New Year’s Fixin’s

It was a blustery cold morning as Kitty and Pearl began their walk over to Maudie Pearson’s house. They carried tins full of green collards, black-eyed peasand hamhocks and some cornbread.
“This seems like an odd meal to take Miss Maudie,” Pearl said.
“It’s News Year’s Day fixin’s,” Kitty said.
“If she eats these she will have all the luck and money she needs in the next year,” Kitty said.
As they walked across the field to the tenant shack where eighty year-old Maudie lived, their steps barely marked the frozen ground which months before would have allowed them to sink a foot deep with each step.
Kitty’s walk was long and gated since she carried the extra weight of another family member inside her.
“Momma, when will the new baby come,” Pearl asked.
“When its ready,” she said. “I feel it should come any day now.”
Maudie welcomed them at the door and asked them to sit a spell.
“You folks sure surprised me coming on such a cold day,” Maudie said.
“I knew you wouldn’t feel up to cookin’ much, so we wanted to bring you blessings for the New Year,” Kitty said.
“And it looks like you will have a new blessing soon,” Maudie said as she placed her hand on Kitty’s belly.
The threesome sat near the warm fire and shared some hot cider as Maudie showed off a quilt top she was working diligently to finish.
Kitty said they best be getting back.
“The men folk will be home from hunting soon, and they might think we run off,” she said.
Kitty and Pearl took small steps on the way back. Kitty’s pace became slower and slower as she fell on her knees to the ground.
The pain doubled her over.
“Momma,” Pearl called to her, “What’s wrong?”
“It’s time,” Kitty exclaimed.
“What do I do?” Pearl asked.
“Help me and let’s get back to Maudie’s,” she said.
Pearl helped her up, and the duo made their way back to the tenant house.
Maudie said, “Land sakes I knew it would not be long.”
She helped her into the bed and told Pearl to fetch some water from the well and put it in the fire to boil.
Pearl did, and then she placed a damp cloth on Kitty’s head to ease the sweat rolling from her brow. Every few moments intense pain brought Kitty’s shrill scream of agony.
“What can we do?” Pearl said.
“We are doing all we can; the rest is up to God and the little one,” Maudie said.
After a while the screaming stopped, the pain subsided, and in Maudie’s arms was a brand new baby boy.
“Well it looks like the blessings of the New Year have arrived,” Maudie said.
Maudie reached over, picked up the new quilt she was making and wrapped the boy inside, laying him beside Kitty.
“He’ll get it a little early,” she said. “I was hoping to finish it before he came. I’ll do the rest a little later. He needs it more now.”
As the little baby looked up at Maudie and smiled, a shared grin was passed to Kitty and Pearl.
Kitty looked at Pearl and said, “Sharing blessings goes a long ways, little one. Just look what a few greens, peas and cornbread gave to us today.

From the book “A Mountain Pearl: Appalachian Reminiscing and Recipes”

