[Editor’s note: First published April 2013 on SGM Radio website. Written by Lorraine Walker. See information below.]
Gospel Music Association’s Hall of Fame members. Dove award winners. Grammy nominated artists. After over five decades of quartet singing, The Kingsmen seem indefatigable, regardless of health issues and personnel changes. Their strong traditional harmonies, powerhouse ballads and convention-style upbeat songs engage their audiences from coast to coast, with each Kingsmen vocalist giving it their all night after night. Member Bob Sellers talks to SGM Radio about his Kingmen adventure, going ‘in-depth’ as we discuss his co-workers, his family and his personal walk with the Lord.
Bob Sellers is one of the most positive, optimistic quartet men in Southern Gospel. From Facebook to Twitter, his conversations with fans are personal, funny and transparent. Sellers is obviously a people-person and this overflows into his workplace, the bus and the stage of a full-time gospel group. He talks about the latest news from the Kingsmen.
“Well, the best news is that Ray Dean Reese is doing great after having had his prostrate removed almost a year and a half ago due to cancer,” Sellers begins. “The current lineup will have soon been together for a complete year. The environment on the bus is great. We really are best friends on and off stage. Musically, we have really jelled as a group. By that, I mean we have learned each others’ nuances as far as phrasing, who’s going where and when vocally, how to feed off each other on stage, etc., and since those things are instinctive now and we no longer have to constantly focus on them, we are better able to minister and present our music as a single unit.”
The Kingsmen’s latest recording, Once Again, is a compilation of past Kingsmen songs. With so many great hits in the group archives, Sellers finds it hard to name his favorite. “God has blessed this group through this years with some of the greatest songs in all of gospel music,” says Sellers. “We still perform many of the classic hits like ‘Glory Road,’ ‘Saints Will Rise,’ ‘I Will Rise Up From My Grave,’ ‘Old Ship of Zion,’ and so many more. That’s the music I grew up listening to and those songs and the voices behind them are what hooked me on what I believe is the greatest music on earth. To now be performing those songs with my favorite group is just an honor and a dream come true.”
“It is really hard to pinpoint one favorite but ‘Look For Me At Jesus’ Feet’ is definitely high on the list, because it was one of my grandfather’s favorite songs and those who know anything about me know how great of an impact he had on my life, not only as a role model but as my pastor,” Sellers shares. “Granddaddy has gone on to Heaven now and my grandmother joined him there just this past year, so every time I sing that song I think of them both. I envision the two of them experiencing the message in that song every time we sing it, and I think of myself falling at Jesus’ feet one day. What a reunion that will be for all of God’s children! What an awesome promise we have! That should put a smile on all our faces, no matter what else is going on in our lives.”
Sellers is now able to sing all the Kingsmen songs about Heaven that he grew up with. He tells us about his start with the power quartet. “I’ve been here since December 2011. I had auditioned in April of 2010 before Randy Crawford returned and from that experience, I assume, I was afforded the chance to fill in with the group in July of 2011 year for just one night. That itself was a dream come true for me, and I’ll never forget how natural it felt. I had no butterflies whatsoever and I just happened to know the parts and the lyrics to all the songs we sang, even though we never had a chance to rehearse.”
“In hindsight, I know that was God preparing me for the future, because in November of 2011, Brandon Reese called me about filling in for Randy as he faced heart surgery,” says Sellers. “I was still working as a commercial loan officer in Tuscaloosa, so it was a real balancing act for a while to work in vacation time and be where The Kingsmen needed me. When I started traveling with them in December, I had no idea at that time that the lead position was coming open and that I was actually auditioning. I was probably about to get fired for missing so much work, anyway, so I’m glad Ray offered me the job a couple weeks into it! I gladly accepted and I’ve not regretted that decision one time.”
Sellers continues, “My biggest surprise so far has been learning just what a character Ray Dean Reese truly is! I knew Ray a little previously, but I had no idea how funny and quick-witted he is until I began traveling with him, but not only is he funny, he is just a great man of God. From a jobs perspective, the banking world I was used to was so polar opposite to the one I’m in now. People in corporate dog-eat-dog America who read this will appreciate when I say it’s such a blessing to have a man who is your best friend, a fatherly figure, a constant source of encouragement and a confidante, who also happens to be your boss. I couldn’t ask for anyone better to work for than Ray Reese.”
“I often hear people describe others in ministry as being exactly the person that they appear on stage,” Sellers says. “Well, Ray is much more that just a beloved bass singer and the man you see on stage. To hear how sincere his prayers are, to hear him call a fan who is going through some trial just to encourage them and pray with them or to witness him going out of his way to make a situation better for someone else is to know the person he truly is. My favorite part about traveling with the Kingsmen outside of meeting our many friends from all across the world is listening to Ray’s stories, and he has an unlimited supply! And as Ray says often, I feel we truly have the best jobs in the world. We get to travel and do what we love most and meet wonderful people from all over the world all while sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.”
