In late October, I celebrated another birthday. Would you believe that it happened to fall on the exact day that there was a Gospel concert in the area? Yep, it sure did! But it was not just any ole’ concert, it was with the Isaacs at Meramec Music Theater in Steelville, Missouri…the exact same place my sister celebrated her birthday this year at a concert with our friend Rosella! How neat is that?
On the other hand, if you’re familiar with some of the roads one has to travel to get to Steelville from my home, you’ll understand why we walked in a few minutes after the Isaacs took the stage. Rosella assured us that we only missed the first song and had us ushered to our seats quickly.
When we walked in the Isaacs were singing Grandpa Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ole’ Days. (I’ve only heard the Collingsworth Family sing this song so I really enjoyed hearing the Bluegrass version!) Sonya led into The Lord’s Prayer (which the three sang a capella) and then Becky stepped forward and sang If That Isn’t Love while playing her guitar. After the last note was sung, Sonya asked, “Can you sing this little chorus with me?” Then began singing, “Oh, how I love Jesus…” The audience joined in and the sweet melody filled the theater. “If we had nothing but Jesus,” Sonya added, “we’d have everything we need.” She went on to say that the next song was one that she and Becky wrote together – it was the snappy, Get On Board. “Well, let me take just a moment and tell you all who we are!” Sonya interjected after that song. The first to be introduced was her mom, Lily, who came up and told about her Jewish heritage. Lily recently released her first book, You Don’t Cry Out Loud, and mentioned that they met their publisher last year at this concert! Sonya’s siblings were next and she started with her brother Ben, the oldest. Becky, was introduced as the “baby” of the family. Sonya told a funny story on Becky; a lot of folks think Becky looks like Cher and one day they were shopping in Nashville at the mall and the cashier asked, “Do you know who you look like?” Becky replied, “Yeah, Cher.” The lady answered, “No! Becky Isaacs! Ever heard of the Isaacs?” After the crowd laughed Sonya added, “I was hoping we’d get a discount.” LOL Ben introduced Sonya next and gave the crowd a good list of all of her awards and accomplishments. “But her biggest accomplishment,” he announced, “happened three years ago…” then Ayden, (her three year old son) ran out on stage and went right to Uncle Ben. Ben picked him up and had him talk to the audience. Among his routine was, “My name is Ayden,” “I’m three,” and “I love Uncle Ben.” Ayden sang Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and even played the drums for us! “We appreciate Miss Rosella for always being so warm to our family.” Sonya added after Ayden’s demonstration, “She has always been so good to us.”
What Sonya shared next had to have been the most difficult part of the evening. She began by talking about the passing of her 95 year old grandma, (Lily’s mother), and how she passed away during the week of NQC. Then she went on to say that just a few days before she had to bury her little girl, who was stillborn. “We want to be transparent enough with you and let you know that life works the same for all of us, we’re just living normal lives like everybody else.” She shared, “Until we get to heaven, we will go through our share, but God is faithful.” Then Becky sang I Don’t Know Who Holds Tomorrow (but I know Who holds my hand.)
Lily came up and read a few paragraphs from her book. I remembered the segment from reading the volume myself; the portion talked about a summer’s day when she was at the pool with her friends and her father came looking for her. Lily explained that everyone deals with grief differently, and after her father went through the horror of the Holocaust, he became an alcoholic. Sonya, Becky and Ben then sang a song that titles their newest CD, The Living Years. I Will Praise Him, done a cappella, closed out the first set.
After intermission some announcements were made and then the emcee, Wayne, brought the Isaacs back on stage. Four Men kicked off this second set and then the “girls” sang one together. (Lily, Sonya, Becky and Becky’s daughter, Jakobi.) Ben told about the next song, that it was a request and how in 1959 it was #1 for 13 weeks. It was called The Three Bells. Afterwards, Sonya shared, “I’ll never forget the first time we sang that song live, Ben was so nervous because the verses and chorus all have different words – sure enough, we had the verses all mixed up that night and we had poor Jimmy Brown married before he was even born…Jimmy never did pass away that first night.” LOL
They talked about how that coming Tuesday they were going to be at the Grand Ole Opry for the “all pink night” to celebrate breast cancer survivors. That aside, they went into a Bill Gaither song, Walk Together Children. It was mostly a cappella, with the exception that the drummer played, but that was the only instrument. Towards the end Ben announced, “This is Bill’s part…” and sang the “boom, booms.” Sonya talked about all the requests they received that night and how, “We never know when we write a song how God is going to use that to get us through something.” But that was the case with their next tune. Becky talked about the trials that life sends our way and how we can easily walk around defeated with our heads down, but God has made us more than conquerors. Three years ago she was on 20 medications that were in essence, the only thing keeping her alive while battling Crohn’s. The text for this song was taken from John 9 and was written to those who desperately need a miracle. Becky has been a living miracle because the last three years she has been free of Crohn’s! The song with that miracle message she sang was Waiting in the Water. Sweet, Sweet Spirit followed and featured Sonya, with Becky and Lily backing her up.
Sadly, it was getting close to that time to wrap up the night, but they still wanted to sing what the audience wanted to hear. So Sonya said, “On the count of three I want you to shout out the song you want to hear us close with.” A moment later, the crowd answered with the most jumbled response you’ve ever heard! Sonya laughed, “Why can’t the Master awaken the Beulah, that’s a great song!” LOL! When they decided, Becky said, “Y’all, there are three versions of this song – this is terrible!” Sonya interjected, “Whoever requested it, it’s their fault!” LOL The song was sung by Becky and was The Land of Beulah and Sonya sang the second verse. A count off announced the next song, which was Your Cries Have Awoken the Master. “I’m glad He hears us when we cry out,” Sonya softly added. She went on to share how they were privileged to perform that song by the Sea of Galilee this year in June.
When she added that they would love to sing more but they knew we had things to do that weekend, the crowd murmured, “No, no, no!” Nevertheless, Nothin’ But Good was the Isaac’s last song.
Conclusion: This was my first time to see the Isaacs sing by themselves outside of a big event. I enjoyed the experience of what a full concert with them is like and how they arranged their program. For a blogger who is accustomed to seeing many of the same groups over and over, the reality that I didn’t know what song was coming next was a thrill I don’t receive very often! It was all “new” and I loved every minute of it! Yet, being so soon after the passing of Lily’s mom and Sonya’s unborn baby, the evening had its moments when I would choke up in tears. It is a hard thing for anyone to go through, but especially for a family that has already been through so much and continues to faithfully serve the Lord through their music. Even though this is being posted many days after this particular concert, I know this family would still appreciate your prayers. They did well that night and conducted themselves very professionally, yet, were still transparent enough to let us know that their music ministers to their hearts just as much as it does ours. The Isaacs are an amazing family! I can’t wait until I can see them in concert again!