Welcome to addition of SGNScoops’ Fast Five! Today we talk to Christian Country/Southern Gospel group, The Walkers. Â This mixed group from Florida has seen some real challenges in their lives. They have come through with a stronger faith in Christ and a greater determination to use their music to bring others closer to Jesus.
We hope you like this look at a mixed group with an unique sound. Be sure to visit their website and hear their music. You may hear a tinge of The Freemans and perhaps The Hinsons. Enjoy getting to know The Walkers!
SGN: Tell us about your group.
Billy: We did our first official date as a full time group on November 16, 1991. We were in Dothan, AL, that night. That group consisted of Billy Walker Jr. (me), my mom Geneva Walker, my dad Billy Walker, Sr. and my sister Gail Walker. Although that was our first official date, we had sung the previous few years just around our local area. Mom and Dad had invited groups to various locations down through the years. In the early ’70’s, they brought in a lot of groups to Perry, FL, most notably The Goodmans, The Hinsons and other well-known groups. My sister sang on all the concert programs that featured a who’s who of Gospel Music at the time. She recorded her first two solo albums with The Goodmans and Rusty and Sam wrote the backliners for her. She sang at the church where they (The Goodmans) pastored and my mom still has the check they gave her.
A couple of years after our start as a full time group, we faced the first real test of our resolve on January 1, 1994. We were all overcome with carbon monoxide poisoning and my father died. All of the members were all affected by the poison but fortunately three of us survived. There were many people who felt like we should stay home after that night but we only missed one weekend and carried on. If we had missed more time, we probably would have never gone back out.
In May 2003, I married the most beautiful girl in the world. As a matter of fact, she still the most beautiful woman I know. Marrying Angela Walker (nee’ Martin) changed the dynamics of the ministry as she started helping run the ministry office, taking charge of the merchandise table, and then as we moved more into the technological arena, running a full multi-media presentation during our concerts.
On March 11, 2008, Billy Walker, III, was born. He is known as Tripp, short for triple. His birth also changed the dynamics of the ministry. Having a little baby and traveling all over the United States and Canada has its challenges. He loved every bit of it. However, just three days before his third birthday on March 8, 2011, he was diagnosed was autism. Angela had suspicions in the summer of ’10, and had already started making plans and preparations for how we were going to handle this life changing situation. We enrolled him into preschool where he would receive speech, music and occupational therapy. We also hired private speech and occupational therapists to work with him one on one. Since the initial diagnosis, Tripp has also been diagnosed with childhood apraxia of speech, which affects his ability to speak effectively. Today he is seven-and-a-half-years-old and does not speak in sentences. He is very verbal, is able to talk and is a great communicator, even though he doesn’t speak in a language that you or I would understand.
These events started The Walkers down a very different path. Up until the end of 2010 we had been on the road for 275 days a year for the past 15 years. Also, Angela and Tripp traveled full time as well. With the challenges that Tripp faced and the measures that we had to take as a family to help intervene in Tripp’s diagnosis, Angela and Tripp no longer traveled full time. We were no longer traveling as a family ministry. After a while the separation became too much for all of us. We drastically changed how we toured.
Instead of spending days away from home in regions far from our home base in Perry(Tallahassee), FL we decided to spend three weekends a month traveling within a 250 to 300 mile radius of home. We take one long weekend, Friday through Sunday nights every month, traveling as far as Texas or Illinois, Virginia, etc. We take two weeks in the fall and two weeks in the spring that we go out and we do our national tour where we cover most of the United States, and the Maritimes of Canada in the summer time when school is not in session.
In June of 2011, we brought a young man, Billy “Benji” Roach II, into the group. With his name also being Billy, we gave him the nickname Benji. He is a great young man and we are proud to have him with us. It is not easy to come into a family and blend in, but he has done a great job of it and he has been with us now so long it is just like he is family. He is from the Daytona area but now lives in Perry.
Today these are the members of The Walkers: Billy Walker, Jr.: I sing, play guitar on a few songs and drums on a few and I also run sound. Mom Geneva, plays the keyboards and writes most of the songs we sing. Gail, sister, sings and plays bass guitar on a few songs. Benji sings and sets the stage lighting when we use it. Angela runs the multi-media when she is able to travel and Tripp just runs the entire operation.
