B i o g r a p h y
Johnny Minick was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas. His father, John C. Minick, was employed by ABF Trucking and his mother, Marice, was a stay-at-home mom and homemaker. They instilled in Johnny a love for God and an appreciation and love for music.
Johnny began his musical journey at the age of 3. The guitar was the first instrument he used to express his musical talent. He loved to sing in church while accompanying himself on the guitar.
At 6 year old he took an interest in piano. While visiting an aunt in Memphis, he sat down at her piano and within an hour could play a few basic chords. His talent with the keyboard was so obvious that his aunt gave him her piano. Johnny's parents enrolled him in piano lessons where he began to study to be a classical pianist. Those years of classical training gave Johnny an important foundation for the artistry he now enjoys. In his teens, Johnny followed a fimiliar path that many other classically trained musicians follow; the road to jazz.
Johnny explored most all genre's of music and soon found himself in the recording studio as a session musician. His ability to play any style of music endeared him to artists, producers and label executives. It was apparent, early on, that music would play an important role in Johnny's life.
While it seemed that music would be the priority in Johnny's future, something else had captured his heart. In 1967, while attending a New Year's Eve Celebration at church, Johnny felt a definite call into ministry. He had been involved in music ministry now for several years, but, it was the pulpit that captured his attention. 1968 was filled with deliberation and wonder as Johnny pursued the idea of filling the pulpit. Soon to enter his teenage years, he would turn 13 in full pursuit of developing a pulpit ministry.
Ministry blossomed in both music and preaching during Johnny's teenage years. The classical training continued as well as exploring the genre of jazz music. Johnny began using his knowledge of classical and jazz music to create his own unique style of gospel music. In 1970, Johnny and his Dad formed a singing group from out of their local church congregation. Mostly young people, but very talented and willing to try something different in gospel music. Their group, The Majestic Sound, became known for their unique style of gospel and Johnny's intricate arrangements. The group took on a variety of configurations through the years ending up as a male quartet. The group's popularity opened numerous doors of opportunity. Along with regional television and radio, gospel and country music promoters were booking Johnny and the group to open for headliners. It was during this time that a major door opened for Johnny. A door that would impact the rest of his life and ministry.
In 1972, a regional gospel music promoter booked Johnny and his group to open for The Happy Goodman Family. When the Goodmans heard Johnny play they approached him the same night about becoming their pianist. With another year of high school and no real inclinations to leave home, Johnny put the offer on the back burner and continued his education along with pursuing his calling to the ministry.
Early in 1974, Johnny and his sweetheart, Sherry McDonald announced their engaugement to be married in August of that year. After their wedding the invitation to join the Happy Goodman Family began to tug gently on Johnny's heart. In the Summer of 1975, Johnny and Sherry packed up their belongings and moved to Madisonville, KY to become a part of The Happy Goodman Family. The next few years made an indelible mark on Johnny's life and musical career. The exposure he received from being a part of The Goodmans endeared his talent and ministry to many of the Goodman fans. The years with the Goodmans were productive and continues to bear fruit to this day. His relationship with Howard, Vestal, Rusty & Sam continued until their deaths.
Johnny and Sherry returned to Arkansas after the birth of their son, Aaron. Johnny and his family launched an evangelistic ministry incorporating their music and pulpit ministry. After itenerating for several years Johnny felt the call to plant a church in the Little Rock area. In 1983, River Of Life was founded as an Assembly Of God Church. The church grew quickly under Johnny's leadership and brought in Johnny's cousins, Bob & Tony Minick to partner with him in ministry. The trio of pastors divided the responsiblities of the pastorate among themselves and continued growing the congregation, building a campus in Mabelvale, AR on Nash Lane.
In 1988, the evangelistic call sounded again for Johnny & Sherry. Once again the family was itenerating from church to church and gaining national attention with a song written by Johnny entitled, "How Long." The song entered the Top 40 gospel charts and created a demand for Johnny and the family to sing in concert venues and churches across America. A Nashville recording label, Calvary Records, signed the Minick Family to a recording contract, promoting their talent to a national radio audience. In 1991, Johnny accepted an opportunity from country music legend, Willie Nelson, to come to Branson, MO every Sunday to conduct a worship service in his newly aquired Theater. That proved to be a fruitful time for Johnny and his family as they led hundreds of vacationing tourists to a relationship with Jesus Christ.
In 1992, Johnny felt the leading of the Holy Spirit to plant a church in the little town of Smyrna, TN. (a bedroom community of Nashville)
Johnny and his family all sold their homes in Little Rock and relocated to the Nashville, TN area to plant River Of Life in Smyrna, TN. The process was familiar to Johnny, having been a church planter in Little Rock. The first service was small (about 8 people) but the little church family grew quickly and began to impact their community. In 1994, the congregation purchased 21 acres on Sam Ridley Parkway and made plans to build a home campus.
The mid 90's brought quite a surprise when Johnny reunited with Howard & Vestal Goodman to revive the Happy Goodman brand. With the success of the Bill Gaither Homecoming videos and concerts, The Happy Goodmans found a platform to promote their music around the world. From 1995 through 2002, Johnny traveled 3 days a week singing to 1.3 million people per year attending their concerts from coast to coast and in Europe. At the same time, River Of Life continued growing and enjoying their new worship facility at their Sam Ridley Parkway location.
After the death of Howard Goodman in 2002, and then Vestal Goodman in 2003, Johnny concentrated on expanding ministry from River Of Life and Johnny Minick Ministries by means of television and internet broadcasting. The new century was full of opportunity giving JMM a global presence. Every Sunday Johnny would preach and sing from the broadcast center at River Of Life to a growing audience of thousands watching over the internet and satellite television. As broadcast technology developed, JMM was the first in the Nashville area to broadcast in High Definition. They were also the first in the Southeastern U.S. to aquire LED lighting for their studio productions.
In 2014, Johnny, Tanya Goodman Sykes and her husband Michael Sykes started singing together as Goodman Revival. In February of 2014 they went into the studio and recorded their debut project, "Songs In The Key Of Happy." Spring House Music heard the recording and leased the project to be distributed through the Gaither Music Network and in October 2014 a companion video was produced at the Gaither Studios in Alexandria, IN.
At the same time, 2014 brought new vision for River Of Life. The church started the process of relocating to larger facilities on 55 acres. The process will take about 24 months so the River Of Life congregation is looking forward to moving into their new facilities early in 2017.
Johnny and Sherry enjoy a very full life of ministry and music. One of their greatest joys is spending time with their son, Aaron, his wife, Julie, and their 3 grandchildren, Hayden, Preston and Londin.