Gotee was simply a production company then. Their job was to help artists make their music and, then, shop it around to labels to see who was interested in releasing it commercially.

Except nobody was interested in the type of music Out of Eden was making – namely, Christian urban music with a pop flair.

“They’d take us to a ‘ccm’ label, and they’d respond, ‘They’re gospel!’” reminisces Danielle. “Then, they’d take us to a gospel [label], and they’d be like, ‘They’re not gospel … they’re “ccm”!’ No one really understood us.”

“Gotee basically had to start a label so that we could have a home and a place to create music,” says Lisa, the eldest of the Kimmey sisters. “One thing that got us through in different environments was that we knew the Word of God, and we knew how to minister even at an early age. I think that’s how people relaxed and accepted us a little bit.”

“So many girls of all races gravitated to their music because it was very unique to the market at that time,” says Elwood. “They filled a huge void. We are talking to a new artist – and I’m even interviewing prospective employees -- who are in this business because they heard that first album by Out of Eden ["Lovin’ the Day"]. I’m still not sure the girls even understand their place in history from this perspective.”

“Frankly speaking, we were a triple minority,” says Lisa of the barriers they had to overcome. “We were young; we were girls; and we were black. We overcame a lot of your basic prejudices. We stood for a sound that wasn’t readily accepted, so we had to take a different path and just be persistent.”

That perseverance paid off. Since then, Out of Eden has, among other milestones, released six albums, toured the world, performed for Billy Graham’s crusades and sold more than 1,200,000 discs – an enviable number considering urban music, until recently, was still largely a niche style within Christian music.

With each subsequent release, their music also got tighter, their harmonies more intricate and the production values more up-to-speed with the quality of mainstream R&B. One listen to their discography sheds light on this artistic growth, which went from the youthful, old-school flavor of their breakout cover of “Lovely Day” to the slightly more progressive sounds of "More Than You Know."

But it was 1999’s "No Turning Back" that cemented their place as an urban pop act. “Lookin’ for Love,” “River” and “Window” were all potent singles in their own right, paving the way for what was to come in years ahead with follow-ups – the ultra-modern "This Is Your Life" and the summer-ready "Love, Peace & Happiness."

With such a solid résumé, why the decision to retire?

“It is puzzling to a lot of people,” admits Andrea. “But I guess it starts with the fact that we knew God had us doing this for a certain amount of time. We knew that our impact would be when we were young and for young people.”

“Since we began, we were like, ‘God, whenever You’re ready for us to move on, [that’s] totally fine,’” Danielle concurs. “We’ve never been married to fame or notoriety or any of those things. But we just knew that was how God had us to minister in that time, to minister to our generation. When our generation grew older, [we knew] that it would be someone else’s [turn]. So we just felt like God was releasing us.”

“I think we got to the point where we just felt it was time to hang it up,” says Lisa. “We always said that we didn’t want to be hanging on for dear life. While everyone else was moving on, we didn’t want to be out there still doing shows. We never wanted to do that. This time, we all felt a sense about ending this chapter of our lives and starting a new chapter. We were all ready.”