The Valdosta Daily Times
While Valdosta has a link to the classic Christmas song “Jingle Bells,” the city also has a connection to a more contemporary holiday song.
The Dove Award-winning and Grammy-nominated “The Christmas Shoes” has roots in Valdosta’s Morningside Baptist Church.
The Christian musical group NewSong got its start in Valdosta.
Originally, the group was four guys — Eddie Carswell, Billy Goodwin, Eddie Middleton and Bobby Apon — from Morningside back in 1981; three were students at Valdosta State while Carswell had already earned his degree.
With support from Valdosta and Morningside, NewSong found its voice and was soon performing venues throughout South Georgia, Atlanta then the Southeast.
By 1982, the band was ready to move to the Atlanta area. Through the years, NewSong’s line-up changed.
The band knew many successes but nothing quite like the phenomenon of its song, “The Christmas Shoes,” released in 2000.
The holiday song became NewSong’s biggest hit, crossing over from traditional Christian radio and fans to mainstream radio and listeners.
The song led to a book and then a movie starring actor Rob Lowe. “The Christmas Shoes” introduced NewSong, the band and its music, to millions of new listeners. Carswell recalled the song crossing over to other formats, such as pop and country radio.
“We would talk with some of these DJs and they had no idea who we were,” Carswell said in a past interview with The Times. “They would ask how it felt to come from out of nowhere and have this hit, and we had several hits and been playing and recording for 20 years. It was interesting.”