Family groups make up some of the best talent in the Southern Gospel industry. It is true that family harmony is hard to beat, and The Erwin family is no exception to this notion. The Erwins are a full-time evangelistic ministry based out of Edgewood, Texas. Their parents preach in many revivals across the nation and the Erwin siblings accompany in song.
I had the chance to interview the baby of the family, Miss Kathryn (Katie) Erwin, whom I think is one of Southern Gospels sweethearts. If she hasn’t captured your heart yet in person, she is sure to by the time you finish reading all she has to say about the Lord, singing, and life on the Erwin bus.
RB: Tell me a little about yourself and how you were introduced to Southern Gospel music.
KE: “I am 13 years old and have been singing as long as I can remember. My dad has been in full-time evangelism for 40 years, so church is all I have known. I remember my brothers always singing and as soon as I started talking, my brothers would place me on the platform at church and have me sing, bow and tell everyone that I liked to “shop at Dillards at the Mall”. As my brother’s voices started changing and getting lower, they started teaching me harmony so I could sing the high parts. I truly love music. When I’m not singing in church, I play piano and sing. Singing is all I ever want to do!”
RB: What are some of the most significant milestones for you and the Erwins?
KE: “My brothers were the first group chosen as “Best of the Week” out of all Regional Artists at the 2011 National Quartet Convention (NQC). That was a HUGE honor. Then when I joined them full-time, we were chosen to go to Main Stage on Saturday from the Featured Artist Showcase at National Quartet Convention, 2013. That was the first time for me to sing on Main Stage and I was only 12 years old. I will never forget that, especially with it being the last year in Louisville, KY. In 2013, my brothers were nominated Top 10 “New Trio” for Singing News Magazine (that was right before I joined them). Also in 2013, we were nominated in the first round for “Mixed Group of the Year” for the NQC Music Awards and this year, we are currently nominated for Top 5 “Breakthrough Artist of the Year” for the Absolutely Gospel Music Awards. We also have been invited to sing on Main Stage on Friday night of this year’s National Quartet Convention for its first year in Pigeon Forge. These award nominations and being asked to sing on Main Stage at such a young age is a wonderful opportunity, but without Christ being first in my life, it would all be for nothing. No award or earthly achievement will ever compare to the night that Christ SAVED my soul. That is when everything finally “made sense” to me. My life finally had purpose. Christ is everything to me, and the reason I sing!”
Katie was saved in a revival meeting this past November 6, 2013. God is good!
RB: What’s road life like being the baby girl with three big brothers?
KE: “Being the only girl on the bus can be a challenge. We only have one mirror and I have to fight for mirror time. I try to run in the bus right after sound check so I can be the first one in front of the mirror. If I don’t make it, I have to use the reflection from the microwave or use my cell phone. When that happens, there is no telling what I will look like on stage! Sometimes I only get one eye complete with make-up. My mom says I’m the messiest on the bus, but that’s just because there is not enough closet space for my shoes, clothes, belts, jewelry and purses. I’m asking for my own bus for Christmas! Ha ha! In all honesty, it is great. My brothers spoil me and I pretty much get my way.”
RB: What are some of your goals and ambitions for your future?
KE: “It seems like as soon as I have a desire in my heart, the Lord allows it to happen. I have always loved Jason Crabb and it’s always been a dream to sing with him. Last April, while singing in Myrtle Beach, SC at Singing In The Sun, we were chosen to sing on Main Stage and Jason Crabb was the host for that night. After we sang, Jason asked Mike Bowling and me to sing “The Lighthouse” with him. WOW!!! I was so “star struck” that Kelly Bowling had to feed me the words. That was a night I will never forget! Another one of my heroes is Taranda Greene. This past August we had a CD premier concert and to our surprise Taranda was in the audience. She came up at the end of the concert and sang “Stand By The River” with Kris and me. I still have to pinch myself when I think about that. I know I am still so young, and I’m truly thankful for every opportunity the Lord had given me, but, one day, I would love to sing at the Brooklyn Tabernacle and be on a Gaither Video. That’s just a couple of my “big dreams.” But I get to live a dream everyday I get to sing with my brothers and travel with my family.”
RB: What advice do you have for other younger guys and girls that are in the industry or want to be in the industry?
KE: “Proverbs 3:5-6 is what I would tell them. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” IT MUST ALL BE ABOUT JESUS!!! The only way the Lord can guide you is if you make it all about HIM! The Lord has given me a voice to sing and I hope to point many young people to the only One that can give us a reason to sing and a reason to live!”
RB: What are some things that you want people to know about you as a person that you feel they may not get because of the age, and the nature of you being the baby girl of four siblings?
KE: “I want them to see that I hope my singing points people to Christ. I hope people will look past my young age, past my ability and see straight to my heart. My heart has been taken over by Christ. Before I was saved, it was just another church service or just another concert. Now it’s a lot more than that. When I sing, I look in people’s faces and wonder if they are saved or lost. I wonder if I’m going to be the last voice they hear before they meet the Lord. I pray something I say or sing will bless them enough that they will want to know the same Lord that I know, the One who changed everything about me.”
RB: What is the Lord currently teaching you as you walk with Him?
KE: “Over the past three months I have been fighting allergies and congestion. It’s been really hard on me vocally. However, the Lord has been teaching me to be dependent on Him. He is teaching me that it’s ok if I miss the note. If I give it all I have and lift up His Name, He is still honored by it. Please don’t get me wrong, I want to be the best I can be for Christ and that includes taking care of myself and my voice, however I’m learning that in my weakness He is made strong. The times I feel as though I have done my worst, that’s when God gets more Glory, and that is what it is all about.”
That certainly is what it’s all about. I am personally just so proud of Katie and the decision she made to follow Christ. Sometimes it is hard to see that even though you have lived in church your entire life and spend your time sharing the Gospel with others, there is still the need for a personal relationship with the Lord, Jesus Christ. Katie is such a testimony to others and is certainly taking advantage of the wonderful opportunities she is given to share the love of Christ to younger generations.
Editor’s note: The Erwins have recently signed with StowTown Records and the Dominion Agency.
For more information on The Erwins: www.erwinministries.com
Rebecca Little Burke writes for the SGM Radio website.
First published March 2014 on SGM Radio website. For current features, click on to http://www.sgmradio.com/