If there is one word that describes The McKameys, it would be sincere. Each member of this Southern Gospel singing group is sincere in their love for the Lord, sincere in their love for the music they sing, and sincere in their need to spread the Word to others through their music.
Organized as a trio of sisters -- Dora, Peg and Carol McKamey -- in 1954, the group is in its fifth decade of spreading love and blessings through the music they sing. Even though there have been several changes in the group's makeup, the wonderful harmonies, great songs and sheer joy of singing has never gone away. Whether they are performing "I've Made Up My Mind", "Roll That Burden On Me," "I Will Trust You Lord," "Right On Time," "Arise," or earlier hits like "Who Put The Tears" or "God On The Mountain," there is a light that shines through onstage and an energy that carries them through the night when they perform.
Dora actually started the group, which is based in Clinton, Tennessee. Since their father was a minister, the girls had grown up singing in church. One day Dora announced to her astonished sisters that they were going to sing with her in church the next Sunday as a trio! "She gathered us up in her kitchen, started singing and we each found our parts," Peg explained. "We just thought we were gonna sing that one time, in her home church, but different people heard us and invited us to sing at their church or at revivals. Then out of town evangelists heard us at the revivals and invited us to come to their church and we started traveling to Florida and Indiana and Ohio, and that's how it all started."
In 1957 Ruben Bean started playing guitar for the trio, and he and Peg married two years later. As their girls, Connie and Sheryl, were growing up they traveled with their mom, dad and aunts. Dora and Carol retired from the trio in 1971 so it was a natural move for Connie and Sheryl to fill their aunt's shoes. "The girls had been singing special duets at our concerts so one day after Dora and Carol told us they were retiring, I heard the girls singing and I went in and added my part and I thought 'Wow.' So when Ruben came home we sang for him, started working on the music, and by the end of the year we were taking bookings. The group never stopped. We sold albums from the old group at first and we made our first album, with the new members, in 1972."
In 1983 there was another change when Sheryl left to fulfill her obligations as a minister's wife. Peg's sister, Carol, returned to the group. In 1987 Roger Fortner was hired to play the guitar for the group. In 1999 Connie and Roger's son, Eli came on stage with the group, quoting scripture and singing from time to time, and then in 2006 Eli joined the group on stage playing rhythm guitar. The group also uses digital tracks to enhance the value of their performance.
The McKameys play about 150 days a year, traveling all over North America from Southern California on up to British Columbia and over to the East Coast, north to New Brunswick and south to Florida. They have had 24 number one singles and in 1999 were honored by their record label, Horizon, for having the most number one hits in the history of Southern Gospel Music. The group has been awarded several different Singing News Fan Awards through the years with Peg being named Favorite Female Vocalist 7 times. However, their fans say they believe the singers really are sincere about the message they present. "It's the joy of the Lord and the strong message in the songs they hear," Peg says. "We try to have fresh songs and new encounters with the Lord so we can pass them along to those in need of it."
In March of 2009 another change in personnel came to the group. Peg's sister, Carol Woodard, retired from the road after 26 years of traveling and singing. Carol's husband retired and Carol wanted to spend time with him and their grandchildren. Sheryl Farris, Peg and Ruben's youngest daughter, returned to the group to fill Carol's position.
Peg is one of the first to admit that Southern Gospel Music has grown. "It's bigger now than it ever has been. There are more people attending the concerts and the concerts are in auditoriums where they were at first only in churches. There are also stronger songs, and the music that enhances those songs has gotten better. There has been a lot of quality added to Gospel Music."
Since 1954 the quality of The McKameys has always been there. The harmonies, the songs and the love of the message and for the people it reaches has never wavered. Fans can feel it emanate from the stage as the group breaks into song, because nothing can take the place of sincerity when it comes to delivering the Gospel to the people.
Original Members: Dora, Peg and Carol McKamey (sisters)
Current Members: Peg McKamey Bean, Ruben Bean, Sheryl Farris and Connie Fortner
Other Group Members Through The Years: Carol McKamey Woodard
Group History: Ruben Bean joins in 1957 as guitar player; Dora and Carol leave in 1971; Connie and Sheryl Bean, daughters of Ruben and Peg Bean, join at that time; Sheryl Bean Farris leaves in 1985; Carol Woodard rejoins at that time; 2009 Carol retires and Sheryl rejoins the group.
