Rebecca West: Words & Music

SUNSHINE ON THE MOUNTAIN
an autobiography by Rebecca Lynn West

Chapter 2


The Spirituals


Traveling with The Spirituals, my family's gospel singing group, was wonderful and a big part of my life for many years. My sister Barbara and her husband Fred started this group. It was a great opportunity for me to sing and travel.


We sang at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, at the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, Missouri, and many other significant places across the United States.


We recorded some of our music albums in Nashville, Tennessee. At one time the well-known Jake Hess traveled with us. He was a popular singer on Bill Gaither's "Homecoming" television programs and DVDs.


We were on stage several times with the Happy Goodmans, the Oak Ridge Boys, and other well-known Southern Gospel groups. I don't think we even realized just how blessed we were at the time. I am sure there were other gospel groups that were better than we were, but we were blessed to have had such a full schedule of appointments. This required complete dedication because this type of ministry can become very tiring and wearing on a person, especially if their heart is not in it. But mine was, completely! I put my heart and soul into every song.


When we arrived at a church or auditorium to sing and minister, it felt wonderful and was worth every mile we had traveled to get to our destination, especially when we saw people being healed and/or turning their lives over to Jesus.


Many times we would drive all night or drive in snow and on ice to get to our next appointment. Fortunately we had bus drivers who put our safety first.


One night we were traveling to a church and we found ourselves in a snow storm. The ground was covered with snow with ice underneath. This is very dangerous of course, especially when you are in a huge bus! And this church was on a hill! On each side of the driveway was a steep drop-off. About half way up the hill the bus began sliding all over the place until we were at the very edge of the drop-off. All we could do was just sit there in the bus and pray!!!


Eventually, God and the driver got us back on the driveway safely, and we arrived in time to set up the equipment and start the service!


Of course we had our own sound equipment, which the guys set up at every church and auditorium. We had the biggest and best sound equipment available. Back in those days, the bigger the speakers were, the better! We had JBLs, the top of the line! The guys had to allow time before each concert to set up all of our equipment, and then take all of the equipment down after the concert and take it all back to the bus! A lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes with this lifestyle that many people are not aware of.


Before each concert my sister Barbara and I set up our record album display.


As with any music group, singers come and go, and so it was with our group. But our family was always there to keep everything going. It was a ministry, not just something to do on the weekends.


I remember my brother David working many hours scheduling our performance dates. David was a very talented and professional musician. He could sing and he could play the steel guitar, electric bass, or drums. But when he played the trumpet, his music was anointed and I remember how beautiful it was.


Barney, the cocker spaniel, traveled everywhere with us. He was Barbara and Fred's dog. He always knew when the bus started up that he would get to go on a trip and he loved it! I guess you could call him our mascot.


Someone in our group was always hungry, or had left their suit at home, or forgot something important that they needed on the trip. I also remember that we were always hungry after a concert! We would stop at a restaurant to eat, laugh, and unwind. We were one big happy family and we loved God with all of our hearts.


We needed a bass player for the band that traveled with us. Phil Enloe recommended Gary Bucher for this position. When we heard Gary play the bass guitar, there was no question concerning his talent. He could pick up almost any instrument and play it beautifully, but he was a master at playing the bass. Gary had a mellow baritone voice and sang with the two other guys in the group. Fred, Gary, and Jim Cochran had a fantastic sound that was difficult to excel by any standard. They were the best!


About six months before Gary joined the music group, I had a dream. In this dream I saw a man laying on his stomach in my front yard. He was looking at me and he said, "Help me." That was the end of the dream. I was very puzzled by this dream.


I had never seen Gary before in my life until he walked into the church where we all had met to practice. After I had met him and we all practiced, I left to go home. All of a sudden as I was walking to my car, I remembered the dream that I had six months earlier. The man in the dream was Gary! I couldn't believe it! I don't know what I was feeling, but tears started running down my face and I could barely see to drive home.


Gary became a part of our singing group in 1972 and we traveled thousands of miles in our Silver Eagle bus. In 1973 Gary and I were married. We continued traveling with The Spirituals for several more years, giving our time and talent to God completely. I wrote the title song to "Takin' You Home," one of the many albums we recorded during that time. It was a great album. And it was a great time in our lives that I will never forget. I hold all these wonderful memories in my heart.


But that didn't last forever. Things were just beginning to change...




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