Friday, December 9, 2016

Fun Clip Friday - Christmas Handbells

Happy Friday! Bells are definitely a sound you associate with Christmas whether that's "Jingle Bells," sleigh bells, Salvation Army bells or handbells. For today's Fun Clip Friday, here's another clip from the Jubilee Christmas tour. Hope you enjoy Trey Ivey's handbell choir that he put together for this year's tour. Be sure to pay attention to Michael Booth and Rodney Griffin's contribution. ;) Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

2016 Christmas Projects - Part 1

I love all things Christmas. Christmas music normally starts playing at my house in early November. Several Southern Gospel artists have released new Christmas projects this year. Here's a quick overview of three projects that have been released this year. I'll cover three more in a later post!

Glory to God in the Highest - Kingdom Heirs

I like the song selection of this project. It's easy to fall into the trap of picking the most familiar songs of Christmas and having a few new ones. It was also a really good mix of secular, fun Christmas songs and Christian Christmas songs. It also has some country, some big band and some classic sounding songs.

Original or new Christmas songs are hard to come by, but they found a couple of great ones! If you're looking for a good quartet Christmas CD, this is must add to your collection.

Favorite Songs -

  • "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" - Love hearing Jeff Chapman featured on this song. 
  • "King of Eternity" - I wasn't familiar with this Squire Parsons song, but love that the Kingdom Heirs included this one.
  • "Singing to the King"
  • "Glory to God in the Highest"

Song List -

1. "Jesus Is Born Today (It Is His Birthday)"
2. "Glory to God in the Highest"
3. "Mary Did You Know"
4. "Singing to the King"
5. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
6. "Christmas Cookies"
7. "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town"
8. "The Christmas Wish"
9. "The King of Eternity"
10. "Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child"

The Keys to Christmas - Jeff Collins

Jeff Collins is a producer and arranger and pianist who has worked on hundreds of albums in gospel music. With this new instrumental project, it's his turn to come out from behind the scenes.

I'll be honest, I'm normally not one to listen to instrumental CDs. I like the voices and singing, but this project definitely got my attention. I really loved the song choices here as well, several not your average Christmas songs! "The Man With the Bag" is probably the song that is least known. I like that he also chose different styles from big band sounds to easy listening.

Favorite songs -

  • "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" - When I first heard this one, I went back to make sure I was hearing it right. I love the opening song of Downton Abbey included. Such a cool touch!
  • "Go Tell It on the Mountain" - I love the soulful approach to this one!
  • "Baby It's Cold Outside" - Nice touch with the sax on this song. 
  • "Carol of the Bells" - This is one song that I love instrumental and Jeff's version did not disappoint!

Song List -

1. "Medley: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; O Come, All Ye Faithful; Joy to the World"
2. "Baby It's Cold Outside"
3. "The Man With the Bag"
4. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"
5. "Linus and Lucy"
6. "Go Tell It on the Mountain"
7. "Mary Did You Know"
8. "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow"
9. "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"
10. "Carol of the Bells"
11. "O Come, O Come Emanuel"

Silent Night: Christmas for Quiet Reflection - Joseph Habedank

If you're looking for an easy listening Christmas project, this is one you need to pick up. The title is definitely spot on, Christmas for Quiet Reflection. I love that this is just Joseph's voice and simple piano accompaniment for all songs.

If you are in the mood for traditional Christmas songs, this is the one to listen to. I love his take on a few of my favorite Christmas carols. You really get to hear his lower register on several songs that you don't normally hear.

Favorite Songs -

  • "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day"
  • "O Holy Night" - This sounds like the same arrangement that several gospel artists use, but love Joseph's voice on this song.
  • "O Come All Ye Faithful"

Song List -

1. "Prelude"
2. "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day"
3. "O Come, O Come Emmanuel"
4. "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"
5. "What Child Is This"
6. "O Come All Ye Faithful"
7. "Silent Night"
8. "O Holy Night"

Monday, December 5, 2016

Encouraging Night with the Jim Brady Trio - Concert Recap

The Jim Brady Trio made a stop in Arkansas right before Thanksgiving several weeks ago. This was my first chance to see the group in a full concert since Layke Jones joined Jim and Melissa earlier this year. He's doing a great job rounding out this trio!

