Popular singer truly knows ‘God Can’

Bill Sowder, third from left, sings with His Heart in the quartet’s first concert of 2023 on March 19 at Shiloh Christian Church, Columbia, Ky. Members of the group are, from left, Kyle Harris, Jeremy Dickerson, Sowder and Bob Abbott. (Photo provided.)
Sidelined by horse riding accident, Sowder counts his blessings in return to His Heart Quartet

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. – When he stepped on the stage with His Heart Quartet at Sand Spring Baptist Church, Bill Sowder hopped around with an energy that would belie the fact that he’s now 69 years old. He moved. He thrust his forefinger toward Heaven. He pumped his fist.

It was vintage Sowder, one of Kentucky’s best-known gospel music personalities.

And it’s certainly not what one would expect from someone who was supposed to just be learning to walk again.

“I tell you, I feel like a million bucks. I might look like a Dollar General store but I feel like a million bucks,” Sowder said shortly before His Heart opened for Triumphant Quartet.

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Just praising and worshiping God

Triumphant in concert at First Baptist Church of Cold Spring, March 16, 2023. From left are David Sutton, Scotty Inman, Clayton Inman and Eric Bennett.
Clayton Inman talks about Triumphant’s newest CD, one that ‘bridges the gap’

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

COLD SPRING, Ky. – There’s not even a group photo on Triumphant Quartet’s latest album.

The album title, “Hymns & Worship” along with the obligatory song titles and credits are there, but nothing else.  Nothing, that is, other than a quote from the Old Testament book of Numbers.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 

The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

– Numbers 6:24-26, New International Version ®

It’s more than fitting.

After all, Triumphant Quartet is about praising God and bringing people to a closer relationship to Him.  Nothing more. Nothing less. 

So yes, Triumphant’s newest project might seem to be somewhat different from anything the quartet has done, but the core of what someone hears is the same as it’s always been.

“It’s only different because people come to hear their favorite songs – ‘White Flag,’ ‘Somebody Died for Me,’” Triumphant lead singer Clayton Inman reflected shortly after the group sang before a full house at First Baptist Church of Cold Spring on March 16. “We have those songs and still sing those songs, but we were looking to do something that would bridge the gap.”

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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.”

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. 

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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.”

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A Touch of Heaven Touching People for 50 years

Primitive Quartet at Sand Spring Baptist Church on September 23. From left are Reagan Riddle, Randy Fox, Jeff Tolbert, Mike Riddle and Larry Riddle.

Primitive Quartet in final months of amazing ministry, still giving God all the praise

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. – Little did some fishing buddies know that a springtime camping trip would be the beginning of a career that has been reeling in accolades from almost every corner of the gospel music industry.

But that’s how God has worked through Primitive Quartet ever since April 1973. 

The Primitives have cast their influence through a true-to-their-roots music and a faithful-to-their-Savior faith that has led them to touch more people than could have ever been imagined when the Riddle brothers and Wilson brothers were sitting around a campfire picking and singing.

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Capital City Boys stay in tune with their musical roots

The Capital City Boys sing at Graefenburg Christian Church in July, 2019. From left are Alan Taylor, Kelly Briscoe, Josh Martin and Chris Woodyard. Taylor retired from the group last year and has been replaced by Jason Witten.

‘If they don’t like the old style Southern Gospel quartet style they would be bored with us’

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

The Capital City Boys have sung in many places and seen just about everything in over 20 years of performing gospel music. 

They’ve sung in small country churches and opened for nationally-known gospel artists. But they’ve never forgotten their roots.

They’ve sung in nearly every kind of church found in central Kentucky and have even had a stint working as a barbershop quartet. But they’ve never forgotten why they sing. 

They are enormously talented and could probably sing many more dates if they opened their calendar a bit more. But they’ve never forgotten their commitment to local ministry.

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More of God’s victories in their lives

Wayne and Darlene Shirey sing at Sand Spring Baptist Church on August 18.

The Shireys are back on the road after a year of medical setbacks

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. — You simply can’t spend time around Wayne and Darlene Shirey without being uplifted and reminded of God’s goodness.

It doesn’t matter if you are watching them on stage or interacting with the gospel music veterans at the product table or in a church lobby. Their lives and ministry is always about the wonderful nature of God.

They’ve sung about it for years. They’ve lived it up close and personal over the last 12 months or so.

And through it all, Darlene says, the devil tried to bring them down. “He ain’t going to win,” she says with that South Carolina accent. 

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God is All she needs

Victoria Shirey Bowlin sings during 11th Hour’s concert at Sand Spring Baptist Church on Aug. 18.

11th Hour’s Victoria Shirey Bowlin shares His power and providence through music

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

When Victoria Shirey Bowlin joined 11th Hour last summer, she could only see it as another way God worked in her life. 

“Honestly, God threw it in my lap,” she says with a huge smile. “I had no intention of ever joining another group when I stopped singing with my family.”

Victoria had sung with her parents and sister for 20 years when she decided to concentrate on ministry with her husband, Aaron Bowlin, and do solo work in 2014. And she was happy in those roles when the opportunity to sing with 11th Hour presented itself. 

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Where he’s supposed to be

Will Lane sings during the Mark Trammell Quartet concert at Sand Spring Baptist Church on July 22, 2022. It was Will’s first performance with MTQ.

Will Lane believes the latest life chapter is authored by God

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. – Will Lane could not have sung more appropriate lyrics than those of his first solo Friday night.

Oh yes, oh yes, I’m a child of the King

His royal blood now flows through my veins

And I who was wretched and poor now can sing

Praise God! Praise God! I’m a child of the King!

– Child of the King by Bill and Gloria Gaither

“I am not going to lie to you. I was NERVOUS,” Lane smiled a few minutes after his first concert as a member of the Mark Trammell Quartet. “At the same time, I knew God had me. He has continued to bless me more than I ever deserve and He gave me the strength to get through tonight.”

Praise God! Praise God! I’m a child of the King!

Continue reading “Where he’s supposed to be”