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May 14, 2024 32 mins

What a delightful conversation Luke Smallbone and I had today! This charming half of the musical duo, for KING & COUNTRY is sharing some inside info on the movie, UNSUNG HERO, out now, about his musical family and their decision to move from Australia to the US on little more than a wing and a prayer.

Life was challenging for the Smallbone's and their 7 children, but a mother's love and strong faith carried them through the storms, helping them to find the joy, and the immense talent, within.

Luke co-produces and brother, Joel, who makes up the other half of for KING + COUNTRY, portrays their father in the film. All family members have cameos including another famous sister, Rebecca St. James! Get comfy and join us for a lovely chat. (And if you haven't already, go see UNSUNG HERO!)

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:05):
We are well into the marvelous month of May. A
lot to celebrate in May. My sister's birthday, my son
Al Hassan's birthday, both of his boy's birthday, my son
Tk's birthday. All this goodness. Mother's Day has come and gone,
but I know the celebration of Mother's all mothers is ongoing.

I was reading about the history of Mother's Day recently.
Julia Ward Howe wrote appealed to womanhood throughout the world,
later known as Mother's Day Proclamation in eighteen seventy two.
Back then, it was an impassioned plea, a reaction to
the carnage of the American Civil War and a recognition

of the sacrifices of mama's who had to send their
sons off to battle. How then asked for a Mother's
Day for Peace to be held in June of every year,
but she was unsuccessful in her bid. Modern Mother's Day
was established by Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia in nineteen o

seven to honor her own mother, who had organized women's
groups to promote friendship and health. So, while this Mother's
Day was different in significance from the very first proposal,
she was reportedly inspired by her mother's work with how
My takeaway is that Mother's Day is celebrated and recognized

in as many different ways as there are different mothers.
But the heart of what it means to be a
mother is this sacrifice. That's what it means to be
a mom. Today's guest on Love someone is not a mother,
but he has one, and she and her sacrifices are
the center of a big project that's recently come to fruition.

Helene is the mother of seven children, seven very talented children.
If you enjoy contemporary Christian music, you're probably familiar with
the names of three of them, Rebecca Saint James and
Luke and Joel Smallbone of the musical duo for King
and Country. Joel and Luke join me several years ago

when they had success with Thank God I Do. Today,
Luke is back to talk about this new movie, Unsung Hero,
which is basically about his mom, Helen, and her decision
to move their family six children and one on the
way to America after her husband, David's music company collapsed

in Australia. Helen's faith stands against all odds. She inspires
her husband, David and her children to hold on to
their dreams. With their own dreams on hold and cleaning
houses and mowing lawns to make meet. David and Helen

begin to realize the musical prowess in their children, who
had become two of the most successful acts in inspirational
music history. The movie, whose title comes from a four
King and Country song about Helen, opened in theaters on
April twenty sixth. It's been enjoyed by thousands of cinemagoers
by now. Adding to the fun, David Smallbone, the family patriarch,

is portrayed by his son Joel Smallbone, and Luke with
Us Today is a co producer on this project. We'll
be catching up with Luke hearing all about Unsung hero today,
but first I'm going to share a little love with
one of my own unsung heroes. A sponsor that makes
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Speaker 2 (05:32):
Hi Luke, how are you doing?

Speaker 1 (05:34):
I'm good.

Speaker 2 (05:35):
Welcome avoid Hey, thank you, thanks for taking the time
to hang out with me.

Speaker 1 (05:40):
Yeah, you're in your car? Where are you going?

Speaker 2 (05:43):
You know? I was going to pick up my kids
from school, and so I was at this awkward point
of I can't quite go home and I've got to
get the kids, so I'm in my car.

Speaker 1 (05:57):
That's so funny. I was going to go plant flower
with my daughter today and my podcast producer set this
up for ten thirty, which would mean I would be
on a ferry and there is no internet reception on
the ferry, and I'm like, ah, do I go before?
Do I go after?

Speaker 2 (06:15):
We're the same situation.

Speaker 1 (06:17):
I woke up this morning and it was pouring down
ray and I'm like, I ain't going to go playing
flowers today. So that solves that problem.

