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Karen Wheaton, born Karen Harris, is a minister and Gospel music singer.
She was the younger of two daughters who grew up in a Pentecostal family in Hamilton, Alabama where she was active in church music from an early age.
In the late 1970s Karen toured with Thurlow Spurr's Festival of Praise, a pioneering Christian touring choir and band.
In the early 1980s Karen traveled with her own band and later joined Jimmy Swaggart Ministries as one of the ministry's featured soloists. Several of Karen's early gospel albums identify her as either "Karen Harris" or "Karen Harris Wheaton".
Rod Parsley, T. D. Jakes, and many others, while increasingly traveling on her own as doors opened to sing and speak at various churches, prisons, and women’s conferences.
Karen Wheaton, though involved in ministry in a variety of ways including her youth group, Chosen, is probably most noted outside of the Pentecostal Church for efforts to record and promote a form of gospel music, namely the Mississippi Delta sound that is fused with blues, urban contemporary gospel, and bluegrass gospel influences.
She is also known for including the type of dramatic, gospel songs of the genre made popular by Sandy Rios, Kathy Sullivan, the Rev. Sharon Daughtery, and others prior to the advent of Contemporary Christian music in the late 1970s.
neglected Pentecostal songs such as I'm Feelin' Mighty Fine with new songs in the same spirit. Wheaton has never written music of her own though she often arranges the vocals of her songs and is very involved in the engineering and production of her recordings. Wheaton's voice is a strong, dramatic alto.
Wheaton is considered an interesting and important fixture on the contemporary theological scene in the American south as she represents the long-standing Pentecostal tradition of women having strong roles within the clergy and also as she continues the convention of "singing preachers" who incorporate aspects of sermonizing into actual songs.
In many ways, Wheaton is a rare breed to continue traditions of conventional southern revival-style preaching in her music. Wheaton's live version of "For Every Mountain", from her album Church is a prime example of this genre.
Karen Wheaton currently lives in Hamilton, Alabama and runs The Ramp. She is married to Rick Towe and has two daughters, Lauren and Lindsey, and three grandchildren.
Today she continues to travel and minister. Her efforts are primarily focused on the youth center she founded called the Ramp in her hometown Hamilton, Alabama.
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