The Happy Goodmans have been traveling and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ for over 50 years, and the journey has been wonderful.
The Happy Goodman Family has made many changes in their personnel that appeared with them down through the years. The original Happy Goodman Family began singing in the 1940's and was founded by Howard (Happy) Goodman. He taught each of his seven brothers and sisters to sing and play instruments for the Lord. The family sang anywhere the opportunity was given. On street corners, tent meetings, church services and radio. They eventually had their first television program in Asheville, NC. After many years of traveling and singing with his brothers and sisters (Gussy Mae, Stella, Eloise, Ruth, Sam, Rusty and Bobby) Howard finally met his soul mate for life, Vestal Freeman. They left a concert in Nashville, TN at the Ryman auditorium and drove to Tupelo, MS and married.
The Happy Goodman Family that most everyone recognizes consisted of Howard, Vestal, and his two brothers Rusty and Sam. In 1990, the last Happy Goodman Family record was recorded, titled the Reunion. This legendary recording will certainly be known in history as one of their finest ever. Rusty and Sam, shortly after the release of this recording, went to be with the One they sang about for so many years. Howard and Vestal, however, felt the calling on their life was to continue singing and spreading the Gospel. It was at this time that a long time friend of the family, great musician and singer, Johnny Minnick, joined them. Through the years, the Happy Goodman Family recorded many projects. Now, with a new and exciting determination, Howard, Vestal and Johnny began a new era for the Goodmans. They joined voices and continued with Howard's original vision and started traveling, singing and recording as the Happy Goodmans. Howard, Vestal and Johnny.
In a small recording studio with one camera, Howard and Vestal joined many of their friends. Jake, Hovie, James, Eva Mae etc., and taped with Bill Gaither what is now the most dynamic music events in history simply called The Homecoming Series. In the year 2001 the Happy Goodmans recorded their last video and album and also began touring for what would truly be the Final Stand.
After Howard's passing in November of 2002, Vestal focused on their life mission statement that "you do not retire from a calling". With Howard's last words to her being "sing, baby sing"!, that is what she continued to do until the Lord called her to the mansion that he built for her on December 27 th 2003. Many have asked if Vestal left this earth with sickness or pain. The answer is no, she was one day signing autographs for fans and smiling as the camera's snapped her picture with the people she loved the most, you her friends. Then she heard an angel beckoned come with me to your fathers' house. With that, her heart stopped and her Heavenly Angelic New Body she was lifted into the place that she had sang about all her life.
Almost every lyric of every song Vestal sang spoke about Heaven, she loved her Lord and Savior and never compromised the Gospel or her faith in God.
Today as the words to one of her favorite song she sang, tells her final vision as Vestal left this earth.
THROUGH HIS GATES WITH THANKSGIVING,
INTO HIS COURTS WITH PRAISE,
WITH A JOYOUS HEART I BEGIN TO SING
FOR AT LAST I AM STANDING WHERE HE SAID THAT I WOULD BE,
I AM STANDING IN THE PRESENCE OF THE KING.
STANDING IN THE PRESENCE OF THE KING,
THE WORLD JUST SLIPS AWAY BENEATH MY FEET.
MORTAL MAN, COULD NEVER WRITE THE SONG THAT MY HEART SINGS
FOR I'M STANDING IN THE PRESENCE OF THE KING!
These words will never be sang by anyone else, with such depth and meaning
until we all sing them around Throne together with Vestal!