Speaker 2 (06:23):
That's right. Where do you live? Where were you going
on a ferry? Because that just sounds adventurous.

Speaker 1 (06:28):
I live in Puget Sound. I live outside of Seattle,
and my farm is only about ten fifteen miles from
Seattle proper, but it's across the water, so you have
to take a ferry to get here. It's like going
to another world. Not to like Australia world. But it
really is.

Speaker 2 (06:48):
What I was going to say is I was going
to bring it around for a straight I've often said
that Seattle reminds me on a fair weather day, mind you,
So I have to put that at a qualifier. So
much of Australia, just the water, the culture, the beauty.
I've often joked that it's one of my favorite cities
in America. So you live in some good place. Now,

I don't have the farm or whatever you're talking about
that you've got to go by water. That sounds even
better than Seattle.

Speaker 1 (07:16):
Here's where we differ. We don't have kangaroos or wombats
or true gigantic spiders that eat you.

Speaker 2 (07:25):
You know what's funny is the ones that eat you.
You gotta worry about the small ones. See, the small
ones are poisonous. We have this spider called the funnel web. Okay,
this will really creep you out. It can go into
the pool and hold its breath I believe, for three weeks,
and if it bites you, I'm not saying you will
certainly die, but you should probably directly.

Speaker 1 (07:46):
Yeah, you're gonna die. I love watching those videos, you
know where they're like like extreme Australia and it's just
like the scariest, creepiest things that God created all into
that in Australia. It's like, how can that be?

Speaker 2 (08:02):
I was at Australia once and we're at out a
fam a friend's house of ows, and we're walking around
doing whatever. And my mom and I was probably decently young.
I was probably eleven or twelve at the time. She
walks into the house and as she walks into the house,
a brown snake goes right across her heels. She never
saw it was real quick, and I was like, hey,

there was a snake right here. And they were like, well,
what type of snake was it? And I was like,
it was brown. I looked like this. They go, okay,
that is what they call We're not very original with
our names. In Australia. It is called a brown snake.
It is the second deadliest snake in the world.

Speaker 1 (08:37):
And it just slithered right over mom's foot.

Speaker 2 (08:39):
It just slithered right over mom's foot.

Speaker 1 (08:42):
Well, that leads us into this conversation because we're here
today primarily to talk about your new movie on Sung zero,
and after I watched it, I saw some interviews in
some comments about your dad being an unsung hero, I'm like,
this is the dad. I'm watching it like it's to me.

It was such a such a wonderful story about your
mom's commitment to love and to faith and to her
marriage and to her kids. And correct me if I'm
wrong here, but she is like the unsung hero of
all time.

Speaker 2 (09:22):
So it's funny that you say that, because we should
just literally do a rebuttal to all those comments and
all those interviews, because you're exactly right. The film is
based around our mother's undying commitment to her husband who
was not necessarily always behaving the way he should, and
to her kids and leading and triumphing over incredibly difficult circumstances.

You know, I've had a lot of people talk about
this film Unsung Hero that we were part of making,
and you know, to provide a little bit of contents,
we were originally born in Australia. My dad brought over
a tour and he was a concert promono in Australia,
brings over a to her. The tour doesn't go well,
we lose everything that we have.

Speaker 1 (09:59):
Brings over a tour with a friend of mine that
I have known in love since I was like nineteen
years old.

Speaker 2 (10:05):
That's right, that's right.

Speaker 1 (10:07):
I just love her, love her, love her. So Amy
grew and you know, and here's.

Speaker 2 (10:10):
A little bit of a backstory to even that moment.
I was talking to Amy the other day and I said, Amy,
that tour that this film talks about, I was there
as a three year old child, and my memory is
this person that every keep everybody keeps calling. Amy is
so nice to me. That was my memory. So I
got to share that with Amy, which was very very sweet.
But he takes a tour over just too. It doesn't

go very well. We lose everything we have. He gets
a job off at in Nashville, and we moved six kids.
My mother uh six months pregnant at the time, and
when we come to America, my dad ends up losing
that job and we're stranded on the other side of
the world. I'm no friends, no family. We were sleeping
on beds made out of clothes, no way for our
little sister to be born, no car, not always quite

sure where the mixed meal was gonna come from. And
that is the context of my mother having to figure
out a way how does the family stay together? How
do we persevere? How do we make it in America?
And this obviously, this film Unsung Hero is about all that.
It's about the strength of family. I believe in the
power of him. I think a family is more potent
and powerful today than it ever has been in the

history of the world. But we don't necessarily value it
as we should. And I think Mother Teresa sums it
up best when she says, if you want to change
the world, go home and love your family.

