Gospel artist and former Bastrop pastor Joel Hemphill has told countless stories through song writing over more than four decades. In a new book, LaBreeska Hemphill tells the story of her husband's early years growing up in northeast Louisiana, where it all began.
LaBreeska describes her book, “Can Anything Good Out of Bawcomville?” as a humorous and inspirational account of a bygone era. Born in Fresno, Calif. in 1939, Joel moved to Ouachita Parish with his family when his father was called to start a church there. The book shares Joel's childhood memories as well as portraits of the people and communities that provided the foundation for his successful career in ministry.
Before the Hemphills began a musical career that has taken them all over the world, they pastored a church Pentecostal Temple on Collinston Road from 1961-1971. Joel began writing Gospel songs in 1966, leading to a contract with Word Records of Waco, Texas. The couple formed a singing group with their children and began touring soon after.
“We gave up the pastorate of the church in 1971, and in 1972 moved to Nashville to be more centrally located for our travels,” said LaBreeska. “God has blessed our family and ministry, and Bastrop and our friends there have always remained very special to us.”
Joel has since written over 350 songs such as the popular “He's Still Workin' on Me,” “Every Need Supplies” and “Consider the Lilies.” They have recorded more than 27 albums, receiving eight Dove Awards and numerous BMI Awards of Excellence. Joel has been inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Southern Songwriters Hall of Fame; the couple were inducted together into Louisiana's Delta Music Hall of Fame last year.
Having written two previous books about her experiences in life and ministry, LaBreeska set out to share her fascination with her husband's early years in Louisiana and asked him to reminisce while she recorded his memories on legal pads.
Published this year by Trumpet Call Books, “Can Anything Good Come Out of Bawcomville?” can be ordered by writing or calling: The Hemphills P.O. Box 656 Joelton, TN 37080 (firstname.lastname@example.org). To learn more visit www.thehemphills.com or www.trumpetcallbooks.com.
Joel and LaBreeska Hemphill will sign and preach at Bonne Idee Assembly of God in Mer Rouge at 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 2.