Drew’s dream really is coming true

Drew Laney (left) sings with Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Famer Ray Dean Reese during The Kingsmen concert on January 12. Laney is learning from one of his heroes less than two years after asking Reese for advice on getting started in gospel music.

Less than a year after getting his start in gospel music, Laney learns from Kingsmen legend

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

CRAB ORCHARD, Ky. – Describing Drew Laney’s introduction to the world of Southern Gospel music as fast is akin to saying there’s a little bit of speed at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

It would be the monumental understatement. 

Laney, all of 21 years old, has been turning heads since he started appearing on stage with The Kingsmen just before the National Quartet Convention got underway last September in Pigeon Forge. 

“Just who is this kid singing bass beside Ray Dean Reese?”

“Is he here to stay?”

Continue reading “Drew’s dream really is coming true”

Lore Family brings ‘straightforward Southern Gospel’ in first trip to Sand Spring

The Lore Family will be making its first visit to Sand Spring Baptist Church on Dec. 31. In front is Samuel Lore. Second row, from left, are Fayth and Jake Whisnant and Darren and Sandy Lore. (Photo courtesy thelorefamilyministries.com.)

Popular group writes most of its music; Sellers looking forward to return trip

By  John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

They are separated only by about three hours of I-64 pavement. And they are both among the bigger names in their respective areas of service in Southern Gospel music.

So it seems kind of odd that The Lore Family and Sand Spring Baptist Church have never been able to come together for a concert. That all changes on Decemeber 31 when The Lore Family  makes its first appearance at Sand Spring as part of the church’s popular concert series.

The Lore Family will be at Sand Spring along with soloist Bob Sellers in the church’s annual New Year’s Eve concert. The December 31 concert will begin at 7 p.m. and go for a approximately three hours. 

The Lore Family, based in Sciotoville, Ohio, not far from Ashland, Ky., has wanted to be a part of the Sand Spring series for some time. Darren Lore, the founder of the group, says he had contacted Sand Spring “for a few years to get our family into this concert series, so we are thankful the door has opened up. We have been talking to Larry Briscoe (head of the church’s concert series) for quite a while. That’s where we will end the year and start the new year.”

The Lore Family will also be part of Sand Spring’s New Year’s Day services at 8:45 and 11 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 1.

“We are looking forward to being there and it is an honor to be included in such a well-known concert series with such well-known groups throughout the year. We feel very honored and privileged to be there,” Lore says.

Lore says that even though this is his family’s first trip to Lawrenceburg, fans who are accustomed to seeing groups like The Perrys, Gold City and the Mark Trammell Quartet at Sand Spring should feel right at home with what Darren calls the “straightforward Southern Gospel singing” his family is known for.

“We offer a traditional style of Southern Gospel music,” he says. “I bring a piano and my son, Samuel, plays the guitar and we sing traditional Southern Gospel songs.”

Lore says his family routinely sings some well-known gospel classics along with their own songs such as their most recent hit, “I Bring You Jesus” or their first Top 20 song, “He Still Bears the Scars.” 

And Lore says his family spices that straightforward southern gospel with some variety through its concerts. “We do sing some more progressive songs such as ‘The Rock That Never Ages. We do sing some songs that have a different flavor like ‘Joyous News’ that has a jazz flavor to it. ‘The World Needs a Song,’ produced by  Roger Talley, was a little bit more country sounding. The Lore Family, we have our own sound. We sing a lot of our own songs. We don’t do a lot of cover songs.”

Lore enjoys working New Year’s Eve concerts and says the events remind him of the special New Year’s Eve services many churches have hosted over the years. “I was raised on ‘watch night services,’” he says. “At least, that’s what we called them. My wife and I went to the same church Bonser Run Christian Baptist Church, which is similar to the Nazarene Conference. We would have watch night services starting at 7 o’clock praying the old year out and then at 11:50 praying the new year in at 12 o’clock. We would have three or four preachers and singing throughout.”

