The Racy Brothers’ Walter Witherspoon talks Past, Present & Future, Interview by Raquel Thompson

Tell us about yourself and your music

“The Racy Brothers is a family group- consisting of brothers, Bobby and Vernell Racy; myself Walter Witherspoon, and Pervis Holly- that has been doing music for three decades. We have added to the group Andre Spinks, we have two keyboard players, and as well as a full band. We were just sitting around my grandmother’s home, and we began humming some tunes. It was, oh, after midnight, and [my grandmother] woke up and she said “Y’all sound good! Y’all should start ya’ll a group.”. So [The Racy Brothers] kind of started from there, when I was in high school at the time. Here in Dumas [Arkansas], we all were a very close-knit family, so I played with my mom’s group and my dad’s group. We had a place called The Dumas Quartet Singing Center where they would go every second Sunday, and that’s basically where our foundation of quartet music started. My whole family was
musically inclined. My father was a guitar player, and he sang with a group called the “Sensational Birds of Harmony”. My mother was not only the choir director in our church,
but she also sang with a group. It didn’t matter how grown you thought you were or how late you stayed out on Saturday night, where we came from, you were getting up and going to church.”

Talk to us more about your latest release

“Our latest release is called ‘Heal Our Land (Only You Can)’. It’s a song that I wrote some years ago back when all of the shootings were taking place in our schools. We saw innocent children lose their lives, and God inspired me to write this song. After that, so much continued going on in our nation, just like now [in 2020]. At that point, I realized the song would never get old. I began to do different versions of the song: something else would happen, and I’d write another verse. I got [the concept of the song] strictly from the Word of God in 2 Chronicles 7:14: ‘If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from
heaven and forgive their sins, and I will heal the land. That’s basically the root of the song, and that’s where it came from. God inspired me to do it, and I’m grateful to be the writer of
it. I want to share the song with the entire world because our land is most definitely in need of healing. That’s what makes the song so strong because it’s a true song.”

What inspired you to write this release?

“[The release of the song] was just all God’s timing with Al Bell Presents and Greg [Thompson] and Mr. Orson [Weems]. The whole team is awesome to be a part of, and see everything come together. It’s been great seeing it touch so many people and seeing the impact it’s had on the entire nation.”

Describe the writing and recording process

“The recording process is always a great joy. I always love going behind the mixer and putting together music because there’s a thing on the inside of me that won’t let me stop until I can finish the final piece, to have all the other musicians come together and play their part in it. It’s a great collaboration when it becomes all fined tuned and the whole nine yards. The process of recording was a lot of fun. I always start my writing with an acoustic
guitar or a piano to get the chord structure where I want it. Once I begin to get the lyrics just where they need to be, then of course you have to make sure you have it in the right key and the right tempo. All of the instrumentation is what brings the song to life. [The process] is trying to make sure that when you’re producing the song that God gave you, that you’re doing it just the way it was given to you. Then when it comes out, you want it to be
even better. It’s just a great joy to be able to be gifted enough, and I give all praises to God because I never forget the giver of the gift. Many, many hours can go into a recording session, and then you go back the next day and listen to what you did the day before, and
you’re like “Okay, let me re-do this,” and then it all begins again.”

Any plans to release a video?

Any plans to hit the road?

“We most definitely have plans. If the phone rings and the [gig] make sense and it’s safe, we’re doing it. Right now, we’re working on more material, so stay tuned. We’re looking forward to doing more tour dates in the upcoming 2021 year when it’s safe, and we would love to come to a city near all of [our fans].”

As an indie artist, how do you brand yourself and your music to stand out from the rest of the artists out there?

