“Why?” The Isaacs Are Brave Enough To Ask by Rhonda Frye

“Why?” The Isaacs Are BraveEnough To Ask

by Rhonda Frye

 

 

Born in Germany to holocaust survivors and raised in a Jewish home, Lily Isaacs later encountered Jesus Christ in a small church (actually- a converted garage) in the middle of the country.  Lily Isaacs walked away from that little country church, in 1971, a new creature with a new work budding in her heart.  At the time, little did she know of the enormous calling on her life and the plans God had in store for her and her family.

Becoming a Christian in and of itself presented an obstacle. Lily’s parents and family rejected her and her new-found faith in those early years of following Christ. Nonetheless, she pursued a meaningful relationship with Jesus and became the matriarch of a multi-award winning gospel group known as “The Isaacs” as a result.

The Isaacs are known for their rich family harmony, exceptional song-writing and for their talents using acoustic instrumentation. The art of blending those dynamics along with Holy Spirit anointing has made them tremendously successful throughout their ministry. The Isaacs are regulars at the Grand Ole Opry and Gaither Homecoming Events/Videos/Concerts. They perform in various venues internationally each year and have been recognized by their peers, the industry and fans for their work. They have received numerous nominations and awards including, GMA Dove Awards, The Singing News Fan Awards, ICGMA and Grammy Awards plus many more honors.

The Isaacs consists of Lily and her three children, Ben, Sonya and Rebecca. All of them sing and play a variety of instruments. Ben is known for studio production in addition to his playing upright bass and his vocal talents. Sonya Isaacs Yeary plays mandolin, sings and collaborates with sister and guitarist, Rebecca Isaacs Bowman with song-writing. There are only two words that can describe the combination of their voices, songs and music: “Simply Gorgeous!”

Sonya and Rebecca have written many number one hit songs for their family, but also for other artists such as The Bowlings, Gold City Quartet, Mark Lowry, Jeff and Sheri Easter and more. Their hits have expanded past the gospel community and into the world of country music as well. Country greats such as Vince Gill, Trisha Yearwood and Martina McBride have recorded their songs.

The Isaacs have released many amazing records through the years, but there is something absolutely special about their latest release, WHY CAN’T WE. The message of this album asks questions of God that perhaps most of us think, but don’t have the courage to ask out loud. The Isaacs have written, sung and recorded about some of the toughest questions in life and have given us strength by their message of hope. The reason? Although they are Christians and despite their success, the Isaacs have experienced loss, pain and suffering like everyone else in the world. In a sense, the album contains the Isaacs’ personal emotions and their voices of experience from their personal lives.

During the National Quartet Convention, Lily and son, Ben Isaacs sat down with us at the SGNScoops booth and discussed the thoughts behind WHY CAN’T WE. “Our new album is on the Gaither Music Label,” Ben shares. “My sisters Sonya, Becky and Sonya’s husband Jimmy wrote probably 80% of the album and then we went back and re-visited “I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary” by the Gaither Vocal Band and one written by James McFall called ‘I Still Trust You.’”

“Ben produced this new album for us,” Lily explains just like a proud mom (and rightly so!) “And he has been so busy this year in the studio. He just recently produced the Gaither Vocal Band’s new record and he just finished with the Oak Ridge Boys.”

“And,” Ben continues, “I have Charlotte Ritchey’s new project and Wilburn and Wilburn’s. I’ve been busy!”

Ben laughs and shares:  “We could have easily called this album the WHY album because we have a lot of questions! As you get older you find out the things that were really important to you when you were young don’t really matter as much anymore…You know, It’s {life is} really all about the family, dealing with age, with kids and problems. So I would call this probably the “life” album. It deals with life questions and it’s our interpretation of answers. We tend to shy away from God, but He already knows what we’re thinking.”

Lily adds: “There’s actually a song on there called ‘Why.’  It asks the tough questions. Why do some die before their time?  Why do the old outlive their minds?  Why is there abuse?  The way the song is worded is amazing, but at the very end of the song it says, ‘God I know you have a reason why…One day when we get to heaven and we talk about this life, You will help me understand why, ‘cause I know You have a reason.’”

At times, the subject matter in the album is heavy. The Isaacs explain WHY they recorded an album tackling tough issues: “There are a few people that have lived through a miracle and are on the other side of it,” Ben explains, “but there are a lot of people that are in a situation that still need a touch.”

“This album is just good,” Lily adds.  “I don’t know how the industry is going to receive it because there are so many subjects that are deep, but you know-we just go into the studio and whatever God gives us to do is exactly what we do! With the day and time in which we live with the economy and suffering, I think people need to hear it! We are all human and these are all questions we all have.”

