Jordan and Jonathan Wilburn

Wilburn and Wilburn: Continuing The Family Tradition

2013 diamond awards logoCoastal Media, parent company of SGNScoops and SGMRadio, is the proud host of the Diamond Awards held at Creekside Gospel Music Convention. In October 2012, Wilburn and Wilburn were awarded 2012 Duet Of The Year at the Diamond Awards. SGMRadio is proud to highlight the ministry of Wilburn and Wilburn with a republication of this 2012 SGNScoops feature by Lorraine Walker.

The Wilburn name is synonymous with family gospel harmony, an evangelistic message and the familiarity of Sunday-dinner conversation. Jonathan and his son, Jordan, are continuing the tradition that Jonathan’s parents, Elaine and Jackie Wilburn, began more than 40 years ago. As Wilburn and Wilburn, this father-son duo is igniting interest across the nation with their country-style ballads, seasoned vocals and catchy lyrics.

Jordan and Jonathan Wilburn
Jordan and Jonathan Wilburn

Wilburn and Wilburn released their debut CD, Family Ties in 2011 to rave reviews. Their first single release “I Ain’t Giving Up On Jesus” garnered heavy radio airplay and brought this new duet to the forefront of Gospel Music. After such a short time on the road, the men were nominated for the 2012 Singing News Fan Awards for Horizon Group of the Year. Jordan Wilburn was also nominated for the Young Artist and Horizon Individual Fan Awards.

Most fans had their first glimpse of Wilburn and Wilburn at the National Quartet Convention in 2011. After enjoying the talents of Jonathan at the lead position of the mighty Gold City Quartet for 12 years, fans were eager to hear this new duet. A year later, Jonathan and Jordan agree that it’s been a very good year for them. “I would say we had a great initial response,” says Jonathan, referring to NQC 2011. “I think a lot of people were waiting to see how we would handle ourselves onstage during a live performance. Based on our sales and the bookings we received, things were very favorable.”

The audiences and media at the 2011 NQC were very positive about the new venture by Jonathan and Jordan. Ken Grady of Gospel Music Today says, “We have known Jonathan for a while, but we first met Jordan, and Wilburn & Wilburn, at NQC 2011. We talked to them this year about the incredible year they have had. We knew the singing would be good, but the energy level and song selection makes them the dynamic duo of gospel music. They know how to communicate the message in their songs.”

“We have found them to be delightful to work with,” Ken continues. “When they visit us for an interview, they act as if it is the most fun they have had all day, and that makes us feel like we are visiting with old friends.”

“I had so many people say they were glad that I was back singing, and that I was singing with my son,” Jonathan says. “Many had heard Jordan through the years with my family, The Wilburns, at several events around the country. The fans love the concept that we are father and son, singing about the Father and the Son.” WandW casual

One of the appeals of Wilburn and Wilburn is the sense of family that is so prevalent in Southern Gospel. “Family harmony has always been a great thing,” says Jonathan. “I believe folks love to see families in this music that are together, as one, on stage. There is just something special about families in one mind and one accord, singing songs about Jesus.”

Jonathan’s son Jordan is not a Southern Gospel novice by any means. Singing on the National Quartet Convention for the first time at the early age of seven with his family, The Wilburns, Jordan is a seasoned performer at 26. At the 2011 NQC, performing with his Dad as Wilburn and Wilburn was a walk in the park. “I grew up on a bus and I’ve known these people my entire life,” says Jordan. “It was a blessing to be able to sing at NQC again.”

At the 2012 National Quartet Convention, the fan base of Wilburn and Wilburn has obviously continued to expand. For Jonathan, the transition from quartet member to part of a father-son duet has given him an unexpected gift: the gift of time. “In our ministry, we are our own boss,” says Jonathan. “So we are able to dictate our time, as to when we are gone and when we are home. As far as my home time and Jordan having a normal social life, it has been a blessing.”

WandW onstage two“We have had a lot of favor from God in the response to our music and ministry,” Jonathan continues. “It has allowed us to do the things we love to do. The biggest adjustment is that I’ve had more free time than I’ve had in a long time! God has blessed me as a father, a husband and a person. I’m one of those types that always has to be doing something. God just nudged me and said, ‘Hey! You need to rest. I’m giving you this time and you need to take it.’ I’ve had to learn to just sit back and say, ‘Okay God, it’s in Your hands.’ So the biggest adjustment is to completely trust in the will of God and rely on Him.”

Resting in His Father’s care and enjoying a little more free time, means spending more quality time with the rest of the Wilburn family. “My wife, Sandra, is a realtor, and her income helps us to be able to do some things we couldn’t do if we were just a group with no other source of income,” states Jonathan. “It helps us be able to travel and do some things we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. Thank God for my wife, she works very hard to help support us in what we do, to help keep us from being stressed out.”

