Monday, July 21, 2014

Just a Friendly Reminder

It's been a good time for concerts in Arkansas recently. My weekends have been full of concerts, not that I'm complaining. It's been good to see different groups and artists who I don't get a chance to see very often.

Standing by the product table, you can't help but hear others' conversations with group members. I see the same on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. As the song says, everybody is going through something. We flood artists with stories of hurting, sickness and prayer requests. It's important that we pray for each other. The Bible is full of verses on prayer, praying for each other and how prayer can change situation. It always makes us feel better when more people are praying for our circumstances. And I'm sure the artists are glad to pray for you.

But are we praying for the artists in the same way? When they take the stage, we often have no idea what they are going through. We don't know if the bus had trouble the night before, a family member was diagnosed with cancer or if they are fighting illness themselves. It might be day 14 of a 15-day tour, and they are missing family or their kid at home is sick and there's nothing they can do about it five states away. They take the stage day after day, minister and do what they have been called to do, but they are people just like we are. They have the same struggles that we have. They all have a special calling on their lives, but God doesn't spare them from hurt or pain any more than He does us.

I know that I'm guilty of not praying for them like I should. It seems that we are all quick to jump in during major crises, bus accidents and serious illnesses, but do we approach Heaven on their behalf regularly? We should pray not only for their safety, but their health, God's provision in their ministry and that God will use them for His glory and to further His kingdom.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't give your favorite singers your prayer requests anymore. I was just reminded this weekend of how we have no idea what they could be going through and how much they need us to pray for them. Just a friendly reminder to you as well, because I know I was convicted about it.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - July 19

Here are news and tidbit items from this week in Southern Gospel -

  • Mark Trammell Quartet announced Randy Byrd as the group's new bass singer. Randy has been filling in for several weeks with the group. Read more here.
  • Chris Freeman will be releasing a solo project as a tribute to the Hinsons. Read the full article on
  • Matt Fouch's latest video blog talks about their Canada trip, some upcoming guests for On the Couch with Fouch and a special news segment.
  • Brian Fusion and I had the opportunity to guest blog for Yankee Gospel Girl this week, be sure to check out her blog for our guest posts.
Anything I've missed?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fun Clip Friday - Brian Free and Assurance

I'm guest blogging today at Southern Gospel Yankee's blog! Be sure to check it out! It's a concert recap of Brian Free and Assurance.

So to go along with that, today's Fun Clip Friday features them. They were invited to Memphis, Tenn. to be part of a 60th anniversary tribute of Elvis recording and releasing "That's Alright." BBC was the organizer of event that aired live in 60 countries on BBC Radio, as well as Sirius-XM Satellite Radio. The group video blogged about the day, so here's today's clip!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

When Lyrics Speak - The Little Things

I can sometimes be too much of a big picture person. I'm so focused on the major things in my life that I want God to fix or show me the next step that I can miss the small things. I miss those little moments in life that serve as reminders that God has not forgotten me.

When I moved to my current city several years ago, I knew almost no one, at least no one my age. I had no friends. I prayed that God would help me during that period of loneliness and trying to get settled in in a new place.

Fast forward to just a few weeks ago - I spent the afternoon at the pool laughing and talking to three close friends. There was nothing special about that Monday afternoon. We all randomly decided after work to go to the pool and hang out there, nothing special but not something we had ever done before either. We laughed together, talked about laugh and maybe even played with a toy that some poor kid had left there. Again, nothing really all that special, but it was a little moment that I was reminded of God hearing my prayers when I first moved to the city and knew none of those girls.

I love the song "The Little Things." It is a song by Chosen Few, a quartet that was the in-house gospel group for Silver Dollar City for many years then they toured for a while. Take a listen -

So many times we are waiting on those huge Red Sea parting moments. We miss the simple moments in life, a text from a loved one just checking in, a green light when you are running late, sun after the rain or just an afternoon at the pool with friends. Every day I receive His grace, and forget to stop and thank Him for all those little things.

The little things are what make up life. They are what get you through the day some times when circumstances seem bleak. They serve as a reminder from God that He is with us. He's in every detail of life. May we never stop and forget to appreciate the little things in life.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Music and Madness - Mark Lowry and the Martins - Concert Recap

The music and madness came to Arkansas Friday night in the form of Mark Lowry and the Martins. The Music and Madness tour made a stop in Searcy, Ark. at Trinity Baptist Church. When I got to the church, it was already pretty full, and the parking lot was overflowing. I wasn't too surprised though especially considering the Martins were returning to their home state!

Stan Whitmire opened the night on the piano. The Martins then took the stage with "Count Your Blessings." When they came out, there was an issue with the track where it was playing two songs at once. Joyce joked that it was just part of the madness, so they had to restart the song. Then they sang one of their new songs from their a cappella project, "Shut De Do." It's amazing that they are staging these songs! Incredible to see and hear them sing it live!

Then, Mark came out singing "Jesus Laughing." He talked about enjoying getting to be the Bill (Gaither) of the program. He asked what different churches were represented. He picked on several denominations of people, including this lone Catholic lady in the front. He said to tell Mary he said hi, since he was Baptist he couldn't talk to her but thank her for that song. Haha!

