Monday, December 31, 2012

Top Moment of 2012 - #1

Group changes always leave fans wondering how the "new guy"will fit in and what the group will sound like with the addition. Fans can be pretty vocal about how they feel regarding group changes. Often it's not hard to see when a group member is new, because it can take time for these new group arrangements to click which is no indication that it's not working or won't work, but there is an adjustment period. So when it clicks from the start, it's a rare moment, which brings us to my top moment of 2012.

I had the privilege of seeing Matt Fouch in his first night with Legacy Five. And from the moment they started singing, there was no doubt that this was the right move for Legacy Five and Matt. When Matt sang his first feature song of the night "I've Been Changed," it was evident that Legacy Five fans and gospel fans all could hear that Matt's voice fit the group right away.

The group transition was handled very tactfully by both groups. Matt sang with Soul'd Out Quartet just the day before. It impressed me that Matt was already mouthing the words to other  songs when he wasn't singing. It was also neat to see the rest of Legacy Five definitely gave him encouragement throughout the night.

They closed the concert that night with "We Shall See Jesus." Matt knocked this one out of the park! This was by far my favorite song of the night, and my only regret is not getting a video of it. It had the entire audience of more than 4,000 on its feet.

I do have another video from that night that you can check out below.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fun Clip Friday - The Hoppers

Hope everyone has had a great last full week of 2012! I've gotten to spend some time with my family this week which has been a great blessing. After celebrating Christmas, we decided to get away to the Smokies for several days and enjoy a Tennessee Christmas. Hope you've also gotten to spend some quality time with your family, but I'm not sure I wish the 10-hour car ride quality time that we had! ;)

The Hoppers shared on YouTube on Sunday their GMA Hall of Fame Induction. So for this Friday's Fun Clip, here's a glimpse at the first part of their induction. All three parts are on YouTube, but here's the first one below! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Top Moment of 2012 #2

I had the privilege of seeing two "testimony concerts" this year, where each group shared their personal testimony. Both of them made the list of my favorite moments from the year. Top moment #2 was with the Perrys.

The Perrys
Hands down, it was one of the best gospel concerts I've ever attended. You can read the full recap of the concert here. It was the perfect mix of singing and testimonies with them intertwined where it all just fit together. Each group member picked a song that they felt led to sing after their testimony.

Each testimony was a little different. For some it was their salvation experience while for others it was more about how God had used their difficult circumstances to work a far greater plan.

Tracy mentioned at the concert that they only do these type of testimony concerts twice a year. I feel very blessed that I was able to be at one of them!

There's not a particular moment from the concert that really stands out, but it was the night as a whole that really made an impact. Each song and each testimony made it one of the standout concerts of the year.

The countdown continues next week with #1!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Top Moment of 2012 #3

I remember last year reading a statement from TaRanda Greene about not being able to attend National Quartet Convention in 2011. I wasn't sure whether or not when she would be making an appearance this year or not, until Kim Hopper called her on stage for the top moment #3 of the year.

Kim Hopper took the stage with Kim Collingsworth playing for her to preview a showcase NQC was having the next day. I got pretty excited when after Kim finished singing the first verse, she called TaRanda to the stage to join her.

Kim Hopper, TaRanda Greene and Kim Collingsworth's performance of "There Is a Fountain" at NQC was definitely what people were talking about the next morning. When you think about the top sopranos of the genre, Kim Hopper and TaRanda Greene are definitely among the top of the list. With their power vocals combined with Kim Collingsworth's strong alto harmonies, it made for a chills- worthy performance. 

It was sweet to see the two sisters-in-law sing together and to mark TaRanda's return to NQC. That alone would have made the performance significant, but it was the dynamic vocal combination of the three women that made it rank at #3 on my top moments of 2012 list!

Look for #2 tomorrow!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas to everyone! Hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas holiday with your family and friends!!

Here's my favorite version of my favorite Christmas song. I don't think anyone sings it better! Enjoy!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Top Moment of 2012 #4

Social media has become a great tool recently for getting news out to the masses timely. In late August, Facebook and Twitter lit up with the news of Scotty and Kasey Inman's daughter Embry. First, it was the news of her birth, but only few hours later, it was an urgent prayer request that baby Embry was facing serious medical problems.

Embry stopped breathed several times within the first 12 hours of her life. She was put into the ICU and had several tests run on her. The doctors discovered that she was having seizures and could possibly have suffered brain damage. News came later that her brain was perfectly fine and the medication was working great preventing seizures.

One week after she was born, Embry finally got to go home with Scotty and Kasey. The next night Triumphant Quartet was scheduled to sing in Branson, Mo. at Silver Dollar City during their Southern Gospel Picnic. I had several conversations with people at the park who were wondering how the baby was doing now and who would sing baritone for the quartet.

It was definitely a pleasant surprise to see Scotty there that night. And it was a great testament to how God was working and healing baby Embry. It showed the amount of dedication that he had to the calling that God has for his life. He also mentioned that Kasey told him between their mothers and sisters that baby Embry would be well taken care of that weekend! :)

Scotty shared during the second half of the concert about baby Embry and what they had been through in the past week. He said, "I'm not amazed that God could do it, but that he would do it for me and my family." We all know that God can do anything, but it is such an amazing feeling when he does something amazing for you. Scotty then sang the song "The Great I Am Still Is."

His story of how God had worked and the fact that he went back on the road showing his commitment to this ministry spoke volumes. It was a great moment and testimony, and definitely a top moment of the year for me!

The countdown continues later this week with moment #3!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Top Moment of 2012 - #5

Halfway through the countdown of my top moments of 2012 is the Melody Boys Quartet Spring Concert. The Melody Boys will retire at the end of 2012, so this was their last annual spring concert. It's always a great event every year, and this year it was extra special with their upcoming retirement. So the full concert makes it in as a "top moment!"

The night included a special tribute video for the group. The concert was full of music, both new and classic. They also had several former group members come back to sing with them, which is a tradition each year for this concert.

Gerald Williams has been the bass singer for the group for 63 years, since he was 17 years old. He was featured on "Love So Divine" early in the concert and showed that at 80 years old, he's still one of the best in the business! His voice was just as strong that night as it's been for decades!

One of my favorite portions of the concert was simply the guys gathered around the piano singing the familiar quartet songs. The group is known for it's incredible harmonies, and they showed it!

Read the full recap of the concert here. The night was very special since it was their last annual spring concert. The Melody Boys have one final concert on New Year's Eve also at Geyer Springs First Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark. I'm hoping to be able to attend, but not sure yet because I'll be out of town through New Year's Eve. If you are in the area though, I think you should definitely make plans to attend!

The countdown continues next week!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fun Clip Friday - Collingsworth Family

Less than one week until Christmas! I keep thinking I have all my Christmas shopping done, but keep remembering "one more thing" I need to get. Please tell me I'm not alone in this.

Here's a last Christmas-themed clip. This Fun Clip Friday is a throwback to 2007. The Collingsworth Family has really changed in the last 5 years. The video won't let me embed it but don't miss watching it here. It's worth seeing how much younger Collingsworths have changed!

