Barry County southern gospel group, The Revelators, has signed an exclusive recording agreement with 145 Music Group, which is based in Nashville, Tenn.
"When I heard The Revelators for the first time, I tried to fit them into some style mold," said Paul Martin, 145 Music Group artist and repertoire director. "The more I listened, the more I decided this wonderful family group just doesn't fit into the traditional molds we have."
Martin describes The Revelators' music as revival-style and compares the group to the Singing Cookes.
"Being able to sign The Revelators feels like finding a hidden treasure," said Martin. "We are looking forward to introducing them to the rest of the country. If you like good ole' camp meeting, revival-style singing you are going to fall in love with The Revelators."
The Revelators' founding members, John and Wilma Hile, have both been playing and performing gospel music since a very young age. John played drums and bass guitar for The Hile Family Singers, and Wilma played the piano and sang with her family.
In 1986, John and Wilma formed The Revelators, which is not only a music group but a non-denominational ministry designed to lead individuals to Jesus Christ.
"We love the traditional southern gospel sound, and we're doing our best to preserve that in our ministry," said John.
Over the last 23 years, The Revelators have added a third group member, John and Wilma's daughter, Tiffany, and produced two CD projects and dozens of original songs.
"We've had a few original songs for the entire 23 years that we've been in ministry, but we've been doing mostly all original songs for the last five or six years," said John. "At this point, we have about 50 original songs. When (our) new project is complete, we will have recorded 28 of them.."
The Revelators music has been inspired by the Original Hinsons and Dottie Rambo, but most of the group's inspiration is spiritual.
"First and foremost we are inspired by the Holy Spirit," said John. "We are motivated by the divine calling of God that comes from deep within our hearts.
"We love to see the words of the songs reaching out to people and making a difference in their lives," said John. "We hope that people will leave our services with a new inspiration from God. Our main goal is to see people won into the Kingdom of God."
Some of The Revelators' original songs include: "Jesus in a Yard Sale," "He is Forgiven," "Father of Grace," "On This Side of the Blood," "One Way Ticket" and "How Can I Say Goodbye."
John said that one of his favorite songs will appear on the upcoming project being produced on 145 Music Group's Revival Wind Label.
"The one that really tugs at my heart is my most recent song, 'The Tree,'" said John. "It talks about what it must have been like on Calvary and how it affects our lives today."
Local residents will have an opportunity to hear The Revelators' songs live this year. The group will perform at the New Freedom Worship Center's revival in Purdy on April 5 and 8. A show is also scheduled to be held at New Liberty Methodist Church in Monett on July 18, and the group will visit Chapel of the Ozarks in Rocky Comfort on Dec. 19.
"We average around 200 bookings a year," said John. "We spend almost every weekend and many, many week nights on the road."
This spring, The Revelators will balance time on the road with time in the recording studio.
"We are recording 10 of our original songs on this project," said John. "Nine of the songs were written by me, and one is written by Tiffany. One song will be released to national radio as soon as it is finished."
John and Wilma are both Barry County natives. The couple has lived in the same home north of Shell Knob for 19 years. They attend The Lighthouse Pentecostal Church in Eagle Rock with Tiffany and their other daughter, Brittney, who is also becoming involved with The Revelators' ministry.