“My daughter, Jessica, got married July 28, 2012, and she is going to Auburn University with her new husband. She is studying to be an accountant, so hopefully she is going to help us count our income! I’m just kidding,” Jonathan laughs and continues, “Jessica helps us in a lot of ways.” W2 onstage 2 hi res

With one daughter married and a son in his twenties, many would think that Jonathan and Sandra’s parenting days are coming to a close. However, Jonathan is thrilled to have this time of ministry with his son and says that it relieves some normal parental worries. “Traveling with Jordan is a blessing because when I look over and see my son singing Gospel Music and singing about the Lord, it does my heart good. That’s the best thing! I know where he is and I know what he’s doing!”

“One of the greatest challenges for us, is that it might not be really normal for father and son to spend this much time together, especially in the way that we travel,” Jonathan admits. “We need to make sure we don’t get on each other’s nerves since we are in such close quarters all the time. But we’ve been doing all right with that. No major problems. It gives me an opportunity to really find out who he is and pound out all the rough edges on him!” Jonathan laughs and then exclaims, “Plus, Jordan’s getting married on March 23, 2013! And that will be another adjustment!”

Jordan may be used to the bright lights and big stages, but being part of a full-time traveling duet ministry is a first for this young man. He is proud of his Dad, and glad that Jonathan is with him on this exciting journey. “My Dad has done this for a long time, so he is a fount of knowledge about what to do and what not to do…” Jordan laughs at his father’s shocked expression and continues, “..And when to do it and when not to do it, which is always important. So that’s a great plus.” Jordan won’t say much about the road challenges of traveling with his Dad, just laughs and adds, “Dad is really good at constructive criticism.”

W2 onstage hi resJonathan is equally proud of his son, who continues to hone his vocal ability. Jordan cut his teeth on Gospel Music and his influences flavor his country sound. Jonathan says, “Jordan first started singing with us on the bus at about three years of age, singing along with folks like The Perrys and Charles Johnson. Jordan’s voice has really matured into a special – what I would call a very marketable – sound, because he’s so different. Jordan sings very well on pitch and he has a unique sound.”

“In Gospel Music you can often define people by their voice,” Jonathan continues. “You hear Joel Hemphill, George Younce, Glen Payne, Mark Trammell or Tim Riley, and when you hear those voices on the radio you don’t have to wait for the announcers to say who they are. Jordan is the same way. You hear his voice and you know it’s him because you can’t compare it to any other young artist in Gospel Music. I really don’t believe you can.”

“He’s fashioned that over the years, just like I did,” adds Jonathan. “I listened to singers like Jim Hammill, Kenny Hinson and different ones, and I took a little bit of everything. Jordan has done the same thing with singers like Jason Crabb and others that he loves. He’s been able to put it all together and come out with Jordan Wilburn. You put it in the blender and that’s what comes out!”

W2 onstage 3 hi resWilburn and Wilburn have only just begun this ministry journey, a new phase that they’ve been preparing for all their lives. When asked what God has impressed upon them lately, Jonathan sums up the hearts of the two men. “[We need to] just keep on keeping on, just keep doing what we’re doing. Jordan can vouch for me, that this is something that God has laid on my heart. We are always looking for the bright lights, the bigger stage, the better music, the huge orchestra, this background, this producer, this website…something greater and bigger. One day I was driving down the road and I thought of Billy Graham and George Beverly Shea. Billy Graham stood behind the podium and preached Jesus. George Beverly Shea had a piano, and sang, ‘How Great Thou Art’. And millions filled arenas because those men had a purpose and were called of God. The Spirit of God and the favor of God was on them.  They didn’t need anything else. It was just that. And millions came to Jesus.”

“And what God has been impressing on me lately is, ‘Jonathan, don’t look for the next biggest, greatest thing, because you possess the Greatest Thing of all; that’s the salvation of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son. His Spirit is with you. Little is much when God is in it and if it’s just two guys singing Gospel Music, just keep doing what you’re doing. I’ll take care of the rest.’”

Wilburn and Wilburn are carrying on the family tradition, presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ in an entertaining atmosphere that promotes the acceptance of truth, ministering to many as they let God ‘take care of the rest’. If there is anything more they could share, they both agree it is: “Jesus lives!”

For more information on Wilburn and Wilburn: http://www.wilburn2.com/

Catch them on Facebook:

Jordan Wilburn http://www.facebook.com/jordan.wilburn.96

Jonathan Wilburn: http://www.facebook.com/karter.hollins

Jonathan and Jordan Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jonathan-and-Jordan-Wilburn-fan-page/172353149444351

 

First published in the October 2012 edition of the  SGN Scoops digital magazine. For current and past issues please visit http://www.sgnscoops.com/

Lorraine Walker
Lorraine Walker