Past the Press Release is an interview series featuring a new member of a professional Southern Gospel groups. It’s a chance to look past the “excited to be here” comment standard to every new hire press release and learn a little more about them. Meet the Dixie Echoes’ new bass singer, Mike Jennings!
Daniel: Could you start by telling us a little about your background – where you grew up, when you became a Christian, et cetera? I notice you attended Liberty; did you grow up in a Christian family?
Mike: I grew up in a very good Christian home in Westminster, Maryland. I was saved at the age of 12 at Clearfield Bible Church after a summer movie on the grounds. I was baptized the following week. I attended Liberty University but joined the Military following my freshman year. While at Liberty I sang in the university choir and the chamber choir.
Daniel: I notice that you served in the Navy. How many years were you in the Navy, and what was your specialty?
Mike: I spent four years in the Navy and was involved in Naval Security.
Daniel: Did you serve during peacetime, or were you deployed during any major conflicts or wars?
Mike: I joined the military during Desert Storm but was on delayed entry. The conflict had ended by the time I started basic training. So, the time I was in was relatively peaceful.
Daniel: Did you grow up around Southern Gospel, or was it a later discovery?
Mike: I have been around great music my whole life. My parents sang in a quartet together. I used to love going to church and listening to them practice. They had such a beautiful blend. I’m the eldest of four kids and we have been blessed to sing together as a family for many years. My parents and all of my siblings are still involved in their church music ministries.
I was blessed to sit between my dad and grandpap in the bass section of our church choir for many years as well.
Daniel: Which groups got you interested in this style of music, and thinking that you would really like to be singing it yourself?
Mike: Westminster had a great southern gospel promotion called Reflections of Light Ministries. I started attending those in early 2000 and saw Palmetto State, The Dixie Echoes and Brian Free and Assurance and started listening to their music almost exclusively. I would sit in the auditorium after these concerts and think to myself that I wanted to do this. I would always feel uplifted and blessed after concerts by these groups and I wanted to be a part of a ministry like this.
Daniel: Did you know that you could sing bass from the time your voice changed, or was it a later discovery?
Mike: I grew up listening to the Cathedrals and trying to sing like my dad and George Younce. I enjoyed the Statler Brothers and Oak Ridge Boys as well
Daniel: I have already heard some high praise regarding your tone, pitch, and overall delivery. What did you do to train and develop your talent, and do you have any tips and suggestions for aspiring bass singers? (I’m not a bass, but I have readers who are!)
Mike: Thank you! I am always singing! I have been singing all of my life and there is nothing that I would rather do. My wife and son are also singers and it’s something we enjoy doing together. I have never taken formal voice lessons. I have been fortunate to have very good choir directors throughout my life and I always learned as much as I could from them.
The advice I would give any aspiring bass singer is to practice as much as you possibly can. Learn to breath properly, project and sing properly in order to preserve your voice. Most importantly of all remember who we’re singing about and the rest is easy.
Daniel: In the post where I announced your hire, quite a discussion broke out as to whether Marylanders are Southerners or Northerners. Readers as far away as Minnesota wanted to claim you as a Northerner, while Southerners like me thought we could claim Maryland! So, just for fun: I know you’re moving to Florida, but during the time you were in Maryland, did you consider yourself a Northerner or a Southerner?
Mike: Southerner at heart, and officially by about 25 miles!
Daniel: Thank you, and God Bless you, too!