It’s impossible to talk about the heritage of Southern Gospel music without the mention of names such as Bill Gaither, The Blackwood Brothers, JD Sumner, the Singing Americans, the Cathedrals, Vestal Goodman, and others of that time. Quite simply put, these are the faces that paved the way for Gospel music artists today. While with much gratitude we remember those that have made it possible to sing the greatest music on earth, let’s look on with eager expectation to what the future of this great genre might hold. With roots that are deep in Southern Gospel heritage, and a voice that is certain to carry on the family tradition, I can’t think of a better candidate for this month’s Young Gospel Spotlight than Miss Amber Nelon Thompson.
Amber is no stranger to the gospel music scene. Her grandfather, Mr. Rex Nelon, began his singing career with The LeFevres. He then formed his own group, The Rex Nelon Singers, which later became the award-winning group that is now known as The Nelons. As with many children that grow up in the industry Amber began her singing career young, with solo projects recorded at ages 9 and 11. What she didn’t expect was a full-time job joining the Nelons at age 13. “We had a soprano singer leave suddenly and I was only filling in until they found someone else – so I thought. My parents approached me about coming on full-time because they thought that I did a great job, and loved the idea of it being a family group again.”
I know many, including myself, are grateful for that decision.
Being a firm believer in the importance of education, Amber stayed in school while traveling to sing. “I went to high school and everything like a normal kid. I played every sport they would let a girl play, but my main one was basketball. The team I played on my senior year went 24-0, not losing one game, and won the State Title that year. That was so cool to be a part of a championship team.” And although the constant juggle between school, sports, and singing was tough, Amber says she is so thankful that she never gave up. She now holds a bachelor’s degree in Christian Counseling from Bethany Divinity College Online. “It’s worth it… it was one of the times in my life when I was proud of myself for not giving up.” Amber will be holding counseling sessions at her booth this year at the National Quartet Convention; yes, I’m just kidding!
Amber has also recently signed a solo recording deal with Daywind Records. The project is expected to be released in the fall of 2014. “I can’t wait for it to be finished and everyone to hear it. It’s going to be fun!” This project will be the first of many, I am sure.
And as if earning a bachelor’s degree and a solo record deal were not enough for her 2013 year, Amber’s boyfriend and now fiancé, John, popped the question this past September! Sorry boys. And just for the romantic in us all, and in fear of taking away from the magic, here is Amber’s version of the proposal:
“Another surprise God gave me in September of last year. John and I had been talking about marriage for a while but both agreed it was best to wait until he found the right job to move to Atlanta so I could continue to sing. God brought him the perfect job that was actually a promotion and he could live anywhere he wanted. He flew me to Jacksonville the next week and told me he was going to take me to Disney for the day to celebrate. We ended up eating at Cinderella’s castle. After dinner was served, John asked me what some of my favorite moments from us are. I told him all of my favorite moments and then asked what his was. He didn’t respond but motioned for the waiter. The waiter told me they had a special dessert planned for me. He was holding a covered dish and when it was opened in front of me, there were red roses covering the entire plate with Cinderella’s glass slipper and engraved on the glass slipper were the words “Amber, will you marry me?” John got down on one knee and told me this was his favorite moment of us so far and proposed. Best moment of my life so far. He really is my Prince Charming. Not only that but he’s my best friend. I can’t wait to be married to him on June 6!”
Amber says that John had been trying to find work in the Atlanta area and the Lord orchestrated it all beautifully. She and John plan to stay in the Atlanta area and will continue singing after the wedding in June of 2014. And for all of you reality TV fans, Amber will be on a future episode of “Say Yes To The Dress” in the summer of 2014! “It was so much fun and I can’t tell you everything that happened but trust me when I say, you want to watch this episode. It’s hilarious.” The show will feature her hunt for the perfect wedding gown, and also parts of her wedding. Let’s all be sure to tune in and show our support. She will announce the dates via social media so be on the lookout for that. What a fun experience!
Well for those of us that are just curious as to what this gospel singer likes to do outside of a pretty dress, heels and a stage, Amber says she is still an avid sports fan and currently coaches her sister Autumn’s basketball team. “I missed it so much that now that Autumn is playing, I’m coaching her team. The same school I played at and for is now the team I am the head coach of. Crazy! But it helps me stay involved and live through Autumn now. Ha ha!” But don’t let the sporty side fool you. Amber is also an avid crafter who loves anything that has to do with painting, drawing, building, and creating…and of course, Pinterest.
2013 was just a phenomenal year for Amber Nelon Thompson, but 2014 is bound to be exceptional for the young artist as well. With all of the accomplishments thus far in her career, and all of the goals she has met both personally and in her singing, she has no doubt become a great role model for other young artists in the industry. Her advice:
“Don’t give up. Keep trying and don’t just be good enough, be the best. Don’t be unteachable as Bill Gaither taught me. You can always learn at any age. Take whatever advice people give you. It may be bad and good advice, but walk away taking something from it. I strive every day to be better at singing, or coaching, or whatever I’m doing, and I’ll take all the advice I can get because I’m still learning and I need the help. So don’t ever stop learning. The day you stop learning is the day you stop growing.”
That is great advice no matter the age, and no matter the calling.
Being in a group, I can tell you that road life alone demands a lot of an individual. When you mix that with ministry, and a constant pouring out of yourself for others to draw closer to Him, it can prove to be a challenge for many. Keeping a steady diet of communion with the Lord is certainly key to anyone’s life, and is no different for those who sing Gospel music full-time. As the writer of this blog, I have the pleasure of selecting questions that I feel would not only be important to others, but are most important to me, and that’s why I have saved the best for last. As Amber said earlier we should never be unteachable, and when it comes to our relationship with the Lord this is no different. So what is God teaching this 24-year-old Southern Gospel singer?
“Patience! That is the number one thing he is always trying to teach me. Patience. If it were up to me, decisions would be fast and everything would happen right then. But they wouldn’t be right. I wanted to get married so bad but God said “Nope, not yet! I’ve got the perfect time for that” and He did. And it was perfect. I still struggle with it but I’m learning to let God be in control of my life and let Him allow things to happen instead of rushing them. Trust me, life is much easier and so much more enjoyable when God’s in control.”
His timing is not always ours, but it is always right.
For more information about the happenings of The Nelons, visit www.thenelons.com.
Follow Amber Nelon Thompson @Ambie328 on Twitter
Amber Nelon Thompson on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/amber.n.thompson.3
SGMRadio is thrilled to welcome another new and exciting author to our website! Rebecca Little Burke is a Southern Gospel artist who sings with her family, The Littles. Rebecca will be highlighting young artists from the world of Gospel music, opening up the world of her peers and friends to our readers. If you have questions or comments, please email Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author:
Rebecca Little Burke is the lead vocalist for The Littles out of Monroe, North Carolina.
Facebook: Rebecca Little Burke
For more information about The Littles, please visit www.thelittlesmusic.com.
Facebook at www.facebook.com/thelittlesmusic and Twitter @thelittlesmusic.