The Isaacs headline fast growing gospel showcase
By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com
DANVILLE — Louis Coffman comes across as a laid-back, low-key guy whether on stage singing with his wife, Tamra, and daughter, Canaan, or just chatting over lunch.
But he looked like he was ready to jump up and kick his heels as we talked about Coffmania over some chicken.
“We are real excited about this year, being able to go ahead with Coffmania” he said, breaking into a huge smile. “After last year, we are real excited to have it.”
Just being able to schedule what has become The Coffmans’ signature event, a homecoming of sorts at their church, Danville Church of God, is big enough. A year ago, the event was one of the countless casualties of COVID-19. Just being able to confidently plan the third Coffmania is news in itself.
“We do have The Isaacs coming in!” Coffman said. “I love The Isaacs. I have for a long, long time.”
He’s not alone as The Isaacs command a huge fan base across Southern Gospel, Country Gospel, Bluegrass and Americana music. The beloved family is usually put at or near the top of all of those styles.
The Isaacs are often featured on Gaither videos and have made numerous guest television appearances on shows such as Larry’s Country Diner. Those accomplishments are well-known among gospel music fans.
But adding to that lengthy resume, The Isaacs will be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on Sept. 14. During an appearance at the Opry on Aug. 10, Country Music Hall of Famer and Opry member Ricky Skaggs surprised The Isaacs with the prestigious invitation to become the Opry’s newest members. While The Isaacs are not the first gospel group to be invited, it is a rare honor for a group devoted to gospel music.
The Isaacs include siblings Becky Isaacs Bowman, Sonya Isaacs Yeary, Ben Isaacs and their mother, Lily Isaacs. About the Opry invitation, Lily was quoted by The Tennessean, “I’m so grateful because this is 50 years that I’m celebrating singing gospel music. But more than that, friends, this is our album release party and I have to say that we’re living the American dream. We are. Our family is.”
The Isaacs released their latest album, The American Face, on Aug. 13.
“To me, they are very smooth and their musicianship is phenomenal,” Coffman said. “Their vocals are unmatched.
“They are great folks.”
Coffmania will also feature two rising artists making their Coffmania debuts, Mickey Bell and Cami Shrock.
“Mickey Bell’s crazy,” Coffman said of the Christian comedian. “We met him about the same time as we met Cami and have developed a great friendship. He has a very unique testimony. One of his books is ‘I Am David: A Pastor’s Fall Into Grace.’ He had some issues that led him to a state of depression.
“He’s passionate about ministry and comedy.”
While living in bordering Indiana, Shrock has not made many appearances in the Bluegrass. However, she did impress during a performance at Danville Church of God earlier this year.
“She is kind of unique in her own right,” Coffman said. “She has her own sound and style. We met her at an event down in Alabama. … Ours is a personal friendship.”
However, Coffmania would not be an event without the Coffmans, who are in the midst of an exciting year. They released an acclaimed CD, Just Jesus, earlier this year and were scheduled to sing at The Ark Encounter as part of 40 Days and 40 Nights of Gospel Music on Aug. 20.
Last September, both Louis and Tamra Coffman were diagnosed with COVID-19 but beat the bug. While the virus slowed things considerably in 2020, the schedule has been busy this year.
There’s been a “Something Good” tour with Adam Crabb and another tour that will be announced soon.
And Coffmania could put an early exclamation point on 2021.
“It has grown every year,” Coffman said. “People have been able to understand that the groups we bring in are very talented and ministry-minded groups.”
Previously, Coffmania was held in October. “Actually, we prefer October. It’s not as hot,” Coffman said. “But The Isaacs were going to be close by and we were able to have them come. They are the most well-known group we have been able to bring in.”
Coffmania is a way for the Coffmans to give back to the central Kentucky fan base that has supported them for many years. The evening is free of charge, but a love offering will be received.
The sanctuary at Danville Church of God seats approximately 450 people and Coffman believes the auditorium will be close to capacity for Coffmania. “The doors open at 5, so I would advise people to be here then.”
Coffman acknowledged that the concert is being held during a time when another round of COVID is surging through the Commonwealth. At time of publishing, there were no mask mandates governing such gatherings.
“Masks are not required unless something comes up that we are not aware of,” Coffman said. “We want everyone to be safe and we strongly urge people to make their own decisions. If you want to wear a mask, that’s fine.”
And most of all, Coffman wants the glory to go to God.
“We are just real excited,” he said again.
Cami Shrock looking forward to Coffmania
Cami Shrock might be a relative newcomer to Southern Gospel audiences, but she counts some of the legends of the genre as those who have helped mold her refreshing style of sharing the message of Christ.
“Some of my influences growing up were The Martins, The Crabb Family and my biggest was Karen Peck Gooch of Karen Peck and New River” Shrock said in a Facebook Messengar interview. “I told my mom I wanted to be like her one day.”
It’s a style that has wowed audiences around Indiana and surrounding states and brings Cami Shrock to Danville for the second time this year. She is also scheduled to sing at “40 Days and 40 Nights of Gospel Music” at the Ark Encounter on Sept. 4. Shrock resides in Greentown, Ind., just east of Kokomo.
While Shrock might be new to some attending Coffmania, she is somewhat of a veteran to singing about Christ. “I grew up on gospel music so I have been around it my whole life,” she said. “I have been singing since about the age of 4. I started my ministry as a soloist in 2014.”
She’s released several well-received projects, including her latest, Whatever It Takes, released in 2020. “I have a brand new single out called ‘Be Strong and Courageous.’ It is such a timely song for what we are living right now.”
Shrock says she is excited about being a part of Coffmania and sharing the stage with The Coffmans, Mickey Bell and The Isaacs.
“I met the Coffman’s a few years ago in Alabama,” she remembered. “We were both singing there but I didn’t really get to know them until the National Quartet Convention of that year. We got talking and really just hit it off. They have since then become some of our closest friends so it is an honor to get to be a part of Coffmania and feel like we are with family.
“The Isaacs are another group I have come to love. First off they can flat out sing. Their harmonies are amazing, but they are just the real deal!”
— John Herndon
When: Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, 6 p.m. (Doors open at 5)
Where: Danville Church of God, 516 South Fourth Street, Danville, Ky.
Cost: No admission charge, but a love offering will be received