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All in the family

"All in the family" Continued...

Issue: "The other campaign," Feb. 9, 2008

Epic was equally cool to Skaggs' desire to record gospel music.

"They thought that if I did a gospel record I was going to self-destruct and turn all my fans against me. And that's cool. I don't have any bitterness towards them. They were only protecting what they thought they had to protect, and I think they were even trying to protect me. But I think once they saw my heart and what I was truly about, they didn't really want to get behind and promote me. So from '86 until I was off the label [in '91], they pretty much washed their hands of me."

Skaggs found a more hospitable home at Atlantic Records, for whom he recorded Solid Ground (1995) and Life Is a Journey (1997), the latter of which included both pro-marriage songs (Mark Collie and Larry Cordell's "Let's Put Love Back to Work," Dallas Frazier's "Ain't Love a Good Thing") and gospel (Leon Payne's "The Selfishness in Man," Bill Dean and Richard Leigh's "Voices Singing"). But by then the country-music spotlight had shifted to Garth Brooks and a succession of now barely remembered "hat acts," and Skaggs' Atlantic albums, their high quality notwithstanding, did not sell.

It was then, according to his "Mission Statement" at the Skaggs Family Records website, that Skaggs decided to take matters into his own hands. "A few years ago," he writes, "I was a country music artist on a secular record label. I had been sensing that the Lord was saying to me, 'I want you to be where hurting people are, to be where people need to hear of My love.'. . . It was at this point we decided to start our own family record company. We dedicated everything we did to the Lord-we wanted to give Him all the honor and glory."

The decision led to the downsizing of Skaggs' touring operation and gave him and his band, Kentucky Thunder, the chance to "go off the beaten path."

"We can go to the high schools," he writes. "We can go to hospitals or to churches. We go anywhere that God wants to send us. Sometimes He uses us to sow seeds at a country fair or even at a casino. Some Christians may be embarrassed to be seen in a casino, but many people there need to hear the Word of God."

With a laugh, Skaggs told WORLD: "Sometimes I just throw the bomb of truth from the stage and then leave. We don't evangelize the way that Franklin Graham or Billy Graham do. We don't ask people to come forward and to get saved. But I do believe in the born-again experience. I believe that music can draw people close to God, to a place where they want to receive Him as their Lord. And I know that there've been times in my shows that God's presence has been so strong and so recognizable in the music that there's no way the audience, no matter how hard their hearts could've been or how drunk they might've been, couldn't have known they were in the presence of something holy."

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