Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hope and Healing - The Taylors - CD Review

The Taylors released their sophomore project Hope and Healing with StowTown records just a few weeks ago. This is the group's first recording as a trio with the departure of Leslie Taylor Perkins. Even though the group goes from quartet to trio, they stay true to their style. They take on a few more progressive numbers, but overall it's the same sound fans have come to love.

To me, this family is one of the most underrated in Southern Gospel. They have some of the purest voices in gospel music.

This project also has a "who's who" of Southern Gospel writers. They got the best of the best with Marcia Henry, Sue C. Smith, Kenna West, Joel Lindsey, Wayne Haun, Tony Wood, Joseph Habedank, just to name a few. Hope and Healing has 13 songs, so listeners are treated to a few extra tracks than normal. The song choice for the project is just incredible!

The album starts off with "He Won't Fail You" which definitely has a different sound than the rest of the project. This is a more country sound than what we are used to with the Taylors, something you would be used to hearing from labelmates the Browns. That being said, it works for them! I like that it's different from anything else making it stand out. I think this is also their first single.

Chris Taylor is featured on "Somebody's Praying." His move from bass to baritone with the trio really allows him to be showcased more. I love the message of this song. It really speaks to feeling the power of prayer when we need it.

Suzanne Taylor Hise takes the lead on "For What I Don't Know." This is probably my favorite song on the project. For what we don't we can trust Him; he understands what we don't know. Suzanne's delivery of this song is spot on. She also is featured on "That's What the Cross Is For." I love these type of story songs, definitely another highlight of the project.

"Between Here and Heaven" picks up the tempo with a more progressive sound. Jonathan Taylor takes the lead on this song. "Right Now" is another song that has a more progressive flair. I like their sound on these songs and it's good to mix it up some with all the great ballads they have on this album.

Jonanthan and Suzanne share the verses on "Call Out My Name." This is a more contemporary sounding song. It's a great encouragement for believers.

Jonathan shines on "The Day I Lay My Isaac Down." This story is familiar, but I love their take on this song and message.

"I Hope He Smiles" features the duo of Chris and Suzanne. This is the perfect closer, and one of my favorites on the project. The song is a sweet prayer of wanting the Lord to be pleased with our lives that they would bring Him glory.

Don't miss this project from the Taylors! It's a must-buy album this year!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

When Lyrics Speak - More and More of You

Sunday night my church had an incredible time of worship with our choir and orchestra. We had been preparing to just have a sweet time of worship as a body. We spent hours rehearsing special music and preparing our hearts, and the night was just amazing, one of those nights that will stick out in your mind.

There was one song that struck me every time we sang it. Those lyrics that just reach out and grab you. It doesn't matter how many times you might have heard the song, they speak and convict each time.

One of the songs we sang that night was "More and More of You" made popular by Selah. The song has the line, "Forgive us of seeking Your hand and not Your face." Every time this lyric gripped me. How many times do my prayers sound like a wish list? How much time do I talk to God and just lay out all my requests before Him? How many times do I get frustrated when I don't get what I want from God or He doesn't answer in a time I want Him to? Am I really seeking God or just what He can give me?

These thoughts and questions have been following me all this week. I can't get this lyric off my heart. What can I do to just seek Him and not His blessings? How do my prayers need to change? God, forgive me for wanting what You have to give me more than wanting You.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - April 23

Here are news items from this week in gospel music -

  • Prayers for the Riley Family (Gold City) with the loss of Barbara Riley, wife of Tim Riley, unexpectedly on Tuesday. Along with Tim, keep children Danny and Amy in your prayers. Services were held this morning in Glencoe, Alabama.
  • Chris West, also of Gold City, lost a parent this week. His father, Sammy, died on Friday of cancer. His service will be held tomorrow in Nauvoo, Alabama. Please remember all of his family in your prayers as well. 
  • Congratulations to Jon Charles Taggart of Spoken 4 Quartet. He and his wife Amanda welcomed baby boy Charlie on April 20.
  • The second round of voting is now open in the Singing News Fan Awards. Voting is open for all subscribers. Vote online here
Anything I've missed?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Fun Clip Friday - Greater Vision with Eli

Happy Friday to everyone! It's been one of those weeks where I'm glad it's Friday.