And the changing of the calendar is a time for something fresh, from a resolution to give up a bad habit to an opportunity to begin a new one. Lore says his family addresses that concept through music.

“Everybody likes renewal. Everybody likes a mulligan in golf. Everybody likes to wipe the slate and start again,” he says. “I don’t make an extremely large list of resolutions….But it is a good point that a lot of people like to start off with a new vision or a fresh start. We have a new single out called ‘You Love, I’ll Judge.’ We are going to be pushing that thought going into the new year, to love more, judge less. Love people where they are at.”

The Lore Family’s journey in gospel music has been one of faith and they believe God has blessed their reliance on Him. 

While the family went full-time traveling at the 2015 National Quartet Convention, their story had begun years before.

“The Lore Family started out when (daughter) Fayth was 10 and Samuel was 9. We sang, ‘I’ve Come Too Far.’ I had taught them this as a trio with me. Samuel was singing tenor and Fayth was singing above him and then Fayth took the lead on the chorus. I was singing lead on the verses,” Darren says. “This was a surprise for my wife (Sandy) who had infertility. We lost a baby at Mother’s Day. We started out at Mother’s Day years later when the kids were 9 and 10 to honor her on Mother’s Day evening at Seventh Street Christian Baptist Church in Portsmouth, Ohio. I was pastor there for 14 years.”

The family began singing covers of popular songs, but about 15 years ago, Darren, who was working as a pharmacy manager in addition to his calling as a pastor, began taking things in a different direction. 

“I started recording some original songs I had written,” he remembers. “I Had written songs all of my life but didn’t let anyone hear them until I was 40. ‘An Absolutely Good Day’ was our first project we recorded at Daywind in Nashville. That was our first radio release. From there, we started our radio ministry in 2009 and we have been consistent in releasing songs ever since.”

The Lore Family is a true family group that has seen its only personnel changes come when the children got married. Fayth married Jake Whisnant on Sept. 18, 2021 and he joined the group two weeks later. “He is not from the Whisnants who sing, but he is from that area of North Carolina,” Darren says. 

Samuel married his wife, Rebecca, in 2019 and she travels with the group on occasion. “She has a full time job and goes behind the scenes. 

The biggest change, however, came when the group decided to step out on faith and go full time in ministry. 

Actually, the decision might have already been made.

“The demands on The Lore Family with revivals and the like made it harder to work the pharmacy schedule, working with other pharmacists,” Darren says. “It got to the point I just needed to make a decision and this is where the Lord led.”

It wasn’t easy. Darren went from a well-paying job with benefits to nothing guaranteed. He says God took care of things.

“We didn’t know if we would be busy or not that first year when we went full-time but in 2016, we did 240 dates,” he remembers. “We probably have averaged 190-200 dates since then. We don’t try to kill ourselves by doing tons of dates.”

Currently, The Lore Family brings the gospel in song and preaching or teaching in camp meetings, revivals, special services and seminars. Sandy heads women’s conferences and will be leading one with Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Famer Karen Peck.

Fayth leads girls’ conferences called True Purpose ministries and in 2022, she ministered to about 300 girls with a dozen saved. She will be leading another conference in 2023 with Lauren Talley.

In addition, The Lore Family works in youth conferences called “Determined.”

But Dec. 31, it will be “straightforward Southern Gospel” at Sand Spring Baptist Church. The next day they will be singing during the church’s morning worship services. “We are known for singing a blend, so we might sing some praise choruses with the church,” Darren says of what to expect on Jan. 1. “We might include ‘Because He Lives’ or ‘How Great Thou Art’ with some of our radio songs. I have found that we can sing on Saturday night to one crowd then on Sunday morning, 75 percent of the church wasn’t there the night before….So there is no crowd alike. There will be a service at 8:45 and there will be one at 11 and they will be different.”

