Climbing the ladder of success – The Watkins Family

Like the finely cut pattern of a patchwork quilt created with the love passed from generation to generation through the mountains of Northeast Georgia, the music of the Watkins Family is a culmination of many threads sown together note by note, song by song, and scripture by scripture, shared from mother to daughter and father to son.

 That love shines through in the group’s latest CD “Heaven’s Worth Waiting For.” The project was produced by Grammy nominee Karen Peck Gooch, Danny Jones and Grammy winner Mark Fain and features a fine combination of new songs and some standards that any listener of bluegrass gospel will enjoy.

The 2009 Impact Award nominee includes matriarch Judy Watkins and her three adult children Todd, Lorie and Shanon and musician Jonathan Maness.

Through its history, the group has charted several songs in various publications but for Southern gospel artists the true mark of radio recognition is an appearance on the Singing News charts.

The family marks their first appearance in that chart with their single Shes Working on Her Testimony, penned by Greg Day and Sheri LaFontaine, beginning with an entry at 75 followed by a 20-step jump to 55 in just one month.

Shanon is the feature vocalist on their new chart song and she said she is excited that the public and radio is accepting the message of the song with open arms. She performs on the bass and fiddle.

While one might think there is some sibling rivalry over which one in the family is the featured singer currently climbing the charts, they each say there is not.

We are all in this together, musically, vocally and most of all in our dedication to sharing Gods message through the music, Lorie said. This project is one of the most exciting recordings we have ever done. All of the family is featured on the new CD on songs which reflect their vocal character.”

Lorie was nominated twice as Female Vocalist of the Year in the Front Porch Fellowship Bluegrass Gospel Music Awards hosted at the National Quartet Convention. She appeared in the NQC All-Star Band in 2008 and 2009 and plays banjo, mandolin and guitar on stage.

Judy said she feels blessed by the success their group is now seeing.

I know that God is using what we are doing to reach hearts for Him, she said.

She and her late husband Don guided the group from its 1982 inception by sharing generations of music and faith with their children.

“My aunts and uncles played various instruments,” she said. “Uncle Ray Rumsey was an evangelist. Watson Rumsey was a choir director and he played accordion. Grandma played the banjo and guitar and she played the piano at church until she died at 92.”

Their musical spirit filled her soul, she said.

Whether on stage at a small country church or in front of thousands at National Quartet Convention, the harmonies raise spirits and hopes of the life to be lead as servants of Christ.

Both Lori and Shanon hold associates degrees in education. Lorie is also a certified fitness trainer.

Their brother Todd holds two college degrees including bachelor’s degrees in marketing and management.

His forte besides of being proficiency on guitar, resonator guitar, and bass, and singing numerous parts is tooling the sound heard through the group’s equipment to the highest level of perfection.

“It’s been proven audiences will look at ugly people but the won’t listen to bad sound,” Todd said.

Judy shares that Todd’s charisma endears him to the audience.

“Grandma’s just love Todd,” she said.

Last year they added the talents of multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Maness of Knoxville, who previously appeared with Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike, the Dixie-Beeliners and Young Harmony.

“Jonathan has a positive up-beat attitude that adds to his many talents,” Lorie said. “His addition gives us the ability to present to our audiences a fuller, richer, and broader sound in our performances.

Their latest CD also includes songs such as Love that Wouldnt Let Go, She Found Jesus Alive, Sometimes You Gotta Rock the Boat and Peace in the Valley. I encourage you to visit their website and find our more about this CD and when they may be in your area. Also call your local Southern gospel or bluegrass radio station and request Shes Working on Her Testimony.

For more information, visit