Also, don't forget that TBN is showing a preview of their "Feels Like Christmas" this weekend, including one tonight. For showtimes, go here. Also, here's a trailer below!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

An Evening in December CD Review - The Nelons

The Nelons released An Evening in December in conjunction with their tour of the same name this winter. This is not your typical Christmas album with a new rendition of "The First Noel" or "Sleigh Bells." As much as I love those familiar Christmas songs, I love hearing new ones or different ones that you don't normally hear this time of year. When Christmas albums come out with a bunch of songs that have been overdone, I'll listen but can become tired of it pretty quickly. The thing that sticks out to me most about this project is the song selection on this project. Sure, there are a couple of more familiar Christmas songs, but there are so many other great ones that you don't hear as often or that I hadn't heard before.

The project starts with the a cappella title song, "An Evening in December." The background harmonies are so great on this project. Kelly gets the feature on this one and makes it a beautiful song. This is one of two a cappella songs on the project; Amber also sings "Silent Night."

Jason is featured on the second song on the album, "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas." I think this is a great version of this song by Jason and Kelly and Amber add some great harmonies.

One of my favorites from the project is "Light a Candle." I love this Christmas song, but don't consider it one that's overdone. Amber gets the feature on this one and does an amazing job.  Absolutely beautiful!

Autumn also sings one on the project, "Happy Birthday Jesus." Autumn is developing into quite a singer, and I look forward to hearing more from her!

I had never heard the song "Rest on Me" until their concert last week. Kelly sings this song from Mary's perspective. It's a beautiful song about Mary holding baby Jesus thinking all that He's been put on earth to do and about one day resting in Him.

The highlight of the project for me has to be "More Than Wonderful," which is not necessarily a Christmas song, but definitely fits on this album. It's a powerful song that has great delivery by Amber and Jason!

Family groups are often known for their incredible harmonies, and the Nelons definitely have that. With that and the great song selection, the album is a must add to your Christmas music collection.

Song List:
1. "An Evening in December"
2. "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas"
3. "Light a Candle"**
4. "The Loneliest Christmas"
5. "More Than Wonderful"**
6. "Silent Night"
7. "Rest on Me"**
8. "Happy Birthday Jesus"
9. "Christmas All Year"**
10. "Auld Lang Syne"

**Personal favorites

Review copy provided

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Top Albums of 2012

As the year draws to a close, it's time to look at the top albums of the year. Here are my top five:

5. Together Again (Crabb Family) - The Crabb Family released their first project as a family in seven years. Jason Crabb produced and arranged the album. I love how most of the songs featured all family members and didn't just showcase one or two. Stylistically, there is something for everyone. While it may not be a favorite for traditional gospel fans, I think it definitely lived up to the hype of a Crabb family recording and made fans excited about hearing the family together again.

4. Tribute to the Songs of Bill and Gloria Gaither (Booth Brothers) - The Booth Brothers did not fail to disappoint again this year with this tribute project. The 15-song album picks some of the best Gaither songs, some more well-known than others. The Booth Brothers helped bring new life with their great vocals and harmonies to some of these classic songs. Most of the songs are easy listening, and had there been a couple more uptempo numbers or cut down to the 12 strongest, it could have easily been higher in my opinion.

3. Love Won (The Talleys) - The addition of Brian Alvey to the Talley Trio produced one of the best albums this year. He not only added great vocals but also strong writing skills to the project. I think it's the best album the Talleys have ever released. The harmonies with all four members are incredible. I think a couple of the songs are among the strongest of songs on albums released this year.

2. Lifetime (Mark Trammell Quartet) - This album comes close the topping the list. I love the concept idea of the project, but it does include previously recorded songs (all but one). However, the songs aren't your traditional hymns or table project picks. They are all songs that have special significance for Mark Trammell. The Lari Goss arrangement on this project with the different medleys of songs are simply great. This group though has definitely hit its stride and is at the top of their game, and this album proves it.

1. Through the Night (The Perrys) - This was the second album with the current lineup, but the first one where all current group members have been involved from the beginning. Every song on this project is so strong individually that when the 10 are put together it is dynamite. It's not often that I find a project where I don't skip one song. Even with a re-cut of a Perrys song (which I prefer to the first version), the song selection is what sets this album apart. With the great Libbi Perry Stuffle ballad, the strong songwriting skills of Joseph Habedank and the all around great vocals, the album shows the Perrys at their best. It's definitely strong enough to top the list for 2012 in my opinion.

Other worthy album mentions:

Best Surprise Album of the Year - He Gives a Song (Murray Family) - I was not familiar at all with the Murray Family until receiving their CD. Great family group that is one to keep your eye on!

Album That's Great for a Long Road Trip - Canton Junction (Canton Junction) - This debut album of Canton Junction features two discs full of songs that set the bar for this new group.

Album That Is Never Far From my CD Player - Eyes Wide Open (Jeff and Sheri Easter) - This is one of my favorite albums from this year. Great songs with a strong theme of survival and coming through a battle.

Best Specialty Project - How You Walk the Miles (Karen Peck) - Karen Peck Gooch released her first solo project in many years with many guest vocalists. Definitely worth a listen!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top Moment of 2012 - #6

It's one thing for gospel singers to talk about the mercy and grace of Christ, but it's another for them to tell how it's affected their lives. One of the things I love about going to see a group live is getting to hear from them between the songs whether it's a joke or serious moment. You feel like you really get to know more about the people when you see bits of their personality come out. Occasionally group members don't just open up and tell a joke or two, but share their hearts and their lives from the platform. The #6 top moment of the year comes from hearing the testimonies of the Mark Trammell Quartet.

Each group member shared their personal salvation experience. Some members told of how they had served in a church or even sang gospel music thinking they were saved, but God actually got a hold of their hearts later on. It was a touching night, and I appreciated so much how open and honest each of the guys were. They willing to share parts of their private lives so that He would be glorified through their stories. It was a night that I won't soon forget and definitely a top moment of 2012!

You can read the full post and each testimony here.

The countdown continues later this week!

Monday, December 17, 2012

An Evening in December with the Nelons and LeFevre Quartet

An Evening in December Christmas tour with the Nelons and LeFevre Quartet made a stop in Malvern Thursday night. It had been several years since seeing the Nelons live in concert, so I was looking forward to seeing them again. I just saw the LeFevre Quartet in August, but I was excited to see them especially with Tim Duncan filling in at bass.

First of all, I need to mention that it was quite an adventure getting to the concert between road construction on the Interstate and a Christmas parade. Once we got into Malvern all we could see were blue and red flashing lights. At first, we thought it was a massive wreck in front of us only to realize it was the town's Christmas parade with every emergency vehicle possible participating. It's a good thing there were no fires in Malvern right then because some kids would have been booted off a fire truck. Of course the main route to the church was blocked, so my friends and I had quite the adventure finding an alternate route. If you don't believe me about the craziness of the parade, check out Kelly Nelon Clark's SocialCam of it. We thought we were running extremely late, but thankfully the concert started 30 minutes later than we thought! Right as we were walking in, the parade was passing in front of the church. 

