STORY UPDATED AT 12/2/14 10:30 PM
Steve French of The Kingdom Heirs issued a statement today, announcing his retirement from the group he has spent over 30 years with. French issued the following statement, “After being in full time Southern Gospel music for 30 years, I feel it’s time for me to close this chapter of my life, and begin the next chapter to see what God has in store. Gospel Music has taken me places I would have otherwise not been able to go, and meet the wonderful people I’ve met over the years. It’s been an incredible journey and the Lord has really blessed me. I’d always dreamed of retiring at 55, and guess what.. I turned 55 in September! If it’s one thing I’ve learned through all of this, it’s that God will give you the desires of your heart – maybe not in the way you pictured it, but He will give them to you in the way that He sees fit. Thank you all for your support, and please continue to support the guys now more than ever. The Father is doing a great work in them, and I have a feeling it’s about to get even better! As for me, I plan to travel, and maybe look into building a new home somewhere out west. You never know what the next 55 will hold! Ah, the joys of retirement!”
French was a key component to the success of The Kingdom Heirs for over 30 years. He has been the only baritone since the groups formation in 1981. Under his and brother Kreis’ leadership, the group has grown to become one of the premier groups in the Southern Gospel industry. The group also became artists in residence at Dollywood theme park in 1986, where they have sang to untold numbers of people who may have never attended a Gospel concert or traditional church service. Thanks to his leadership/management, The Kingdom Heirs have had phenomenally talented vocalists through the years, such as Rick Strickland, Clayton Inman, Bob Caldwell, Eric Bennett, Steve Lacey, David Sutton, Arthur Rice, Jeff Chapman, Billy Hodges, and Jerry Martin.
Though French was never truly recognized for being an outstanding singer, he was featured on some great songs through the years with the group. As one who has listened to the Kingdom Heirs for years, I particularly enjoyed Steve’s features on songs like, “Midnight Oil”, “Enjoy The Lord”, “True To The Call, “As Good As I Can Be”, “Hide and Seek”, “Thank You For Praying”, and most recently “Wasted Years“, from the groups last recording Redeeming The Time.
So as one who has pretty much been listening to the Kingdom Heirs all my life, I would like to say Thank You, Steve! Your commitment to having a first class quartet has produced on the finest quartets in the history of our genre. We wish you all the best and God’s Blessings in your retirement.
EDIT 12/2/14 10:30 PM
The Kingdom Heirs issued a press release stating that Piano player Andy Stringfield. who has been pulling double-duty for the quartet filling in the baritone vocals from his piano, will continue to do so. Regarding the new vocal lineup, bassist and now sole-manager Kreis French has confidence in the group’s current voices. “Andy will continue to sing baritone for the foreseeable future and we all know he’s capable of continuing to do it at a high level.”
The Kingdom Heirs are already in the early stages of their Christmas season at Dollywood – a schedule they intended to complete. “We are in conversations with the team at Dollywood and everyone wants to continue this relationship – for this season and the next,” said Kreis.
Following year’s end at Dollywood, the group will gear up for their annual Winter Tour beginning late January. “As a group, we’ll do what The Kingdom Heirs have always done – and that’s hit the road when Dollywood is closed,” commented Kreis. “The only difference now – is I’m booking all the dates and doing most of the driving.”
With change comes an inevitable season of uncertainty, but The Kingdom Heirs are doing their best to see the road lying just ahead of them.
To see when you can visit with The Kingdom Heirs, be sure to get latest schedule from the quartet or from Dollywood. 2015 Winter Tour dates will be announced and posted to the website as they become available. For booking information, contact Kreis French.
Get involved with the guys online! Like them on Facebook and follow them from their BRAND NEW Twitter account @kingdom_heirs!