Today marks the beginning of the new series of posts - Names You Might Not Know Yet. It will focus on rising groups in the industry and let you get to know a little bit more about them. Some of these groups/ artists have been in the industry for a while, but are still considering an "up and coming" group or have been recently nominated in a "new" type category. Each artist has been kind enough to answer some questions about their ministry to allow you the chance to know more about them.
The first group highlighted is Declaration. The group consists of Joshua Horrell, Kasey Kemp, Jake Sammons and Dustin Leming.
Question: When did you become interested in singing Southern Gospel music? What are some of your earliest memories of Southern Gospel?
Kasey: I grew up listening to this music. I was saved at the age of seven and it's true meaning has grown in my heart every day since. When I turned fourteen, being a student of music and living the message of these songs, I knew that singing Gospel music was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Jake: My grandparents were all heavily involved in the Detroit gospel music scene which led to both of my parents singing gospel music. In fact, that's how they met! My parents showed me that the core of this music is about Christ and living through Him, onstage and off. For as long as I can remember I wanted to follow in their footsteps but more importantly in Christ's and share that with whoever the Lord allows me to.
Joshua: I grew up in a singing family. My earliest memories, from two years old, are watching them play and sing. I remember being called up as just a little guy and singing, "He's Still Working On Me."
Dustin: My great-grandfather was a preacher. He and my great-grandma used to get up and sing with the Phelps Brothers Quartet in Southern Illinois. He gave me his guitar and taught me how to play. Watching them and learning from them has inspired me to do this today.
Q: How did you get started as Declaration? How long have you been singing?
Declaration: We felt the Lord calling us and asked for advice from Michael Booth. He invited us to his home and met with us for about six hours! He was very clear about the struggles facing a new group and a new business but offered incredible support, mentorship and friendship that continues to this day. The Booth Brothers, after we decided on a direction, offered to take us on the road with them and that was an amazing opportunity.
We registered our name on July 4, 2011.
Q: How did you come up with the name Declaration?
Declaration: Jake and his wife, Anjanette, were doing their daily devotions and read Job: "He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him. Hear diligently my speech, and my declaration with your ears. (Job 13:16, 17 KJV)" Jake called Kasey and told him about the name, "Declaration." Kasey had been studying in 1 John: "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5 KJV)" and had jotted down the name, "Declaration." I know it sounds strange but that's how it happened!
Q: Do you have a favorite song that you sing? And what song from another group has ministered to you?
Kasey: I love when we sing, "It Wasn't Me," a song written by Jake. It's a great perspective in Christ's sacrifice and work on the cross. A song that had ministered to me by another group is, "Boundless Love," by the Cathedrals. I loved thinking about how vast God's love is for us.
Jake: I appreciate the challenge of the words in, "To Count For Jesus," a song written by Lari Goss. If you don't mean it, don't sing it! A song that has ministered to me is, "Mended Wings," by The Ruppes. The second half of the second verse tears me up every time!
Joshua: "Blessed Assurance" is my favorite song to sing. I love to see how this great old lyric still ministers to people today. A song that has ministered to me is, "Through The Night," by the Perrys. Watching Mrs. Libbi walk through this dark time and then hearing her sing those words is a testimony to God's sustaining grace.
Dustin: "He Loves Me" written by our buddy, George Amon Webster. It's a great reminder that God loves each of us individually and completely.
Q: What artists have been your biggest influence (musically and/or personally)?
Kasey: I grew up on the music of the Sego Brothers and Naomi as well as the classic quartets like the Statesmen and Cathedrals. The opportunity to travel with Mrs. Naomi for six years was a huge Spiritual influence as well as an opportunity to meet heroes like Jake Hess, George Younce, Glen Payne and more. Today I'm influenced by Greater Vision, the Booth Brothers and Bill Gaither. I aspire to be a strong Christian man by following the examples of all of these heroes.
Jake: My dad is my favorite singer, and my family influenced me incredibly. The Booth Brothers have been long-time friends, and I have grown to appreciate how they handle every aspect of what they do. Gerald Wolfe and Greater Vision have been heroes of mine since they started...how much room do you need to fill?? Songwriters like Mosie Lister, Rodney Griffin, Bill and Gloria Gaither and even Larry Gatlin have challenged me as a writer and been people I look up to.
Joshua: My grandmother, Janice and both of my parents, Ricky and Cheryl, have been involved in Gospel Music their whole lives. I grew up watching them as well as my Uncle Biney English and his brother, Michael. Today I'd have to say that the Perrys influence me. Their true hearts for God and ear for great songs are inspiring.
Dustin: The Whisnants have been a blessing to me. I grew up listening to them and when I got to know them more personally they've been a big encouragement.
Q: What has been your favorite memory so far in your ministry? Is there a certain concert that stands out to you?
Kasey: We were in a revival in Toledo last year and we saw, not only people saved but The Lord literally putting families back together at the altar. It was amazing.
Jake: My favorite memory so far has been sitting in a Bible Study during the Gaither Homecoming Christmas Tour last year. There was an awesome moving of the Holy Spirit and what was supposed to be a 20 minute lesson turned into a three-hour prayer meeting!
Joshua: Right after Mr. Tracy Stuffle suffered his brain bleed and was admitted to the hospital our home church, College Heights Baptist, held a prayer service for him. We were asked to sing along with Tribute, the Isaacs and folks from the church. It was great to see God move and His people come together like that for a man that means a lot to me.
Dustin: There are so many to choose from! God has really been doing amazing things in our ministry. It's exciting to see what He's going to do next, I expect it every night!
Q: What new things are coming up for Declaration?
Declaration: We just released a collection of hymns called, "Songs of Truth." It was produced by Nick Bruno. It's something we are quite proud of and love seeing how these timeless truths are still effective in people's lives today.
We are beginning work on a brand new project. Jake is writing with some of the top writers in the industry including Joel Lindsey and Jim Brady to come up with new songs. We will also go back and find some older, maybe more familiar songs that are still effective.
Thanks so much to Declaration for your time and great answers! For more on Declaration, visit the group's website.
If you have a new group/artist that you would like to see featured in this series, feel free to contact me!