The Second Chapter of Acts songs were unique; their voices and harmonies angelic, and their message distinct and clear. It was one of the very few Jesus-music groups whose music was unique; it did not have a parallel in pop music, but their message and ministry still speak loud and clear today.
A pioneer of contemporary Christian music, the 2nd Chapter of Acts had its beginning singing around an old upright piano as Annie played. Following the death of their parents in 1970, Nelly (14 yrs) and Matthew (12 yrs), moved in with their older sister, Annie, and her husband, recording engineer Buck Herring.
Annie was a self-taught singer and songwriter, who wrote and played her songs around the family piano. After school, Matthew and Nelly would join Annie around the piano. The siblings’ voices blended naturally, eventually developing extremely tight and intricate harmonies.
The trio started singing for local coffee houses and small gatherings, and gained the notice of Pat Boone, who arranged a contract to record and release two singles with MGM, Jesus Is (1972) and I’m So Happy (1973). Both songs charted secular in California radio. They also came to the attention of 1960s folk singer Barry McGuire (New Christy Minstrels), who had recently became a Christian and was preparing to record his first Christian music album. The siblings provided background vocals for Seeds and McGuire’s 1974 follow-up Lighten Up.
By 1973, the siblings entered the music ministry full-time. The early experiences established the group’s identity with the church, which eagerly welcomed their fresh ‘Jesus-music’ expression of faith.
In 1974, 2nd Chapter of Acts released their debut album With Footnotes. This album featured Easter Song, which would become a signature piece for the group and has been recorded by many other artists since. This was followed with In the Volume of the Book in 1975, the year that also saw the release of a double live album with Barry McGuire, To the Bride, which included “a band called David”, who supported 2nd Chapter of Acts on tour.
The group went on a touring hiatus in 1976. For the summer of 1977, they were joined on an 18-city tour by Phil Keaggy and the result was the live triple album, How the West Was One.
Mansion Builder was released in 1978, and was followed by The Roar of Love (a concept album inspired by C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), Rejoice, Singer Sower and Together Live (with Michael and Stormie Omartian). 2nd Chapter moved to their own Live Oak label with the release of Night Light in 1985. With the release of Hymns and Hymns 2, they reached a wider audience with more traditional music. Hymns proved to be their best-selling release and landed them a Dove Award. Hymns II and Hymns Instrumental followed. Their final recording of original material Faraway Places was released in 1988.
Their voices can be heard among other Christian artists on 2 benefit singles produced in 1985. Do Something Now! credited to The Cause on Sparrow Records to aid famine relief in Africa and Fight the Fight, Rescue the Unborn which featured over 100 Christian artists, to benefit the Christian Pro-Life Movement, released on Live Oak. Except for two sabbatical years in 1976 and 1983, 2nd Chapter of Acts continued to tour until 1988. After 16 years of touring and over 1000 concerts, 2nd Chapter of Acts prayerfully retired as a group in 1988.
2nd Chapter was recognized by the Gospel Music Association in 1999 and inducted into its Gospel Music Hall of Fame. The group’s unique sound placed them on the cutting edge of contemporary Christian music and continues to influence Christian music.