By CHERIL VERNON
Nashville Christian solo artist Casey Rivers, known for winning first runner-up on USA Network’s “Nashville Star” in 2006, will visit a Palestine church on Sunday.
Rivers will give his testimony in word and song at the 10:50 a.m. worship service at New Life Worship Center, located at 104 Cedarvale St. in the Westwood area.
Rivers, who grew up in Lindale, Texas, most recently served as the lead singer for Christian vocal trio Beyond The Ashes for the past 3 1/2 years, leaving the group in August 2012 to return to his roots as a solo artist.
“I’ve been singing in a lot of churches, wherever God opens the door and gives me the opportunity to tell my story,” Rivers said during a phone interview with the Herald-Press last year. “I learn as I go. I walk through the doors and God presents opportunities. The more I do, the more I learn what I will do next. I’m just enjoying the ride until then.”
In fact, the 32-year-old Rivers first started singing in church at age 3.
“My parents were part of a gospel quartet and I’ve been singing in church all of my life,” Rivers said. “I started pursuing country music as a junior in high school, but I’ve always had a heart for ministry even when I was singing country music. I always felt that the country music stage could reach a group of people that not necessarily would step into a church building. I’ve always presented a lot of positive country songs that I feel people are able to relate to and share how good God has been to me while on the country stage.”
At the age of 8, Rivers was the entertainment at his first professional rodeo. In high school, Rivers received the “Gold Music Award,” a music honor award in recognition of outstanding contributions and dedication to music. When he graduated from Lindale High School, he went full speed ahead with his music career by taking voice, stage, guitar and songwriting.
In 2002, he was named the winner of Loretta Lynn’s National Talent Search. In 2003, he performed as an invited guest and duet partner with Lynn and later opened for the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame induction show with Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Bush. In 2004, he was named the International Country Gospel Music Association’s “Male Horizon Artist of the Year" Award.
After his successful run on “Nashville Star” as the first runner-up — current country music singer Chris Young (“Tomorrow,” “The Man I Want To Be”) was named Nashville Star winner that year — Rivers performed during the Nashville Star Summer Tour in 2006 and began writing songs, finishing his first professional CD in 2008.
While with Beyond The Ashes, Rivers performed at more than 200 shows and services a year. In 2011, he was named the Absolutely Gospel Music award winner for Breakthrough Artist of the Year. The band’s single “Coming of the King” landed in the top 10 of Singing News charts at No. 9.
Other recognition for Rivers while he was with Beyond The Ashes include 2012 American Guild of Music award nominations for Album of the Year, Male Group of the Year, Fan Favorite Artist of the Year and Progressive Southern Album of the Year. They also were nominated this year for two Gospel Music Association Dove awards for New Artist of the Year and Contemporary Gospel Recorded Song of the Year. The group has performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage for “Sunday Morning Country” and with the Bill Gaither Homecoming group at the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, Ky.
While singing country music, Rivers has performed with artists including Loretta Lynn, Neal McCoy, Willie Nelson, Ray Price, Hank Williams Jr., Big and Rich, Sara Evans, Jason Aldean, Wynonna Judd, Chris Young, Phil Vassar, Kenny Rogers, Miranda Lambert, Gatlin Brothers, Gaither Vocal Band, The Martins, The Nelons, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, Jason Crabb and many more.
Rivers and his wife, Doni, will celebrate seven years of marriage this year. They live in Nashville with their three children.
Rivers has performed in East Texas a handful of times since last year.
“I definitely love coming back to Texas. I may have lived out of state for six years, but Texas will always be home,” Rivers said. “Plus, I get see family and friends in Texas.”
In addition to his love for his own kids, Rivers is actively involved with sharing the ministry of Compassion International wherever he travels and sings. Compassion is a child sponsorship organization striving to release children from poverty, around the globe, in Jesus’ name.
The public is invited to attend the service Sunday at New Life Worship Center.
To learn more about Rivers, visit caseyriversmusic.com. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/caseyriversmusic and follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/CaseyRivers