Victoria Bowlin: How did The Bledsoes originate?
Rodney Bledsoe: Some of the earliest memories I have from childhood are of creaky, hard wooden (most of the time no pads, mind you) straight back church pews. Hearing the three part harmony of my grandfather, Homer Childress, his sister, Lola Jenkins and her daughter, Barbara Jean Reece, The Jenkins Trio. Our mom would take me and my brother night after night every weekend to hear them when they would be singing close by. My brother didn’t have a shy bone in his body, if they would sing a song he liked, well he just couldn’t contain himself and started blaring it out. My mom would try to tell him, Jonathan, “Sing it quietly”, she would say, or “Sing it softly”, nope, not Jonathan. Well someone would hear him, next thing you know they would have him up there on the pulpit singing. That’s how we started so many years ago. Eventually our dates kept Papa more busy than The Jenkins Trio. Mom used to keep all the bookings for us, and in one year, when we were small, we filled 279 revival dates. I used to say we would fall asleep in church and wake up going to school the next morning. Down through the years, family has stepped in, and family has stepped out. Our cousin, Robert Freeman joined some twenty years ago, around the time Papa had his first heart attack. Papa retired from the road when we went full-time some 15 years ago. My brother, Jonathan, had a vocal chord injury around six years ago and had to leave the road, but the Lord has touched his voice and he is now singing solo once again. We know time will bring change, but we have always tried to honor the Lord in all that this ministry sets out to accomplish.
VB: Who are the current members?
RB: Rodney Bledsoe, Robert Freeman & Melissa Cates
VB: Where are you based out of?
RB: Dobson, NC
VB: What is new with The Bledsoes? (Latest CD, big concerts or events coming up)
RB: In Oct of 2019, we were the newest addition to Main Street’s 65South roster out of Nashville, TN. On April 3rd, we released our freshmen release, Renewed physically and digitally.
VB: What do you feel has been one of your biggest accomplishments as a group?
RB: Within the industry, there are many accomplishments the Lord has blessed our ministry to achieve. I suppose to name one would be when Daywind submitted our “Trusting” CD to the grammy board, and it made it to the Top 20 round nominations in the grass roots category. Talk about being humbled and blown away.
VB: Do you have any funny road stories?
RB: So many funny stories, sometimes the comedy is lost on paper, but let me try. Most of funny stories revolve around the GPS, the bus and Robert. So, here we go. Dark as pitch midnight, and we had already sang twice this trip. So, we were fairly tired. We feel the bus begin to slow, and we hear Robert. He realizes the trusty GPS has taken us down a subdivision, which is not entirely uncommon. Sometimes there are shortcuts, NOT the case this time. So, we had to get out of the bus and help Robert navigate our 45 foot bus in reverse back up the subdivision for a mile. Talk about laughing. Although, probably one of the funniest stories was when my cousin, Heather had stepped into the soprano part for a season. Now you really must know Heather, usually flats, long sack skirts, you see where I’m going with this. Well, she had to “up her game” a little when she started singing with us. So, there were times we would be on the bus for hours in travel. We would park for the night, and Robert I would be in the front lounge and Heather would come from the bunk room on the bus in her t-shirt, umbro sport shorts & 3” high heels. We could not stop laughing. I still have those pictures!! When we asked her why she was dressed that way, she replied, “I’m practicing”. I’m laughing as I’m writing this now!!
VB: What’s your favorite song to sing?
RB: It would probably be “This Valley You’re In”. To see how the Lord gives help to so many who are hurting through those lyrics, is such a blessing.
VB: Who is the crowd favorite?
RB: I think our crowds are pretty much diversified. Robert seems to have his section of fans, as well as Missie, and I seem to have those who are drawn to me. We seem to work together that way very well. We all try to support each other in every facet whether it be in setting up, singing, tearing down, on the bus or even if we need each other in our personal lives. We are really blessed with this camaraderie and like mindedness.
VB: What is your ministry goal?
RB: The Charlotte Observer once did an interview about our ministry in promotion of a date, and the interviewer posed a similar question. I feel must give you a similar answer. When the Lord saved me, February 13, 1986, He placed a calling on my life, to sing about Him. My calling, my singing, The Bledsoes, this ministry, is much like to other people, breathing. So to say I have one particular goal, I could not. However, like ALL people, they MUST breathe. So you see, I MUST sing. My goal is to sing once more about Him wherever He allows, to draw all to Him.
VB: Where can people go to find out where you’ll be and more information about The Bledsoes?