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.”
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.”