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Living the dream

Osakis resident Fred Walter recently released his first southern gospel CD, Songs of Heaven. Through a rare opportunity, he was able to record the album at Omni Studio on Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee. (Contributed)

After more than 30 years of bringing southern gospel groups to the Alexandria area, Fred Walter of Osakis now has the opportunity to bring his own music with his first album, Songs of Heaven.

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In the midst of planning an August 2013 trip to Nashville, Tennessee, Walter’s wife, Debbie, encouraged him to record a CD while they were there.

“The best recording equipment in the world is in Nashville on Music Row,” Walter said.

From there, it didn’t take much coaxing. Not only was Walter excited for the chance to release his own CD, but he was excited to record on Music Row and stand where professionals stood.

“It’s been a dream of mine for many years,” he said. And it was a dream that had started at home.

A MUSICAL INFLUENCE Walter grew up in Osakis and went to school in Villard, and he was surrounded by music at every turn.

His parents enjoyed southern gospel music and took him to a few concerts when he was a young boy, including one by the Blackwood Brothers, fueling his love for the genre.

“Southern gospel is like a story. There’s a message in every song,” he explained. “It has more of a country sound. Some call it country gospel. Some just call it good old gospel.”

Over the years, Walter has sung in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, weddings, funerals and churches, including his home church of New Life Christian Church in Alexandria.

GETTING THE BALL ROLLING The Walters’ trip to Nashville had been set months in advance, and it was then that Debbie encouraged him to record a CD.

“She asked me, ‘When will you get the chance to do this again?’” Walter said.

Three years prior, he had recorded a song with fellow church attender Jimmy Jensen’s recording equipment. But now, this was a rare opportunity to produce a full album in a professional setting.

Walter seized the opportunity and contacted Dave Needham, a singer in the gospel group The Needhams.

Needham recommended Omni Studio on Music Row and agreed to be the producer, with Debbie serving as the executive producer. Needham reserved the studio, as well as an engineer, Rory Rositas.

A few months later, the Walters arrived in Nashville. Then it was time to begin.

RECORDING LIKE A PROFESSIONAL The first step was to purchase the music. Since he was going to record the songs of other musicians, he had to follow all the legal rules, including obtaining permission and paying royalties.

Walter, his wife and two daughters, who photographed the album art, were given a tour of the studio. Following the tour, Needham set Walter up to record.

He was placed in a room no bigger than a closet. It contained a large microphone, and through a set of headphones, Needham and Rositas relayed their instructions.

“I knew my songs quite well going in there, but…if I didn’t pronounce a word just right or if I was a hair off key, they would have me re-sing, maybe just one line,” Walter said.

“Once we had it to where it was acceptable to the producer and the engineer, we went back into the room, and we all listened to it again together.”

Recording the CD took approximately 10 hours, all completed in one day.

SENDING A MESSAGE Though Walter receives great joy from singing southern gospel music, the main purpose of his CD is to share his faith with others.

“That’s my goal, to draw people to Christ,” he said. “And music is a great way to do it.”

“People sense the presence of God when they listen,” Walter continued. “I believe the answer to a person’s life problem is Jesus. Jesus is the only answer for now and eternity.”

Songs of Heaven is $10. It can be purchased in Alexandria at New Life Christian Church and Trumm Drug and in Osakis at Thrifty White and Dawn’s Hair Styling.

The album has also been added to the Sunday morning playlist on KXRA 1490 AM.

The Needhams will perform in the Alexandria area on Saturday, July 26. More information will be released closer to the event.

For more information, contact Walter at

TRACK LIST Following is a list of

songs found on

Fred Walter’s album,

Songs of Heaven.

I Call It Home


Love Was in the Room




Don’t That

Sound Like Heaven


He’s Everything I Need


I Can’t Even Walk


I’ve Come too Far

to Look Back


This Old Place


I Never Shall

Forget the Day


He Whispers

Sweet Peace