Southern gospel’s roots run deep in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee and Virginia, so it comes as no surprise three generations of The Livingstons music and ministry originated there. But like the curvy roads that wind through those mountains, some surprising twists and turns have led this family in unexpected directions.
In the early 90s, The Livingstons began recording music lead by Denny Livingston, his wife, Alonna, his father, Dean, and his sister, Shana and Alonna’s two younger brothers, Spencer and Cory McCool. They had several singles that landed in the top 40, and they became known for the song, “I Will Lift My Voice,” which made it all the way to number 7.
The Livingstons were nominated for the Horizon Group of the Year in 1996 by the Singing News. They were also privileged to share the stage with several other well known singers like Brian Free, Gold City Quartet, Greater Vision, The Hoppers, The Crabbs, The Tallys and many others.
Denny wrote most of the songs that The Livingstons recorded. His dad wrote a few as well. Denny’s songwriting has long been widely respected in the industry. His songs have been recorded by artists including Karen Peck and New River, The Kingsmen, The Tallys, Brian Free, The Singing Americans and many others.
But The Livingstons’ last recording came in 1997. After that, Denny and his wife Alonna became very busy in church work. Songwriting, which is Denny’s passion, took a back seat to being a Lead Pastor and all the burdens that come with it. For the last 17 years, they have been pouring themselves into growing the Kingdom of God and into their growing family.
For many years, they only had one child, Brittany. After the loss of a baby during late-term pregnancy in 1995, they continued trying to have another, but it didn’t seem like that was going to happen. Then in 2003, God performed a miracle, and Alonna found out she was pregnant. Also, at the beginning of 2004, they fostered two children that they soon adopted. That year they saw their family double. In 2005, Alonna became pregnant again and in 2006, she gave birth to their fifth child.
Now with five kids, Denny and Alonna felt the call of God to take a church in Nashville, TN, away from their extended family in East Tennessee. This church only had seven remaining members, and they weren’t very hopeful for the future. God had spoken to Denny about this church, so he and his family moved to Nashville and began reviving this church.
They chose to rename the church Point Of Mercy, and it became a crossroads for people finding themselves in the middle of unexpected journeys, in need of mercy and grace.
For the last 10 years, the Lord has blessed the church. They have now moved into a much larger facility and are seeing God do some amazing things in their community.
Denny’s father, Dean, pastors a church in Bristol, VA. Denny’s sister, Shana is the Worship Leader there, too. Another member of The Livingstons for many years was Alonna’s brother, Cory, who sang and played drums. Cory was called home to be with the Lord in 2009 at the young age of 31. This was the most devastating twist in their journey, and it had a deep impact on Denny and Alonna’s family.
Denny and Alonna’s oldest daughter, Brittany was only seven years old when they recorded their last album. Since that time, Brittany has been writing songs, playing the guitar and singing in their church in Nashville. Denny and Brittany have spent the last several years writing songs together.
Denny, Alonna and Brittany began to dream and hope of writing, singing and recording again as a family. About that time, the three recall a night where several people were praying over them at a conference where Denny was speaking. They felt like God was not only speaking to them, but was also putting a fresh anointing on them for something in the future.
That next morning, a man of God and close friend spoke into their lives about some things that were getting ready to happen. When they left that meeting, they knew without a doubt they were supposed to record a new album and share their songs.
They gathered what songs they had and began working on the ones that were not complete. Midway through the recording process, they realized their songs were telling the story of where they had been for the last 17 years. The songs explained the hurt of loss and the pain of rejection, but how in the midst of it all, they remained positive and have refused to give up.
Their new album was completed when God gave Denny and Brittany a song that was co-written with their dear friend Carrie Mohler that became the title of the album, UNEXPECTED JOURNEY. “The album is not only about the journey of life and ministry, but it is also about the unexpected things that everyone faces,” Denny says.
The Livingstons’ desire is to share their testimony through each song that God has given them with as many people as possible. “We feel like the songs that tell where they’ve been will help someone where they are now,” Denny adds.
For Denny, Alonna and Brittany, these are more than just songs, it’s their journey. When you hear them, you will recognize that unmistakable Livingston’s sound, but with the addition of Brittany’s voice and writing, you’ll hear a little something new that makes them very distinct – some might even call it unexpected.