There is nothing like family harmony. In my opinion, something magical happens when family members sing together. These great groups have become a major fixture in Southern Gospel Music. Over the years, groups like the Hoppers, the Martins, and the Isaacs have been among some of the most beloved family ensembles in the field. The Talleys are no exception.
This dynamic trio began their ministry in 1984 after brothers Kirk and Roger Talley had completed tenures with the Cathedrals (Kirk) and The Hoppers (Roger). They were joined by Roger’s wife Debra, who also sang with her husband as a member of the Hoppers. This lineup performed together until 1993 due to Roger and Debra’s desire to raise their daughter Lauren.
Debra Talley, matriarch of the group, states, “Lauren was one year old when the group started. At two years old, she got away from the nanny and made her debut by toddling on stage and saying she wanted to ‘sing a song.’ She’s been singing ever since!” This was a beautiful glimpse into what God had in store for this family.
After disbanding the group (in 1993), Talley says, “Kirk continued as a soloist and we focused on making sure our family had a more normal life and that we were rooted in our home church. It was during that time we began to sing with Lauren on a limited basis. It gave Lauren an outlet for singing as she was growing up and it was something we could do together as a family for fun.”
The group was revived in 1996 with Lauren filling the third vocal position. Billed as the Talley Trio, this lineup remained intact for 15 years and is once again the current lineup.
The Talleys have been a mainstay in Southern Gospel music. Roger’s smooth lead, Debra’s tender alto, and Lauren’s powerful soprano come together to form a solid and award winning sound. Speaking of sound, Debra cites many possible influences in the formation of their unique sound. Talley states, “I’m not sure we had specific style influences. Roger’s and my early years were spent with the Hoppers and the Song Masters. We were exposed to many groups and our upbringing in the church gave us a traditional foundation. Lauren has eclectic musical tastes as well. I think all of those things find their way into our music at some point. It all blends to become our sound.” God has truly blessed this group with a beautiful sound, which has garnered national attention.
The Talleys have enjoyed 11 number one songs, including “Searchin’,” “The Healer,” and “Jesus Saves,” and have received numerous Singing News Fan Awards and Dove Award nominations. Debra Talley has won 11 Singing News Fan Awards for Favorite Alto and Female Vocalist while Lauren has won three Favorite Young Artist awards. Another significant achievement is winning the Dove Award for Southern Gospel Song of the Year in 1991(for their hit “He Is Here”).
The group consistently takes their music with a message to hundreds of concert and church audiences of all sizes across America each year as well as overseas to Norway, Northern Ireland, Italy and South Africa. Debra Talley states, “We’ve been privileged to sing on some of America’s most renowned stages such as Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, Billy Graham Crusade, the Gaither Homecoming tour, and others.” Each of these are counted among the many memorable experiences the group has had in the nearly 20 years together.
Debra expresses the desire to treat each audience with the same focus. She echoes the group sentiment saying, “As someone once said, ‘Every night is Carnegie Hall.’ Sometimes the most memorable nights aren’t necessarily the big venues.” Whether to a stadium or a small church of people, the Talleys treat all crowds the same.
“It’s message music. When people hear our songs, we want them to clearly understand the gospel in the lyrics, and know that God really can make a difference in their lives,” says Lauren. “Whether we’re in front of thousands or in the local church on a Sunday, that message is the same.” This approach to music and ministry is a central factor in the success of the group. It is this “message music” that the group has become known for all over the world.
The Talleys have become known for their creativity and commitment to this classic music. Their clear communication of the Gospel in their songs has become a trademark of this talented group as well. Their latest record After All This Time is no exception. This stellar project has twelve songs including “After All This Time,” “Naaman,” “This Thing Called Grace,” and many more. Debra says, “The title, After All this Time, sums up our view of where we are in our history, our music, and our career. Groups are always excited when a new project comes out, but if we never made another CD, I would consider this project a crowning achievement. I say that because the collection of songs is maybe one of the best we’ve had.” This landmark project truly speaks to our need for Christ in this broken world.
In typical Talleys fashion, this album is a collection of meaningful songs with a clear message of hope. Debra goes onto to say this about the project: “Songs such as “People In The Line” are so important to our culture and to the church. We hope the listener is challenged to look at the people they encounter and look at themselves within the context of how Christ meant us for to see and respond to each other. The Bible tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. In the current social climate, it appears people don’t have a lot of love for either.” This album reflects the group’s mission statement, which is simply, “to use our music and testimonies to point people to Christ and encourage believers.” The Talleys have dedicated their lives to serving Christ and their music reflects their love for Him.
Now in 2015, this powerhouse family is still committed to the cause. The future is looking bright for the trio as they continue to sing about the hope of Jesus Christ. Talley is excited about what is to come. The year 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the current lineup of the group which is an incredible achievement. Roger, Debra, and Lauren are blessed to still be able to sing about their savior. Debra also teases, “There may be other products in the works this year, so fans can keep on top of our tour dates, products, special events, and all things Talley on our website, Twitter, and Facebook.”
God has truly blessed the Talleys with a beautiful sound and a gift of communicating His Word. They have experienced great success in their career spreading the Gospel all over the world. While these “projects” are not set in stone, one thing is for sure, they will “continue to sing great music and uplift Christ,” hopefully for another 20 years.
By Justin Gilmore
First published by SGN Scoops magazine in January 2016