browders oneThe Browders’ name is everywhere in Southern Gospel news these days. “Praise You in This Valley”, the family’s latest single, was January’s number-one new radio release by deejays as reported by the Singing News. The group has three songs in the Top 100 Songs of 2012 as picked by Absolutely Gospel. How does a family from Hiltons, Virginia, who have been singing for 23 years, achieve this not-so-sudden fame and recognition? As an independent artist not assisted by a professional record company, they have been working hard and relying on God to open doors.

The group technically started in 1990 and we’ve been full-time for ten years. Our recording called Be A Light, from seven years ago, really launched the group to where it is today,” said Sonya Browder, as SGNScoops interviewed her and her husband Matthew. “We’ve stuck with our roots, but we’ve ventured out with our sound and we now do a variety of styles,” says Matthew. “Some members have changed. Sonya joined the group back in 2005. She married me and all her dreams came true!” The couple laughs and Matthew continues, “Our recording approach has changed. When we began to record in Nashville, we started making more well-thought-out, quality projects. Things just began taking off from there.”

The Browders have a dynamic sound with seasoned vocals and an earnest desire to bring people closer to Christ that radiates through their music, their presentation and even their website. Patriarch Tommy Browder is a preacher as well as an accomplished instrumentalist. His sons Matthew and David play the guitar and Matthew’s wife Sonya is a pianist. With the addition of powerful family harmonies and well-crafted original songs, this family’s years of experience are now bearing fruit as more opportunities arise. browders two

“The fact that we’re an independent artist has been a difficulty at times,” says Matthew. “However, we rest in the confidence that God is opening doors that no man can shut, and shutting doors that no man can open. After 23 years, doors are opening and things are happening.”

The opening doors include an increased audience, as shown by The Browder’s You Tube concept video, “Fall On My Knees”, which has recorded over 51,000 views at time of publication. Written by Matthew, the haunting song features Sonya’s piano along with a cello and Matthew’s vocals. The powerful lyrics took the song to number three in the Singing News charts.

“Since [the video's] release, we have received countless messages about how the song has been an encouragement to someone or how they shared it with someone else, often who didn’t know Christ, as they were going through a difficult time,” says Sonya. “Matt and I went to the movies about thirty minutes from our home. A police officer stopped us on the way and said that a friend had shared our video with him and he recognized us. He said he watches that video at least once every day and it brings him to tears. He’s never heard us in concert but that song has ministered to him more than a concert ever would. He’s looking forward to attending a concert when we’re in the area.”

Although this popular video often elicits a deep, heart-felt response, Sonya admits there was one performance of “Fall On My Knees” that drew a totally different reaction. “We were in concert in Kentucky,” Sonya begins. “The church was pretty full; I was playing the piano and the rest of the group was off the stage except for Matthew who was singing.”

browders three“We were getting near the end of the song when suddenly my piano stool broke and fell right beneath me. I fell down and landed right on my backside with a big, loud, thump! It sounded like a bomb went off,” laughs Sonya. “The only thing I could think to do, while I was crumpled up on the floor, was to keep playing. All the church could see was my hands and my chin on the keys. My husband did nothing but look over and stare at me. The church had busted up laughing so what could we do at that point. We decided to finish the song! It was hysterical.” 

Although live performances can bring unexpected results, The Browders find that their audiences appreciate the family’s musical expertise. “People love live music,” says Sonya. “We perform with tracks, we do some songs where we play our instruments with tracks and we also do an acoustic set where we just play. It gives a variety and there is something for everybody.”

The Browders themselves are versatile and are gifted outside of music. “My husband and father-in-law both preach. We do meetings and conferences and I’ve been asked to start doing women’s conferences. We are very excited to see all of those areas grow to wherever God would have them to be.”

