Shipshewana Breakfast Club – Allison Speer at the Blue Gate Theatre
New Speer Family George Thomas “Dad” Speer and Lena Brock “Mom” Speer formed the Speer Family singing group in 1921. With Dad’s sister, Pearl, and her husband, Logan, they traveled, full time, by horse and buggy to church services, singing, and other events near their home in Alabama. Dad and Mom had four children; Brock, Rosa Nell, Mary Tom, and Ben. Dad was so studied in music that when each child was old enough to talk, they had to learn to talk on-pitch. The girls eventually married and began families, leaving Brock, Ben, “Mom” and “Dad” Speer. Dad and Mom died in the mid-1960’s leaving Brock and Ben to “adopt” other singers into the Singing Speer Family and the group carried on until their retirement in 1998, a consistent and unprecedented 77-year run.
The last of the four Speer siblings of “Mom and Dad Speer” passed away in 2017, marking the end of an era. In 2018, a new season began with the formation of the New Speer Family. Third-generation Brian Speer, the youngest child of Brock and Faye, is joined by his wife, industry veteran Allison Speer, Mike Allen, and exciting newcomer Ben Waites to form an exciting new sound, The New Speer Family.
Brian relates, “When my sweet Aunt Rosie passed in 2017 it seemed like the history of the Speer Family might be lost altogether. Allison and I felt an urge to keep my family’s heritage and their great music alive somehow. We asked two other Speer Family fans to join us and we began singing the great songs of Dad Speer.” Their first recording, A Singing Heritage, showcases songs the Singing Speer Family sang at various times during their long reign as America’s First Family of Gospel Music. “Six of the songs we recorded were written by my grandfather, Dad Speer. Most will be familiar to listeners, but at least one, “Hallelujah Chorus”, may be new even to folks who have been followers of the Speer Family. The biggest song the Singing Speer Family ever recorded is the latest song we chose to record is “The King Is Coming” by Bill and Gloria Gaither and Chuck Milhuff. In all, this is a collection of great music that we hope will bless hearts as much as the original recordings did,” says Brian.
Allison Speer has been singing professionally for 33 years and shows no signs of slowing down. She has recorded 14 solo records and will continue to perform alone between New Speer Family concerts. Mike Allen has sung with notable groups such as Poet Voices, The Weatherfords, The Blackwood Quartet, Mike Lefever Quartet and traveled 15 years with the Gaither Homecoming Tour. Both Allison and Mike are regulars on the Gaither Homecoming video series. Ben Waites is an ordained minister and has a busy solo career. He has spent his life in a wheelchair and his ministry is powerful and exemplary. Ben is also a vocal coach and associate instructor for the world-renowned instructor, Brett Manning, in Nashville, TN. “As Brian said, we started this group to perpetuate the great music of the Speer Family, and we’re having a blast doing it,” says Allison. “Answering God’s call to do this has certainly has been rewarding. I hope listeners will enjoy listening and, better yet, singing along!”