Many siblings often fight for time away from the family during their younger years, but not at the Kelley household.
The Kelley children, ranging in age from 6 to 21, are just fine spending time with each other, especially if it involves playing gospel-bluegrass music.
Through the Kelley Family Band, that’s exactly what they’re able to do.
“It’s just one of those things that we enjoy doing together, and I think it kind of bonds us in a way,” said Timothy Kelley, 19.
Timothy, his sisters, Brittany, 21; Bethany “Peppy,” 12; and Victoria, 9; as well as brother Daniel, 6, travel throughout the area performing gospel music with their signature bluegrass undertones.
Tim and Donna Kelley said their children were introduced to music at a young age.
“When they were real little, me and my husband used to go to nursing homes and play,” Donna said. “I played guitar and he played banjo.
“We played a lot of gospel songs and bluegrass, so they just grew up hearing it.”
Timothy, who plays the fiddle, mandolin and three other instruments, started teaching his younger siblings to play at least one instrument by the time each turned 4.
He and Brittany, both of whom are studying music at Augusta State University, also give lessons at their Appling home and recently began offering classes at the Columbia County Orchestra Association office within the University Healthcare campus in Evans.
The family views the band as a ministry to encourage and uplift listeners through the power of song.
“We always thought it was really important that they use their talents for the Lord, and that’s what we’ve always taught them,” Donna said.
Over the years, the group’s popularity has grown, leading them to play at churches, restaurants and bluegrass festivals. Occasionally performing in the Appling Opry at the former J.D. Howell store, the band also has played on a Thomson radio station.
The group’s musical prowess has even been rewarded with public recognition.
Timothy won first place in a talent competition at the Georgia-Carolina State Fair two weeks ago. At last year’s fair, Bethany Kelley walked away with a first-place award in her age category.
Timothy, Bethany and Victoria also had the privilege of playing alongside famous banjo player Earl Scruggs in addition to “Little Roy” Lewis and Lizzy Long in Lincolnton, Ga.
“We build a lot of memories,” their father said.
The Kelley Family Band is planning to soon finish a new record. It follows in the footsteps of Bethany Kelley’s first CD released earlier this year, called Me and My Fiddle.
In January, the group is scheduled to perform in Atlanta for the Georgia House of Representatives after being invited by state Rep. Lee Anderson.