Minnesota is the state of a 10,000 lakes and Minneapolis has several professional sports teams that their fans are passionate about. It is a state that is quite a distance from the heart of Southern Gospel music but this northern state is home to “The Female Quartet of Southern Gospel Music” known as Sweetwater Revival. For sixteen years, this group has used tight harmony and scripture filled music to reach people hungry for Gospel music in Minnesota and everywhere else. Recently I was able to contact Katie Paull, founding member of the group to find out all about this fantastic group.
DA: Tell us about the four of you:
KP: Katie Paull, the founding member of Sweetwater Revival, was raised in a devout Christian home. She comes from a very musical family where her songwriting mother Cathie, has written close to 600 Gospel songs. Katie’s dad, Dr. Charles Paxson, sang in a men’s quartet with Roy Tremble of the original Cathedrals when he was just in High School. He eventually became the Lead Worship Director at their church where Katie grew up. She spent years in Music City, working towards her music career. Before ultimately starting Sweetwater Revival with her Mother and Manager Cathie Paxson, she recorded her solo project titled “Jesus, You’re My Song” with Producer Steve Allen at Porter Wagner’s old studio in Nashville. The title track “Jesus, You’re My Song” is what she hopes her life will emulate.
Amy Ayash grew up in Southwest Indiana where she was blessed to be reared by her Christian parents, Cal and Wanda Sheeder. She has performed in a wide variety of venues professionally, is a former member of the black gospel group “Praise Groove”, & her solo recording “Lord of the Harvest” received airtime on a variety of Radio Stations reaching millions of people. She is an accomplished musician who plays six instruments, including the piano, organ, guitar, percussion, bass guitar & the cello. She has been featured on television, and has performed numerous solo concerts before coming to Sweetwater Revival. Above all, Amy believes that serving the Lord and ministering to others with her gifts is the most satisfying and highest calling she has received.
Lisa Roers, is no stranger to the professional music scene. Her passion for music began at the tender age of four, when she inherited her great-grandfather’s Pianette (a mini piano with only 73 keys, vs the typical 88! ), along with his love & passion for music. Composing her first song at just 5 years old, she has become a prolific songwriter. She states “I know many have said it before, but I must admit that handing my life & my talents over to God at 13, really DID change my life. Before I let Him in, I was sad, lonely and hurting. I was trying to deal with a great deal of pain and I wasn’t succeeding. God not only helped me heal from that pain, but He became my daily companion. Knowing Jesus was in my heart and by my side brought great comfort.” She has completed two solo recording projects, is an accomplished proficient on piano, flute, and tin-whistles, and continues to hone her skills on the djembe, guitar, ukulele, and saxophone. Lisa’s greatest desire is to serve Jesus Christ. It is her prayer that the talents God has gifted her with, will be used for His glory.
Nicole Ramsey, the baby of the group, is about as delightful as they come. She has a rich soulful voice that exhibits a velvet quality and has won her many awards. She grew up ministering throughout her community in multiple ways. In addition to Sweetwater Revival, she is a sought after worship leader with a true heart for the Lord. Her musical talents are many, which include playing the piano and often accompanying herself on the guitar. She believes that all of her gifts and talents are for His Glory – to use them to tell others about the life found only in Jesus Christ. Nicole has shared the gospel at places like the prestigious Ordway, Twins Stadium, and The Northwest Suburban Conference. Nicole’s vocal register is remarkable. She is now attending St. Cloud State University seeking a degree in Applied Behavior Analysis.
DA: A female quartet is quite unusual. How did the idea of all female quartet come about?
KP: “I moved from the cold northern state of Minnesota to “make it”. My dreams were as big as the sky. I was the waitress that carried a stack of cd demos in her apron and often had zero problem following music industry people I recognized out into the parking lot, asking for “their insight on my voice and career.” Upon moving there, I quickly met a country producer with strong ties to singer Lori Morgan. Thinking this was my God given opportunity I threw myself into country music but with every door that opened I found it wasn’t what I wanted as a Christian woman. After years of living there I grew discouraged, sold most of my furniture, and was sleeping on an air mattress when Mark Speer of The Speer Family called asking me to audition for “The New Speers”. I auditioned and made the group, which began a beautiful time in my musical journey. To say that I started in Gospel Music with even a small piece of the renowned Speer Family is something that I will always treasure.”
