Wesley Hemphill was born in Fresno, California, August 1, 1939
to Beatrice Brown Hemphill and Rev. W.T. Hemphill.
spent his childhood from the age 5 in West Monroe, a small paper
mill town in Northeast Louisiana where his father was pastor and
founder of a local church. From his earliest memories the music
of the church was an important part of his life. Exciting, exuberant,
heart-felt singing and preaching laid the foundation that Joel's
life is built upon.
Hemphill, Joel's father, a very compassionate and caring man loved
to sing. He sang when he was happy and he sang when he was sad.
He owned the finest Martin guitar and carried a guitar pick in
his pocket at all times, even though he could not play. But he
was prepared to have one of his children, including Joel to play
whenever he wanted to sing.
Joel was in his teens, he became one of the church musicians playing
the electric guitar and later, after answering his call into the
ministry, became a young associate pastor, serving under his father.
June 28, 1957, just one month before Joel's 18th birthday and
immediately following High School graduation Joel & LaBreeska
married after a brief courtship. LaBreeska was singing in an evangelistic
team with her Uncles Rusty & Howard Goodman and her Aunt Vestal.
Their travels had brought them from their home in Evansville,
Indiana to northeast Louisiana holding numerous revivals in neighboring
towns, which also included Joel's home church in West Monroe.
after they married Joel & LaBreeska began to launch out into evangelism.
Their singing in addition to Joel's preaching became a very important
part of Joel's ministry and helped to create a demand at out of
state functions such as youth camps, camp meetings and Christian
1961 just one week before the birth of Candy, their third child,
knowing it was a time to settle down, they accepted the pastorate
of a small church in Bastrop, La. only 25 miles from W. Monroe.
For 10 years they and their children Joey, Trent, and Candy enjoyed
a very rewarding and active life of ministry revolving around
their home church. However, after about 5 years of pastoral involvement,
Joel became restless and discontent with their outreach. The local
radio station where they were ministering didn't prove to be very
far-reaching, so time was set aside for fasting and prayer and
seeking God to enlarge their ministry. Days of fasting, going
to the church lying on their faces praying for a greater anointing
and gifts immediately brought a gift that neither Joel or LaBreeska
had consciously sought for-Songwriting. And within a year it was
not unusual to hear one of Joel's songs, sung on radio or T.V.
be the various gospel groups that were popular at the time. His
first songs were recorded by the Happy Goodman Family, LaBreeska's
maternal family, (her mother Gussie Mae was sister to Howard,
Rusty, and Sam). Songs such as "Not in a Million Years", "The
Eyes of Jesus", "Pity the Man", "I Found a Better Way", "He Filled
A Longing", etc.... The gift was so graciously handed to Joel
and God sealed it by causing groups such as, The Blackwood Brothers,
The Speer Family, The Gaithers, The Florida Boys, The Cathedrals
and others, to record the songs that He inspired Joel to write.
made her debut in gospel music at the age of nine when she first
sang on stage with her mother and her mothers family. It was 1949
in the city of Nashville, Tennessee at the famous Ryman Auditorium
where the monthly Friday night singings took place.
Happy Goodman Family had a unique way of presenting the song Looking
For A City by featuring each member of the large family (4 brothers
& 4 sisters) one by one they appeared from back stage taking the
lead on the chorus. Howard and three members of the family began
the song as a quartet then when it looked as though the song would
end another family member would step onto the stage into the spotlight
singing as they came. This was repeated several times until every
member of the family wound up on stage including the children.
Each child would come out with his or her parent which in LaBreeska's
case was her mother.
in Flat Creek, Alabama, a small coal mining town, in 1940, to
Walter Erskine Rogers and Gussie Mae Goodman Rogers, LaBreeska
made her entrance into a world of music. Her dad played guitar
for local church services where both families attended and on
occasion played for the Goodman Family when they sang specials.
He also enjoyed sitting around in the house in the evenings picking
and singing old Jimmy Rogers tunes and playing his harmonica.
Christian faith and values were a constant in LaBreeska's life
as well as music, thanks to her two spirit-filled grandmothers
who raised her. Mama Goodman and Mama Rogers strongly embraced
the love of Jesus and family which formed her firm foundation.
