I'm singing praises for Red Clay Strays at Saraland United Methodist Church

January 24, 2020

As I wrote this morning with coffee in one hand and a sense of great peace in the other, I felt so good inside.

Last night was a real treat for me. My friends (Dotty and Smitty Armour) invited me to an event that was far more than “just another concert”….it was a spiritual awakening I had not expected. Of course I knew it would be fabulous music because it was “The Red Clay Strays”…but the combination of super talent and the location lifted me to the rafters.

It was my first show of this kind in a church. That’s right, it was an amazing thing for The Saraland United Methodist Church to do. They were very hospitable…happy to see us and the parishioners seemed to be as thrilled about it as The Red Clay Strays’ fans that came out. As I stood outside after the show, talking with friends I had not seen in years, I heard others pass by who were saying “I love that church”, “I enjoyed that so much”, “I am going to come to a service there and check them out.” I spoke to the pastor…he introduced the band and he was outside the doors at the end of the show to thank folks for coming. He looks like a teenager, I know it was rude, but I had to ask him his age…He is in his early forties and I could not believe it. There was something about him that felt so good as I could feel his spirit and I listened to him talk…I believe he is a wonderful person…maybe everyone should check out The Saraland United Methodist Church at 415 McKeough Ave, in Saraland…You can’t go wrong with that sweet family of people.


The Red Clay Strays are fabulously energetic, spirit-filled and talented. 

The frontman (lead singer and acoustic guitarist)…Brandon Coleman, lights up the room and fills it with excitement like no one else can. His confidence and sincerity grabs you and won’t let go…He pulls you right into his bubble of magic and joy.

Drew Nix plays electric guitar and sings back-up vocals…what a guy he is…I just love him!

Andrew Bishop does backup vocals and he plays bass…and boy does he play it well! 

Lead guitar is Zach Rishel (electric guitar) no vocals, no microphone…his business is filling up the room with all the added music that gives the songs a punch and completes the story.

Then there is my favorite guy on stage….John Hall on drums! I could spend the rest of my life watching him and never stop smiling. He is first of all a fabulous drummer…but his personality pops out right in your face and then his LOVE and joy for life covers you like a blanket. In all my years of attending music events I have never enjoyed a drummer more than him. He jumps up now and then and stirs you up with his perfectly planned antics…I think everyone there fell in love with John Hall. TOGETHER, these five young men came to lift our spirits and they sure did just that!


There was a mix of gospel songs and originals by The Red Clay Strays…it was a perfect set list if ever there was one.


Laurie Anne Armour (LA) was beckoned to the stage for a couple of songs and for the finale. They all (including Laurie Anne) returned to the stage as an encore to play “May The Circle Be Unbroken”


I LOVE the originals by this band and these songs they did last night made the lasting memories of that night, for me. ”FORGIVE” and “IF GOD’S ON MY SIDE, YOU CAN BE AGAINST ME”. “May The Circle Be Unbroken.”


I have heard it said, Mobile is full of super talented musicians/songwriter/singers. I have heard we deserve a spotlight on our talent. I have heard we need to speak often and speak loud about this treasure we have. We should be Singing praises for the blessing these fabulous musicians are…they are good citizens, good representatives of how to walk this earth…as they make this journey with love for their fellow man. I just can’t say enough to reach the top shelf where they stand, waiting to be seen and heard by the rest of the world….

THANK YOU SARALAND UNITED METHODIST Church, (Dr. Mike Hoppe) your pastor,

your members and friends, for having the foresight and courage to bring musicians into your new sanctuary and show them to all those who wanted to hear them again or hear them for the first time…what a treat…and most of all what a BLESSING they are to this community.

Juanita Smith

Still Learning



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