Sellers is having the time of his life traveling with Ray Dean Reese, Randy Crawford, Brandon Reese and Chris Jenkins. He laughs as he shares about the rest of the team: “If you’ve had children and know what happens when they eat entirely too much sugar or when they don’t get their way, then you can understand traveling with Randy. When all is well, he is like a kid bouncing off the walls of the bus and chatting non-stop at the top of his lungs. I honestly don’t know how the man ever has a voice to sing. However, when something goes wrong, like the time he accidentally destroyed his cell phone, he just disappears into his bunk. Besides all of that, Randy is a great guy and is very talented, not only as a vocalist, but as a musician and writer.”
“Chris Jenkins is the newest member of the group. He’ll celebrate his first anniversary in April of this year,” Sellers continues. “Chris is just the nicest guy you could imagine traveling with. In fact, you usually don’t know he’s on the bus, unless he gets tickled about something. When that happens, there’s no controlling him. I have seen him literally roll on the floor laughing, and his laugh is contagious. Ray will do something just to make him laugh and before you know it, we’re all in stitches. I think he’s one of the best talents to come along in this music in quite a while and I’m glad to call him friend.”
“Brandon is the most cerebral guy on the bus. He usually has his head buried in a Wikipedia article, but he’s also a video gamer and still keeps up with the latest going on in the musical world, particularly with drums,” says Sellers. “But of course the majority of his interest now is steered toward his little girl, Ava, who just turned a year old. Brandon is very professional and has a lot of business sense, but he is also a lot of fun to be around. We’re about the same age and we probably have the most in common as anyone else on the bus, including an insatiable desire for sushi and Asian fare.”
“Our bus driver, Daniel Branscum, is the only other guy with us on a full-time basis right now, and since we sleep while he drives and vice versa, I can’t tell you anything about him other than he gets us where we’re going,” Sellers laughs. “Just kidding! Daniel is a teddy bear with a heart the size of Texas. He’s a great Christian guy who is a lot of fun to be around. We pick at him a lot, but we love him to death, and so do our families, since he gets us home safely each week with the good Lord’s help!”
Bob Seller’s appreciation of his fellow quartet members is very apparent and he tries to be considerate of them as they travel as he says he doesn’t want to be the person that everyone else has to revolve around. His specific gifting in communication is drawn upon at a special time during each Kingsmen concert. “One thing I really appreciate about The Kingsmen is that at every service or concert that allows, we will offer an invitation for people to come to know Jesus as their Savior or perhaps to rededicate their lives to Christ or just to come to the altar to pray for a need. I usually lead the congregation up to that time and I’ve been given the liberty to go wherever God’s Holy Spirit leads. I think that’s the most important time of our presentation and every place we go there are people who have burdens, whether it’s physical, spiritual, financial, something going on in their family, in their church or on their job. We try our best with God’s help to remind them that although we may never understand why things happen like they do, Romans 8:28 never fails: ‘And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.’ God has a design and a purpose in all things, and no matter how tough life gets, we have Him to look to for strength and perseverance.”
“Aside from that, I love conversing with and getting to know our many friends and I like to consider that a strength of mine,” Sellers continues. “Their stories don’t bore me and it doesn’t bother me when someone requests a certain song or asks a lot of questions. It wasn’t long ago that I was that person patiently waiting at the table for the chance to talk one of the guys in the group and I try to remember how it made me feel when they spent a little time with me.”
Sharing his heart on and off the stage is a natural gifting for Sellers. He enjoys helping others draw closer to the Lord and find the same faith that he found almost thirty years ago. “I was saved on June 6, 1984 during revival at my home church, Faith Free Will Baptist. That month and day are easy for me to remember, because it’s also my wedding anniversary!” Sellers shares. “It was a Wednesday night and the night before that, the Lord had really dealt with my heart. I remember riding home and staring out the window of a Chevy Caprice station wagon at a full moon and promising God if He let me live, I would go forward that next night. I don’t have a clue what the message or the songs were, but I know as soon as the preacher gave the invitation, I went forward and prayed through. I’m thankful for Christian parents who made sure I was in church and took me to revival!”