As busy of a week as I've had at work, I'm a little jealous of all those at Singing in the Sun in Myrtle Beach, SC this week. It looks like it's been a great event this year as usual. This is one of those events that is on my bucket list to attend one day.

Here's a great clip from last night when Greater Vision had a special guest, a 12-year-old boy named Eli, join them for "I Know a Man Who Can." Watch and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Worshipping with Karen Peck & New River - Concert Recap

From the first notes of "Through It All," I knew this was going to be a good night. Kristi Michelle opened the night with a few songs, and you could already tell the Spirit of God was in that place.

Karen Peck and New River come to Batesville, Arkansas each year for a concert with Friendship Outreach and WARP 180. This ministry helps women who are struggling with addiction of any kind. They offer residential care at no cost with Christ-centered teaching. Many graduates of the program were in attendance that night. Doc Spurlin and his wife Connie operate the ministry. They travelled and sang for several years before starting the ministry in Batesville (and they also sang some before New River took the stage). They have 100 percent success rate, which is just incredible.

I had been to this annual concert once before, and it has been one of those that has stood out in my mind. This night will too.

Karen Peck & New River - Kari Gooch, Ricky Braddy, Karen Peck Gooch
and Susan Peck Jackson (Matthew Gooch not pictured)
Karen Peck and New River opened the night with "I Wanna Know How It Feels" with Karen on the first verse and Ricky on the second. I saw him first with the group before it was official this fall. He is sounding incredible with them! They sang "On the Banks of the Promised Land" next and after it was over repeated the chorus a cappella. Love the blend they all have together!

Susan then stepped up to sing "Sustaining Grace." This is one of my favorites that she sings. Susan told a story that happened to her just a few weeks ago. She looked out her window and saw a lady sitting at the end of her driveway with several trash bags and her dog. Susan said it was extremely unusual because you don't just happen to go by her house. They live out in the country with not a lot of traffic. She and her husband, David, went out and talked to the lady and she had been staying with someone a little farther up the road. The lady was on drugs and had been kicked out of the house. They prayed with the lady and helped her get to the next place. Susan said the lady was a Christian and she told them this wasn't what she wanted to do. She encouraged the audience that night that there's always hope in Jesus, He loves us all no matter what we have done. Susan then led the congregation in "Jesus Loves Me."

Karen then sang "I Am Blessed." This is becoming a KPNR favorite of mine! Kari has been singing with the group more on stage, but that night was the first night I got to hear her sing solo. She sang the song from their latest project, "A Life That's Good." She's definitely got her mama's musical abilities; she sounded great! Karen said that she is definitely the shy one in the family, so it took a lot for her to step up. I'm glad she did!

Karen talked about their year last year and the journey they had been through. Rickey, her husband, is now cancer free. Last year was the hardest year of their lives, but she praised God for being faithful to their family. The song "Pray Now" was their theme song last year, so they sang that next.

Karen introduced all the members of the group next. She introduce Ricky Braddy last and set him up to sing "Were You There." He sounds amazing on this song!

They picked up the tempo next with "Revival" and "We Shall Wear a Robe and Crown." They then led the audience in "The Old Rugged Cross" and ended the first half with "Four Days Late." This might be my favorite gospel song ever. It never gets old, and Karen always nails it!

After a brief intermission, Karen, Susan, Ricky and Matthew took the stage again. Karen introduced a friend they had made. She called Landon up to the stage and asked him to tell everyone his name, how old he was and where he was from. I think he was about 8, such a cute kid. Then she asked him to tell everyone who his favorite gospel music group is. Without missing a beat, he responded, "Mark Trammell." Everyone, including Karen, couldn't help but laugh. She said, "Well, he's favorite too." He sang "Ephesians Chapter 1" with them, and the kid didn't miss a beat. He knew every word to that song! After it was over, she said, "I know Mark is your favorite, but who's your second favorite." The little boy paused for a minute, and you could tell he was really thinking. Karen stopped him and said, "That's ok, don't worry about answering that!" Haha!

Ricky was featured on "The Truth Is" next. I wasn't as familiar with this older Karen Peck and New River song, but I'm glad they started staging it again with Ricky. They sang "Hold Me While I Cry" and "Everybody's Going Through Something" before leading the invitation.

They finished the night with "I'll Fly Away" and "Finish Well." "Finish Well" is always such a powerful song! Perfect way to close an incredible night of worship!