The Christmas shine is for sharing

“Here’s the boxes of outside lights,” I said as I handed them down the attic stairs to my father Floyd.
Next came the interior boxes that were spread on the floor of the living room for my mother Pearl to sift through. A few hops up and down the attic ladder and all the Christmas decorations were strewn on the living room floor.
The holly climbed the wall by our front door, the bushes were full and green in front of the red-brick ranch-style house and the greenery made a perfect location to hold up numerous strings of Christmas lights.
As we moved beyond Thanksgiving, it fell on my father and I to bring my childhood home’s exterior into the Christmas spirit.
“Dad, have you seen the extra light bulbs, we got several out in this string,” I said as I raised my head seeing him standing on a ladder placing a power cord.
The lights were long strings some with full-sized colored bulbs, some with smaller ones. Of course, the first task was making sure all the bulbs worked before placing them. This was my job as my dad ran the electrical cords providing the power.
“There still in the boxes,” he said, so I was up and sticking my hands down through a spider web of wires searching for the box of bulbs.
After getting all the lights in place the final act of exterior decorations was the placement of a large lighted Santa Claus face was hung in the holly by our front door.
By the time this was done we moved inside to set up the faux fireplace, where our stockings were hung and assisted mother with the placement of various items around the house including lighted candles for all the windows and in then we would assemble our artificial tree and add the decorations and lights.
We always worked together to make the tree look just right. We didn’t always have an artificial tree, that came when my health was so weak that live trees caused breathing issues.
We built some wonderful memories preparing for the Christmas season as friends and family flowed in and out of our brightly decorated home.  It was the backdrop of so much joy and laughter, tears of sorrow, and lessons learned.
I watched as both my mother and father welcomed others into our home who had no one to share the holidays with. I participated as my father refurbished bicycles and peddle cars for needy children, and as my mother collected and boxed foods for needy families. Christmas is always brighter with the shiny decorations that we wrap our live within. Let’s not forget that the greatest gift of Christmas was the baby Jesus that charged each of us with loving our neighbor as ourselves. Share the shine that God gave you in your life by loving your neighbors.

A mouse in the house

In the valley below the Gravelly Spur sometimes life was lost in the living, but at times circumstances would change that for a while.
Billy Thurston lived in a sharecropper’s house with his mother Alma and father Fred. Although Billy was just eight-years-old, he already had performed almost every task it took to help run the farm and help his parents scrape a meager living on shares.
He plowed and planted, tended to animals, and walked a few paces behind his father as they hunted to add a bit of meat to the table.
Each fall when it came time to cut the corn and tie the stalks together, in the mist the stands of corn stalks looked as if an army had left the field and propped its rifles there.
At this time of year an army of mice which made the field a home would tend to run for the cover of whatever building they could find.
This year Billy’s father told him it would be his job to place the mouse traps around the house and keep them clean of whatever they might catch.
Being mindful of his father, he went about his chore and kept each trap ready and waiting for the next offensive.
One afternoon one of the traps did not hold a dead mouse but one whose leg was caught and broken.
Billy did not have the heart to end the little one’s life. So, he cut some small branches and took a few threads from the ragged area of his overalls and tied upon the mouse’s leg a splint.
Billy carefully carried the gray field mouse to the edge of the cornfield which lay between their house and my Grandma Kitty’s and released it.
After a couple of days, my Grandma Kitty was sweeping off the front porch. As she turned and opened the screen door, in scurried a little mouse which she promptly followed with broom in hand. After quite a chase around the old butcher block table, she finally had the little critter cornered.
As she was about to bring the broom down with all her might, she saw the splint upon its leg. The sight of that little splint reminded her that every life has value no matter in what form it is carried. She could not bring herself to end this one.
She reached down, picked the animal up and carried it to the edge of the corn field to release it.
Twice the little mouse got a reprieve. The yellow barn cat Grover was not so kind-hearted.

From Randall Franks’s book “A Mountain Pearl : Appalachian Reminiscing and Recipes”

For truth, justice and the American way

Never rely upon what “other people” say when you develop an opinion.

I have spent my life walking in the light of truth. I was taught early to follow the rules and speak the truth. As a small child, I was a whiz at numbers but had some difficulty with spelling, at least that is the way I felt at the time. In an early experience that I shared with my first-grade teacher, I was caught using a small note placed under my leg with my spelling words upon it while taking a test – cheating plain and simple.

Being caught I was sent out to stand in the hallway and then received a dressing down by my teacher which then resulted in my mother being called in and later my dad being brought in the loop for the final punishment at home.

Needless to say, I didn’t have the opportunity to hide a crib note under my leg when taking a spelling test again, I couldn’t sit comfortably for a while to take a test. But the experience re-enforced some of the lessons I had been taught – don’t cheat and don’t lie. A simple lesson learned is it’s much easier to tell the truth, you don’t have to remember and keep up with the lies.

