Kelly and Jason Clark raised their daughters Amber and Autumn with a a love for God, family, and country, Their latest Daywind Records release The Nelons – The Americana Sessions is a musical expression of that simple, bedrock principle of their family – Love for God, family, and country.
Americana Music is birthed by the influence of shared and varied music traditions of the United States of America. It’s music that comes for the heart of the American experience. Sometimes it’s a very explicit expression of pain and suffering as found in spirituals. Other times it’s found in the pride of our nation in our patriotic anthems and tunes we hear while watching fireworks on the Fourth of July. Often times it’s found in our hearts, in love songs that couples have shared for generations. It can be found in our family traditions, such as gathering around the piano or guitar singing folk songs handed down from generation to generation. It can be experienced in the simple joy of turning up the car radio and singing along “at the top of our lungs” with our favorite song. And it can be felt in the tear that streams our face as a song reminds of someone remembered or a moment in time long past.
Regardless of your favorite song or style of Americana music, most music historians will tell you the unquestioned root of all genres of “American” music is gospel music. So, it just makes sense that the most qualified of all music artists to sing America’s music would be a family whose roots in gospel music are firmly planted – Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame members, The Nelons. And the songs that weave throughout the fabric of our great nation – songs of faith, family, and country are what you will find on this latest recording and are the basis of a new tour.
“Faith informs and is the foundation of everything we do,” states Kelly Nelon Clark. “It’s just not about the music, but in all facets of our lives. We do the best we can humanly do to conduct our lives and make decisions based upon our relationship with God and His Word. So, stepping out to record and perform songs that aren’t necessarily blatantly Gospel songs was not something we did lightly. A lot of prayer, thought, and counsel went into this. But we felt this was a door that God was opening for us. And this is not solely for our benefit, but an opportunity for us to take His message of hope and love to new venues and audiences that we have never sung to in our forty year history.”
Jason Clark says that when a promoter pitched the idea to The Nelons about performing their signature gospel music along with family friendly American standards in civic centers and fine art centers across the country with a live band, it inspired him to “flip an old model on its head.”
“When I was a kid, on our way to church on Sundays,” Jason shares, we listened to the local radio station play gospel songs by the top gospel groups and also country artists like George Jones, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, the Statler Brothers and others. It was standard practice back then that country music artists would make gospel records and would sing a gospel song or two on their TV shows or at fairs and concerts. So, I thought it would be great to record some of our favorite folk, country, and family friendly songs and sing them at these concerts to draw in the audience. Maybe connect with them in a different way. We’ll still be The Nelons and will still sing our signature Gospel songs. But this gives us a chance to try something new.”
“Our connections to country music are stronger than most people realize,” Kelly interjects. “While with The LeFevres, my father was on the Porter Wagoner Show, had a small role in a movie with Jerry Reed and Burt Reynolds, and was on the Grand Ole Opry several times. And we recorded songs written by country stars like George Jones. Harold Reid of The Statler Brothers even wrote the backliner notes on one of our albums. And one of Daddy’s closest friends was Duane Allen of the Oak Ridge Boys. We recorded our first album at his studio in 1977 when the group changed names from The LeFevres to The Rex Nelon Singers. This group is my father’s legacy and I truly believe he would be proud of this album and would enjoy this tour as much – and probably more – as we are enjoying it.”
The songs that Kelly, Amber, Autumn, and Jason present all reflect life in America from varying perspectives with common themes. There are songs of faith, home, family, and America. There are songs about love and relationships; mistakes and disappointments; joy and redemption; memories and longing. There are songs you know and love and will sing along with over and over.
The concerts take you back in time to a place where life was simple. You’ll laugh, cry, reminisce, and rejoice. You’ll thank God for His blessings. And just maybe when you leave, you’ll have just a little more love for the things that last forever and are the most important in your life – God, family, and country.