The Nelons: a Blend of Inspiration

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The Nelons: A Blend of Inspiration

by Susan Marquez

Music was a big part of Jason Clark’s family culture in eastern Kentucky. “Music was something that was passed down from generation to generation in my family, and it was always a big part of any family gathering.” Jason’s father was the first in their family ever to be a professional musician, and he was undoubtedly Jason’s inspiration. “When I graduated high school, I began singing professionally as well,” he says. “The first group I toured with was The Singing Americans.”

Eventually, Jason moved to Nashville, where he worked as a session musician. He played on a Rex Nelon recording, and afterward, Rex offered Jason a position in his band. “I got to know the family well and even married his daughter, Kelly. We married 21 years ago.” The Nelons have been together as a group, one way or another, for 45 years.

Kelly Nelon Clark is the original member of the group. She and Jason have two daughters, Amanda, and Autumn, who round out The Nelons. “Both of the girls are world-class singers,” says Jason. “They are at the top of our industry in terms of vocal talent. Professionally, Amber has recorded since she was nine years old, and she is the youngest ever Dove award nominee. In addition to singing, Autumn also plays the mandolin.”

The Nelons tour extensively, although their schedule is not as full now due to the Covid pandemic. “We like to land about 120 shows a year,” says Jason. “We had 101 cancellations due to Covid in 2020 and 2021, but it has picked back up, although we are not traveling abroad at this time.” Jason says that pre-Covid, the group did a bi-annual tour through Europe. “We have a large fan base in Europe, I think due in large part to the Gaither videos.” The Nelons are regulars on the Gaither Homecoming series.

The group offers a blend of Gospel, a Capella, Americana, folk music, traditional hymns, and inspirational music. For Kelly, singing in the group has brought her full circle, as she has shared the same stages many times with her father. She now leads the group with her solid and pure vocals, joined by Jason, a versatile singer and musician and a talented songwriter and producer. Amber’s soaring soprano and Autumn’s soothing alto add beautiful vocal harmonies. The multi-talented family’s extensive list of accolades includes three GRAMMY® nominations, seven GMA Dove awards, a Telly award, and in 2016 they were inducted into the GMA Hall of Fame.

While Autumn was attending Trinity Baptist College, The Nelons became artists-in-residence and ambassadors for the college while on tour. 

While Autumn was in school at Trinity Baptist College, The Nelons became artists-in-residence and were ambassadors for the college while on tour.

In addition to performing, state music and choral conferences often ask The Nelons to serve as worship leaders. “We love to do it,” says Jason. “We have been invited numerous times to the Gaither’s multi-day events where there will be six thousand or more people gathered.” The Nelons also partner with choral companies to take their work into churches.

A few years ago, the family moved to a working farm in Roopville, Georgia.

“We train horses and have a herd of black Angus, and we hold cattle sales,” Jason says. “There is also a 10,000 square foot venue used for weddings, dinner shows, and concerts. Our next show is scheduled for Valentine’s Day.”

Jason shared that they also produced a Christmas variety television show called Christmas at the Farm in the venue. “We had so much fun doing it, and it was so well received that we may turn the show into an annual thing.”  

The future looks bright for The Nelons as they continue to touch audiences worldwide. Amber has two albums out on Daywind Records, Without Your Love (2014) and Just Sing (2015). Autumn is working on a bluegrass album to be released later this year. “I’m writing songs now with Jerry Salley for the album,” says Jason. “Amber likes the Americana folk sound, but she also loves traditional bluegrass as well, so there will probably be a mix of the two.”

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Jason says The Nelons are gradually getting back to their full touring schedule and will continue providing audiences with the genres they love best and music that crosses age barriers and unifies their audiences with great music.