Chandler country music artist, Rhonda Towns, has released her first inspirational Christian country gospel single after a 12-year-hiatus.
Towns said the single, “Walking In Your Wonderful Light” on Dawn Records, shares a message of hope through experiencing life with the Lord by your side.
Written by Teddy Hayes and produced by Billy Sherrill in collaboration with Towns, this single serves as a preview to her forthcoming six-track EP, “Walking In Your Wonderful Light.”
“I hope that the song will help someone, that it will touch somebody’s spirit, their heart,” Rhonda said.
Hayes wrote “Walking In Your Wonderful Light” 39 years ago, but the song seemed to be made for her, Towns said.
At the time, Hayes was living in New York. He told Rhonda that he had reached his ultimate low with only $2 in his pocket.
During Hayes’ depression, the lyrics for “Walking In Your Wonderful Light” suddenly emerged in his mind.
He told himself, “If I don’t write this song down then I’m going to lose it.”
Hayes didn’t have a pen or piece of paper, so he got into a phone booth and called his home, singing it to his answering machine.
Flash forward nearly four decades and Rhonda describes “Walking In Your Wonderful Light” as her “resurrection song” that pulled her and Hayes out of tough times.
“I initially recorded the track more than seven years ago and then everything in my personal life fell apart,” she said. “It was a very hurtful, emotional, sad and isolating time in my life.
“Today is a different day! This track is my resurrection song. It is the promise of my Heavenly Father…that he would bring me back to my true love, and that is to perform and sing for Him. I learned to trust in Him, completely and totally, during the process of my healing while walking in HIS wonderful light. …and I’m ready to share the new music and my heart once again.”
Towns said she originally recorded “Walking In Your Wonderful Light” in 2012, tried to release it in 2014, then stepped away from the music industry in 2015 when her 22-year marriage ended in divorce.
Rhonda was in such a depressing place that she told a radio promoter in 2017 that she didn’t think she could go back to singing.
After she had talked to the radio promoter, Rhonda wanted to try listening to music again, so she popped her CD player open and “Walking In Your Wonderful Light” was somehow still there after all those years.
In part, she heard, “All of my hope was gone/but then you came and turned my world around/Then You came and helped me put my feet back on the ground.”
Hearing that, Towns said, “the cleansing tears came.”
Towns called her publicist, re-recorded the track with the accompaniment of Jim “Moose” Brown on keyboards at Sound Emporium Studios in Nashville.
“I told Teddy, ‘You wrote this song for me even though we didn’t know each other 39 years ago,” Rhonda said.
Towns got COVID-19 in January, but wouldn’t let that stop her.
She said she promised God that she would spread inspirational messages through her music and that all of her future songs would be about Him.
Towns’ “Walking In Your Wonderful Light” cover displays “Matthew 14: 25-33.”
In that segment of the Bible, Jesus asks Peter to walk out to Him on water. Only after doubting Jesus, did he begin to sink.
Like Peter, people sometimes let distractions get in the way, Towns said.
“As long as we keep walking with Him and don’t get distracted and don’t let fear, doubt and unbelief get into our head, we can accomplish anything,” she said.
He wants her music to help people in their struggles and remind them to “keep on walking” with God.
The daughter of a pastor, Towns grew up in Alabama and was already singing in her father’s church at age 4.
She heard and sang old southern hymns and upbeat contemporary country Baptist songs, realizing how country and gospel music were intertwined.
Eventually, a local country music television show invited her to become a regular talent, but her family declined the offer, saying she was too young to begin her music career.
In college, she was a valued member of the university gospel choir, according to her website.
She made her television debut as a country music artist on Ed McMahon’s “Star Search.” Shortly after, Rhonda sent in a demo of cover tunes to the A&R Department of Mercury Records and gained the attention of producer Norro Wilson, who has worked with stars like Kenny Chesney, Reba, Sara Evans, and Shania Twain.
Wilson produced her first four songs.
She then had several more television appearances and was the first Black female country recording artist to appear on the “Live From L.A. Show” on the BET Network.
Two other major country western producers worked on five more songs with her. They were, Jim Cotton, who has produced songs by Billy Ray Cyrus, Alabama, Montgomery Gentry, and Harold Shedd, who produced for Alabama, Toby Keith, Billy Ray Cyrus and Shania Twain.
Despite accolades and her renowned producers, Towns said she struggled to get signed.
So, Towns formed her own independent label, Dawn Records, in 2006 from her home in Arizona and released her debut album, “I Wanna Be Loved By You.”
She followed with a series of single releases to radio including “I Wanna Be Loved By You,” “Something Better” and “Slow Rain.”
“I’m a Black female country music artist and there’s been no other woman of color since Ruby Falls to come out and get radio airplay on country music radio stations,” Rhonda said. “I thought, if they’re not going to sign me to a major label then I’m going to start my own.”
Towns’ professional history includes working as a model and appearing in television commercials.
Community has always been an important aspect of Rhonda’s life, she said. Her mother would make meals for their elderly neighbors and Rhonda and her brother would help deliver those meals.
Now, Towns continues to help others by supporting the nonprofit organizations Make-A-Wish Arizona, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Save the Family Foundation of Arizona, and Military Assistance Mission, according to her website.
Towns expects to re-launch her radio show and podcast, “Rhonda Towns- ‘Plenty More Love’” in the coming months, which is anticipated to release later this year.
Her newly released song is available now via all digital retail outlets and streaming platforms.