Music Scribe has been announcing our choices for the best of 2013. We thought it would be nice to get to know those individuals a little better. Today we open up our interview chair for a new conversations feature with our choice for female vocalist of 2013, Amber Thompson.
Amber has been performing full-time with Nelons since the age of 13. In the interview I asked Amber her thoughts on her family’s legacy, her upcoming solo album and a question about the real celebrity in the family.
Sit back, relax and enjoy our conversation with Amber Thompson.
Eaton: You come from a great legacy in Southern Gospel music with your grandfather (Rex) and mother (Kelly). What are your thoughts on the Nelons legacy in Southern Gospel music and now your part in that legacy?
Thompson: “I’ve always been proud of my family’s legacy. My grandfather paved a way so that it would be easier for my mother and eventually myself one day. I am so thankful that God allowed me to be born into a family that was not just talented but a godly family as well. I’m also thankful that He allowed me to be able to share the talent with them so that I could be a part of it.”
Eaton: Is singing something you always wanted to do? How long did you have to hound mom before she let you take the stage with the group on a full-time basis?
Thompson: “I’ve always wanted to sing. I actually don’t ever remember a time when I didn’t want to sing. When I was little I used to set up my dolls and sing to them on the bus while my family was singing on stage. I actually filled in for the Nelons when our soprano singer came off of the road to get married. My mom felt like it fit because we were a family and we found out my range was actually the range of a soprano. So God had a plan the whole time.”
Eaton: You may not realize how much of a role model you are to young girls and even young people in general regarding Gospel music. Do you ever think about that?
Thompson: “I think about that all the time. It’s what motivates me to be the best that I can be to know that young girls or teenagers are watching me and learning from me. I know how blessed I was to have such great role models and because of the example they set for me it helped me become who I am today. So I strive to do the best I can not only for them but to please God as well.”
Eaton: Your family has been a part of many large Southern Gospel events (including Gaither events). What has been your all-time favorite place to sing?
Thompson: “That’s a tough one. I’ve enjoyed and seen so much. I think definitely the Gaither Homecoming Concerts would rank to the top of my list. That was always a dream for me that I wasn’t sure would ever happen. But when God allowed us to be a part of it I was thrilled. I love Bill and Gloria so much and they never cease to teach me something new each time I’m around them. They are like family to us and to be able to be on that stage with them because of who they are is an honor and a privilege. I would also say that anywhere outside the U.S. has been pretty cool too. I’ve been to Scotland, Ireland, London, Sweden, Guatemala, Mexico, etc. but probably my favorite was Paris. That was another dream of mine. To see the Eiffel Tower in real life is surreal. So cool.”
Eaton: Southern Gospel fans can be an interesting bunch. What is the most unusual/funniest thing said to you at the product table by a fan?
Thompson: “Well I had a lady come up to me and ask me, “Do you know who I am?” and i couldn’t recall her name so I said “I’m not good with names but I know who you are” and smiled. She then replied “Ok, well then how do you know me?” I could feel my face get red and panicked and I replied, “Well refresh my memory, I see so many people a day” and she said “Well I gave you a very important gift that you still have”. Now I was in trouble because I just could not remember. So finally I told her, “I’m sorry I just don’t remember”. She laughed and said “When you were born I made you a blanket and gave it to you as a gift”. We both just laughed and I said “Well no wonder I don’t remember!”
Eaton: The Nelons are working on 40 years in Southern Gospel music. Do you have an all-time favorite Nelons song? Does the group still stage the song?
Thompson: “There are so many Nelon songs that are so good. It’s hard to pick just one. But if I had to pick it would be “Oh For A Thousand Tongues”. Not a night goes by where we don’t sing that song. What an incredible lyric.”
Eaton: Is there a particular song in the group’s current set that you would be happy to stop singing, because you’ve grown tired of performing it?
Thompson: “Oh Yes! “Walk Right Out Of This Valley”! If you know my grandfather and are a fan of The Nelons, then you know why this song is not a favorite of any soprano of the Nelons. They make you sing it 4x and each time speeding up the tempo until you eventually sound like a chipmunk. I still sing it and I am very close to deleting the file, hahaha.”
Eaton: I understand you are working on a new solo recording. Can you tell us a little bit about the recording and when listeners can expect it at retail?
Thompson: “I am so excited! I just signed with Daywind Music Group to do a brand new solo project that should release in the Summer of 2014. I wasn’t sure about doing one and my family kept telling me to do it and they would help me get everything together. So here we are! We are in the process now of writing and picking songs still and then once that’s done we will go forward with everything else. I can’t wait to get it done and out for everyone to hear.”
Eaton: Your family’s dog (Sam) has become quite the celebrity. Whose initial idea was it to begin making videos with your vocal work (and your voice bringing Sam to life)?
Thompson: “My family is crazy. We are who we are no matter where we are haha. Sam has a personality all on his own. My mom and I share the same sense of humor so we would start telling each other what we thought Sam would say if he could say it. So that turned into me making this cute but sarcastic little voice and making everyone laugh. Which eventually turned into filming it so we could share it with everyone else and he became a hit. We couldn’t believe our dog became famous.”
Eaton: In closing, let our readers know a little about the Amber Thompson outside of Southern Gospel music?
Thompson: “Well most of you know I just recently got engaged to my fiancé John Risk. We met in college and dated for almost 4 years. We are getting married in June and could not be any happier or excited. I also just filmed a TV show for TLC called “Say Yes To The Dress”. It will air some time after the wedding. So be watching. I also just graduated from Bethany Divinity College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Counseling for Marriage and Family. I really wanted to work with kids who have been treated bad or are in broken homes and need help. I love kids and they really do have my heart so God allowed me to go to school so that I could use this on the road or at home. God has truly blessed me and especially this year. I’m overwhelmed and undeserving of his grace and love but I’m thankful that He cares about me and chooses to bless me.”
I want to thank Amber for stopping by for our conversations feature. I believe our staff choosing Amber as best female vocalist of 2013 is the first in many honors that will come her way in the years to come. Here is a YouTube clip (published by SouthernGospelVideos.com) of Amber and the Nelons performing “I Stand Amazed”. Enjoy!