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Dahlonega gospel band nominated for Grammy
Journey of Joy to compete for Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album
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A Dahlonega-based gospel band that features two sisters from Gainesville has been nominated for its first Grammy award.

Karen Peck & New River is among nominees for the Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album announced Thursday in Los Angeles.

"I’m so excited I can’t think!" Karen Peck Gooch told The Times only a little more than an hour after getting the news from her record label, Daywind Records. "I feel like it’s a miracle."

The band was informed of the nomination for the album "Journey of Joy" by Daywind President Ed Leonard, Norman Holland, director of artists and repertoire, and Bubba Smith, the record’s producer.

"The three of them called on a conference call, and gave us the news and we were so shocked and so excited," Gooch said. "It absolutely is a dream come true."

Karen Peck & New River consists of Gooch, her sister, Susan Peck Jackson, and Devin McGlamery. Gooch and Jackson hail from Gainesville, and McGlamery is a Valdosta native who lives in North Carolina.

Jackson said she too was overwhelmed Thursday afternoon by the news of the Grammy nod.

"We’re so excited. We’re very blessed at this time," she said. "I could not believe it. I just thought it was so awesome to be nominated for a Grammy after 17 years."

The band has been together since 1991, but Gooch has been performing gospel music and touring for 27 years. Her singing career began with the gospel group The Nelons in 1981. The Nelons’ numerous Grammy nominations included one for an album on which Gooch performed.

Gooch said it’s really gratifying that the music and work that means so much to them has been recognized through the Grammy nomination.

"The Bible says for us to teach the gospel to all the world and so we just hope and pray our music will encourage people to keep going regardless of the situation in their lives," Gooch said. "We just want to encourage people and give them hope. Really our music is just a message of hope."

What are Gooch’s thoughts on how this album became the one to receive a Grammy nod?

"I think it’s honestly where we are in our lives right now," she said. "We credit a lot to the team players at Daywind. From the president of the company to the producer, we all sit in a room several times and choose the songs. So it was really nice having these people help us to create this album.

"It was a team effort and I think that’s the success of this album."

But she also thanked a higher power.

"We’re just so thankful to the Lord for this honor," Gooch said.

The new album is the group’s first on their new label and a bit of a departure because the band had more input than on previous albums. The trio produced some of the vocals themselves and Gooch said they wrote more material than they had on previous albums.

"It was great in the studio," Jackson said. "Being able to work together ... it was really nice to be able to do that."

The sisters excitedly are making plans to attend the Feb. 10 awards presentation in Los Angeles, and plan to take most of their family members with them. They have their fingers crossed for a win and hope their hometown is behind them.

"We’re from Gainesville and we just want to tell everybody to pray for us," Gooch said.

Karen Peck & New River spent a couple of days resting at home this week before heading out on the road again today. Even though they spend a lot of time on the road, both Gooch and Jackson said they enjoy it.

"This is my 27th year of traveling professionally full time and I can say absolutely I still love my job," Gooch said. "I know God has called me to do this and I just love my job."

And the sisters get along well on the road, Jackson said.

"It’s a blessing to be able to travel together as sisters," Jackson said. "Basically, it’s sort of like a marriage. You just tell each other what you think and you just go on. It’s just always worked."

The group has concerts scheduled in Gainesville, Toccoa and Dahlonega next month. A performance at Blackshear Place Baptist Church in Gainesville will be a fundraiser for the church’s missions.

"It’s very unusual, because we don’t perform in this area very often," Gooch said of the swing through Northeast Georgia. "So its going to be nice to be close to home in the month of January."

Though this is the band’s first Grammy nomination, they have been nominated previously for gospel music’s Dove Awards and have received awards from the Southern Music Gospel Guild and the Singing News Fan Awards. The group has performed on the TBN network’s Praise The Lord show, the Grand Ole Opry Live and the Gaither Gospel video series.

Karen Peck & New River faces competition from some bluegrass and gospel heavyweights. Other nominees in the category include: "Amazing Grace," Bill & Gloria Gaither And The Homecoming Friends; "Everybody’s Brother," Billy Joe Shaver; "Salt Of The Earth," Ricky Skaggs & The Whites; "Tell Someone," Kenny & Amanda Smith Band; "I’ll Fly Away: Country Hymns & Songs Of Faith," various artists.

The 50th Annual Grammy Awards will be presented Feb. 10 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. CBS (WNEG-32 and WGCL-46) will broadcast the event live.