Southern Raised consists of a quartet of siblings, comprising of sisters Lindsay, Sarah and Emily and their brother Matthew. Trained originally in classical music, they have morphed into a bluegrass sound that recalls the aforementioned Alison Krauss and Rhonda Vincent. Collectively, they have received nominations from Singing News Fan Awards, Front Porch Fellowship and a staggering 31 SPBGMA Midwest Nominations. They have just released their sixth album "Make a Difference." And it's also their most ambitious record to date. Helmed by Gaither Vocal Band's Kevin Williams, the album is engineered by the legendary Bil VornDick. We are privileged to be able to catch up with them for this exclusive interview:
Hallels: Thank you so much for time. For our readers who may not be familiar with Southern Raised Band, tell us who you are. How long have you been singing together?
Hi everyone, we appreciate this opportunity to share with each of you! Southern Raised is a family band made up of three sisters and our baby brother! Lindsay is the bass player, sings harmony and is the oldest. Sarah is second in line and is our banjo player and tenor vocalist. Sarah can also play twin fiddles with Emily and the guitar. A crowd favorite is Sarah and Emily on double fiddles. Emily, "Emmy" is the youngest girl...aka "baby girl" She is our main lead vocalist and fiddle/mandolin player, doing double duty on those two instruments. Last but definitely not least, is our 16 year old Baby Brother Matthew. He stands at about 6'3", singing bass and lead vocals and taking care of rhythm and lead guitar.
Yes, with three older sisters, Matt does get to speak! ...... if you come to a concert he will sing for you too!!! The genesis of Southern Raised came about as a result of a prayer by our parents when we were young. Our parents had prayed that God would give us a family ministry. We wanted to serve the Lord and we wanted to serve Him together as a family! We thought perhaps we could deliver meals to those unable to leave their homes.
Music never came to our minds as something that God would use. Meanwhile, we began piano and classical violin, with Matt on the cello. We played in an orchestra and formed a string quartet as well. About 7 years ago, while visiting Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO, we heard music floating through the air. We found ourselves drawn to the harmonies and the joy of the music! It sparked an immediate interest for us that turned out to be life changing. The really exciting part of the story is realizing this is the answer to that prayer that was prayed years ago by our parents! We can look back and see how God was laying the foundation through our classical training.
Hallels: Why were you attracted to bluegrass/Gospel? Who were some artists who have had helped shaped your sound?
This will be a diversely answered question!!! Honestly......some of our earliest influences were Bach, Beethoven and Handel!!! Vocally........the sweet, delicate tones of Allison Kraus, the power and strength of Sonya Isaacs, the warmth and richness of Becky Isaacs and the soaring, soulful sound of David Phelps........There were multiple aspects about the music that attracted us. We were drawn to the harmonies, the pureness of the acoustic sound, the message and it is happy and exciting music! We love being able to share the gospel through music!
Hallels: "Make a Difference" is your 6th album and it's also produced by Gaither Vocal Band's Kevin Williams and engineered by Bil VornDick, how did you get to work with these two guys?
This is really a testament to God's Providence and working in our lives. We met Kevin at the 2012 National Quartet Convention. It was the last day we would be there and the last day Kevin would be there as well. We were jamming in the lobby and Kevin had one last errand to run before leaving. As he was walking through the lobby, he saw a crowd gathered around and stopped to see what it was all about. He stayed and listened for about an hour. We talked with him afterwards and stayed in touch through the following year. When it came time to look into making a new album we approached him as a potential producer and this journey began! He is a dear friend and we found our time in the studio with him more than a "recording experience." He brought a wonderful element of joy and humor. He began every session with prayer, seeking God's will and direction over all we did. For this we were so very grateful! Our engineer was grammy award winning Bil VornDick. What an honor to work with such a master of tones and incredible engineer! We feel so humbled and blessed to work with these two gifted and amazing individuals!
Hallels: If you have to choose 2 songs out of "Make a Difference" that you are the proudest of, which would they be? And why?
The two most meaningful songs are "Things I've Never Seen" and "Ravens Still Fly." Lindsay shares how God gave them these songs. One day I was reading Psalm 37:25, "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." This verse really jumped out at me! I began to ponder at what the Psalmist was trying to convey to Christians for ages to come. He was saying, I have lived a long time and seen a lot of things, but I have never seen God leave me, I have never seen Him forsake me and I have never seen Him not provide for my needs! What a precious promise to hold onto as a Christian! My mind then went to us as mortal humans, we are such visual people. We mark milestones in our lives by things we have seen. Yet, this verse talks about the things we will never see being one of the most precious things. From this the Lord gave us "Things I've Never Seen."
"Ravens Still Fly" takes us back to an Old Testament story. We find Elijah at one point in his life utterly alone, in a desert by the Brook Cherith. Elijah was broken and in despair, feeling that the world was against him. God performed a miracle in his life and sent ravens down to provide his every need. This lifted Elijah's spirit and gave hope. We want this song to encourage people that no matter how dark the valley seems, how alone you feel or how broken your heart is, God is bigger! He is the same God that performed a miracle in Elijah's life and this is your God! Take heart, God still works miracles, hope is not gone...."Ravens Still Fly!"
Hallels: What's next now for Southern Raised Band? Are guys touring to support this album?
That is an exciting question!!! Only God knows what lies ahead for Southern Raised! We believe He has put this all together for a purpose and we are grateful for the opportunity to be His vessels. God is opening new and exciting doors for Southern Raised and we are excited to walk through those doors! We thank God each time He gives us a platform to share, we never want to take that lightly. Each time we step in front of the mic, we want to ask ourselves, "God, is there someone in the audience that needs to hear this message?" We want to always remember, this is not about us, it is all about Him. We began our "Make a Difference Tour" in March of 2014. The title track of this album, "Make a Difference" is the heartbeat of this tour. We want to encourage everyone that they can make a difference for Jesus Christ!
Hallels: For our readers who would like to purchase your album or find out more about you, where can they go?
We would love for you to visit us at www.southernraisedband.com You can order via the website and learn more about the SR there too. Our 2 newest albums are also available on Amazon, CD Baby and Itunes. We invite you to follow Southern Raised on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We also have a YouTube channel with concept videos. Thank you so much for your interest in Southern Raised. A special thank you to Mr. Yap. Thank you for this opportunity to share. We hope to see each of you on down the road!