Speaker 1 (11:24):
Amen. Amen. So how much of the movie your brother
played your father and you were producing that. How much
of the movie is true to the depression your father
fell into and his unseemly behavior.

Speaker 2 (11:41):
Yeah, yeah, so I would say this. I think the
film is ninety percent accurate. I mean, we had to
take there were so many things about this story that
my dad actually went through multiple scenarios of just getting
smacked in the face, so much so that if we
put them all in it was unbelievable. So we actually
had to think.

Speaker 1 (12:00):
I would believe it. So you just mad want one
SmackDown instead of the five or six that it actually was.

Speaker 2 (12:06):
That's exactly right. So my dad says this, He said, Joel,
you externalized everything that I was feeling internally my dad.
If you go see the film my Dad, it kind
of has him as a little bit of a I
don't want to say a depressive character, but a little
bit of that, certainly feeling very helpless. My dad actually
is an optimist, but what we were showing was is

what he was feeling on the inside. And my dad
actually confirmed he's like, man, that's actually legitimately what I
was going through when we were first here in America,
the depressive side of things. He did get to a
point after you know, my sister's record deal fell through,
there was a moment where he couldn't get out of bed,
probably only for a day or so. We make it

out in the field like it three four days. But
but that did, actually, that did actually.

Speaker 1 (12:52):
Happen because I got to say, while I was watching it,
I was so empathizing with your I would have walked
out on him. I don't have you know, my marriage
record shows you. I do not have the patience of
your mother. She is a saint.

Speaker 2 (13:08):
We watched it. We were doing another promo event a
little while ago, and this lady comes up to us
and says, I watched that movie. Your movie last night
and we were talking all about it and was promoting it,
and it was a radio program and we said, what
did you think? And she goes, I wanted to punch
your father in the throat.

Speaker 1 (13:24):
I wouldn't, I wouldn't go that far, but I would.
I'm honest. I'm being honest here. I you know, that's
It's why I've been to divorce court more than once,
because I don't have that patience and that my mother
un dying love that your mother has my mother is.

Speaker 2 (13:43):
What I always say. Is part of the reason why
we made this movie is because I think that in
our society, we value the people that have microphones, audiences, crowds,
and all of those things far too much. Our mother
did the invisible, unseen things that change my life, that
changed my generation, that I will never ever forget because

who she is is my mother is ordinarily extraordinary. She's
an amazing person.

Speaker 1 (14:15):
That says it all. That's I mean, that's exactly the
feeling I got watching it. Not only she is, her
commitment to you kids and to her husband your dad unwavering,
but her faith was unwavering. Like so if the movie
is true to your story, yeah, when everything was falling

down around you, and you're sleeping on the floor on
a pilot of clothes that she, you know, tried to
make a bed out of. She was still thanking God
for his blessings and not giving up, trusting that God
was going to provide a way.

Speaker 2 (14:51):
The character that Kennis Cameron Beret plays is a lady
by the name of case Smith, and she's still around.
She's still a friend of Ows, and so I was
chatting with her during the filming of the movie, and
she came to set and so Kenna's got to meet
the real k and you know, so forth and so on,
and so she I'm doing an ePK interview with the
real case Smith. And I said, hey, so tell me,

obviously you've seen what's going on here, tell me how
accurate this is, and tell me how accurate our mother's
relationship with you really was. And she started laughing, and
she goes, one day, I knew that your family was struggling,
and I decided that I would go to the doorstep
and put some groceries on there. And your mom opened
up the door and she says, oh, well, why don't
you come in and we'll have we'll have afternoon tea

and she comes into the into the house, and Casey says,
I realized you guys had nothing. And there was this
brown corduroy couch in the living room at one point
before we know things started to happen a little bit,
and I commented on the couch, and she said, your
mom nearly brought me to tears because she said, isn't

God so good? Look the couch. Look at how it
matches the actual decor in the rest of the house,
which was incredibly ugly and depressing. And Kay left just
shock astounded at the positivity and the hopefulness of my
mom in those moments.

