After Janet Paschalâ€™s departure from the group in the early 1980s, Karen Peck became the soprano for the Nelons. Jerry Thompson married Kelly Nelon and began singing with the group as well. The group would enjoy a successful run of popularity with Peck and Thompson. Four songs that are now considered Nelons classics all came from a 1983 project titled We Shall Behold The King. Those songs are â€œWe Shall Behold The King,â€ â€œWhen I Receive My Robe And Crown,â€ â€œOh, For A Thousand Tongues,â€ and â€œWalk Right Out Of This Valley.â€
For the rest of the 1980s, the Nelons sang in a style that came to be labeled â€œmiddle of the road.â€ They were more progressive than most Southern Gospel groups of the time, but they werenâ€™t full blown contemporary in style, certainly not compared to other vocal groups of the day like Second Chapter of Acts or the Imperials. Songs like â€œGodâ€™s Way Up,â€ â€œDonâ€™t Give Upâ€ and â€œThanksâ€ attracted a younger audience while tunes like â€œThe Sweetest Songâ€ continued to appeal to traditional Southern Gospel fans.
By the early 1990s, Peck had left the group to form New River. The singing members of the Nelons were all relatives for a couple of years with Rex and Kelly joined by Todd Nelon and Kellyâ€™s husband Jerry Thompson. Another Nelons song reached number one on the Singing News chart in 1992. The song was â€œIâ€™m Glad I Know Who Jesus Is.â€
1992 also began a series changes for the group. At a couple of points, there was a question of whether the group would continue. Jerry and Kelly left the group to pursue a vocal duo career around this time. Rex considered retirement at the time, but discovered a young talent in Charlotte Penhollow and carried on. Jerry and Kelly subsequently returned to the group in 1993.
Amy Roth began singing soprano for the group in 1997. Jerry Thompson and Kelly divorced around this time, and Thompson left the group. The group then went through a number of personnel changes. David Hill was with the group for one CD, as was Paul Lancaster. Ultimately, Kelly married the groupâ€™s bass player Jason Clark, who began singing with the group. Jasonâ€™s father Dan Clark joined the group to sing bass and Kellyâ€™s daughter Amber Thompson became the groupâ€™s soprano in 2002, making it a group with all the members related once more (though three of them now had the last name of Clark). Dan came off the road in 2003 and the Nelons subsequently became a trio consisting of Jason, Kelly, and Amber.
The Nelons have won five Dove Awards, including four for best Southern Gospel Album. Kelly Nelon received seven Singing News Fan Awards in the categories of Favorite Female Vocalist and Favorite Alto between 1980 and 1990.