Jeff and Sheri Easter and Family

Jeff and Sheri Easter: Expecting Good Things

expecting good things Jeff and SheriCoastal Media, parent company of SGNScoops and SGMRadio, is the proud host of the Diamond Awards held at Creekside Gospel Music Convention. In October 2012, Jeff and Sheri Easter were awarded 2012 Song of The Year for ‘Hear My Heart’ at the Diamond Awards. SGMRadio is proud to highlight the ministry of Jeff and Sheri Easter with a republication of this 2012 SGNScoops feature by Jennifer Campbell.2013 diamond awards logo

For 27 years, Jeff and Sheri Easter have been bringing encouragement to the discouraged and hope to the hopeless through their heartfelt lyrics, family harmony, and their distinctly Jeff and Sheri brand of musical styling. As husband and wife, father and mother, and partners on stage, Jeff and Sheri have always kept their focus on what really matters.

JP Miller, Lou Hildreth, Sheri Easter, Jeff Easter at the 2012 Diamond Awards
JP Miller, Lou Hildreth, Sheri Easter, Jeff Easter at the 2012 Diamond Awards

Their success in the gospel music industry is rivalled only by their love for their family, their love for each other, and their love for God, a love that will endure forever. Jeff and Sheri live with eyes wide open as they are expecting good things.

Jeff and Sheri Easter are no strangers to gospel music. All of the members of the group have literally grown up with gospel music as a part of their lives. Jeff said, “My daddy was doing a gospel radio program the day I was born in Danville, Virginia.” He said there never was a time when he did not know gospel music. His dad played guitar and Jeff played piano and bass for The Easter Brothers.

“It was always a joy to do. It never has felt like work, we’ve always enjoyed playing and doing what we do,” Jeff said. “The Easter Brothers were a hoot to travel with. You’ve got guys that were older and wiser, telling funny stories, so as a kid, I was raised on their bus and even up until I was 24 years old, I travelled with them.”

As the daughter of Polly Lewis of The Lewis Family, Sheri was also around gospel music from the day she was born. And of course, Jeff and Sheri’s children, Madison, Morgan, and Maura began at an early age as well, each making their first appearance on stage at 12 days, 9 days, and 11 days old respectively.

Jeff and Sheri Easter and Family
Jeff and Sheri Easter and Band

 

“One of the first things I remember is being a part of the Gaither Kids videos,” Madison said. “We did that when we did ‘I’m Something Special.’ That’s the first time I remember being a part of a big gospel thing. We did that with Mrs. Vestal and Mr. George, so that’s probably the first real memory that I have since I’ve always been around it.”

 

Madison’s wife, Shannon, has also had music in her household her whole life. Her dad played guitar, one of his sisters played piano and the other one sang, and her grandfather even played music occasionally with Little Roy Lewis. She also remembers watching the Gaither Homecoming videos with her dad. “After seeing Anthony Burger play piano, I began asking to take lessons,” Shannon said. “I took them for about 10 years and played a lot locally, then took on the role of church pianist for about six months before I began working and traveling with Jeff and Sheri.”

 

Jeff, Sheri, Madison, Morgan, Maura, Shannon, and Kyle all wear their hearts on their sleeves and keep a smile on their faces. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t seen some challenges along the way.

Jeff and Sheri Easter and Family
Jeff and Sheri Easter and Family

 

Recently, Sheri went through a battle with breast cancer. Even through this trial, they still held on to God’s promise that He would never leave nor forsake them. Still, there were times when Sheri found it hard to find the words to express her thoughts and feelings.

“I can remember being on the bus,” Sheri recounted. “It had been about a year and I could not write. As a writer, you know that’s a very frustrating place to be. I would write a sentence and then I would just block. I couldn’t say anything more. I couldn’t do anything with it. I didn’t know if I’d ever write another song.”

Jeff encouraged her to try to write with someone else, hoping that would provide the inspiration she needed. So one day, she met with Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey.

“I was in the middle of chemo, my hair was thinned, I did not have my wig on, I had pajamas on, my face and my eyes were very, very weak,” Sheri said, “and I sat there and I just poured out my heart. We went through my notes and we found two sentences that said, ‘when there are no words to say, and no prayer that I can pray, hear my heart. When I don’t have strength to try, and I’ve cried all I can cry, hear my heart.’ Joel looks at me and he says, ‘I believe that’s our song.’”

