The Nelons “Living a Legacy of Love”

Nelons 1The Nelons

“Living a Legacy of Love”

By Jennifer Campbell

Southern Gospel Music is rooted in family, faith, and the mindset that musical talent should be handed down from generation to generation. The Nelons are the prime example of a family who lives this tradition every single day of their lives. Kelly Nelon Clark carries on the tradition started by her father Rex Nelon, just as her children are now a part of the legacy left by their grandfather. Kelly, Jason, Amber, and Autumn understand the value of Southern Gospel Music.

They also know that a close-knit family is priceless. Above all, they place Jesus Christ at the center of it all. Through their love for music, love for family, and love for Jesus Christ, The Nelons are living a legacy of love!

For Kelly Nelon Clark, Southern Gospel Music is a way of life. She spoke of her first recollection of Southern Gospel Music, “I’m sure I was at a concert where my father was singing with The LeFevres and if I remember correctly it was at the city auditorium in Atlanta, GA. I was probably three years old.”

Rex Nelon left a legacy that will always be remembered, both by his family and the countless individuals he influenced throughout his life. “My father would be the greatest influence in my life,” Kelly stated. “I watched how he handled adversities, the bus break downs, the constant staying on the phone to make sure the dates were on the books so that we could make a living. He handled so many things and he handled them well. He was such a good man and a man of great integrity. I don’t think he realized how many people loved him.”

Of course, Jason Clark is no stranger to Gospel Music either, having been raised alongside his bass singing father Dan Clark. Jason says, “I remember hanging out at their concerts, riding the bus occasionally, going to their rehearsals, then coming home and giving my very own pretend concerts for the audience of Mammaw & Papaw Clark in their living room. They have a picture of me in diapers, holding my microphone and giving the performance of a lifetime at the early age of two.”

Amber and Autumn also grew up with Gospel Music running through their blood. Amber said that music has always been a part of her life and that she has always wanted to sing Southern Gospel Music. Autumn echoed Amber’s response saying, “That’s all I have ever really known.”

The Nelons are comprised of husband and wife duo Jason Clark and Kelly Nelon Clark, along with their daughters Autumn and Amber. Throughout their musical career, they have garnered three Grammy nominations, six Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, and many other accolades. They have traveled from sea to shining sea and they have even journeyed “across the pond” on a Scandinavian tour.

“I love to travel because it has afforded us the privilege of seeing the world over, and experiencing so many diverse cultures,” commented Jason. “The ministry is more fulfilling than I could ever explain when I think about the marvelous love of Jesus and that I get to tell others about that through the medium of music is extremely humbling, gratifying, and sometimes overwhelming.”

Kelly added, “We have traveled here and abroad and the greatest thing are the friendships and relationships we have made and kept down through the years. We love and cherish our friends. Also to see a life that has been affected by something we have sung or said is worth all the miles we travel.” Whether they are at home or abroad, one thing is certain: Kelly, Jason, Amber, and Autumn love what they do because they are doing what they love.
Kelly said that singing has always been her dream. She commented, “From the first day of kindergarten it was just a part of me that I would sometime sing with my father. It was my dream and my desire and thankfully God granted the desires of my heart. I spent many days on the road with my father Rex Nelon, and I can honestly say it was always a joy. We were very close and we talked every day and I could tell him anything. I really miss that.”

If you have spent even five minutes with them, you know that the Nelons have a strong familial bond. “I really couldn’t imagine leaving home every week and spending more than half the year away without my wife and children,” Jason stated. “We are always reminding each other of this privilege and blessing that God has given.” They travel to over 150 concerts per year and spend time together at home too, yet even with all of this time together often spent in close quarters on the bus, their love for each other simply grows stronger.

Autumn chimed in and said, “I’m very blessed to get to be able to spend time with my family as much as I do. I get to travel and see these amazing places and sing some with them. Although we may get on each other’s nerves from time to time, I wouldn’t change a thing. My relationship with my family is great. I know a lot people think that they have the world’s best parents, but I really believe that I do. Our family is very competitive, so we have fun playing board games or a game of basketball. Sam and Buddy {pets} tend to get on my nerves a little bit, but I can’t help but love them!”

Amber talked about the opportunity she has to travel with her family. “Well not a lot of people get to go to work and have their family with them all the time. We are always together and we can take vacations whenever we want. We even stop at places on the road. So I’m thankful that God didn’t just allow me to sing, but my entire family as well. We are a very close knit family as you can tell. We’ve always been that way. We love doing things and going places and having parties at home. We are all like that and just enjoy entertaining as a whole. As for Sam and Buddy, they’re great. I bought Sam when I graduated High School and he became my little baby. That was 5 years ago. Now Autumn and I bought Buddy and he’s the baby. You can imagine how Sam is taking to that!”

