I first met up with Kevin Mills online when I was researching Canadian Gospel Music artists. At that time, the Gospel Music Association of Canada had nominated his debut self-titled album for Southern Gospel Album of the Year 2006. Since that time, Mills relocated to the United States, married his sweetheart Amanda and ended up on Virginia Beach during Hurricane Sandy.
The Mills have weathered many storms, both weather-related and personally, and now make their home in Rochester, Washington. They are owners of Mills Diner, Hive 5 Bees, and Kevin has just released his current album, “God, Family & Country,” with Song Garden Music Group. This busy vocalist took a moment to help me catch up with his busy world.
Kaleb Powell did a full review of Mills’ new album which can be found in the October 2017 SGNScoops Magazine here. Mills says he is pleased with his solo project. “It has better flow and focus in its musical style,” says Mills. “We really focused on songs that told stories and also represented spirituality in a very non-threatening way. It was great working with Gus Gaches and Song Garden Music Group again – it’s because of them that the project was possible and ended up so excellent.”
Mills loves all the songs on this country-flavored, smooth-as-honey album. However, one song, in particular, stands out. “‘In God We Still Trust’ seems to be very timely for our country. I’m seeing a spiritual longing within our nation that is very encouraging,” says Mills.
This new album represents a change for this vocalist. Many readers may remember Mills from Keepers of the Faith quartet, out of Puyallup, Wash. when he filled their bass position for several years. That tenure also included an appearance on the NQC stage in 2014. However, Mills is now performing as a solo artist. “I spent almost three wonderful years with Keepers of the Faith Quartet and retired from them in January of this year,” explains Mills. “They provided me with a great opportunity to grow professionally and vocally and I’m very grateful for the time we worked together.”
Retirement from a busy quartet’s traveling schedule does not mean a slower timetable for Mills. The singer with a voice like honey has recently returned to a former love: Beekeeping. “I love my bees,” says Mills. “I’m going on almost 18 years of beekeeping. I began at age 13 and ended up being mentored by some of the largest commercial beekeepers in Canada. It’s a fascinating industry and one that’s crucial to the majority of our food supply. Levi from Keepers of the Faith actually got me back into it last year. The demand for bees on the west coast blew me away and I struggled to keep up. This year was the same, consequently, it’s ended up being an accidental business but one that I’m rather familiar with from prior experience – plus it keeps me sweet.”
A huge part of what keeps Mills sweet is his wife Amanda and their daughters, Brooklyn and Meagan. Another large part of their lives is Mills Diner – The Local Breakfast and Lunch Place. It may seem strange that a singer would transition into a diner owner, but Kevin says that is not so. “ My wife introduced me to the food/hospitality industry when we first met (she owned a restaurant). I quickly fell in love with the people and the industry. Providentially we were provided with the opportunity to assume ownership of an existing restaurant. We are very blessed with the community and the staff that make Mills Diner what it is. Amanda (my wife) handles the day-to-day operations whereas my strengths lay more in strategic planning and HR management.” Mills concludes,” The hospitality industry is a great place to naturally present and represent God’s love and service to others.”
The Mills’ home seems to be a busy place with so much going on. Mills isn’t quite sure how he keeps all of the juggling balls aloft. “Can I get back to you when I figure it out?” Mills continues, “Seriously though it’s amazing how much you can do in a day when you set out with a daily plan/list and quickly execute from the highest priority items to the lowest. I still battle procrastination and if it wins I quickly become overwhelmed.”
“Amanda’s and (my) drive for business comes from a belief that business is a gift God gives us to help shape and influence people, society and ourselves,” Mills explains.
Although change appears to be the operative word in Mills’ life, he admits it hasn’t always been easy to adapt to the new normal. “It’s been a very interesting time spiritually – even though I feel closer and more real in my relationship with God then ever before – it’s been a very difficult transition. Even though I grasped intellectually the importance of placing my music career and passion in His hands – I really struggled with Him pulling me out of full-time music,” he admits.
“However, it’s very clear that this was the direction that He wanted both Amanda and I to go in and even though we still do not have total clarity of the ‘why’ – we certainly get glimpses of what He’s doing in us individually, as a couple, and in our customers/patrons through our different businesses,”says Mills.
Even mature Christians struggle with sometimes knowing the will of God during change. “I did struggle (and sometimes still do) with whether we’ve made the right decisions but upon reflection, it always circles to this is exactly where God wants us.
“As most everyone knows – life is tough – but as Zig Ziglar used to say, ‘If we’re tough on ourselves, life is going to be infinitely easier on us.’(Paraphrase.) I find my continued studies in Judaism and Christian theology along with reading authors such as Zig Ziglar, John Maxwell, Norman Vincent Peale and others – helps keep my mind (and body) in a good place. Discipline mentally, physically and spiritually is what it all comes down to.
“I definitely do not have this figured out but I’m having an awesome time learning and I continue to be amazed with how God walks right alongside us.”
Kevin Mills has experienced a lot and at the same time has learned so much about God and life. You can hear this in his voice and see it in his zest for life. Be sure to visit his Facebook page and the Mills Diner page. If you are in his area, drop by, have a sandwich and meet the Mills. Be sure to ask Kevin to sing you a song and ask him about his life of change. He might just show you his bees.
By Lorraine Walker
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