As Lily and Ben discussed their favorite selections on the album, their passion was evident by their tones and expressions- even to the point of Ben singing some of the lyrics right there on the spot in our Scoops Booth. It was nearly overwhelming to experience a mother and son’s passion and mission to touch a hurting world. Their confidence in this album really touching lives was convincing.

One selection in particular that captures raw emotions from personal experience is “I’m Gonna Love You Through It.” Lily’s personal bout with breast cancer 27 years ago prompted her children to write a deeply personal song about this experience. Martina McBride recorded and climbed the country charts with it as well.

Lily shares: “This one is personal and really touching.  I love it because it’s so personal…so VERY personal!  The second verse talks about forced smiles and baggy shirts to hide what the cancer took from her.  Only anybody that has ever been through that type of disfigurement knows what that feels like! So just to address that issue and for people to identify with that (and it doesn’t have to be just about breast cancer because a lot of people suffer from disfigurement from disease or surgery) and the suffering you go through is important.  It takes family, friends, and church family to support you and to just be there to give you strength. I could have never made it without my family. I don’t know how people do it without that and the Lord. My family and the Lord are my two strongholds today.”

“That’s probably my favorite song,” Ben reflects, “but I also love ‘Why Can’t We?” Ben tried to explain what the first verse was about and just broke out singing the lyrics. “He lies awake there all alone most every night lookin’ back on all of his mistakes wishin’ through the tears that he could just go back ‘cause there’s a lot of things he’d like to change. He just can’t forgive himself and forget even though God already did. If he can love someone and find the good within- in spite of what they’ve done no matter where they’ve been. If He can let it go and set the debtor free-If He can keep forgiving you and me, Why Can’t We?”

“That’s a killer,” Ben said with tears in his eyes as if he knew exactly when to stop singing to keep tears from spilling all over the Scoops booth. “It’s a great song; it talks about how people won’t let things go.  I’m telling you- this album to me is the question album.”

Another favorite is “Waiting In The Water.”  Ben explains: “This song talks about when Jesus healed the blind man- the one where He put the mud on his eyes.  Looking at the map from what Bible Scholars say, it was a 2 mile journey for the blind man to make it to the specified pool of water.  Could you imagine how much he stumbled and fell and the faith that it took for him to get there?” Ben asks. “It wasn’t until he did his part before the miracle took place!”

“He just told him to go and wash,” Lily adds.  “Jesus could have healed him like that (snap)!  He didn’t have to put the mud on his eyes.  Jesus wanted him to trust Him and that’s why Becky had the idea of the song.  She received her healing that way and she’s been 7 months off all of her medications that she has been taking for two years.  It’s about that little space of time that she had to walk those dates with God to the water.”

Ben adds: “The hook line of the song is- ‘the miracle that’s promised by our Father is waiting in the water.’ It’s all about the process of getting to the water.”

The Isaacs write songs that grip the heart, for sure! Their inspiration comes in a variety of avenues. “I’m a little bit of a writer,” Ben admits, “nothing compared to my sisters- they are incredible! Inspiration comes from sermons, things people say, and just ideas.  I think they’re God-given.”

“Their dad is an amazing song-writer,” Lily says, “they got their gift inherited from him.”

During our interview, Lily and Ben discussed how they stay spiritually refreshed.  “There are two ways I get fed,” says Ben. “Number one, I love my church!  I’m very faithful to my church. I get to go on Wednesdays and my pastor preaches every Wednesday night.  We have class, so every week I get Sunday school and church.” Ben’s face lit up as he continued: “My kids refresh me.  I feel that my number one calling in life is to show my kids the way. The right way. That’s my obligation.  In the ministry- I just show it {the Christian life} to people, but I live it in front of my kids. My kids refresh me! I love being home. I love my family.”

“I have a different perspective on that,” Lily adds. “My kids are grown, away from home and I live by myself. I enjoy being with my family, I love my children, my grandchildren  but a lot of times my refreshing, other than church, is just self-examination and having quiet time with the Lord in the privacy of my home. Home is where I can reflect. We are around people so much a lot of the time. Those quiet moments alone that you spend with the Lord sitting in your family room with a cup of coffee reading the Bible or just kneeling down by the bed in the evening or even being outside in the sunshine are refreshing times to talk to God one on one. Personal time with the Lord is what I thrive on.”

For more information on the Isaacs and to order their latest project, WHY CAN’T WE, visit: www.theisaacs.com.

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