share a memorable moment on tour, Grant said, â€œWe were singing at a church one night and during our introductions, a gentleman walked up onto the stage and interrupted the concert, insisting that we sing, â€œHave A Little Talk With Jesus.â€ We all just looked at each other, unsure of what was coming next, and before we knew it, the man ended up leading the entire congregation in the song.
â€œHe was a veteran and had plenty of scars to show for it. He was pleased to share each scar with us at the product table, and if that wasnâ€™t disturbing enough, he proceeded to pop his fake eye out right there at the table, in front of everyone standing there! When you tour 230 dates per year, youâ€™re bound to run into some very interesting people, but that particular memory was one we will never forget!â€
The group has been nominated in the Top 10 in the Singing News Fan Awards for â€œFavorite New Trioâ€ for the past two years, and was awarded a Diamond Award in 2014 for â€œFavorite New Trio.â€ â€œItâ€™s wonderful to be recognized by fans and friends who love your music, but itâ€™s not the glory and fame that keeps us going when we get discouraged,â€ said Amber. â€œIâ€™m always reminded by the Holy Spirit that this is a calling, not a job. Recently, God has shown me that when He places a call on a personâ€™s life, He doesnâ€™t take it away. We have a purpose to fulfill what God has set believers here to do, and even when we feel discouraged, we have to remember that our purpose and calling hasnâ€™t changed. When we stay focused on the calling even through challenging times is when we will start seeing souls saved and hearts turned toward Him, which is confirmation that we are doing what we are called to do!â€
Jaquita shared, â€œIâ€™ve been asked before why I wonâ€™t sing secular music. My answer is simple. I would never use my talents for anything other than Godâ€™s glory. I was raised by a family of ministers. My parents and grandparents are both in the ministry and Iâ€™ve been singing in church since I was eight years old. I canâ€™t imagine singing for any other reason but to use the talents God has given me to serve Him.â€
â€œWell, the girls got all spiritual,â€ said Grant, â€œbut I have something to add. This is fun! Itâ€™s a calling, most definitely. Thatâ€™s where it starts and ends, but thereâ€™s a lot of fun in the process and there is nothing else I could see myself doing. We all have a purpose in life. God gives each of us abilities and talents and I believe itâ€™s very foolish if you donâ€™t use them for the Lord, but we just have a blast together singing and meeting new people. Itâ€™s different every time we get up on the stage.â€
Greg Bentley from Crossroads Entertainment shared, â€œCrossroads has had the privilege of working with 11th Hour since 2012. We always do our homework before we agree to talk with anyone about a label deal, and when we started digging into the background of this talented group of young people, we knew we wanted to take the next step. Working with them – from picking songs, doing the recording sessions, radio promotions and even publishing – we have found them to be steadfast and faithful in their goal of ministering through music. Now that we are starting on our third recording with them, (Steppinâ€™ Out released in 2012, Picture This released in 2014) we are even more convinced that Amber, Grant andÂ Jaquita are more focused than ever on presenting 11th Hour in the best possible way.
â€œObviously, many fans and industry people are seeing what we see in them, as well. Their popularity continues to grow from album-to-album. Weâ€™ve already picked some great new songs for their new Sonlite Records release that they will be tracking in August, and expect this new 2016 release to take them even farther into the hearts and homes of Gospel music followers.â€
Every artist has someone they look up to and seek ministry advice from. 11th Hour is no exception. Amber said, â€œKaren Peck is one person who has always been there for me with open ears. She has been a huge source of encouragement and has literally watched me grow up through the years.â€ Grant shared that Claude Hopper has been one of the biggest influences in his ministry life. â€œClaude has been around the block a few times and he has a whole lot of wisdom.â€ For Jaquita, Kelly Bowling and Libby Perry have both had a big personal influence on her life in ministry. These strong influences come from common ground. Each one of these influences answered Godâ€™s calling on their lives and have been faithful to serve Him in ministry for many years. That same legacy is what Amber, Grant and Jaquita hope to pass on to future generations of Christian artists.
There is one song that never fails to move the hearts of those who hear it, and that is â€œAdamâ€™s Fall,â€ recorded in 2010 by 11th Hour on their Gather Round project. The most important message 11th Hour can carry to their audience is summed up in this song and the words simply speak for themselves:
As I journeyed through His precious word,
I find where Adam fell and lost our souls,
As I turned another page, I find His blood shed,
For human race, and then I saw my own sin,
My condemnation, without Him,
Then I stood at Calvary’s place, and that’s where I found,
I saw You nailed, to the tree,
Gave Your life freely, for unworthy me
Heaven’s angels You did not call, rescued my soul,
From Adam’s fall.â€ â€“ Written by Amber Eppinette (2007)
The territory is expanding for 11th Hour. Grant commented, â€œWithin the next year, we hope to plan a trip out west and potentially overseas, as well. We are considering options and always setting new goals.â€ The trio is excited about traveling to new places and singing where the Lord opens a door for them to go. â€œConcerts are a great way to network and make friendsâ€¦ whether itâ€™s a fan or another artist. Weâ€™re just regular people and always trying to make new friends,â€ said Grant.
The Lordâ€™s call has been answered by three talented, young artists. They share the love of Christ with everyone they come into contact with, knowing that the return of Christ is imminent. Even their name seems to ask the question, â€œWhat are you waiting for?â€
Find out more about 11th Hour by visiting their website: www.11thhourgospel.com. Look them up and help us express our appreciation to Amber, Grant and Jaquita, for taking the time to share the ministry of 11th Hour with the readers of SGN Scoops Magazine!
By Marcie Gray
First published by SGN Scoops magazine in June 2015. For current issues of SGN Scoops and more great artist features, visit the SGN Scoops mainpage.