CCM: We’ve been big fans and supporters of your music for a long time, and especially interested in your latest project, Sing It Now, of course. So, generally, why was now the right time for that release?
RM: Timing is everything, and everything happens for a reason. My little sister, Susie, is the gospel singer of the family. I always thought that I didn’t want to get over in her lane. I’d stay in country music, and she does the gospel. But last year, my manager who managed me in the ’80s, Bill Carter, and also my producer, who started producing me in the ’90s, came to me and said that they think that it’s a good time for me to do a gospel album. They said that at separate times, and I respect their opinion highly. So, I went to the record label and asked them what they thought about it and everybody was for it.
I went in, and I recorded the album. They only wanted ten songs, but I recorded fifteen. I said, “Well, you can decide which ones you want to take out.” They came back, and they said “Well, we can’t.” I said, “Well, what are you gonna do?” And they said, “Well, go record five more songs and we’ll make it a dual, a two CD package, ten songs of old songs and ten songs of new songs.” That’s what we did. It’s been a labor of love.
I absolutely enjoyed going through my old hymnal from the church in Chockie and finding the songs that I remember Grandma and Grandpa Smith singing up in the front of the church. We probably only had 25 people on a good day, maybe 30, for the congregation. It was a little ol’ bitty one-room church house. Absolutely had a blast going there, and what I remember best is going outside after church and everybody having a big spread of food. It was just a great memory for me with Grandma and Grandpa Smith.
Now Susie’s gonna probably say we had more like 50 people, so I’m not gonna put all that in magic marker [laughs]. But it was fun to get to do this album. I have really enjoyed getting to perform these songs at my concerts. At the Ryman Auditorium, the “mother church [of country music,]” I did a lot of the songs off the album, and even got Mama, Susie and Alice (my two sisters and Mama) up on the stage with me to sang “I’ll Fly Away,” which they did on the album itself.
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