Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Beginning - Bowling Sisters - CD Review

For anyone who is concerned about the future of gospel music, go get The Beginning from the
Bowling Sisters. With Mike and Kelly Bowling as their parents and talented aunts and uncles, these girls were raised singing gospel music. It's in their genes, but you can tell these girls have a passion and calling on their own lives.

The Bowling Sisters are Hope (17), Katelanne (13) and Gracie (10). This isn't one of those CDs that's just good for a group of young singers. It's just good. As you listen, you quickly forget how young they are.

The project kicks off with "So Smile." It's a fun song to remind us all that we have something to smile about and life's trials are temporary.

I'm so glad they chose to include "He Sees What We Don't" (previously recorded by 11th Hour and written by Amber Eppinette and Joseph Habedank). This song is a stand out solo by Hope. I've always been a fan of this song and love Hope's take on it. At only 17, she shows that she knows her way around a song and how to feel every word of what she's singing.

"Higher Ground" is definitely more contemporary sounding with a great guitar intro. "You Brought the Sunshine" is another progressive song that will really go over well with young audiences. I'm sure another one that younger audiences will know is the worship song "Forever."

Gracie at only 10 delivers some of the most mature lyrics of the project with "Fragile Heart," and she makes you believe every word of what she's singing like she's been there. Incredible song with a great message that shows you how she can already communicate a lyric.

Katelanne takes on a Mandisa song with "Stronger" showing the different style songs she can tackle. She also takes on "I Love the Lord" with a more soulful feel. This girl is a singer. Just listening you would never guess she's only 13.

"He'll Do It Again" is a tribute to the Crabb Family. The group sang this on its first talent competition and if you can believe it didn't receive any awards that night. I like this tribute to their heritage. And Hope knocks this one out of the park!

Their arrangement of "At the Cross" is probably my favorite track. You cannot beat the harmonies on this beloved hymn.

These girls have an incredible bright future ahead of them. This is an album that they will look back on in 10 years and can be extremely proud of. This is definitely a "must-buy" of 2017. With groups like the Bowling Sisters, the future of gospel music is in good hands. They already have the passion and the calling, and the talent is evident. The good news is this is only The Beginning. 

Songs to Turn Up - "So Smile," "Higher Ground," "Stronger"
Songs to Put on Repeat - "At the Cross," "He Sees What We Don't"
Songs to Give a Second Listen - "He'll Do It Again," "That's What He'll Be"

Song List -
1. "So Smile"
2. "He Sees What We Don't"
3. "Higher Ground"
4. "You Brought the Sunshine"
5. "He'll Do It Again"
6. "Fragile Heart"
7. "Stronger"
8. "I Love the Lord"
9. "Forever"
10. "Nothing's Too Big for My God"
11. "At the Cross"
12. "That's What He'll Be"

Saturday, April 22, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - April 22

It was a big news day on Friday for Southern Gospel with one addition and one departure. Here are news items from all of this week in gospel music -
  • Trey Ivey has resigned from Legacy Five. As a new father, he found it difficult to have the full-time touring schedule. Trey plans to continue to be active in the studio producing, arranging and orchestrating, so the good news is that he will still be involved in the industry. He will remain with Legacy Five until a replacement is found. For those interested in the piano playing position with Legacy Five, contact Scott Fowler via email at scottfowler@legacyfive.com.
  • Jon Epley joined Greater Vision as a fourth member. He will fill the harmony/ baritone vocals that has traditionally been Gerald Wolfe's part. Gerald will still be traveling with the group, singing some features, playing piano and emceeing. Jon has been with the LeFevre Quartet, the Ball Brothers and the Inspirations.
  • Daywind Records announced the addition of Gospel Music Hall of Fame member, Mark Lowry. Mark Lowry's first project on the label will be out in August.
  • Mark Hoggard of The Harvesters Quartet had open-heart surgery to repair several blockages on Thursday.  Surgery went well, but continue to pray for his recovery. 
  • Pray for Cana's Voice singer Jody McBrayer's in-laws. Diane, his mother-in-law, was having surgery for eye cancer and his father-in-law, Gary, collapsed in the waiting room with a stroke. The eye surgery for Diane went well, but Gary is still in serious condition. Please keep all of them in your prayers.
  • Tracy Stuffle (The Perrys) is still in the hospital after gallbladder surgery. He had a light stroke with some mild seizures. They are optimistic about him being able to go home this weekend. 
  • The second round of voting is now open for subscribers. Go to www.singingnews.com to vote. 
Anything I've missed?

Friday, April 21, 2017

News from Greater Vision - Jon Epley Added as Fourth Vocalist

There is big news from Greater Vision this morning. Jon Epley will be joining the group as a fourth member. Epley who has sung multiple parts will be coming on to sing the harmony (what has traditionally been Gerald's part). His coming on board will help Gerald stay on the road for many years to come by taking some of the singing load off his plate. He will continue to play, emcee and sing some features.