Speaker 1 (16:17):
Well, I can't wait to meet her. I hope I
have an opportunity this side of heaven to hug her
and just thank her for setting an example of unconditional love.
Unconditional love.

Speaker 2 (16:33):
That's exactly right.

Speaker 1 (16:34):
We don't see enough of that in the world. I
think it exists. I just don't think it's celebrated the
way it needs to be.

Speaker 2 (16:42):
That's true.

Speaker 1 (16:53):
So what's it like for your family to have their
life out there on the big screen, celebrated in in
cinematic form. How many people are shocked that Rebecca Saint
James is your sister. First off, because Rebecca Saint James
was huge when I became a Christian, probably the biggest,

you know, the biggest name in Christian music back in
the day. How many people were surprised to find out
that she's your big sister.

Speaker 2 (17:22):
Yeah, we've had quite a few. I mean along the way.
Early on, we didn't talk about it that much because
I think people would be like, oh, that's why you
got this opportunity to do music again, and so forth
and so on. So it is still amazing pretty much,
you know, every Q and A that we do before
a show or whatever, it might be pretty much every still,
every room that we go into, people like, wait, wait,

I knew her just as you said.

Speaker 1 (17:44):
Yeah, I found out because I interviewed you guys a
couple of years ago. Yeah, and somebody had told me,
but it was then that it was confirmed. No, that's
really your big sets.

Speaker 2 (17:56):
Yeah, no, it is. And I think when it comes
to what is our fan think, I mean, you know,
it's you know, you don't ever think you're living a
movie when a movie is made about you. You know,
we were just a family that was trying to figure
it out. I mean, I love to mow lawns when
I was five years old, and I just thought it
was because I saw my older siblings doing it. I

just thought that that's what you normally did. I didn't
think anything extraordinary of it. We were just surviving. I
never thought to get paid for it, and that's that's
what we did. And so I think that the family,
ironically enough, probably enjoys being in some level behind the scenes.
But I think that they would be wise enough to
say that if our story can spur another family on,

if our story can encourage someone else to be an
unsung hero in their family, if if the story like,
my mom is the least likely person to have a film,
you know, kind of modeled after her, but that's just
who she is. She's not someone who's trying to get
a claims. She's lived behind the scenes her entire life.
But her story matters and is meaningful to people, you know.

I think for a lot of mothers, they feel like
they're spending a lot of time doing things that don't
count for anything. The truth is, I hope that people
see the movie and they say, my effort changes generations,
my effort impacts people, My effort matters, and I hope
that people see an example of mom and just say, oh,
it really does count for something. And I think most
of the family feels a little bit similar to that.

Speaker 1 (19:22):
For me, it doesn't just inspire. The movie isn't just inspiring,
or I think whenever you see something that you can
relate to or connect with, where you go, oh, wait
a minute, that's my story. There are a lot of
people behind the scenes in my life that have kind

of filled that role of your mom, that have believed
in me and have prayed for me. You don't have
encouraged me. You know, they don't get the they don't
get the awards, they don't get to where the fancy
dresses at the awards ceremony and get the accolades. But
they did the work, They did the heavy lifting, they
did the believing in me when nobody else did. So

when I was watching it, I was thinking of so
many people in my life that are the unsung heroes.

Speaker 2 (20:12):
Yeah, yeah, that one of my favorite stories is and
I'm sure you could relate to this. And when the
film is in kind of its rough form, you go,
obviously you have a rough edit, and you kind of
got roughly what the movie is. So it would be
like a if you've written a book, it would be
like the rough edit of a book. Do you have
the story for the most part, but there's little nips

and tucks you can do, and little things that you
can fix up, and maybe you know, sound effects that
can be improved to everything. Well, anyway, a friend of
ours who works in the film industry, he said, I
want to see the movie. And we were like, well,
it's in rough form. You know, any new idea is
very fragile. Do you really want to show it to
a critical you know, you know, a person when it's
in rough form. But we realized that we needed to

