Saturday, January 24, 2015

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - January 24

Here are some news items from this week in gospel music -

  • Madison and Shannon Easter are venturing out on their own. Jeff and Sheri Easter made the announcement this week that their son and daughter-in-law, Madison and Shannon, will be leaving their group to start their own solo venture. Read more here
  • Absolutely Gospel announced the nominations for its music awards. The Isaacs, 11th Hour and the Bowling Family are the most nominated artists. Joseph Habedank and Kenna Turner West have the most individual nominations. It was also announced that Joseph and Amber Nelon Thompson will host the awards this year that will be held on April 14. Fans can begin voting on Feb. 1. For a full list of nominations, go to
  • Zane and Donna King announced the addition of Stephen Adcock to their group as a guitarist and vocalist.
  • Congratulations to Jordan and Elena Cragun who welcomed a baby girl on Tuesday. Scarlett Skye weighed 6 lbs. and 4 oz. This is their first child. Mother and baby are doing well!
  • Billie Richardson, grandmother to Jason, Adam, Aaron and Terah Crabb, passed away this week in Beaver Dam, Kentucky. Her funeral service was held on Thursday. 
  • Caroll McGruder has been diagnosed with lymphoma. He also has two broken vertebrae and a broken hip. Chemotherapy and radiation will begin immediately. Please keep him and his family in your prayers. 
Anything I've missed?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fun Clip Friday - Kingsmen - Beautiful City

I was going through files on my computer this week and discovered a lot of videos from Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic that I hadn't shared yet. So keep watching my YouTube channel for more clips I'll be sharing!

For today's Fun Clip Friday, enjoy a song for the Kingsmen. The quartet sang songs from its then new project Battle Cry. They joked about maybe not remembering all the lyrics since the songs were so new, so Ray Dean Reese midway through sang a few lines of "watermelon, watermelon." Haha! 


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Adam's Fall - Amber Eppinette - Young Gospel Songwriter

I am so excited to start a new series on the blog this week! This series will feature some of the younger songwriters in the industry and the stories behind songs they have written. While we hear the finished product at a concert or on a CD, we often don't think about the process and how the idea for the song came about. We have so many great talented songwriters in the industry, but for this series, I'll be talking to the younger ones and inspiration behind the songs they have written.

Amber Eppinette
I'm kicking off the series with Amber Eppinette of 11th Hour. The first song she's sharing about is "Adam's Fall."

At age 16 I was going through a time that most writers would consider a time of fog or had "writer's
block," Amber said. "It lasted for a few months and I started praying for God to give me a song like never before." She didn't pray for just any song, but a song that would speak of salvation and the experience she had and has. She sat down in her home studio and started playing the melody. Just two hours later, "Adam's Fall" was penned.

The song has gripping lyrics. “There are many lines that really grab my heart strings but one in particular comes to mind the most, ‘Now I have eternal life for His blood has been applied. He placed it on the Mercy Seat and now I stand in HIM complete,’” Amber said.

11th Hour recorded this song on its Gather Round project in 2010. Amber was very touched the first time she heard the song after they recorded it. “I bawled like a baby,” she said. “Gordon Mote produced this song and the orchestration that was added really brought what I wrote from my heart to life. Almost to the point where I felt like I could touch the music that was surrounding me.”

The song is now eight years old, but it’s still just as moving. “I am now 24 years old, and this song will never become old to me simply because salvation is more real every day to me and gets sweeter in the journey too,” Amber said.

Look for more songs from Amber in the coming weeks. And check back next week to hear from another young songwriter in the industry!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Celebrating God's Faithfulness with the Talleys - Concert Recap

For my second concert of 2015, I went to West Memphis to see the Talleys. It had been a while since I had seen them in a full concert by themselves. It was such a sweet night of worship.

The night was an incredible reminder of the faithfulness of God. Everything that was said and sung pointed to how much we could trust God in the coming year because of how faithful He had been to us.

