Past the Press Release is an interview series featuring a new member of a professional Southern Gospel group. It’s a chance to look past the standard “excited to be here” press release comment and learn a little more about them. Meet (relatively) new Ball Brothers baritone Andy Tharp!
Daniel: I understand that you go way back with the Ball Brothers – so far back that you were actually singing with them before they started singing with Stephen. At what ages did you start singing together?
Andy: My older brother and I started singing with Andrew and Daniel when I was 10 years old. We were all pretty nervous the first few times we sang to a congregation. We almost sounded like the chipmunks with our quivering voices.
Daniel: At the time, who sang the highest and lowest parts? If this was before your voices changed, were you calling the parts tenor, lead, and baritone, or something else?
Andy: Each person had a “title” as either a tenor, lead, baritone or bass. When we first started I believe that Andrew sang tenor but we quickly realized that Daniel had a higher voice and so he took over as the tenor of the group and Andrew took the lead. After our voices began to change, which I might add was a crazy time for our group, Daniel and Andrew switched the lead and tenor parts again. My brother Matt sang the bass part and I was the baritone of the group but all four of us learned to switch parts as needed.
Daniel: That would be a crazy time for a group! Did you just sing together in your own church, or did you sing at other venues in your area?
Andy: We started out just singing at our church where we grew up but began to get requests to sing at other churches, camps and youth conferences. We always looked forward to summer time when we had the opportunity to do a little traveling and singing.
Daniel: In the fifteen years or so before you (re)joined the Ball Brothers, what have you been up to, musically and otherwise?
Andy: I’ve worked a normal 40 hour a week job since I was 18 and stayed busy helping in our church as the music director for over 9 years. Being involved in our church is very important to my wife and I. We are so thankful for the church that God has led us to be a part of.
Daniel: I suppose it wouldn’t be an interview of a Ball Brothers member without at least one totally random question. Do you only hate lettuce by itself, or do you also hate it in burritos? 🙂
Andy: That’s actually not an uncommon question for me. I have 11 siblings and all of them love to eat lettuce, so I’m the oddball (no pun intended). I generally do not care for lettuce on or with anything. I think my mother always assumed that it was something I would grow out of but that’s not the case.
Daniel: Of all the songs the Ball Brothers sing, what is your favorite?
Andy: It would definitely be “It’s About the Cross”. This song has such a simple but yet powerful message and it sums up what our ministry is all about. It never gets old singing about what Jesus did for us on the cross of Calvary.
Daniel: Also, what is your favorite hymn and your favorite non-Ball Brothers Southern Gospel song?
Andy: My favorite hymn? Hmmmmm……..so hard to choose. I would probably say “It Is Well With My Soul”. My favorite southern gospel song would be “Sinner Saved by Grace”. Awesome song!
Daniel: Have any particularly funny or otherwise memorable things happened to you on stage?
Andy: I don’t have any crazy stage stories but I will tell you this. About 99% of the dates that we do I will have somebody come up to me and tell me that I look just like somebody they know or some celebrity. It gets very interesting when they pull out pictures on their phones and show me who they think I look like. The other guys in the group get a kick out of it.
Daniel: The group website says that you are married and have four children. Could you tell us a little about your family? How old are your children?
Andy: Well I married my beautiful wife Kelly in 1999, and the Lord has blessed us with four wonderful children, Philip (11), Alyssa (9), Madeline (6) and Ella (3). Needless to say that our children keep us very busy, but we love it! My family is so important to me. I love my wife very much and I couldn’t do any of this without her. My children are a blast to be around and I love them all so much! After a busy weekend on the road it’s always good to come home to my family.
Daniel: What are good ways for fans to keep up with you and the band?
Andy: The best way to keep up with the Ball Brothers is by visiting our website www.theballbrothers.com and signing up for our email newsletter or by being our friend on The Ball Brothers Facebook page. It’s never a dull moment with the Ball Brothers and we are appreciative of the people who take the time to check out what’s going on with our group.
Daniel: Thank you!