NEW CASTLE — He speaks and the sound of his voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing
And the melody that he gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.
— From the song, ‘In the Garden’
sung by the Prevailing Word World
Outreach Center praise group
Katie and Humble know Gladys.
The resident Cockatiels at Lawrence County Geri-Care on West Washington Street wasted no time getting in the groove when the lead singer from the praise group at Prevailing Word World Outreach Center made her monthly visit.
When Gladys belted out an upbeat song, the birds flapped their wings and danced merrily around their cage. On the more mellow selections, they sat silently on their top perch and swayed in unison, seemingly mesmerized by the woman with the melodic voice.
Young and old, human and fowl, all share the same opinion when Gladys Matthews is in the room — the lady can sing.
Matthews is the centerpiece of a praise group that also includes Reatha Gibbs, the praise and worship leader at Prevailing Word, who plays keyboard and sings; vocalist Carol Johnston; Carol’s husband, electric guitar player David Johnston; and Elder Sam Holmes, who is in charge of nursing home visits for Prevailing Word.
Matthews’ story goes back many years — and many tears — before she was able to arrive at the place where she is today.
A STAR IS BORN
Matthews is a 1959 graduate of New Castle High School. She married, but when her husband landed in jail, she took jobs cleaning houses and worked as a caregiver to support her two sons, Thomas Matthews Jr. and Elonzo Matthews.
She originally discovered her voice while singing at family events.
“I sang at holiday gatherings and I sang every child in our family to sleep,” she said. “I would rock them and sing softly and it would soothe them.