One thing that won’t be different is The Lore Family’s focus on God. “When you listen to The Lore Family, we make it a worship experience, whether we are at Silver Dollar City or at a church,” Lore says. “We just want the Lord to be honored and people to be uplifted and encouraged.”

Bob Sellers sings at Sand Spring Baptist Church during an appearance with The Old Time Preacher’s Quartet in 2019. (File photo by John Herndon.)

Sellers feels at home at Sand Spring

Soloist Bob Sellers has made many trips for concerts at Sand Spring Baptist Church but his appearance with The Lore Family on December 31 will be his first since before the Covid pandemic arrived in 2020.

Sellers is anxious to get back to one of his favorite places to sing.

“I was with The Kingsmen nearly seven years,” Sellers said in a Facebook message. “I’m not sure when Larry (Briscoe) started having signings at Sand Spring, but it seemed like we went there every year. I believe I actually did a New Year’s Eve service there with The Kingsmen one year, as well. 

“I also sang there once with The Old Time Preachers Quartet when I was helping them out. This is my first visit as a soloist and I’ve looked forward to it all year! I love Larry and Barbara both and I have a lot of wonderful friends in that area. I love Kentucky!

“The neat thing about Sand Spring is the built-in crowd. Bro. Larry works hard getting the word out about his concerts and they are always free admission with a love offering received.”

A passion for God, a passion for families

Former Kingsmen, Soul’d Out and Heartland Quartet lead singer Bryan Hutson sings during an appearance at the Highway 62 Jubilee in Jeffersonville, Ind., in August 2022.

Gospel veteran Bryan Hutson teams with his wife in ministry of ‘strengthening marriages’

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

When he took that last step off a quartet touring bus, Bryan Hutson knew exactly where he wanted his ministry to go and where he believed God was leading him.

He’d just finished a successful five-year stint with Soul’d Out Quartet and his veins were still filled with Southern Gospel blood, but it was just time for the gospel music veteran to be devoting his efforts toward a ministry devoted to families.

Since that day in 2016, Bryan and his wife, Yvonne, have been taking Rescue Me Ministries to churches and groups mainly located within a five-hour drive of their home just outside Cincinnati. 

The goal is simple: Strengthen marriages.

Continue reading “A passion for God, a passion for families”

Joyaires’ ministry is aptly named

The Joyaires, Ernie and Debbie Peters, seek to bring the joy of Christ in their
music ministry. (Photo by John Herndon)

After 43 years, joy in Christ continues to be the message they bring

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

You probably won’t find any artist of any genre with a more fitting name than The Joyaires.

They’ve been singing gospel music since 1979, bringing joy to anyone who hears their message about Jesus and the joy that is found in Him.

“We hadn’t thought about what we were going to call ourselves, so we just jotted down a bunch of names,” Ernie Peters says of how the group came up with its name. 

Continue reading “Joyaires’ ministry is aptly named”

Three Bridges might be retiring, but the joy will never end

Three Bridges delivers a high-energy concert at Sand Spring Baptist Church in Lawrenceburg, Ky., in August, 2021. From left are Jeremie Hudson, Shannon Smith and Elliott McCoy.

Acclaimed trio entering last month on the road

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

The joy is still there for Three Bridges. It always has been.

And even though the group known for its high-octane songs and concerts will be coming off the road in December, the energy – and joy – will long remain in the memories of gospel music fans.

We caught up with Elliott McCoy, the founder of the acclaimed trio, and tenor Jeremie Hudson at the National Quartet Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., several weeks ago. We were unable to talk with the third member of the group, Shannon Smith, at the time, but he graciously talked about Three Bridges, its ministry and what the future might hold via Facebook Messenger earlier this week.

Continue reading “Three Bridges might be retiring, but the joy will never end”

Spotlight finally shines on Norah Lee Allen

Bowling Green native Norah Lee Allen, whose career as a background vocalist at the Grand Ole Opry spanned more than 40 years, sings during the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Oct. 28, 2022.

