In 1971, Perry & Nell Wimberley felt the call of God on their lives to begin a gospel music ministry. Through the years the ministry has taken them down many roads and enabled them to make countless friends across the country. The makeup of the group has changed over the span of 3 decades, but the current lineup has been ministering together since 1995. The Wimberley's youngest daughter, Vanessa, represents the second generation. Vanessa and her husband, Jason Griggs, have 2 children, Jay (20) & Allison (16). Jay and Allison represent the third generation.
The Joylanders stand and sing 3 Generations Strong at each concert. Currently, Jason, Vanessa, Jay, & Allison handle the bulk of the singing and playing responsibilities at concerts. The Joylanders offer a blend of Southern Gospel, Bluegrass Gospel, Acapella, and Acoustic Music. Whether it be a time tested hymn of the church, a spirited acapella song, or a toe tapping bluegrass song, The Joylanders will offer something to please every concert attendee. Attendees are sure to enjoy a mix of live instrumentation, pure acapella music, and tracks accompanied by The Joylanders' vocals. The Joylanders love to have fun while ministering, but make no mistake, their goal is to exalt Christ, edify the church, and evangelize the lost.
Q: I have been listening and enjoying every single moment of your new album "Parables." Why did you entitle the album "Parables"?
A: Oftentimes a project will have an underlying theme woven through each song. This project did not seem to have that element. Each song seemed to tell a story of its own. For this reason, when Jeff Collins, Greg Bentley, and I were discussing possible project titles, Jeff Collins suggested "Parables" and we collectively agreed that it was the perfect title for the project.
Q: "Parables" is also your debut album with Skyland Records. What do you believe the people at Skyland bring to this record that you appreciate?
A: I can't begin to say enough about this amazing collection of men and women! The staff of Skyland are among the best in the industry. Their reputation is second to none! Chris White, Mickey Gamble, Jeff Collins, Greg Bentley, & Jim Stover offer a stunning amount of wisdom, expertise, foresight, and experience in both the business of Gospel Music as well as the ministry of Gospel Music. It is my opinion that Skyland/Crossroads has become synonymous with quality and they have set the bar for the standard of excellence in Southern Gospel Music. For years they have consistently produced hit songs and have successfully introduced the leading new artists in our industry. They work hard to maximize the production of each song in the recording process, both musically and vocally. I believe that quality is timeless and we wanted the exceptional quality that Skyland/Crossroads offers. They have the ability to recognize the limitations of an artist and help you push beyond your known limits.
Q: Did you approach the making of this album differently compared to your other releases?
A: Yes, we did approach this recording differently. We offer a lot of variety. If you see us in concert, we sing southern gospel with tracks, we sing fun a capella arrangements, and we sing bluegrass/acoustic gospel with live instruments. In the past, we've ministered regionally and would record songs that were oftentimes originally recorded by the major artists in our industry. These were budget recordings. My wife, Vanessa, and I have wanted to do a major southern gospel recording like this for a few years. Over the past several years our children have become very involved in our ministry and now are a vital element. We made the decision three years ago to wait to do this type of major recording because our children were young and we wanted them to mature in age and to mature vocally. Our son, Jay, is now 20 years old and our daughter, Allison, is 16 years old. Their voices have matured and we sensed that now was the right time for this recording. Knowing that we were waiting to record, we searched for songs for three years for this recording and believe that God gave us the right songs for this time in our ministry. We are singers and musicians. We love a variety of styles of music and that is evidenced in this project. You will not get bored listening to this project. It's just us! I don't know how you explain or market variety, but that's what we are!
Q: Let's talk about the new album. I am in love with "Why Don't You Try Jesus," why did you choose this song? And what does this song mean to you?
A: I'm glad to hear that you love this song too! My grandmother, Marcy Kelsey Beckett, wrote this song decades ago. Her group, The Song Masters, sang it decades ago and The Lesters recorded it on a budget project around 1990 when my wife, Vanessa, sang with them. I've always loved the song. It's a happy, upbeat song with a timeless message. I knew it would be a great opening song for the project. When we were arranging the project with Jeff Collins, I asked that he arrange it with a happy, upbeat feeling and more specifically, I wanted the vocals to have a very focused big, modern harmony feel on the last chorus. Jeff arranged the song wonderfully! I love the intro and turn around that he came up with and he completely captured everything that I wanted in this song and more. The addition of a real horn section was the icing on the cake for me!