LeFevre Quartet - Harold Reed, Jordan LeFevre,
Mike LeFevre andTim Duncan
An evening in December started with the LeFevre Quartet. They sang "When I Get Carried Away." They sang a song from their newest project next, "Come and See," which featured Jordan. I remember first seeing him as a drummer with his dad's group, and he's become a solid lead singer.

Mike introduced the group next, and said that they had Tim Duncan on loan from Hagee Ministries for this tour. Tim then sang a song from his solo project, "Precious Lord, Take My Hand." Tim is just incredible, and I love that he's first a singer and then a bass.

They then sang "Jesus Saves, " and the Nelons came up to join them and finish the song with them.

The Nelons - Jason Clark, Kelly Nelon Clark and
Amber Nelon Thompson
The Nelons began their portion with "Come to the River." Then, they sang the Nelons' classic "O For a Thousand Tongues." Kelly did a beautiful job on this song as always. Jason then took the lead on "Excuse Me Are You Jesus?" where they had the concept video for the song playing along in the background. Jason does a great job of conveying the message of this story song.

They ended the first half with "I'm Going Home with Jesus." It was a great upbeat way to end the first half and had the entire audience clapping along!

Most concerts I have been to recently have a heavy first half with only a few songs after intermission. This concert was much more heavy on the second end which was all Christmas. Even though the groups didn't sing together much, I really liked how they were both on stage the entire time.

The second half started with both groups on stage minus Kelly but plus Autumn, the youngest member of the Nelons. Kelly started singing "An Evening in December" from the back of the sanctuary and made her way to the stage and the empty stool. Next, the LeFevre Quartet sang "Sleigh Ride."

After the song, Kelly started talking but was interjected by Sam (their Dachshund) of the famous SamCam. You probably have guessed from previous blog posts that I am a big fan of SamCam. If you don't follow Kelly on SocialCam to see SamCam videos, you should start immediately!! Sam gave a great rendition of Ave Maria. :) The Nelons then sang "They Rejoiced With Exceeding Great Joy."

The LeFevres sang the first Noel. Tim sang the first verse, Jordan the second and Harold the third. Then the group took the time to show a short video on Compassion and encourage people to sponsor a child.

Amber of the Nelons then sang "Light a Candle." If anyone doubts the talent of young gospel singers, they haven't heard Amber. This for me is one of the standout songs from their Christmas project. I loved the way they did this song with the lighting too. They had a mostly dark stage and other group members had candles that they started "lighting" as the song went on. The LeFevre Quartet then sang "Away in a Manger" which featured Tim.

Amber started "Silent Night" a cappella with the rest of the group then joining her. Autumn stepped out front and did a recitation from Mary's perspective. Kelly then was featured on "Rest on Me." I had never heard this song before, but it's beautiful and also from Mary's point of view. Autumn then sang "Happy Birthday Jesus." I had not heard Autumn sing before solo and was really impressed by her vocals on this song.

Mike LeFevre was then featured on "O Holy Night." This is my favorite Christmas song, and it's not a Christmas concert without this song, in my opinion. And Mike definitely did the song justice. Jason Clark then led the congregation in a song.

Mike spoke briefly and read from Isaiah where the birth of Christ was prophesied. The Nelons then came forward and sang "More Than Wonderful." This is another stand out song from their Christmas project. It's a powerful song and great choice to wrap up the night, and had the audience on its feet afterward. All group members then stepped forward to close the night with "Come On Ring Those Bells." The audience stood through the song, clapping along.

It was a great night of gospel and Christmas music. I'd love to see these two groups team up again next year for more concerts like this one. If you have missed seeing "An Evening in December," it's probably too late for this year unless you are near Columbus, Miss and available tonight! Then you should definitely go see them!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fun Clip Friday - Mark Trammell Quartet Christmas

Last night with the Nelons and LeFevre Quartet in Malvern was great! Look for a full recap coming next week.

For today, here's another Christmas-themed Fun Clip Friday. This is from last year when Jim Cox was filling in for them at tenor. "Carol of the Bells" is never an easy song to sing! :) Enjoy!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Top Five Songs of 2012

The Singing News releases the top 80 chart every month. Twelve songs are lucky enough to be deemed #1 songs in a year. Looking just from these 12 songs, here are my top five favorites:

#5 - "Almost Home" (Triumphant Quartet) - This song written by Triumphant's own Scotty Inman is a great upbeat number that landed at #1 in June. It's been a great concert closer for the group. The song was on their Songs From the Heart album.

#4 - "He's Everything I Need (Kingsmen) - Joseph Habedank of the Perrys wrote this song that hit #1 in January. This was a song that really made me stop and listen to the current Kingsmen. It's a fun song with a great message. The song is on their most recent project, Grace Says.

#3 - "I'll Trust the Potter's Hand" (The Whisnants) - Susan Whisnant does an amazing job conveying the message of this song. I love the truth of how God has everything in control that He has a perfect plan. The song reached the top of the charts in September, and it's from their More Than Enough Project.

#2 - "I Want to Know" (Mark Trammell Quartet) - Pat Barker outdoes himself on this song every time. I love listening to the recorded song, but it's incredible to see it live. It's just not any group that can take a song that's decades old and make it a #1. This song not only earned the #1 spot for August, but it also was named #1 for 2012 by Singing News. The song is on their Testimony project which was actually released last year.

#1 - "I Know a Man Who Can" (Greater Vision) - This song reached #1 in October.  The third sentence from #2 also applies here. I think that's why both of these ranked so high on my list. These groups have both made the songs their own and put their stamp on them. Chris Allman makes his case for the best tenor in SG music with his deliverance of this song. It's become a trademark song for him. After it became such a popular song in the live setting for them they recorded it on their The Only Way project which was released last year. I also love the story of how the song came about as just a request one night during a concert. The person who made the request probably didn't realize what he was doing, but I'm glad he made the request!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Top Moment of 2012 - #7

Do you have a bucket list of groups you've always wanted to see live, but haven't had the chance to? Maybe they are no longer together or the schedule just never works out. Well my #7 on the list of top moments of 2012 was getting to see most of one of my "bucket list" groups.

I never got to see all the Crabb Family sing together, I'm still hopeful that it will happen one day. But this year at Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic this year, I got to see three of them sing together. The Bowling Family and Jason Crabb were scheduled on the same day. I was definitely hopeful that I would get to see the three of them perform. So much so that I might have asked Kelly and Terah about it at their product table that afternoon.

That night at Echo Hollow, Jason was halfway through the first half, when the door from behind the stage opened and Kelly and Terah walked out. The audience had an immediate reaction getting excited about the idea of a mini Crabb Reunion taking place. Jason was singing "Please Forgive Me," and when he saw his sisters walk in he called them on stage to join him.

Kelly and Terah started to put their microphones back after the song, but Jason didn't let them off the stage that easily. They sang "I Wouldn't Take Nothing for my Journey Now," which was a song they had done at Echo Hollow years ago during one of the Crabb Family's first live videos. Jason was trying to come up with a Crabb Family song for them to sing together, and someone from the audience suggested "Don't You Wanna Go." They sang that next, and then ended with the classic "Through the Fire."

