Talented baritone gives God glory as he serves in ‘Dream Job’
By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com
LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. – Alan Kendall knew he was a blessed man.
He’d been on the road, singing baritone for The Kingsmen Quartet and pulled into his Hiwasse, Georgia home just before midnight on Sunday night, October 10. He took to Facebook to let the world know just how blessed he really is.
“Nearly midnight, just got home, gotta take the kids to school first thing tomorrow morning. What a blessing. My Savior, my wife and kids, my dream job…all amazing gifts that I don’t necessarily deserve. May I never forget that, and may I honor all those things to my best ability.”
That resonated with me. It resonated a lot. Make that A LOT.
And I contacted Kendall to let him know just how that short social media message had touched a minister/writer who lived several hundred miles away.
I caught up with Kendall a few days later when The Kingsmen were less than 10 minutes from my home at Sand Spring Baptist Church. We talked little about the music but kept going longer than expected as Alan discussed what the music he sings is really about.
It’s all about Jesus and keeping that focus on Him.
Losing sight of God’s blessings when riding in a bus to sing hundreds of miles from home is a constant danger. “It can be if you don’t pay attention,” Kendall said a few minutes after The Kingsmen and The Noblemen had electrified a nice Thursday night crowd.
The Kingsmen delivered with a collection of their traditional songs blended with highlights from their latest album, “More to the Story.” The crowd responded with several standing ovations and a charge to better serve Christ on Friday morning.
The Kingsmen were simply delivering the good news of Christ. But even though a singer is enormously talented, like Kendall or his colleagues Chris Jenkins, Chris Bryant and Southern Gospel Hall of Fame bass Ray Dean Reese, he’s not insulated from the pressures of being away from a family.
“Professionally, I have been out here about 13 years now,” Kendall said. “A lot of times, early in my singing career, I wanted to dwell on the bad things or when something goes wrong. I learned that a lot of things can go wrong when you are on the road. And my wife learned that. We just kind of came to understanding that’s a part of it.”
Some singers and musicians, regardless of the genre, bemoan what the on-the-road lifestyle can do to a family. Kendall has chosen a different approach.
“I spent about eight years singing part-time and I enjoyed that very much,” he recalls. “I was there when my kids were born and I was there in those very early days. I was working 45-50 hours a week (in the medical field) and then I would sing part-time to go with it. I got a lot of quantity time with my wife and kids but not a lot of quality time.”
Things changed when Kendall’s dream of singing full-time came true, but the quality time became even richer. “We adjusted our schedule and I was completely available to my family for 3 or 4 days (when home). And I enjoy that. I was asking what I was missing all those 8 years.
“I know things happen for a reason and I am so thankful for that quality time I have with my family.”
The Kingsmen only embark on a few extended trips each year and will be going on a longer Christmas tour later this year, but Kendall smiled, “Then we come home and we will be home for three weeks. So a lot of those things balance out. It is a mind over matter thing.”
It is amazing how the performers seem to always be upbeat. As a minister, I know there are times when I just don’t have it in the pulpit, even when I think I am prepared.There are times when things just don’t come out as I planned.
I can’t imagine what it’s like being on the road and performing with the expectations of a legendary national group. Kendall gives the credit to his Creator.
“Every dog has its day,” he said. “That was true of Paul. It was true of Peter. It was true of David, of Solomon and all of those biblical figures,” Kendall said. “The more things change, the more they stay the same. We are all human beings and we are just driven by the message. If God shines past us, if our talents can be put out there that He has the spotlight ahead of us, that’s where it’s at right there.”
It’s all about the message. Any ministry will require sacrifice and a quartet ministry is no exception. However, it’s still always about the message. For The Kingsmen, the truth from Scripture is paramount and the song selection carries depth.
“That is extremely important to us,” Kendall said. “We are not afraid to pass on songs written by a top songwriter if it means that a writer who is brand new who is a new face in the business provides something for us that hits people right where they live. I write some songs. Chris Bryant writes some songs. I have had 2 or 3 recorded, but I have always said if we find 10 or 12 that are better than what I write, I want to record those.
“We look and look. On our last album (Victory Shout, 2019), two great songs, ‘Victory Shout’ and ‘Dear John,’ came to us two days before we went into the studio. We never stop looking.”
The messages are scriptural. It’s a trend that has continued with “More To The Story.”
One cut that has particularly touched audiences that have endured what seems to be the unending chaos of 2020 and 2021 is “The Wind and the Waves Still Know,” written by Kenna T. West, Kristi Fitzwater and Jason Cox.
“It came to us. I was sitting at a family member’s hunting property,” Kendall remembers. “They have a cabin in south Georgia and I was sitting on the porch listening to some demos. I played that over and over and over and over again. I couldn’t wait to see what we could do with that song. It just thrilled me to death.”
As the title suggests, the song reminds that God is in control. It’s a message of comfort, assurance and victory as pertinent today as it was when Christ calmed the seas.
It’s the message that The Kingsmen deliver every time they sing. It’s the message Alan Kendall conveys in his everyday life and to the group of ninth-grade boys he leads at his home church, McConnell Baptist, in Hiwasse.
“One thing thrills me: Two of them, since August, have come to accept Jesus as their personal Savior,” he says with a big smile.
Life is good for Alan Kendall right now. And he wants everyone to know the God he loves is responsible.