Church is a major part of every community in Liberty County, and music is a major part in every church service.
It’s little wonder, then, that Liberty County is blessed with gospel singers and songwriters.
One of those artists, Naomi Ruth McFadden, a licensed evangelist and member of Good Shepherd Missionary Baptist Church in Allenhurst, said she began singing in church when she was 9 years old. Her father, who is a pastor, sometimes would have her and her sister sing before he began preaching. Without telling them in advance what they would be singing, she said he’d go over to the piano and play something. They were expected to come up with their own lyrics for whatever song he played.
“I thank God for that experience, because it gave me the gift to sing and write songs as an adult,” McFadden said. “Sometimes, the Holy Spirit will put a song in my spirit. A song instantly comes to me, and I can hear the lyrics to it. I like to pull from my personal experiences ... God gives me the words to encourage people.”
She said she tells people, “The Holy Spirit gave it to me, but I put it down on paper.”
McFadden recently released her second album entitled, “God is Smiling.” Her debut album, “Come Too Far,” was released in October 2010 and, she said, it is doing well with sales on iTunes and other outlets.
She said testimonials from those who’ve gotten the album and thanked her for it are a blessing. The album’s top songs, “Gone Too Far” and “Don’t Give Up,” were featured among the top 100 Christian songs in Belgium. Her music can be heard locally on WBML 1490 AM in Hinesville. She appeared on “Red Letter TV” on Fox 28 on Feb. 24.
McFadden gets a lot of support from home. The mother of two boys and a girl is the wife of Walthourville Police Chief Tracy McFadden.
“I make sure she has everything she needs for the ministry,” Tracy McFadden said. “I stand behind her, support her and encourage her. We’re always together and of one accord.”
Naomi concurred with her husband, saying he supports her “150 percent.” She said whatever they set out to do, they do it together and God blesses them for it. She said she gives all the credit back to God, rather than to her tremendous voice and talent for song writing.
When the Coastal Courier visited their home in Walthourville on Friday, Naomi offered a sampling of her gospel talent, singing a capella “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Her impromptu performance in her own living room is something she likes to share with others on her albums, Tracy said.
Naomi said she likes a diversity of gospel music and is influenced equally by Southern gospel, contemporary Christian, Christian rock and rhythm-and-blues gospel.
“Music is something that connects with everybody,” she said. “I thank God for a healthy balance in my music and my life with my family, ministry, kids and school. I’ll soon complete an associate’s degree in general studies at Point University (in Savannah), then I’ll continue working toward a bachelor’s in leadership.”
Brandon McKenzie of Midway is another local gospel artist. His debut album, “From Stone to Stone,” recently was released by independent label Tate Music Group. His publicist, Jonathan Robles, said McKenzie has been playing and performing from a young age. McKenzie’s new album will redefine contemporary gospel music, he said.