Grammy Award-nominated, Dove Award-winning Gospel music family group The Nelons debuted Peace At Last in October, their first new studio recording in two years. Comprised of Kelly Nelon Clark, Jason Clark, Amber Nelon Kistler and Autumn Nelon Clark, the Gospel Music Hall of Famers’ 13-song collection also marked their new long-term partnership with Daywind Records. Produced by Jason Clark and Dove Award-winner Wayne Haun, Peace At Last features nine songs co-penned by Clark and six by Haun, along with contributions from acclaimed writers Tony Wood, Joel Lindsey, Kenna West, Michael Boggs, Reba Rambo, and Dony McGuire, among others. The recording reflects the group’s influences across Gospel, country and Americana genres, while featuring the signature vocals and family harmonies that have been their trademark for more than three decades. Recently, the band talked with us about the inspiration behind the record, reaction to their new music, and their message for those struggling with faith during the pandemic.
Congratulations on the recent release of Peace At Last! Can you share a little about what inspired you to record this project?
It had been nearly four years since we had recorded new original music, and two years since our last two records, which were Christmas and Americana Classics. We were ready to make a musical and lyrical statement with this collection.
What has the reaction been like so far to the new music?
Many of our peers believe it could be one of our best records—that remains to be seen. However, we are proud of this music and believe it is the most unifying set we have ever released. To be honest, we knew our die-hard fans were ready for new music but we had no idea how broad this record would be. After delaying the release several months due to the pandemic, we had a lot of runway to do marketing, music videos, radio singles and more. The anticipation of that slow burn has really helped the release find its way.
Have there been impact stories shared with you from listeners?
A powerful moment was at a recent event in Washington, DC, as we were singing under a massive tent on the lawn of the Lincoln Memorial. Posted around the tent were flags representing many nations, including the United States. As we began to sing “Peace at Last,” a man came from the outside and began to wave a huge Israeli flag with the Star of David. This moment was so prophetic as every kindred, tribe, and tongue was represented there and we were collectively singing “the time for tears will all be past — there will be peace at last.” What a glorious glimpse into the future for every believer!
This is your first new project in two years. How long was this album in the making?
The entire process from concept, to writing, arranging, recording, mastering, and packaging was nearly 18 months.
Throughout the making of this project, was there a singular moment that stood out to you that solidified your direction forward?
“Peace at Last” was a song Jason had begun writing for another artist he was producing at the time. Kelly was fond of the song and felt it would better fit the family’s sound, so Jason called Tony Wood to help finish the song. When we heard this lyric, “All men will be our brothers—no stones of hatred cast—we’ll gather at the feet of Jesus—there will be Peace at Last,” we knew we had our concept and foundation to build from.
The band has been around for decades and strives to balance legacy with evolution. How does the group make decisions in making adjustments to the sound, music, etc.?
It comes very naturally. We don’t set out and say let’s make sure this record or song has a specific musical treatment. We all have different musical influences from country, Appalachian, a cappella, gospel, inspirational, and more. Jason mostly drives that direction but we always feature our family harmony regardless of genre or musical stylings.
2020 has been a year that no one imagined. What has been helpful to you during the year that you would like to share with those struggling with their faith during this pandemic season?
Recently, we challenged our family to make a list of things we were grateful for in spite of COVID and one in particular was that we have spent almost every night eating dinner at home since the quarantine began, with all our family gathered around the table.
Additionally, we have been forced to get creative to continue to get our music, message, and art out to the public. We’ve started making music videos, and releasing our very first variety show called “Christmas at the Farm.”
We also began a farm-to-table subscription box business from our farm (Clark & NELON Farms), in addition to a wedding/event/concert venue called Venue 1074 (ten-seventy-four).
More than likely, none of these things would’ve happened had 2020 been just another normal year.
Undoubtedly, like so many reading this article, this has been the toughest year we’ve faced. Jason had open heart surgery, emergency knee surgery, 6 months of therapy and recoupment, and obviously we all were impacted in some ways by the pandemic! But here we are near the end of 2020 and we are still standing by God’s faithfulness and His abundant goodness. We are gonna make it and so are you!
With 2020 coming to a close, can you share with us something you are looking forward to in the remaining months or even into 2021?
We are very excited to premiere our “Christmas at the Farm” online special and hope to do more of this kind of fun variety show in 2021.