For Sellers, keeping close to the Lord involves get into His Word. “I try to read the Word as much as possible, of course I don’t ever feel like I do that as much as I should,” says Sellers. “One thing that people in full-time singing ministries miss out on, are good sermons! Typically, we’re there even on Sundays to sing for the entire service. I miss getting to go to church and hear good soul-stirring sermons as often as I used to. I’ve always been one of those people who likes to have my toes stepped on from time to time. Because we miss out on a lot of those opportunities, it’s important that we get in the Word as often as possible. My pastor, Rev. Tony Latham, is my favorite preacher and my father, Robert, Sr., knows and can explain as much about the Bible as anyone I know. I don’t really have any favorite authors, spiritual mentors or such. I’m more of a KJV guy, and if I stumble over something I can’t fully grasp, I’ll pray about it and research it on my own until God gives me peace about it.”
“Whenever I really need a boost, I typically turn to Proverbs,” Sellers continues. “Proverbs 3:5-6 is my life scripture, and I believe every word of it: ‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.’ I love the ‘He SHALL’ part. Notice it doesn’t say He’ll think about it or He’ll give it his best shot, it says He SHALL, and I have found that to be true in every phase of my life. The part we seem to have the biggest problem with is trusting God. If we do our part, He’ll do His.”
As Sellers looks toward 2013, he fully expects the Lord to direct his paths and with the Lord’s help, has set his own personal goals. “I left a somewhat lucrative career in the banking industry to join The Kingsmen. When God gave my wife and I peace about taking this step of faith, we didn’t really know how we’d handle it from a financial perspective, but knew if this was God’s doing, that He could certainly take care of all that.”
“Generally speaking, it’s been a whole lot easier than I would have ever expected it to be,” Sellers confesses. “God has really spoken to my heart about getting out of, or at least drastically reducing our debt and we are looking to downsize our home for that purpose. We want to better leverage ourselves considering the uncertainty in our country today regarding the economy, Obamacare, increased taxes and gas prices, as well as to better leverage ourselves in the event that God ever laid it on our hearts to leave Alabama. My wife is a schoolteacher and will be eligible to retire with pretty good benefits in just a few more years. Our children will begin to graduate high school around that same time as well. We don’t have any plans to leave Alabama anytime soon, but who knows what the future holds?”
Sellers has a beautiful family and shares his love for them. “God has blessed me with such a wonderful family,” says Sellers. “I don’t feel like I can take any credit for keeping them strong as a family and strong in the Lord. I honestly feel like they keep me strong rather than vice versa. My wife, Kansas, is an absolute saint. I’ve used the analogy before that if I told her God had spoken to me about us moving to Alaska to start some ministry for Eskimos, she’d cry about it for a few hours, then start getting us packed,” Sellers laughs.
“We’ll be celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary this June and we have three children, Corley who is 12, nine-year old Ellie, and Will who is seven,” Sellers continues. “So far, our kids are just the best kids that you could ask for. I checked an item off my bucket list late last year as Will joined his sisters and became the last one to give his heart to Christ. There’s no greater gift a parent can receive than that!”
“I believe in the old cliché, ‘The family that prays together stays together.’ God is Number One in our lives. Everything we do and every decision we make, we try to do it from a ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ perspective. We’ve tried our best to teach our kids not to be influenced, but to be an influence. When I’m sitting around at night and hear one of them saying their bedtime prayers without any encouragement from their mom, or me, I know I am blessed. I have to give their mother all the credit, since she’s with them more than I am. However, I honestly feel like I see them more now than when I was working 40-50 hours a week and singing all weekend in my regional group, Capstone Quartet. There is much more quality to our time together now as well, plus we get holidays together and with Kansas being a teacher, we get to spend a lot of time together in the summers.”
Bob Sellers seems to be the right fit for the Kingsmen and their fans across the country would agree as his voice and his heart have touched them time and again. In closing, Sellers says, “If there is one thing I’d like for your readers to take away, it’s that I am happy. Happy in the Lord, happy with my family, happy with this path God has put me on with The Kingsmen, and I pray that everyone I come in contact with whether in person, on my Facebook or Twitter page or wherever, can see the light and love of Jesus Christ in something I say or do.” The Kingsmen legend will continue, as long as they have members like Sellers who have a love for the Lord as strong as their vocal talent.
Bob Sellers’ Facebook page: www.facebook.com/bobsellers
Twitter feed: www.twitter.com/kingsmenlead.
Bob Sellers’ email address firstname.lastname@example.org
The Kingsmen on the web http://kingsmenquartet.musiccitynetworks.com
SGM Radio Website was happy to talk with Bob Sellers, as we continue our regular feature entitled “In Depth With”. In upcoming features, we will 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! Sgmradio.email@example.com
By Lorraine Walker
First published April 2013 on SGM Radio Website, sister site to SGN Scoops.
Original feature here: http://www.sgmradio.com/2013/03/05/in-depthwith-bob-sellers-of-the-kingsmen/
Current features here: http://www.sgmradio.com