Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bringing Church to the University - Isaacs Concert Recap

If you’ve read my blog for any time, you have probably realized that if my schedule is free and a gospel group is close, I’ll be there. As a result, I’ve visited a lot of churches in the Central Arkansas area and even a few farther away. However, Friday night was a first. I got to see the Isaacs at the University of Central Arkansas.

The large college auditorium was pretty full when we got there. You could tell the audience was going to be a mix of those who had seen the Isaacs before and those who had not. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect with the popular bluegrass gospel group being at a public university. It was going to be a completely different setting than your typical church service. While it might not have been at a church, I was so impressed with how the Isaacs ministered to the audience, and they truly brought the church atmosphere with them.

The Isaacs - Becky Isaacs Bowman, Lily Isaacs, Sonya Isaacs Yeary
and Ben Isaacs
The Isaacs took the stage and started with “Walk On.” Then, they kept the uptempo pace going with “Four Men Walking Around.” Lily then was featured on “That Is Why I Sing.”

Sonya talked about how they liked all different style of music and had several different influences musically. They then sang a song from the 1940s, “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive.”

Becky then stepped up to sing one of their newer singles, “I Wanna Be There.” Becky, Sonya and Sonya’s husband Jimmy wrote the song. Such a beautiful song! Then they sang “The Lord’s Prayer” a cappella. The Isaacs are one of those groups that give you chills each time they sing something a cappella. As much as I love the fact that they have so many live instruments on stage, I love hearing them put the instruments down and enjoying the family harmonies. So incredible!!

Becky then gave her testimony and her battle with Crohn’s Disease before singing “Waiting in the Water.” This is a song she wrote as her testimony song. This is becoming one of my favorite Isaacs songs. We all have steps of faith to take in our Christian walks. And sometimes He’s just waiting on us to take that first step for our own miracle.

Sonya then introduced her mother and siblings. She talked a lot about Lily’s book. If you haven’t had a chance to get it, you should definitely check it out!

Ben then got to introduce Sonya and Ayden, Sonya and Jimmy’s 3-year-old son. He ran around the stage and told a joke and then got to play the drums. It was too cute!

They then picked up the tempo again with “Get on Board.” Lily read an excerpt from her book that had to do with her father. She talked about the regrets and things she wished she could have told him. She said that she didn’t get to know him the way she had wished she could have. She had a lot of unanswered questions. This set up “In the Living Years” perfectly. The first half ended with “I Will Praise Him” a cappella. Absolutely incredible and the highlight of the first half!!

After intermission, they kicked off the second half with “I’m Gonna Move,” always a favorite, and “Heroes.” Then, they sang the Dottie Rambo classic “Mama’s Teaching Angels How to Sing” for a lady in the audience whose mom had just passed away at 93.

Ben then sang the always crowd favorite “Three Bells.” The audience seriously always has such a huge reaction every time I’ve heard them sing this song. Then, Sonya was featured on “Grandpa Tell Me About the Good Ole Days.” Loved hearing this one too! They sang another Dottie Rambo song, “If That Isn’t Love.”

Then, Sonya gave her testimony of her and her husband Jimmy losing their baby girl in October. Sonya said they were beside themselves with this new baby so they would have one of each. She started having some complications and went to the ER. They couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat. She was more than five months along. She said that she questioned God why this would happen, but through prayer God gave them strength. She said in that moment God gave her the peace that passes all understanding. She talked about how much more she loves God now and how much closer to God they are now because of what He brought them through. It was such a touching story and amazing testimony of how God used that situation in their lives. They then sang “It Is Well.” It was a beautiful moment and such an amazing way to share Jesus.

They closed the night with “He Ain’t Never Done Me Nothing But Good."

I’m not sure how many chances groups get to minister like this on a college campus. And I realize that a good many of those present weren’t students, but for those that were who might not have heard of the Isaacs before got a chance to hear the gospel. They got a chance to hear of God’s love and mercy and a peace that only comes from knowing Him. While it might not have been your typical church setting for a concert, I’m thankful the Isaacs brought the Spirit’s guidance and church with them Friday night!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Fun Clip Friday - Singing at Sea Kingsmen Reunion

Last week was the Singing at Sea cruise with dozens of gospel artists. A few years ago, there was a Perrys reunion, but this year it was the Kingsmen's turn to have a reunion at sea!

Check out a few clips from it for Today's Fun Clip Friday post!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Turn It Up - Playlists of Life

I love this quote. During significant times in my life I can point to a song that represents that time. My choice of music is often defined by the current mood. When I’m on my way to visit my parents, I’m driving down a gravel road with good 90s country music turned up. When I’m on my way to church, it’s a more worshipful, easy-listening style of Christian or gospel.

There are songs that I always find myself turning to when I’ve had a rough day. And then there are songs that define the really good moments of life. One thing is true though, there is a song for every occasion. So I thought it might be fun to put together a playlist of life series, gospel style of course.

