Gospel group Canada’s Double Portion happy to be back on stage

After two years of tin work and fencing, Duncan Hemmerling and his family are happy to be back on stage.

The North Battleford-based Hemmerling family, better known by their stage name, Canada’s Double Portion, had to make some major changes when music festivals and gospel jamborees shut down due to COVID-19. Instead of conducting sound checks for live performances, the group found themselves taking jobs with a more hands-on approach.

“I actually called a neighbour who I heard was good to work for and said, ‘I need work, so if you’re looking for anyone, I’d be glad to come and work,’” Hemmerling said with a chuckle. “We ended up, over those two years, doing a lot of different things. I learned a lot doing a lot of tin work. We actually ended up doing a lot of fencing for people. I don’t know how word got out that we did fencing.”

With their touring schedule on hold, Double Portion focused their musical efforts locally. They started leading worship at local churches and the odd summer event as the festival and jamboree circuit slowly reopened.

In 2022, they returned to touring Western Canada and the northern United States. On Saturday, they’ll perform in Prince Albert before embarking on another tour through Idaho, Oregon and Arizona.

“We’ll be doing churches, RV parks, (and) we already have some festivals lined up for this summer, so we’re excited to be going south,” Hemmerling said. “The kids asked, ‘when are we going on tour again?’ Finally we’re doing that, so we’re excited.”

Double Portion began with Hemmerling and his three sisters in 1982. They performed on the Grand Ole’ Opry stage, and played at some of North America’s largest gospel events.

The group has evolved since then as family members join, and sometimes leave to pursue other career opportunities. The current version features Duncan and his wife Debbie, along with seven of their 10 children.

While the roster of musicians has changed, Duncan says their call to serve hasn’t.

“We feel that there’s a purpose behind our ministry,” he explained. “When times have been very discouraging, the Lord has always encouraged us to keep going.

“We have 10 children, and as they grew up, they were musical. They started to step into roles in the group, and so that made it easier because we were an intact family and able to travel in that way.”

Double Portion is scheduled to perform at the Prince Albert Alliance Church on Saturday. Hemmerling said they want to entertain attendees with their music, but also encourage them to be a blessing to the community.

“We’ll be doing some original material, some songs you might be familiar with, but overall the whole night, we just trust it will be entertaining, enjoyable, and most of all, that they’ll leave with a message in their heart of going on with the Lord and allowing him to use them to be a blessing,” he said.

Canada’s Double Portion has received multiple Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Live Band of the Year awards from the Gospel Music Association of Canada. They have also received multiple Group of the Year nominations.

They’ll perform live at the Prince Albert Alliance Church on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. A free will offering will be taken.

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