During the interview, I asked Kelly and Jason what it meant to them to be a husband and wife and father and mother. “I absolutely love being a wife and mother,” Kelly replied. “It totally consumes me. I would do anything for them. Jason and I have fun wherever we go and I make him do some crazy things but he does it to make me happy. When Amber played basketball, no matter how far or how tired I was, I made sure that I was there to support her. I do the same thing for Autumn. We do almost everything together. It makes me sad when they are away from me. And as far as my little babies (Sammy and Buddy), they go everywhere with us, and Sam has become a little star on his own with over 24,000 views on his Sam Cam videos!” When asked what she hoped her children will teach their children one day, Kelly said, “I hope they will teach them the things and ways of the Lord! Reading and studying the Bible daily, church attendance and paying your tithes. Loving God and loving each other, as Bill Gaither would say. You can’t go wrong with God!” Jason added the following advice to his children, “Spend your days giving of yourself, your resources, your time, your talent, and your love for it will be the most rewarding life that one can live.” “Being a husband to Kelly is a wonderful life of fun and adventure,” said Jason. “She teaches me to laugh more and she really sets the tone for our family. We are a fun bunch always
experiencing new things mainly because of her. I want to continue to love, protect, and provide for her in such a way that not only pleases her and our children but also brings a smile to the face of Jesus. Amber and Autumn have both taught me so much about being a dad because they are both so different, and we really have a great bond. Other stepdads have reached out to me asking for advice in raising a blended family for sometimes it can be challenging. But I can honestly say that Amber and Autumn have always respected my authority, reached out to me for counsel, advice, and come to me when they need comfort. Some of my most treasured possessions in this world are the letters or cards they’ve each written me through the difficult times in their growing up, when I’ve tried to simply be a loving, caring father.”

Amber and Autumn love their parents just as much as they love them. Autumn said that her mom has been the greatest influence on her life. “She’s the best,” Autumn remarked. “I can go to her with anything and I know she was always gives me her honest advice.” Amber said that her grandfather and her whole family have influenced her life. She said, “He was so wise and I never doubted his judgment. My family definitely has had a major influence. Without them, I would be so incomplete and they help keep me on track.”

The Nelons offer the following advice for aspiring young artists. “Never give up and keep giving it your all,” Amber advised. “God always rewards the faithful. If you are faithful to God and His word, then you can’t go wrong. He will lead you and guide you, so follow Him. With Him as your leader, you’ll never be astray.” Autumn added, “Take advice from people who have been there, done that. Also, be confident in yourself.”

While the Nelons have enjoy a lot of success and enjoyable moments in their lives, there have also been days when they have faced difficulties. Kelly said the hardest days of her life were the days she learned that her mother and then her father had died. Jason said one of the hardest days he has experienced was when they decided to resign their church and return to a full-time touring

schedule again. He said, “Even though undoubtedly it was God’s will for our lives and ministry, leaving those wonderful people and relationships that were fused together by life’s struggles and triumphs was extremely emotional and difficult. I gave the church a full year’s notice because it was so hard to leave.”

One of the questions I often ask during an interview is this: If you could speak to Jesus faceto-face, what would you say to Him? Kelly answered, “I would thank him for all He has done for me, and how He got me through some of the most difficult times in my life. He is a lifeline!” Jason responded, “I can only begin to imagine such a moment but those words may simply be, ‘I’m sorry, thank you, and I Love You.’” Amber said, “I would ask Him so many questions about my life and why this and that happened and then ask Him questions about stories in the Bible.” Autumn replied, “I would ask him why my Grandparents had to go so soon when I really never got the chance to get to know them. I was nine months old when my Grandmama died and three years old when my Granddaddy died. But, I just have to keep reminding myself that God has a reason for everything.”

Ten years from now, it is certain that the Nelons will continue to share Jesus Christ with the world through song. Kelly says, “I pray the Lord will enlarge our territory and bless our ministry.” Amber said, “In 10 years I would hope to be married (maybe with kids) and still singing and continuing to spread the Gospel.” Jason said, “I pray we will always continue to do what God allows us in reaching more people, more nations, by writing and singing songs of the Greatest News this world has ever known!”

Without doubt, the Nelons will be spreading the love of Jesus for many years to come. They are excited to be working toward several projects including a Hymns project, live DVD and an a cappella project. And of course, they also look forward to seeing you at an upcoming concert! But overall, they have their eyes focused on the most important piece in the puzzle of life: Jesus Christ. They know that a life without Jesus is nothing, but a life with Jesus is everything.

Amber said, “The best day of my life would no doubt be October 25, the day that I got saved. That day, my life was forever changed because I realized how much Christ loved me.”

“God will be everything that you could possibly imagine or hope for,” Kelly said. “Make it a choice to give your life to him, spend time with him, and talk with him. He wants to talk to you!”

If you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, call on His name today. The Nelons will tell you that your life will never be the same. Jesus loves you more than you could ever imagine. With Him, you, too, can live a legacy of love!

Noteworthy Nelon Notes

● If Kelly wrote a book, it would be titled “Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing.”

● If Jason wrote a song to describe his life so far, the title would be “The Song Must Go On.”

● Autumn warns, “Watch out on those Highways! I’ll be 16 and driving really soon!”

● Amber’s favorite hymn is “Be Thou My Vision.”

● Kelly said the song that has been an encouragement to her is “God Will Make a Way.”

● If Autumn was stranded on a deserted island, one item she wants with her is her iPhone, since it also has a Bible on it. Jason would take his family and his Bible.

● Kelly said the best days of her life were the days her children were born.

● Jason said the song that has encouraged him is a song he wrote titled “We Speak Your Name.” He said, “This song was written in the midst of some very difficult times for me personally and every time Amber sings it, God reminds me of all He’s brought me through for His glory and praise.”

● The most exciting thing Autumn has ever done was going to American Idol with her sister. She says, “I got to meet Ryan Seacrest, so that was pretty cool.”

● One of Amber’s favorite moments was receiving the Dove Award nomination for Children’s Album of the Year as the youngest Dove Award nominee ever. She says, “That was pretty amazing. I was nine years old when I made that album and to think that God used it that much is so cool to me.”

Contact the Nelons