Two Southern Gospel groups — The Martins and The Diplomats — will take the Mill Town Music Hall stage on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Carrollton-based The Diplomats have won numerous awards by Singing News. The Martins have performed in a variety of venues all over the world, produced numerous hits and received many awards including two Grammy nominations.
“We were excited that the Grammy people were considering us at all,” said Joyce Martin Sanders.
Since being spotted by Bill Gaither at the National Quartet Convention in 1987, the Martins, a sibling trio, have received eight Dove Awards from the Gospel Association and the Grammy nominations. Bill Gaither, founder of Gaither Music and a legendary musician and songwriter himself, has continually supported the Martins.
The trio has become one of the best-known gospel groups in the country.
But from 2003-2010, the trio separated to work on their solo careers. Judy and Jonathan would do solo performances; Joyce wasn’t interested in performing at all, though.
“It just wasn’t something I wanted to do. I didn’t want to sing during that time,” she said.
Then Mark Lowry, a long-time member of the Gaither Vocal Band, convinced the trio to sing with him at a concert in Nashville.
“Something transpired when we were on the stage,” Joyce Martin said. “And God started working in our lives.”
The Martins began thinking about going on the road again. “If it wasn’t for Jesus, we would not be alive again,” she said.
In 2013, the group went to the studio with two former Gaither Vocal Band members, David Phelps and Michael English, to record “The Martins A Cappella,” their first a capella recording since 1996. The recording earned the Grammy nomination for Best Roots Gospel Album.
The group has fun on the stage, and they perform a variety of music from their skilled harmonic hymn arrangements to contemporary songs of praise and worship.
In 2018, the Martins went back to the studio. Their latest composition is entitled “Still Standing,” and is distributed by the Gaither Music label. They revamped their classic song, “Wherever You Are,” for the album.
In the First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Georgia, in 1968, vocalist and Carroll County resident Jim Pearson began to put together an all-male quartet in Georgia.
“I was the original lead singer for the group until we decided to go another way,” said Jimmy Pearson. “My wife, Rita was the alto of the group for many years, but her health has kept her home recently.”
When the Diplomats perform in Mill Town, she sometimes sings a song or two.
The Diplomats have traveled around the United States and overseas.
“We typically do around 200 engagements a year, but the last four months have impacted our schedule tremendously,” Pearson said. “We have been to Switzerland and Canada, but we had so many problems with passports and proper documents in some nations that we decided to stay in this country.”
Over the years, Pearson has secured other Southern Gospel groups to come to west Georgia to perform in local churches. Since the beginning of Mill Town Music Hall, Pearson has been helping the venue bring groups like the Isaacs, the Booth Brothers, the Martins, the Collingsworth Family and other well-known Gospel groups to perform in the Bremen theater.
“We decided a long time ago that we would be a different type Southern Gospel group,” he said. “Most Gospel groups use pre-recorded backing tracks.”
This allows them to save money by not traveling with a full band. The Diplomats, though, have a band with keyboard player and singer-Corey Pearson, lead guitarist Jordan Hamby (who also plays the banjo and mandolin), drummer Drew McDowell, and bass player Timmy Stephens. The group also features tenor vocalist Harold Reed and bass singer Brandon Barry.
The Martins and Carrollton’s Diplomats will be at Mill Town Music Hall Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased through the Mill Town Music Hall box office at 770-537-6455 or online at www.milltownmusichall.com.