Nelons Biography

By  | July 23, 2005 | Filed under: History

The Nelons
(1977-present)

The Rex Nelon Singers were formed in 1977 from the remnants of the LeFevres. The name of the group was ultimately shortened to “The Nelons.” Original group members included Rex Nelon (bass), Kelly Nelon (alto for the LeFevres since 1972), Rodney Swain (tenor), and Janet Paschal (soprano). The group’s first recording for the Canaan label in 1977 was titled The Sun’s Coming Up. A live recording followed in 1978 which included a song written and performed by Rex Nelon called “I Love To Call His Name.” In 1980, a song from the group’s 1979 recording Feelings became the Nelons’ first number one song on the Singing News chart. “Come Morning” actually hit the top position three times in non-consecutive months, which is rare.

After Janet Paschal’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 “We Shall Behold The King,” “When I Receive My Robe And Crown,” “Oh, For A Thousand Tongues,” and “Walk Right Out Of This Valley.”

For the rest of the 1980s, the Nelons sang in a style that came to be labeled “middle of the road.” They were more progressive than most Southern Gospel groups of the time, but they weren’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 “God’s Way Up,” “Don’t Give Up” and “Thanks” attracted a younger audience while tunes like “The Sweetest Song” 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 Kelly’s husband Jerry Thompson. Another Nelons song reached number one on the Singing News chart in 1992. The song was “I’m Glad I Know Who Jesus Is.”

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 group’s bass player Jason Clark, who began singing with the group. Jason’s father Dan Clark joined the group to sing bass and Kelly’s daughter Amber Thompson became the group’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.

See also: Nelons Discography, Rex Nelon Biography

About 

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. In addition to MusicScribe, David is the owner/editor of SGHistory.com and the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music. He plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet, the Foothills Choir and when his schedule permits, the Pine Ridge Boys.

3 Responses to Nelons Biography

  1. David Bruce Murray August 14, 2005 at 9:11 AM

    Please address personal questions to the Nelons directly. Their website is: http://www.thenelons.com

  2. David Bruce Murray August 14, 2005 at 9:18 AM

    Edited to remove personal request. Musicscribe.com is not affiliated with the Nelons and can’t respond to questions on their behalf.

    I would like to say how The Nelon Singers Blesses my heart. They are
    so full of God’s Holy Spirit. When you hear them sing you can tell that God in in it from the Blessings we receive. I love them. Also, I talked to Bro. Arnold Howell at my Brother-n-law funeral in May 2005. Where I sang a song that I wrote. Brother Howell had preached his funeral and he came to me after it, and wanted to know if I would like to do something with that song. I said yes. He wanted me to send it to him on a CD. I told him I had written several other songs and he said to send them to him too, and then the said that he would see that Jason got them.

    Thanks So Much

    Connie Butler
    Hc 75 Box 725
    Vanceburg, Ky 41179
    adbutler@alltel.net

  3. jerrell henderson August 28, 2005 at 2:57 PM

    kelly thomson is one of the sweeetist females i ever known in gospel music and where ever yuo and sweet amber are i love you

    may god bless the nelons into the new years to come

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