Band Members: Roger and Eli Fortner, guitars
Group Base: Clinton, Tennessee, near Knoxville
Number of Projects Recorded Since Group First Started: 47
Number of Videos/Dvds Recorded Since Group First Started: 15
Number of Dates Worked Each Year: 140-150
1989 - "Singing News" awards, Song of the Year, "God On The Mountain"
1994 - "Singing News" awards, Song of the Year, "Arise"
1989-1994 - "Singing News" awards, Peg McKamey, Favorite Female Singer
2001 - Honored by Horizon Records for its ten number one singles, the most for any group in the history of Southern Gospel Music
2001 - Marvin Norcross Award, NQC - Ruben Bean
2002- “Singing News” awards, Peg McKamey, Favorite Female Singer. Roger Fortner, Favorite Musician
2003- “Singing News” award, Favorite Video “Hometown Live”
2011- 24 Number One Singles
1988 GONE TO MEETIN
1989 SING PRAISES
1991 MCKAMEYS ON TOUR
1992 WITH FEELING
1994 WITH HIS POWER
2000 WHO WE ARE
2001 MCKAMEYS HOMETOWN LIVE
2003 LIVE AT RENFRO VALLEY
2006 THE OLD PATH LIVE
2006 MCKAMEYS CHRISTMAS
2008 SOMETHING MORE LIVE
2010 SING OUT AMERICA
2011 THE JOURNEY
Album (Label)/Radio Airplay:
1981 HE DIDN'T LET US DOWN (MORNING STAR)
1982 BY FAITH (MORNING STAR) "Burning The Midnight Oil"
1983 KEEPSAKE (MORNING STAR) * "Who Put The Tears" (1984) and "Someone Prayed For Me"
1984 TENNESSEE LIVE (MORNING STAR) "Tarry Here"
1985 FRUITFUL (MORNING STAR) "Bring Me Out Of The Desert"
1986 UNIQUE (MORNING STAR) "The Bride Coming In" and "I'm Going Thru"
1987 MORE THAN MUSIC (MORNING STAR) * "Getting Used To The Dark" (1987) and "Vision Of Heaven"
1988 COVERED BY LOVE (MORNING STAR) "No More Sea"
1988 GONE TO MEETIN (MORNING STAR) ** "God On The Mountain “(1989) and "Ground Breaking"
1989 SING PRAISES (MORNING STAR) * "God Will Make This Trial A Blessing" (1991) and “Under His Feet”
1990 PURPOSE (MORNING STAR) "Somehow He Will" and "Handfuls Of Purpose"
1991 JUST THINKING (MORNING STAR) "The Rising Of The Son"
1992 WITH FEELING (HORIZON) * "A Borrowed Tomb" (1993) and * "Do You Know How It Feels" (1993)
1993 WITH HIS POWER (HORIZON) ** "Arise" (1994) and "Prayer Changes Me"
1994 IT'S REAL (HORIZON) "I'm Going Thru Jesus" and "A Voice Within"
1995 SHELTERED (HORIZON) "How Deep Is The Sea" and “The Old Love Letter"
1996 STILL HAVE A SONG (HORIZON) * "Right on Time" (1997) and "This Valley Is For Me"
1997 REMEMBRANCE (HORIZON)
1998 ALWAYS (HORIZON) "A Wall Of Prayer", * "Roll That Burden On Me" (1999) and "It Satisfies Me"
1999 WAITING (HORIZON) "The Blood" and "Even The Valley"
2001 I'VE WON (HORIZON) * “I've Won” (2001), * "He Calms Me" (2002) and * “The Other Side" (2003)
2002 TROPHY OF GRACE (HORIZON) * “Surely Goodness and Mercies of the Lord” (2003) and “A Trophy of Grace”
2003 AN ACOUSTIC JOURNEY (HORIZON) “Anytime” and “God Is So Good To Me”
2004 FRESH MANNA (HORIZON) * “The Good News” (2005) and * “I Am Home” (2005)
2005 THE OLD PATH (HORIZON) * “I Will Trust You Lord” and * “Altogether Lovely” (2006)
2007 TELLING THE STORY (HORIZON) * “You’re Still God”,* “You Are With Me” and
“It Takes Time” (2008)
2008 SOMETHING MORE (HORIZON) “I’ve Made Up My Mind”, “Between 12 and 33 (2009)
2009 THE MESSAGE (HORIZON) * “I Keep Praying” (2010) * “The Shepherd’s Point of View” (2010)
2011 JOY IN THE JOURNEY (HORIZON) When Faith Steps In (2011)
* NUMBER ONE SONG
** SONG OF THE YEAR
About the Harper Agency
Over the years, the Harper Agency has taken an active role in marketing gospel music to major concert halls, festival events, churches and state fairs across the country, garnering network television exposure, and have been very instrumental in the development of Christian music events at major theme parks such as Opryland, Six Flags Over Georgia and Dollywood.
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