By Paige Givens
Twenty-five years ago, in the hills of Hiltons, Virginia, a unique and beautiful sound was born. It was a sound full of harmonies so close and sweet that they could only be connected by the blood of family. The sound produced words and songs that are full of hope and new life, words that point others to Jesus Christ. This sound became the music and ministry of The Browders, a family group that is rapidly gaining recognition and admiration in gospel music.
Tommy Browder, patriarch and founder of The Browders, grew up singing and writing gospel songs from a very early age. As an adult, he felt God leading him to start a ministry. “He felt the call to minister with his family. He prayed about it and God showed him what to do. We began singing in 1990,” says son Matt. “Actually, it all started in a 1990 Dodge Omni!”
Matt and David Browder were young when they began traveling and ministering with their dad in 1990. Matt recalls, “At the age of 10 or 11, I began singing with Dad. Then, at the age of 13 or 14 I began to learn to sing three part harmony with the group. The Hinsons, Happy Goodmans, The Rambos, The Paynes, and The Crabb Family were huge influences throughout my life.” David notes several influences of his early years, too. “The people that influenced me the most musically were The Original Hinsons, The Happy Goodman Family, Teddy Huffam and The Gems, The Spencers, The Crabb Family, The Paynes, Charles Johnson and The Revivers, Singing Cookes, Elvis, Johnny Cash and Carman.” Just to name a few! David recorded his first song at the young age of eight.
In 2005, Sonya, Matt’s wife, joined the group. Sonya says, “I started piano lessons at age four due to my interest in a piano we were storing at our house for our pastor’s wife. I began singing and playing in church shortly thereafter. I started singing full time with a group based out of my home state of Maine at age 15. We were booked for a concert with the Browders in Tennessee around the year 2000, and our families became friends. Matt and I married five years later.”
Each member of The Browders is an integral part of the group’s function. Off stage, Matt takes care of the group’s bookings and radio promotion, oversees recordings, and handles public relations. On stage, he sings lead and harmony, plays the rhythm guitar, and even helps take care of sound! Matt also writes many songs for the group and preaches. His brother David is the group’s primary bus driver, also maintaining and caring for the
bus. He designs t-shirts for The Browders as well. David also writes many of the family’s songs. He sings lead and harmony vocals and plays bass on stage. Sonya is in charge of office administration for the ministry, sings lead and harmony vocals, writes songs, and plays piano for the group. She is the band and vocal director for The Browders. Tommy is the founder of The Browder ministry. He sings lead, harmony, plays guitar and
acoustic lead, preaches, writes, and assists with bus maintenance. And, as Matt puts it, “Well, he is ‘THE BOSS!’”
One thing that has set The Browders’ ministry apart from others is the amount of award winning songwriting that each member contributes. “We write a variety of styles of music,” says Matt. “It is original and diverse. Our songs are written from true-life experiences. You learn to really believe through your life’s experiences. God gives you faith to believe in Him, and everything about Him. When you really believe what you are singing about, then your audience believes. It touches my heart to see the audience receive and be blessed by God. That makes the difference! Growing up and seeing my dad write songs gave me the desire to write. Dad was a great influence. At the age of 13, he so graciously included me in writing a song and I was inspired. Dad was my first mentor! The Bible says, ‘Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)’”
Matt goes on to talk about how his writing has evolved over the years. “Through the years, God has allowed me to connect with others who have equipped me and influenced my writing. They have shown me how important it is to be meticulous with the lyrics. In return, this has helped me to achieve the message I want to get across to the audience, and for them to know what the song is about. Oftentimes, great songs are not written in 10 to 15 minutes. God gives an idea, and it is up to us to labor over the lyrics to develop the song, and trust God for the outcome. Writing songs is my passion and calling and I have a purpose to fulfill my calling!”
The Browders have used their songwriting talents on all their projects, and their current album Time Machine is no exception. The album ministers to listeners of all ages who have a variety of music preferences. It opens up with the worshipful “Lift Up His Name,” and celebrates the glory of God. “Listening for the Shout,” is a lively, upbeat song with a Southern Gospel flair that will have listeners singing and toe tapping along. “Waiting For You to Get Home,” is an especially heart-stirring song, reminding us of the promise of heaven and loved ones waiting there. With this project, The Browders have used their songwriting talent and their wonderful family harmonies to cross over a wide span of genres; but no matter the style of the song, their message is the same. They are singing the truths of God.
Once a person has listened to the sweet sound of The Browders over the airwaves, they will definitely want to go experience them in person. God’s Word will flow through the preaching, lyrics, and song. When asked what an audience might expect at a concert, Matt simply says, “They are going to come expecting an encounter with God. They will experience Him moving and ministering in their life right there at that moment.”
To experience The Browders yourself, visit their website at www.thebrowders.com, or follow them on facebook (The Browders) or Twitter (@browdersmusic). For booking, contact Beckie Simmons Agency at 615-595-7500, email@example.com, or The Browders at 423-863-5264.
By Paige Givens
First Published by SGN Scoops digital magazine in April 2015. For current issues of SGN Scoops, click HERE.