The Erwins: Making Modern Christian Music
by Shelby C. Berry
There is rarely a sound in music, specifically bluegrass and gospel music, that is more distinct than siblings singing and harmonizing together. But Keith, Kody, Kris, and Katie aren’t just your typical band of siblings.
The Erwins are collectively known for an eclectic sound appealing to all generations and sibling harmonies that speak to your heart. If you’ve never heard of them, by the time you finish reading this, you’re going to want to.
A nationally-recognized gospel group that tours across the country each year playing hundreds of dates, The Erwins are known for blazing new trails in the gospel and contemporary Christian genres and showing fans the future of gospel music.
The Erwins were born in music ministry, their father Pastor Dennis Erwin, an evangelical Baptist preacher in northern and eastern Texas.
“We started as organically as you probably could with our father, singing two or three songs before he would go on stage to preach somewhere,” said Kris. “I can’t remember a time when music wasn’t a part of our lives. We never imagined God would bring us where we are now. Nothing we ever did as siblings with our music ever felt forced.”
With a shared love for music and sharing the word of Jesus Christ with the world, the Erwin siblings officially established their band as we know it in 2013 when Katie joined her older brothers in their music.
After Katie joined her brothers, with a little bit of encouragement from their parents, the Erwin siblings hit the ground running, signing a record deal with their record label StowTown Records less than a year later in 2014.
“Even in our first project, our producer Wayne Haun pushed us in a way that we had never been pushed before in music. We wanted to do this in a way that stayed true to our message in a way that simply broadened our audience, to join a more fully-realized sound that Wayne helped us create to join with a lyric that is timeless,” said Kris.
“That’s our goal that we strive for with each album. Stylistically, we always want to push ourselves.”
Often identified by a mixture of musical styles, The Erwins don’t like to label themselves and their sound. And rightfully so — these siblings have a rare outlook on how they present themselves and their music to their audience.
“We want to remain diverse with what we do,” said Keith. “If you hear our records, you know. One of the main parts of our ministry is to be applicable to all generations. Our father raised us to never be in one place and never box yourself in, especially with your art. Our music is different and eclectic.”
Intending to have something on each album for all ages, The Erwins create songs for the whole church body with a message to reach everyone.
“We are fully aware that not everyone will like our style, but we hope the message will relate and speak to everyone. We know that as long as God gives us peace in our hearts, that’s all that matters,” said Katie. “But I love when young people sit in the audience and sing our songs! We don’t know what they’re going through. It’s ministering to them. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s a great feeling, showing young people that you can be cool and live for Jesus!”
Since they recorded their first album, The Erwins have come a long way — performing at hundreds of venues across the country each year, recording multiple albums, and starting the journey of writing their music.
Today, with the siblings all in their 20s and well into adulthood, The Erwins continue to put their faith first in their music, providing them with the drive and passion behind every note they sing and every song they write.
Though these siblings have fared pretty well on the road to success, they’d had to endure a bit of heartache along the way as well, like sickness and a bus accident a few years ago. However, it was their faith and a reminder of their music’s lyrics that resonated more than ever throughout those moments. When the world is full of chaos, these siblings released their most recent project, This Is Love, in April 2021. The album is a refreshing blend of sibling harmonies written alongside Kenna West and Sue Smith.
“We wrote some of our music and sat on these lyrics for a long time,” said Kody. “Every time you put new music out, you feel like it’s the best. I feel like it’s evident here. I feel like it sounds different and means more to a lot of people. It was important for us to come out of the gate with new material and lyrics the world needed to hear at this time of uncertainty.”
The Erwins were notified of their Dove Award nomination for 2020 Southern Gospel Recorded Song of the Year while recording their album. “It was the little piece of confirmation and encouragement we needed,” said Katie.
However, being nominated for Best Roots Gospel Album at the 63rd Grammy® Awards shocked the Erwins. “Being nominated for a Grammy® Award was truly one of the greatest and most humbling things. We had absolutely no clue. We got a call right after it was announced! We are so thankful,” said Kris.
They are currently writing songs, preparing to get back in the studio to record their next album, and getting ready for Katie’s fiancé Logan to join the band after they marry later this year.
While blessed with success and praise over the last few years, The Erwins do it all for God’s glory.