Sheri said that Joel wrote the first verse and then she wrote the whole second verse by herself. She gives God the credit for giving her back the gift of being able to write again. And she says that “Hear My Heart” is one of her most raw and emotive songs.

“So many times, I would bow my head and say, ‘Dear Heavenly Father, you know. Amen.’ That’s all I could say,” Sheri said. “I didn’t know how to express myself, and when you get to that point, you understand. It’s the first time I’d ever been there. As tough as daddy’s death was for me, it wasn’t a place of sadness like breast cancer was for me. Cancer has such a horrible connotation that comes with it, it just hovers.”

Sheri imparted some wisdom to those who may be battling cancer. She said, “Be persistent and insist that the doctors do every test that’s available. Just be very attentive to your body, you know when you’re not up to par. Trust God. That’s the best advice I can give. Because when you’re standing in that position, and it could either be bad news or good news, there’s nothing you can do but just trust God and know that He’s going to lead and direct your paths as He promised us He would.”

jeff and sheri cdRecently, I had the joy of speaking to Jeff and Sheri and the entire group on their bus. Our conversation reminded me of Colossians 4:6: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Jeff, Sheri, Morgan, Madison, Shannon, and Kyle opened their hearts and the grace of God was evident in their words. I pray their responses are as much of a blessing to you as they were to me.

 

Jennifer: Who has been the greatest influence on your life?

Jeff: My daddy. Just watching him, how he handles life, how he handles people, how he loves people. He’s just an incredible man and I want to be like that when I grow up.

Sheri: My mom, hands down. My mom was an incredible vocalist. She lived her Gospel. She lived the Gospel of Christ every day. . . . And I could not ever imagine my life without her, the way she has influenced me has made me the woman that I am.

Madison: I try to have the work ethic of both of my parents, physical work ethic from Dad and the mindset of Mom. I really try to keep in mind Rabbit {Easter}. We all play about everything, but Rabbit tried to incorporate it all on stage, so I’m trying to do that now.

Morgan: My mom.

Kyle: My parents. They would always push me. . . They always said, God has a plan for you and if the time’s right, it will come.

 

Jennifer: Are you a mommy’s girl or a daddy’s girl or a little of both?

Morgan: It depends on what I need. If I need to buy stuff, I’m probably a daddy’s girl. But if I need some really good advice, I’m probably a mama’s girl. So I’m kind of both.

 

Jennifer: Tell me about your family. What does it mean to be able to travel with on the road together as Jeff and Sheri Easter?

Jeff: It’s like a vacation. You don’t have to worry where they are; they’re right here with you.

Sheri: Oh, I love it. . . I feel like that it’s the best that my group has ever been because I feel like we all love each other, we love what we’re doing, and we all have a unified goal of presenting this music.

Madison: It’s great. I’m really blessed. You see a lot of guys that have to travel away from their families and all this kind of stuff and they never see anybody. It’s really a blessing to get to do it with everybody.

Shannon: Even beyond a familial relationship, we have a friendship and I’m very grateful for that! Jeff, Sheri, Morgan, and Maura are so much fun to be around! What you see on stage truly is what you get with this family, which is special.

Kyle: I have a wife and a beautiful little girl. She’s one right now and she’ll be two in July. They’re [Jeff and Sheri] all just a fun a bunch to be around, everybody’s just funny. You never know what one’s going to say that’s just going to light your day up.

Sheri: We try to love on the guys in our group because the hardest thing that I’ve always looked at it is for somebody like Kyle to have to be away from family. And so last night, we all went to the movies at midnight to watch The Avengers together, all of us, so

me and Jeff bought everybody’s ticket and we carried Kyle in and our driver Tyler, just like they’re our kids. So we try to always make them be as family as much as we possibly can.

 

Jennifer: What does it mean to you to be a wife and a mother?jeff and sheri alone

Sheri: All I ever really desired was to be a wife and to be a mother, and I still consider those to be my most important roles, always have and always will. That’s what I was born to do, to be a good wife and a mother to my children.

 

Jennifer: Tell me what it means to you to be a husband and father.

Jeff: It means everything. . . A lot of times I want to work on old cars and trucks, but I have to catch myself and remind myself, Maura, she’s six now, and I need to spend some time with her. And the same thing with Sheri, she and I always try to have a date night where we just have somebody watch our baby and we go out and have a good time. It’s an honor to be blessed with the kids that I have.

 

Jennifer: What do you hope your children will teach their children one day?