That group eventually disbanded and Katie was heartbroken. She made the difficult decision to move back home to MN, thinking that her Southern Gospel career was over. Little did she know that her songwriting mother, Cathie Paxson, was writing up a storm. Their partnership helped to birth Sweetwater Revival. They began advertising auditions and God brought along the girls He wanted them to have. Katie states “I looked back over my musical journey and I was reminded of God’s answer to my prayers. I remember driving from MN to TN in my little white Corsica, praying that someday God would let me sing in a women’s quartet and that somehow, I could sing LEAD most of the time. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a contralto with an extremely low register so singing lead would be out of the question in most groups. However, having a songwriting mother who writes 99% of our music made it possible. ONLY GOD could do put this together and He has.”
DA: How did the name Sweetwater Revival come about?
KP: All through Scripture, water is often used symbolically. We all need water to live, but earthly water only quenches our thirst temporarily. If we fill our souls with earthly things we will thirst again and again. We should seek to refresh our souls with “the living water” that is only found in Jesus Christ. For the name Sweetwater Revival, we took inspiration from John 7:37 “Jesus stood and said, if any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.” Isaiah 55:1 “Ho, everyone who thirsteth, come you to the waters…” and John 4:14 “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” Manager and Songwriter Cathie Paxson states “I love the analogy of water and Jesus being the living water that quenches our thirst. He truly is the only One who can transform our lives and revive us on a daily basis.”
DA: I ask this on all my interviews. My background is in education and we had a mission statement that we followed. What Bible verse would be your group’s mission statement?
KP: Phillipians 2: 10-11 which tells us that one day “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God The Father.”
We want everyone leaving our concerts thinking about Jesus Christ. We make it a point to try and share how to meet Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior at every single concert. We offer the beautiful salvation message where people have a chance to bow their heads and accept Jesus. Who are we to bring them to the well and then not offer them a drink?
DA: What song has made the biggest impact with your fans.
KP: Our last Radio single “God is Shaking Our Land”, which was released one week before Covid 19 hit the world’s stage. We couldn’t have known what was coming but God did in his special timing. The song has had a profound effect on our fans.
Our latest Radio single, “God Make America Great Again”, has become one of the most talked about and controversial songs we have ever done. It has been censored on social media because they think it is political. But taken from 2 Chronicles 7 : 14, it is a call to America and all Christians to turn back to God.
DA: What are the most memorable things that have happened at one of your concerts?
KP: “When Sweetwater Revival first started I remember singing at The Twin Cities Quartet Convention. I walked into the hallway when suddenly a woman stopped me. With soft tears filling her eyes she said “I just lost my husband and I have been so depressed. But hearing you sing tonight…it’s like the pain just went away and lifted…”
Cathie shares one of her greatest memories “I remember when Sweetwater Revival was at the National Quartet Convention several years ago. A man came up to me who was a recent widower and said “I heard your song the other day on the Radio “When Someday Becomes Today”. I wanted to find you and tell you that it has meant so much to me, if you never write another song it would all still be worth it!”
When we started this ministry sixteen years ago, we never could have foreseen or dreamed that someday we would be receiving letters and emails from people across the Nation and around the World, about how our music has blessed their lives. I can not express the honor it is to tell others about Jesus all the while having the opportunity to encourage other believers.
DA: What has the group been doing during this pandemic?
KP: Like most of our colleagues in the industry, we suffered from many concert cancellations. We decided that we would use this time to start working towards our 11th CD Project titled “A Day of Reckoning”.
DA : Finally does your group have any upcoming events that you’d especially like readers to know about?
KP: One event we are heavily promoting and excited about, is our Annual “Hallelujah Homecoming Concert” featuring Renown Pianist Michael Fischer and the amazing Ball Brothers as our special guests. It will take place on: Saturday, August 7th, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. at Trinity Church in Lakeville, MN. Tickets can be purchased through Sweetwater Revival’s website or call Bethel Box Office.
Thank you, Katie for taking the time to share a little about Sweetwater Revival. You can find out more about the group at www.SweetwaterRevival.com