JSB HeadshotSince 1973, Joe Bonsall has traveled thousands of miles on a path that has ultimately taken him and the other members of The Oak Ridge Boys to the Country Music Hall of Fame (2015 Inductees) and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame (2001), and brought scores of additional awards and accolades. They have sold more than forty-one million albums during their career. Joe chronicles their unique journey in his new book On the Road with The Oak Ridge Boys.

When not on tour, Joe, and his wife, Mary, split their time between their home in Hendersonville, Tennessee, and a 350-acre farm on the Kentucky/Tennessee state line.


The Country Music Association recently announced The Oak Ridge Boys as the 2015 Modern Era Inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame. What was your first thought when you heard the news?

We were backstage at the Opry two weeks before the public announcement event. We came off stage and were ushered right into a dressing room where some folks from the Country Music Association were waiting for us. A door was shut and they proceeded to tell us that we would be the next inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame. We did NOT see this coming at all. Our jaws were dropped, our eyes were teary. Not one of us was able to speak at all… which is a rarity! This was and IS a dream come true. The ultimate honor and to be honest I am still just reeling over the whole thing.

[ctt title=”We did NOT see this coming at all. Not one of us was able to speak at all.” tweet=”We did NOT see this coming at all…. Not one of us was able to speak at all. ~ @JoeBonsall @DivineDetour http://ctt.ec/LZeeX+ ” coverup=”LZeeX”]

The Author and Creator of our lives often writes in a twist that blesses us more than our original plan. Is there a “Divine Detour” that stands out to you as perhaps the most important to the breakout success of The Oak Ridge Boys?

It all starts with meeting our long time manager, friend, spiritual leader, and godfather Jim Halsey in 1975. Jim thought that the Gospel music world had honed our stage show but the music needed a facelift. We were failing on Columbia Records, so Jim got us out of there and convinced record executive Jim Fogelsong to sign us to ABC Dot, which would soon become MCA Records. With the addition of our producer Ron Chancey history would be made over the coming decades. Had Jim not come out to see us on that night in North Tonawanda, New York one can only wonder what path we might have taken. I dare say if not for that Divine Detour there would be no Oak Ridge Boys.

Let’s talk about On the Road with The Oak Ridge Boys: Forty Years of Untold Stories & Adventures (Harvest House, May 2015). Please tell us about it.

My goal in the writing is to make the reader a fly on the wall in the world of The Oak Ridge Boys. As you turn the pages you will learn just how an American music group has journeyed from Point A to B to C to D. You will not only get a keen overview, but you will learn how the Oaks do what we do on a day to day basis, with chapters like THE BOYS, THE ROAD, THE SHOW, THE BUS… etc. As always, I write in an anecdotal style that is easy to navigate and I also sprinkle a lot of humor in there. My goal in the writing is also to inspire and to invoke positive thoughts and insights, and I think it is all covered in OTRWTORB. I think fans of the Oaks will love the book, and I also think the casual music fan will find it to be very special as well.

You’ve said that this book is somewhat of an “instruction manual” for those who wish to establish a music career. Please explain.

I see this book as a manual for anyone interested in a career in music. This is how it is done. There is a very special chapter called THE ORB DOCTRINE that contains lessons on how to do things right. Treating people right, honoring God, giving it all you have to give, being willing, great teamwork by all involved… THESE are the things that spell success and longevity. It’s all in the book and should be required reading for students of the industry.

[ctt title=”Treating people right… honoring God… giving it all you have… THESE are the things that spell success.” tweet=”Treating people right, honoring God, giving it all you have… THESE are the things that spell success ~ @JoeBonsall http://ctt.ec/BnmOe+ ” coverup=”BnmOe”]

God often uses our writing to teach us something. What did you learn about yourself in the process of writing this book?

I realize more then ever that I love what I do and never take it granted. I write a lot about each Boy being a spoke in the wheel and how important our individual contributions are to the big picture, and I am very thankful to be a spoke IN that wheel. I also learned that the real answer to why we keep going on and on at our age is that we carry this incredible history in our hearts and, to a man, we do NOT want to see it end. I also appreciate God’s blessings in my life more and more, and I don’t want to let HIM down either.

A few fun questions…

What is your favorite comfort food and why?

I guess I have to go with pizza or a variation of such, meaning any mix of great red sauce, cheese, and bread (could be a BURRITO), and there is no reason why!

If you knew you couldn’t fail, what dream would you pursue?

I would play second base for the Philadelphia Phillies, but boy has that ship ever sailed…

What Bible passage or story best describes your journey of faith?

I am always consumed with the cross and the risen Savior. Jesus suffered and died and then conquered the grave for me so that one day after my own death comes I might have eternal life through Him and see my loved ones as is His promise. I thank Him for this every single day. Because of what He did for all of us we have life that is abundant and full of Joy and Glory no matter what arrows come our way. I feel sorry for those who attempt this journey without Christ, and although I am not worthy of His love and sacrifice my pathway here is much brighter as I strive to climb in His light.

You and your wife, Mary, have established a foundation to help animal — as well as educational — causes. Please tell us a bit about the foundation and your current “family” of pets.

The Joseph S. and Mary Ann Bonsall Foundation is 90% funded by us and our goal is to focus on children’s literacy and responsible pet ownership. We support many animal shelters around the country who specialize in cat care. We love cats. They are a huge part of our lives. We have seven kitties right now that share our lives… Sally Ann, Ted, Blackie, Sunny, Mitty, Baybe’, and Crocket.

Thanks, Joe! It’s always great to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.

Thank YOU, Kathy… I have so much love and respect for you! 

~ ~ ~

For more information about Joe, visit his website or follow him on Twitter

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