2018-05-10 / Front Page

Easters’ annual homecoming celebrates great gospel music

The Jeff and Sheri Easter 10th Annual Homecoming festival gets underway today, (Thursday,) May 10, and will continue through Saturday, May 12. The annual gathering will be, as always, at the Lewis Family Homeplace at 1935 Lewis Family Road.

With such a great lineup of perform­ers, visitors will have a wonderful time. Thursday and Friday nights’ entertainment begins at 7 p.m., while Saturday’s fun starts at 6 p.m., adding an extra hour of enjoyment.

Throughout the years, the Easters, two-time Grammy nominees, have been nominated for numerous Dove awards, and have won nine. They’ve also re­ceived multiple Grammy nominations. They are members of acclaimed musi­cal families – Jeff’s father is one of the Easter Brothers and Sheri’s mother is a member of The Lewis Family – and they grew up surrounded by the sound of people praising God through their musical gifts.

The old home place has been con­verted into a museum for The Lewis Family, “America’s First Family of Bluegrass Gospel Music.” The white wooden house was crafted in 1935 by Roy “Pop” Lewis Sr., and was the birthplace of most of Pop and Pauline “Mom” Lewis’ eight children.

During the festivities, guests are in­vited to tour the house, which is filled with period furnishings and Lewis Family memorabilia. Daily love offer­ings will also be taken up to support the restoration.

The Lewis Family retired in 2009 after 58 years on the stage.

The line-up of talent includes Ernie Haase and Signature Sound (Thursday); The Isaacs (Friday); and The Easter Brothers (Saturday). As hosts, Jeff and Sheri will perform all three evenings.

Ernie Haase and Signature Sound (EHSS) is the name put to the hard working group consisting of Ernie Haase, Devin McGlamery, Dustin Doyle, Paul Harkey. According to the group’s website, the creative, hard- working tenor Ernie Haase started with the unforgettable and legendary Southern Gospel quartet, The Cathe­drals. Along with many appearances through the years on the widely re­garded Gaither Homecoming Tour, his dream of forming a powerhouse group of his own was soon accomplished. EHSS is both Grammy-nominated and Gospel Music Association (GMA) Dove award-winning. Their newest CD, “Clear Skies” is available right now. They are also nominated for the 2018 Absolutely Gospel Music Awards as Best Male Group.

There is something captivating about the blending and swelling of sibling harmony. When that is combined with pure talent, you have the incomparable sound of the Erwins. Three of the four siblings, Keith, Kody, and Kris per­formed as a trio until 2013, when the group announced that their little sister, Katie, would be joining the group full- time on stage, officially making them a Southern Gospel Mixed Group.

Finishing the show Thursday will be Little Roy and Lizzy. Everyone enjoys this offshoot from The Lewis Family. The duo was formed in 2009 just after The Lewis Family retired. Lizzy Long is not only a gifted vocalist, she plays a mean fiddle, and banjo, and just about anything else with strings. Little Roy Lewis plays the fool out of a banjo, mul­tiple other instruments, and sometimes he’s just playing the fool.

Likewise, Lewis and Long have won multiple awards. The duo is releasing a brand-new CD, “American Classics” this year as well.

On Friday, the crowd will welcome the Isaacs. The Isaacs have a unique style that blends tight family harmony with contemporary acoustic instru­mentation, which appeals to a variety of audiences. They are currently nomi­nated for the Absolutely Gospel Music Awards’ “Song of the Year” with their popular song “Rocks.” This musical family makes frequent appearances at the Grand Ole Opry and is a regular on the Gaither Homecoming Video and Concert Series.

Members of The Lewis Tradition include Janis Lewis Phillips, youngest daughter of Mom and Pop Lewis. Janis was a Lewis Family member from the group’s earliest days. As members of the former Lewis Family, The Lewis Tradition members have won presti­gious honors. They proudly carry on the tradition of America’s First Family of Bluegrass Gospel Music.

Saturday, the husband and wife singer/songwriter duo, Madison and Shannon Easter, have been making music together since 2012. Both come from families whose backgrounds are filled with music.

For over sixty years the Easter Broth­ers have helped to forge a new frontier in gospel music with their unique style. The group consists of Russell Easter; James Easter, Jeff Easter’s father; and Ed Easter.

Likewise, The Primitive Quartet has been around for over 40 years, ever since some young men went fishing and, sitting around the campfire that evening, discovered they could harmonize. Their music is traditional “mountain shape note-style” singing.

Tickets are $20 each day, however, children under 12 are free. There are group rates for 20 or more.

On Saturday, a ladies’ brunch, featur­ing Sheri Easter as the guest speaker, is slated to take place in the reception hall at First Assembly of God from 10:30- 11:30 a.m. The cost is $35 per person. First Assembly is located at 328 May Avenue.

Along with the festival, James Easter will give a “Farewell Service” Sunday, beginning at 11 a.m., to conclude the homecoming weekend. Admission is free.

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