The Story Behind the Song – Singing As We Rise

| April 22, 2014 | 1 Comment

Joe NewberryJoe Newberry was born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and grew up in Boone County, Missouri.

His songwriting has the same clean, elegant style that characterises his banjo playing. Musicians in the folk and bluegrass world often record his songs. The Gibson Brothers included two of Newberry ‘s compositions, Jericho and I Know Whose Tears, on their 2009 recording, Ring the Bell. 

Singing As We Rise, recorded by the Gibson Brothers with Ricky Skaggs, was named the IBMA’s Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year for 2012.

Newberry relates …..

Joe Newberry performing with the Gibson Brothers“I like to write a new song that sounds old. I was in England a few years back, teaching old-time banjo at Sorefingers Music Camp. I was walking to breakfast one morning with a fellow, and he said, ‘Did you hear those larks this morning? They were singing as they rose.’ When he said that, it was like a little bell went off in my head.

By lunch that day, I had started plotting out about writing a ‘mother, father, sister’ song that featured those I love up in heaven doing what they loved to do, as they rose… I tried to write it with a very easy to grab chorus, just like the old songs I grew up singing with my family.

While not based on scriptures, it is very much based on my view of heaven, and I got to write about my family members who have passed on. In the verses, my mother is singing as she rises. My father is working as he rises. And my late sister, who was a pastor, is preaching as she rises. I wrote it in about 20 minutes.

I was thrilled when the Gibson Brothers chose Singing As We Rise for their Help My Brother CD. In fact, before they recorded it, Eric Gibson called me and said, ‘I want to talk about that song.’ And I said, ‘you’re still going do it aren’t you?’ And he said, ‘Oh yeah, we’re still going do it but I wanted to know if it’s all right if we get Ricky Skaggs to sing on it.’ That got my attention!

It stayed on the Bluegrass Unlimited charts for 11 months, which just knocked my hat in the creek. And then to be at the Ryman Auditorium, hear my name called along with Eric and Leigh Gibson, and go up on stage to accept the award for Gospel Recorded Performance from the IMBA, well, I had to buy a new hat, because it got knocked in the creek all over again.”

Eric Gibson shared a few words s well…

“Joe Newberry has a way of writing a new song that sounds classic immediately. When he sent me this song, I immediately thought of the Stanley Brothers in terms of melody and feel, and that is why I asked Ricky Skaggs to guest on our recording of the song; nobody knows more about that type of music. I also loved the imagery Joe created in the song, the idea of loved ones being in Heaven but retaining their personalities throughout eternity, doing what they did on Earth now in paradise. Mother singing, Father working, Sister preaching. Joe honored his family in song. I love that.”

 

Singing As We Rise
(Newberry Songs, BMI)

Up on the mountain, Mother is singing
Laughing and shouting, her sweet voice a’ringing
Pay no mind to dark and stormy skies
Mother is singing, singing as we rise.

Sing-ing as we rise
Singing as we rise, Singing as we rise

Sing-ing as we rise
Singing as we rise, Singing as we rise

Headed to the pinnacle, singing as we rise.

Up on the mountain, Father is working
His obligation he’s never shirking
Pay no mind to dark and stormy skies
Father is working, working as we rise.

Work-ing as we rise
Working as we rise, Working as we rise

Work-ing as we rise
Working as we rise, Working as we rise

Headed to the pinnacle, working as we rise (unison)

Up on the mountain, Sister is preaching
A wonderful message with powerful teaching
Pay no mind to dark and stormy skies
Sister is preaching, preaching as we rise

Preaching as we rise
Preaching as we rise, Preaching as we rise

Preaching as we rise
Preaching as we rise, Preaching as we rise

Headed to the pinnacle, preaching as we rise (unison)

Up on the mountain, Mother is singing
Laughing and shouting, her sweet voice a’ringing
Pay no mind to dark and stormy skies
Mother is singing, singing as we rise.

Sing-ing as we rise
Singing as we rise, Singing as we rise

Sing-ing as we rise
Singing as we rise, Singing as we rise

Headed to the pinnacle, singing as we rise. (unison)

Headed to the pinnacle, singing as we rise. (unison)

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Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics.

A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe.

He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.

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Category: Bluegrass Songwriting News