Farewell to the Crist Family

The Crist Family has announced their retirement, with selected farewell dates scheduled to finish out the year 2014. I never followed them that closely, but their size and impressive acapella arrangements interested me. I’m curious—has there ever been a larger single group in Southern Gospel? (Let me know what you think of in the comments.) They pointed to the leaving of one of the couples and the fact that some of the younger women wanted to start families.

This raises an interesting question about the future of other groups like the Collingsworth Family. For that matter, it’s a question to be considered by any group with young married women. Other groups like the Browns have also had to readjust due to the call of motherhood. However, it’s especially interesting with a group as versatile as the Collingsworths. Suppose both Brooklyn and Courtney came off the road with the Collingsworths. Would the family carry on as a quartet? Would they still carry on as a trio if Olivia married and left as well?

Anyway, my favorite song by the Crist Family is “Lift Up the Cross.” “My Heart Knows” may have charted higher, but there’s no question this one is stronger. I first heard it while flipping on an online gospel radio station at random. I dug back into the archives at Daniel Mount’s site to find this fun exchange between me and Chris Unthank (with Daniel chiming in for moral support) about Christian radio, where I was pointing to this song as a good example of SG radio. I still like it a lot. It features Tami Crist Starkel on lead. I think she was the strongest soloist of the group.

Here are some good examples of their acappella work:


And one that’s not acappella, but another noted hymn arrangement of theirs:


11 thoughts on “Farewell to the Crist Family

  1. I will really miss the Crist Family. I saw them at an event in Pigeon Forge right after they moved from Washington state and immediately fell in love with them. I’m glad that you featured two a capella videos. I think the Crist Family has one of the best sounding a capella ensembles out there. And, without a doubt, they are some of the nicest folks you will ever meet.

    I think that the Collingsworths are strong enough to withstand one or even two of the older girls leaving – or maybe even Phillip, Jr. when he gets married this year. They already take advantage of the strength of each of their singers to stage different groupings so we are used to not having the whole family on every song. And Kim isn’t leaving and, in my opinion, she’s the anchor of the group with her fantastic piano solos. Having said all that, their sound just wouldn’t be the same without Brooklyn!

  2. Saved Girl

    The Collingsworths seem used to traveling with kids, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they just brought babies with them. After all, getting married didn’t keep them from traveling with the group and I believe that the husbands already travel with them. Maybe the girls would take a year or so off and then return?
    In response to Diana, I really don’t see Phillip Jr. leaving when he marries, unless it’s to go into another group. He really seems to want to make singing his career. He certainly has the voice to do so. I agree though that Brooklyn leaving would dramatically change the group. She’s their only soprano (I believe, I’m not an expert on musical ranges), so I’m not sure how they could adjust to that change.

    1. I agree too. But babies on the road? The husbands aren’t just traveling, they’re contributing to the show and getting paid for it. A baby is a totally different matter. 🙂 But I also agree that it probably wouldn’t be a stretch for Phillip Jr. to stay on the road, especially since, in a complementarian framework, the husband is the bread-winner. It would be a much bigger deal for the girls.

  3. The Isaacs traveled with babies and still travel with Sonia’s baby.

    I believe Jeff and Sheri traveled with babies and I am sure many others have done it and are doing it.


  4. John Situmbeko

    The Collingsworths are able to go on without one or two kids. However without the two key kids (Brooklyn and Phil) they would have to put to rest a substantial collection of their huge fan favourites, because they just wouldn’t sound the same anymore, and that wouldn’t be favourable. Unless they were to replace the two key kids with two other equally strong and youthful sounding vocalists, they would have to retire such songs as “I Know” “How Great His Love For Me” “Tell The Mountain” and all their roof-dilapidating power ballads. That is how vital those two kids are to the group.

  5. AJ

    To speak about the Collingsworth Family. Everybody in that family has been connected to music since birth. Mom & Dad are almost like music professors. I could see a day they are a quartet made up of Mom, Dad, Phil Jr. & Brooklyn. Brooklyn & Phil Jr. seem pretty dead-set on music careers.

    I’m kinda think we’re not far from a Brooklyn solo record experiment and Phil Jr. has said that singing is all he’s ever wanted to do.

    On the flip side, Courtney does the photo stuff (she’s really good at it too), plus she’s doing extra traveling to meet up with the family which might get old. I honestly don’t know about Olivia, however, she does say she’d like to be vet some day…at least on their website.

    If you look at the group now though, it kinda looks like they’re hedging their bets by giving Brooklyn & Phil Jr. a lot of the workload, so maybe they know more about the future than we do.

  6. John Situmbeko

    I just read the news that one of the Collingsworth girls ladies is expecting, and I immediately thought of this conversation. We now have to wait and see what the future holds for the group. The news item is at Homecoming Magazine

  7. jeff

    I seen the crist family at my church twice and I love there music I hate to see that they are retiring I hope they can still make cds

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