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A.G. and KATE
In 1972 Johnny Cash came to Holland and attending his concerts became the inspiration for a career in country and gospel music. In 1978 they decided to hit the road full time. Their distinctive style of acoustic country music, rooted in tradition, took them to many concert halls and festivals.
They stood at the cradle of a lot of this music being featured in Holland, starting their own Grand Ole Opry in their living room, where many famous country stars played in an intimate atmosphere for an audience of about 50 people. Just to mention a few: Patsy Montana, The Bailes Brothers, Wade and Julia Mainer, Lonnie Glosson, George Hamilton IV, The Del McCoury Band etc.
Their first collection of songs was released on a record in 1975, and many many more have followed.
A.G. and Kate started touring the British Isles in the 70's, and the USA in the early 80's. In England they made appearances at the prestigious Wembley and Peterborough Festivals; in the USA they have appeared at the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, TN, at Ernest Tubb's Midnight Jamboree, Nashville, TN, Fan Fair, Nashville, TN, at the Ozark Folk Center, Mountain View, AR, at quite a few Bluegrass Festivals in different States and they took part in several TV shows.
During one of the tours in the Shetland Islands, during the early 80's, they became acquainted with the Wesley Hymns and that brought about a big change in their lives and also in their work. For about 10 years many Wesley Hymns were sung, arranged, featured and recorded (10 LP's with Wesley Hymns were issued between 1987-1994). They ministered in many churches in Britain and in the U.S.A. They were invited to the North Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church, Conway, AR, where they met Dr. William Abraham (Professor at Perkins School of Theology, SMU, Dallas, TX). They did a 3-week tour with him in 1990. They played for the South West Texas Conference, Perkins School of Theology, St Paul's Seminary, Kansas City, MO, and Asbury Seminary, Wilmore, KY. Currently their US tours take them to churches, colleges, schools and many many prisons.
MINISTRY IN THE PRISONS
In 1989 A.G. and Kate were invited to do a program in a prison in England. That was the beginning of a shift of focus from going mainly to churches to spending more than half their time doing concerts in prisons. Also the contents of their program shifted from mainly Wesley Hymns to a mixture of Country songs, Gospel songs and Hymns.
Their concerts of Country, Folk and Gospel featuring secular songs also, reach many men and women who never come to any religious meeting. They come for the country music and feel at ease, have a good time, and won't leave without hearing about God's love in Jesus Christ.
Gradually churches began to ask for a prison program in which A.G. and Kate tell a bit more about their prison work (although in the regular Sunday services A.G. wears a prison T-shirt most of the time and they'll often share some of their prison stories). This type of concert is also a good way to reach out to non-church people. They call that Evangelism.
To be able to continue this ministry in the prisons, A.G. and Kate need sponsors. To report about their prison work, they keep in touch with sponsors by way of a newsletter, which is sent out 3 times a year. Something about each prison visit is shared with those interested enough to support their prison work.
The newsletter is also posted on their web site under 'news.'
RELEASES and PUBLICATIONS
Over the years they have released 3 mini LP's, 13 LP's (of which 2 were double albums), 23 cassettes, and 14 CD's (of which 2 were double CD's) see 'Discography.'
They have published several books with collections of Wesley Hymns, they publish a magazine in Holland called 'Country and Gospel Music In That Old Tradition' (in Dutch) and they publish a newsletter that goes out to the supporters of their prison ministry (in English).
For seven years they presented a weekly radio program on a local radio station in Holland, which went off the air on the 31st of December, 2006. They still do a weekly radio program for Allegheny Mountain Radio in West Virginia, which goes out on 2 stations in West Virginia and 2 stations in Virginia.
A.G. plays the guitar and the autoharp, while Kate plays the guitar, 5-string banjo and the mountain dulcimer, and they both sing.
The last several years saw releases of new CD's (at least one every year). In the Spring of every year they do a three-month tour in England. During that time they do 60 concerts, around 35 in prisons and the others in churches, village halls and other locations. From early september until the end of november they tour in the USA every year. During that period of time they do about 60 concerts, around 50 in prisons and the others in churches and other locations.
The majority of programs are in prisons, and this is where their mission is. Most of the other places where they give concerts are used to drum up support to be able to do the work in the many prisons.