Later in my life, as my career moved to journalism, spending a life in truth, being dependable and making sure no stone was unturned, allowed me to tell the stories of many folks who would not talk to other journalists, because they knew I would be fair and honestly share their story. That approach helped me earn over 20 state and national awards for the work. I fondly remember a boy who use to call me “Superman” because he thought of me like Clark Kent, saving the world.

As a journalist developing a story, I focused on getting three different sources who could confirm facts about a situation that may need to be brought to light in an article.

In recent weeks, I have experienced a lesson in the current human condition. There are folks in the world today that do not care about integrity of the information that they believe. They take the words at face value, placing no question on the source and the ultimate motives for what is being said. They do not look deeper to see if what is being said is even valid.

Some then use those words to formulate decisions that impact the lives of numerous people, to slander others with no foundation by repeating what has been said. That is now an easy adventure in our world which rotates around various social media platforms.

There is no accountability for those that do it. There is no way to fix the damage done by these people that propagate falsehoods and what is the sad commentary is some of them that choose this path are successful in hurting others and benefit from their efforts whether the ultimate gain is financial or gains in power within some position.

I have always believed that good wins over evil and still do. I read the back of the Book and that is how the story ultimately ends, but these little battles along the way that seems to allow evil people with evil intentions to succeed does dishearten. The only way to overcome it is if we all don’t believe blindly… do a little research and find three reputable sources when making decisions and conclusions that impact all of us. I pray for our people that we all do a better job of reaching for truth, justice and the American way.

Country memories with Margie Singleton and Mel Tillis

I have been blessed to meet some amazing performers who have for some period occupied the spotlight in many music genres but especially those who made a home in country music.

Through the 1950s and 60s, one of the female vocalists who kept the airwaves filled with her talents from Starday, Mercury, United Artists, Monument, and Ashley Records, whether as a feature artist, duet partner, songwriter or background vocalist is Margie Singleton.

Singleton, now in her 80s continues entertaining audiences, sharing interviews, videos, and blessing hearts and ears with her latest Christian music CD “On the Other Side of Life.”

Among her early hits are titles such as “Eyes of Love,” and with duet partner George Jones “Did I Ever Tell You,” and “Waltz of the Angels” and with Faron Young “Keeping Up with the Joneses.” She did a full album of duets with Jones which is now a legendary part of both their legacies.

Numerous artists yielded songs from her pen with just a few being Tammy Wynette, Charley Pride, and Brook Benton. She even joined the Jordanaires adding the feminine touch to countless classic country recordings of the era beside the famed back-up harmony group.

Her most recent Christian music CD features “On the Other Side of Life,” “I Chose You,” “Peculiar People,” “Follow Me,” “I Heard Him Knockin’,” “Making Payments,” “On My Father’s Side,” “His Destiny,” “Meet Me at the Altar,” “Flying with My Lord,” “You Can’t Go Back,” and “Heaven Bound.”

Her voice and musical stylings reflect the amazing sounds that made her a radio favorite. Check out her CD and she recently did a video of the single “Jesus Is My Pusher” which is seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeJgy2rJnFI&t=13s.

Learn more about Margie at http://margiesingletonmusic.com/ and order her CD at https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/margiesingleton. Like her at https://www.facebook.com/margiesingleton35/

The “Coca-Cola Cowboy” Mel Tillis, 85, passed away Nov. 19. As I was coming up as a country artist, he was one of the kings of country songwriting, singing, performing comedy and acting in movies. He created a home for his classic country style by building a theater in Branson, a town where he and Roy Clark reigned for many years.

Throughout his 60+ year career, the Grand Ole Opry member recorded more than 60 albums, had 35 Top Ten singles, six #1 hits (“I Ain’t Never,” “Coca-Cola Cowboy,” “Southern Rains,” “Good Woman Blues,” “Heart Healer,” and “I Believe in You”), was named the Country Music Association’s coveted Entertainer of the Year, and was elected a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. He wrote over 1,000 songs, 600 of which have been recorded by major artists including Kenny Rogers (“Ruby, Don’t You Take Your Love to Town”), George Strait (“Thoughts of A Fool”), and Ricky Skaggs (“Honey, Open That Door”). Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) named Tillis Songwriter of the Decade for two decades. In February of 2012 President Obama awarded Tillis the National Medal of Arts.

