From 1863-1891 a feud began along the border of West Virginia and Kentucky around Tug Fork. The feud was between the West Virginia Hatfields and the Kentucky McCoys. The feud officially ended June 14, 2003 when about 60 descendants from the two sides gathered in Pikeville, Kentucky to sign a truce.
Elliott McCoy, an actual descendant of the McCoy family said the hatred and distrust between the families had died long ago. Elliott grew up in a musical family and his early influences included his grandparents. Later, when he was 14, the family moved to Ohio where Elliott gave his life to Christ. His career in gospel music covers more than 38 years. He has been featured in National Geographic for singing in front of over 40,000 people at an outdoor concert in West Virginia.
In July 2001 Elliott formed the group today known as Three Bridges. During the interview I posed several questions to Elliott about him and the group.
RY: Tell us about the early days of Three Bridges.
Elliott: The group was formed in July 2001. On July 4th of that year I heard a young lady at my home church sing a song called â€œDear Captainâ€ and I asked her where she got the song. She said her mom and step-dad co-wrote it. We got permission to record it and started to produce the track in August of that year. When 9/11 happened, I knew God had given us a song for the nation. Chris White and Sonlite Records loved the song and sent it to radio and that started our career as Three Bridges. God has blessed us with great radio success! We have had seven top 10 songs and three number one songs on the national charts, â€œCooling Water,â€ â€œIn The Skyâ€ and â€œFeel A Little Song Coming On.â€
RY: How did you come up with the name Three Bridges?
Elliott: I like the word â€œbridgeâ€ because I have â€œbridged my life to Christâ€. I was putting together a trio and my thought was, Three Bridges – three men have bridged their life to Christ and want to be a bridge to Christ for others.
RY: At what time in your life did you know you had been called to sing Gospel Music?
Elliott: Back in 1969 I was very active in my home church doing everything I could, including leading the worship service, and I felt Godâ€™s calling to sing Gospel Music.
RY: Who influenced you most musically?
Elliott: At an early age The Everly Brothers, then after I got saved Glen Payne and Duane Allen.
RY:: What was your first group?
Elliott: I formed my first group in1970, we were called The Timesmen.
Every Southern Gospel Group needs a â€˜yankeeâ€™ among them. Shannon Smith, born in New Albany, Indiana is the one that fit Three Bridges. In September 2000, Shannon and his wife stepped out into full time ministry. He traveled as a solo artist for two years and in September 2002 he joined The Imperials as their lead singer. Over several years The Imperials won four Grammy and 13 Dove Awards. Shannon left the Imperials after six years in June 2008 to spend time with his family. They moved to Florida where he served 18 months as worship leader. â€œWhen I left the road two years ago, I really needed some time to get away and just focus on the Lord, His Word and my family,â€ says Shannon. â€œOur time in the Miami area accomplished just that – it was almost like a sabbatical. Elliott first called me about joining Three Bridges in January and we just agreed to pray over this decision until we had the peace of the Lord about it. I am filled with excitement and expectation and I look forward to helping Three Bridges continue to share the goodness and love of Jesus in every way possible.â€
RY: At what time in your life did you know you had been called to sing Gospel music?
Shannon: I dreamed of it and knew it was what I wanted to do almost as far back as I can remember, but I didnâ€™t fully embrace it as a calling until I was almost 30 years old.
RY: How long have you been singing Gospel music?
Shannon: As far back as I can remember! Iâ€™ve been singing professionally for almost 20 years and full time 15 years.
RY: What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened on tour?
Shannon: One night all three of us were sick and could barely sing. It wasnâ€™t a lot of fun?
RY: Where is your favorite vacation spot?
Shannon: When I was a kid, we went to a beautiful cabin on a lake in Canada for nine straight summers. Iâ€™ve been hoping to go back to a place like that ever since.
RY: If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
Shannon: I guess I would be a few inches taller.
Jeremie Hudson from Decatur, AL fills the tenor spot for Three Bridges. He began singing when he was eight years old. His father, who sang baritone for The Churchmen, was practicing one day and Jeremie just started singing alto with him. â€œI realized that day there was something special about singing for God,â€ says Jeremie, who continued singing in church as well as competing in talent showcases. In 1992 while attending college he met his future wife, Amanda. Having a desire to have a group of his own, Jeremie and his best friends Jason Hallcox, Eric Hudson and Bruce Taliaferro formed Fresh Anointing. In 1999, the day after the arrival of his second child, he received a call from The Imperials hiring him to take the tenor position.
Jeremie decided in 2008 to leave The Imperials after being with them for nine years. He served as Worship Pastor in Anniston, AL for one year, after which he was unsure where God was taking him. Jeremie didnâ€™t know which direction to go. He talked with Legacy Five and Gold City. From there he did several different things but nothing seemed to fit. While serving as an interim he received a call from Three Bridges. â€œMy spirit jumped inside of me, when Elliott called,â€ stated Jeremie. So in May of 2010 Jeremie was named as Three Bridgesâ€™s tenor.
RY: What is the first thing your children say when you come home off the road?
Jeremie: Emma says, â€œDADDYâ€!! Mike hugs me. Brant sorta smirks. Not in a mean way. Brant always smirks, itâ€™s how he communicates!!!
RY: What are your hobbies?
Jeremie: Football, basketball, fly fishing, Lord of the Rings, WarHammer. I am a Jock/Nerd.
RY: If you could live anywhere besides where you currently live, where would it be?
Jeremie: I would love to live on a stream full of trout somewhere in Tennessee.
RY: What living person do you most admire?
Jeremie: Thatâ€™s tough. Both my mom and my dad are just amazing. They both have strong characteristics that I so want in my life.
RY: What is your favorite song?
Jeremie: The new rendition of â€œWelcome To The Jungleâ€ by Soulâ€™d Out Quartet. Ianâ€™s solo work is second to none.
Following the release of the critically-acclaimed debut album. Soldiers in 2002, Three Bridges has wowed packed-out venues across the nation…from Gospel singings, to business conventions, to churches, to political meetings, to TV shows, and charitable relief events. They have also appeared on several Gaither video tapings and were special guests on a video for the United Nations.
Three Bridges are looking forward to their next project where they are hoping to work on a Hymns and Classics project in the next three to six months. You can keep up with them on their website,www.threebridges.net. They are booked by The Becky Simmons Agency.
You can keep up with the guys on their website,www.threebridges.net. They are booked by The Becky Simmons Agency.
By Robert York
First published by SGN Scoops digital magazine October 2015
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