Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Justin Wells Resigns from Lesters

According to the Lesters' Facebook page, tenor singer Justin Wells has resigned. Justin joined the group in January 2013 making the group a male trio. Justin is moving to Chattanooga, Tenn. to serve as a worship pastor.

The Lesters will begin auditions for a new tenor immediately!

Here's the full release from Facebook -

The Lesters announce tenor Justin Wells has resigned his position and will be leaving the group at the end of August. Brian Lester states, “Justin and his wife Angie will be moving to Chattanooga, Tenn. where he will be on staff at Grace Church of the Nazarene as worship leader.”

Justin was very instrumental in helping to make the change for The Lesters to a male trio in 2013. Brian Lester says, " This past year and a half has brought many new and wonderful experiences as a new chapter unfolded in our music ministry. We will forever be grateful to our Lord, Jesus Christ, for sending Justin our way for this period of time, and we have every confidence that God will send the right man to help us continue to carry the message."

Auditions for a new tenor singer will begin IMMEDIATELY! If interested, please email a brief resume, recent photo, and two songs to: No phone calls, please! There will be scheduled auditions after receiving and reviewing the information required.

Pat Barker Launches Online Community - You Tell Me

Pat Barker teased to "Something Big is Coming" earlier this week. This morning he has announced his next step in ministry in launching a brand new online community - You Tell Me.

Read the full release -

Gadsden, AL | July 30, 2014 – Pat Barker announces the launch of his new online community – You Tell Me. Through the “You Tell Me” campaign introduced on his site, individuals will have the opportunity to share how BIG God has been in their life and read how He has shown up in others. There will be artist video testimonials and prayer requests where you can respond in real time to requests made from all over the world.

Most of you were introduced to Pat Barker eight years ago when he joined the legendary Dixie Echoes. Fans from all over discovered his love for gospel music to be contagious. Fans not only loved his ability take a solo and sing it like no other bass singer, but his spirit and personality off the stage.

With Pat’s move to the Mark Trammell Quartet, thousands more were introduced to his talent in some of the largest venues across the country including his unforgettable appearance with the Cathedral Family Reunion. When Pat left the road many wondered if they would ever have the opportunity to see him again involved with the music he loves so much. Do we ever have good news for you? If you thought Pat would start his own group or launch a solo career, you weren’t thinking BIG enough. Today you can join a community of believers from all over the world through Pat’s brand new site http://HOWBIGISGOD2U.COM!

As a member of the community you will also have access to where Pat will be ministering and his latest products. July 30 is the day where You Tell Me and the rest of the world how BIG God is! You can also join Pat live Sunday, August 3 from 3 - 4 p.m. Central time to ask anything you like. Ask about the new site or find out what's going on with Pat in the near future. DON'T MISS IT!!

More information on Pat Barker and the You Tell Me campaign can be found online at: or on Facebook:

The Craguns - Names You Might Not Know Yet

Last month, I asked for suggestions on groups to revive the series Names You Might Not Know Yet. I've got a few more interviews coming over the next few weeks. But today starts off with the Craguns.

The Craguns consist of husband and wife, Jordan and Elena Cragun, Ray Cragun (Jordan's father) and Nick Adams (cousin). The group officially formed earlier this year although everyone is experience in music. This family group is related to another family group in gospel music. Read more below to find out which one!

Question -  Did you grow up with a strong southern gospel influence? When did you first become interested in southern gospel?

Jordan Cragun - Yes. Everyone in the group grew up with a strong southern gospel influence. Everyone in the group started listening and singing southern gospel music at a very young age. Interesting fact... Everyone in the group was a pastor's kid at some point in their lives. We all grew up in church and singing often.

Question - How did you get started singing and traveling as a family?

Jordan - Obviously this is something we have dreamed of doing all of our lives. My stint with the west coast based, Liberty Quartet is probably what got my foot in the "gospel music door." I traveled with Liberty Quartet from 2008 to 2013. Toward the end of my tenure with Liberty, my dad resigned the church he had pastored for over 20 years. It was then that we started seriously discussing and praying about the possibilities of doing something like this. One of the best quotes I've ever heard is: "95% of the time God's will is common sense." God opened door after door to put this opportunity in our laps and after a while it was just common sense.

