Ivan Parker has had a long, storied career in the Southern gospel music field having sung with several popular groups. He has also been a staple of the Gaither Homecoming videos. Parker currently travels and ministers as a soloist, and is experiencing great success. From an early age, Parker always knew he wanted to sing. He has been blessed to be able to do what he loves and spread the Word of God through song.
Gospel music has been a major part of Parkerâ€™s life since the beginning. Parker, while at his fatherâ€™s church, gave his heart to the Lord at nine years old and from that point, knew he wanted to sing.
â€œI started singing weekends with my brothers when I was 13 years old,â€ says Parker.. â€œMy dad was a pastor so I grew up in church. Being from a large family of seven kids, we all learned to sing early in life. My first full time position came in 1982 with the Singing Americans. Then I started with Gold City in 1983 and traveled with them for 10 years. I immediately started my solo career in January 1994, and also started with the Gaithers doing a few tour dates in February of that year, which continued for years on video and concert dates.â€
Parkerâ€™s unique and powerful lead voice is easily recognizable. His great sound and style was influenced by several of the great pioneers of the Gospel music field.
Parker states, â€œThrough the years of loving Southern gospel music, there are many influences. I have always loved the crooning vocals and personality of Jake Hess, the smooth lead singing of Duane Allen with the Oak Ridge Boys.â€ He is now a part of that long line of incredible vocalists.
Gold City recorded some of its most popular hits during Parkerâ€™s tenure, including: â€œIn My Robe Of White,â€ â€œI Think Iâ€™ll Read It Again,â€ â€œJohn Saw,â€ and â€œMidnight Cry.â€ The latter song became Parkerâ€™s signature.
Following his departure from Gold City, Parker embarked on a solo career in 1994. He has been nominated for, and received, several national gospel music awards. Parkerâ€™s music has resonated with audiences all over the world and captures beautifully the message of Christ. His latest mainline release â€œDancing In The Rainâ€ features his latest radio single which conveys a timely message.
Parker explains, â€œThe latest radio single is called â€˜Take Me To The Cross,â€™ written by Rodney Griffin. I had been looking for a song that was a mix of patriotic with a Christian message. Without Rodney and I talking, he emailed me this song and I knew God intended this song for me. It was the perfect blend of the two messages that I was wanting. I absolutely love this song!â€
Parker is also very excited about his latest release â€œChristmas Dreaming.â€ He explains, â€œI havenâ€™t recorded a Christmas project in several years, so I wanted to go all out on this one with full orchestration. Garry Jones, a long time friend from the Gold City years, did an incredible job arranging and producing the vocals and music. It touched on a classic sound that allowed me to reach back in time to some of the Christmas music I heard when I was growing up.â€
For Parker, it is all about the message and not about fame and awards. God has blessed him with the gift of song which has allowed him to experience many incredible things.
The vocalist recalls, â€œIn my blessed years of traveling, there have been many incredible experiences that I am so thankful to God to have experienced. The most memorable would probably be singing at Carnegie Hall with the Gaither Homecoming tour. It was the one year anniversary after 9/11 and we brought God and country to NYC. Bill had me sing, â€˜God Bless The USAâ€™ Â that night as many of the first responders and fireman were present. That gave me an opportunity to honor some great heroes and say thank you for your service.â€
Traveling all over the world has allowed Parker to minister to many people.
â€œItâ€™s always my prayer and desire for my music to be encouraging and to lift people up through a tough time in their lives,â€ Parker explains. â€œIn my concerts, I love to see and hear the audience laugh as well as worship. When itâ€™s all said and done, if I have helped someone separate from their situation for a few minutes I have succeeded in sharing joy and faith in Christ!â€
Throughout his career, he has met many people who have been deeply affected by his music and the message of Christ.
â€œI did a concert one night in Illinois and it was a night full of laughter and fun,â€ recalls Parker. â€œIt was such a different concert than anything I had ever done. I remembered every joke I had ever told and just a lot of off the cuff things happened. After the concert I went to the CD table to sign a few things, and a lady came by and requested to talk with me. I said absolutely and she began to share that she had been clinically depressed for 10 years and she had not smiled or laughed and could barely get out of bed. But that night God healed her of depression!â€
It is moments like this that put it into perspective for Parker.
The future is looking bright for this ministry minded legend. He remains dedicated to living out the call on his life from Christ.
â€œI have a desire to see the name of Jesus lifted up through praise,â€ states Parker. â€œGospel music is a praise to our Lord that can convict, uplift and unburden. I love people and they know it. Show them Jesus and the cross and change a soul forever.â€
Parker plans to continue traveling and releasing music for years to come. In addition to his newest album, he plans to have another album released shortly. He has been blessed beyond measure and praises Christ for his hand in his life.
It is obvious that Parker loves doing what he does. It was his dream to sing and God has made that dream come true.
â€œIâ€™ve always said that itâ€™s (Southern gospel music) the greatest music in the world! The friends Iâ€™ve made and the stories I can tell will last last a lifetime,â€ exclaims Parker. â€œIâ€™m thrilled to be a part of this wonderful family of singers.â€
By Justin Gilmore
First published by SGNScoops magazine in November 2018
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