Wednesday, April 14, 2010

ReWind Wednesdays: November 2005 Feature Tim Mills of the Southern Brothers

Tim Mills: A Soldier in the Army

Almost twenty years ago, three brothers from rural Missouri heard one of the most cutting-edge groups of the time sing a style of Southern Gospel that mesmerized them and ignited a desire that has never been quenched. These teenaged Mills boys heard the Singing Americans lineup of Rick Strickland, Michael English, Dwayne Burke and Ed Hill, formed their own group and began singing to anyone that would listen. Evangelism, love for Southern Gospel and love for each other keeps the Southern Brothers on the road, and baritone Tim Mills is enjoying the trip.

Polite, laid-back, and unmistakably “Southern”, Tim is happy that the Brothers are back traveling after almost three years of hiatus. He explains why the group took some time away: “We simply got tired. All of us are married with children and wanted to see them grow up a bit. Singing went from a love to a grind. Anyone that sings on a full time basis understands that last sentence. We all mutually agreed to stop for a while and enjoy life with our families…I think our time away was time well spent. We are having fun again. That joy in the late 80's and early 90's returned. We are now a little older, wiser and see singing and the ministry of Southern Gospel in a brand new, exciting light.”

With a new project entitled, “Influences”, The Southern Brothers’ schedule is filling up, adding another element to their busy lives. Lead singer Scott is a songwriter and outdoorsman. Singing tenor is Todd, the real cowboy of the group who spends much of his time riding and roping. Tim is completing a degree in Psychology at Southeast Missouri State University. He is also in the National Guard, and will enter Officer Candidate School next year. This involvement recently took him to the storm-ravaged state of Louisiana, as the National Guard was deployed to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

Tim recently took some time to talk to Sgmradio about his experience on this Tour with the Guard. “We arrived in Jefferson Parrish on October 3. Our trip down to New Orleans was approximately 3 days. Along the way, we received briefs, vaccinations and such. There were approximately 800 soldiers involved with our battalion alone. We set up camp at East Jefferson High School. This was around a 15-20 minute drive to down town New Orleans on a normal day. What I saw was an area completely saturated with emergency and military personnel…I didn’t know what to expect really. We were prepared for war if needed. We watched television and heard about the snipers. We were expecting the worst and hoping for the best. We got something in between.”

Tim’s role was one of peacekeeping, working as the police force in the Jefferson Parrish along with police agencies from across the country. “One of my most profound memories was being issued my weapons and ammunition. You see things like that on television. The trip down there didn’t really seem real until I was counting out the 150 rounds of M-16 cartridges and 30 rounds for my government issued 9mm Beretta pistol. I was then issued a bulletproof vest and a Kevlar helmet. The night before our mission began, 800 soldiers were in a commons area listening to our commander give a motivational speech and discussed the rules of engagement. It was dark so we all had flashlights. There is nothing like 800 soldiers shouting “Hooyah” simultaneously after a point was made by our commander. I was scared, excited and proud all at the same time.”

Being part of the National Guard fulfills a childhood dream of Tim’s, an involvement that is both demanding and rewarding. In answer to the question of “Would you do it again?”, Tim’s response was matter-of-fact. “Of course. Someone has to. Why not me?”

Now that he has returned from the Tour, Tim is back singing with his brothers and into the swing of a busy routine. His continued involvement with Guard will mean occasionally missing engagements, but he hopes the audience will understand when there is someone filling in the baritone spot in his place. Both the National Guard and the ministry of the Southern Brothers are close to his heart, and he is excited as he talks about upcoming plans for the group.

“At FanFair we got to work with the Jeff Treece Band. We are actively working on a concert tour that features both groups…People are clamoring for a revival of live music in Southern Gospel concerts. We want to provide that and much more. We need people that love our music to urge local promoters and churches to help us provide a venue for this venture. We are excited about the future but know that it is impossible without the support of the people…We are enriched by the music and the wonderful people that share our love for this music.”

Tim Mills and the Southern Brothers have a ministry and a message to share, and stories to tell as they relate real-life experiences with the friends that come to hear their music. Putting faith into everyday practice, with lives as ‘real’ as any in their audience, these Brothers sing with an authenticity that is as welcome as their close family harmony and energetic delivery. The world of Southern Gospel Music is blessed to have these Brothers back in the front lines once again.

By Lorraine Walker
First published by in November 2005. Used by permission

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