By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com
Bob Sellers is at peace.
He was living a life many would consider a dream and secure in his position as lead singer for one of gospel music’s popular quartets. But something was just not right in Bob’s heart.
“I was there almost seven years,” he says of his stint with The Kingsmen. “I wouldn’t trade anything for the opportunity.
“But that was the first time I had traveled full time. I was not used to being gone from home that much. I lived in Alabama and sang with The Kingsmen in Asheville (N.C.) so you were talking almost another full day of traveling time back and forth from Asheville to Tuscaloosa. I was gone 230, 240, 250 days a year and I was just not used to that.”
The weekly 800-mile round trips just to go on the road for a while took their toll. So, in June, Sellers gave up a position many singers would cherish for that which is most dear to his heart.
“I have a wife at home and three kids,” Sellers said a few moments before singing at Mt. Freedom Baptist Church in Junction City, Ky. “My oldest daughter is in college (at the University of West Alabama) on a basketball scholarship. I wanted to stay home and be more involved in that.”
But there were also realities of life staring at Sellers, a former banker. “It wasn’t about anything else except wanting to be home,” he says of his decision. “I said, ‘God, something has got to pay the bills.’”
It was leap of faith. It has turned into a huge splash.
The plan was simple: Go solo and sing when he wanted. Trust God to provide the rest.
“I gave Ray (Reese, The Kingsmen manager) about six weeks notice,” Sellers remembers. “I started looking for solo dates then. Not a week has gone by that we have not been blessed.”
Even though Bob had known down deep for some time that leaving The Kingsmen would be his move, the meeting with Reese was bittersweet. “I hated to do it because I love Ray so much,” Sellers says. “But I also knew there were many young guys out there chomping at the bit who would replace me in a heartbeat.”
What couldn’t be replaced was Sellers’ passion for his wife, Kansas, and children, Corley, Ellie and Will.
Even though Bob was torn by being away from home, he never lost that passion for sharing the gospel through song. He’d sung in The Capstone Quartet, a regional group, for 8 years before joining the Kingsmen. His solo career has taken him across the southeast, from Kentucky to Florida to Texas and points in between.
A Bob Sellers solo concert is a mix of old Kingsmen hits, gospel classics and hymns. At Mt. Freedom, he took requests and if he could find an accompaniment on his phone, he would sing it. He even borrowed another phone for one song.
“I sing slow, I sing fast,” he laughed. “I don’t have anything pushing me one way or the other. That is one thing I love about what I am doing. I have the freedom to go where I want to, do what I want to and sing what I want to. I sing old hymns from ‘How Beautiful Heaven Must Be’ to ‘Mansion over the Hilltop’ to recent radio hit covers. Someone else may have sung them to songs I was featured on with The Kingsmen. It’s whatever the Lord puts on my heart.
“I sing a lot of songs I have never recorded because I haven’t had the opportunity. Some nights, people come by and say, ‘I want to buy that song’ and I have to say, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t have it.’”
Sellers does offer some CDs of compilations of songs he recorded over time.
And he’s at peace knowing that God has provided abundantly. He’s had 104 dates booked — some on the same day — since leaving The Kingsmen. He’s actively working on filling his calendar for 2019. There is no flat fee, and he says, “I don’t have any clue what I am going to leave with. God provides. He does.”
And God showed his blessings the day after Sellers announced he would be leaving The Kingsmen. Les Butler called to see if Bob would be interested in singing for The Old Time Preachers Quartet.
Bob recalls, “He said, ‘I’m not trying to pressure you or anything else, but we are looking for a lead singer in 2019. We only do about 50 or 60 dates a year and I am not talking to anybody else. You can take a week. You take a month. You take however long you want to decide. We have our current lead singer until the end of this year. Crazy enough, I spoke your name to my wife last night, without any idea that you were leaving The Kingsmen. I told her if he ever leaves The Kingsmen, I am going to call him.”
Bob and his family prayed and talked about it for weeks. “There was no reason for me to say, ‘No.’” he says. “Those are great guys. Mike Holcomb (who was with The Inspirations 42 years) is one one of the best bass singers ever. He’s singing as well now as he ever has. Les is a great guy. They are great preachers and great men of God. Tim Owens sings tenor and does a great job.
“I’m tickled to death to be part of those guys. I will only be on the road about 60 days a year, so I can focus on the solo ministry.”
And giving up the dream job has turned into even more.
“I had a peace that surpasses all understanding,” Sellers remembers. “One day I was painting. I was up in a corner and I was tired. The line wasn’t as straight as it needed to be. But I realized if I looked a little bit ahead of the paint brush, the line where I had been would be a little straighter. God spoke to me in that way. He said, ‘You have got to quit worrying about where you are or where you have been. If you truly want to be home more, you are going to have to let me take you.
“God straightened it all out for me.”
Active on social media
Like nearly all artists, Bob Sellers has an active presence on social media. He promotes his concerts and travels.
And he loves talking smack about college sports as he extols the virtues of his favorite team, the Alabama Crimson Tide.
He also loves to talk politics on social media, taking conservative positions and urging people to go to the polls to support conservative causes. He breaks into a hearty laugh when asked about his outspoken political positions.
“It’s liberating when you don’t have a boss to answer to except for the Lord,” he smiles. “And my wife. Sometimes she tells me I put too much on there. Can you believe that?”
Sellers says he’s had few complaints.
“In all my years traveling, I can only remember one instance. I had a lady confront me in Arkansas,” remembers Sellers, who was with The Kingsmen at the time. “She was a lib-er-al. She wanted to call me out on my Facebook posts and tell Ray Reese he out to be ashamed having me onstage and all of that stuff.
“Most people, thank the Lord, agree with me.”