One of the things I love about this family is how supportive they are of each other. Jason didn't hesitate to bring his sisters up to share the stage. And Kelly and Terah stayed through the entire concert just to watch their brother. They could have easily already been loaded on the bus and headed out of town, but they stayed.

While I would still love to see the entire family sing together one day, this almost Crabb Family reunion was good enough to make #7 of the list!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Top Moment of 2012 - #8

In continuing my countdown of memorable personal moments of 2012, #8 comes from a lady sharing a personal testimony toward the end of a Karen Peck and New River concert.

Karen asked as they were wrapping up their concert if anyone there wanted to share a word. One lady spoke up and talked about how her son had died at 17 after a life filled with many struggles. She said that at his funeral they played "I Wanna Know How It Feels," and she talked about how much the song meant to her and had helped her. She thanked Karen for the song and asked if she would sing it. Karen said of course she would.

I don't know if they lady realized then or not that Karen actually wrote the song. Karen shared how she wrote it. She had been humming the melody for a while. But one day when she was missing her dad who passed away, she was folding towels and the song started coming to her. She had John Darrin Rowsey help her with it.

They sang it for the lady, and it was such a sweet moment. Karen, Susan and Jeff were getting emotional along with everyone else in the audience after hearing the lady's touching testimony, but they sang through and delivered an amazing performance!

The countdown continues later this week!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fun Clip Friday - Triumphant Quartet Christmas

Hope everyone has had a great week! For this week's Fun Clip Friday post, enjoy hearing the Triumphant Quartet spread a little Christmas cheer!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Playlist

It seems that every group has done a Christmas album at one point their career. And I love Christmas music. However, there are only so many versions of "The First Noel" or the "The Christmas Song" that I can take. I'm sure we all have our favorite versions of the classic Christmas songs and carols. But some of my favorite songs aren't necessarily the traditional Christmas songs. So I put together a playlist of my favorite Christmas songs by the artists whose renditions are my favorites:

1. "O Holy Night" - TaRanda Greene (hands down, my favorite version of this song)
2. "Glory to God in the Highest" - Ernie Haase and Signature Sound
3. "Mary Did You Know" - Mark Lowry (With so many versions, I still love hearing the writer sing his own song.)
4. "The Greatest Gift of All" - Jeff and Sheri Easter
5. "Christmas Shoes" - Brian Free and Assurance
6. "Go Tell It on the Mountain" - Lynda Randle
7. "Mary Had a Baby" - Karen Peck and New River
8. "Mary's Little Boy Child/ Jesus, What a Wonderful Child" - Collingsworth Family
9. "Carol of the Bells" - Sisters
10. "Little Drummer Boy" - Kingdom Heirs
11. "What Child Is This?" - The Isaacs
12. "Grace Has a Face (Hope Has Hands)" - Greater Vision
13. "We Believe" - Spoken 4 Quartet
14. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" -  Ball Brothers (not your typical version)
15. "Joy, Joy" - David Phelps

Some of these are on the artists' Christmas projects or others are simply versions I've seen live in concert or on YouTube. As many as I could find, I've linked to a performance of the song. Which Christmas songs would make your list?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Top Moment of 2012 - #9

The #9 Moment of 2012 for me occurred at the National Quartet Convention. I'm a sucker for scrap iron quartets and the all-sings, where group members from various groups all join together on stage for a song or two. So I loved the end of Quartet Night at National Quartet Convention.

Gerald Wolfe came on stage after the last group and said that he couldn't believe that no group had sung the ultimate quartet song, "Have a Little Talk With Jesus." It provided for some comedic banter between him and several quartet members. He called members of Mark Trammell Quartet and Legacy Five back to the stage to join Triumphant who was already there. It was some great quartet singing!

When they got to the second verse, they weren't sure what to do, which provided more comedic moments between Gerald Wolfe, Scott Fowler and Mark Trammell. It was decided to let the tenor take the verse like usual. Mark said that would be great if they had a tenor, not realizing that David Sutton was still on stage. Somehow he ended up being the only tenor there from the three quartets. He got the chance to showcase his strong tenor skills and ham it up a little. Paul Harkey also joined the bass singers on stage.

This moment provided not only comedic relief but also quartet singing at its finest which made the list at #9!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Top Moments of 2012 - #10

This year, I've been blessed to attend and watch some incredible gospel concerts and events. So for the month of December, I'll be counting down the most memorable moments for me personally that I've either seen in person at a concert or through an online broadcast. (There were some moments that I watched online that were too good not to include!) Some of these top moments are the full concerts themselves while some are just a song or testimony from the night that really set it apart. So here we go with #10.

#10 - Sisters' Performance at the Absolutely Gospel Music Awards

Sisters opted to sing the Dottie Rambo classic, "Until He Comes," instead of a recent single or song from their 2012 project. With just piano accompaniment courtesy of Josh Singletary, Sisters wowed the crowd, and it was the performance everyone was talking about the next morning. Sisters are known for their incredible harmonies and breath-taking a cappella numbers. But this performance really showcased how incredible this all-female trio is.

The song was one they recorded in 1975. And Kim mentioned before singing that it's one that had been on her heart to sing. The emotionally-stirring performance had the audience on its feet. If there was any doubt about the vocal strength of this group, it was removed.

While the video of their performance was removed from YouTube, you can watch the full awards online in its entirety. Sisters' performance comes just after the one hour mark.

Their performance from April comes in at #10 of the year. Keep reading this month as I count down!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fun Clip Friday - Kingdom Heirs

Happy Friday to everyone! I don't know about you but Christmas music is in full swing around my house. Friday clips this month will be in keeping with the Christmas theme. For this Friday, enjoy a twist to the song, "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch" by the Kingdom Heirs.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Tours

I might have missed this in past years, but I've noticed several groups announcing Christmas tours this year.  As far as I can tell, it's new thing for southern gospel, but I could be wrong! Has this been something I've missed in previous years or is it new? Regardless, there are at least three big Christmas tours happening this year.

Jason Crabb and Sandi Patty have already started their "Christmas Celebration" tour, which kicked off in Maryland the day after Thanksgiving. It will run through December 21. They have 15 dates scheduled in 11 states. For more on this tour, check out the schedule here.

The Nelons and LeFevre Quartet are joining forces for "An Evening in December" Christmas tour. This one starts on Nov. 30 in Virginia. The tour will wrap up in Columbus, Miss. on Dec. 17. I'm most looking forward to their stop in Malvern, Ark. on Dec. 13! The groups will be joined by special guest, Tim Duncan, who will be filling in the bass role in the LeFevre Quartet. For all their dates, here's the complete schedule.

And the Jubilee Christmas Tour starts Dec. 1 in Pennsylvania, which is already a sold-out concert. Jubilee, of course, consists of the Booth Brothers, Greater Vision and Legacy Five. They have also announced a live video tapings of the concert. If you're attending the one in Branson, you'll be able to be able to attend a bonus concert that night for a Jubilee 3 concert taping. The Christmas tour ends in Van Buren, Ark. on Dec. 10. I would love to be there, but it's a couple hours from me, so I haven't quite decided yet. For more on the schedule and purchasing tickets, check out this website.