The family is thrilled with the expansion of their ministry, as much as they enjoy traveling and singing together. Matthew says that the best part of being on the road is just getting to hang out. “We are very family-oriented and I love being around family. It’s fun to get to travel and share ideas.” Sonya says, “The unique thing about the family dynamic is that we work well together. There isn’t the problem of group members leaving. If there are problems you have to just work it out and keep on going.” Matthew adds, “Sonya and I are together all the time. Sometimes that’s great and sometimes it’s not,” Matthew laughs. “We are just being honest. No two people are exactly alike and you are not going to agree on everything. The thing is to get through it and still appreciate each other.”

Matthew and Sonya begin to share about the things they appreciate about their family members. “My favorite quality about my husband is that he is very forgiving,” Sonya shares. “I really admire that. Also, I have learned from him to take instruction. A lot of people get very offended if people try to give them advice. Matthew is so great at not taking offence. If someone gives him advice, he takes it; that’s what makes him the songwriter that he is. That’s how he is in every aspect of life and I love that about him.”

Sonya and Matthew Browder

Sonya and Matthew Browder

“My father-in-law is in a wheelchair because he had polio as a child,” says Sonya regarding Tommy Browder. “Traveling is a challenge for him, but you couldn’t get him to not go on the road. He is very faithful to his calling.” Matthew agrees, “Yes, he goes whether or not he feels like it and when most people would stay home. He is one of the sweetest people you’d ever meet.” 

David, my brother-in-law, is very easy-going and you aren’t going to get him in a hurry about anything. That is a good thing,” says Sonya. Matthew adds, “My brother is one of the greatest singers that I’ve ever heard and I feel honored that I get to sing with him. He is a laid-back, cool guy and one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet.”

Sonya adds that her brother, Burt, also travels with the Browders. “Burt is one of the best personalities that you’d ever meet. We were raised that if there was something to be done, you’d do it. So that’s how he is! He’s a hard worker. He’s also got a peacemaker personality. He’s fun to have on the road.”

Matthew looks at his wife with love. “Sonya is beautiful and I love her blue eyes.  She really encourages me; she speaks to the king in me. She believes in me. She’s very talented. She is quick to forgive also. We can have a spat and in twenty minutes, it’s over. God is so good to let me travel with my wife.”

Although The Browders travel full-time, performing 150 concerts a year with some of their family, there are still those left at home to consider. Sonya says, “We typically try to keep the traveling to Friday through Sunday. Even though Matthew and I are on the road together, it is still important to have time that is just your own, doing things that are not work-related. We always look forward to attending services at our home churches as well.”

browders fiveDavid Browder is married with two children and also enjoys spending time off the road with his family. When David talks about the ways in which God has been good to him in 2012, he says: “Seeing the excitement on my boys’ faces when we took them on a surprise family vacation!” Looking ahead to the next few months, David adds, “I am very excited to see what doors God is going to open for our ministry in 2013!’

Already in 2013, The Browders have been working on a new project called Time Machine that was released on August 6, 2013. Sonya says, “We recorded at several different studios in Nashville with Kevin Ward as our incredible producer. His creativity along with our craziness makes for a good team!”

Ward is definitely a Browder fan. “I’m always impressed with the Browders’ drive to get to the next level,” says Ward. “They’ve examined and reexamined every step of this process to make sure it’s their best record yet. We’ve all given everything we have.”

“I enjoy working with Kevin, he brings the best out of us!” says David Browder. “My favorite part of recording is when we get to watch the Nashville musicians play the songs we’ve written. I have a favorite guitar player, David Cleveland. I highly recommend him not only for his amazing guitar playing but also because he’s incredible to work with and he truly has a heart for God.”