Gospel roots anchored Opry vocalist on road to Kentucky Music Hall of Fame

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

RENFRO VALLEY, Ky. — It didn’t take long for Norah Lee Allen’s father to see he had special talent in his family.

“My father was in a quartet. He could tell we were musically inclined, so he formed a trio and we traveled for around 17 years,” Mrs. Allen recalls. “We traveled around to seven or eight different states. We didn’t travel as much until I was a little older but we sang at churches, revivals, concerts and wherever we could.”

The Stuart Sisters, based in their hometown of Bowling Green, became one of the most popular regional gospel singing groups around during the 50s and 60s. They recorded their own EPs and grew to be as busy as they wanted to be.

Continue reading “Spotlight finally shines on Norah Lee Allen”

Cultivating creativity, growing a ministry of outreach

Canaan Coffman sings during one of her family’s sets during Coffmania in Danville on Oct. 22, 2022.

Canaan Coffman debuts as a solo artist with A Night of Worship in her hometown

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

DANVILLE, Ky. – Canaan Coffman knew the day was coming when some changes would be taking place. She just didn’t know exactly what they would be or when they would happen.

That time has come.

Canaan will be introducing her friends and fans to some of her new look with “A Night Of Worship With Canaan In Her Hometown” on Sunday, November 13. The event will be held at her home church, Danville Church of God. The night of worship begins at 6 p.m.

It’s new. It’s different. But it’s not a complete break from her role as a member of her family trio, The Coffmans.

Continue reading “Cultivating creativity, growing a ministry of outreach”

Kentucky Music Hall of Fame to induct seven new members

The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame will be inducting seven new members Oct. 28. (Photo courtesy Kentucky Music Hall of Fame.)

Museum explores all Commonwealth’s roots in all genres

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

When Jessica Blankenship was named director of the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame earlier this year, we knew this little gem just off I-75 at Renfro Valley was in for some changes.

Some big changes.  At least in getting the word out about what’s going on at the Hall of Fame.

Let’s just say if you haven’t heard about some of the goings on at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in the last few months, you haven’t been paying attention.

Continue reading “Kentucky Music Hall of Fame to induct seven new members”

Leading listeners to God’s path

Greater Vision sings at Sand Spring Baptist Church on Oct. 6, 2022. From left are Gerald Wolfe, Jon Epley, Rodney Griffin and Chris Allman.

Early detours led Rodney Griffin on road to SGMA Hall of Fame

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. – Once he tells his story, it’s hard to miss the irony of where the detours along career paths have led Rodney Griffin on his way to a place in the Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame.

“I was trying to get into med school,” Griffin says, remembering his days as a student at Berea College. “As I got into my studies, I saw that my grades were not going to be the straight A’s that are required to get into medical school. Those people were brilliant that I was in class with. “I thought I had better find something else because that is just not my thing.”

Continue reading “Leading listeners to God’s path”

Mountain Gospel Radio Sharathon features Perrys, local artists

Libbi Perry Stuffle, shown in a 2019 concert, has been singing with The Perrys from the group’s beginning in 1971,

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

If you need or want more gospel concerts the week after the National Quartet Convention, Mountain Gospel Radio could be the place for you this week. 

The station, which is affiliated with Kentucky Mountain Bible College in Vancleve, Ky., is sponsoring a week-long “sharathon” featuring online concerts from some of the top regional southern gospel and bluegrass gospel artists from the Appalachian region. In addition, the station will be sponsoring a concert from The Perrys, one of the nation’s most popular and enduring Southern Gospel groups.

“We usually have a group of local artists that come in and at least one nationally known group,” says Seth Stevenson, the station’s general manager. “This year, our local group pool has been limited so we have groups that are further away than normal.”

Continue reading “Mountain Gospel Radio Sharathon features Perrys, local artists”