This year Jeff and Sheri Easter are celebrating 30 years in ministry and marriage. And one way of celebrating such milestones is the release of their brand new album "Small Town." For Jeff and Sheri, gospel music is genetically programmed into their DNA. As members of acclaimed musical families-Jeff's father is one of the Easter Brothers and Sheri's mother is a member of The Lewis Family-they grew up surrounded by the sound of people praising God through their musical gifts.
In August of 1984, both were at the Albert E. Brumley Sundown to Sunup Gospel Singing in Arkansas. Jeff, who was playing bass for the Singing Americans at the time, took the opportunity to reintroduce himself to Sheri's mother Polly; they had met on a previous occasion. Polly introduced Jeff to Sheri and the two were married ten months later.
They traveled and performed as part of The Lewis Family for several years. But in 1988 they decided it was time to strike out on their own, and they haven't looked back since. Also joining Jeff & Sheri on the road is their son, Madison, who plays electric guitar for the group and their daughter, Morgan, who joins them with vocals to round out the kind of harmonies that only family can produce. The newest addition to the Easter family is Maura Grace, Jeff and Sheri's 'twentieth anniversary gift to each other', who generally makes her way onstage doing anything to bring a smile.
Hallels: Congratulations on 30 years of marriage. From your own experiences, what advise do you have to give to our readers who may be struggling in their marriages?
Communicate openly, honestly and often. We all bring our own experiences into a relationship, therefore we see things through different eyes. Your spouse has no way of knowing how you feel or what you think or expect, unless you communicate it. Treat each other with respect and before you commit to marry, agree to refuse to accept divorce as a means of resolving anything. A marriage only works if two people get up every morning and commit to one another. Keep your level of gratitude for the relationship higher than your expectations of each other.
Hallels: This year you are not only celebrating 30 years of marriage but also 30 years of ministry. What's the most valuable lesson you have learned over these years of serving Christ?
God is more than enough for everything you need. His timing and His ways are higher than ours, therefore, trust Him and stop trying to figure out when or how He's going to take care of you. God will provide. Be generous. I feel that we are most like Christ when we are giving cheerfully! Work hard and be honest in all you do. Love one another!
Hallels: Over the last 30 years, how has Christian music changed?
The beautiful thing is that the message has never changed...for us it's all about faith, hope and love! The styles and techniques of recording have changed for the better making it easier to record, allowing creativity to blossom without fretting over the technical stuff. I'm not a fan of some of the newer Christian sounds of repetitious lyrics and 3-5 note melodies, it takes something more poetic and more interesting to move me.
Hallels: Let's talk about your new album "Small Town." Why did you name the album "Small Town"?
I wrote a song with Kenna Turner West and Jason Cox because of an acceptance speech Kenna made after winning an award last year. She said all of her thank-you's, then concluded with, "I'm so glad God used my lunch!" And I immediately texted her, congratulated her and told her we have to write that song. Fast forward a year and it was still on my heart and we started writing Small Town Someone about the little boy with the fishes and loaves and how God used his lunch to feed others. I'm sure the little boy felt insignificant, just a kid from some small town who never expected to be used for something great. Jeff and I can relate. We're both from small towns and never had more than a dream to sing and write and God has blessed us by using our little lunches to feed others. It's humbling.
Hallels: One song that really moved me is "Jesus Loves You." What's the story behind this song?
I had watched several things on the news that really disturbed me...people hurting other people with no regard for life. We live in a very selfish time and I read a statement along that same time that said most of our insecurities lie in the fact that we do not feel loved. I think it's because we are imperfect creatures trying to comprehend a perfect emotion. In today's society, love is twisted, manipulative and negotiable. That wasn't God's original intent. The Bible says God is love and that He gave His only begotten son for remission of our sins. We are loved. We are valuable and when I went in that day to write, I began to cry telling Kenna and Don Poythress that I needed to remind people they are loved.
Hallels: Have you released a single to radio yet from this album? If you have, tell our readers about the single.
Jesus Loves You is our first single and we're so excited at the response it's getting!
Hallels: For our readers who would like to purchase your new album and/or find out more about you, where can they go?
jeffandsherieaster.com or a Christian retailer near you.