When I first saw the release I thought maybe Greater Vision was getting a bass singer after all these years. That's NOT the case. The group has always been a trio and will continue to be. I think Jon's baritone voice will be a great fit for the group to keep that traditional Greater Vision sound. Look forward to hearing him with the group!

The full press release is below -

Morristown, TN (April 21, 2017) –Greater Vision will be introducing a new vocalist to their audiences, beginning this week. Jon Epley is joining the trio, and will perform his first concert with the group on Friday, April 21, in Springfield, Missouri.

Jon says, “I have been a fan of Greater Vision for many years. To say that I am overwhelmed and honored to be singing with three of my heroes, Gerald, Rodney, and Chris, would be a huge understatement. I would like to thank these men for this opportunity to sing the music that I love. I look forward to learning so much from them. I sincerely desire to be a blessing, in any way that I can, to the wonderful ministry that Greater Vision has established over the years.”

Gerald Wolfe says, “I’ve known Jon for several years, and am very glad to have him as a part of our group.” Gerald added, “Jon isn’t replacing anybody. No one is leaving the group, and contrary to rumors that might arise… I’m not making plans to retire. Jon is actually coming onboard to help me stay on the road for many more years. Most people who come to our concerts know I was diagnosed with a chronic neck muscle issue (Muscle Tension Dysphonia), a few years ago. I have good days and bad days, but never a day without pain and tension in both sides of my neck. The condition often makes it painfully difficult to breath and sing properly through an entire concert. Jon will be singing what has historically been my part in the harmony with Greater Vision. I will still be singing some features, handling the emceeing, and playing the piano in our concerts. The really good news is, I can confidently say the overall “GV Sound” isn’t going to change, but Jon’s great baritone voice adds a fresh, new texture to the trio’s blend.”

Jon has already been in the recording studio with Greater Vision, and will be heard on their new CD, Still, which will be released by Daywind Records in July. Rodney Griffin said, “I was impressed with Jon’s quick learning curve in the studio, and look forward to traveling with him… and hope he’s a slow bus driver.” Chris Allman added, “Change is always a scary thing, but our experience with Jon in the studio has served as confirmation that he is the right man for this season in our ministry. Looking forward to what the years ahead have to offer!”

Jon Epley isn’t new to Gospel Music, having traveled with his family’s evangelistic team, The Inspirations, The Ball Brothers, and The LeFevre Quartet, before leaving the road one year ago. He and his wife, Tiffany, reside in Johnson City, Tennessee.

Fun Clip Friday - Collingsworth Family

The Collingsworth Family is set to record a live DVD this weekend. They shared a clip of rehearsal last night on Facebook courtesy of Courtney. The event is sold out, but you can still watch a webcast online. Find out more at the Collingsworth Family's website.

Enjoy this short preview for today's Fun Clip Friday!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Joshua 24:15 - Jordan Family Band - CD Review

The Jordan Family Band might be a new name for many gospel fans. This family group consists of husband and wife Joshua and Randa Jordan and their sons, Hutch (17), Alex (12) and Grant (10). Their latest album Joshua 24:15 was my first real introduction to the group. I'd see a few viral Facebook videos and been impressed, but hadn't had a chance to really listen to the group.

While Randa is the main vocalist of the group, Joshua had a hand in writing all 11 songs on the projects with only two co-writes.

The project kicks off with "Our Time to Shine" which I think does a nice job of setting the tone and really saying where the group is now. Judging from this album, I think this project is the one that's going to make a lot of people notice the Jordan Family Band.

Joshua has a nice country voice that is featured on "Better Than I Used to Be" and "I Miss Them All." "Better Than I Used to Be" is a song that really can speak to every Christian regardless of where they are in their walk with Christ. "I Miss Them All" is a song that could easily fit on country radio.

"The Day" is one of the group's singles from this project. It features Randa, and to me is one of the strongest songs on the project. It tells the story of Christ's death and resurrection. Great Easter song! "

One of my favorite songs she sings is "My God Is Faithful." The song really showcases the mountain, folksy flavor in her voice. Songs about God's faithfulness can always serve as the reminder believers need.

"It's a Big Big World" and "Joshua 24:15" highlights Alex Jordan's young talent. "Remember the Ember" features oldest son Hutch. It's a great song with a strong message for a younger singer, but he delivers it well.  I can definitely hear the potential in both boys. Look forward to great things from them as they get older.

This might be your first time hearing about the Jordan Family Band, but it won't be your last. I expect great things to come from this group based on Joshua 24:15.

Song to put on repeat: "Our Time to Shine," "My God Is Faithful"

Songs to turn up: "The Day"

Songs to give a second listen (those songs that don't necessarily stand out on a first listen-through but then become a "repeat" song): "Remember the Ember," "How Much the More"

Song List -

1. "Our Time to Shine"
2. "I've Got You Covered"
3. "Better Than I Used to Be"
4. "The Day"
5. "It's a Big Big World (But I've Got a Big Big God)"
6. "My God Is Faithful"
7. "I Miss Them All"
8. "How Much the More"
9. "Joshua 24:15"
10. "Remember the Ember"
11. "Heart Healer"