We’ll start with the happy ones! Those up-tempo songs that will have you tapping you foot to and reminding you of God's goodness. Those songs that will boost your already happy disposition. You just got a promotion at work. The friend you have been praying for came to church. Or you just got to spend a fun day with family and friends. What songs do you listen to?

Here are a list of songs I reach for and turn up-

  1. Anything But Happy (Jeff and Sheri Easter)
  2. Little Bit of Sunshine (Jeff and Sheri Easter)
  3. He Ain’t Never Done Me Nothing But Good (Isaacs)
  4. I’m Rich (Gold City)
  5. Wish I Could Have Been There (Perrys)
  6. Count Your Blessings (Martins)
  7. Love’s Gonna Drive This Train (Martins)
  8. I'm Going Home With Jesus (Nelons)
  9. Greater (Erwins)
  10. Dancing Like Lazarus (Karen Peck and New River)
  11. I’ve Got a Song (Talleys) 
  12. Boundless Love (Cathedrals)
  13. Wonderful Time Up There (Mark Trammell Quartet)
  14. New Day Dawning (Whisnants)
  15. Shoutin’ Time (Hoppers)
  16. I’m Glad I’m Saved (Bowling Family)
  17. Saved By Grace (Triumphant Quartet)
  18. I Will Glory in the Story (Greenes)
  19. Still Feeling Fine (Booth Brothers)
  20. I Thank You Lord (Lauren Talley)
Comment with some of your go-to songs when life is good!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A New Chapter - Jim Brady Trio - CD Review

Jim Brady TrioWhen Jim Brady announced that he was leaving the Booth Brothers in August, it came as a shock to many. He was with the group for more than a decade and the combination of him, Michael and Ronnie Booth was simply incredible.

However, change is an inevitable part of life. And change can definitely be a good thing, as it was in this case. I attended the Something Beautiful women’s conference last summer that was hosted by Melissa Brady. I have to say it was just as incredible to see Jim and Melissa minister together as husband and wife. They are joined by Tim Parton to make up the Jim Brady Trio.

A New Chapter is the perfect title to describe this point in their lives and ministry. The album definitely brings you a new sound with a new mixed trio in the industry, but it also is reminiscent of what you would expect to hear from the Booth Brothers.

In fact, there are a couple of songs Jim recorded with the Booth Brothers on this new project including “When He Saved Me” and “The Half That’s Never Been Told.” The arrangements don’t stray far from the Booth Brothers, but it’s different to hear them with a mixed trio. With talented songwriters like Jim and Melissa, you would expect all or mostly original songs, but I kinda like that they chose to include a few favorites from Booth Brother days.

Another song that the Booth Brothers recorded was “On My Way Home.” I absolutely love that they chose to include this song that Jim wrote. I don’t think it got the attention it deserved as part of the Booth Brothers’ Isaiah 12:2 project. It’s an incredible song with a great message. So glad they recorded it for this project!

The project starts with “God of What’s To Come,” a new song. The song features Jim and has incredible orchestration from Lari Goss. It’s a great opening song with a reassuring message. Definitely a highlight of the album!

“Steppin’ Out in Faith” is the group’s first single and it’s a great choice. The song showcases all vocalists really well. These three really have a great sound and blend together. It’s another highlight of the project.

Their arrangement of “The Love of God” is incredible. The song has been done a lot, especially recently it seems, but it’s a classic.

“The Greatest of Miracles” is a great ballad penned by Squire Parsons that features Melissa. Beautiful song and it really shows what an amazing voice she has. Melissa is also featured on “Ordinary Love,” another great ballad. The arrangement is simple to really showcase the lyrics and vocals.

Overall, I think this is going to be one of the most-talked about albums of the year. Not just because it marks the start of a new group but because of the quality of the album. This project is a must buy from this new trio. You don’t want to miss A New Chapter for the Jim Brady Trio!

Song List -

1. "God of What's To Come"
2. "You Can Depend on Jesus"
3. "The Greatest of all Miracles"
4. "Steppin' Out in Faith"
5. "On My Way Home"
6. "Good Lord Willing"
7. "The Love of God"
8. "When He Saved Me"
9. "Ordinary Love"
10. "If It Had Not Been"
11. "The Half That's Never Been Told"
12. "That Sounds Like Home to Me"

Monday, February 23, 2015

Monday Morning Poll - Singing News Fan Awards Voting

Singing News Fan Awards first round nominations are now open. I know there is normally a lot of discussion about the consistency of winners.

I'll be honest as a subscriber and voter in the awards, my vote changes each round. A lot of times I'll nominate someone who may not be consistently in the top 10 or top 5. For the top 10, sometimes I'll do the same. In the final round, I'll go with more my favorite or someone who I think has had an incredible year. So I'm curious, does anyone else change their votes from round to round like I do?