I had the wonderful pleasure of attending a promotional concert for The Martins' new release, Glorify Edify Testify. Afterwards, I was able to spend some time with Joyce, Jonathan, and Judy, and hear their hearts about their families, the new album, and the message they want to get out to their fans.

J MAN: Most people know that you've had talent since you were kids. But I want to make sure I have my facts straight on the record deal. Something about singing for Gloria Gaither in a bathroom?

Joyce: We went to Indianapolis with Michael English and Mark Lowry. Michael actually took us there and Mark and Mike tried to figure out a way for Bill [Gaither] to hear us sing. He was very busy and was getting ready for the next day's video. So, we're in the little church in Anderson, Ind., and they are rehearsing for the next day and we're in the foyer. Bill never comes out into the foyer but Gloria does. When she came out, Mark grabbed her arm and said, "You have to hear these kids sing!" Except [we didn't] know where to go, all the rooms were locked, too much going on in the auditorium, so Mark suggests we go into the bathroom.

Judy: Into the ladies room!

Joyce: So we went into the bathroom. It was Mark, Mike, of course the three Martins, Gloria and two or three other people. We sang He Leadeth Me a cappella for Gloria Gaither, in the ladies bathroom, in Anderson, Ind. She tells Bill, "you have to hear these kids sing." So we sang next day on the video, He Leadeth Me ... And that was actually the first time Bill heard us sing. After that we did a few Gaither dates, then were signed to Spring Hill Records ... and it's been a fun ride ever since!

J MAN: Family is very much a part of what you do. Tell me about your kids and how family affects your ministry.

Joyce: My oldest is 21 months old, Trey, and me and my husband, Harry, are expecting our second child in May, we think!

Judy: On my birthday!

Joyce: Judy's birthday is on the 3rd, so she's holding out for May (laughs). But, I'll take it in April, or whenever [the baby] wants to get here. We had problems getting pregnant the first time, so we just know this is another little miracle. But, I think this is going to be it!

J MAN: The bus is getting too small!

Jonathan: And getting smaller! I had my three, then Judy had some, then Joyce ... She's the oldest in our family, but didn't have kids first, kind of a unique thing ... My oldest is 7, her name is Halea. I have twin boys, Michael and Taylor, they're both 5. They're both a joy to our lives. They were born two and a half months early, Dec. 31, 1995.

Judy: Just in time for taxes!

Jonathan: (laughs) They had a lot of physical complications that came from the premature births. Michael has one eye that did not develop, there's a big long word for it, but I can't pronounce it. He now has a glass eye, it looks real, and he's a hilarious, mischievous little boy. We know we'll have a lot of fun with that eye as he grows up!

Then you have Taylor who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He had lack of oxygen to the brain plus a bleed in his head. They're not sure which, or if it is a combination of both that caused the brain damage. It's mainly the fine motor skills in his hands, more of his right hand is affected than his left, so he's left-handed, which I like, since I'm left-handed. His legs are more affected than his arms, so he's not walking [unassisted] yet, he walks with a walker.

All of our children have been a blessing to us. I love them and miss them. I do not travel much except while they're in school. Halea, Michael, and Taylor are definitely a reason to continue being that person that God wants me to be.

Judy: Jake and I have three. Our oldest is Trip, Jake Hess III, and he will be 4 Oct. 14th. Then we have Hannah, h-a-n-n-a-h.

Jonathan: Or backwards, either way!

Judy: [Hannah] is 2. Then we have Emma ... E-m-m-a.

Jonathan: (laughs) Or backwards, either way!

Judy: She was born in April, so she's almost 6 months old. They're just wonderful. It's a challenge, traveling, packing every week for kids ...

Jonathan: She actually packs for a month every week! (laughs)

J MAN: The new album, Glorify Edify Testify, is a step in a different direction from your previous projects. Is there a specific reason for that or did you just want to try something new?

Jonathan: It actually started out as another a cappella hymns project.

Joyce: We wanted to go back ...

Judy: We tried to take it back home ...

Jonathan: [We wanted] to make a full circle and go back to a cappella hymns [like the first record]. It started that way and then we began to listen to other songs ... [We] began to say, wouldn't it be great to do a praise and worship song here ... We actually recorded four a cappella things, three hymns and the national anthem. That's where it started, and from there it went to other producers. So, it turned into this hymns-praise and worship-new songs album ... a combination of where we all three are right now in our lives. Judy's been through depression, I've been through having premature sons, Joyce has been through infertility. God has brought us through those things and is still bringing us through. This is just [a way] that we can say ...

Judy: Thank you ...

Jonathan: Exactly. We're just worshipping Him ... instead of singing about the comfort we have in our problems, we sing about the One Who is bringing us through our problems. So, it evolved into what it is now.

Joyce: The cool thing to us is that we worked with four different producers and ended up using songs from three of those producers, not knowing for sure whether it would blend together on an album. We just really believed that God had led us to those guys, to those songs ... We actually recorded 20 songs and had to pick from those 15 to make the album complete. We really believed God was involved from the very beginning. We think it blends together beautifully, lyrically and stylistically.

Judy: And life itself gets so busy, then we travel on top of that ... It's so easy to lose focus on what we are singing about. That was a big part of this, as well, [saying that] we have to re-focus, to look at the Author and the Finisher of our faith, and to look to Him, and that's what this record is all about.

Jonathan: We could sing of his love forever ...

J MAN: New Homecoming Videos about the Billy Graham Crusades are being released, and you were a part of it. How was that experience?

Joyce: We did a Billy Graham Crusade with Gaither [in Nashville, Tenn.] at the Titans Arena. That in itself was amazing. I mean, you've seen it on TV your entire life, but to be there when he presents the gospel, and not hundreds but thousands of people stream out of those seats, and come to know the Lord. It has really been one of the most unbelievable things. There's just nothing like being at a Graham crusade.

J MAN: After someone has been to one of your shows or listens to a CD, what message would you want them to walk away with?

Jonathan: That God is faithful. Through it all, through anything they face. That's [from] me, God is faithful. Because He has definitely been for me. When I [didn't] know what to do, His hand led the right people to encourage me, led me to the right doctors who would also know what to do, spiritually, for a dad that was going through this. He's just always had the right people in place, the right circumstances to get me through to the next day. So the songs I've sung have said that to me. And I hope that's what people hear and feel, that God will be there with them through what they're facing.

Joyce: And I think, every night, my drive, I don't even think I [actually] say it on stage but I always think ... I want to look at the people and say, with every song and every word, "You need God." You need Him ... In the good times, you don't think about it, [but] definitely in the bad times you will think about it a lot more. But the reality is He is here for us for a reason, because we cannot do it. Even when we try, and things turn out well, He is still there to help us make our right decisions more right, and when we do things wrong he's there to help us fix our mistakes.

I have to say, personally, I find myself doing things in my own strength, and I've known God my whole life. I want people to be reminded that we don't have to do it on our own. They need God in their life and He's there for them.

Judy: This is a round-about way of saying it, which is usually the way I say things. I heard, I think Charles Stanley, preach about Joseph. Everything he went through prepared him for his position ... And I think that's what happens to all of us in our lives. Our songs talks about those things [and] help us to get through those times in our life. They remind us to allow Him to build that character within us through those situations ... so that we can be prepared for the decision he has for us. That's what I want to happen in their life and in mine ...

 

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