Question - What's the one thing that you want people who walk away from your concerts to know about your family?

Jordan - That we love God with all of our hearts AND (if I may add a second thing) that we love them.

Question - Do you have a favorite song that you sing? And what song from another group has ministered to you?

Jordan - This is a tough one! I would say the general consensus for favorite song we sing is probably a song called "I Want To Be A Servant." It pretty much sums up our passion and purpose as a ministry. As far as a song from another group... I just dont think I can put my finger on one. There are MANY!

Question - What artists have been your biggest influence (musically and/or personally)?

Jordan - Musically: Of course we grew up listening to groups like Cathedrals, Gold City and many others. If I had to pick one that influenced us the most, I would have to say the Gaither Vocal Band (I think everyone in our group considers David Phelps to be the most gifted, powerful and dynamic vocalist we have ever heard). That would even encompass many ex members: Larnell Harris, Michael English, Guy Penrod, Steve Green, Russ Taff, Mark Lowry and others.

Personally: I would have to say The Collingsworth Family. For those who dont know... My mother and Kim are sisters. We actually live about 10 minutes from each other here in the Cincinnati, OH area. My uncle Phil is the guy I look to for musical and business advice on a regular basis. I'm so thankful for him and his willingness to take time out of his busy schedule to give his nephew some of his hard earned wisdom.

Question - What has been your favorite memory so far in your ministry? Do you have a certain concert that stands out?

Jordan - Not one specific concert... Our favorite concert memory so far would have to be the presence of the Holy Spirit in all of our concerts. We are absolutely nothing without the power and presence of the Spirit. I'm so thankful the Lord has chosen to bless our services with a clear sense of His Spirit.

Question - What new things are coming up for the Cragun Family?

Jordan - We just released our debut album God Will Deliver. We are very excited about that at the moment. We are looking forward to lots of exciting venues being added to our tour schedule on a weekly basis. We look forward to seeing you at a concert soon.

If you want to follow us and keep up with our travels you can signup for our email newsletter at You can also follow us on Facebook as well.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Welcome Home - Joseph Habedank - CD Review

When Joseph Habedank stepped down as lead singer for the Perrys in May 2013, fans wondered what the future held for Joseph as a vocalist and songwriter in gospel music. After taking almost a year off, Joseph has reentered the gospel music scene as a soloist and has been "welcomed home."

His first solo release appropriately titled Welcome Home proves that the time off has been nothing but good for him. I'm going to predict this CD will be in the top 5 albums this year. The project contains 10 songs, all of which Joseph was a writer on. The styles are different from what you are used to hearing from him, but he has discovered more of who is he, who he wants to be as a vocalist and songwriter, and the project is strictly Joseph. You will be reminded why Joseph is one of the premier songwriters in gospel music. The project was produced by Ricky Free who is becoming one of the most sought after producers and after hearing this you can understand why.

The project starts with "Welcome Home." I think it's so fitting and a perfect title for his project. He has fully been welcomed home into this industry as a soloist. The song is a reminder of the sweet fellowship and relationships we share as the family of God.

"Begging for Change" has an edgy sound to it. I love it! It's very different play on words. The beggar is begging for change, but not the kind you can spend, an actual change in his life. "Big Enough" starts with a praise and worship feel. The song is a great reminder of the power of God and all that we can accomplish through His power. Joseph hits some tender high notes toward the end that are beautiful.

"Never No Never" is his first single from the project and one of the most typical "Southern Gospel" tracks. This is one of my favorites. It's directly from scripture, Psalm 37:25.

Joseph did have a little help with the song "Empty" from Russ Taff. This one is more out of the box than most of the other tracks. It really shows how versatile Joseph's voice is. He demonstrates that he can do many different styles within gospel.

"The Beauty of the Blood" has continued to grow on me. It wasn't one that stood out to me immediately, but the more I listen to it, the more I love. it. It's a beautiful song that's a great reminder of God's mercy. He sees us at our worst, but the beauty of the blood is that He's wiped all our sins away. Vocally, I think it's one of Joseph's strongest performances.

