A lot can happen in two years. Christian vocal group 4N1 is no stranger to that fact. In just over 26 months, the members of the group have taken quite the roller coaster ride in pursuit of God's calling for their lives.
4N1 began on a chilly night in late January of 2007 when three longtime friends and one newcomer to the "social bunch" crowded into a tiny rehearsal room in the music hall of East Tennessee State University.
Armed with only their new-found bond with one another, as well as a CD boom-box and the hymns record recorded and released by Christian pop group Avalon in 2006, the quartet began their spiritual journey toward leading people to Christ and filling their ears with the spiritual, uplifting music of Christian radio (the group decided to begin as a cover group until such a time when their resources could afford them the opportunity to record an original album).
Kayla Farmer, Kristen Younger, Dustin Street, and Cori Florence performed their first public concert as 4N1 on April 29, 2007 at Munsey Memorial Church in Johnson City, Tennessee, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Since founding the ministry back then, 4N1 has made leaps and bounds in independent Christian music in a time where "do-it-yourself" artistry is becoming more and more prevalent. Feeling only that they should do as God would lead them to do in order to share the Gospel, they have happily remained outside the limelight of fame and notoriety and stuck to their guns when it comes to creative and spiritual independence from the music industry, meanwhile adhering to many of the industry's standards in the interest of progressing their talents and their collective reach toward listeners.
Churches, coffeehouses, and even youth centers have invited 4N1 to perform concerts for them and the quartet has yet to turn down an invitation to come sing based on a venue's inability to compensate them. As any of the members will tell you, money is not what they're all about. While it is a necessary ingredient to a successful and lasting road ministry, trust in God has been the engine driving 4N1's traveling success.
In addition to traditional concert settings, 4N1 has performed for several festivals and outdoor shows such as Unicoi County's "Summer in the Park" concert series, Freedom Fest, and many block parties hosted by local and regional churches.
Certainly one of the nearest and dearest performances to 4N1's collective heart is the annual Relay for Life event to benefit the American Cancer Society. 4N1 has performed on the Relay's entertainment stage three consecutive years and plans to make yet another appearance at this summer's event to keep the tradition alive. With all of the group members being somehow affected by cancer, it seems naturally fitting that they find ways such as the Relay to show their support for others affected.
In late 2007, after a long, busy, and fruitful first year of touring, 4N1 decided to take the next step in its ministry by recording its first studio album, an EP which would consist of four songs from the group's current live set. Of course, the songs would be cover versions of popular Christian hits, with 4N1's own vocal flare and taste added to the mix. The EP was recorded at Sunset Rising Studios in Virginia and produced by Paul Riggins.
Initially, the quartet had planned to use two of the four tracks as entries into the INSP Network's Christian Artist Talent Search (CATS) program, a nationally televised contest whose winner would receive a recording contract with a major Christian record label. However, not long after the studio album was finished, 4N1 and many other artists that had entered CATS learned that INSP had canceled the forthcoming season.
In spite of this news, 4N1 moved forward with plans to make its first studio record (entitled "More Than A Story") available to promoters and fans at concerts and online. The four-track CD, including artwork, was released on May 31, 2008, containing the songs "God is in Control" (Avalon), "How You Live" (Point of Grace), "New Day" (Avalon), and "Everything to Me" (Avalon).
Despite the many ups of performing concerts in churches, festivals, and anywhere else the group is called to go, there has certainly been a fair share of downs for the foursome as well.
On August 1, 2008, 4N1 (that night consisting of Dustin, Kristen, and Ashleigh Lingerfelt - a dear 4N1 friend and faithful stand-in vocalist), performed its final show at a Unicoi Church of God youth rally prior to taking nearly a year off from touring.
During that eight-month hiatus, the members of the quartet pondered the future of the ministry that God had built up in them for so long and had helped them get moving on the road. For the first time, the quartet's vision for the ministry itself was anything but cohesive. By all outside appearances, it appeared that 4N1 was a thing of the past.
Then, on February 20, 2009 (what was originally intended to be a rehearsal date for a come-back tour), soprano and founding member Kayla Farmer announced her departure from the group to pursue personal goals--namely a closer and more intimate walk with Christ, and working toward a career in Tallahassee, Florida, to where she had moved in early 2008.
While shaken from Farmer's decision to leave 4N1 (and sorely missing the wonderful talent and personality she brought to the mix), the other members decided they would continue the ministry fervently as long as God continued to open doors and lay it on their hearts to sing. Around the same time, 4N1 welcomed a new face: Jonathan Yates, who agreed to serve as the group's tenor on an interim basis until deciding if 4N1 was God's direction for his life. With Jonathan on board as the new tenor, Kristen picked up the soprano part, with Cori and Dustin remaining on alto and baritone, respectively. Once again, the group was musically whole, and ready to start a brand new journey to a more important sort of wholeness: a SPIRITUAL wholeness.
And that brings us today: a brand new 4N1, a ready and willing attitude, and four eager hearts waiting to hit the road and encourage everyone they meet along the way to come to the Lord Jesus Christ and to praise and worship Him for as long as they live, and with every single breath they take! After all, the fact that 4N1 is still around is a living testimony to the fact that God isn't finished touching hearts and changing lives in a BIG way.
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