Lily Isaacs says her love for Jesus has turned every negative in her life into a positive, despite her own family being against Christianity.
The Isaacs, a Nashville-based, multi-award-winning family group, are performing at 7 p.m. Saturday at The Pines Theater, presented by the Angelina Arts Alliance.
Their musical style has been influenced by many genres of music including bluegrass, rhythm and blues, folk, country, contemporary, acoustic and southern gospel.
The group includes Lily Isaacs and her children Ben Isaacs, Sonya Isaacs Yeary and Becky Isaacs Bowman.
The group started around 50 years ago with Lily Isaacs and her husband Joe, who is no longer in the group.
After getting a recording contract with Columbia Records in 1958, Lily was performing at nightclubs in New York.
It was Gerde's Folk City where she met Joe, who was also performing there with a band from Kentucky. They got married in 1970.
Lily, a two-time cancer survivor, is Jewish by birth. Her parents were Polish Jewish Holocaust survivors and liberated from a concentration camp in Germany in 1945. They moved to New York when she was 2.
A death in the family is what steered Lily and Joe to the Christian faith. After Joe's brother died of an automobile accident at 27, they attended his funeral, which was at a church.
"I had never gone to church in my life," Lily said. "It was the start of gospel music for us."
When her parents found out she was attending church, they rejected her.
"It was a hard time in my young life," she said. "Especially because of the Holocaust, they felt I was betraying them ... I felt like I just received more that was for me."
Their children were born shortly after that.
"They've been traveling all their young lives," she said. "From the early ages, they all picked up an instrument between 7-10 years of age and were singing before that. It's how we started."
She said they would get the kids to do songs with them during shows.
"At 3-4 years old they were singing harmony," she said. "It was bred into them."
Her kids went to public school and college, but they chose music, Lily said.
"It wasn't a plan," she said. "It just happened. I couldn't have dreamed this life for myself then."
Lily said her parents withdrew their rejection after her son, their first grandchild, was born.
"We didn't talk about that," she said. "We didn't want our relationship to be defined by that. The best thing I could do is pray for them and be a light in my own way."
She said they adored her children. Her mother belonged to a country club in the Bronx and always wanted her kids to sing in the talent show, though they would sing Christian music.
Her mother first heard them live at Brooklyn Tabernacle 14-15 years ago.
"In an innocent way, they didn't know how to deal with it," she said. "I don't blame them."
Lily wrote an autobiography about her life around seven years ago called "You Don't Cry Out Loud."
She also wrote another book last year during COVID-19 titled "A Wedding Dress With Combat Boots."
"I learned a lot of things about my parents that I didn't know during the first book," she said.
In 2018, she entered her mother and father in the Hall of Remembrance in the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. When she got back home, she received 40-50 documents to her parents and their parents on record from the Nazis.
"It was a really sobering moment," she said. "I couldn't ask any questions ... I felt another book inside of me."
Lily said when a pastor was praying over her, she had a vision of her standing somewhere with combat boots and wondered what that meant.
"In my heart, I know I'm the bride of Christ," she said. "I'm fighting a battle all the time. Those combat boots have made me the way I am today. They made me resilient, which is something my mother taught me. It was really profound. It just stuck with me."
The Isaacs write 80% of their music, and Lilly said that both of her daughters are songwriters. She added that her son is a successful record producer for a lot of different artists.
Lily said in a way it's harder working with family.
"We are family and we're very close," she said. "When we're home, I'm their mom ... on the road I'm a partner. We've got each other's back thick and thin. It can be a difficult dynamic, but the magic is when we're on stage and we see lives being changed. That's what makes it all worth it."
The Isaacs started a nonprofit to bless Holocaust survivors still living in the world in Israel.
"We started it to be a blessing to them," she said. "It's been very rewarding to do that."
Lily said people can go to their website for more information or to donate at theisaacs.com.
For tickets or more information, go to angelinaarts.org.