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Chris Jenkins Interviews Trevor Conkle

Next Generation writer Chris Jenkins
Next Generation writer Chris Jenkins

Have you ever wondered what sparked the desire for greats like Anthony Burger, Dino, Roger Bennett, or Hovie Lister to hammer out their very first tune a set of 88 ivory white and black keys? For this aspiring young pianist, it was a simple Christmas toy.

Trevor Conkle was only three years old when he received his first set of “keys”. It started with a little yellow, five-key toy piano that Trevor’s parents gave him for Christmas. He played with it like any child would do, but once he started playing “Jesus Loves Me” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, it became obvious that this little boy had a God-given talent for music. At age 5, Trevor’s parents bought him his first real piano. God opened many doors and opportunities presented themselves for Trevor to be able to play and accompany singers.

In the Summer of 2014, he accompanied Award-Winning Singer Kim Hopper of The Hoppers during a solo-performance at his home church and that night changed his life forever. He was approached by Kim after the concert and she asked him if he would be interested in trying out for The Hoppers. In front of 2,000 plus people at Memorial Auditorium in Chattanooga, TN, he did just that. He was invited to go with The Hoppers on a two week tour to Western Canada a few days following his audition. He was ecstatic and immediately began packing for the trip of a lifetime! He jumped on the bus and has been there ever since.

Chris Jenkins- How did you first discover Southern Gospel?

conkleTrevor Conkle- My parents raised me in a church that founded its roots on convention style hymn singing and Southern Gospel Music. It was also frequently played in our home and is something that has become a daily part of my life.

CJ- What is playing right now in your car or iPod?

TC- Trey Ivey, The Kramers, Harry Connick, Jr., Kim Collingsworth, and The Chris McDonald Orchestra

CJ- Who are some of your musical mentors/heroes?

TC- I am honored to travel with one of the greatest groups in Gospel Music, The Hoppers. And the vast majority of their music is arranged by the great Lari Goss. He is someone who has definitely influenced my style into what it is today. I also look up to Greg Howlett, Kim Collingsworth, Gary Prim, Michael Sykes, and Connie Hopper.

CJ- If you could make your own all-star BAND, who would the members be?

TC- Pianist- myself, Bass (Upright)- Ben Isaacs, Electric Guitar- Eli Fortner, Harmonica- Jeff Easter, Acoustic – Mike Riddle, B3 Organ – Sandra Payton, Drums- Mike Hopper, Triangle- Claude Hopper (Ha Ha)

CJ- What’s the top album every SG fan should have?

TC- My forthcoming solo project! It’s been “in the making” for a while. I’m looking forward to completing it this summer so keep holding on! Good stuff is coming! 🙂

CJ- Where have you always wanted to perform and why do you hope to get to someday?

TC- Carnegie Hall / It is one of the most prestigious concert venues in America.

CJ- What is the most interesting fact about you?

TC- I took first place in the State of Alabama Technology Competition- I was in the ninth grade.

CJ-How do you feel about the direction of Southern Gospel music? What would you change if you could?

TC- The future of Southern Gospel Music looks bright. I have seen more and more interest from the younger generation on the road and that gives me hope to continue doing what I do. If I could change something, I would probably make sure the younger generation knew or were more familiar with the hymns. It is so vital that they know songs like Blessed Assurance, At The Cross, Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary and so many other great standards on which many of us cut our teeth on. Even the CCM or Christian Rock music popular with my generation had an origin… Hymns are the foundational classics we mustn’t forget.

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Absolutely Gospel Music
Formed over 19 years ago by Deon & Susan Unthank originally as SoGospelNews.com, the site was birthed from an email discussion group by the same name. The SoGospelNews email discussion list was created by the Unthanks after the Singing News shut down its extremely popular discussion list. SoGospelNews started as a simple webpage listing artists, fans, individuals, etc. that were avid supporters of the newly formed SoGospelNews talk list. The site eventually took on printing news for Southern Gospel artists, and eventually took on reviewing the latest recordings from both signed and independent artists within the small genre. SoGospelNews became the most viewed Southern Gospel website on the Internet with over 4,000,000 hits per month.

The Unthank family are now involved in the site, as well as the addition of over two dozen staff writers. The website is based out of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. In April 2010, SoGospelNews changed its name to AbsolutelyGospel.com. The name change allows them to cover news items of not only Southern Gospel, but also Country Gospel, Inspirational, and Black Gospel.

On January 5, 2011, Susan Unthank passed away, leaving the website in control of Deon, their son, Chris, and their daughter Amy.

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