Song Snapshots is a column featuring the stories behind new and classic Southern Gospel songs.
When songwriter Belinda Smith was in college, she sang in a regional Southern Gospel group with her brother and her next-door neighbor.
One weekend, she auditioned to be the piano player for The Rowlands. At the time, Kyla Rowland and her brother, Ron Martin, were both part of the group. (Ron continues to run the group today.)
“I was so excited,” she recalls. “It was a really cool weekend to go out with them, because it was Kyla Rowland. I was devouring their cassettes, so I was so excited. It was just really cool to hang out for a weekend with someone like that!”
At one concert that weekend, she was playing piano as Kyla was testifying. “She was setting up something, and she said, ‘All I know is that God is in time, on time, every time.’
She thought, “Ooh, I should write that song! But it’s Kyla Rowland—maybe she’s written it! But she didn’t go into a song with that line, so so I really, deeply, truly thought she’d not written that song. And when Kyla Rowland speaks, you get your pencil!”
She went home and wrote the song in twenty minutes. After she recorded it with her group, she took it to John Darin Rowsey. (She knew John from her local Southern Gospel circuit.) John took the song to his publisher, Niles Borop of Centergy.
“A local artist recorded it—I never did find out who that was—and Jay Parrack was doing background vocals. He took it back to Gold City, and they recorded it.”
The song launched her career: “It was my first cut in Nashville, it was my first radio single, it was my first #1 song, and it was my first Dove Award nomination. And I’m like, ‘I should quit, and go home, and be done! I don’t know what else to do!’”
One year, Gold City performed the song at the National Quartet Convention. Gerald Wolfe, who had known Kyla Rowland since touring with her brother in his Dumplin Valley Boys days, came up to Belinda. He said, “Oh, Kyla Rowland has written a song something like ‘In Time, On Time, Every Time.’”
“Daniel, I could have cried!” Smith exclaimed. “I would never have written a song on top of hers, ever—I mean, ever!”
Interestingly, the Perrys recently cut and singled the Kyla Rowland song with the line—”Every Time I Need Him.” So both songs eventually saw the light of day, both hit the top five on the Singing News radio airplay chart. As it turns out, the concept was enough to sustain two top five hits!