Grammy® Award-nominated, Dove Award-winning Gospel music family group The Nelons return with Peace At Last, their first new studio recording in two years. Comprised of Kelly Nelon Clark, Jason Clark, Amber Nelon Kistler and Autumn Nelon Clark, the Gospel Music Hall of Famers' forthcoming 13-song collection also marks their new long-term partnership with Daywind Records.
Produced by Jason Clark and Dove Award-winner Wayne Haun, Peace At Last features nine songs co-penned by Clark and six by Haun, along with contributions from acclaimed writers Tony Wood, Joel Lindsey, Kenna West, Michael Boggs, and Reba Rambo and Dony McGuire, among others. The recording reflects the group's influences across Gospel, country and Americana genres, while featuring the signature vocals and family harmonies that have been their trademark for more than three decades.
Q: Thanks for doing this interview with us. How are you doing during this pandemic?
This time last year the world had never heard of the word "COVID," and now it's a part of our daily vocabulary. What we thought might last a couple weeks turned into a month, then couple of months, and now here we are seven months later, still adjusting to a world where COVID-19 dominates the daily headlines. We are prayerfully anticipating a "post-COVID" world!
Q: How has life been different for you since the start of this pandemic?
We've experienced much of the same financial impact as many others in our industry. Many of our concerts have been cancelled, and our farm-Clark and Nelon Farms-where we host weddings, has had numerous cancellations as well.
However, in the midst of this pandemic we have learned to take inventory of the many blessings God has given. We started a new farm-to-table FARM BOX subscription service to bring fresh items direct to people's doors. We've also enjoyed so many family meals around our table, game nights, campfires and front porch music. We didn't realize how busy our lives had really become pre-COVID.
Q: Were the songs on your new album written during the pandemic? How will your new album minister to your listeners during these difficult times?
When you read these lyrics and hear these songs, you might think we strategically crafted this collection for such a time as this. However, the vast majority of the songs were written in 2019. We delayed the release of the record until this fall, and now we know why. It seems every song and every lyric were Divinely inspired for this time. They all point to a specific theme of hope, peace, patience, love. They remind us to remember how to love and encourage us to forget the hate. These songs tell the one who feels alone and struggling that we can walk this road together-there's strength in numbers. The messages point to a better day when weapons are laid down, pride and greed cease, all men are brothers, and we gather together at the feet of Jesus. We believe Peace At Last is the most unifying collection of material we have ever released.
Q: For your new album, you have chosen to work with producer and songwriter Wayne Haun. What does Wayne bring to the record that you appreciate?
Wayne Haun and I produced this record together and co-wrote six songs. Wayne is a legendary talent and we've collaborated with him on so many projects over the years. He does it all, but what we love most about Wayne is that he deeply cares. He cares about our music. He will stay up late to help us finish a lyric; he will get up early to make sure an arrangement is just perfect. He will revisit the creative process over and over until we all feel like it's complete. He loves us and we love him---Wayne is a Nelon!
Q: Besides Wayne, who are some of the co-writers or writers on this new record?
Tony Wood and I co-wrote the title track and two others. Wayne and I also collaborated with Joel Lindsey, Jeff Bumgardner, David Hill and Jerry Thompson. Other writers include Kenna West, Jason Cox, Keith Boggs, Adina Bowman, Reba Rambo, Dony McGuire, Chip Davis and Kyla Rowland.
Q: What were some highlights for you while you were making this record?
The tag line of "Still Free" was originally just a repetition of the phrase "still free, still free" as the music culminated into a bombastic finale. While we were recording it, I scribbled down a lyric and thought it would work perfectly over the rhythm, so we changed the tag line to "Free from the fear-I am free from the shame, free from the shadows, I'm free from all the blame. No longer in guilt-no longer a slave-I'm free, I'm free, I AM FREE." It felt like a statement of our faith in Jesus had been declared!
Q: I love your new single "Jordan." What's the story behind this song?
We have always believed a good song will find its way, in its time. "Jordan" is a perfect example of that. It was a chorus and verse that Jerry Thompson and I had written more than 20 years ago, and many times it was considered for a project but it never made the cut. The song previously had a rhythmic Cajun feel and that seemed a little outdated musically. I called Jerry and asked if we could do a rewrite and see how it felt, then Wayne got involved and the recreation of the song was perfect. I demoed the song with our band and brought it to the studio and we knew it was ready. Autumn-our youngest daughter-shines vocally, and our label, Daywind Records, decided this song should be a single. We even filmed a music video at our farm, and it has already become a fan favorite on the radio, in concert and online.
Q: What does "peace" mean to you? How do we achieve this peace?
The greatest need of the human race is peace. It's the cry behind every hurt, every disappointment, every struggle. Throughout the ages men and women have tried to attain peace by spending any amount of money; traveling any distance; waging war; trying to satisfy ravenous appetites; and nurturing endless ambitions in hopes of filling the God-sized hole in every heart. The truth in love is this: the only lasting, genuine, true peace comes from the Prince of Peace, and His Name is Jesus. He said, 'My peace I give you, not peace that the world gives.' His peace is an inner serenity in spite of outward circumstances. It's Peace in the midst of struggles, hardships, pandemics. That kind of Peace is only available in Jesus. Peace that lasts, Peace At Last!