To me, I love the message in this song because in a time of crisis, I believe most of us are guilty of trying everything else before turning to Jesus. Unfortunately, we turn to Him as a last resort after we've done all that we could do to try to solve our problems. This song is a great reminder to me that Jesus should be the first person or choice we turn to in a time of crisis or need. He's a friend, guide, burden bearer, way maker, and One who will never leave nor forsake. So, as the song says, "Why Don't You Try Jesus?"
Q: Tell us about your thoughts on the single "I'm Checkin' Out."
A: As far as choosing "I'm Checkin' Out" as our first single, we simply deferred to the expert judgment of Jim Stover and the Crossroads/Skyland radio promotion team. Jim felt it was the right song to introduce us to the national radio market. They felt it was a song that had a strong lyric and captured a lot of what our group has to offer vocally. It has a great upbeat feel with a real horn section and fun, modern harmony on the last chorus. Dianne Wilkinson lives near us and is an old friend of the family. She wrote this song and sent it to me when I asked for songs for this project. I think Dianne only writes hit songs! I love her writing and it was our hope that having her name attached to our first single might catch the attention of the national radio market and help us. The song has a great message for the Heaven bound child of God. We can claim the promise of God that He's prepared a place for us and He will return to catch us away.
Q: Normally, I am quite indifferent about patriotic songs. But I really like "America, Bless God" which is such an appropriate song now. For our readers who have not heard it, tell us what is the song about? And why did you choose this song?
A: A good writer friend of mine, Regina Walden, pitched that song to me about 3 years ago. When I heard it, I immediately loved it! It's obviously a re-ordering of the words "God Bless America" to "America, Bless God." The re-ordering of those three words completely redirects the focus and responsibility of that saying for God to America. We are all familiar with 2 Chronicles 7:14 and that message is still true and applicable today. That message is timeless for all Christians in all ages, but it seems especially relevant for today's national climate. I really thought the song would be appropriate with the upcoming presidential election and with all that seems to be declining in our country. In a nutshell, the song reminds us that God is good and faithful and that every blessing that we have comes from His hand. When we lose that focus, we begin a swift descent. The song reminds us that as a nation, we are to humbly seek His face and to take a stand as Christians in this world leading the fight against our enemy, Satan. It is reminiscent of Psalm 33:12, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD." If we seek His face, He will hear and heal our land!
Q: You have also included the hymn "The Old Rugged Cross." Why this hymn?
A: Our son Jay sings this song on the project. A couple of years ago this hymn really ministered to Jay and he's wanted to sing it ever since. We often try to sing songs that minister to us either as a group or individually. I believe that when a song ministers to you individually, you can better present that song to an audience. We've noticed that many of the people we sing to love the old hymns and we love the old hymns as well. They have such depth and imagery. Many are rooted in great theology and biblical principles. Even though we didn't record it, I particularly love the second verse of "The Old Rugged Cross." The lyric states, "Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me." In our modern day culture, a cross is nothing more than ornate jewelry that people wear or artwork that we hang on a wall. In the historical context of a cross, it was despised and a symbol of shame. The worst of criminals were crucified on a cross outside the gates of a city so that everyone going in and out of a city could see it. It was a horribly grotesque sight that you would look at, wince, and look away. It seems odd that a cross would hold a "wondrous attraction for me" yet it does because it is the landmark of my salvation. It's where all of my sin (past, present, and future) was nailed to a cross. The cross is where Christ took my sin, nailed it to the cross, fulfilled the law in my place, exchanged His perfect righteousness for my filthy rags (Isa. 64:6), allowed me go free, and because of that I am justified in the sight of a Holy God. The Gospel is offensive to this world. It has to get "under your skin" and it will oftentimes make you mad before you get glad. So, while the cross is despised by the world, it holds a wondrous attraction for me! I love this hymn!
Q: For our readers who would like to out more about your music and touring schedule,where can they go?
A: You can keep up with The Joylanders at our website, www.thejoylanders.com, and at our Facebook page.