Are you catching any of the Christmas tours this year?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fun Clip Friday - Sisters

Thanksgiving is over and Christmas season is in full swing. But let's be honest, for most of us it already was whether or not Thanksgiving was over. Most groups are starting to already incorporate Christmas music in their programs. For your Fun Clip Friday this week, here's a clip of Sisters practicing their a capella song "Carol of the Bells." Enjoy!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that you are all enjoying a day with family and a lot of good food!! I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Thanks to each of you who read the blog! Hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving!

When I think about thanksgiving songs, the one below is what first comes to mind. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

We Are So Blessed - When Lyrics Speak

"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights..." - James 1:17

With Thanksgiving this week, our thoughts are often attuned to the blessings in our lives. We think about all that God has done for us. And if we're lucky we think about it all month long. I don't know if your Facebook feed has been full of the Days of Thankfulness like mine has. That's all well and good, but November shouldn't be the only time we concentrate on our blessings.

And if I'm being honest, I tend to spend more time asking God for what I don't have or other requests instead of thanking him for what he has done.

"We Are So Blessed" is a classic song that really makes me stop and remember how blessed I am and how much God has given me.

"We are so blessed, by the gifts from Your hand
Just can't understand why You loved us so much.
We are so blessed, we just can't find a way or the words that can say
Thank You, Lord, for Your touch.

"When we're empty You fill us 'til we overflow
When we're hungry You feed us, and cause us to know.
We are so blessed, take what we have to bring,
Take it all, everything, Lord, we love you so much."

I certainly don't understand the love of God and why He loves us the way He does. But I am certainly thankful that He loves us unconditionally. I'm thankful for His many blessings, and the reminder of how much He has given me. I pray that not just around Thanksgiving, but year long, I'll concentrate a lot more on the blessings and be sure to thank Him for what He's done more often.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Tribute to the Songs of Bill and Gloria Gaither - Booth Brothers - CD Review

Perhaps the most familiar name to those who are unfamiliar with Southern Gospel music is Bill Gaither. And rightly so. Yes, Gaither Homecoming videos helped to increase the awareness and popularity of Southern Gospel music, but Bill and Gloria Gaither's songs are also what made their marks in the industry.

The Booth Brothers' latest album, A Tribute to the Songs of Bill and Gloria Gaither, features 15 songs penned by the couple. Most of them will be familiar songs, and some that you might consider overdone. But the Booth Brothers' tender harmonies bring new life to these songs.

Most of the songs are well-known and the arrangements don't deviate much from familiar versions. I think "Because He Lives" is one that is a little more fast-paced from what I'm used to hearing. The Booth Brothers really let the songs speak for themselves. There were a few that I was not familiar like, "God Gave the Song" and "Feeling at Home in the Presence of Jesus," so I think it was wise for them to highlight these songs not as well known or at least not to me.

The two new songs on the project are two of the more standout tracks: "I Played in a Band" and "Let the Healing Begin." I first saw the Booth Brothers sing "I Played in a Band" in Branson. While I do love the album version, the song is magic live. It's a fun song that receives many encores, and the tune is sure to get stuck in your head.

Michael Booth has some great features where it really features the tenderness of his voice, like on "There's Something About that Name." In fact all the Booth Brothers remind us again why they are consistently fan favorites with good reason! My favorite features of Ronnie and Jim are "Through" and "I'm Free," respectively.

The Booth Brothers are joined by Bill Gaither on "Joy in the Camp." Bill is not the only guest vocalist. Melissa Brady, Jim's wife, joins them on "Tell Me." This song is definitely of the best on the album. Her joining them on this song definitely makes me want to hear more of her singing with the guys, and especially after seeing the Jim and Melissa Brady set at NQC.

Most of the tracks are easy listening with a few exceptions. Also, while there are some noticeably more well-known Gaither-penned songs missing from the 15, I think the song selection was excellent getting a mix of familiar hymns, lesser-knowns and new songs. And it's a tribute, not a "best of" collection.

Even though it's not a "best of" collection, it's definitely of the "best of" the southern gospel projects produced this year, and a must for your collection!

Song List:
1. "Because He Lives"
2. "I Played in a Band"**
3. "God Gave the Song"
4. "There's Something About That Name"**
5. "Feeling at Home in the Presence of Jesus"
6. "I've Been to Calvary"**
7. "Tell Me"**
8. "Joy in the Camp"**
9. "I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary"
10. "I Will Serve Thee"
11. "I'm Free"
12. "He Touched Me"
13. "I Just Feel Like Something Good Is About to Happen"**
14. "Let the Healing Begin"**
15. "Through"

**denotes personal favorites

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fun Clip Friday - The Hoppers

Happy Friday to all! When TaRanda Greene joined Kim Hopper on stage at the National Quartet Convention, it certainly turned heads. It was probably my favorite moment of the week! I'm such a fan of TaRanda and her voice. I found a clip of the Hoppers where they were joined by TaRanda Greene and Kirk Talley. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hear My Heart - When Lyrics Speak

"Hear My Heart" has become one of my favorite gospel songs. Sheri Easter wrote the song about her battle with cancer, but it's a song that many people in a variety of different life circumstances can relate to.

"Sometimes I feel no one’s ever been in this place before.
This is hard, and I’m not sure that I can do this anymore.
I know someday I’ll look back and all this won’t seem real,
 but Lord right now I need you to know just how I feel.

"When there are no words to say
and no prayer that I can pray, hear my heart.
When I don’t have strength to try
and I’ve cried all I can cry, hear my heart.
Cause you know every fear and every doubt I cannot speak.
You know all the ways I need you and all the ways I’m weak, so I’ll be quiet
So you can hear my heart."

When I first heard the song, I sent it to a friend who was going through a rough time with tougher roads ahead. But I'll never forget the time the song first resonated with me. I was driving home after receiving some less than good news. I was struggling, talking to God, but mad at the same time over the whole situation. The song started, and then the tears started. I felt exactly as the song started that no one had ever been where I was, no one had walked down the path I was on. I was upset, and I wanted someone to understand where I was coming from.

I didn't have words, because God had heard them all. I was tired of crying about the situation and begging God to do something about it again. Thankfully this song reminded me of the promise that God hears our hearts. He already knew my situation, my doubts and fears that I was afraid to speak.

The second verse talks about recalling a phrase or melody that comforts us when we need to hear a word. It's interesting because in so many times since then, this song has become the melody that comes to mind. It's so comforting that sometimes when we don't know how to pray or can't come up with words, that God still hears us. In Romans 8:26, Paul writes:

"And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words."

Sometimes words just fail to convey what we are feeling and going through. And in those quiet moments, I'm so thankful that God can hear our hearts.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Veterans Day with Gold City - Concert Review

Gold City - Dan Keeton, Jerry Pelfrey, Daniel Riley
and Tim Riley
Gold City came to Malvern, Ark. on Sunday afternoon. I saw the group not long after Jerry Pelfrey joined them in January. I had been looking forward to seeing them again since this lineup of Dan Keeton, Jerry Pelfrey, Daniel Riley and Tim Riley has now been together for about a year.

