I think back often to this interview, so even though it first came out in May, I’d like to share it with you now. All around us, there are individuals transcending their suffering to build up their community.
Previously published in the Hughson Chronicle-Denair Dispatch
It had not occurred to Joe Rykert to sing with his family as a group. Now The Rykert Trio, which includes him, his daughter, Noelle Rykert-LaRosa and son, Joseph Paul Rykert have released their second album, titled “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” a contemporary take on Southern Gospel.
Along with work as a photographer, Joe Rykert sang solo for forty years. He performed in musical theatre and opera with Townsend Opera Players for over twenty years. His children, all vocalists, sang on their own path in other venues.
Everything changed, two weeks before Easter 2015, when Rykert received a diagnosis: Stage 4, Large B-cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Devastated by the news, a commitment to sing at a Sunrise Service at Lakewood Memorial on Easter morning kept Joe grounded. With his first chemo treatment scheduled three days before that service, he asked his children to back him up should his body react to the five toxic drugs to be used in his chemotherapy.
On Easter morning, the five Rykerts stood on stage and a new path for their lives began. “So out of something very dark—cancer, came one of the greatest blessings in my adult life, getting to sing and share the stage with them. And they are blossoming and growing in greatness and I’m a fading rose. It’s just, God had to get my attention, he had to show me what I was missing. That was the opportunity,” Rykert shared.
Unbeknownst to them, Tammy Rykert, Joe’s wife, entered Joe, Noelle and Joseph, into the Valley Talent Project. In August 2016, the Rykert Trio walked away first in the sing-off, Audience Favorite and Judge’s Favorite. “It was a grand slam,” Joseph said. On the same weekend, the Trio performed at the Celebration of Hope, a cancer awareness fundraiser event put on by Sutter Gould.
The calls for bookings began. Hope grew out of darkness. The Rykert Trio dove in. Individual projects continued, and Tammy continued to look for avenues to move the Trio forward. They produced their first album in Turlock using monies raised during a concert at Geneva Presbyterian. Joe described the turnout and amount raised as an affirmation, “we’re on the right path. That’s God’s stamp of approval.”
While they sang mostly secular, classical and jazz tunes, at the Southern Gospel Convention, the Trio discovered their new sound. Musical groups they met from all over the nation encouraged them on.
Why Southern Gospel? Joe answered, “It’s the subject matter, it’s all about the blood, it’s about the cross, it’s about what Christ did for us. His sacrifice that we are not worthy of.” With tears, he recounted his gratitude to God. Indeed, the family sees their growing success as a ministry in itself.
Tammy explained, “so many have been touched by cancer and just the encouragement of what he’s been through and what he has overcome. He’s in remission. He’s never going to be without cancer but at least he’s in remission. Especially people who are going through it, they see the story and there’s hope. And hope for the afterlife. If they don’t make it through. There is that hope and future in Christ.”
Joseph added, “The Lord’s always faithful. It seems like the ladder is endless for us. We’re just going to keep climbing as long as we honor him. Now, that we’ve found music that does honor to his name, it’s only going to get better.”
You can find music by The Rykert Trio on all the major streaming platforms and for purchase on their website and Amazon. To book the Trio, visit their website http://www.therykerttrio.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the website. For regular updates, like them on Facebook and follow them on Instagram.