"Wonders With Water" starts out with an intro that will grab your attention. It does remind me a little style-wise of something Brian Free and Assurance might do, but that makes sense with Ricky Free's influence. The song talks about all of the water miracles from the Bible, and then says to "wait and see the wonders He can do with your tears." Great line!

"Now I Know Him" is another standout, a great ballad. I remember hearing Joseph sing this in his solo concert in January, and I was blown away. "Little Bit of Thunder" has a country sound. I think this one will definitely appeal to a younger audience and help recruit some new gospel fans!

"When the Lights Go Down" is what Joseph described as the most personal song he's ever written. The song asks who are you really when the stage is bare and the lights go down. When it's only you and God, who are you? Are you who you pretend to be in front of other people? It's a convicting song that will not only resonate with singers but for all Christians. Are we putting on a front? What kind of person are we really? Joseph wrote the song and sang it a handful of times on stage with the Perrys (one of those was captured on YouTube). However, the timing didn't work for him to record the song until this project. But I have to say, I stand by what I said that this really is the perfect platform for this song and an incredible end to an incredible project!

This project is so different style wise. It's one of the most versatile albums I've ever heard. Joseph definitely set the bar high for himself with this solo debut. It's easily one of the best albums by a solo artist and will be in the top albums of 2014!

Song List -
1. "Welcome Home"
2. "Begging for Change"
3. "Big Enough"
4. "Never No Never"
5. "Empty"
6. "The Beauty of the Blood"
7. "Wonders With Water"
8. "Now I Know Him"
9. "A Little Bit of Thunder"
10. "When the Lights Go Down"

Monday, July 28, 2014

Something Big is Coming! - Pat Barker

Pat Barker left Mark Trammell Quartet in early May. He's kept busy since coming off the road including a solo concert with friends. But it looks like there is a big announcement coming soon! I'm not sure what this means yet, but it makes me excited! We will all find out on July 30.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tim Riley Suffers Stroke

Update from Gold City's Facebook page on Wednesday morning -

Tim Riley continues to rest and recover following a mild stroke this past weekend. Daniel Riley of Gold City says, "Dad is in good spirits and working hard in rehab to regain strength and increased mobility on his right side. Mentally, he is 100 percent and is thankful for all the prayers and well wishes. Doctors are optimistic for a full recovery." 

For those who wish to send get-well cards or notes of encouragement to Tim, send them in care of Gold City, P O Box 2100, Gadsden, AL 35903.

Tim Riley of Gold City had a mild stroke. He began experiencing abnormal symptoms while on tour Saturday. Doctors confirmed that it was a mild stroke. He is fully alert and able to communicate. There is no paralysis. He will have a neurologist consultation later on.

Daniel Riley provided an update on Monday morning that he is still in the hospital undergoing tests. He is in good spirits but ready to be home. Doctors cannot predict a recovery time, but they are confident that he will make a full recovery.

Update from Daniel Riley on Monday afternoon - Quick update - Dad is still doing good. He is being released from the hospital today and will be admitted to an in-patient rehab facility. Thank you for your continued prayers. I will keep you updated on his recovery.

Please keep him in your prayers and Gold City as well.

Here's the full release from Gold City on Sunday -

Tim Riley, legendary Hall of Fame bass vocalist of Gold City, is resting comfortably after suffering a mild stroke.

Saturday afternoon, July 26, Tim began experiencing some abnormal symptoms while on tour and was taken to the hospital. After numerous tests Saturday evening and Sunday morning, including an MRI, a mild stroke was confirmed. There is no paralysis, and Tim is fully alert and able to communicate. At this time, neurologist consultation is pending, and additional testing will be done to better determine proper treatment.

The Riley family and Gold City appreciate all the prayers that have gone up on behalf of Tim, and they appreciate your continued prayers for a speedy recovery. Thank you also for your patience as the family confirmed the most accurate information about Tim's condition before sharing official word. Gold City will report updates as they become available.