Spending his early years in the spotlight as lead vocalist for iconic Southern Gospel quartet Gold City—where he recorded his now signature #1 hit, “Midnight Cry”— Ivan transitioned seamlessly into an acclaimed solo career that has spanned 22 years and counting. A mainstay of Bill and Gloria Gaither’s beloved Homecoming community, he has received 13 Singing News Fan Awards for Soloist of the Year, as well as 12 Singing News Fan Awards for Favorite Male Vocalist and six for Favorite Lead Vocalist, among numerous other accolades. It’s no surprise he was also the first soloist ever invited to perform on the main stage at the National Quartet Convention.
Life is a series of choices we make amidst circumstances we may or may not be able to control. When the sun is shining, we can choose to bask in the warmth or hide in the shadows. When it rains, we can run for cover or step into the downpour and dance.
Ivan Parker chooses to dance, to embrace all that life has to offer and never-say-never to new possibilities. It’s been the mindset for most of his life, during which he has established himself as one of the most loved and lauded vocalists in Southern Gospel music.
A N E W S E A S O N
Beginning a new chapter this year, Ivan signed with Difference Media, setting the wheels in motion for his 14th solo recording. The label is a division of Cornerstone Church, founded by internationally renowned pastor John Hagee, and they represent some of the leading voices in Gospel music— Canton Junction, Aaron & Amanda Crabb and The Hagees, to name a few. Ivan quickly found his place at Difference, aided by a very personal connection: his daughter-in-law, Sandy, helms the label.
“Even two years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined an opportunity like this,” says Ivan. “But God has brought people into my path and is opening new doors. He never ceases to amaze me.”
D A N C I N G I N T H E R A I N
It is this same sense of infectious optimism and genuine awe that permeates each track of his Difference debut, Dancing in the Rain. Produced by Garry Jones—whose friendship with Ivan traces back to their season together in Gold City—the new album is a collection of songs Ivan is already passionate about.
The Jenna Vera-penned “That’s What Love Does” immediately resonated with Ivan. “The lyrics were different than any other song I’ve recorded. It talks about love in the third person, bringing it to life in a way I’d not heard before,” he shares.
Another track hitting close to home is “Mama’s Rocking Chair.” “It just made sense,” Ivan states. “I was at home in North Carolina and my brother called me into the living room to point out the rocking chair my mom and dad bought when I was born. It was a beautiful thing to revisit my childhood like that and a completely God-ordained moment, as shortly thereafter I came across the song ‘Mama’s Rocking Chair.’”
Ivan’s heart for the world—reflected in performances from South Africa to Ireland—permeates one of the new project’s highlights, “There Is A Healing.”
“I have seen so many people around the world who need to be encouraged and hear something that’s going to give them hope,” he says. “Lives are shattered and homes are broken every day, which is why I love singing songs that let hurting people know that this moment will pass. Tomorrow will be better and there is hope beyond today. Someone has to tell them that there is promise.”
A M O T H E R ’ S P R A Y E R
A veteran prayer warrior, Ivan’s mother, now 91, has covered all seven of her children in prayer for as long as Ivan can remember. “Mom has a hallway in her house and walks it up and down on her walker every night before she goes to bed. She walks and she prays. She says she feels like she touches heaven a lot better in that hallway,” Ivan shares fondly. “She always knew God would use her children to carry His message around the world.”
Be it Africa, Europe, or his hometown in North Carolina, Ivan’s opportunities to share a message of Hope have known no limits. Looking back now, he continues to be in awe of what God has orchestrated.
“I never thought I wanted to go solo,” Ivan recalls of his early days. “At the beginning of my solo career, Bill Gaither invited me to his studio where they were ‘doing some little videos.’ I showed up and the room was packed with every hero I’ve ever had in my life. I was praying I wouldn’t have to get up there and sing in front of all of them, but of course Bill asked me to come up and sing. I think he wanted to prove that they were embracing me and loving me. The next thing you know, I’m working his dates before they were even called Homecoming.”
His sweet mother’s prayers have been heard, and they continue to be fulfilled…
T H E J O U R N E Y C O N T I N U E S
If the past is any indication of the blessings still on the horizon, it’s no wonder that Ivan is living in expectation. “I’ve tried to be obedient and do what I love to do,” he says. “My heart is to sing and make people happy like He has made me happy. It’s been a great journey; one that I never dreamed I would experience.”
As Ivan continues to answer the call on his life, he does so with the blessing of a love that’s contagious. A love that reaches the far corners of the earth. A love that teaches us to embrace the sunshine and dance in the rain.
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by Ivan Parker