Following the recording session, Tommy talks about a few of the cuts from Time Machine. “I have three favorite songs on this record,” says Tommy. “First is ‘The Reason,’ written by Sonya. “I couldn’t have said it any better! ‘The reason I can stand, when life gets out of hand; the reason is Jesus in me’. My second favorite is ‘I’ll lift Up His Name Again,’ which gives glory and praise to Jesus, written by Matthew. ‘Whatever You’re Going Through,’ by David, is my third favorite, which says that no matter what you’re going through, God will be there.” 

browders time machineFor Sonya, it’s impossible to pick a favorite song off of the new project. “I truly love them all for entirely different reasons: the writing, the arrangement, the message, the style. We wrote all ten songs and they all mean something to each of us. I wrote one so I’ll tell you about it. ‘The Reason’ is my appeal to our audience that no one is exempt from having an abundant life in Christ. The great blessings I have received are not earned; they come from the one Who lives in me, and are a result of a life lived for Him. That life is available to anyone.

More fans and friends in the music industry are acknowledging the songwriting abilities of the Browder family. Donna King of Vertical Sky says, “The Browders are incredible people and not just because of their ability to sing. You haven’t met a more passionate songwriter than Matthew. If you’ve met him, you’ve seen and heard that passion. He’ll sing you a song anywhere, anytime! It’s awesome how his heart exudes the love of God in a song. And his brother David is no slouch either. He and Matthew have co-written number-one hits like ‘The Land Of No Goodbyes’ and others.”

The best thing about the Browders is that they are true friends and their very first goal, all day, every day in ministry, is to win souls for Jesus,” says King. “I love them all and I am honored to work with them!”

When asked about The Browders’ goals for 2013, Tommy’s words reflect King’s comments when he says. “God was always with us every time we met at His house and He opened new doors for our ministry in 2012. I would like to reach more people for Jesus in 2013.” 

Sonya agrees with Tommy’s comments and says the family’s goals also include: “To reach as many people as we possibly can with the new recording and to grow in our personal lives in the Lord so we can effectively continue to grow in the ministry God has called us to. We strive to continually grow vocally, musically, and in ministry every year.” She adds, “We always want to present Christ as the Answer to unbelievers.  However, there are probably more Christians than not that hear our music.  If we can encourage them to seek Christ above all else and to understand that truly abundant life only comes from Him, then we hope they will in turn take that message to the lost world around them.”

Through preaching and singing, this family is doing their part to take the message of abundant life to their world. “We are trusting God to take us to a worldwide ministry,” says Matthew. “We believe we have Good News to bring to the people, to be able to minister to hearts. We truly have an evangelistic ministry.”

The Browders have worked hard for many years to achieve excellence in their music and ministry. However, they know that any recognition they now receive is due to God opening the doors for them. Matthew says that this is what he would want their audience to remember about The Browders, as he quotes from 1 Peter 5:6, “Humble yourself under the mighty Hand of God, and He will exalt you in due time.”

browders four“When you are willing to let go of the things you think you need and the plans you have and allow God to do whatever He wants to do, that’s when He is able to open His hands and let loose on you the things that He wants to, things that are greater than anything that you could hold on to in your life,” says Sonya. “When you humble yourself under His authority and lift Him up to the proper place in your life where He belongs, He will lift you to the place where He wants you to be.”

The Browders have experienced the heavenly support of an Almighty God who is using this family to reach many who need to feel a touch from Him. The friends and fans of this talented family look forward to experiencing the exciting things ahead as God continues to open doors for The Browders.

 

 

For information on The Browders and their tour schedule, visit http://thebrowders.com/index.php

See The Browders on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Browders-Friends/246351358032?fref=ts

Watch their You Tube video, “Fall On My Knees”, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWKEpHgJCXk

 

Thanks to the following for their contribution:

Donna King, Vertical Sky http://www.verticalskyonline.com/

Kevin Ward, Producer http://kevinwardmusic.com/

 

This feature was first published by SGN Scoops in February 2013. www.sgnscoops.com

For the current issue please click on to: http://www.sgnscoops.com/2013/08/14/august-2013-sgnscoops-magazine/

 

By Lorraine Walker

Lorraine Walker

Lorraine Walker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questions? Comments? Email Lorraine at sgmradio.lorrainewalker@gmail.com

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