Mark Lowry, Joyce Martin Sanders, Judy Martin Hess
and Jonathan Martin
Mark told a few more stories about getting older and then his mama. He talked about the precious memories he had of dancing with his mother before she passed away. Then he sang "Our Love Is Here to Stay" with help from Joyce. He also sang the classic "Fly Me to the Moon."

Mark said that he met the Martins in 1992 at the National Quartet Convention when their mother came up and shoved a cassette tape in his face. The Martins' parents were there on the front row and he pointed to their mom. He took it to the bus and listened to it with Michael English. They called the group and said that they would like to introduce the siblings to Bill Gaither. The video series had just started, and they would be taping a video in Indiana soon. They asked the Martins to come up to the taping, and they would introduce them to Bill and have them sing.

Once they got there, they waited in the lobby. Mark grabbed Gloria and asked her to hear them sing. She agreed, and they went in the ladies' restroom for her to hear them!! The Martins proceeded to sing "He Leadeth Me." Gloria told Bill what she had heard, and the next day before they broke for lunch during taping Bill called the Martins to come sing. They sang not only for Bill but for all the other artists who were in there for the taping like the Goodmans, George Younce, JD Sumner and other legends in gospel music. They then showed the video of them singing "He Leadeth Me." The Martins then finished the song live.

They told more stories of traveling with the Gaithers. To be honest, that was some of my favorite moments of the concert, hearing the back stage things that you don't always know about. They talked about the Goodmans and then sang "What a Lovely Name." It started as out with the men's trio with Stan, Mark and Jonathan with Joyce and Judy joining in later. As Joyce sang Vestal's part, Mark handed her a white "hankie" to wave.

Stan then played another song, "I've Got That Old Time Religion." The Martins sang two more songs which were "The Promise" and "You'll Never Walk Alone." They did an a cappella ending of "The Promise," which is definitely one of my favorite and this song was one of the highlights of the night for me!!

Mark told more stories of his grandparents and his mother. He showed a video of he and his mom together not long before she died. He talked about her home going and how peaceful it was. He then sang "Going Home."

Before they took an intermission, they talked about how they had partnered with Feed the Children for the tour. They wanted to do something within the hours of the concert that would help people past the four walls of the church and have eternal significance.

After intermission, Mark sang "Glow Worm" with some back up help from the Martins. Then the Martins got everyone on their feet clapping with "Love's Gonna Drive This Train." Great song to get audience going! Then Mark sang one of the first songs he wrote "Too Big to Miss." I don't ever remember hearing this one before. It was a fun song, and the Martins started tossing beach balls in the air for the audience to hit around!

Mark then had the audience members shout out the names of four hymns. Stan put them all together and played as the audience sang along. The hymns chosen were "Victory in Jesus," "Amazing Grace," "It Is Well" and "Blessed Assurance." Then he ended with "How Great Thou Art" as a bonus.

The Martins then sang "The Doxology" a cappella. Love hearing them sing a cappella live! Nothing better! Mark then sang "How We Love."

Mark recounted a conversation with Gloria Gaither about God being more in the interruptions of life than in our own plans. He said this is where we learn to walk by faith and not by sight. Everyone has interruptions. We do not get to choose what God allows to come in, but we should hold our heads high, enjoy life and thank Him for everything.

The night closed with Mark singing "Mary Did You Know?" No one seemed to mind that it is traditionally a Christmas song and it's mid-July! Mark did an incredible job and what a way to end the night!

If you have read previous posts, you know what a huge Martins fan I am. They are the first professional group I saw. Seeing them was a great reminder of why I fell in love with this music. I loved getting to see them with Mark and hearing all the stories and Mark's comedy. Incredible night of music and madness! If the tour comes to your area, don't miss it!!

Randy Byrd Is New Bass for Mark Trammell Quartet

After filling in since late May, Randy Byrd is the official new bass singer for the Mark Trammell Quartet. Randy has been with the Blackwood Brothers, Mike LeFevre Quartet, Anchormen and the Songfellows previously. Pat Barker left the Mark Trammell Quartet in early May.

Here's the full announcement from the Mark Trammell Quartet -

After three months and 36 candidates for the position, Mark Trammell has announced today that Randy Byrd will be the new bass vocalist for the Mark Trammell Quartet. Mark shares, “We are thrilled with the overwhelming inquiry about this position. And after much prayer and consideration, the group collectively feels that Randy is the man for this season of our ministry.”

Many of you will remember Randy from his recent years with the prestigious Blackwood Brothers Quartet. He also logged some miles with our friends the Mike Lefevre Quartet and the Songfellows. Randy relates the following upon receiving confirmation from Mark. 
“At 12 years of age, I heard The Cathedrals sing There is a Fountain and I was hooked!! I told my mother that night after hearing George Younce, ‘When I grow up, I want to be a bass singer.’ God has blessed me and allowed me to sing with some of the best in the business. Three years ago my dream started to fall apart. Between my flesh and Satan's attacks it seemed my life was over. I am thankful today that in spite of my faults and failures, God never took His hand off of me. Everything that Satan robbed from me, God has restored! I am beyond excited to join The Mark Trammell Quartet! I am living proof that God IS faithful!! Pat Barker is a dear friend. I am not and cannot be Pat Barker. But I can work at being the best version of me that God can use and I gladly accept that challenge.”

Please join us in welcoming this wonderful man to the Mark Trammell Quartet!!!

Look forward to seeing him with the group next month!