Staff writer Victoria Bowlin gets a chance to talk with Donnie Williamson of The Williamsons in this Q&A!
Victoria Bowlin: Tell us about the new album. What is the title? When is the release date?
Donnie Williamson: When you make a new recording, you always hope you can make one better than the last. We were really concerned about that after the success of our Tell Somebody project. It did extremely well for us. But I have to say that I believe our latest CD, Give Them Jesus, is the best thing we’ve ever done. We received so much great material, and Les Butler and Donna King outdid themselves on production. We released it for download on Easter Sunday, and hard copies followed soon after.
VB: How many of these are original songs?
DW: Lisa Williamson wrote two of the songs. “He’s Here For Me” is a song about Stephen. The message is, if God will be there for Stephen, I can depend on Him to be there for me. “Robes Of Pure White” is a song Lisa wrote after a young lady, who worked for us unexpectedly passed away. She had given her life to Christ about six months earlier at a service we held near our home town. It became very timely for Lisa, as she lost both of her grandmothers last year. The song paints a beautiful picture of crossing over to spend eternity with Jesus.
VB: Tell is a little bit about the group. Where are you guys from? Who are the group members?
DW: We are based in a small town in Oklahoma called Wetumka. It is some 20 miles to the nearest Walmart! Current members are Donnie and Lisa Williamson, Darin Hebert, Karl Rice, and latest group member Bo Chesser (Lisa’s brother). Lisa and I’s daughters, Sadie and Olivia, also travel with us and share their talents on each program.
VB: How long have The Williamsons been together as a group?
DW: The Williamson Family began singing around 1969 with myself (Donnie), along with my parents Woody and “Pinky”, and my sister Tennie. The foundation of the current lineup started in 1998 as The Homesteaders Quartet. We changed our name back to The Williamsons around 2005.
VB: Which song(s) stand out to you most from the new project?
DW: If you asked each group member which song stood out the most on Give Them Jesus, each one would probably give you a different answer. However, I think the best consensus would be a song sent to us by our friend Dixie Phillips titled, “If This Altar Could Talk”. Just imagine the stories of changed hearts and lives, healings, and deliverance those old wooden benches could tell! The title song, “Give Them Jesus” is also special because so many friends and peers joined us as guest vocalists – Jeff and Sherri Easter, Duane Allen, Jim Brady, Sherman Andrus, Ronnie Hinson, Sue Dodge, Jaquita Lindsey, and the list goes on! We were overwhelmed that so many agreed to take part.
VB: Which song(s) does the audience seem to most connect with?
DW: This project is one of those that pretty much every song “works” – and we can’t sing them all every time! However, I would have to say “Jesus, What a Wonderful Name,” “Every Moment, Every Mountain, Every Mile”, and “He’s Here For Me” might stand out a bit. Oh, and a song that features our bass singer Darin, “He’s Leading the Way”. Well, again audiences have pretty much loved them all!
VB: Is there a particular song on this album that has an extra special meaning to you?
DW: I think, “Robes Of Pure White” has a special meaning to Lisa and me because of our personal involvement in the song’s background. The song was sung at the funeral service for both of Lisa’s grandmothers last year. It also was great sharing the CD with the parents and grandmother of the young friend we lost, who was the original inspiration behind the song.
VB: What will your first radio single be from this project?
DW: Our first radio release from Give Them Jesus project was, “Jesus, What a Wonderful Name”. It made it in the top five in most all major Southern Gospel publications! We are getting ready now to see how the follow up will do – “Every Moment, Every Mountain, Every Mile”.
VB: How does the song picking work for you guys when choosing material for a new cd?
DW: Song selection has always been a group effort, made with lots of prayer. Lisa and I sort of go through the initial selection process, then as a group we make an A list and a B list. Sometimes they get moved from one list to the other! We will occasionally run some of the songs by others, like Lisa’s father Larry, who is very sensitive to the Spirit about these things. After we feel we have a good selection of 15 or 20 songs, we make the final decision with our producers.
VB: How can people get a copy of the new album and stay up to date with your schedule?
DW: People can contact us for their copy through our website, www.williamsonsmusic.com. Give Them Jesus is also available on all major download sites.
VB: Thank you so much Donnie for sharing about your group and latest CD! Go check out The Williamsons new project, Give Them Jesus, available now!