december 2011



In Wake of Childrens’ Murders, Rocky Smith and Wife Form Rocky Smith Ministries

Rocky Smith (center) with wife Gail (at left), son Dylan and daughter Christina behind him, son Zack at right.

In the wake of unspeakable tragedy, southern gospel musician Rocky Smith and his wife Gail have formed Rocky Smith Ministries. According to the RSM Mission Statement: “Rocky Smith Ministries exists to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to bring awareness to the danger of Domestic Violence, Untreated Mental Illness and the gift of Organ Donation through singing, speaking and ministering to all people.”

Smith, who recorded his first album at age seven and was traveling with the legendary Easter Brothers by age 10, and has gone on to play with many of the most important southern gospel groups, is also an ordained minister.

Preview of Rocky Smith’s forthcoming country gospel CD, Just Rocky. For ordering info, see link at end of story.

The formation of RSM follows the news the Smiths received on November 20, 2011, that their two sons, Robert Dylan and Zachary, had been murdered by Smith’s ex-wife Mary Ann Holder, 36, who also killed her eight-year-old niece Hannaleigh Suttles and 17-year-old nephew Brian Suttles. She also killed 15-year-old Makayla Leigh Woods, Robert Dylan’s 15-year-old girlfriend, and wounded her married former lover, Randall Lamb. Holder then took her own life. She left two notes admitting responsibility for the murders.

Holder had been having an affair with Lamb, 40, for more than three years. Various reports indicate the affair was coming to a bitter end, with Holder, Lamb and Lamb’s wife Jennifer trading accusations of stalking and harassment.

On the Rocky Smith Ministries website, Smith writes in part: “During and after the services people began to ask how I could stand, sing and speak to others in comfort while dealing with this tragic loss. I kept telling them it was my faith in Jesus Christ and the strength that God was giving me. Then people began asking me would we come and speak, sing and minister at their event or service. Gail and I prayed and talked and prayed and talked. We came to the conclusion that Rocky Smith Ministries is what we should do. We feel that we need to tell everyone we can about our story and how God is helping us through this. We know that we have a long way to go. We have so many unanswered questions. This case is still open and we have no idea what really happened on the morning in question. As we get those answers we will update this page. What we do know is that we can share God's love, the dangers of domestic violence, mental illness and the gift of organ donations with people everywhere. At this time 21 lives around the country have been touched by the organ donations of Zack, Ricky and Hana.

“Moving forward we ask that you pray for our ministry, pray that doors will open for us to get our story out. That God will continue to strengthen us. Lead and guide us to do whatever he would have us to do. I don't claim to be perfect, but I will strive to be a living testimony of Triumph through Tragedy.”

For more information on Rocky Smith Ministries, visit the RSM website at or contact it via email at

Smith’s new CD, Just Rocky, will soon be available at the Rocky Smith Ministries website,


‘I’ll Fly Away’ Turns 80

Albert Brumley: Just ‘a little ditty’

Born to tenant farmers in Spiro, Oklahoma, on October 29, 1905, Albert Edward Brumley was taking a sabbatical from his studies at the Hartford Musical Institute in Hartford, Arkansas, when he wrote what he called “a little ditty.” In the spring of 1932, a year after he had completed his studies after returning to Hartford, Brumley showed the “ditty” titled “I’ll Fly Away” to Eugene Monroe Bartlett of the Hartford Music Company. Eighty years later, “I’ll Fly Away” lays claim to being the most recorded song in history, with more than 5,000 recordings in every country and in every language.

Brumley conceived of the song in a cotton field in Oklahoma in 1929. During the next three years he traveled around the northwest Arkansas and the southwest Missouri region teaching Singing Schools and composing music.

Johnny and June, with Carl Perkins, the Statler Brothers, the Carter Family and the Tennessee Three, perform Albert E. Brumley’s ‘I’ll Fly Away’ on
The Johnny Cash Show, March 16, 1971

At first reluctant to send the song to Bartlett for fear it wasn’t up to par, Brumley was persuaded by his wife Goldie to take a chance on it. “I’ll Fly Away” was published in the fall of 1932 in the convention songbook The Wonderful Message.

Brumley has been recognized by the Smithsonian institute as “the greatest white gospel song writer before WWII” as well as being named by the Gospel Music Association as “one of only five persons whose contributions directly affected 20th century gospel music.” He has been placed in seven halls of fame, been a part of 10 Grammy winning albums, has 30-plus gold and platinum albums and won countless Dove awards. His song also was the title of Emmy winning TV show.

Brumley died on November 15, 1977 and is buried at Fox Church of Christ Cemetery near Powell, Missouri.

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