Still Water: Singing for God's glory

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Christian County Southern Gospel group Still Water is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a new album and upcoming homecoming celebration. Current group members are (from left), Anthony Hightower, Tommy Bruce, Ken Johnson, Dale Charles and Dale Taylor.

In 1994, three Hopkinsville singers combined their talents and love for God to form the Southern Gospel group Still Water.

The trio of men -- baritone Dale Taylor, tenor Tommy Bruce and lead singer Kendal Clark -- started performing locally for fun -- and as a ministry. This year marks the group's silver anniversary.

"It's something that God has called us to do," Taylor said. "We didn't have a clue it would last this long. It was for fun. We enjoyed singing. Through the years it just progressed. Now, we sing all over -- farther than we ever dreamed."

Taylor said Clark named the group after reading the first two verses of Psalm 23:

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters …"

To begin their ministry, the group practiced acapella at Bruce's house but then moved to Second Baptist Church, where Taylor was a member at the time.

"We practiced in the education building," Taylor said. "They had a piano downstairs so that's where we started. We didn't have a piano player at the time, so we had tapes."

Eventually, the group added another singer, Steve Holland, to form a quartet.

"For many years we had four people," Bruce said. "Through time, we've had different members leave and come back."

Today, Taylor and Bruce are the only original members that remain in Still Water. The group now also includes pianist Ken Johnson, lead singer Dale Charles and bass singer Anthony Hightower.

Still Water members said one of the highlights of the group's tenure was being a statewide, award-winning gospel group in 1998.

"Farm Bureau they invited us every year to represent Christian County in the State Singing Convention and we went up there and won the thing," Taylor said.

Both Taylor and Bruce agree the group's ministry has one primary mission.

"Anyone that accepts the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior, that's a highlight," Taylor said.

"That's the most important highlight," Bruce added.

Through the years, Still Water sang benefit concerts and other charitable events and performed at churches from North Dakota to Florida and from Rhode Island to Oklahoma. A nondenominational group, Still Water members said they always try to put God's mission above any differences they may have in their personal beliefs.

"We love God," Taylor said. "We know where all our strength comes from. He deserves all the glory and praise. It's not something that we do, it's just something that He's given us to do. We grabbed that opportunity and we ran with it."

"Despite Dale (Taylor) going to a Baptist church, I go to a Methodist church, Ken used to go to a Fellowship church, we've got our differences, but we're still able to work together," Bruce said. "It's about the one, true God. We can put aside our differences and do what we're called to do."

"The gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ," Johnson said. "When you get all of that right and agree on that, the other minor differences are just that -- minor."

In celebration of their 25th anniversary, Still Water released a new album with 10 songs this spring. Called "Choose the Promise," its title track was written years ago by former member Clark.

"Five songs the guys had recorded before, four of which were written by group members," Johnson said. "Then, we did one old quartet standard recorded years ago. Then, there are new songs that we have never done. We tried to incorporate a little bit of everything -- some of the old; some of the new. We redid all the vocals. It turned out very well."

One of the album's new original songs -- "I've Been Born Again" -- was written by Taylor and his wife Beverly.

"There's a reason for every song that was ever written. There's a reason behind it," he said. "My favorite piece of scripture that just fascinated me is (about) Nicodemus. He was smart -- a member of the Sanhedrin; one of those intelligent, religious guys who came to Jesus because there was something about Him."

Taylor said the song is based on the gospel of John, chapter 3, where Nicodemus learns from Jesus how to be born again through faith.

Still Water's latest album was co-produced by Hopkinsville native Wil Houchens at his studio in Nashville.

"He was just so good to work with," Johnson said. "We are very pleased with it. It represents … a new look at what we used to do and here's who we are now."

"It rocks," Bruce said about the album. "I think we've had some good sounds over the years, but I think Dale and I both agree that this is the best sounding group we've ever had."

The new CDs are available now at Still Water concerts and on their website www.stillwaterinc.org. Johnson noted people can buy the album on digital download via the website, too.

Still Water's next concert is at 7 p.m. Sunday at Christian Heights United Methodist Church, 805 North Drive, Hopkinsville. They have several other performances planned this summer before their 25th-anniversary homecoming celebration Sept. 20 at Hillcrest Baptist Church, Skyline Drive. The concert starts at 7 p.m.

"We're trying to get all the guys who had sung with the group, like a reunion," Johnson said.

In addition to Clark and Holland, former Still Water members include Curtis Morrison, Mitch Moore, drummer Quinton Brooks and bass player Keith Woods. They also are expecting guests from across the country with whom they have become friends with over the years.

"It's going to be fun," Taylor said.

The Still Water website lists scheduled performances through 2021. To book a concert, call Taylor at 270-305-1448. Group members said they rely on the support from local people to continue their ministry.

"The people of Christian County have supported us throughout the years. That's where it all began," Taylor said. "When we go out, Christian County goes with us."

"All we really want is for people to pray for us," Bruce said. "That's the reason we made it 25 years."

Reach Michele Vowell at 270-887-3242 or mvowell@kentuckynewera.com.

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