get the film out and start to get some critical thinking.
And so but this guy, it's not very happy, all right,
he's not a very joyful person, and he was a
little crusty, but he was like, I want to watch
the film. And so anyway, we eventually kind of gave
up and we're like, all right, well, come and watch
come and watch the movie. And so we go into
this little small theater we play in the movie. And
what's the first thing that anyone does when they're walking

out of the theater to see any movie. They turn
to the people they went with and they say, what
did you think? So we're walking out of the theater and
I said, hey, man, you know what did you think?
I'm bracing for it because this guy works on a
lot of movies.

Speaker 1 (21:31):
We got the we got the picture. He's crusty, he's grumpy. Uh,
kind of sarcastic.

Speaker 2 (21:36):
Probably, yes, yes, see, you're great at interpretating my stories.
This is fantastic.

Speaker 1 (21:41):
Is he at least a believer?

Speaker 2 (21:42):

Speaker 1 (21:42):
Does he at least have that?

Speaker 2 (21:44):

Speaker 1 (21:44):
Okay, so we've got We've got God in common here.

Speaker 2 (21:48):
That's right, That's the only thing. So anyway, we finished
it off and he wipes a tear from his eye
and he says, I want to go home and be
a better dad. Wow. And that was the first time
I think I got I thought, oh, we might be
onto something, because if dads are leaving going home and

saying I want to be a better dad, moms are always,
for the most part, the most extraordinary people. We have
an epidemic of a lot of dads that are not
great dads. We have a lot of dads that find
a lot of their fulfillment from work and outside the home.
Is where they find who they are. But the problem
is is they're they're leaving people that need them. They're

leaving people at home saying I need someone to call
my dad. I need my dad to be an example
of the type of man I need to be. You know,
they need a lot of these daughters to look into
their dad saying are you the type of men that
I should pick to spend time with? And so when
he said that to me, that was one of the
proudest comments I've ever gotten, because, hey, he's crusty, sarcastic

and all these other things. But if he can start
to look at his own life and go, what if
I make some changes? What a wonderful thing for people
to be able to come and see the film and
hopefully leave and take those things to hawk.

Speaker 1 (23:04):
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got several siblings. There's seven of you right altogether. The
end of the movie shows what they're doing. Now, yeah,

the ones that are not on stage singing still have
extremely it looks like wonderful lives and fulfilled lives. Is
there any jealousy, any professional I wish that I, you know,
could sing like you kind of stuff or can they
sing as well? As like, did everybody get the singing gene?

Speaker 2 (25:21):
No? Not everybody. No, we're actually great things. So I
for Rebecca's career. You know, you may or may not
know this the lot, but we were the road proof
for a lot of years. So I was a lighting
director at like fourteen, running lights for my sister. You know,
all around the world, who's a Grabby award? Whin he gotus?
It made no sense. Let me say, thank god, I'm tall,
So people at least thought maybe this kid could be
seventeen or eighteen, and all of us we had those

roles behind the scenes, so we got used to serving
somebody else, if that makes sense. And the other thing
is is most people think that if you're an artist,
like well, you just got to be good on stage,
and you and I Delilah know that there's so much
more to this thing than just when we've got a
microphone in our hands. So thankfully, all my siblings kind
of actually respect that and would prefer not to have

some of the responsibilities that maybe my sister or Joel
and I have. My oldest brother, Daniel, is a lighting
director and he's still to this day. He could probably
this is how gifted he is. He could probably be
the biggest lighting director in the world. He's absolutely a magician.
And he goes, no, no, I just want to do
it for you. And I'm like, well why, and he goes,

because I believe in you. I just want to do
it for you. And so he has other businesses. He
owns a construction business, he owns a lighting rental business,
and he literally almost sacrifices to come out. We pay him,
We pay him well, he make more money somewhere else
because he just he cares for me. He's one of
my best friends on the road, and without his involvement

with me out in the road, man, it becomes a
lot more difficult if you keep coming down. My brother
Ben has done most about music videos our entire career.
He's a filmmaker as well. We made film together in
twenty sixteen called Priceless. I'm actually outside his office about
to say hello to him before I go pick up
my kids. That's we're still that close. Then you've got that.

