Representing Christian Music Ministry
in the New Millennium
Some say, “Everything is bigger in Texas.” The reality of that statement could be up for debate, but one thing is for sure - Ava Kasich, a native of the Lone Star state, may be a petite lady in stature but she has a big smile, a big heart, and a big voice.
Some artists shine for a brief moment while others become a fixture in the world of music. Having performed in both the Country and Gospel music markets, Ava has been singing most of her life and has toured as full-time, professional artist for nearly forty years.
Ava’s mother introduced her to music when she was only three years old. “My mother was a great singer who led worship at church when I was very young,” she recalls. “She would stand me up on the altar so the congregation could see me. We used to sing together all the time.”
Ava was raised in a musically talented family with five siblings. Her brothers performed together as a Country music band for many years. “They have all gone on to be with the Lord now and I sure do miss them,” she says.
Ava’s professional career began in 1980 when she first met Wally Fowler, a well-known Gospel singer, concert promoter, manager and businessman. She recalls, “I met him at a concert in Denton, Texas. He asked me if I sang and I answered that I did. Upon his invitation, I met him and his wife the following day to audition. He then invited me to sing at an upcoming concert in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. He told me that he may or may not hire me, depending on how the crowd responded to me. At that concert, I sang, One Day At A Time, and got a standing ovation. He hired me on the spot, so I moved to Nashville, Tennessee!”
Ava worked for Wally Fowler for two years before returning to Texas. Sometime later, she went to see Boxcar Willie who was in the area for a scheduled concert. She had met him previously while working for Wally Fowler in Nashville. That night, Willie invited her to appear at his theatre in Branson, Missouri. “I fell in love with Branson!” Ava exclaims. She moved to Branson in 1989 and for the next seventeen years was a regular performer on The Boxcar Willie show, The Braschler Family show, Barabara Fairchild shows, and at Silver Dollar City.
Upon moving to Branson, Ava became a regular in the night club scene and was the life of the party until time to go home. “I have not always lived as I should,” she admits. “When I moved to Branson, I had just gone through a divorce from an abusive marriage. I couldn’t understand why God would allow this to happen to me. You see, when bad things happen, we often want to blame God or someone else. But we often bring bad circumstances on ourselves: I never asked God if it was His will for me to marry that man to start with. The truth is, I was running from God. I knew God had a calling on my life, and it wasn’t to sing Country music.”
Looking back, however, Ava realizes that the hand of God had orchestrated everything for His purpose in her life. It was an encounter with Barbara Fairchild that ultimately set her back on the right path. She explains, “Barbara and I have been friends for about 25 years now. She, quite frankly, did what other so-called Christians won’t. The Bible tells us in Luke 14:23, as Christians we are to "go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled." That is exactly what Barbara did. And she would often go into a club and sit and visit with the patrons, shining the light and love of Christ. Then she would get up on stage and invite everyone to a worship service she held every Sunday morning. The first two rows of the auditorium were often filled with folks from the club the night before.”
Ava had attended several of those worship services with Barbara. But the defining moment was when Barbara began asking her to sing during the services. “Suddenly, I had to face myself. I had to make a choice,” she states. “There was no way I could party on Saturday night and sing in church the next morning. I just couldn’t do it. I made up my mind that nothing or no one would ever come between me and God again.” This was the turning point in her life and the beginning of a long, successful ministry in Gospel music.
In 2010, it seemed all would come to a screeching halt for Ava when she was diagnosed with a fatal disease. She explains, “It all started in 2009, when I began to experience frequent, severe headaches, weakness and trembling. But the MRI and other tests showed no signs of any abnormalities.”
Against doctors’ recommendations, Ava continued to travel and sing. Eventually, she had grown so weak that she had to sit on a stool during her entire performance each night. By August, her condition had worsened. Upon returning home from a tour, she went to see her doctor - who immediately admitted her to the hospital. She says, “I was shaking uncontrollably like someone with Parkinson’s Disease, I was extremely weak, and my heart rate was continually over 100 beats per minute.”
“I was initially diagnosed with Lupus,” she continues. “I had seen every kind of doctor and specialist, and they had done all kinds of tests. Ultimately, they conclusively determined that I had an autoimmune disease, but they could not determine the cause.”
The term "autoimmune disease" refers to a varied group of more than eighty serious, chronic illnesses that involve almost every human organ system. In all of these diseases, the underlying problem is similar - the body's immune system becomes misdirected, attacking the very organs it was designed to protect. And that is exactly what was happening to Ava. Like a deadly virus, her immune system was attacking almost every organ in her body.
Finally, on a Friday afternoon in early 2010, Ava’s primary doctor came into her hospital room with devastating news. She recalls, “He came in and sat on the edge of my bed. He looked me in the eye with tears rolling down his face and said, ‘We’ve done all we can do, we don’t know what else to do. We’ve run every test that we know to do, and we cannot pinpoint this autoimmune disease that you have. We have sent your blood work overseas for additional tests, but if we can’t find the problem within two weeks, you won’t be here anymore.’ That’s how fast my body was failing.”
Ava was initially shocked by the doctor’s report, as would be expected. But she said the peace of God soon came over her. She requested to be released from the hospital so she could live her final days at home.
The following Sunday evening, Ava requested prayer at the conclusion of the service at her home church. With assistance, she made her way to the altar where the pastor and entire congregation joined her. She remembers, “My pastor preached a message about faith, and it was like a bright light suddenly came on and I said in my heart, ‘Lord, I know I have enough faith to be healed. I know I do.’ They prayed for me that night...and nothing happened. In fact, I got worse. I couldn’t even walk back to my seat.”
Nevertheless, upon her return home, she went to bed still confessing in her heart that she had enough faith, praising God for her healing.
Evidently, while she slept, the Great Physician paid a visit. She explains, “I woke up Monday morning, threw my legs over the side of the bed, stood up, and ran to the living room before I knew what had happened. I suddenly realized I was healed from the top of my head to the soles of my feet! My doctors were amazed! They say there is no other explanation...it is truly a miracle!”
The testimonies shared thus far still do not even scratch the surface of all that Ava has experienced and all that God has done for her. But it’s stories like these and numerous others that inspired the birth of a song entitled, Looking Back.
Explaining how the song came about, Ava shares, “I was having dinner with my friends Rocky and Gail Smith at a local restaurant one night in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, following a concert. Eventually, our conversation became an exchange of personal stories - just generally sharing with one another about all that God had seen us through over the years. At one point, I made the comment, ‘Looking back, I can’t believe I made it.’ The Holy Spirit began to speak to the three of us and, within just a few minutes, my story was written...a new song of testimony was born!”
It was also the beginning of a new facet of ministry for Ava as a songwriter. Since that time, she, Rocky and Gail have written numerous songs together - seven of which are included on her latest CD.
Ava is well respected by her fans and industry peers alike, and she has won numerous awards and accolades throughout her career.
While Ava is very humbled and grateful for the generous acknowledgements, she says, “I am most thankful to my precious Lord for carrying me when I couldn’t see the light of day. Looking back over my life, I know I made it this far by the grace of almighty God. I’ll continue my journey holding to His unchanging hand.”