We have been blessed to have three top 40 songs on the Power Source Christian Country chart with our first two songs going into the Top 10. Our latest “By A Roman Soldier’s Hand,” is at Â number 24 for September and climbing. We were nominated for Group of the Year for the Inspirational Country Music Association back in 2013.
While our best radio success has come in the Christian Country genre, we are probably more Southern Gospel than anything. However, our music is a very high energy with the blend of Southern Gospel, Christian Country and Contemporary. This is a style unique specifically to us. We have never tried to emulate or be anyone other than ourselves.
While we may be a relatively new name to the Gospel music world, we are not a new group. We have been around and we have been there and done that in the world of traveling and singing. We look forward to getting to know more people within the industry and the fans that support Gospel music.
SGN: What is your favorite vacation spot?
Billy: Vacation? What is that? I tell people that I am the hardest working, broke person you’ll ever meet. We don’t get too many opportunities to get away but Angela and I love to go on cruises. It has been way too long since we have been on one and I am really getting the fever. Another place that we like to go is to Saint George Island in Florida. It isn’t too far away and if we just want to get away for the day or a short day-night trip it’s easy to get there and back.
Mom and Gail like to just stay home and relax on their couch with their tv and Benji goes home to the Daytona area. He likes the beach there for some reason.
SGN: How can we purchase your music? How can we book The Walkers?
Billy: Our latest album Twenty is available at our concerts, iTunes, Amazon and just about any other dot com. You can order it off of our website, www.thewalkersonline.com or you can call us at 850.672.9155.
You can schedule The Walkers by again, calling us at 850.672.9155. You can e-mail me, Billy, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Pretty simple.
SGN: While traveling, what is The Walkers favorite restaurant?
Billy: We LOVE a good buffet with good fried chicken. I tell people the words I live by and probably will die by is, “If it ain’t fried, it shouldn’t have died.” Angela and I love Mexican and Chinese food. Mom and Gail can take it or leave it, but she and I love it! Benji just loves food. So Golden Corral or Ryan’s is always a hit with our crew.
SGN: What are some future goals of the group?
Billy: We have had a lot of great things happen to us in the past. But, we are not content to stay there. I am never satisfied with where we are at in our ministry. I believe strongly in two things: If you aren’t growing then your dying, and I hate the status quo. The other is we should always strive for excellence in what we do. We serve the King of Kings, an excellent God and I believe He not only deserves our best but He expects our best.
Obviously the biggest goal is to continue to make an impact on the world for Christ. We have been blessed to see many, many people saved throughout these 23 plus years. We want to be a voice in the church and in the world that stands strong for what is right and represent Christ with the unashamed and unapologetic message that He is soon coming, we must be ready and we must take the message to everyone we can.
I believe one of the biggest industry goals of ours is to raise awareness of who we are and what we have to offer churches and promoters. Another is to continue to strive for greater radio airplay and to break into the Southern Gospel market more effectively.
We always strive to have a first class sound system and we are constantly improving on it and continuing to learn the nuances that make a good sound.
Another goal is to continue to polish what we do on stage. We are a track-based group but Mom plays keyboard on nearly everything we sing. I play guitar on a few things and we also do a couple of songs live with Mom on keys, Gail on bass and me on drums. We want to continue to build our stage lighting. We are one of the few groups in our field that use lights. We do not use them to put on a show but rather to create an atmosphere more conducive for worship. So many churches have florescent lighting and we just try to dim as much of that as we can to create that atmosphere.
We want to continue to progress with our multi-media. As most of the songs we sing are original, you are not going to be as familiar with them. This helps you follow along as we are singing and we even have different videos that go along with songs during this.
SGEN scoops is pleased to highlight the ministry of The Walkers today. Please visit their website and their Facebook page to find out more about this outstanding group.
SGNScoops is pleased to highlight the ministry of The Walkers today. Please visit their website and their Facebook page to find out more about this outstanding group.