Bios

Shaye Smith

The group’s owner, manager, and alto singer, Shaye Smith is the granddaughter of the Gang’s original alto, Anna Carter Gordon Davis, and Howard Gordon, who was the group’s guitarist for many years. Shaye was born in Nashville, TN and grew up in Baton Rouge, LA. She is married to Andy Smith, and they make their home in Hertford, NC. They have three children, Ben, Noah, and Chloe.

 

Shaye holds two Bachelor’s degrees in music (Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance and Bachelor of Music in Choral Conducting), and she helps to arrange many of the Chuck Wagon Gang’s songs. Her background in musicals, operas, and choral and theater projects makes the stage a place of comfort and familiarity.

 

Shaye joined her great-uncle Roy and the Chuck Wagon Gang in 1993, as a soprano. Leading the Chuck Wagon Gang allows her to continue the legacy her grandmother and family began eighty years ago.

Stan Hill

The group’s tenor singer, Stan Hill was born and raised in Knoxville, TN. He and his wife, Kathy, have three children and one granddaughter.

“Some of my earliest and best memories are of my family gathered around the piano, singing a hymn while Mom played,” he says. “I also remember lying in bed at night, listening to an AM radio, when I was supposed to be sleeping."

“By singing with the Chuck Wagon Gang, I not only get to enjoy these great songs of faith, I also get to share in preserving the history and tradition of this style of music. God has truly given me the desires of my heart.”

Stan’s voice and blend continue the high standard established by Dad Carter, who made it clear to his kids, “Sing the old songs, and sing them the way I taught you.”

Wyatt Austin

My name is Wyatt Austin. I was born and still reside in Morganton, NC. I first heard the Chuck Wagon Gang when I was 12 years old and when I went to see them in a nearby town, I had no idea that God was unfolding His plan. I began collecting vinyl records and when I heard Jim Carter’s unique and harmonious voice, I began having the desire to sing bass. I feel so privileged and blessed to be a part of this legendary group. In this life, people have dreams and very seldom do they come true at a young age, but God in His goodness and grace has fulfilled my desire to serve Him.

 

 

  

Melissa Kemper

Soprano Melissa Kemper is a native of Groveton, TX, and she still resides there today, with her husband, Jamie, and children Weston, Brandon, and Alysse. Melissa sang soprano with the Chuck Wagon Gang between 2001 and 2006, then left the group to be with her children during their formative years. She re-joined the quartet in 2015.

“I am very happy that God has brought me back into the group after all these years,” she says. “I am truly blessed.”

Karl Smakula

The group's guitarist, Karl Smakula, was born in Kingwood, WV and raised in Elkins, WV, where he was steeped the central WV region's rich tradition of old time and bluegrass music. He began playing mandolin and guitar at age 11 and took up banjo shortly thereafter, regularly performing in church and at square dances. He is a 2016 graduate of East Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country music. While attending ETSU, he was a member of both the Universities elite Bluegrass Pride and Country Pride bands, and has since traveled the United States performing with bluegrass, old time, and country artists.

Karl currently resides in Nashville, TN and enjoys running, hiking, and attending concerts in his free time.

Penny Shelnut

Penny Shelnut is no stranger to CWG fans. She sang alto for the gang for a couple years, beginning in 2007, and is now the groups exclusive booking agent.  "My husband and I were praying for God to open a door for something I enjoyed doing but would provide the flexibility to raise our children. Within a few weeks, Shaye asked if I'd be interested in handling the booking for the group. I feel blessed to be able to help such a legacy continue."   

Penny is married to her best friend Randy Shelnut, Jr. (Scoot) and are blessed with three children, Blake, Lauren, and Drew. 

Justin Owens

Justin Owens is the Social Media Manager for the Chuck Wagon Gang.  He creates, publishes, and controls the content on the Gang's Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages, as well as contributing some content to the Gang's website.  ​Justin is also Anna's grandson and the great-grandson of Dad Carter.  As you might expect, Justin inherited their musical abilities.  He has been a drummer since 1987, recording and touring with several artists in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area, where he lives with his wife Donna.