|She's got her father's eyes!|
I got to see The Nelons back in November but never got around to posting a blog so this time I'm going to be more diligent. Forgive me in advance if I talk more about Kelly but she's the one I feel I really connect with because I've "known" her for so long.
I first met Kelly when she was singing with The Rex Nelon Singers in the '90s. The group came to my church in Tennessee and I will never forget the evening I met her and her dad, Rex Nelon. My preacher's daughters and I were practicing special music for a revival and in walks a group of people to set up for a show. I was new to Southern Gospel music so I didn't recognize anyone until I saw the white-haired man and said, "Oh my goodness...that's Rex Nelon!" I knew who The Rex Nelon Singers and Gold City were and I was face to face with the Nelons. I continued to follow The Rex Nelon Singers...I cried when I heard Rex had passed away. He passed away on the 11th anniversary of the death of my boyfriend (1-24-00) so the date would always be embedded in my head. I told Kelly I always admired the father/daughter relationship they had and when I looked at him it was like looking into the kind and loving eyes of a grandfather I never knew. Click here to read a wonderful tribute to a wonderful legend in the southern gospel industry. After his passing I continued to follow the ministry of The Nelons, they changed the name after he died. Honestly, I didn't think they would be as good because I missed Rex so much but they have done exceedingly well. They're still about the father's business...both Kelly's earthly father and her Heavenly father.
Kelly is the alto of the group. I'm a mezzo-soprano who is more comfortable singing soprano and when I hear Kelly sing I think she has a range that can pull in some soprano parts. Kelly is a down-to-earth person who can captivate an audience just by speaking to them. I was sitting on the third row, center section, without anyone in front of me so I had a wonderful view of the stage. As Kelly spoke I could look into her eyes and feel the heart of her message...she conveys one of love and compassion...hope to a lost and dying world. When she says she loves doing what she does she means it.
Kelly's oldest daughter Amber is the soprano of the group. Amber is following in her mother and grandfather's footsteps...I believe both of them joined the group around age 13. It's such a wonderful sight to see mother and daughter on stage together and the rapport they have with one another. I have a friend who performed arias in beauty pageants all the way to the Miss America level and when I hear Amber sing I think she can do that. Amber has a beautiful powerful voice. When she hits those high notes it's as if her voice is raising you up toward Heaven. When they performed Amazing Grace a capella I felt as if I was being carried on angels' wings straight to my heavenly father. And who didn't enjoy it when Jason kept speeding up Walk Right Out Of This Valley and Amber kept singing it faster and faster and never stumbled or missed a note.
Speaking of Jason, he's Kelly's husband and he sings bass...Jason also writes and produces a lot of their music. Both times I heard him speak I felt like I was listening to a missionary sound the battle cry. He will tell you how he got into southern gospel music and he presents the gospel in a way that you don't feel as if you are being rebuked. I once heard it said that the Bible is deep enough for the smartest theologian to dive in and never touch bottom yet shallow enough for the newest believer to dive in and never drown. That's how Jason presents the gospel...he puts it on a level that no matter what state you are in in your walk with the Lord that you can understand the need for a Savior.
Last night was an evening to remember. Kelly did a wonderful tribute to her dad and gave some the history of The Nelons. I teared up as she talked because I knew what we were going to be doing after the show. I like that they include old and new music in their lineup. Because I collected the music back when they were The Rex Nelon Singers I really enjoy the older stuff. And they bring down the house when they perform I'm Going Home With Jesus. Amber is usually the one that belts out the high notes but in this song all three hit and hold their notes for what seems like forever. I get out of breath just listening because I'm wondering how much longer they can hold it before they run out of air. I always think this is going to be their encore song but it's not.
Another part of their concert is sharing with you their latest concept video Excuse Me Are You Jesus, which by the way won a Telly Award for best gospel music video on YouTube. When I went to the concert in November my preacher's wife was with me and I kept telling Sandy that I hoped they would sing this song because it has an awesome message about how someone can share the love of God to another individual through a simple act of kindness. The video is available on iTunes and if you would like to see The Nelons perform it you can do so by clicking here. I told Sandy that this video encourages Christians to be the light of the world...to be the word of God some may never read or a Jesus some may never see.
Last night's concert was a little different as they did a Good Friday/Easter show. So we were able to watch videos depicting the death, burial and resurrection of Christ while they performed. Many times I found myself looking past them to the video behind them. They do a 2-hour show and I would be perfectly content if it went on and on...I have learned to enjoy and appreciate the wide range of music they perform. I'll keep watching and waiting for the day they put I'll Talk To The Father and I'll Have Faith in their lineup.
After the concert the evening just continued to get better. I had been working on a cross-stitch project of Kelly's dad. I finished it in December and had to keep it a secret until I could see her. She thought I was cross-stitching her now famous dog Sam thru videos the family posts on Social Cam and YouTube. Kelly has been dubbed the queen of Social Cam! She is holding the picture I did. We met after the concert and I can't fully describe in words what it was like to see the look in her eyes as she came face-to-face with an image of her dad. The moment was priceless and I would do it all over again to see the smile it brought to her face.
Kelly went above and beyond being a performer last night. She could have accepted my gift and went about her merry way but she stayed in the auditorium with me and we talked for about 30 minutes while Jason talked with the preacher and others gathered up everything. Kelly let me pour my heart out to her about a friend that was in a tragic accident. She allowed me to tell her what up to that point I wasn't able to tell anyone...my thoughts and fears about the possibility of God taking another friend from me in a tragic way and she shared with me a little about how she dealt with the loss of her dad to help me see that she understood how I was feeling. She helped me understand that God has a reason for everything and once again she shed some light on a dark subject and gave me hope because she reminded me of all that I am in and through Christ.
I have known Kelly through their ministry for more than two decades but during the past year God has allowed me to get to know her as one would know a friend. If you meet her you won't forget her...she is going to make a lasting impression on your heart. If you have an opportunity to see The Nelons you need to go. You won't have any regrets and when you leave you will be saying, "It was good to be in the house of the Lord." Heaven will come down and glory will fill your soul...no matter what your lot in life is they have something for everyone...they will point you to the cross of Calvary...Jason gives a simple message of salvation and an altar call. If he wasn't singing I think he could be a preacher! This is a very talented group that could probably be a greater success if they were to sing secular music but they have chosen to serve our Lord and Savior and to use their talents for the glory of God.
I set out on my road trip worried about going to a concert by myself and traveling alone at night...in the end it was worth it all and I left saying, "To God be the glory great things He hath done and will continue to do." If I'm on cloud nine right now I probably won't come down for a while. I have been on Twitter talking about it and I spent the day with my sister and told her all about it. She said I have become a Nelons groupie. My preacher's wife wasn't able to attend with me because she got sick unexpectedly...well, I am already planning the next concert and hopefully Sandy will be able to go with me then.
You can see The Nelons tour schedule and check out their line of merchandise by going to their website www.TheNelons.com Kelly also has her own personal blog at WordPress and if you want to read some of her entries or follow her you can do so by clicking here. If you are on Twitter you can follow them:
The Nelons @TheNelons
Kelly is @KellyNelon
Jason is @JasonClarkMusic
Amber is @Ambie328