“A Faithful Journey”
By Jennifer Campbell,
(SGNScoops Magazine, November 2012)
Have 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: