Armed with an abundance of talent and fueled by an unwavering commitment to spreading the gospel, The Browders are rapidly becoming one of Christian music’s most acclaimed groups. The family band’s previous album spawned three No. 1 singles and paved the way for their Daywind Records debut Time Machine.
“I’ve always been a big dreamer and I walk in expectation every day because I know we serve a great big God,” Matthew Browder states with a smile. “Dad taught us to dream big. We believe if you have a dream, you need to go after it. With three No. 1 singles, several top tens and top fives, God has blessed us and I know that the best is yet to come.”
The BrowdersTime Machine showcases the talents of the entire Browder family with father Tommy, brothers Matthew and David and Matthew’s lovely wife Sonya each taking a turn on lead vocals. The Browders’ sound is further enhanced by the newest member, Sonya’s brother Burt, who moved down from their home in Maine to join the band. With a style that is firmly rooted in Southern gospel yet encompasses contemporary elements as well, the Browders have earned a diverse fan base that includes music lovers of all ages.
“We really feel like it is music for the whole family,” says Sonya. “This is our heart and soul. It’s who we are. If you are going on vacation with your family and you have mom and dad, grandma and grandpa and the kids, this is a CD that you can put in and there is something that every age group in the entire family can enjoy because it’s music of yesterday and it’s music of today. That’s part of the reason we named it Time Machine. It’s a musical journey.”
It’s a ride that is well worth taking. The album opens with Matthew taking lead on the worshipful “Lift Up His Name” and continues with such potent tracks as the foot-stomping anthem “Listening for the Shout” featuring Tommy on lead vocals and the poignant ballad “He Took the Nails,” on which Sonya delivers an emotional performance. Whether it’s a high energy up tempo tune like “Pick Me Up,” which features David on lead vocals, or the hit single “He Is Alive,” which showcases the group’s shimmering harmonies, the album is filled with songs that are spiritually substantive and musically engaging.
The Browders’ musical journey began in Hiltons, Virginia, a rural mountain community that is also home to the legendary Carter Family. “We have a lot of history where we’re from,” says David. “We come from the hometown of the original Carter family and we implement that in our concerts. We’ll do like a little acoustic set that takes you back to that front porch style of picking. People really enjoy that. We’ve played a variety of styles and even though we like the new stuff, we can’t ever forget our roots. It’s mountain pickin’.”
The Browder family patriarch Tommy began singing gospel music at age five and began writing songs at eight. After years of music ministry, he felt called to a new season. “God spoke to me and said that he wanted me to start a group with my family. David was eight and Matthew was 11,” Tommy says. “I’m so proud of my children. I have shared my dream with them and I’ve taught them, but I have learned so much from them in return. We’ve stayed out there on the road together for 23 years now.”
Tommy has a powerful testimony and he set it to music in the heartfelt song “God Knows What’s Best.” “I was stricken with polio when I was two and suffered afflictions in life,” says Tommy, seated in his wheelchair. “A lot of things had come my way and I’d questioned God: ‘Why was I was the only child out of eight children to get polio?’ The only answer that I could come up with is God knows what’s best. I wrote the song years ago and we pulled it back out when we made this record.”
As a child, Tommy felt God’s healing hand in his life. “I was about 9 or 10-years-old in a handicap school in Kingsport, Tennessee and my right hand was completely paralyzed from polio so it would take a miracle for me to be able to play an instrument,” he recalls. “I was taking guitar lessons and after much prayer and trust in God---and believing that He would be able to have me play---one day my thumb started working and then my fingers started working. He gave me enough strength in my right hand to be able to play. I started playing music with different groups when I was 15-years-old.”
When Tommy hit the road with his young sons in 1990, it launched a new chapter in The Browders’ ministry. Tommy mentored his sons as they developed their songwriting and vocal skills, and when Matthew met and fell in love with a talented singer from Maine, a whole new dimension opened up for the group. “We were booked on a concert with the Browders several years ago and it started from that,” says Sonya, who began traveling with a gospel group at 15. “Our groups became friends and the Lord just seemed to keep our paths crossing after that. We actually started talking in January, got engaged in February, and got married in July.”
The couple married in 2005 and Sonya’s beautiful voice became an integral part of the Browders’ sound. Soon the group began gaining a national reputation not only for their vocal gifts but for their songwriting. Each member of the group is a songwriter and they all take the craft very seriously. “I felt like from a young age that it was a calling on my life,” says David. And Matthew feels the same. “I started preaching at the age of around 16-years-old and writing in my teens. I love to write. I would rather write than sleep or eat and that’s the truth. I love it!”
The Browders’ career has steadily gained momentum. Their 2006 album Be a Light yielded the group’s first top ten hit “Stand Up For Jesus.” Their 2009 album, The Message, produced seven top ten singles, including three No. 1 songs--- “Praise You In This Valley,” “Message Of The Cross," “Stepping Stones and" “Land Of No Goodbyes."
Produced by Kevin Ward, Time Machine, again serves up a strong collection of songs brought to life with passion and heart. “When the Time Machine lands, they are going to go for a ride,” Matthew says. David agrees. “They are going to get ministered to in all kinds of different ways. Each song hits people different with a different message. They are not going to get bored. We really pushed the envelope.”
The songs on Time Machine cover a lot of emotional territory. The album opener, “Lift Up His Name,” celebrates God’s majesty. “It’s about lifting up the greatest name that’s ever been mentioned,” says Matthew. “That’s what this ministry is about. We want to lift him up because we know that he is the only one really worth bragging or boasting of. Paul said, ‘If I’m going to boast of anything, it’s going to be of the cross of Christ.’”
David was inspired to write “Whatever You’re Going Through” about a cousin battling substance abuse. “No matter what a person has done, no matter where they’ve been or where they are right now, God says if we just call upon his name, He’ll be there,” says David. “He’s the only hope. I believe this song is going to be a delivering song to a lot of people.”
“The Reason” is a tender ballad written and sung by Sonya that points the listener to Christ. “People see us on stage and they see how we get to lift up the name of Jesus and we get to present Christ to them,” Sonya shares. “My husband and I get to travel on the road together and the Lord has just blessed us so very, very much. I’ve heard people say, ‘I wish that I could have a life like that,’ but ultimately what it boils down to is we can have abundant life in Christ no matter what family we were born into or talent we have. The success that we’ve had is because of the one living in us and I wanted to be able to present that to people.”
Voted “Breakthrough Artist of the Year” at the Absolutely Gospel Music Awards in 2013, the Browders are well known for their high-energy concerts. They group has headlined their own shows and have also opened for a variety of other artists including The Band Perry, MercyMe and Michael English. Yet in talking to the Browders, it’s not the venues they’ve played or the No. 1 singles they’ve earned that dominates the conversation. They are quick to speak excitedly about the number of souls they’ve seen saved at the concerts and conferences where they share the gospel. “It’s not about our abilities. It’s about God’s capability,” says Matthew. “He can do anything. We just try to be good stewards of the gifts that God has given to us.”