The Lewis Family- Gospel & Bluegrass Music

The Lewis Family is 3 generations of a musical family from Georgia. The Lewis Family is recognized as one of the most reputable music group and has its place in Georgia’s Music Hall of Fame. This website is dedicated to the history of 3 generations of this remarkable family.

How it started

Pop (Roy) and Mom (Pauline) Lewis formed The Lewis Family and was joined by many of their children. They had eight children: Miggie, Wallace, Esley, Mosley, Talmadge, Polly, Janis and Roy (Little Roy) Lewis.

The family always enjoyed playing music together and continued to do so from the moment their kids were at a very young age. When son Wallace was 12, Mom Lewis taught him some guitar chords, and Little Roy started playing the banjo already when he was only 6 years old.

The musical group started out with the four brothers making music together under the name “the Lewis Brothers” until the year 1951 when father Roy and the daughters joined the group and they changed the group’s name to “The Lewis Family.” That name later became one of the most famous names in the world of gospel music.



What is Bluegrass Music?

If you ask a hundred different people what Bluegrass Music is, you will get one hundred different answers. To understand bluegrass music is to realize and appreciate its musical roots. Bluegrass music’s origins come from Scottish and Irish immigrants who settled in the Appalachian Mountain region making their own “mountain and hillbilly” music.

This music was passed down through the generations and took on new ideas, instrumentation, and direction. Just listen to The Lewis Family performing “I Plan to Meet You There” live and You’ll get a good idea!

On October 28, 1939, Bill Monroe introduced the world to his style of music by playing “Muleskinner Blues” during the Grand Old Opry’s Saturday night show. Intent only on making his mark in the country music world, “Big Mon” became the “Father of Bluegrass Music.” This music is now being performed by professional and amateur musicians around the world.


The Origins of Gospel and Bluegrass Music

Black slaves and plantation owners also gave the South what became Gospel with its ring shouts, congregational songs, quartets, sanctified groups, sacred harp choirs, and even work songs.

White Gospel really got its beginning in pre-Civil War camp meetings, revival music, and sacred harp singing. When the Ruebush-Kieffer Publishing Company was established, James Vaughn started the first record company based in the South. Check out this 1970 “Best Of The Lewis Family” album to hear what White Gospel was all about.

After WW II, the Grand ‘Ole Opry started to feature gospel groups such as The Statesman, The Oakridge Quartet, The Jordanaires (who later became Elvis Presley’s background singers), The Blackwood Brothers, and The Happy Goodman Family. Modern White Gospel performers include Amy Grant, the late George Beverley Shea, Dallas Holm, Jars of Clay, the late Anthony Burger, Elvis, Faith Hill, etc.


The Gospel Music Hall Of Fame & Museum

The Gospel Music Association was founded in 1964 and functions as the voice and face for the community of Christian Gospel music.

The association is committed to promoting, highlighting, and celebrating gospel music that has come to us in all sorts of styles such as country, southern gospel, rock, pop, praise & worship, R&B, black gospel, hip hop, and many more.

The Gospel Music Association community includes more than two thousand members, from church leaders recording executives, artists, and promoters, to agents, managers, radio hosts, songwriters, retailers, and many other music industry visionaries.

A top education is of course required, and you can easily apply to the best music schools if you use the “Common App”, an online college application tool that you can use for applying to almost 500 colleges and universities in writing individual applications to these schools.


Lewis Phillips Bluegrass

In early 2010, after the world-famous Lewis Family had disbanded in 2009, Lewis Phillips started out performing in another new band named The Lewis Tradition in Lincolnton, Georgia. The band’s line-up included his beloved mother Janis Lewis Phillips, his highly-talented cousin Travis Lewis (the son of Wallace Lewis who had already passed away), and the oldest son of Travis, Jameson Lewis. Just listen to how Lewis Phillips sings “Mary Dear”:

Lewis Phillis is the son of Earl and Janis Phillips. Janis was one of the members of the bluegrass gospel group The Lewis Family, also known as Georgia’s First Family of Bluegrass Gospel.

In 1972, at the age of just two, Lewis began to tour together with the Lewis Family band and at just age six, he was already played banjo on a CBS-TV special with Carol Burnett. In 2001, Lewis released his first a solo album titled Empty Fields.


