This week’s article features the Isaacs, a family group that has traveled for over 30 years, are based out of LaFollette, TN. Current group members are Lily Isaacs, Ben Isaacs, Sonya Isaacs, John and Rebecca (Isaacs) Bowman. They have a unique style that marries bluegrass harmonies and instrumentation with modern southern gospel lyrics.
Their musical influences immerge from all genres of music including bluegrass, rhythm and blues, folk, contemporary acoustic and southern gospel. They perform frequently at the Grand Ole Opry, are active members of the Gaither Homecoming Videos and Concert Series, and travel throughout the year performing nationally. Concert venues include civic centers, auditoriums, arenas, fairgrounds, parks, churches and other locations. They have been asked to perform the National Anthem for many events, including a Cincinnati Bengal’s Football game, several Nashville Predators Hockey games, various Political Rallies, and most recently at Carnegie Hall for a Gaither Homecoming Video.
Vocalist and matriarch of the group Lily was born in Germany after World War II to two Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. She grew up in the Bronx, New York, studying theatre, performing on Off Broadway , and recorded her first album in 1968 on Columbia records with her friend as “Lily & Maria.” Being raised in a Jewish home, she was taught against Jesus as Messiah, and didn’t become a Christian until 1971 when a death in the family brought her to church for the first time. It was at that point in her life that she decided to serve God with her music as well, and along with the Isaacs’ patriarch, Joe, began the foundation upon which the Isaacs have been built.
Vocalist, songwriter and upright bass player Ben is the only son and the oldest of the three Isaacs children. Ben spends much of his off-time in the studio producing and playing the bass on numerous other artists’ albums including The Crabb Family, Rhonda Vincent, Don Rigsby, and many others. He arranges many of the Isaacs songs, and is their sound technician on tour.
Vocalist, songwriter, and mandolin player Sonya is the middle child of the three children. She has co-written many of the Isaacs’ hit songs, including, “From the Depths of My Heart” (with Ben), “Stand Still” (with Rebecca), and “Thank You.” She has been nominated for several awards in all types of venues and won her first award at age 19. She has enjoyed singing background on many well-know artists’ albums including Vince Gill, Dolly Parton, Ralph Stanley, Brad Paisley, Kirk Talley, Selah’s Allen Hall, Cynthia Clawson, and many more. Sonya also has a solo career and has recorded 2 projects for Lyric Street Records in Nashville, TN.
Vocalist, songwriter, and guitar player, Rebecca, (aka Becky) is the youngest of the three children. She has recently stepped out as a songwriter, co-penning recent singles such as Stand Still, He Understands My Tears, and I Come In the Name of the Lord (all co-written with Sonya). She married John Bowman in 1994 and their two children Levi (8 yrs old) and Jakobi (3 yrs) travel with them full-time and even grace the stage most nights to perform. Becky has made special guest appearances on many albums including; Dolly Parton (Little Sparrow Album), Bryan Sutton, Ralph Stanley and many more.
Vocalist, guitar and banjo player John grew up in Ararat, Virginia, and learned at an early age to play many different instruments. Although on stage he only plays guitar and banjo, he’s also gifted on the fiddle, mandolin, and bass. The first professional music job he had was with the bluegrass artist Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. He then traveled 2 years with Alison Krauss and Union Station. In 1994, John married Rebecca and then became a full-time member of the Isaacs. In 1997, he was called into the ministry to preach the gospel, and spends much of his time speaking at churches and using his talents to help other artists record.
The Isaacs’ awards include: Song of the Year 1993: “From the Depths of My Heart” written by Sonya and Ben Isaacs. The number 2 song in June 2001 entitled “Stand Still” written by Sonya & Becky Isaacs & Dave Marshall. Sonya Isaacs won “Horizon Individual Award” in 1993. Grammy Nomination for Bluegrass Album, “A Gospel Gathering” featuring Ralph Stanley and The Isaacs.
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