By Roberta Olson, Correspondent
He never had a music lesson in his life, and doesn’t read music, but Fred Walter’s natural singing ability and his love for southern gospel music have resulted in the released of his third inspirational CD, “Get Ready for a Revival.”
Walter is one of a Christian family of 14. “I grew up singing around the piano with no TV. Piano was kind of entertainment.
Between that and going to church, and good, wholesome things like that, it was our social life,” he said.
Both of Walter’s parents played piano, and several sisters took piano lessons.
“They would have gone broke if they had given all eight boys lessons,” Walter said.
He enjoyed attending gospel concerts at a young age.
“Music got into me and I never got over it, and I love it to this day,” he said.
While promoting southern gospel artists who perform in Osakis for 30 years, Walter hadn’t promoted his own musical talents.
That changed in 2013 when Fred and his wife, Debbie, were planning a trip to Nashville, Tenn.
“Debbie suggested maybe I should try doing my own CD in Nashville,” he said. He contacted Dave Needham, a member of the family group the Needhams, and Needham arranged a session at Omni Sound Studio on Music Row in Nashville, an engineer and producer for the CD, titled, “Songs of Heaven.”
Debbie did all the groundwork for the session.
“I sing to accompaniment music, professionally done, songs that I like,” Walter said. “You have to pay extra to sell their music on a different CD. Writers of the songs all get royalties per CD you produce. You rent a studio, hire an engineer and pay the producer. It’s expensive, but that’s what the Lord will have us to do.”
Debbie is now the executive producer for Walter’s CDs. She also makes arrangements for his appearances, and oversees CD sales at a dozen outlets including Osakis, Sauk Centre, Alexandria, St. Joseph and Villard.
A second CD was recorded in Nashville in October 2015, titled “Hold On.”
Walter’s new CD, “Get Ready for a Revival” features daughters Jessica and Grace singing background on five songs.
“Southern gospel music is like a miniature sermon in every song. It has to have good spiritual value,” Walter said. “The song has to minister to me, so it will minister to other people.”
Even though Walter works full-time at Sun-opta in Alexandria, the four 12-hour shifts give him enough days off a month to work on his music.
Plans for a fourth CD have begun, this time with a new direction. Walter’s father wrote poems, and those will become new, original music.
“Poems would come to him when he was milking. He would write poems down on the boards in the barn, and then later on copy them on paper so he wouldn’t forget the thought,” Walter said.
“Our plan is to take a few of the poems and set them to music. When the Needhams were (in Osakis) last week, we did three demos of the poems that were suitable for songs,” he said.
This project will require another trip to Nashville, to meet with musicians to transcribe the music, then hire a band to come in and play the music.
“They will be brand new melodies, and we will own the songs,” he said.
Proceeds from the sales of the CDs go into the Fred Walter Music and Ministry fund, a non-profit, with funds going back into the music and performances.
Fred and Debbie both grew up in Villard-Westport. Fred spent 30 years operating his dairy farm, selling to his son in 2002.
Debbie has her own business, Simplified Living.
Their children include a son, Nathan and his wife, Angie, on the home farm, with children Laureen, 12, and Levi, 9; daughter Dawn and husband, Jeff Mueller of St. Michael, have a son, Bly, 2; Jessica and Shawn Snyder of Hastings, have children Tyus, 18, Milton, 10, and Lane, 2; Courtny and Max Flowers of Sauk Centre, have a 1-month old baby, Howard; and daughter Grace will be a senior at Osakis High School.
More information on Walter’s performance schedule and CDs can be obtained by calling (320) 808-5010 or emailing them at [email protected] Folks can also visit the Facebook page, Fred Walter Music and Ministry.