For years my office base of operations in Nashville was in Mel’s building on Music Row. It was where meetings occurred, quick changes as I rushed into town for an appearance. I often found Mel there and shared a brief visit for a few words of encouragement or wisdom. He was an amazing talent that made us think, laugh and remember that we artists were there to entertain the audience…a true class act… Prayers for his daughter Pam Tillis and all his children, grandchildren and family.

The bottom of the pile

It is hard to walk away when you are at the bottom of the pile.

I remember fondly the springs and summers. Hours of play after completing my chores around the house. Of course, as I got older, I took on odd jobs like mowing neighbor’s yards to earn a little money.

In my neighborhood, we had a great group of children. We all would gather to play and race our bikes down suicide hill.

I remember one accident that sent me flying through the handlebars and sliding down the pavement for 20 feet or more. That still hurts just thinking about it. I had sores all over me from that adventure.

There were no cell phones — so the kids were kept on what I call time leashes. When we left the house, we were expected to come back by a certain time, usually meal time.

Of course, if any of us got into mischief, the news traveled faster than us and the punishment was waiting for us when we got home. In my case, a few choice words from Mom followed by “You just wait ‘til your father gets home.”

Those waits coupled with the sound of my dad pulling his belt out of his pants were always worse than the whipping themselves.

One thing about it, my father never punished me undeservingly, and while I can’t remember a single whipping, I sure learned the life lessons that accompanied them.

My friends and I had about a two to three-mile radius in which we played that encompassed, fields, woods, several neighborhoods and some stores. We had a Colonial Grocery Store, a Krystal, a gas station, dry cleaners and a Gulf Service Station within our travel patterns.

We would get in our share of disagreements with each other. That would lead usually to some hurt feelings and some rolling around on the ground ‘til someone would say “Uncle.” We always seemed to come through it. There really were no children who caused trouble in my age bracket. A few older ones sometimes got into mischief, but we always managed to keep out of trouble.

Do not get me wrong, there were bullies. We were just blessed not to have them on our street, at least for very long. I remember when I was about seven there were two brothers who took great pleasure in picking fights with me. At least, it seemed that way at the time.

A boy my age named Chris Sands moved in. His parents had just divorced, and at that time, it was not as usual, as it is now. I’ll never forget one meeting with those brothers that had me at the bottom of a wrestling match that I just could not win. Chris was the new guy in the neighborhood and saw that I was being unfairly targeted for this fight and stepped in to pull the other boys off me. From that moment on, he was my friend — that is until he later moved away, and I lost track of him.

While time has erased many of the memories of the time we spent together hanging out as kids, that one action by the new boy on the block sticks in my mind. He saw something that was not right, and he did something about it. Not knowing the social lay of the land and the dynamics of the neighborhood hierarchy, he stuck his neck out for me. That is bravery.

Now I’m not advocating fighting as a way to resolve issues for children or adults. I was taught that it takes much more courage to walk away than to actually fight. But when they jump on you, there are just a few hurdles you have to get over before you can walk away.

I learned a valuable lesson from Chris that day. I have always tried to stick up for others, but sadly, especially since starting to serve in local politics, I have found there are few willing to stick up for you as the bullies come out to tear you down, especially during an election.

Folks often do not like to stick their neck out to help other people, but when someone does, it makes our community a better place. Even during an election, it is better to walk away and not engage in the lowering of the standards of decency often practiced by other candidates and their backers.

We are truly blessed with people who work every day to help those who face many kinds of battles.

