By LAURIE M. FISHER
YOUNGSTOWN -- "Lord, I come looking for a miracle. Lord I come expecting the impossible," sang the Nevels Sisters as they rehearsed one of the gospel songs to be featured on their new CD.
Recording is still under way on the as-yet unnamed CD with Visionary Records in Youngstown that is to be released nationally this summer.
"When people hear our music, I want them to know that Jesus lives, that he is just as powerful today, as when he walked the face of the earth. He is real," said Veneice Nevels-Andrews. This, the third CD by the sisters includes the youngest sister, April Nevels-Wade, who was not on the group's first two releases.
April was too young to sing with her siblings on their earlier CDs. She began performing with the Nevels Sisters when she graduated from high school.
Who they are: The sisters, in order of birth, are Debra Nevels-Jordan, Veneice, Gail Nevels and April. They and their brother and only other sibling, Emmett Nevels Jr., have created gospel music for more than 25 years. Emmett writes the music, and the sisters add the lyrics.
In fact, the sisters say they cannot read music. As they rehearse, they may find a sound is particularly pleasing and add it to the song.
Gail is the lead singer, Veneice directs and Debra and April sing harmony.
"We love singing. We sing to draw people to the ministry. We do whatever we need to make the ministry work and to draw people to Christ. That's really what it is all about," said Debra.
The children of the Rev. Emmett Nevels, pastor of Nevels Temple Church of God in Christ, and his wife, Frances, continue the family ministry with their music, both in church and for special events.
The sisters sing in the choir every Sunday. Debra is president of the choir, Veneice directs, and Gail and April lead songs.
The group also will perform selections from the CD on Monday at the Women's Convention of the National Church of God in Christ in Birmingham, Ala.
To prepare for the event and the newest release, the four women from Youngstown along with keyboard accompanist Craig Wade, April's husband, percussionist Charles Robinson and guitar player Derrick Talley rehearse every Wednesday and Thursday evening at the church. Veneice's husband, Robert Andrews, is the group's manager.
History: The Nevels musical family tradition began in 1974 when the Rev. Mr. Nevels, a lifelong singer, started his ministry, Debra said.
The Rev. Mr. Nevels worked with Debra, Veneice and Gail, teaching them to sing parts, Debra explained.
The group began performing at Bright Star Church of God in Christ, Youngstown, where the Rev. Mr. Nevels was pastor, then at Nevels Temple, and other churches.
Later, the sisters sang with local gospel recording artist Kenny Eldridge, Debra said.
In 1986, they recorded the album "Hold to His Hand." The title song reached No. 15 on the top 50 Christian songs.
Two years later, they released a second album "Seek the Lord." The Nevels sisters are also featured with other gospel artists on a CD "Millennium Mix."
Since then, the sisters, now ranging in age from late 20s to late 30s, have continued to sing in church and focus on family life.
Performances: Still, they plan to do more with the new CD than their earlier ones. Dates for performances across the nation are being set.
"We have made a commitment with the new CD that we would take our music to the next level if God sees fit. We will take the ministry and to go out and share with others what the Lord has done for us," Debra said.
In addition to their commitments to family, music and the ministry, each sister works full time in the area.
Debra is a supervisor at MCI. Veneice is a secretary at the state auditor's office. Gail is a clerk at Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, and April is a secretary at the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services. Emmett owns the Coffee Time shop.
While the sisters rehearsed, Courtney, 2, daughter of April, and Wynsten, 6 months, son of Veneice, carried on the family tradition of moving to the music. Courtney is already singing in church.
XNevels Sisters CDs are sold at Christian music stores in the area including RBG Music in Warren, Family Christian Stores and White Wing Christian Book Store.