HIGHROADIII is an all-female, award-winning Appalachian gospel group from Nashville, TN and just released their new album, Angel at the Crossroads, featuring guest work from gospel legend, Bill Gaither. We would like to thank Sarah, Anna-Grace and Kiley for taking the time to speak with us. You can check out their official website HERE.
1. Tell us about your new album and working with Ben Isaacs. How was he as a producer? Have you worked with him before? How was it to work with Bill Gaither? Did you play your own instruments?
Sarah: "Our album, Angel at the Crossroads, released on April 11 and we couldn't be more excited! Working with Ben Isaacs for the first time was a dream come true- all of us have listened to the Isaacs sound and absolutely love them. To have Bill sing on our project was a huge honor for us- what a wonderful and genuine man he is! This project is honestly exactly what we sound like- we played all of our own instruments and sang just like we do in a concert, and I love that aspect of this project. It just sounds real."
2. Do you have a song selected for your first release from your new album? Please tell us what that song means to you!
Sarah: "Our first single will be "Angel at the Crossroads". It is a beautifully written song that captures the thoughts of someone who is at a crossroads in their life and God provides someone to steer them in the right direction. I think we have all had angels at the crossroads at some point in our lives."
3. For each of you...please tell us what instruments you play, what part you sing (range) and if you have a special gifting different from the others that is brought forward in your ministry(e.g. stage communication). What is your favorite song to sing live and why?
Sarah: "My name is Sarah, I play the piano and I sing lead and harmony parts. I love singing Walk Beside Me the most for our live concerts because it has such a powerful message and musically it just speaks to me!"
Kiley: "I play acoustic guitar and sing the higher harmony, while we all share the lead vocals from song to song. My favorite song to sing live is "Redeemer" because it's such a powerful song and has an unfailing message; that our Redeemer LIVES. I love singing this song because it gets such an amazing response from people all over the states... people are familiar with the song and can really worship to it."
Anna Grace: "The instrument I have been playing for 22 years is the fiddle. As far as vocals go, we all end up singing melody at some point or another, but when I'm not singing a lead part, I sing the low harmony or alto part. My love is to be able to relate to the audience when I sing or speak-- not for my sake, but for the sake of Christ. There were and are still so many times in my life when I need someone to encourage me and lift my spirits. God has brought and continues to bring those people into my life, and through them He shows and reminds me just how precious I am to Him. My goal is to show His love and compassion to those who I come across just as I have been shown love and compassion. My favorite song to sing right now is "My Savior's Love". The words of that hymn are so powerful and remind me that my works don't get me closer to Christ. I have the ability, through faith in Jesus Christ, to draw closer to Him because of what He did on the cross for me."
4. For each of you...where is your favorite place to sing? What would be your 'ultimate' venue?
Sarah: "My favorite place to sing would be in the park in my hometown of Braddyville, Iowa. I grew up singing there on Saturday nights with my dad. My ultimate dream is to perform on the Opry stage though!"
Kiley: "My favorite place to sing would probably be at my home church, Scott Avenue Christian Church in Newton, IL. I grew up singing as much as I could in that church, and the people there are truly amazing. High Road has played there a couple times within the last few years, and I can truly say that the Holy Spirit SHOWED UP each time we played there. Along with an incredibly moving worship service, I have personally never felt so supported and loved as I do in that church. My parents and much of my family are very involved in the church, and I can whole-heartedly say that the members of SACC support me like family. My ultimate venue would probably have to be The Grand Ole Opry. There's just something so special about that place... to have the honor of standing on that stage where so many greats have stood... that's something special."
Anna Grace: "Wow, that's a really tough question. I don't know if this is the answer that you are looking for... But! I would say, my favorite place to play is the living room of my parents house in South-West Mississippi. It might sound crazy, but some of my favorite musical moments happened there. My earliest memories of sharing music with family and friends started in that living room. My most frustrating practice days on the violin happened in that living room as well. There is something pretty special and sacred about that space that I can't describe, but I feel alive musically every time I step into that room."
5. For each of you...who is your favorite artist to work with? Who would you love to work with in the future?
Sarah: "We have really loved working with the Martins and Jason Crabb the past two years. Charlotte Ritchie has also become one of our favorite people both on stage and off."
Kiley: "I love The Isaacs. Ben Isaacs and Mark Capps worked very hard on our latest project, and I feel above all else, we gained 2 new great friends. They are so humble and down-to-earth; not to mention absolutely hilarious. We had a blast working with them. I think we all would like to work with The Gaither crew in the future. Bill Gaither was sweet enough to sing a bass part on a track called "When God Dips His Pen of Love" on our new album... what an amazing honor! We hope to work more with them in the future."
Anna Grace: "Wow, what a great question! I got the pleasure of being able to play fiddle behind Karen Peck and New River last year at a Bluegrass Showcase during the NQC week, and just loved every moment with the players (Ben Isaacs, Sonya Isaacs, and Ben Rochester among them). All of those folks were really sweet, and I loved Karen as well. Ben Isaacs has been so great to work with on our last project, and I was so blown away by how much he cared about our sound, and us doing the very best that we could. I felt like I was a better player and singer having been under his direction as a producer. This is a huge dream, but I would love to work with someone like Dolly Parton or Alison Krauss. I know that they both demand a lot of themselves musically, and I know that I could learn so much from them about how to be a better musician."
6. For each of you...what is your favorite fun thing to do on the road? Favorite place to stay? Favorite place to eat? Do you ever fight over them? Who all travels with you?