His steel could really sing

Barney Miller on the set of Lawless in 2011. (Randall Franks Media)

Barney Miller performs on the stage of the Ringgold Depot in Georgia in 2007.

From my earliest memory of country music, the sound and mix of fiddle
and steel working together to augment the vocalist has electrified my
interest in what some call classic country.
From the 1940s until Nov. 2, a talented Alabama steel and resonator
guitar man named Barney Miller has shared his talents alongside some
of the greats in Country and Western music, TV and film. He
eventually became a Georgian, where many of his musical recognitions
were achieved.
It was the early cowboy sidekicks Dub Taylor and Al “Fuzzy” St. John that took him from walking rows of crops on the farm to standing in
the footlights of stages across America. They put him in the ornate western costumes and helped him learn the inner workings of Hollywood stardom and Country & Western music touring.
Though his life and career carried him to be field engineer, construction company operator, deep-sea fishing charter boat captain, music teacher, and heating and air technician, just to name a few, his music carried him to contribute to the legacies of Grand Ole Opry stars such as Billy Walker and Ramblin’ Tommy Scott, TV personalities such as Claude Casey, and to appear in numerous films and TV shows himself. A major auto accident sidelined his musical efforts for a
time in the height of his demand as a musician, but he overcame the injuries to regain his ability to play the instrument he loved.
I was honored to be one of those artists who benefitted from his experience, his talents and his amazing storytelling. I knew him since my youth when he supported my young Peachtree Pickers. He loved to share a story about my mom and dad and one of our early performances for Buckner’s Restaurant where we both performed.
Later as my career moved to TV and country music notoriety, he became part of my musical legacy. I can’t put a finger on when it happened exactly, but one day, there was Barney and after that, he was always there, ready to go perform – county fairs, music festivals, and concerts, or a film or TV appearance whatever the opportunity. You can catch him performing from the set of Lawless with my Cornhuskers String Band on Randall Franks TV on YouTube. When I started our Share
America Foundation (www.shareamericafoundation.org) encouraging youth in Appalachian music, he became one of our
strongest musical contributors, helping us send numerous youth to college.
Barney left his slide and steel behind Nov. 2 for a brighter stage alongside many of the artists he knew in life, he was 87, though to me, I never thought of him as anything but eternally young, because of his uplifting spirit and amazing outlook on life. I can still hear his voice, see his smile and feel his steel meshing with my fiddle as we gave what is now considered a classic country feel to one of my songs – I’d just look over from center stage and say “Here’s Barney
Miller on the steel guitar” and the audience would come alive as he wowed them and me.

Two farewells that will keep music coming

Country music experienced two farewells recently, one from Kenny Rogers and another from John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

Rogers completed his farewell performance to Nashville Oct. 25, All In For The Gambler, which reflected the amazing impact his musical career has had upon many genres and several generations.

An all-star cast of Rogers’ contemporaries – and many of today’s hottest musical artists – turned up Oct. 25 at the Bridgestone Arena in Music City to pay tribute to the Country Music Hall of Fame member, who is in the midst of his farewell tour, “The Gambler’s Last Deal.”

Perhaps the most emotional moment of the night belonged to Dolly Parton, who teamed with Rogers one last time on their 1983 hit “Islands In The Stream” after surprising both Rogers – and the audience – with a heartfelt performance of “I Will Always Love You” to her friend and collaborator. The two also reminisced about their lengthy friendship – which dates back to a Rogers appearance on her syndicated TV show from the mid 1970’s – almost a decade before they first teamed up. The two also closed out their performing career together with the Grammy-nominated “You Can’t Make Old Friends,” a single from 2013.

