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Friday, December 28, 2012

Music: the tie that binds

Seven family members make up the Moneta-based gospel group Mark Dubbeld Family.

The voices range from the high to the low. There is the deep baritone of father Mark, and Vincent is the tenor rounded out by the alto Janene and taken to lofty heights by soprano Elena.

"Our motto is a song to sing, a word to write and a call to answer," said Janene Dubbeld, matriarch and one-seventh of the Mark Dubbeld Family, a Moneta-based southern gospel group.

Twenty-seven years after the mother and father's initial meeting as teenagers, music is still the bond that brings the family together.

The singing clan spans two generations: Mark, 45; Janene, 44; Vincent, 21; Leighton, 19; Elena, 16; Channing, 11; and Britton, 8. Vincent's new bride, Heather, is also a product of a family singing tradition (her grandparents were traveling gospel musicians) but is not yet ready to perform with the Dubbeld Family. In high school, Mark Dubbeld traveled with a gospel quartet, meeting his musically inclined future bride in his senior year.

The newly married couple sang together at family camps and revivals. After the birth of Vincent, the Dubbelds traveled widely in musical church ministries, moving from Indiana to Florida and finally to Moneta in 2005 to help plant Eastlake Community Church.

"The husband of the family is the director of how the family's going to go. Mark's gift is his voice. For our family to be together, we go with him," said Janene Dubbeld.

A friend's appreciative remark in 2010 coupled with Vincent Dubbeld's impending graduation from high school led the family to pursue a musical ministry.

A CD, "Living Oasis," was created that year. In 2012, a second CD titled "On With The Praise" featuring 11 songs followed.

"People started to take notice," Vincent Dubbeld said. "We realized this is something we could do full time."

Every weekend the group is on the road, performing more than 150 events a year. It's an exciting time, Mark Dubbeld said.

Janene Dubbeld is chief songwriter, with Vincent Dubbeld playing a supporting creative role. Janene's life experiences or prayer are sometimes the basis for songs. Lyrics are jotted down on whatever's nearby: napkins, receipts, her phone, sometimes with or without their melodies, with gentle advice from her son.

"Mom, that first verse isn't any good, and you need to throw it out and start over," Vincent Dubbeld would say.

The family living room is used as rehearsal space. Demo tapes are created at home and sent as mp3 files to a producer. The family will later travel to Nashville, Tenn., to record the final versions.

Some venues are local: Halesford Baptist Church and Oyler's Chapel United Methodist Church will be sites for performances by the family.

Others are more far-flung. The family has traveled as far west as Iowa, as far south as Florida and north to Pennsylvania, Mark Dubbeld said.

With the increase in exposure, public accolades are on the rise.

"We're getting good radio play," Janene said.

In September 2011, the single "Nothing But Praise" climbed to No. 1 on the Gainesville, Ga., radio station WGTJ. The Mark Dubbeld Family was chosen as one of the top performers out of more than 50 groups during a judged gospel music event in Louisville, Ky.

The family serves as its own booking agent. While the two youngest boys and Elena are homeschooled, Mark is in the home office scheduling performances and maintaining the group's website and Facebook page.

In addition to her musical pursuits, Janene Dubbeld has authored two religious devotionals - "Headed for the Harvest" (2010), "Breathtaking" (2011) - and a children's book titled "The Farmer Said, 'Yes!'" that was released in 2012.

Mark Dubbeld Family is a nonprofit ministry. Some churches give a little and some give a lot, Mark Dubbeld said.

"We felt called," said Mark Dubbeld. "The gifts that God has given us, we're going to give out to the world."

The Mark Dubbeld Family, mjdubbeld.com, facebook.com/MarkDubbeldFamily