In order to better understand not only the title but the overall sound quality of the pristinely beautiful Nature's Symphony in 432: A Journey From Pain to Praise LP, from multi-award-winning family group the Isaacs', a brief science lesson is in order. Sound waves, which vibrate at different frequencies, are measured in cycles per second (a/k/a hertz); the more vibrations per second, the higher the pitch. The Isaacs were divinely inspired to record the album using A=432Hz, also known as "Verdi's A tuning," instead of the much more prevalent 440Hz, which became the international standard for concert tuning after World War II. With tones that are warmer and gentler to the ear, scientific experiments have proven that 432 tuning is the frequency in which birds sing, whales bellow and untrained human voices sing naturally.
The Grammy-nominated family, who have been singing together for more than 25 years, have perfected a blend of country, bluegrass and gospel tunes, influenced by acoustic folk, R&B and acoustic Southern gospel, layering their tunes with distinctive family harmony and spotlighting the varied natural talents of mother Lily Isaacs and siblings Ben Isaacs, Sonya Isaacs Yeary and Becky Isaacs Bowman. So it only follows that the family's organic musical chemistry would be captured effectively using the 432 frequency to record Nature's Symphony.
What is, perhaps, less naturally obvious is how NFL legend and sportscaster Terry Bradshaw was enlisted to serve as executive producer of the album. Sonya, who had a deal with Nashville's now defunct Lyric Street label and also co-wrote Martina McBride's "I'm Gonna Love You Through It" with husband Jimmy Yeary, first met Bradshaw at the BMI country music awards a few years ago. The gridiron star, a longtime gospel-music fan, shocked the singer when he not only knew who the Isaacs were, but actually started singing Isaacs songs to them. In addition to stepping into the role of musical coach for the group, Bradshaw also sings on the record, which didn't take a whole lot of convincing from the group. He's heard on the only track the Isaacs didn't write, the album-closing hymn, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness."
"We said, 'Terry, since you're going to be the executive producer, how would you feel about singing one with us?" Sonya tells Rolling Stone Country. "He said, 'When do you want me to be there?' The following Wednesday he showed up in the studio ready to go! We had a great time recording with him, and look forward to doing more of it with him in the future."
As one of the catchiest songs on Nature's Symphony, "Rocks," penned by Sonya and her husband along with sister Becky, not only benefits from a memorable melody and arrangement but also from an all-too-timely reminder. "Rocks are heavy and they hurt people you love," the inspirational lyrics explain, adding that "it's so easy reaching down and picking them up. But I ain't gonna throw no stones at nobody. Don't want to get hit by a ricochet."
"Good news travels fast, but bad news even faster," Sonya says of the song's important message. "These days you can't seem to avoid social media gossip, rumors and judgments and you sure can't escape it in the news and politics. If we're not careful, we will start to use that kind of rhetoric, too. If there ever was a time we needed to show grace and compassion to one another, it is now. If we would all focus more on our own faults and stop looking for them in others, we would live in a much more peaceful place."
The album's subtitle, A Journey From Pain to Praise, reflects some of the difficult, life-altering experiences that the members have endured in recent years. Sonya co-wrote "Keep Breathing" one week after her baby girl was stillborn in 2014, while Becky was battling Chron's disease, from which she is now healed.
In addition to having recorded natural bird sounds used on the album, this project marked the first time the Isaacs have recorded with members of the Nashville Symphony.
"They really captured the emotion in these heartfelt tracks," Sonya says. "We are so excited to share these healing songs and melodies we feel God has given us."
Nature's Symphony in 432: A Journey From Pain to Praise is available now.