Star after star performed Rogers hits as the evening progressed beginning with earliest songs from the First Edition throughout his solo career. There were spellbinding performances taking place from The Oak Ridge Boys (“Love Or Something Like It”), Chris Stapleton (“The Gambler”), and Lady Antebellum (“She Believes In Me”). Many of the 80’s and 90’s hits of the singer were featured during The Gambler’s Last Deal as well. Billy Currington delivered a sensual take on “Morning Desire,” with Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley and Idina Menzel teaming up for “We’ve Got Tonight,” a 1983 Rogers hit with Sheena Easton. Two of the singers’ most frequent collaborators figured prominently in this era with appearances with Lionel Richie giving a beautiful take on “’Lady,” a number one Pop and Country hit that he wrote for Kenny’s Greatest Hits album in 1980, and Alison Krauss saluted the singer with a pristine version of his romantic ballad “Love The World Away.” Another incredible performance came from Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott and mother Linda Davis – who has toured extensively with Rogers over the years – uniting on stage for the singer’s 1987 chart-topper “Twenty Years Ago.”

There were several other great musical moments during All In For The Gambler, with Naomi and Wynonna Judd reuniting for “Back To The Well,” and an all-star group of Rogers’ former opening acts paying tribute to the icon with a sing-along performance of his 1982 hit “Blaze Of Glory,” including Travis Tritt, The Gatlin Brothers, Kim Forester, T.G. Sheppard, Crystal Gayle, Lee Greenwood, T. Graham Brown, and Billy Dean.
John McEuen, one of the founding members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (NGDB), has announced his immediate departure from the iconic group stating “enough is enough,” McEuen exited upon the conclusion of the NGDB 2017 tour in October.

“In assessing the situation surrounding our performances, business disagreements and ongoing difference of opinions, the timing is appropriate for my departure. As a catalyst to my decision, in December 2015, I received confirmation from Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Inc. that I was an ‘employee’– no longer a member of the corporation that I helped to build,” McEuen said.

He however is not ending his career but expanding his own solo career.

McEuen was instrumental in the NGDB band formation in 1966 and has celebrated groundbreaking and historical success alongside his counterparts over the past 50 years for the group’s significant contributions to the expression and expansion of American music worldwide. McEuen is most-widely recognized for his signature talents as “an extraordinary, multi-instrumentalist;” he has recorded more than 30 NGDB albums and created a lasting legacy for his seminal work on the Will the Circle Be Unbroken album, which McEuen initiated in 1971. Circle has been noted as “the most important record to come out of Nashville” by Rolling Stone and “the most important record in country music” (ZAGAT Survey/2004).

“It has been a great privilege to work alongside the others; together, we made history. After 50 years, the time has come for me to bid adieu to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band stage,” said John McEuen. “I will move forward with great pride in my personal and musical contributions to NGDB and now can fully concentrate on my independent endeavors. I have much to do and many more creative ideas to pursue. Because of this relationship, I have more stories than you can shake a pick at. (…That will come later!)”

McEuen has enjoyed a successful solo career with six albums to his credit; his most recent MADE IN BROOKLYN. McEuen has assembled an exquisite band of talented musicians to join him: Les Thompson (original founding NGDB member), John Cable (NGDB alumnus) and Matt Cartsonis. The foursome has created a multi-media show catering to some of the country’s most breath-taking opera houses and performing arts centers. He was recently inducted in the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame. Visit johnmceuen.com for more information.

Halloween is better the second time around

I could not have been more than four or five when I decided that Halloween can only be better the second time around. It was the day after Halloween. I was playing in the den in my spider man costume that I had worn so proudly the night before as my mother took me from house to house to gather an abundance of candy.

My mother was busy ironing in the doorway of the den. She of course had the ironing board strategically placed blocking my exit from the room. But like any four year old super hero, I anxiously watched for my opportunity to escape from my captivity and when it came I was out of there like 40 pound cannonball and headed for the door.

Of course at the time I’m sure I gave no thought to doing anything wrong. In my four year old mind, I decided I wanted to have as much fun as I did the night before. So with my costume on and my bag emptied out, down the road I went.

