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A family with soul
The Stevens Family spreads the Gospel through song
The Stevens Family soul gospel group has been performing throughout the area for the past 30 years. From left are members Tristen Stevens, Barbara Randolph, Leisa Stevens, Mary Camp and Sonia Watson.

Mary Camp has been performing soul gospel music with her family for about 30 years.

From sisters to brothers, grandchildren and children, The Stevens Family musical group has kept its ministry alive through the years.

Camp, who sings in the group with her daughter Sonia Watson, said she began singing after the Lord spoke to her many years ago.

"I think the Lord is speaking to us because singing is like the spirit spoke to me and told me ... what my purpose is," said Camp, who also ministers to women at a local jail and does outreach at Antioch Baptist Church.

The group has even more purpose now, following the death of one its members.

"What we are doing now is in memory of my sister who died, her name was Gloria Cantrell," Watson said. "It's a family tradition, that's what it kind of is; everybody in my family sings. It's really my mom and my two sisters and my brother. We always were singing when we were growing up and now it's a ministry ... every event we have, we go to singing."

Cantrell - who sang lead, along with many duets with Camp - died in 2003 and the family has been singing for her ever since.

"We had to change a lot of songs because she was really the leader," Camp said.

Now, several of the members take turns singing lead, from Camp to daughter-in-law Leisa Stevens.

Watson said they still perform one of Cantrell's favorite songs, "Take Me By the Hand Jesus and Lead Me."

Other songs the family enjoys singing are "Holy Ghost," "God is Not Dead" and "In the Morning When I Rise."

The Stevens Family will be performing its brand of soul gospel music at 4 p.m. Sunday at St. Paul United Methodist Church on Summit Street in Gainesville.

According to Watson, there are scheduled to be eight or nine other music groups at the concert.

The first performance by The Stevens Family was at the Greater Timber Ridge Baptist Church and the first musician to play with The Stevens Family was Melvin Banks, a well known saxophonist from Gainesville.

Along with performing soul gospel, the group also collects money for different organizations through its singing.

"We go around and we sing at weddings, nursing homes," Watson said. "We don't take money; we donate it to Rev. (Marcus) Dixon this time. We leave donations with them."

Current members of The Stevens Family group include Camp, Watson, Willie Stevens, Mary Stevens, George Blackwell and Tristen Stevens, who plays drums and is a ninth-grader at East Hall High. Family friends Barbara Randolph, Holly Simmons, Matthew Little, Jimmy Evans and Brian Gladman also make appearances with the soul gospel group.

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