The night was full of encouragement. I love concerts like this where the artists through their words and songs speak nuggets of wisdom and inspiration. I was blessed to be there that night!

A local quartet opened the night with a few familiar songs like "Loving God," "Pray About Everything" and "Victory in Jesus" before the Jim Brady Trio took the stage.

Highlights from the night include -
  • "Stepping Out in Faith" - This is such a great song that's really become the theme of the group in their first years of ministry.
  • "That Sounds Like Home to Me" - I love this sweet song about Heaven. They repeated the chorus a cappella, and it was beautiful!
  • "Keep on the Firing Line"
  • "Love of God" - I love their version of this classic song! Melissa told the story of her grandmother before they sang this song. When Melissa was young, she would go visit her grandmother almost every day. Her grandmother lived right across the street from the school, so she would get to go have lunch with her and they would watch The Price is Right together. They had a close relationship, but her grandmother didn't know Jesus. When Melissa invited her to church, her grandmother still didn't want any part of a personal relationship. Later in life, her grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer. Melissa prayed that her grandmother wouldn't die without accepting Christ. She didn't realize that in addition to her family the pastor's wife from the nearby church was also praying and visiting her grandmother every week. Before she passed away, her grandmother accepted Christ one afternoon sitting with the pastor's wife. Melissa said God reminded her during that time that God loves us so much He gives us a will of our own to choose Him. When we really stop to think about how amazing the love of God is, the thought is overwhelming. 
  • "Tell Me" - Jim's sister, Marla, and her husband Keith are traveling with the group now. Jim pulled his sister up to join them on this song. She also was featured on "Consider the Lilies."
  • "Every Cry is Heard" - This is one of my favorite songs that Jim has written! He actually wrote this song for his sister when she was first diagnosed with cancer. It's such a sweet reminder of how God always hears us and cares about us. Jim talked about how great it is to look back on our life and see how God has answered us and worked in every detail of our lives. He cares about every difficulty in our life. He loves the world, but He is a personal God. 
  • Booth Brothers fans also were not disappointed with the trio singing several songs from Jim's days with the male trio like "All Over the World," "I Have an Anchor" and "When He Saved Me." 

Be sure to check out the group's schedule to know when they are in your area!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - December 3

Here are news and tidbit items from this week in gospel music -

  • Soul'd Out Quartet announced this week that Jason McAtee will be joining the group as lead singer. Jason joins the group after spending 10 years at Godfrey United Methodist Church near St. Louis, Missouri. Matt Rankin also announced that in 2017 the quartet will be touring with a live band.
  • Former Poet Voices members Phil Cross, Howard Stewart, and Philip Hare along with Jump Keys announce they have reunited to begin a new musical journey as Highland Park.
  • Soloist Caleb Kelley is joining Lighthouse Media Group for publicity. Caleb is no stranger to Southern Gospel Music after traveling with the well-known group Hope's Journey among others.
  • The TOP Television Channel, a division of Johnny Minick Ministries, announced its official launch on the ROKU system of channels and programming. TOP, which stands for Trustworthy On-Line Programming, will join other major networks on the popular online portal. To sign up and receive more information on future programming and news go to
Anything I've missed?

Friday, December 2, 2016

12 Days of Christmas Southern Gospel Style - Fun Clip Friday

Happy Friday! Christmas is in full swing. Halls are decked, bells are ringing and all is merry and bright. Christmas music is playing every where you go, and I love it!!

The "12 Days of Christmas" is a Christmas staple, but have you heard the Jubilee gang's Southern Gospel version of the song? Enjoy for today's Fun Clip Friday!