The Lewis Family Members

The Lewis Family is known all across the globe as Georgia’s “First Family of Bluegrass Gospel Music.” The Lewis Family (based in Lincolnton, Georgia) has always blended old-time string-band music traditions with vocal harmony singing we all know as Blue Grass Gospel Music or Southern Gospel.

The Lewis Family has performed at numerous festivals and bluegrass and gospel music venues from the moment they started out in 1951. The band’s gospel harmony singing was accompanied by guitar, autoharp, banjo, and upright bass.

The Lewis Family had a weekly show for more than 38 years on WJBF television station in Augusta, Georgia. One of the most prominent fans of the group in the Memphis area was Elvis Presley. On November 7, 2009, the Lewis Family held its farewell concert at the Lewis Family Pavilion in Lincolnton.


What are the three main traditions of gospel music?

Many people think that Gospel Music is a typical southern phenomenon. The fact of the matter is, though, that the roots of Gospel Music actually date back to the 1730s in New England. It began when Rev. Jonathan Edwards (a New England preacher) started a religiously orientated revival labeled “The Great Awakening”.

The traditional, slow hymns did not work at all for Edwards’ passionate religious services and he wanted more upbeat, fast-paced hymns to better fit his messages. His fervent style of preaching and the passionate music of the “Great Awakening” movement started to sweep all the way down the eastern U.S. seaboard right into America’s southern states. Here, African American slaves who were attending services together with their owners were surprised by the similarities between their fate and that of Moses’ people.

The African American slaves were also linking the earthly freedom with the promise of a fine afterlife, but they could only sing about Christian ideals and ethics so eventually, they turned these hymns into their own religious songs that later became known as their “Negro Spirituals”.


Joann Rosario Finds A New Reason To Worship – Gospel, Now….More Than Ever

One of gospel’s finest new singers, Joann Rosario, knows what it’s like to go through trying times. A former singer with Fred Hammond’s Radical For Christ and known for her breakout hit More, More, More, Rosario noticed trouble with her vocal chords in late 2002. By January 2003, she was diagnosed with nodules on her vocal chords and lost both her singing and speaking voice. Also the National Music Director of Maranatha World Revival Ministries as well as her church’s worship leader, the loss was especially difficult for Rosario.

“Even though the doctors were telling me what I should do to make my voice better, I just kept getting worse,” she explains. “I just had to press through that time and believe God for things to change, and little by little, He did it,” she testifies.

Now completely healed, Rosario has recently released her sophomore project entitled Now More Than Ever…Worship. The CD boasts a strong collection of great worship songs including a live rendition of Welcome Into This Place, the gratitude-laden Life So Wonderful, the horn-tinged, funky Psalm 27 (He Reigns) and the powerful track God.


Time Out With Gospel Artist Mark St. John Carson


Mark St. John Carson is one of the area’s most gifted worship leaders. Going Around The World, one of his CDs of the past decade continues to showcase what those in the D.C. area already know – Carson is on his way to becoming one of the genre’s finest music ministers. Nationally, the gospel community is obviously starting to notice of this artist as his project just shot to the #19 spot from #35 on the Billboard Top Gospel chart – coming in as the Greatest Gainer For The Week.

When asked about the impetus for the project’s title, Carson says the sole mission of this new musical offering is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. “The goal of this entire project is to take the worship into every nation, to do it internationally. That premise sets the tone for the whole album. Anyone who sees the album cover will be able to pick up that concept”.


An Example of a Great Country Gospel Music Church

Well, here is something that you don’t see or hear about every day, a tourist ministry church.  Nashville, Indiana, in beautiful Brown County, has had just that since 1994.

It all started when Charlie and Roxann Waggoner, of Salem, Indiana, were asked to go to Brown County to play the music for a new mission geared towards the country music fans who come to attend the country music shows in the area.

A pastor and his wife, two single women, and one other couple made up the ministry team.  Praying it would last at least one season, all are thankful it was a success.  Since that first Sunday service in 1994, over 5500 visitors have attended this little country church.

Country style gospel music and a short bible based message seem to be the right combination for folks from out of town who are looking for a place to worship.  Add in “Howdy Hug” time and guest singers and musicians, and you have the makings of a truly unique church.