Beyond Grace turning heads with simple message of victory through Christ
By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com
Deanna Boone’s formula for a happy life is very simple: Praise God in everything and have fun doing so.
And when Boone and her son, Matthew Armstrong, take the stage as Beyond Grace, it’s obvious that the duo is having a ball while praising God.
“As my mamaw always said, ‘Praise Him anyway!” Boone says with an enthusiasm that girds every song Beyond Grace sings. “Regardless of what you are going through, praise Him!”
It’s advice Deanna Boone has carried through a life that has made her an example of God’s goodness. And as she said during the biggest trial in her life, “God is not finished with me yet.”
Whenever Beyond Grace sings, it’s the fruit of praise, prayer and a suggestion to simply try something.
Boone and Armstrong had been singing individually for some time and had performed as a duet occasionally at weddings, funerals or other special occasions. But Deanna’s husband, who she says is the the group’s biggest fan, suggested the duo get together more often.
“After much prayer, we spoke to Matthew and thus decided to move forward with a group,” Deanna says. “We have both had solo careers for many years; both of us started singing at the age of five. Singing is what we do, we are blessed to sing for the Lord. There’s no better honor.”
It’s not always easy juggling day jobs and singing engagements. Boone lives near Bloomfield, Ky., where she works as an account service manager for Anthem, a job she loves. Armstrong, however, had begun his own career with PPG Paints in the Cincinnati area. In addition, he’d started his own DJ business, Karaoke Junction, working weddings, birthdays and other events in the Tri-State area.
So far, things have worked out. Beyond Grace sings at every possible opportunity and was asked to open for the Old Time Preachers Quartet at Sand Spring Baptist Church near Lawrenceburg on March 5. Included in the set was a cover of David Will’s classic, “Jesus Never Fails.” The near capacity crowd responded with a standing ovation.
Deanna says the song has become something of a signature song for Beyond Grace. “We love that song and it is a true statement that Jesus never fails. He is always with us, even when we do not feel him. He never leaves us, ever.”
Deanna Boone knows first hand.
“I had a massive stroke when I was 20 years old,” she says. “The doctors told me I would not walk, talk or sing again. I wrote them a note that said, ‘God is not finished with me yet’ and from that moment on, I worked so hard to walk, talk and sing again. I turned 21 in a wheelchair and sang for the very first time.”
She remembers the song was “Never Thirst Again.”
Boone continues, “Shortly after, I was able to take my first step. Feeling the floor beneath me was very emotional — it still chokes me up just speaking about it. I could feel the holy ground underneath me, that is when I started singing with no shoes on. I had to feel the ground beneath me and be reminded of the journey God allowed me to go through.
“I now take my journey and try to help others by showing them that they can overcome by the grace of God.”
Knowing his mom’s struggle has pushed Armstrong to share the message that Jesus never fails.
“Everybody struggles in their life,” he says. “It doesnt matter if you’re dealing with cancer or illness, losing your job, marital difficulties or simply having a bad day, we all struggle.”
And Armstrong knows the struggle first hand too.
“I grew up with a mom and dad and a family who would give everything they had just for me and for anyone honestly,” says Armstrong, who is 29. “Mom being very ill and having a dad who was never around a lot made everyday life tough. Not only have I gone through many illnesses with mom, back in 2008-09, my dad, who I get to share my birthday with, was diagnosed with cancer. It devastated me tremendously.
“Why? I questioned over and over, why would God do this to me and make my dad suffer. My dad wasn’t always the best father figure, but no one deserves to have an illness such as this. By July of 2009, Dad and I shared our final birthday together before his life ended. My world was a mess at the time because he and I were so close.”
Life threw both Deanna and Matthew another curve shortly after when Deanna was diagnosed with cancer herself. She defeated it, remarried and now gives her life to sharing the message of that signature song, “Jesus Never Fails.”
And life dealt Matthew another blow about five years ago.
“Back in 2015, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 throat cancer. Being that it was in the early stages still, I was able to do chemo and get rid of this illness! When told by the doctors that I had this, I was devastated and cried many a night,” he says. “Music is my life and my passion, that God graciously gifted me with and I knew it was my calling. God blessed me with a quick recovery from this, as I have been free of cancer, for almost five years now.
“Along with this, I have faced many complications with my throat, including a very common illness called Gerd! Having this, causes me to have issues with losing my voice at times, but through God, I know he will see me through this and I will over come it! God has been so good to me and my life. Time and time again, I count every day life, a huge blessing, not only for me but with getting to sing and share God’s grace, with so many, through singing with my mom! God is so good!
“Life has been a whirlwind of struggles through so many illnesses with my family and myself that I realized if I wanted to make it in life, I had to give it all to God and let Him guide me in the direction and steps He wants me to be in.”
“Our testimony of where God has brought us from where we are now is a lifelong message that can be summed up by the song “God’s Been Good in My Life!” Legacy Five’s Joshua Townsend sings this song and it has become my testimony in life. Through it all, God’s been good.”
The testimony is apparent when Beyond Grace sings. Boone shares her story and sheds some tears. But the tears are those of joy as the duo delivers a mix of Southern Gospel and praise and worship covers. Deanna and Matthew also deliver some of their original material and she adds, “We only sing what God wants us to sing. If in the middle of a concert, God speaks, we change to the song He wants us to sing.
“Prayer is how we know what to say and sing.”
Prior to joining their voices, Deanna and her son had some memorable musical moments. She says she has sung on radio and was on stage with the Gaithers in a Louisville concert. She adds that she also sang with Vestal Goodman at a women’s conference many years ago. Matthew says he has appeared on the Huckabee show.
And now, Beyond Grace is making a bit of a splash in Southern Gospel. The duo has sung at various churches in Kentucky and surrounding states, but may have gotten its biggest break by opening for the Old Time Preachers Quartet. Shortly thereafter, while the world had come to a near standstill because of COVID-19, the promoters at Sand Spring Baptist contacted Beyond Grace again, asking if a chance to open for The Perrys on June 11 would fit into the schedule.
Deanna and Matthew didn’t have to check.
“‘Wow!’ was the first thing I thought,” Boone says. “Then, ‘Us? Really?’ Then I realized this was God working through us and allowing us to sing His praises and to help others. We are touched and honored to open for such a blessed group. The Perrys have been one of our favorites for many years. They are amazing. Back in the day, my parents made sandwiches for them.”
After that big night, Deanna Boone and Matthew Armstrong plan to keep singing as much as possible while praying that God opens the door for them to devote all their energies into a full-time ministry.
“Music soothes the soul, especially singing for the Lord,” Deanna says. “It is truly an honor to stand in front of so many or so few and sing about the power of God. … We are so blessed to have been given the gifts to minister to others with God’s Word through song. It is our goal not to be seen but that God is seen through us.
“We never step on stage that God is not present and all ministries are about Him.”