Sheri: I pray that my children will teach their children to love God first and foremost, to love each other, to love their families, their children, and appreciate that legacy, that heritage that your family gives to you, quirks and all.

Jeff: To always be real and be kind. Always be kind to other people. And communicate. As far as a marriage, I encourage Madison and Shannon to always communicate because so many arguments could be helped if people would communicate more.

 

Jennifer: Describe the perfect day as husband and wife.SDC-Jeff-_-Sheri-Easter

Madison: We’re traveling so much, I love just going home and sitting on the couch with Shannon and our dog Bruce, just watching TV. Shannon and I will plan about one day a week to do absolutely nothing. We don’t do anything that whole day, nothing productive.

And it really feels good; it’s like a little vacation each week.

Sheri: Madison is a huge movie buff, so I’ll get tickled at times; we’ll call over there and say, what are y’all doing? I think we’re gonna watch three or four movies. And I’m thinking, three or four? And they will, it’ll be just like a little movie marathon, they’ll watch just a bunch of movies back to back.

Shannon: For some date nights we cook together at home and watch a movie, write, listen to music, or even read. For others we go out to Cheddar’s and a movie or we go to concerts to see and support our favorite artists. Then again, we might find ourselves

working around our house together. As long as we’re together, it’s a perfect day.

 

Jennifer: What is your favorite family moment?

Morgan: A few weeks ago, we went to my grandma’s house. She has Parkinson’s, so she doesn’t really talk . . . We sat there and just talked to her and that’s probably my favorite family memory that I have ever, being able to be there and still have her, even though

she’s going through this and she was just talking up a storm and it was just really incredible.

 

Jennifer: If you could talk to God face to face, what would you say to Him?

Jeff: I would just thank Him for life and for all of the blessings, for what He did, for dying for us, for the life that I’ve been blessed with.

Sheri: I’m at the point now where I would say, God, you’ve been so good to me. Over and over, the ups and the downs. So I’m living with eyes wide open these days, just in gratitude for every breath, knowing that the hand of God has kept me through some really tough stuff and carried me and brought me to this place of wow.

 jeff and sheri strip

Jennifer: What is the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?

Morgan: The Grand Ole Opry. We’ve done it twice or three times since I’ve been with them. And then the whole Grammy experience was really neat, to be 16 and going to the Grammys.

 

Jennifer: What is the most touching moment you’ve experienced on stage?

Sheri: I believe it was about eleven or twelve days after my breast cancer surgery. It was one of the first dates that I did, and I stood on stage and we walked out and sang, “Life is Great and Gettin’ Better,” and everybody stood and applauded and applauded

and applauded, and it just went on and on, even to an uncomfortable length of time, it was so long, to the point where we didn’t know what to do. . . Everybody had one thing on their mind and that was let’s love Sheri, she’s got to get through this. It was unbelievable. It was totally God moving in people’s lives.

 

Jennifer: Have you always wanted to be a drummer for a Gospel group?

Kyle: Yes, my dad was always a huge fan of southern gospel. . . . So he just called Jeff out of the blue; I don’t even know how he got his number to this day and he told them that he had a son who wanted to play, asked for an audition, and here I am.

Sheri: We had not hired a drummer in 13 years. If you look back over our 27 year career, we’ve only had five, maybe six or seven musicians in 27 years. If you want to do gospel music and southern, there’s not a lot of opportunities. It was a God thing. I still believe that.

 

Jennifer: What scripture has encouraged you the most?

Shannon: My favorite scripture is Isaiah 55:9 which says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” I love this verse because it offers so much hope.

 

Jennifer: What is the biggest challenge you have ever had to face?

Kyle: The biggest challenge was that I had a speech problem since I was born. I was born with a stuttering problem and I could not get one word out of myself to save my life. So finally up until maybe at the start of eighth grade, it started to refine a little bit.

Sheri: I’ll be honest with you, he was with us probably a year before any of us even knew that and I think that’s wonderful that he would mention that because I’ve never had a stuttering problem and there have been times when I was absolutely horrified of having

to read in public, so I can’t imagine having to read in public, knowing that you don’t know if you can count on those words coming out. So it’s a very real problem that people have to deal with. But I never even knew that because he does so well.

 

Jennifer: How do you put God at the center of your life?

Morgan: I just constantly remind myself that He has a plan for everything and no matter what situation I’m in, no matter how small it is, no matter how big it is, I constantly remind myself that He has a plan. Whenever I’m feeling down, I just grab my Bible and I immediately start to feel better.

