|Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.|
Marla was raised on God and music, so it’s no surprise that she chooses to dedicate her pure, country voice to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her “countrified-gospel” music style flows honestly from her soul, warming the hearts of her audiences. In 2006, Marla made her debut as a recording artist with the release of her first CD, Heaven’s Got A Well, followed by her 2nd CD, He Knew Me in 2008. The title cuts from these projects each reached into the Top 10 on US Country-Gospel charts, and We’re Not There Yet from her He Knew Me project went to #1 in the United Kingdom. Marla is currently working with Nashville producer, Gordon Mote, on her third CD to be released later this year.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Marla’s ministry roots began long before she was born with her great, great, great grandfather, Rev. Amory Nelson Chamberlain. In the 1800s he served as a missionary to the Cherokee Indians in Brainard Mission, TN (now known as Chattanooga). He was the first to translate the Bible and hymns into Cherokee, and he led their tribes through dangerous and difficult times – even having to cut off his own frozen feet without anesthetic medicine and doctors. In spite of the overpowering obstacles he faced, he never allowed circumstances to discourage or stop his work for the Lord. Being a man of great faith, he diligently persisted to move forward with God’s call on his life. He had no way of knowing the positive effect his legacy would have years later when Marla read about him in the Chronicles of Oklahoma, Volume 12, Number 1 (written by Lon H. Eakes). Marla’s musical roots go as far back as she can remember, beginning with her grandmother’s family and their passion for music. They had a natural ability for singing and playing instruments, and that’s how they passed time back then. They sang beautiful harmonies together, and played guitar, piano, and organ. Marla’s great aunt and uncle also had a Sunday afternoon radio program in Ponka City, Oklahoma in the 1940’s titled, Turn Your Radio On.
Marla was born the third of six children. Her mother could sing beautifully, but chose to devote her time to her family. She recognized Marla’s God-given talent and encouraged her to develop it. She made sure Marla got to attend all the Gospel singings that came to town, and when Marla learned the songs and wanted to perform her own “concert” in the family’s living room, her mom was her biggest fan.
Marla’s dad was a truck driver who also loved music. When he was home, Marla remembers how he tuned his radio into artists like Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, and Mother Maybelle Carter. He loved that old style of picking, and it influenced Marla.
Marla began singing in public when she signed up for Chorus and Girls’ Ensemble in Jr. High School. After High School she joined a Gospel group that toured the local area, singing everywhere from prisons to churches. After that, she became a regular at a local Opry show. The experience Marla gained from singing different parts and styles of music in a variety of venues was invaluable to her development as an artist.
Psalms 46:10 Be still and know that I am God . . .
Marla’s heritage of ministry and music was always inside her, but it took years of challenging circumstances to see how they would both fit into God’s plan for her life. As was true for the children of Israel in the Bible, Marla had to spend some time in the wilderness. It was there in those dark, troubled times that God prepared Marla for the call he had placed on her life. It was there that Marla learned to be still – to trust and rely on God – and let God do his transforming work.
Today, Marla is using her music to point people to Jesus Christ, and just like her great, great, great grandfather, she is determined to diligently persist and move forward – one step at a time – no matter what! When she is not singing, Marla enjoys the simple things in life – spending time with family, working in the yard, riding horses, taking walks, or having coffee with friends.