Monday, June 17, 2013

Names You Might Not Know Yet - Down Home Family

Down Home is a Nashville-based group with a country flavor. Down Home is comprised of the McEwyn family. Mac, the dad of the group, sings tenor, and Sharon, the mother, is the alto of the group. Their children AnnMarie (16) and Michael (14) round out the group at lead and bass, respectively.

Get to know more about Down Home!

Question: Did you grow up with a strong southern gospel influence? When did you first become interested in southern gospel?

Down Home - Mac:  Absolutely yes. I was blessed to grow up in a family that loved music. If there was a group coming to a nearby town, we would load up the family station wagon and head out to hear them sing. At a very young age, I reckon third-grade or so, we went to a concert in very small church where a relatively new group was going to perform. Being that my dad was one who never wanted to be late, we arrived early at church. So there we sat on the front row. Halfway through the concert the lady who was singing with the other two gentlemen came down from the stage and as she was talking about children tousled my hair. That was the biggest moment of my young life. The next time I saw that lady and those two men they were singing on a huge stage in a coliseum. I came to know this lady as Miss Gloria Gaither. As the years went on, so many other artists played their part in developing our family’s love of music: the Gaither Trio, Henry and Hazel Slaughter, Ronnie Hinson and the Hinsons, Doug Oldham, J.D. Sumner and the Stamps, Jake Hess, the Imperials, the Cathedrals, the Blackwood Brothers, the Happy Goodman family, the Speer Family, The Rambos and so many others.

Down Home - Sharon: It is difficult to pinpoint when we first became interested in Southern Gospel because it has been such a foundational part of our life. I can say that the family aspect of Southern Gospel has definitely been a major drawing influence. Southern Gospel has a strong heritage of family groups and family focus and we feel privileged to be part of that legacy.

Q: How did you get started singing and traveling as a family?

Down Home - AnnMarie: I love to sing and so I sing all the time. One day my parents sat us down as a family and asked us what we wanted to do with our lives. I told them I wanted to sing professionally and use music to share God’s love. We talked about the sacrifices that would be required from each of us and decided together that we would pursue this as a family. I remember my Dad bringing us around the dinner table and as we began to sing the harmonies just came into being and we knew we had something to share.

Q: What's the one thing that you want people who walk away from your concerts to know about Down Home?

Down Home - Mac: It has become completely evident to each one of us in our family that the culture we live in is in desperate need of HOPE. As I reminisce back through my spiritual journey it was people, family, and friends that provided a continual reminder that there is HOPE for any circumstance. But it didn't stop there….. They always pointed my nose in the direction of where HOPE comes from…….. Jesus Christ. Life as we know it will be filled with mountaintops that need to be climbed and valleys that will need to be crossed, how sad is it for those who have to do this alone without HOPE.

We want each individual that comes in contact with Down Home to not only hear of HOPE but sense it in every aspect of our concerts. We want our words to be hopeful and true. We want our interaction with them to be sincere and authentic. Through our music and presentation we want each individual to sense the powerful embrace of the one with whom all HOPE stems from…. Jesus Christ.

Q: Do you have a favorite song that you sing? And what song from another group has ministered to you?

Down Home - Michael: "What if Jesus Came Back Like That" is one of my favorite songs because it brings up an interesting question… What would we do if Jesus came back as a homeless vagrant? The words of this song force me to examine how I see people around me. I want to make sure that I don’t overlook the gift because I am uncomfortable with the wrapping.

Down Home - Sharon: One song which deeply ministers, has been sung by many groups and congregations over the years is "It Is Well with My Soul."  Not only do the timeless words Horatio Spafford penned minister but the story behind the words of a man losing so much and in a moment of such pain and loss turning to God and saying, “Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.” One could write a hundred sermons on that one verse alone. The lesson I have learned is to never give up hope, God has a unique plan for our lives in which he will use our greatest loss for His greatest gain.

Q: What artists have been your biggest influence?

Down Home - Michael: I love the guys that shake the ground! George Younce, Tim Duncan, Richard Sterban and J.D. Sumner have all influenced my life. I know these are some big shoes to fill but I’m 14 years old, 6’3 inches and wear size 13 shoes, and I’m still growing! My dream is to follow in these men’s footsteps and someday meet Tim Duncan and Richard Sterban.

Down Home - AnnMarie: Sonya Isaacs continues to be influential both musically and personally. Sonya has a beautiful voice, a sweet presence and encouraging demeanor. I want to do and be the same. Growing up in the music industry like she did, I consider her a great mentor.

Q: What has been your favorite memory so far in your ministry? Do you have a certain concert that stands out?

Down Home - Sharon: My husband and I have been singing for a long time, but it has always been a dream of ours to sing and minister together as a family. I will never forget our first concert singing together, the joy I felt looking over and seeing our children on stage praising God. That moment was indescribable. It is overwhelming for me to see how God can take the seed of a dream, plant it in my heart and grow it into being.

Down Home - Mac: If y'all are not aware…… southern Daddys are not noted for their timidity concerning the wellbeing of their daughters when approached by young suitors. Those of you who are part of the extended Down Home family following know that AnnMarie (Down Home’s lead singer) just turned 16 years old. At a recent concert out West a particularly earnest 16 year old boy found a clever way to garner AnnMarie’s attention. When the request was made for volunteers for set up and tear down he made himself available. During the concert he worked as a stagehand and part of security team. At the conclusion of the concert he went up to AnnMarie and told her that he had been assigned as her personal bodyguard by her Father. AnnMarie knowing that her Daddy was very protective didn't think otherwise. This provided the opportunity for the young boy to be within arm’s reach of AnnMarie while she visited with concert attendees for the rest of the evening. When the group was all back in the bus it all came to light when AnnMarie asked me why I had sent a bodyguard who was so young. You gotta hand it to the boy.

Music is a powerful thing in any size venue. One of my favorite concerts in recent days was an impromptu concert. The group walked into a restaurant with a local community church pastor. We were walking with our host to our table when a lady who was eating with two friends recognized us. She informed the pastor that she had been unable to be in attendance at the Down Home concert the night before. We asked the ladies to stop by our table before they left. When they arrived we did an impromptu a cappella concert for them. When we were done the ladies all informed us that they had recently lost their respective husbands and one of the ladies stated that the song that we had just sung was her husband's favorite song. She leaned over and whispered in my ear you will never know what this moment meant to me. Music is a powerful thing.

Q: What new things are coming up for Down Home?

Down Home - Mac: Being from Nashville, Tennessee we are friendly folk, we look forward to and always enjoy meeting new friends at concerts around the country. The Down Home Family is extremely excited about the process of developing new music for our next two projects scheduled to be available mid- 2014. The group is also in the process of developing 12 national events that will serve the local community and local churches as catalyst for outreach. Event dates to be announced September 2013. Our passion as a group is to help people find the HOPE that is only found in Jesus. We want to see new hope and new life in the people we encounter.

Learn more about Down Home on their website, Thanks to Down Home for answering my questions!

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