From shooting a video at the Ark Encounter to eating whale meat with fans in Alaska, the Redeemed Quartet from rural Indiana has had an exciting half-dozen years of singing gospel music — a ministry those in the group never planned.
“A sermon certainly can reach people, but we’ve found that a song also can open up people’s hearts to the Gospel,” Ben Duncan, 25, told The Christian Post. The group's YouTube channel is closing in on 6 million views and their top video has been viewed 2 million times.
Duncan and his brother Nate, 23, teamed up with brothers Caleb, 25, and Josh Koble, 23, in the quartet. Often wearing cowboy boots, they perform hymns and southern gospel songs written long before they were born.
“We grew up listening to that style of singing,” Caleb Koble said, with Ben Duncan adding, “gospel or country quartet is pretty much where you’re going to hear four-part male harmony the most, and that’s something we specialize in.”
The four got their roots from spending their childhood in the fields outside Goshen, Indiana, near the Michigan border. Their families were very close, the Duncans’ father a Free Methodist pastor and the Kobles’ a Nazarene pastor who became good friends. They both had interdenominational mindsets and held services in homes for a decade.
The members of the quartet sang just a little in those worship meetings but never thought of performing widely until they went to a southern gospel convention in 2014. They were by far the youngest people there, and others kept asking them, hopefully, if they were a singing group.
Thinking and praying, they decided God might be behind those nudges, and practiced for a year before going public. They couldn't read music and never had vocal training.
“We had a lot of fun hollering around in our attic in the beginning,” Nate Duncan said. "I’m sure we thought we were a lot better than we were. … Listening to the stuff we did, if we knew then what we know now, we probably never would have kept singing."
Ben Duncan and Caleb Koble are baritones, Nate Duncan a tenor. Josh Koble is bass, very notably so when he sings a verse solo. “I had to work at it,” he laughed. “Starting out, it was not the easiest thing to do.”
The men’s first invitation to perform came from a pastor’s wife who heard them at an open-mic night in Columbus, a town of 50,000 in southern Indiana. Her husband confirmed having them in his church, sight unseen. The band and their instruments crowded into a single four-door sedan for the trip to and from the venue far out in the country.
“We were scared half to death,” Ben Duncan recalled. “We did all of eight songs in the concert.” The group did 50 to 60 concerts a year at its height but has cut down due to COVID-19 and two members starting families.
The Redeemed Quartet’s singing is intentionally a ministry, not full-time work. For example, they charge for their CDs if bought over the internet but let people have them for a donation of any size when on the road. For their daytime jobs, Nate Duncan does paintless dent repair on cars, as does Caleb Koble. Ben Duncan works construction, and Josh Koble’s a roofer and renovates houses. Most have additional duties with the quartet besides singing, too: Ben handles the business end, Josh fulfills orders, and Caleb helps with the website and social media.
The group has three albums, titled My Best Friend, Final Invitation and A Rose Among Thorns, and a fourth will be released this winter featuring hymns as well as southern gospel. The upcoming album, titled Timeless Classics, features their rendition of the song “It Is Well With My Soul.” Their music video of the classic features rural Indiana scenes and cinematography and can be watched on YouTube.
“We’ve been wanting to do a hymn project for a while,” Ben Duncan said. “We’ve gotten a lot of requests for that, and over the last year we’ve been compiling hymns we like.” There also will be a few songs from southern gospel they’ve sung in performances but not recorded in studios, he added.
Redeemed Quartet attracts a wide range of ages and backgrounds for its online videos, with young men and women alongside older fans who appreciate a new generation picking up longtime styles. The group also hears from listeners about how their music helped them overcome low points in their lives, with some telling the four of contemplating suicide before their music gave them a lift or depression leaving when singing along with a favorite song from them.
Scripture is a constant in the quartet’s videos; they sing it and show it. “Everything is changing so much now. It’s so uncertain, and we’ve got to keep going back to the Word,” Nate Duncan said.
The four also strongly emphasize the need for salvation and shortness until Jesus’ return. “A lot of times, I feel like, as Christians, we tend to shy away from it ... but true love warns,” Ben Duncan said. “Yes, we can show love and give comfort in those tough times, but also, we must not shy away from ‘today is the day of salvation.’”