I have the utmost joy of bringing this beloved article to you this month, on this particular day, at this precise moment. It’s an honor for me as a ‘Southern Gospel brat’ myself to write about and interview my peers in our Gospel Music world. While sailing on the Caribbean Sea a few months back, I beamed with happiness when Karlye Hopper accepted my interview offer. It’s my hope that you, as the reader, will catch a glimpse into the soul of the outrageously talented, tender hearted, incandescently brilliant and one-of-a-kind original that is Karlye Jade. It’s time to take center stage, Miss Hopper…
Erin: How have you been able to maintain your own identity while still being a part of the prestige that comes with the Hopper name?
Karlye: I don’t think it’s ever been a question whether or not I’m my own person. I know my place and that people know me as “the Hoppers’ daughter,” I’ll never not be that in this or any music industry. But, I have a pretty…um…“unique” sense of style and an outspoken personality. I’m also quite tall. That helps.
Erin: With the changes that have taken place as a family and as a group, when did you personally feel the call to join the ministry?
Karlye: Back in the summer of 2013, Connie (yes, I casually refer to my grandmother and the rest of the family by their first name-I like to keep from being presumptuous) completely lost her voice in the middle of a week-long tour. I got a phone call after the show that night… “You’re flying into Birmingham at noon tomorrow, bring a nice dress.” I sang alto––for the first time ever––the entire set that night, and the next night in front of 5,000 at the Mabee Center with the Homecoming Tour. (Yikes!) Since then, countless obstacles have been thrown at this group and caused more than one member to leave the road for extensive periods. Just filling in and helping out is why I started doing this, but the shy teenager on the back row is why I’ve continued. My youth and vulnerability (yeah, people can tell I’m not a pro and see my stage anxiety) have brought innumerable young girls to my side of the merchandise table; these beloved struggle with eating disorders, self-harm, abuse, etc.––the unmentionables of Christianity. I’ve been given a heritage, a platform and a privilege that allows me to, even if we don’t exchange a word, show these kids just like me, that God can put joy into a seemingly hopeless heart. Being young is hard, Erin, and we have to build each other up. I’m lucky enough to get the opportunity to do that to complete strangers in different cities each night.
Erin: Apart from the music world, what are you studying and what are your aspirations for the future?
Karlye: I’m an English major at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (yes, I go to a real school). Currently, along with classic literature and contemporary composition, I’m studying sociology and linguistics. What on earth does that mean I want to be “when I grow up,” you ask? A biographer. I’m obsessed with the diction and connotation of dialects and slang and accents––Claude and I grew up on the same farm, in the same town but even the way he says our last name is determined by his generation, upbringing and life experiences. In a nutshell, I want to tell peoples’ stories the way they themselves would tell them.
Erin: How have you managed to juggle road life and off-road life between college and concert schedules?
Karlye: Really strong coffee, five-hour energy shots, sleeplessness, junk food, dry shampoo, sweatpants and red-eye flights. I also strongly suggest seeing a good shrink as often as possible. (laughs)
Erin: If you had to choose, which family member would you like to emulate the most?
Karlye: Oh, well obviously Connie––her grace no matter the circumstance, ravenous hunger to encourage and, let’s face it, she is the poster child of good genetics. I’ll admit, there can be a lot of pressure and high expectations when you have Mother Teresa for a grandmother.
Erin: Craziest remark a fan has ever said to you? Go.
Karlye: “Did y’all used to be the McKameys?” There are plenty crazier, but that’s probably the safest.
Erin: With much of the younger generation recently stepping up in the industry, do you believe this music has a bright future? Why or why not?
Karlye: There are some really special young people in our business, all with gifts and talents I can’t fathom, and most of which I’d like to strangle for that reason. Sigh. Anyway, when my grandparents started in 1957, this genre wasn’t known as “Southern Gospel”––it was simply “Gospel.” I think the same will be true for all the years to come; with time, our industry will evolve and subdivide or even rejoin and, frankly, I don’t think any of that matters. Music of any genre is a special gift that God placed on this earth to evoke an emotion that words alone cannot touch. I, nor anyone I’ve asked, has ever left any type of musical performance without having felt an indescribable joy. That feeling may only last for a moment or two, but it was is that moment of complete bliss that God convened with us. In other words, as long as there is still music and musician, Christ is still in it and boy does the future look bright.
Erin: Disney or Universal? Sushi or steak? Vintage or contemporary clothing? Bookworm or movie critic?
b) Appetizer sweet heart roll followed by a medium filet drenched in béarnaise.
c) Always vintage––I’ve got quite the collection.
d) Okay, can I watch a cerebral thriller or cult classic then read the neoclassicism literature it was inspired by? ‘Cause I’m probably going to anyway.
Erin: It’s no secret what a tremendously mature vocal ability you possess. Could there be a Karlye Hopper solo album in the works?
Karlye: It isn’t? I do? Where did you hear this?! Actually, I’ve been trying for over a year to both start and complete a short EP. So far, I have one incredibly gorgeous a cappella tune that I’ll be singing both lead as well as the harmonies. (Attention: ‘Younger Perspective’ Songwriters of Tomorrow-send me your material!!)
Erin: Is there a verse or a particular passage of Scripture that is meaningful to you at this stage in your life?
Karlye: Zephaniah 3:17 holds a hope that I cling to… “The Lord your God wins victory after victory and is always with you. He celebrates and sings because of you, and He will refresh your life with His love.” Without a promise like that, what else do we really have?
I hope you’re all saying ‘WOW’ along with me after reading this amazing interview. Thanks so much, Karlye, for taking time out of a crazy schedule to open your heart so deeply to our readers! And hey friends, if you’re in the midst of fighting a battle, whatever it may be, have no fear because at the end of the day, when you lay your head on the pillow, you know Who holds YOUR victory in the palm of His mighty hand. I believe we all can take comfort in the soothing promises found in Zephaniah 3:17. Until next month, Scoops’ fans…
And that’s my take on it.
(Connect with Erin, your Younger Perspective writer, on Twitter: @photosforkeeps & Instagram: @photos_for_keeps. Who would you like to see her interview next??)
Read more about Karlye and all the Hoppers here.
By Erin Stevens of the Stevens Family.
First published in May 2015 by SGN Scoops digital magazine. For current issues of SGN Scoops visit the mainpage.