Bringing her musical family center stage for the contemporary gospel album Love Remains has been a labor of love for Lady Antebellum singer Hillary Scott. With her mother, country hitmaker Linda Davis, father Lang Scott and 16-year-old sister Rylee all participating in the recording of the project, the family spotlights classic gospel songs they grew up singing, as well as new tunes penned especially for the album, like the inspirational “The River.”
“Dad’s singing harmony on it and we have a couple of male voices on it, but for the most part it’s a ‘girl’ song, it’s a ‘sister’ song,” Hillary says of “The River,” which also features Davis singing lead.
But the harmony on the song isn’t limited to Scott family members. Produced by bluegrass-country legend Ricky Skaggs, “The River” also includes backing vocals from sisters Sharon and Cheryl White — the wife and sister-in-law of Skaggs and two of the members of the Whites, one of the most successful bluegrass-gospel music families of all time.
More than just a simple call to baptism, “The River,” written by Jeff Pardo and Jordan Feliz, connects the traditional to the contemporary by including a segment of an oft-recorded spiritual. “Down to the River to Pray” is a 19th-century song believed to have been written by an African-American slave, but the best-known version in recent years was sung by Alison Krauss and featured in the Coen Brothers’ 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?. It’s a song that, according to Hillary Scott, will live on for the next generation — in her family at least. Scott says the rousing gospel tune is a favorite of her 3-year-old daughter, Eisele, who has already mastered the vocal technique of modulation while singing the song.
“She loves that part: [Sings] ‘Oh sister, let’s go down,'” Scott tells Rolling Stone Country. “To see her starting to find her voice on these songs, on this music that she’s hearing her grandmother and her grandfather and her aunt and her mommy sing, it’s really sweet and precious to watch her learn to sing to us.”
Love Remains, which also includes appearances from Scott’s husband, drummer Chris Tyrell, and Bruce Hornsby and Stephen Curtis Chapman, is available now.