It’s always exciting to enter the new year, anticipating what awaits in gospel music — what new CDs will be released, what new transitions groups will make, but what is most awaited is the discovery of new groups that will make their mark in gospel music. One such group who flourished this year is The Sound. There is just something special about the way the perfect, rich notes of family harmony blend together, the way one voice just melts into the other, and the way one voice is barely interpretable from another. Whatever style their newest hit has, it never lacks, and the trio never fails to satisfy their listeners. Levi, the oldest son who is a member of the trio, plays a huge part in his family’s ministry, whether it’s vocally or charming the audience with his magnetic personality.
Surprisingly, The Sound just recently made their entrance into the gospel music world in 2017, yet they have already seen their music escalate on the charts. But these men are no novices in gospel music. Levi explains, “We went on the road as The Rob Mills Family part time…It was my dad, my brother and I, and our mom…We were a family group…that is really kinda what developed how I sang.” But the Lord had other plans in store for this family. “We collectively made a decision that a father son trio is…more unique than a family group, so we made a collective decision to go that route, and that’s what we’ve been doing ever since,” Levi explains. Before The Rob Mills Family, the father, Rob Mills, used to sing in a group called The Sound during the 1980’s-90’s. And now they are back and making music like never before!
There is no doubt that the musical genes were carried on in this family, and not just in singing. Levi says, “I have been singing since I was two years old in church…that was always a sight when I was younger, but I started playing drums for our church. I was always the drummer in the praise band.” While traveling with his dad for his whole life, it is no doubt that this is the person who has had the greatest influence on his life. “He’s been in gospel music for along time and obviously has had a great impact on me personally,” but there have been numerous vocal influences on this young man. Although he is pretty satisfied with his own voice, he admits, “I do love Larnelle Harris. I love Michael English. I love David Phelps.”
Although he has been involved in gospel music for most of his 21 years and has even received stage training from the former President of the Gospel Music Association, Thurlow Spurr, no amount of experience can stop the inevitable from happening. Every singer is liable to face some embarrassment. Levi shares, “I do this move sometimes where I will flip a microphone with my hand. There was one time where I went to do that, and I don’t know what happened, but I completely missed the microphone, and I flew it into the first row. That wasn’t fun, that one was pretty bad. That was kinda like…’good night everybody’!” Nevertheless, no accumulation of uncomfortable moments can surpass the rewarding benefits of singing gospel music. Levi says, “I love seeing every place that we go. Each place is a little unique, so it is interesting to see that….my favorite thing about singing…man, what’s not to love about music…Everything about it is just awesome to me.”
Still, this awesome ministry takes some dedication. But when Levi does have some time off the road, he says, “I like to research social media a lot, different ways to connect with people…How do I expand our reach? I’m always thinking about that. I love to research that, but…I love writing things, figuring out the best ways to say things. That’s always something I’ve had an interest in.” It is no wonder he went to college for marketing and even designed The Sound’s logo!
Despite the complete commitment and sacrifice this lifestyle takes, Levi says he will absolutely continue doing it. If he could be doing any other career, he says it would be politics, “Cause it drives me nuts, and I would have to get involved and try to fix it.” Nevertheless, he undoubtedly declares, “I will definitely continue singing…That’s what I’ve always loved. Music in general I absolutely have a passion for…If I could do anything it would be music. That’s what I plan to stick to…if not, there’s always politics to fall back on!
In all the places that they have traveled, Levi’s favorite, without a doubt, is Tennessee. He says, “The Smoky Mountains is probably my favorite place on planet earth. I love the Smoky Mountains, but I also love Nashville. It’s all cool. I love Tennessee so much.” No matter where they travel, no matter how exciting the destination, no matter how beautiful the location, the most beautiful thing is seeing God at work in their ministry and leading believers to the ultimate destination. Levi explains this fundamental part of their ministry saying, “As our audience expands, we see God more at work in people’s lives…we see all the time people on social media talking about how our music has affected their life, how it spoke to them. They’ll give their testimony about how this song really helped them in an area of their life…And obviously seeing people come to Christ — that’s always been the thrust of our ministry, and everywhere we go, we give an invitation. And it’s not uncommon to find several people who respond to that invitation to come to know Jesus Christ. So a primary way we see God at work is through their salvation. Our music is affecting people as well. We’re glad to see God working in that way.”
After being involved in gospel music for most of his life, it is no surprise that this young singer has some great advice for young people in this generation, applicable to those in the music ministry and those who are not — “Be prepared. Lots of old ladies want to pinch your cheeks! No, the best piece of advice I can give is at some point you’ve got to come to the realization that you, at the end of the day, are the vessel through which God is speaking. At the end of the day it’s not about you, it’s about God, it’s about the people you are singing to, it’s about their relationship with Christ, it’s about yours as well. But if you’re singing gospel music, you’re singing with a purpose. You’re singing for a purpose, and that purpose is to see people come to know Christ, to minister to them, and the piece of advice I can give is to be sincere about it. That’s the number one thing people are gonna respond to — sincerity.”
And this is exactly the reason for his success. Some may attribute Levi’s accomplishment in gospel music to his charming personality, his life-long experience and influence in the industry, or his musical talents, but no, these are not the most compelling causes of prosperity. Levi’s and his family’s secret to great musical advancement is found their desire to serve others and serve the Lord. His favorite song they sing is He is Able, and his desire to serve is seen in his reason why. “It’s neat to see a song that really has an impact on people as they are sitting there listening to it. Levi also has advice that serves as the pinnacle of their success: “Understand who you are singing about and why you are singing about it. That’s something that is very important.”