April 2011 – Family. It played a major role in the lives of contemporary Christian music artists Kim Boyce and husband Gary Koreiba – when they were young, why they are doing what they do now and where they have chosen to live.
Brought together in the mid-1980s through a mutual friend in a Tennessee recording studio, Kim and Gary say the faith they grew up with and eventually made their own has shaped who they are and what they do.
“We met in Nashville,” Gary begins. “I was rehearsing with Russ Taff to go on the ‘Medals’ tour, and Kim was rehearsing down the hall to do her very first tour – her first album had not come out yet, and Russ’s guitar player had worked on her first album. So she came down to talk to him, and he introduced us and three years later we started dating. And eight months after that, we got married.”
Married now since 1990, they beam when asked about their two boys, Gary Lee Koreiba II, 16, and Alexander Boyce Koreiba, 13.
“Alexander just had his 13th birthday, so he’s an official teenager now,” Kim shares. “Yes, they’re quite the teenagers. They play Airsoft – little tiny plastic BBs. But it all looks very real. So they’re way into it.”
“They’re warriors,” adds the smiling dad.
The career-versus-family dilemma
So how does the raising of two rambunctious boys fit within with the careers of two contemporary Christian music artists? Pretty well, say Gary and Kim – if the Lord is allowed to lead as He did in 2000 when Gary was invited to audition for a group in Branson, Missouri.
“It really was of God,” Gary explains, “because we had no intentions of moving here.”
Up to and following the audition, they had asked friends and family to join them in prayer about the Branson option, where Gary would join the troupe at Pierce Arrow Theater. The same day he auditioned, Gary was offered the job.
“And both of us were like, ‘We don’t really want to do this, do we? Branson, for heaven’s sake,’” Gary recalls. “But at the same time we had enough people praying about it and telling us [to be] open about it … .”
They stopped for gas in nearby Springfield for their return trip the next day. Gary shakes his head and smiles as he remembers: “I looked and the gas pump was just scrolling across, in digital letters: ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ So I knew then that we were moving to Branson.”
So surprisingly, it was Gary’s career – not Kim’s – that brought them to Branson. He was no lightweight, mind you, having sung with Russ Taff and The Gaithers. Kim’s resume, however, sported several albums, almost a dozen number one hits, two hit videos, and repeat Dove Award nominations (not to mention being Miss Florida 1983). But as Kim explains, priorities had changed by that time in their marriage.
“Yeah, I was planning on totally just being a stay-at-home mom,” she says. “I had done my thing, and it was like, okay, now we have these two little boys and we have to raise them … [and] we didn’t want to raise them on a bus [while we did concert tours].” Son Gary was about five, Alexander was two.
Branson, here we come
So they packed it up and moved to Branson – which they quickly learned was the God-ordained place for them to be.
“Once we got here [to Branson] we realized overwhelmingly that God had put us here for a reason,” Gary says. “There were several people here who I was working with who had just been through a lot – I didn’t preach at ’em, but I just loved ’em and just lived life in front of ’em. And man, those guys are serving the Lord now … and it’s not because of me. I was just obedient enough to move to Branson when God told us to.”
For the first three years, Kim was able to stay at home and enjoy home-schooling their sons, while Gary did two shows a day at Pierce Arrow Theater. Then Dan Britton, founder and producer of Pierce Arrow, shared with Gary that their female vocalist was not going to be available for several weeks in the upcoming season. “Boy, this company really could use Kim next year,” Britton told Gary.
“But he said six weeks – you know, they thought maybe the other girl would come back,” Kim recalls. “She was having a knee replaced. So it was like a six-week thing … and now it’s been eight years. We never intended for me to be here [in the show] this long – but they’ve worked incredibly with me.”
Indeed, the theater’s flexibility – combined with the able assistance of fellow Pierce Arrow performer Desta McAuliffe and others – has allowed Kim to be the mother she wants to be, while at the same time doing something else she dearly loves: singing for the Lord alongside her husband. After a couple of seasons doing two shows a day, she now is doing just one.
Has it been a workable solution for the family – and for the boys, who now attend public schools in Branson? Evidently so, says Kim.
“I ask them every year: ‘Should I stay home?’ [They reply] ‘No.’ And now they could care less [about the show]. They’re 16 and 13 and they ask, ‘Oh? Did you leave?’ I’ll call and check on them at halftime [of the show], and they’re like: ‘Oh … yeah … hi, how are ya?’
“It’s a whole different world than the first three weeks [being at the theater] when I drove away and Alexander stood at the door crying his eyeballs out, and I was like, ‘I can’t do this. I just can’t do this.’”
But do it they do, to the tune of 500+ shows a year for Gary and fewer than that for Kim. And often what keeps them going into a long season is the gospel section of each show.
“What we do is just good, wholesome, family entertainment,” Gary says proudly. “[But the gospel section] just lights up the building. I’ve had people come up in tears [after a show] and say, ‘I don’t know why I’m crying’ or ‘That moved me and I don’t know why.’ And I remember just grinning and going, ‘Oh, I know why.’ It’s because God has used that to speak into somebody’s life.”
Gospel music spoke into Gary’s and Kim’s lives individually early on in life. Both credit their earthly fathers for opening their hearts to sing for the Lord.
Gary’s father – “My dad is my hero,” he says – owned what Gary recalls as being the first Christian bookstore in Port Huron, Michigan. He was in second grade when his dad introduced him to contemporary Christian music.
“I remember my Dad brought home a record in 1972 … I think it was Andrae Crouch Live At Carnegie Hall. And I just remember putting that thing on and hearing that music, basically they had church … and it just sent a chill down my spine. And I knew right then and there that’s what I was going to be doing. I wanted to do that however and whenever I could – and that was my goal.
“Then, Dad got the bookstore – and man, I got access to the Imperials and Russ Taff. … I had access to all that. I used to go to the bookstore and just sit there for hours playing music.”
The story is a little different for Kim, whose father owned a Southern gospel radio station in Florida while she was growing up.
“He couldn’t play the contemporary stuff [on the station], so he brought all that home to us,” she says. “I was about 12 the first time I ever heard the Archers, Sweet Comfort Band, and some of the early pioneers in contemporary Christian music. From that day on I was like, ‘That’s what I want to do.’”
Kim sums it up this way: “We were both getting that same kind of music in totally different parts of the country from different places.”
Sometimes that’s just how God works – the Father moving the hearts of fathers to move the hearts of their children. And God gets the glory.