The Past . . .
In 1970, around the old upright piano in John and Betty Whisnant’s house a family began singing in the Appalachian foothills of Morganton, North Carolina. The voices of children blended with their parents as the sound of a gospel song filled the house. It was the year 1970 and from that time forward they were known as The John Whisnant Family.
Years passed as John, Betty and their sons Jeff and John sang together, but as the family matured, change was on the horizon. In 1986, The John Whisnant Family was scheduled to sing with another family group and there Jeff met his future wife, Susan Dry. Susan had been singing with her parents since she was 12 years old. Her father pastored a church where Susan was given a glimpse into the life of ministry. While Jeff and Susan dated, Susan began singing with Jeff’s family and when the couple married in 1988 they had dreams of expanding the ministry. Jeff’s parents took that opportunity to retire from the road and the name was shortened to The Whisnants.
Passing the leadership of the group onto Jeff and Susan in 1990, a new era of The Whisnants began. Jeff remains the only original group member of the family, both owning and managing the group. “We placed our ministry in God’s hands 44 years ago and have watched Him do miraculous things. There is no doubt in my mind that God has His hand on this ministry.” Jeff explains. The current line-up of the trio is Jeff and Susan, Aaron Hise and their sons Austin and Ethan. Aaron joined the group in 2001 and recently wed Suzanne Taylor of The Taylors. Looking back, Jeff recalls Aaron’s first concert with them, “He met us at a church in Evansville, Indiana and there was 32 inches of snow on the ground!”
With over 40 years of traveling behind them, The Whisnants have performed all across the nation and around the world, including Canada, Hawaii and cruises sailing to the Bahamas, Belize and Mexico. The trio has celebrated 13 #1 songs spanning from 2001 to 2013 and their first single for 2014, “He Can Move That Stone,” was nominated as a Top 10 Favorite Song in the Singing News Fan awards (2014). In 2003, their ballad “What You Took From Me” ranked #1 on the Singing News Top 40 Year End Chart as the most played song on radio and “Even In The Valley” did the same in 2004. They have been nominated for Trio of the Year 10 times and received many individual nominations such as Favorite Young Artist, Favorite Female Singer, Favorite Alto, etc. They also have appeared on the Gospel Music Southern Style Program (INSP Network), the Gaither Video Taping in Nashville, TN in February of 2007 and numerous appearances at the National Quartet Convention. More importantly, Jeff shares, “I have asked God to allow us to be the very best that we can be so that He can use this ministry to touch people’s lives. He has done that!” The achievements The Whisnants have acquired over the years are a testimony to the blessings God has placed on their ministry and they seek to use them to bring glory to their Lord in every concert.
Austin and Ethan, Jeff and Susan’s boys, have been inseparable from their parent’s calling since they were born. This generation of Whisnant’s grew up on the bus watching their family’s ministry unfold in their childhood and now they take active parts in each concert as well as behind the scenes. In 2009 they released their first CD together titled Forever Brothers. Since then the two have become a favorite and other CDs have followed, including successful singles on radio. As a part of the Whisnants, Austin began playing bass guitar on stage at age fourteen and Ethan contributes to the program every night by singing select songs.