Southern Accent takes a bow

By Sherrie Norris (

Article Published: Nov. 15, 2012 | Modified: Nov. 19, 2012
Southern Accent takes a bow

Members of the current and final lineup Southern Accent, which will present its farewell concert Nov. 18, are, from left, Mike Murphy, Dennis Isaacs, Paulette Isaacs, Connie Norris and Leonard Arnold.

Photo submitted

Following nearly two decades of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ through its music, local Southern gospel and bluegrass group Southern Accent has reached the end of its journey.

At 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18, Southern Accent will present its final concert at Henson’s Chapel Methodist Church in Cove Creek.

It’s a bittersweet time for the group members, not to mention the strong fan base they have accrued through the years.

With its core members from both Watauga and Avery counties, Southern Accent quickly became regionally known and well-loved soon after it was formed in 1993 by husband and wife duo Dennis and Paulette Isaacs, soon joined by Gary Trivette, his sister, Connie Norris, and (the late) Ronnie Hicks.

Through the years, other members included Dick Wilson, Robby Norris, Andy Trivette, John Bryan, Blake Vance and Jimmy Kerley, with Curtis Main, John Cockman Jr., Lee Hodges, Bobby Norris, Tom Isaacs and Clark Mixon filling in as needed.

The Isaacses and Connie Norris have remained a vital part of the group through the years and welcomed Leonard Arnold and Mike Murphy in 2010, when Trivette left to pursue other interests.
The painful decision to retire came “after much prayer,” Paulette Isaacs said.

The group’s mission has been clear from the start, Isaacs said, “to praise and honor the Lord, Jesus Christ, through traditional and contemporary gospel songs and hymns, with a touch of bluegrass.”

Sticking close to their roots, the talented musicians have drawn on their rich heritage, which includes not only the traditional music they love and on which most of them were raised, but also the legacy of bluegrass and gospel artists who have inspired them and their testimonies of faith.

While inspired by others, Southern Accent easily developed its own unique sound that helped the group find its way into a wide range of venues — from Sunday morning church services to various reunions and regional music events, including the MusicFest ’n Sugar Grove for 12 years. One of the group’s highlights was a personal invitation from Doc Watson to sing at his 80th birthday.

For the last 11 years, Southern Accent has hosted a fellowship celebration for its fans, which offered free food and featured their fellow musicians from around the region. It all started, Isaacs said, as an album release party in 2001 and was so well received that they decided to make it an annual event — and one that grew in popularity each year.

Regardless of the scene, the group never waivered from the conviction for which they sang.
Showcasing the group’s many talents are eight recordings of their own and inclusion in other projects, such as the “Christmas in the Mountains” CDs, benefitting the Hunger and Health Coalition of Boone. Many of their recordings included original songs written by Connie Norris.

“God’s hand was on Southern Accent from the start,” Norris said. “From the first time we practiced together as a group, we got along well. We all had similar ideas, beliefs and a mutual respect for one another, musically and personally. We can all look back now on events that occurred over the years and see how the Lord cared for us and blessed us as a group.

“We’ve shared many experiences together in our journey — happiness, celebrations, heartache, discouragements, health and sickness.

“I can truly say that all the members of Southern Accent are special to me and, in some way, have helped me become a better person by sharing the love of Jesus Christ through our music and our friendships.”

Norris said she doubted that the original members of Southern Accent, “in the beginning,” would ever have imagined the success they eventually achieved together.

“What a blessing to look back now and be able to say that the Lord has walked with us every step of the way,” she said.

In referring to the title of one of their most requested songs — “Your Presence is My Favorite Gift,” — Norris said, “That is truly what happened to us. We just hope we have blessed others as much as we have been blessed.”

Appalachian Music Shoppe in Boone will continue to carry Southern Accent’s projects until they are sold out.

“We would like to express our deepest appreciation to everyone who has been a part of our music ministry — especially our families, friends, church families and supporters,” Isaacs said. “There are just no words to tell you how much it has meant to us.”

The final concert of Southern Accent will include current and former members of the group.
Henson’s Chapel is located off of Old U.S. 421 at 120 Henson Hollar Road, just above the old Cove Creek High School.

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