Combs Family Tradition officially formed in 2016. Unofficially, the band began as Family Tradition in the late 1990s. Made up of family members Ron Combs (father), Ryan Combs (brother), and Amanda Combs (sister), the group has always made music together in some capacity. From local festivals to churches and civic organizations, CFT has made appearances at many events in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana, performing gospel and country favorites in addition to original songs.
They have just released their brand new bluegrass Gospel new record It's a Wonder. We are honored to chat with Amanda Combs for this exclusive interview.
Q: Amanda, thanks for doing this interview with us. Tell us who is Combs Family Tradition?
Combs Family Tradition is a family group of musicians and songwriters. Ron Combs, my Dad, sings, writes, and plays guitar. Ryan Combs, my brother, sings, writes, and plays guitar, fiddle, and mandolin. I sing, write, and play piano and bass. We have been performing together for as long as I can remember, but took a break through my brother and my college years. It is an honor to play music together again!
Q: How would you describe your style of music?
We perform bluegrass and southern gospel music with a strong focus on family harmonies and honest lyrics.
Q: You have just released a new album "It's a Wonder." How was this album conceived?
"It's A Wonder" has been in the works for several years. For nearly ten years, people would ask if we had a group album, but we had never taken the time to record one. In 2016, we finally decided to make it happen and began gathering songs that we had each written and performed together. We began recording in 2017 on free weekends and released it in August of 2018. We felt that "It's A Wonder" was a good title-song for a couple reasons. First, it's truly a wonder that "the Good Lord loves me and you!". Secondly, it's a wonder that we finally recorded an family album!
Q: What were some of the highlights in the making of this new record?
I think the biggest highlight was the process. Every step was a family endeavor and one we felt was guided by the Lord. From choosing songs, to recording and producing, we took the time to make it exactly what we wanted. In the end, it is something we are all proud of. Mom even joined us in the studio one day!
Q: One highlight of the record is your vocals. Did you receive any formal lessons in singing? Who are some of your favorite artists who inspire you?
I have both a Bachelors and Master degree in voice performance from Belmont University, so I've spent many years in formal lessons and am actually a professional voice teacher. Ryan and Dad haven't had formal voice lessons, but they are very naturally gifted. We have been inspired by many songwriting performers like Dailey and Vincent, Larry Cordle, and Dolly Parton. Vocally, we love the harmonies of the Isaacs and the worshipful attitude of many contemporary Christian artists.
Q: With Easter around the corner, "He is the King" is such an appropriate track. What's the story behind this song?
Dad wrote this song. Here are his thoughts: "When you get to know people, you realize everyone is searching for purpose and fulfillment. But they are searching for these things in the world, in hobbies, entertainment, work, relationships, and sometimes harmful activities. But the only true source of purpose, fulfillment, and value is Jesus- the King who loved us enough to die for us. God put this song on my heart out of that revelation."
Q: I love the harmonies on "Stacking Up the Rocks." What's the story behind this song?
"Stacking Up The Rocks" is actually one of three cover songs on the album. It was written by Buddy Melton of Balsam Range, and is about the monuments the Israelites set up before entering the Promised Land to remind them of God's faithfulness. We saw Balsam Range perform it at a bluegrass festival, and Dad was persistent about us learning to perform it. Every time we performed it people loved it and would request it, so we decided to add it to the album.
Q: Why did you decide to cover the hymn "How Great Thou Art"?
I have always loved hymns. "How Great Thou Art" has been covered by so many people because it points us straight to Christ and his awesomeness. A few years ago, I arranged it so I could perform it with just me and the piano. Then Ryan added harmony and fiddle to it for a wedding. It became a frequently requested song for us, so we recorded it on the album as a whole family.
Q: How do you wish this new record would impact the lives of your listeners?
Dad describes being a songwriter as being the pen that God uses to write a message. I think that's true for all of us. In my case, songs are usually lessons that God is trying to teach me, but because He is sovereign and all-knowing, He uses what He teaches me to help others as well. Our prayer is that God uses this album to draw people closer to Himself, for His honor and glory.