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     "Setting the Gospel to Music"

 

 

 

 

 

    “When my parents met in 1940, they were both singing with their respective siblings at a community event where they were raised in Alabama, and they fell in love at first sight. My daddy - at age 21 - had just been called to preach, and after dating my mother for about a month said to her, ‘Will you be my little singer?’

    “I was the second of eventually ten children, and the oldest daughter. I remember my parents gathering us around the old couch in the living room, about the time I started to school, to have Family Altar. Daddy would read the Bible and then they’d both teach us all to sing (naturally).

    “When I was seven, I started teaching myself to play with one finger on the old family pump-organ that was handed down to us by my grandmother. By sixth grade I was regular pianist for Sunday night services at our church, and we five older siblings began singing together. Before we knew it, Daddy was having to take us all over the state to sing. It seemed natural that our parents called us The 5-L’s, because all our first names began with an ‘L,’ also our last name was Livingston.

    “After winning a talent show in 1957, we traveled the south singing on the stage with every Gospel group that was in the limelight at that time, mostly the Statesmen, Blackwoods, Oak Ridge Boys, Speers, LeFevres, etc. As we all began to grow up, marriage and military came and things changed. The last thing we did before ‘retiring’ our name was to sing on the renowned NBC Ted Mack Amateur Hour. That was the highlight of our short career.

    “It was during a Wally Fowler All Night Sing at the Coliseum in Birmingham, Alabama when God placed the Calling on my life to sing and write music for Him. It was close to midnight, and we had already finished our time on stage. I had climbed almost to the top of the balcony and sat down to watch the rest of the evening (I was only fourteen). That’s when God spoke to me. I’ll never forget it as long as I live. The Statesmen were onstage and Cat Freeman (high-tenor then) was singing a solo part. Folks were worshipping the Lord and shouting with His joy as the song ended. I barely heard the thunderous applause around the auditorium because of the voice that was speaking to me.

    “So, even when my older brother went into the Army and The 5-L’s were silent, God used me through the years as a soloist, until my own daughters and son were old enough to start singing.

    “Those next several years of traveling with my own family , The Kindler's, were very special. Then one day, tragedy came. My daughter, Chel`e and my almost ten-year-old son Jody and I were in a car accident. Jody went to Heaven that day. Life has thrown many curves my way through the years, and although this has been one of the worst things that can happen to a parent, God has never left my side! Many of the songs that I wrote after that are the result of that tragedy. Had it not been for this happening, songs like ‘Walking Back Down’ heard across the nation by The Chandlers, or ‘I’ll Go On For You’ by The Perrys - would not have been written. I consider all my songs an extension of Jody’s ministry. He was our group’s little drummer, and had begun to sing, too.

    “Eddie Crook signed The Kindlers in 1991 and we enjoyed phenomenal chart success with MorningStar Records which culminated with two nominations for the Singing News Horizon Award. Although more personal tragedy brought our group off the road in early 1995, I continued to write and groups have continued to record my music. ‘I’m A Winner Either Way,’ recorded by Mike Upright & Standing Tall, then currently by The Inspirations, continues to be a blessing to individuals facing life-threatening situations, and recently I was fortunate to co-write a song which calls for prayer for our President (scriptural) called, ‘Dear Captain,’ and it was recorded and sent out to radio/television first by my daughter Chel`e Sterban (By this time she was married to Rich Sterban, son of Oak Ridge Boys bass singer Richard Sterban), and later by Three Bridges.

    “In late 1996 I married the most wonderful man in the world, Ray Lewis! Thus…’Lewis & Lewis.’

    “God has richly blessed my life and not a day goes by that I don’t thank Him for each of those blessings. There are no small or large blessings, only blessings.”

 

©2008 Lewis & Lewis