You've got my brother Joel, and you've got myself. And
I've got my little brother Josh, who runs our management firm,
and I view him as my boss. You know, my
littlest brother. I used to work for him at one
point and then under him. I've got our little sister
who actually if you see the King Country Press, she's
one of the people that helped design the cress. And
so we're still class. I mean, look, here's the deal.

Family's complicated, right. We have a functionally dysfunctional family, But
I think most families are just dysfunctional. And I think
for every family that might be listening to this, and
you might go, I could resonate with dysfunctional part. That's
just the way it is. But if you want your
family to have the word functionally in front of it,
you've got to fight for it. You've got to forgive,
you've got to move on from the little petty things.

The thing about forgiveness that I find ironic is someone
always has to go first. Do you want health in
your family, be the person that says, I'm going to
apologize first, because it's amazing when you resolve conflict. The
type of intimacy that takes place when you resolve conflict
is extraordinary. My family is not a perfect family at all.
If you go watch the movie, you'll see it very clearly.
But we care for each other. When there's unforgiveness, we

will do our best to forgive. We'll have the conversation,
we'll have the phone call because we love each other.

Speaker 1 (28:22):
That what you just said, We've talked for over twenty minutes.
That line that if if you forgive, if you make
the step and forgive first, the intimacy that follows is priceless.
That is across the board, that is in life, that
is with God, that is with everybody, And that is
so true, so true. I come from a family that

has to be right, you know, that's our our family
crest would be I'm right, damn it, I'm right, And
when we will die on that hill of I'm right
and you're wrong. So for me, asking for forgiveness or
learning to forgive is very, very hard it's contrary to

my nature. It's contrary to what I was modeled. It's contrary,
but it's so important and it changes everything. So thank
you for reminding me of that truth.

Speaker 2 (29:21):
Oh, I appreciate that.

Speaker 1 (29:23):
Everybody. Go see Unsung Hero. The soundtrack is amazing. Oh
my gosh, the soundtrack is so amazing. I was enjoying
the soundtrack is almost as much as I was enjoying
the story, and just learning more about your family, Rebecca
and for King and country, but mostly learning about your mama.

Speaker 2 (29:47):
My mom. Hey, this five boys in my family, two girls,
five boys, and I can get emotionally even talking about
that's how much we love her. If you see her
walk in the room and the five boys are present,
pretty much every single one, and we'll get up, go over,
give a kiss on a cheek because she's that. She
just means that much to us. We just love her
that much.

Speaker 1 (30:07):
God bless you, God bless this movie. God bless your
whole family. Go say hi to your brother, go get
your kids, and have a blessed day.

Speaker 2 (30:15):
Hey, thank you for the time. Very much appreciated the
chat so far.

Speaker 1 (30:18):
Thank you, any boy. Unsung Hero, the movie chronicling the
lives of the small Bone family and their move from
Australia to the US is a faith filled experience. I
hope you all get to enjoy. It's an amazing true
story portrayed by a remarkable cast, and it's got an

unbelievable soundtrack. So grab some friends, pack up the family,
head to the theater for a PG rated movie night.
Be sure to grab some popcorn at the concession stand
before you head d and some tissue because you're gonna
need it for showtimes, theaters and tickets. Visit for King
and Country, where you'll also find the latest information about

this group, about their tour schedule, about their merchandise, and
the Unsung Hero inspired by soundtrack. For King and Country
is touring this summer, first in New Zealand and Australia
and then in select US cities in the month of July.
If you have the opportunity, do not hesitate to go

to their show. It is sensational. They're drumming, they're singing,
their stage performance, the lighting. It is powerful yet intimate,
with a couple of guys with fantastic accents, huge arts,
and immeasurable talent. Mother's Day may be behind us but
hopefully you've resolved to show your appreciation to mom more often.

Call her, ask her about her day, ask her about
her childhood, ask her anything. Moms are people too. Sometimes
we forget that the smallbones didn't and now we have
them to thank for. Or this new movie unsung hero,
and do me a favor. Take some time out of
your busy spring schedule to slow down and love someone
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