Sarah: "Well, we definitely LOVE to have fun on the road! We usually have throwback nights if we are driving late- it keeps everyone awake and laughing. We play songs from WAY back when and just have a good time singing along."
Kiley: "We have A LOT of fun while traveling together. We have all become so close, with way too many inside jokes, and sometimes way too much coffee/Mt. Dew. We laugh our heads off and love every minute of it! Personally, my favorite place we've stayed was on the beach in Florida. Fresh sea food on the beach? I mean, what's better than that?! We usually have NO problem deciding where to eat... no fights about that. Mexican is definitely a frequent decision.
We most often travel with the three of us girls, Stephen Wilder, our bass player, and then either Betsy Cothron (a sweet high school student from Sarah's church who helps us mostly with merchandise sales), Amanda Combs (our friend and intern from Belmont University who helps us SO MUCH) or Nathan, Anna Grace's husband, who is such a huge help."
Anna Grace: "Oh man, I love, love, love it when we go to the beach! We've been able to play several times down by the Gulf Shores in Alabama, and in Florida. The beach NEVER gets old, and I love being able to soak up the sun and ride around on the water. We stayed one time in a condo right on the beach, and that was the BEST! I loved being able to walk out on the patio and just listen to the water, and smell the ocean. My favorite place to eat out on the road... That would have to be in Lancaster County, PA. I ate the BEST Philly Cheese Steak sandwich I had ever put in my mouth at Stoltzfus Meats. I would not have any problems going back for another one. Ha ha! When it comes to food, we can all pretty much agree on what we like to eat. When it comes to food, we all seem to dig the same kind of grub, which is pretty wonderful. We have had lots of different family and friends travel with us to our shows in the past, but usually, if it's not just the three girls and our bass player, Stephen, then we have someone come along to help us with our merchandise. My favorite person that travels with us is my husband, Nathan. He's so much fun, and I always love having him around. He can't always come, but when he does, I love it!"
7. Family plays an important part in ministry. For each of you...please tell us the part your family plays, or has played in your ministry and career.
Sarah: "For me, growing up playing music with my dad was a huge blessing. His family and my mom's family are all musically inclined and really encouraged me to pursue whatever it was that God was calling me to do- and I am really grateful that they are behind High Road III all the way!"
Kiley: "My family is a major part of my life. My parents are some of the best you'll ever find. They are so helpful and so supportive in everything I do. They will drive or fly all over the country for my sister and I. My mom and dad have come on the road with us to help out with anything and everything a few times, and we have an absolute blast! They are our biggest fans!"
Anna Grace: "Family is super important. My parents and siblings played a massive part in encouraging me to do music as a career. They were there when High Road first got it's start, and have continued to be my cheerleaders. Nathan, my husband, now plays a massive role in our ministry. He keeps me sane, all the while remaining an incredibly supportive, and Godly influence in my life. He continually points me to Christ. I am super grateful and incredibly blessed to be his wife."
8. For each of you...how did you begin singing and how old were you? What made you decide to sing Christian music and not another genre? How do you continue to hone your skills?
Sarah: "I was four when I started singing and playing one finger melodies on the piano by ear with my dad. Long story short, I wanted to make music my career and after graduating from Belmont University I had a couple of different jobs in the country music world. My first job was working in artist management for George Strait and Lee Ann Womack. It was awesome getting that experience and soon I worked at a publishing company on Music Row. Still, there was something that made me want to pursue Gospel music more and more and I now realize that it was God calling me to do it! Anna Grace and I met and became friends and started playing music at our home churches. Kiley came and joined the group two years ago and the rest is history!"
Kiley: "My grandma swears that I started singing at the same time that I started speaking. She says that I would be with her shopping as a very little girl... she wouldn't even notice there was music playing in the store until I started singing along with every word. My dad used to just put music on in our living room and my sister and I would dance and sing around the house for hours. That's cheap entertainment, right there!"
Anna Grace: "I have been playing piano for as long as I can remember, and started the violin when I was five. I'm sure I've been singing just about as long.
My love for hymns sparked the desire to sing and play Christian music. It has always been a love of mine from an early age. I have grown up playing lots of different genres of music, and they all were for the same reason. Any time I played for a group of people, whether it was Christian or secular, I imagined that I was singing or playing to Jesus. So, whether I play and sing gospel, country, bluegrass, or folk, my goal is always to do it for the glory of God."
9. For each of you...who is your greatest inspiration and why?
Sarah: "My inspiration is my family for sure. Also, my musical inspirations include Patty Loveless and Pig Robbins."
Kiley: "My parents would have to be my greatest inspiration. They have sacrificed and worked so hard for both my sister and I. There love is so strong and unconditional. I'm learning that parenting never ends, and for that, I'm so thankful."
Anna Grace: "I have a number of people who have inspired me to play music, and one of the most important people who did that was my Mother. She was the one who helped nurture and grow my love for all kinds of music and even helped me realize that I could write music. She always gave me the impression that there were no musical boundaries, and that I could play or write anything if I set my mind and dedication to it."
10. For each of you...what is the main message you hope to leave your audience that they will remember after the concert is over?
Sarah: "I think our group as a whole strives to make sure everyone who attends one of our concerts leaves with the message that Christ loves them so much that He gave His all."
Kiley: "I'd say my main goal would be for people in the audience to know that they are LOVED... no matter who they are, no matter where they are in life, no matter what they've done or will do in the future... they are loved by a God who loves unconditionally, AND they are loved by the three of us."
Anna Grace: "I want the audience to remember Jesus. They don't even have to remember our names or our faces, but as long as they had an encounter with the Creator of the Universe, my job is done."