Joshua 24:15 As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Many of you may not have heard of The Childress Family, but they have been around for quite a while-over forty-five years, as a matter of fact. They started singing in Madisonville, Kentucky when family groups were quite popular around Western Kentucky. The Happy Goodman Family was from our hometown and The Rambos were also originally from this area. Later, The Hinsons joined the family of gospel groups from the area. They were all an inspiration to The Childress Family, and they admired each one of those groups and learned something from each of them.
The Childress Family started out with Mom and Dad, Marlene and Ken, who had sang with various people in the community since before they were married. They have just celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary, so they definitely have seniority in the group. Ken later sang in a male quartet when Teresa and Carla were beginning to develop their talents on their respective instruments, piano and bass guitar, and also were arranging and singing songs with harmony. Shannon was the “baby” of the family and could sing a beautiful tenor harmony part before the age of 5. Mom thought that Dad should form a group with the kids and so it all came about from that point. The kids could sing some beautiful harmony and play skillfully on their instruments at a young age. People would often ask Mom and Dad how the children learned to do that. While the kids took piano lessons, there were never any singing lessons, and they would reply that the Lord just gifted them with that ability.
They continued to develop their talents and began to minister throughout the region and surrounding states. Shannon’s voice changed and he went from one end of the keyboard to the other becoming a bass instead of a tenor. He left to join The Hoppers early in 1986 where he played piano, sang, arranged, wrote songs and helped produce some of their chart-topping songs. He, Marlene and Teresa co-wrote some of them, as well. Shannon was a part of The Hoppers for many years and later left and moved to Nashville to work, but was diagnosed with adrenal cancer in 2009 and passed away in May of 2011. It was heartbreaking and a great loss to the family.
When Shannon left to join The Hoppers in the mid-1980’s, Teresa’s husband Jamey joined the group and fit right in. He wasn’t a bass singer so they changed some of the arrangements and it worked! Jamey was previously a tenor singer in a male quartet and had also sung from time to time at church with Teresa and Carla, so he was no stranger to singing gospel music. Jamey is a great asset to the family group, not only as a singer, but he keeps the sound system in order and the bus running. He is multi-talented, you might say!
In 1990, Jamey and Teresa had a daughter, Courtney, who grew up singing. As soon as she could speak, she was on the stage singing her first song. She later became a full-time singer on stage and is now a very vital part of the group. She is the third generation and can sing a song with passion like nobody else. She also brings a lot of energy to the performance with her strong ability to deliver a song. She is definitely a fan favorite at The Childress Family concerts.
Dad doesn’t really sing with the family any more but travels with them whenever he is able. He sometimes sings his all-time favorite song “How Great Thou Art.” Marlene is still traveling and on stage at every concert. She says she needs to “retire,” but the people who attend a Childress Family concert would not have that. They love to hear her share her stories and offer her words of encouragement and wisdom. She is another favorite with audiences.
The Childress Family has a new project entitled Music For The Soul and their song “What A Meeting” is included on the Singing News Top 80 Chart for January, 2016. They have performed several times on the main stage at the National Quartet Convention, and they host an annual concert in their hometown of Madisonville, Kentucky each September on the Friday and Saturday after Labor Day. The Childress Family has appeared with several artists in the Gospel Music Industry along with having numerous songs recorded and a desire to continue reaching out to people across the country. This alone, adds to their credibility and reputation of long-standing perseverance and commitment to ministry.
The Childress Family does not take their heritage in Gospel music lightly. They understand the great responsibility of being involved in Gospel ministry. It is The Childress Family’s sincere desire that each of their listeners will be moved to a deeper level of spiritual commitment, as they minister through this medium of Christian Music.
If you would like more information about The Childress Family, visit their website at www.childressfamily.com.