It is said that when a girl has a sister, she’ll always have a best friend. Not only are these sisters best friends, but they are also in pursuit of making a lifetime career out of their shared passion. Some of Southern gospel’s most beloved groups feature sisters, including Sisters (Kim Sheffield, Heather Bennett and Valerie Medkiff), Karen Peck and New River (Karen Gooch and Susan Jackson), the Collingsworth Family (Brooklyn Blair, Courtney Metz and Olivia Collingsworth), the Isaacs (Sonya Yeary and Becky Bowman) and the Martins (Joyce Sanders and Judy Hess).
Rachael and Riley Peyton began singing when they were only 5 and 6 years old, respectively, at a local nursing home. They would help their mother by offering some songs for the residents, following a devotion that she would give.
Eventually, a staff member of the nursing home asked the young girls to perform at her church for a mother-and-daughter banquet. Some local pastors’ wives heard the sister duo and invited them to their churches. And so, a career was born.
The Peyton sisters have been traveling and singing now for approximately four years. Based out of southern Illinois, the girls make most of their stops in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. They average 120 dates per year, with most of their performances happening on the weekend and an occasional concert during the week. While neither of their parents claim to be vocalists, the girls were raised with a rich understanding of Southern gospel music.
“We were surrounded by Southern gospel music growing up,” Rachael says. “When Mom would clean the house, she would put (on) a Gaither video. Riley and I would sit on a blanket, play with our toys and watch Bill Gaither.”
Sanders, a Gaither regular, is an inspiration to the girls.
“Joyce is our vocal coach,” Riley points out. “She is also an amazing person and encourager.”
Sanders was the producer of the Peyton Sisters’ most recent album, and the Gaither Vocal Band laid the tracks for the project.
The ladies released the CD, featuring four original songs, at the 2017 Gaither Fall Fest. Rachael wrote two songs by herself on the project, one of which she feels has had a big impact in their concerts.
“My favorite would be ‘I Am There,’” Rachel shares. “I wrote that one, and I love it to bits. It has a beautiful message to it. Wherever you are in your life and your circumstances, He is right there. It is just an awesome reminder.”
These teenagers are eager to reach all generations. They want to span the gap between their peers and an older audience, as is evident in their latest project, entitled “Undivided.” Half of the album is contemporary, while the other half is Southern gospel.
“So many times people put a line in between Southern gospel and contemporary,” Riley says. “They think you cannot listen to both. I think it’s good to span the generations. Let there be undivided unity.”
Rachel adds, “The thing that sets Southern gospel apart from other genres is the lyrics and the music. It’s not the singer that makes it different. Any artist can learn to sing any genre they want to.”
The two have some interesting advice on the best way to reach their generation.
“Making friends is the best way to reach our generation,” Rachael explains. “Social media, having a Facebook page, uploading videos is important, but mostly, making friends. When you make friends, they are interested in what you do and when you say ‘Southern gospel music,’ they’re going to want to hear what you sing because they will want to know more about you … if they want to be your friend.”
Riley adds, “Don’t just stay in the box. You can mix genres. On our album, we did half lighter contemporary. It may be finding something they might like and putting it with the Southern gospel. Not staying so strict to one type of music is important.”
One issue that Rachael believes that girls like her struggle with is feeling like they are not good enough.
“They want to be prettier or better looking, but they are perfect just the way they are,” Rachel shares. “God made them special, and He loves them very much. One of the best things they can do is love themselves and find themselves. They should find out who they are and never lose that person.”
Riley adds, “You can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself. You need to be who you are, because there is only one you.”
Reflecting on the accomplishments they hope to achieve, both sisters agreed that they see singing as being something that will last a lifetime, in whatever form it may take.
“The goal of the Peyton Sisters is to sing professionally, and love it with all of our hearts, and to have fun,” Rachael emphasizes.
Riley adds, “I want to sing and have fun and get to do it forever, whether it be us two or if we include someone else. I love it. It’s a passion.”
To find out more about the Peyton Sisters, visit their website at www.ThePeytonSisters.com.
By Fayth Lore.
First published in April 2018 by SGNScoops Magazine. Fayth Lore is a regular contributor to SGNScoops Magazine.
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