“I do want to say there’s a lot of great artists that are out right now, especially when it comes to the traditional quartet music. I think one of the things that make The Racy Brothers stand out is, in all of our years being together, we have not changed. We still carry the root of where our music began that the people love and what made us who we are. At the same time, we add the flavor of where we need to go as well. So, not only are we keeping all the older fans that have supported us to be where we are now, but we’re also gaining newer fans because of the new flavor. We want to make sure we’re staying up to date on what’s going on. We’re not afraid to step out and try new things, but at the same time, you never want to lose those roots of where we came from. I think that’s what makes us stand out as a group, in our music, and our performances. I’m thankful we’ve allowed God to have His way. We give it all we’ve got. God just steps into the room and He makes a difference. When that happens, people fall in love with who that group is, and they can feel [the music]. Those types of experiences make [The Racy Brothers] who we are. It’s about being comfortable with who you are, and I thank God we’re talented enough to go outside the box. It’s a great thing to be accepted in different areas. Sometimes, I wonder what if we were doing different types of music, but this is God’s plan for us, and I’m thankful we’re still here. That’s a blessing to be able to say after 30 years.”

Who have you been listening to lately?

“I listen to the radio and I’ve taken this time [in quarantine] to do a lot of writing myself. I’m grateful to say I own a studio, so I lock in there. I’m putting down ideas so that when all of the [Covid-19 restrictions] are lifted, and it’s time to hit the road, we’ll be ready. We are still doing quite a bit of studio work, even in this time of quarantine. We’re coming together and sharing ideas. I love listening to “The Williams Brothers”, I love “The Jackson Southerners”, The Canton Spirituals, Might Cloud of Joy” who are now friends our ours. These were groups who paved the way and who we go way back with. There’s a new generation of guys now that are coming up and their talent is amazing. I like listening to all of that and it all inspires me. I’ll look at a sign and I’ll be, like, ‘I have to get to the studio.’. It’s all about brainstorming and putting stuff together to make the pieces fit.”

Who are your biggest influences?

“My biggest influence is making sure our priorities are in the right place and we know why we do what we do, and that is simply to direct a man, woman, boy, or girl to who Jesus Christ is. We can’t ever forget that’s our job and that’s what we’ve been left here to do. That’s the Great Commission we’re supposed to be carrying out. I have to give credit to many [influences]. I’ve always been one to when I get around or get recognize wisdom, knowledge, or great talent, I would sit back and listen. It’s a blessing to be quiet and listen. Mr. [Al] Bell has schooled us. Even with everything we have going on now, he never ceases to amaze me with the ideas he comes up with. I always want to listen to a person who has accomplished what I want to accomplish. I remember speaking to some of the older groups when we had a chance to do the Living Legends of Gospel Music live recording. Out of 13 groups, we were the youngest in the recording session. There was a lot we learned. The Racy Brothers have had the opportunity to share many, many stages. I can remember sitting there, listening to them talk. “The Nighting Gales” would talk to us, a group that has been singing for 60 and 70 years. You must be able to soak in all of that wisdom and speak when it’s time to speak. It was amazing to hear their stories and what they all had to go through. I thank God that because of what they went through, we don’t have to go through the challenges they faced. Now, it’s our job to tell the next generation that’s coming up what we have learned. That’s the joy of it now. There are so many I look up to because they accomplished. With all we’ve learned, I want to display leadership so that our group can carry on even after I’m gone.”

Tell us about your passions

“Preaching the gospel is my passion. I have a love for the People of God. I have been pastoring for eleven years now, and it’s very strange how it all happened but I knew it was the call upon my life. When I finally decided to stop running and found out I couldn’t outrun God, He opened so many doors for me that no man can close. It’s been an exciting journey and I thank God for it. Knowing that I’m caring for the people of God, and loving them, and doing what he’s called me to do which is to lead them into the light- is what gets me up every morning. I thought it would be harder to adapt [due to Covid-19] but God has fixed it to where I’ve been blessed to have my son in the ministry with me now. He’s been the youth pastor for about three years now, and he’s someone I definitely trust so when I have to be away, I have someone I can depend on. So, I’m excited about it, and for more to come.”

What else is happening next in your world?

*Answered in Question 6 and 12



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