A few years ago, my wife and I were invited by a couple of dear friends to attend the National Quartet Convention with them. It was the first time I heard a young group from Texas, the Erwins. During their session, my friend leaned over to me and said that he had just found his new favorite family group. Since that night, the Erwins have also become a favorite of mine. So, it was an absolute pleasure when I was asked to reach out to them for a short interview.
I contacted Keith Erwin with some questions for he and siblings. He was gracious enough to respond back. So, here is The Erwins, 2021.
Dave Angle: For those of our readers who may not have heard of The Erwins, could you tell a little about yourselves?
Keith: Well, we are a family ministry… Comprised of four siblings I (Keith) am 28 and sing the lead vocal, Kody is 26 and sings Bass, Kris is 24 and sings Tenor, and Katie is 20 and sings the Soprano part.
DA: How long have the four of you sang together? How did it start?
Keith: Our father started our family ministry 47 years ago, he actually travelled by himself for 17 years as a single evangelist, he met our mother in a tent revival at age 38, and they got married soon after that, and we came along. I (Keith) was in the recording studio for the first time when I was 16 months old, and every other sibling started at similar ages. As we grew, we began singing every night in Dad’s weekly revival services that he was serving in, that shaped our love for the local church. Now God has moved our ministry into various concert halls, and high school auditoriums, all the while still, periodically, serving in revival services with our father.
DA: Congratulations on your Dove award and your Grammy nomination. Those are quite a couple of honors. How does it feel to be recognized for your songs and what would be the greatest honor that you could receive?
Keith: We are honestly still completely shocked! When we first found out that we were nominated for the Dove Award, we were in Nashville in the studio actually, StowTown (our record label) bought us a cake and we had a little party there. We thought that would be the pinnacle. We had NO CLUE that a few months later we’d actually win that Dove Award for Southern Gospel Song of the Year! Then a month after we won that award, we found out that we were nominated for a GRAMMY!! We completely freaked out because we are fully aware that it’s one of the highest honors in music today. We give all the glory to God for what is happening in our lives recently because there’s no way we could do any of this ourselves.
DA: Where would you love to perform at that you haven’t yet?
Keith: It is a dream of ours to sing at The Brooklyn Tabernacle in Brooklyn, New York!! We have all grown up listening to and admiring Pastor Jim & Carol Cymbala, and of course, their incredible choir at the church!! If we ever had the opportunity to sing there, I think I’d just wanna sit on the front row and listen. Hopefully one day it’ll happen!
DA: What have the Erwins been doing during this COVID year?
Keith: Singing as much as we possibly can! We had over 80 cancellations in 2020, so anytime we get to serve in any capacity, anywhere at all, it’s a huge blessing. We’ve also been able to be in the studio quite a bit, working on new material. This Is Love released on Friday, April 9! Our first single is also out at radio now – “The God I Know.”
DA: I am always asking this question in all my interviews. In my background in education, we always had a mission statement which gave us the guidance in what we were doing, what scripture verse would be your mission statement?
Keith: It has always been Proverbs 71:23, “My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed.”
DA: You have a new project that just came out. Can you tell us about it?
Keith: YES! We actually just released last week. It’s called THIS IS LOVE and released April 9th 2021!! Since we couldn’t travel much in 2020, we had plenty of time to get into the studio! We have worked so hard (along with our amazing producer, Wayne Haun) on this new album. We specifically tried to make sure that there’s a song for EVERYONE! No matter what kind of Gospel music you like or what you’re facing in your life, we can promise you that there will be a song for YOU! We can’t wait for everyone to hear it.
DA: Kris, I loved listening to “Watch and See” which you co-wrote. Are there any songs on this project that you had a part in writing. How hard is it to co-write a song.
Kris: Yes! I actually was able to co-write the title song (“This Is Love”) with Kenna West, Sue Smith, & my three siblings. It was our first attempt at writing a song together as siblings, so it is a memory that is quite special to us. I honestly never attempted at co-writing prior to “Watch and See,” so I was a bit nervous at first. But after a few days of brainstorming with Kenna West in a Nashville writers’ room, we ended up writing about 5 or 6 songs together. As soon as I got home from that trip, I knew that it would be a matter of time before I would sit down in a writers’ room environment with my siblings. But instead of us flying to Nashville to meet Kenna and Sue in a typical designated Nashville writers’ room, we all wrote our first song together on a cruise ship somewhere in the middle of the Caribbean. Such an incredible experience that I’ll think about every time we sing the song. I cannot wait for everyone to hear it.
DA: To Keith, Katie and Kody: Have any of you written songs yet for your projects or for others?
Keith, Katie and Kody: All four of the siblings actually just wrote our first song TOGETHER! It’s called “This Is Love” and will be the title of our new album ! It was the first song for Keith, Kody & Katie to ever write! Other than that, we’ve just kept some ideas and hooks in our phones but have never properly written a song!
DA: Katie: I heard you say at the National Quartet Convention a few years ago about the future of Southern Gospel music with young listeners. After being out on the road for a few years, do you still think that the future is bright for the genre?
Katie: I fully do believe that the future is very bright for Southern Gospel Music! I personally have so many friends that travel and sing just like I do that are so passionate, so talented, they LOVE this music and LOVE Jesus! I can’t wait to see my generation come in and try to fill the shoes of so many of our heroes one day! We’ve only just begun!
DA: What is the most memorable thing that has happened at your concerts?
Keith: Well, here’s more of a lighthearted answer. Several years ago we were singing in Cash, TX to a packed church (it was a Sunday Morning). While we were on stage, a huge snake started slithering between the stage and the audience. Thankfully nobody was harmed but I don’t think we’ve been back to the church since. Haha!!
DA: As we are finally turning the page on COVID, what does the future hold for the Erwins?
Keith: Of course we realize how serious COVID, is and we’ve been trying to follow every safety advisory, COVID has not discouraged us one bit. Our time at home has made us realize how much we love what we do! We are more excited than ever to get back on the road full force! We have so much new music that we are so passionate about to sing for everyone, and thankfully our dates are starting to pick back up for the later part of 2021.
DA: Finally a fun question, Katie, how difficult was it to grow up with three older brothers. Any interesting stories involving the four of you growing up.
Katie: Well I’m gonna start off and say that we are normal siblings, and we all have our moments. LOL!! People ask us all the time: “Who is the prankster?” It’s definitely Kody. He might seem quiet to some people that meet him, but he’s actually just plotting his next prank or joke!! Haha!! in all seriousness, being on a bus with my three brothers my entire life has been so much fun! We have a closeness that I know is very rare to find. I can’t imagine doing anything else!
DA: I thank Keith, Kody, Kris and Katie, for taking the time to do this interview.