With a group like Gold City that has been around for so long and had so many hits, I'm sure it's difficult to put together a set list that everyone likes and includes every song people want to hear. Sunday afternoon was almost a dream set list for me for Gold City songs. Of course, there were more from their most recent project, but there were plenty of familiar favorites as well! Here's a breakdown of the concert:

  • "Where Is God" - Love that they started with this classic. It's one of my personal favorites.
  • "Peter, James and John"
  • "I Cast my Bread Upon the Water" - Jerry was featured in the second verse, and he still reminds me a lot of Ivan Parker. While that comparison has been made a lot, he's becoming a standout lead singer on his own. When Dan hit the high part on a repeat of the chorus, he got right in Jerry's face, which made for a funny moment during the song. Tim Riley can still hit those low notes, and is still at the top in this business in my book.
  • "By Your Grace, For Your Glory" - In a set with a lot of uptempo songs, I was glad to see them slow the pace for a little bit and sing this one. 
  • "God's Building a Church" - I absolutely love this song, and this one the audience really got into to. Many people were on their feet clapping along. Dan Keeton really shows his stuff as a great tenor on this one. Daniel Riley commented after it that it's a song that really gets you going. He made a joke about being Baptist and that it's hard to move around like that. The crowd of mostly Assembly of God church members thought it was pretty funny.
  • Daniel introduced Dan, Jerry and Bryan and had Bryan Elliot play "Keep on the Firing Line." Bryan impresses me more each time as a piano player. I don't think he gets the recognition he deserves for his talent.
  • "We'll Soon Be Done With Troubles and Trials"
  • Daniel then introduced his dad and talked about how singing gospel music was all he ever wanted to do. He talked about how thankful he was that God allowed him to do this with his dad. 
  • "It Won't Be Long" - Before the song, Daniel mentioned that it was a Dixie Hummingbirds song and he would be the one to step out and "strut." He might not have strutted but he put the soul into this song. This is such a fun song for them to sing live.
  • "I Have an Anchor"
  • "Lord of Life" - Jerry did a great job on this song. There were also some great harmony moments for the group. This hasn't been a standout song for me, but the more I hear it, the more I like it.
  • "When He Blessed My Soul" - One of my all-time favorites! Tim Riley out did himself on this one!
  • "I Love This Land" - Since Sunday was Veterans Day, Tim recognized the veterans in the audience and talked about his service during Vietnam before the song. Tim even had Jerry and Dan bring the church's flag around to the front of the stage. Toward the end of the song, they started the Pledge of Allegiance. It was a very touching moment and a great tribute to our country and veterans.
  • "When I Get Carried Away"
  • "Midnight Cry" - The song that every Gold City lead singer is measured by, and Jerry really stepped up to the plate on this one.
  • "Get Up, Get Ready"
Daniel Riley ended the concert by saying that it was his prayer that God had used them for His glory. Their goal every concert is to encourage believers and to reach people who don't know God. 

It was a great afternoon concert with Gold City. It was good to see this group again with the current lineup. Since the last time I saw them live, you could tell that they had more time to gel together. They seemed a lot more comfortable together on stage, sometimes picking on each other. Don't miss them if they are in your area!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How You Walk the Miles - Karen Peck - CD Review

Karen Peck Gooch is one of the most recognized female vocalists in Southern Gospel. Her role in the movie Joyful Noise just solidified this more. After the movie, Daywind asked her about doing a solo album as a follow-up. The album, produced by Ben Isaacs, officially released on October 23.

Karen had a number of special guests on the album who sang with her including the Oak Ridge Boys, Jason Crabb, Gordon Mote and New River members Susan Peck Jackson and Jeff Hawes.

"God Lives There" is the first single from the album, and it's probably my favorite song on the project. Wes Hampton and Ben Isaacs join her on this song. The song has a great message talking about different places that we should be reaching out to show God to others. God lives in the most unusual places, and we should remember that we are called to be the hands and feet of God where we go. Karen conveys this message beautifully.

Another standout song is "Talk About the Good Things," which was a great choice to begin the album with. It's a more uptempo song that sounds like it was written for her. It sounds very much like a Karen Peck and New River song.

"Fix Me Jesus" is a song that Queen Latifah sang in the movie Joyful Noise. I'm probably partial, but I do prefer Karen's version of this song. I'm not sure if this was another tie to the movie on purpose or not, but "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" and "Stand by the River" were both previously recorded by another one of her co-stars in the movie, Dolly Parton. "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" is such a fun uptempo song that fits Karen so well. The Oak Ridge Boys join Karen on "Stand by the River."

"Extra Mile" is not to be confused with the Lauren Talley song, but the idea behind the song is similar. Jason Crabb joins Karen on this one. It asks the question what if we made the effort to go the "extra mile" reaching those around us, how much could we change the world?

The project has a variety of different types of songs. "Fix Me Jesus" and "Holy Spirit Speak to Me" both have a more worship feel to me. These songs slow the pace of the album, but Karen delivers some great tender moments on both of these songs. "If You Want to Go to Heaven" has a Latin-like style. "Part of Letting Go" is definitely one of the more contemporary songs on the album, while several songs have a country feel.

I don't think it's a secret that I'm a big Karen Peck fan. I was pretty excited when I learned that she would be releasing a solo album. This album did not disappoint at all. I think there's something on this album for everyone to enjoy!

Song List:
1. "Talk About the Good Things"**
2. "How You Walk the Miles"
3. "God Lives There"**
4. "If You Want to Go to Heaven"
5. "Extra Mile"**
6. "Stand by the River"
7. "Part of Letting Go"
8. "Pray"
9. "Fix Me Jesus"**
10. "Put a Little Love in Your Heart"**
11. "Everywhere"
12. "Holy Spirit Speak to Me"

**Denotes Personal Favorites

Review Copy Provided

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fun Clip Friday - Gold City

Happy Friday to everyone! Today's Fun Clip Friday is a clip from 1985 of Gold City. I'm going to see Gold City on Sunday afternoon in Malvern. I've only seen them once with lead singer Jerry Pelphrey. It was soon after he joined the group, so I'm looking forward to seeing them again. Hope you enjoy this clip and have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Blessed Afternoon with Karen Peck and New River - Concert Recap

Karen Peck and New River - Susan Peck Jackson, Karen Peck Gooch
and Jeff Hawes
Sunday afternoon I got to see Karen Peck and New River at Rock City Harvest Church in Sherwood, Ark. I always enjoy seeing this group live. Their concerts are always such a blessing, and you know that they are there to minister to you and worship with you. Sunday afternoon was no exception.

Karen Peck and New River started the afternoon with "Ephesians Chapter One." They then went into their most recent #1 song, "Mighty Big God," from Reach Out. Jeff was featured on the next song "He Set Me Free." He has really come into his own with New River and really nailed this song.

Karen then talked about how it had been a tough week for a lot of people with Sandy on the East Coast. Susan sang "Sustaining Grace" which was so timely and fit the people in Sandy's path so well. I think Susan is one of the most underrated altos in the genre. I love hearing her sing this song.

They sang "I Want to Thank You" next. Then Karen asked the veterans to stand to recognize them, and then she sang "The Star Spangled Banner" a cappella. Karen's rendition of this song gives me chills every time. It is absolutely amazing.

