One of the most beloved female voices in Southern Gospel music, no doubt belongs to Karen Peck. With her sweet, charming mannerisms, she exudes Christian love, and one can't help but feel special around her. When I first shared a venue with her, I was a 15 year old aspiring piano player, and she encouraged me and treated me like I was a long-lost friend. This is her story:
CM: When and where were you born?
KP: I was born in Gainesville, Ga. March 12, 1960.
CM: Tell me a little bit about your parents
KP: My dad, Ezra Peck, was a foreman who worked on small motors and generators. He retired at 57 years old to work with New River, but passed away two years later, in 1993. My Mom, Sue Peck worked in the school cafeteria and retired after twenty-five years of service.
CM: Did you grow up in Gainesville? Where did you go to school?
KP: Yes, I grew up in Gainesville. I graduated from North Hall High School and attended Brenau College for two years after that.
CM: Tell me about your salvation experience.
KP: I was saved at eight years old, during Bible School at Pleasant Union Baptist Church in Gainesville.
CM: What is your church background?
KP: I was raised in a Baptist church until we moved. Later, I attended South Bend Methodist church for several years. This was the place where my sister, Susan, our friend Pam, and I, began singing in a girls' trio - Joyful Trio. When we started, I was in the fifth grade.
CM: When did you first start singing?
KP: At three years old! Mama would stand me in a chair at Pleasant Union Baptist Church, and I would sing to the top of my lungs!
CM: When were you first exposed to Southern Gospel music?
KP: Mama and Daddy took us to the all night singings in Atlanta, GA. I remember being so small that I could stand in the seat. Resting my arms on the back of the seat and watching Vestal Goodman walking out on the stage singing, made me want to cry! I was in awe of her and all of the groups. Little did I know that God was placing that strong desire in my heart to sing!
CM: Did you ever have any jobs other than singing?
KP: I babysat during the summers, I worked as a day camp counselor, worked at Brenau library, and I taught piano for several years.
CM: Did you sing in any part-time groups before you went professional?
KP: I sang with Joyful Trio (along with Susan) until the other girls went to college. Then I joined my first quartet, The Celestials. At first I was the only girl and I sang alto! Can you imagine how I must have sounded?! Ha Ha! However, a few months later, one of the guys quit and we added an alto singer, which allowed me to sing soprano. I still keep in touch with some of them periodically! Great memories…
CM: What was your first professional singing job and how did it come about?
KP: I began singing with Alphus LeFevre and The LeFevres in June 1980, at the recommendation of Rex Nelon. The Celestials had opened for The Rex Nelon Singers several times, thanks to the promoter, Leslie Chastain. One night in Clarkesville, GA., I spoke with Rex about wanting to sing professionally. He advised me to send a resume, a tape of me singing, and a picture to everyone that I would want to sing with. The next time that we opened for Rex, I gave him everything that he had advised me to do! Within a couple of months, I was singing with Alphus. Then one year later, Rex called me to sing with The Rex Nelon Singers! It was a dream-come-true for me! To this day, I have the greatest friends from former members of those years with Alphus LeFevre and Rex Nelon!!! Honestly, friends for life. I'm very grateful.
CM: Who would you say are your heroes?
KP: I have so many heroes, but to name a few: My parents, Jessie Peck (grandmother), Rex Nelon, Alphus LeFevre, Eldridge Fox, Tim Riley, Eliza Feldman (piano teacher), Vestal Goodman, Bill and Gloria Gaither, Lou Hildreth, Lillie Fern Weatherford, and Connie Hopper.
CM: Do you have any advice for young aspiring artists?
KP: The best advice that I can give is seek God's will in your life. Ephesians 5:17 "Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Understanding the will of the Lord is having a mental knowledge of what we are supposed to do. We can obtain that knowledge by reading the Bible and searching out scriptures. He will put you right where He wants you to be! Also, if you are serious about singing, then get vocal training. Learn how to breathe correctly and learn how to sing correctly. God wants us to be the very best that we can be. And remember, if you are going to sing for the Lord, then there is only one star. That star is Jesus!!