 

Jennifer: Please tell me about your goals for your future.

Morgan: I start college in the fall and I’m going for my graphic design degree and I’m doing it online, so I plan to continue to travel with mom and dad for as long as I can.

Madison: I plan to keep on playing music. I try to keep my hands in as many pods as possible because to me that keeps you sharp as a musician.

Shannon: I’m attending college through Brenau University and I only have one year left before I have my bachelor’s in business administration! . . . Because I love learning so much, I don’t know that I’ll stop my education there; I’ll likely go back for my master’s or another degree at some point.

 

Jennifer: Tell me about your book “Hear My Heart.” How has God used this book to minister to others?

Sheri: I wrote the book about my youth and growing up very close to my grandparents, very earthy, very touchable, very small town, very rural, butterbeans, strawberries, those kinds of things, very down to earth. That’s how I grew up. My pivotal point for singing was when I sang for a beauty contest. I had to perform a talent and it was the first time I ever sang in front of people. It was a pivotal moment because from that day forward, I continued to sing publicly. I had never done that before. I was 15 years old. The next marker would have been my daddy’s death when I was 20. I was in college and suddenly, life was flipped upside down. The next marker was Jeff Easter. One year later, I met Jeff and we married. And then it would be having children. And then it would be breast cancer. And then my mom’s Parkinson’s and my grandparents passing. And you look back at your life and those things can relate to just about anybody, so I’m very grateful. I have people tell me all the time, I love your book, I can’t put it down, and I read it in six hours. I love those kinds of compliments because that’s the kind of compliment I’d give to somebody about a book that I loved.

 

Jennifer: What song has been a blessing to you personally?

Jeff: Lately I’m loving the new Crabb Family song, “If there ever was a time, I need you now.” I love that song.

Morgan: “Thread of Hope,” mama and daddy’s song from the 90’s. It’s probably my favorite and whenever I’m feeling down, that’s what I love about parents who sing such encouraging songs is [that] I can just go and listen to their music and instantly feel better.

Madison: I love “Praise His Name,” that one’s great. And then Jason Crabb, “Through the Fire,” is always good. . . . Gerald just wrote a good song.

Sheri: My personal favorite right now to sing is “Hear My Heart” because I’ve never written a more raw and honest song. Of all the songs we’ve recorded, “Roses Will Bloom Again,” is the best song that identifies who Jeff and Sheri are . . . It says to them Jeff and Sheri love songs about encouragement, Jeff and Sheri like to say things about today and the trials today that we’re going to get through with Christ.

 

Jeff and Sheri are excited about their new project titled, “Eyes Wide Open.” Sheri said the message of this album is celebratory. This project will include songs like “I Won’t Have to Worry Anymore,” “Standing in Wonder,” “Anything But Happy,” “A Little Bit of Sunshine,” and “I Wonder If He Ever Cries.” Sheri said the project will also include a song written by her and Madison titled “I Know How It Feels to Survive.”

“It’s kind of a follow-up to ‘Hear My Heart,’” Sheri said. “It just talks about being grateful for everything and realizing that everything I have is only borrowed. By the grace of God, I know I’m gonna make it through.”

Sheri also said that Joseph Habedank and his wife wrote a song titled, “I’ll Take It.” Sheri shared, “We just got in the finished lead vocal about two days ago and I cried on the way to the school listening to it. It was just so incredible, so anointed. It’s going to be a great album. I can’t wait to share it with folks.”

As a family and as a group, Jeff and Sheri Easter are committed to spreading the message of the Gospel to as many people as they possibly can. When asked what the next ten years hold for Jeff and Sheri, Jeff said they’ll be doing what they’re doing.

“I don’t see us ever retiring,” Jeff said. “Sheri’s granddaddy came off the road when he was 92 or 93; he travelled to the very end.” Sheri added, “This is my 34th year singing gospel music and I am just a blessed woman. I am healthy, I am in love with my husband, and I get to share the stage with my children who are incredibly talented individuals. I get to sit there and watch them with my mouth open when I see how talented they are. And we get to do this as a family unit and I could not be more blessed. I love what I do and am grateful to the people who allow me to do it for them.”

Jeff and Sheri have created a musical legacy that they are passing on to their children. They love life, they love each other, and they love God. Their lives are an example for others to follow. They’re faithfully trusting God and expecting great things.