Karen then talked about her experience working on Joyful Noise. She said a lot of people asked her why she would participate in a secular movie that was rated PG13. She talked about that God has called us to step out and be a light to the world and through this movie she was able to do that on an even bigger platform. They sang "Mighty High" from the movie with clips from the movie playing on the screen. This is such a fun song, and I'm glad they are including it in their concerts.

Jeff then sang "Look What the Lord Has Done" before Karen made the group's introductions. I am one of those people who really likes the long intros for the group members with the stories, but one thing I really like about Karen that she does every time is recognizing everyone who travels with the group. I think it's very classy that she takes time to do this every concert. She mentioned their bus driver, Tripp, is four years sober and drug free, and he always wants her to share that to encourage people who might be praying for someone struggling with one or both of those to not give up on them.

"I Can See Clearly" was the next song they sang. Karen went into the audience during the last chorus, and gave some people a chance to sing as well. Two of the singers she found in the audience were none other than Brenda and Elaine from 2nd Generation who were there to enjoy an afternoon off at the concert. Karen had thanked them earlier in the show for coming.

They ended the first half with two of my favorite songs. They sang "On the Banks of the Promised Land," which is I think the highlight of Reach Out. It's such an incredible song that speaks of the promise of Heaven. Then, they sang "Four Days Late." This is a song that never gets old, and always speaks to so many people. I'm sure it's one that they sing every concert, but they sing it with such power and conviction every time, and you can tell they never stop thinking about the message of the song and making sure that reaches the audience.

Before Karen Peck and New River came back to the stage, a couple of people from the church sang. Karen asked one of them, Chopper Ward, to sing with them. He took Jeff's microphone and sang "Truth Is" with them. It had been a while since they had sung the song, so there were a few forgotten words, but a great song with Chopper regardless.

Jeff came back to sing "Good Things Are Happening" with Karen and Susan. Karen then signaled to Rickey (her husband who runs their sound) for "Hold Me While I Cry" while setting up for the slow song and a tender moment. However, the track for "We Shall Wear a Robe and Crown" started playing. Two very different songs and tempos!! It was a funny moment, but they went with it. Karen, of course, gave Rickey a funny look when it started! Karen had both men who sang from the church join them on stage for the always crowd-pleasing song, even if it wasn't on purpose!!

She was able to slow the tempo back down for the next song, "My God Will Always Be Enough," which is another personal favorite of mine. Karen came out into the audience on this one as well to shake hands and really connect with the audience.

Karen then shared the story of their bus accident on Sept. 1, 2010. She said she thought eventually that they would stop telling this story, but God has them to keep sharing it. A man pulled out in front of their bus, and died in the accident. Just 10 weeks later, a semi hit their bus late one night. She talked about being fearful of getting back on the bus after two wrecks, but then quoted 2 Tim 1 where it says that God does not give us a spirit of fear. And they had to choose not to live in fear. She talked about being thankful for God's mercy and grace. Then she led into the invitation of the program. She made a clear presentation of the gospel and wanted to make sure that everyone there knew Christ.

At the end, she asked if anyone there wanted to share a word. One lady spoke up and talked about how her son had died at 17 after a hard-fought life. She said that at his funeral they played "I Wanna Know How It Feels," and she talked about how much the song meant to her and had helped her. She thanked Karen for the song and asked if she would sing it. Karen said of course she would. She actually wrote the song, and shared how she wrote it. She had been humming the melody for a while. But one day when she was missing her dad who passed away, she was folding towels and the song started coming to her. She had John Darrin Rowsey help her with it. They sang it for the lady, and it was such a sweet moment.

They ended the concert with "I'll Fly Away," and of course everyone in the audience was on their feet clapping along.

Karen Peck and New River always have great concerts, and Sunday afternoon was such a sweet time of not only funny stories and moments, but also of testimonies and worship. They definitely realize that this is special calling on their lives, and it is their ministry.

They are also some of the most personable people to talk to after a concert! I told Karen I just wished they came to Arkansas more often, because Sunday afternoon was definitely a blessing to me!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Election Day!

I look forward to exercising my privilege to be able to vote this afternoon! And I hope you all are doing the same. As tempting as it is to share political views and why I think you should vote for a certain candidate, I'll refrain, but I do want to share this thought with you today.

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior" - 1 Tim. 2:1-4

God is ultimately in control no matter who wins today. God is more than able to change hearts and minds. As important as it is to pray for the election today, it's more important that we pray for the man in office to turn to God and seek guidance from Him.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Christmas Music?

It's that time of year when stores are starting to put out their Christmas decorations. Some people are putting up decorations and listening to Christmas music. Yep, I'm one of those people. I don't have decorations up yet, but they will be soon! I have a lot of Christmas music, but I don't have a lot of southern gospel groups' Christmas CDs. So I'm looking for suggestions!

I did purchase Karen Peck and New River's Georgia Mountain Christmas last year. And I highly recommend it if you don't have it! I also have the older Crabb Family CD The Locket, Jeff and Sheri Easter's It Feels Like Christmas and Spoken 4 Quartet's Christmas album. So I am looking to definitely add to my Christmas collection this year! Whose Christmas album is not to be missed?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fun Clip Friday - Scott Fowler

Happy Friday to everyone! Hope everyone has a great day and a great weekend! This weekend, I'll be seeing Karen Peck and New River in Sherwood on Sunday. If anyone's in the area, be sure to come out to Rock City Harvest Church at 2:30!

Here's today's Fun Clip Friday courtesy of Scott Fowler. It's from a few years ago, but he tells a pretty comical story about his sons. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Justin Wells Joins the Lesters

Justin Wells has joined the Lesters as their newest male vocalist. After Ginger Pitchers and her husband decided to leave the group, the Lesters announced they were looking for another male singer and to hire for the first time in the group's history someone outside the family.

Here's what the Lesters had to say about Justin joining their group in one of their email newsletters:

We are pleased to introduce Mr. Justin Wells as the newest addition to The Lester Family.  Justin has been involved in ministry most of his life, and the during the last three years has been on staff as Worship Leader at the Church of the Nazarene in Science Hill, Ken.  He is 30 years old and married. His wife's name is Angie, and they will be moving to St. Louis over the course of the next couple of months.  To allow ample time for all involved, Justin will remain on staff at the church until January 6, 2013, and then will begin his part with our team beginning the week of January 7, 2013.  In the weeks to come, I will be having Justin write an article for the LesterGram and that will allow him to introduce himself and Angie even more personally to you.  Friends, they are the "Real Deal!"  We can hardly wait to see what God has in store for this ministry, and we certainly hope that you will continue to pray for us during this time of transition.  (We do want to take this time to thank the many individuals that applied for the position.)  I'm sure it goes without saying, as this has been a very difficult time of waiting; but God once again proved himself to be faithful and we can't praise Him enough for all of the things He has done.

Justin did join the group Sunday, Oct 28 in Kentucky. Here's a song from that concert below. From this, I think he's a great choice and blends well with the group. Let me know what you think!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Through the Night - The Perrys - CD Review

The Perrys' latest album, Through the Night, was one of the most anticipated releases for me this year. It's unusual to be familiar with the album's songs before you have a copy in hand, but this was the case for me. I think that's why I couldn't wait to get it! I heard many of the songs before I got the CD either in person at a concert or via the NQC webcast. In any case, I was not disappointed in the least when I got my actual physical copy!