I rang door bells, and knocked on doors. Everyone greeted me graciously, as a few pointed out I was a little late, most all managed to come up with something. Several folks even emptied what they had left in my bag. As I worked my way down the street, my mother realized that I was no where to be found and began a frantic search of the house and yard. She called the neighbors immediately around us but most of them were at work so they had not come to the door when I rang.

Of course, I was oblivious to all this in my quest for a full bag, so I kept going. Our neighborhood was a semi-circle with around 50 homes on one half with an intersecting street. With my little two legs, I had managed to work my way all the way down the street and had started around the other. My mother had already called my father at work and I believe she may have called the police. About that time, our next door neighbor arrived home for lunch and he had seen me rounding the corner. Immediately, mother jumped in the car coming after me. It was not long before I was seated beside her in our 1964 Chevy Malibu knowing that I had done something that I should not have done.

By the time I arrived home, I think my Dad may have arrived home from work. While much of what happened after is a blur in my childhood memory, I know that I did not enjoy that extra bag of candy as much as I thought I was going too at least initially.

In the excitement of the costumes, the candy, children often forget little things like the rules they need to remember like looking both ways before crossing the street, to trick or treat with an adult or responsible older child, not to eat your candy until your parents or guardians have checked it out.

I am thankful that my parents cared enough about me to almost call out the national guard when I disappeared on my little Halloween excursion. I was blessed to live in a community of caring people that looked after me as I wondered along. If I could go back and not put my mother and father through that I would.

But you know, that was an awfully big bag of candy and you should have seen those jawbreakers. Well, it is needless to say, I never did anything like that again.

Gene Watson find his gospel roots

One of my favorite country entertainers is Gene Watson. He recently took home the R.O.P.E. Awards, 2017 Entertainer of the Year, an honor he shared with one of his best friends in the music business – Jeannie Seely.

Gene Watson continues to stay true to his traditional country style with the release of his new record with New Day Christian Distribution, My Gospel Roots, available December 8.
“New Day Christian has a storied legacy of distributing quality Christian products,” said Dottie Leonard Miller, President New Day Christian. “We’re excited to add Gene Watson to that list. Gene’s voice is synonymous with Country music, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to partner with him as he returns to his ‘roots.’”
Over the years, Watson has proved that he is one of the great traditional country artists of his generation, and is defiantly proud to release a Gospel album that stands out in the wave of today’s popular music. He is even prouder to dedicate his new album to his parents, Ted and Thelma Watson, who he credits for raising him in the church and sharing their love for Gospel music. The 13-track record brings the pure, organic country sound that Watson is famous for to gospel songs that he grew up with.
“This record really goes back to my roots of being in that little church and singin’ hymns. We had nothing but love, family and prayer back then, so I wanted to honor those traditions with this album,” Watson said.

Fans got a taste of what to expect from Watson’s new record with the release of his “Help Me” rendition on his 2016 album, Real.Country.Music. Originally penned by Larry Gatlin and recorded by Elvis Presley, “Help Me,” captivated audiences and rose to No. 1 in Christian Servant Magazine, Christian Voice Magazine and on Cashbox. My Gospel Roots includes “Help Me,” but also features Watson’s own renditions of many other classic Christian songs.
Watson includes songs from all different generations on his new record, and proves that he hasn’t lost a note in his incredible multi-octave range. One particular stand-out is “Old Roman Soldier, the first single releasing to Christian radio stations.
“I’d never heard a Gospel song written from the point of view of the Roman soldier who placed Jesus on the cross,” Watson said. “This song is true Country Gospel in the way it delivers a strong Christian message with such a visual story type setting.”
Despite a busy few months in the studio, Watson, who is often known as “The Singer’s Singer,” shows no sign of slowing down his touring schedule. Fans can expect to hear his powerhouse vocals on classics like “Farewell Party” and “Fourteen Carat Mind,” alongside Watson’s gospel renditions.
Be sure to follow Gene Watson on Facebook or visit GeneWatsonMusic.com to order My Gospel Roots and purchase tickets to upcoming shows.