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She’s helping keep gospel music alive

The first year gospel singer Maggie Reynaud was eligible to compete for the Favorite Young Artist of the Year award, her grandfather predicted she’d walk away a winner.

The 14-year-old soprano from Brookhaven, who sings with her mother and brother as Gloryland, not only won the Mississippi State Quartet Convention award that year, but also in 2018 and again Saturday.

Every time she’s won, she has thanked her grandfather, the late Chuck “CV” Rushing.

Reynaud started singing with Gloryland, which was Gloryland Quartet at the time, in 2016. She was nominated for the first time a year later.

The memory of the win is bittersweet and makes her mother laugh and cry.

“The week before Daddy died, she’d been nominated for the award, and he told her, ‘You’re gonna win, and when you win, the first person you’re going to thank is me,’” Stephanie Reynaud said. “And she started laughing and I looked at him and said, ‘Do not tell her that ’cause if she doesn’t win, I’m not dealing with her.’ And he just started laughing. He said, ‘She’s going to win. I know she’s going to win.’”

Reynaud said her father died on a Thursday. They were at the convention the next Thursday because he would have wanted them to be there.

“And that Friday, when they announced her name, we all sat there and cried and she bounced up there and the first thing she said was ‘The first person I want to thank is my pawpaw,’” Reynaud said.

That night, the MSQC posthumously presented Rushing the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Though she didn’t take the stage until 2016 as part of the group, Maggie’s been singing along with her family since she could talk.

“She was always the one that would sit on the front row, feeding us the words if we couldn’t remember something, she was always that one. Tapping her foot, waiting on her turn. She was always ready,” Stephanie Reynaud said.

When she joined the group in 2016, at 11 years old, her grandfather’s grin stretched a mile wide.

“I’ve probably never seen my dad look as happy as he did that day,” Stephanie Reynaud said. “I’ve never seen a bigger smile on his face. And as a daughter, nothing made me happier. It’s been the biggest joy of my life, to share the stage with my children. Being able to go out and serve the Lord with my kids has been my biggest joy.”

When Reynaud won again last year, she thanked her pawpaw first.

She did the same thing Saturday when her name was called, but this time, it was thanks to modern technology.

Gloryland — Reynaud with her mom and older brother Reese — were on the program for the annual convention in Purvis, but had a scheduling conflict and had to back out.

Maggie’s grandmother, Sandra Rushing, was there for the awards and used her FaceTime iPhone app to let Reynaud see and hear what was happening.

Back home in Brookhaven, Stephanie Reynaud used her phone to tune in to the live awards on Facebook.

“They announced that award first and Mom went up there to accept it for her and she held up the phone and said, ‘I just happen to have her right here.’ She held the phone up to the microphone so Reynaud could accept it,” Reynauld said.

And she thanked her pawpaw first, just like always.

Next to singing, Reynaud’s favorite activity is softball.

She has three different looks — the uniforms and dirt, the microphone and the dresses and the everyday school look.

“She can get dirty when she has to and she can dress up when she’s got to,” Stephanie Reynaud said.

Maggie Reynaud is on the varsity fast-pitch and slow-pitch teams at Brookhaven High School and plays tournament ball with Southern Fury, a fast-pitch team based in Brookhaven.

“I do tournament ball to better myself,” Reynaud said. “I feel like there’s always room for improvement. So I feel like if I play more then the better I’ll get and the harder I work the more it will tell.”

Surprisingly, she never played softball before seventh grade at Alexander Jr. High.

She’d watched her brother play for most of her life — her grandfather coached the team until Reese was in high school — and decided to try out. But Rushing died before he got to see Reynaud play. She wears his number, No. 17, in honor of him.

Occasionally, her loves overlap. She regularly sings the national anthem at Brookhaven baseball games and she’s been joined by Reese at the Chuck Rushing Alumni Games held the past two years.

When she’s not playing softball or practicing for softball games, the teenager is cooped up in her grandmother’s big red Suburban hauling a trailer full of equipment to their next gig. Her father, Kendal, is usually at the wheel, and they’re joined by her mom’s best friend Melissa Ritchie, who handles their press, social media, marketing and sales.

“We call it a traveling circus,” Stephanie Reynaud said.

Maggie Reynaud sometimes considers music as a career, but with four years of high school in front of her, she’s not ready to commit just yet.

“I love going out and singing and letting people hear the word and sharing that through song,” she said.

She likes contemporary Christian, but Southern Gospel will always be her favorite, she said. Her mother is glad to see the music Rushing loved live on with her children.

“I think they can keep that music alive,” Stephanie Reynaud said. “There’s a younger generation coming up and as long as they keep that music going, it will go on forever. You’d be surprised at the young people coming up that still love this music and I’m proud that my children are two of them.”