& LaBreeska met and married in 1957. They settled in West Monroe
where they were very active in Joel's home church. They immediately
began launching out in a singing and preaching ministry when Joey,
their first born was only six weeks old. Joel & LaBreeska as a
duet signed their first recording contract in 1966 with Marvin
Norcross and Canaan Records. Canaan was a division of Word, the
largest religious recording company at that time. For over thirty
years, this couple has continued to encourage, inspire, and bless
all who have listened to their music with an unshakable focus
on Calvary and the risen Saviour.
of those years were shared with their three talented and dedicated
children Joey, Trent, and Candy. Today they have come full circle
and just the two of the, are still carrying on with the ministry
that they so love and were called to, preaching and singing the
gospel. Songs of Restoration and Revival!
Lynn Hemphill Christmas, better known as Candy, is the youngest
child and only daughter of Joel & LaBreeska. From the moment her
dad first saw her in the hospital he lovingly called her Candy
and that is the name she came home with.
was born the same week her dad became pastor of The Pentecostal
Temple Church in Bastrop, La. And was the typical "church baby"
for the first years of her life she and her brothers enjoyed a
fairly normal existence of school and church activities. When
Candy was eleven her family made the decision to move to Nashville,
Tennessee where they would become more centrally located, as they
were traveling full time.
a year of the move Candy and her brothers Joey and Trent began
traveling with their parents and going to Evangel Temple School
in conjunction with a correspondence course.
13 Candy made her first appearance on record when she sang "I
Came On Business For The King". The song written by her dad became
a favorite and introduced Candy as a promising new talent in Gospel
Music. She is also a gifted writer and penned many of the songs
that she has recorded such as Open My Eyes and You Make Me Want
married to Kent Christmas, a dynamic young evangelist, Candy's
name ironically became Candy Christmas. She is the proud mother
of two children Jasmine age 18 and Nicholas 12. They reside in
Nashville, less than 10 minutes from Joel & LaBreeska. Her musical
talents include guitar and piano and she is currently participating
in the well loved and very popular Gaither Video series.
more information about Candy's ministry, please visit her website
Wesley Hemphill, Jr. better known as Joey, the oldest of the three
Hemphill children, was born on August 13, 1958, just 14 months
after his parents were married.
began traveling with his parents at the tender age of 10 as their
drummer. Before he was taken out of public school in the 6th grade
he was flown to concerts many week-ends and for 2 years he was
tutored by a retired school teacher in conjunction with a correspondence
course. When the Hemphill's made the move from Louisiana to Nashville,
Joey was then placed in a Christian school that allowed him to
travel and make up the work on the road.
keen sense of timing and ear for music made him a favorite among
other gospel groups from the start. And was called on throughout
the night in many concerts to play for those who did not have
their own drummer.
at the age of 15 he added to the sound of the Hemphill's his rich
baritone voice when he began singing with the group. He also proved
his hand at writing when his first gospel song Never A Man Spake
Like This Man rose to #5 in the nation when he was only 18. Joey's
multi talents also include playing guitar and harmonica.
is now a family man married to Sue Ann Hutson Hemphill, and the
father of two darling little girls. Taylor age 15 and Sarah Kate
age 10. Joey and his brother Trent also have a thriving bus leasing
business in Nashville, Hemphill Brothers Coach, leasing custom
coaches to all types of music entertainers.
Hemphill is a musician, songwriter, business man, husband and
father. But despite his hectic schedule he is also an active participant
in his home church as pianist for the worship team. Trent has
always preferred to be behind the scene with the family group
but his spirit and determination was a driving force that kept
the group going in difficult times.
started with his family by playing bass guitar when he was 14.
By the time he was 16 he had moved to the keyboard and was directing
the Hemphill band, which included steel guitar, bass and drums.
Known as an "idea" man by his family Trent's input and voice has
always been valued when decisions were being made. he knew the
"Hemphill Sound" better than anyone and during the production
of new recordings Trent was a must. The treatment of a song musically
or the way it as delivered had to feel right to him. He co-produced
and produced the last several albums recorded by the Hemphill
Family and was awarded a Dove in 1985 and 1989. Trent also wrote
for and co-produced several heirloom projects with songs "I Know
Jesus" and "Then You Came And Made It Right", charting in the
top 20 and also his current song "I'm Bound For A City" recorded
by the Perry's in 1996.
Puckett Hemphill, Trent's wife is also well known in Gospel Music
circles having worked for record companies and producing videos
and television shows including "Homeland Harmony". In 1996 Bethni
received the Hearts Aflame Award for her producing skills for
the Cathedrals Reunion video. They have 2 adorable children Madeline
age 13 and little William Trent II age 8.