Here's a lineup of what they sang -

  • "Bless the Lord/ My Tribute" - I love their arrangement to this song. It set up the night
    The Talleys - Roger, Debra and Lauren
  • "The Promise"
  • "Isn't the Love of Jesus Something Wonderful"
  • "Searchin'"
  • "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" - Debra sat up this song by talking about her mom. They all got to spend time with her parents over Christmas. Her mom faithfully served her church as the piano player for 66 years. She was raised with her parents having a faithful dedication to church and to the Lord. She talked about the faithfulness of God for her family and how she could see the hand of God working in their lives and how He had provided for them. 
  • "When He Calls Me I'll Fly Away"
  • "Hidden Heroes" - I love this song from their latest project! Lauren talked about how this song really described the relationship between her grandparents when her grandmother was suffering from Alzheimer's. She said it was such a picture of love to watch him serve her and how it was reminiscent of the love that God has for us. 
  • "He's Alive" - This is always a highlight of a Talleys concert for me! Seeing and hearing this song live is always such a powerful moment!
  • "God Is Great, Good Merciful" 
  • "Mountain Mover" - This was a request from the audience! Glad to hear them stage this one! 
  • "What You Leave Behind" - This is another favorite from their project Test of Time. Roger talked about how when his dad passed away they had to go through all his belongings. They realized in that process that it wasn't the expensive things that meant the most to them but the things that weren't worth any money but special reminders of their family or of certain times in their lives. 
  • "Leave It There" - Debra spoke before this song about how we are to fear not because God is with us. We can lay our burdens down because we can trust that He will be there and take care of it. Loved hearing Debra sing this song!
  • "Broken Ones" - Always incredible to hear live!!
After the invitation, they closed the night with "I'll Fly Away." Again, it was a sweet night of worship and a reminder of how faithful God is in our lives. No matter what happens this year, God is faithful.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Changes for Jeff and Sheri Easter - Madison and Shannon Easter to Pursue Solo Venture

Madison and Shannon Easter are stepping out to do their own music. Madison has been playing guitar for his parents since he was 13 years old. He and Shannon married four years ago, and she frequently joins them on stage for a song and fills in for Sheri or Morgan when needed.

Madison and Shannon have released two EPs together. They have collaborated on writing a number of songs and will now step out to write and perform more of their own music together.

Here's the full release from their Facebook page -

After 13 years of traveling and performing with his parents, Jeff & Sheri Easter, Madison Easter and his wife of four years, Shannon have decided to pursue their dreams of writing and performing their own music.

“I’ve said for many years that I feel so blessed to have my children travel with me, it’s almost like a mother hen who keeps her baby chicks close. But I’m a wise enough woman to know that God has blessed them with so much talent, that he may choose to use them in other ways just like He did for Jeff and me.” Sheri says.

“Shannon and I are so excited to see where God will lead us." Madison explains. "The two of us have been writing and singing together for almost three years now. There's always been an open line of communication with Mom and Dad that a day would probably come where we wanted to pursue our own careers. We plan to be doing a lot of writing in Nashville and also performing our own music.”

“Mom and Dad know our situation firsthand, because they were in avery similar spot when they came off of the road with The Lewis Family,” Madison said. "I can't express enough how incredibly supportive and uplifting they've been in this transition. They are the targets for which I aim in my growing as an adult. I've heard it all my life, ‘They are the real deal.’ I couldn't be more proud of them.”

Jeff and Sheri both come from bluegrass gospel music roots rich infamily heritage. Madison and his siblings are fourth generation musicians and continue to write and perform music just like the generations before them.

“These past 13 years have been an incredible learning experience.I've been blessed enough to do things most people only dream to do, and it's all because my parents chose to give a 13 year old the opportunity to prove himself as a musician," Madison says. “I owe everything to them. They're the best.”

Jeff and Sheri are celebrating their 30th year in musicand marriage this year and with a full calendar, have no plans to slowdown. “God always orchestrates our livesfor each new chapter and Madison’s heart is leading him to do more of his ownmusic. In September, God blessed us with another incredible musician, Brad Hudson, who was hired to play drums but, also plays dobro, guitar, mandolin and banjo.” Jeff explains. “God has blessed us for 30 years and we’re excited to see now what His plans are for our children.”

As in all the changes life brings, Jeff and Sheri have found their faith in God and humor to get them through. Sheri shares, “When Madison told us, we all cried, but we also have a complete peace about his decision. He went the extra mile to explain to his youngest sister, Maura, that although he wouldn’t be traveling every weekend, he would still live next door and be a huge part of everything we do. Maura then dried her tears and asked, ‘Mama, can I have Bubba’s bunk?’ Real life, real siblings, and real heart…I couldn’t ask for more!”

Saturday, January 17, 2015

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - January 17

Here are some news items from this week in gospel music -

  • Lari Goss passed away last weekend. The celebration of his life was held at Brentwood Baptist in Nashville on Thursday.
  • Celebrations of Andrae Crouch's life will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday. Both services will be streamed on BET.
  • Ricky Perkins was announced as the Southmen's new tenor. Will Yates, 19, will also join the group on keyboard. Learn more on the group's Facebook page.
  • Jim Hefner of the Southmen had surgery on Thursday for injuries sustained during the group's wreck in October. He is expected to have three more surgeries before restoration is complete.
Anything I've missed?