This is the second project the Perrys have recorded with the lineup of Tracy Stuffle (bass), Libbi Perry Stuffle (alto), Joseph Habedank (lead) and Bryan Walker (baritone).

Here's a breakdown of the songs:

"I Got a Hold of God This Morning" - This up-tempo Kyla Rowland song gets the album off to a great start. Stylistically it reminds me of "This Old Sinner Testifies." This song was chosen as the first single from the project. 

"Whosoever Will" - This song features Joseph and was also written by him, Joel Lindsey and Wayne Haun. Joseph does an amazing job on this story-song ballad. I think the song really hits its stride at the bridge with Bryan adding to Joseph's strong lead vocals, and then all group members coming in strong on the last chorus. It brings a lot of power to end the song on. 

"Everywhere I Go" - This will be a familiar song to many gospel fans. Tracy gets the feature with this song, and knocks it out of the park. Even though it's a song that's been done a lot, the Perrys' version is one not to be misssed.

"Through the Night" - Libbi takes the solo on the title cut of the project. She shows why she's been voted the fan favorite alto with her performance on this song. It is a Perrys' song all the way that was penned by Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey. It's such a great song lyrically about praising God through the hardest of times.

"He is Good to Me" - This song is not your typical Perrys' song, but I think it's a great fit with the album. This Joseph Habedank and Wayne Haun song is a fun up-tempo number that gives the project more variety in song styles.

"Too Good to Not Be True" - Bryan shines on this song written by Joseph and Adina Bowman (his mother-in-law). Lyrically this is my favorite song on the project! The song tells the story of the woman at the well from John 4, and talks about how God and His love for us is too good to not be true. Such a powerful song!

"The Blood and its Power" - Libbi gets the feature on this song that focuses on the cross, Jesus' shed blood for us. The song was written by Kyla Rowland and Chris Binion.

"One of These Mornings" - This is another great uptempo song that Bryan gets the feature on. It's definitely one of my favorites from the project. I can see it being another great choice for a single, and it's another great one to see them sing live.

"Unspoken Request" - This is not to be confused with the McKameys' song of the same title. I absolutely love the concept of this song. I think so many of us can relate to having been someone's "unspoken request" at one time in our lives. Joseph and Libbi are both featured on this song.

"When He Spoke" - I'll confess I was not familiar with this song. The Perrys recorded it during the Mike Bowling/ Nicole Watts years, and decided to rerecord it hoping to give the song the attention it deserved. I have since looked up the original version, don't worry! :) The first version was great, but I'm so glad that they made the decision to recut the song for this project. Not only did it give newer Perrys fans the chance to hear the song for the first time, but it is such a great song and does deserve another go at the spotlight. Joseph takes the first verse, and Bryan and Libbi bring it home on the second verse. It is a great power ballad, and one of my favorite songs from the project!

Joseph Habedank has shown not only how strong of a lead vocalist he is on this project but also songwriter with three cuts on the album. Joel Lindsey was a writer on four of the songs. Kyla Rowland, Wayne Haun and Jeffrey Bumgardner each had two.

The Perrys have really put out some top-notch albums recently with their last several projects being so strong. I think this album is no exception and only adds to their exceptional line of projects. For me, I think they surpassed Blue Skies, their previous album, with Through the Night. The song selection is incredibly strong, so that I find myself listening to the CD from start to finish which doesn't happen often. I think it's definitely one of the best projects that has been released this year. It's a must buy!

Song List -

1. "I Got a Hold of God This Morning"***
2. "Whosoever Will"
3. "Everywhere I Go"
4. "Through the Night"
5. "He is Good to Me"***
6. "Too Good to Not Be True"***
7. "The Blood and its Power"
8. "One of These Mornings"***
9. "Unspoken Request"***
10. "When He Spoke"***

***- Personal favorites

Review Copy Provided

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fun Clip Friday - Tim Lovelace

Hope everyone has had a great week! I did! But then again my week did start out with hearing Mark Trammell Quartet on Sunday night and then hearing Mark preach on Monday night. If you ever get the chance to hear Mark Trammell preach, I highly recommend it! It was a great message and two amazing services!

Here's a classic clip for this week's Fun Clip Friday. Bill Gaither asked Tim Lovelace to learn and sing a song during on the Gaither tapings. It's probably not a new clip to a lot of you, but definitely worth watching again!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Night of Testimonies - Mark Trammell Quartet - Concert Recap

The Mark Trammell Quartet was in concert in DeWitt, Ark. on Sunday, Oct. 21. Since the church was in revival, their concert was a little different with half singing and half group members' testimonies. Mark was the speaker for the revival the rest of the week. Sunday night was such a great service where all members of the Mark Trammell Quartet opened up and shared their hearts.

Here's a list of what they sang:
  • "Leave Your Sorrows and Come Along"
  • "Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus" - Eric Phillips featured. This is one of my favorites from Lifetime, so I was glad to hear them sing it live.
  • "Echoes From the Burning Bush"
  • "I Thirst" - Pat Barker featured. Pat makes the case every time I see them that he's one of the best bass singers in southern gospel. 
  • "Boundless Love" - This was the first time I'd really heard Nick featured with the group. I think this has been one of the smoothest group transitions, and he fits like a glove with the other guys.
  • "Loving the Lamb" - First standing ovation of the night
  • "Testimony"
  • "The King is Coming" - The entire church was standing during the third verse. It was the most powerful song of the night. Their version of this song is probably my favorite one I've ever heard!!
After the last song, Mark said that he would let each member give his testimony.

Eric Phillips spoke first saying that he was saved two years ago in September 2010. When he was six years old, he said a prayer, but it didn't really mean anything. He had grown up in a Christian home with his dad singing gospel music. He himself had sung gospel music for 11 years before he was saved. He said that he had doubted his salvation a lot, but it was one day two years ago when he really began feeling convicted at a church service. He wasn't able to focus and wondered what everyone would think. However, he reached the the point where it didn't matter. He walked out of the church after the service, but went right back inside in search of pastor. He knelt with his pastor in the pastor's office and was saved. He talked about the peace that he felt in that moment and how he had never experienced the kind of peace that he had at that moment.

Nick Trammell gave his testimony next and said that his story was very similar to Eric's. He too had grown up in a Christian home with his dad singing gospel music. His dad and Eric's dad had even sung together. He also knelt and said a prayer when he was little, but it didn't sink in what he was asking. When he was 18 years old, he began to feel convicted about his salvation. It was a Sunday afternoon, and he told his mom that he needed to go to church that night and get saved. His mom called his dad, who was on the road at the time. Mark told her not to let him leave the house. He led Nick down the Roman Road over the phone, and Nick prayed to receive Christ.

Before Pat Barker started sharing, he asked how many in the audience had grown up in a Christian home. A lot of the congregation raised their hands. He said that he too had, growing up a CDK, choir director's kid. When he was 7, he prayed the prayer but nothing happened. And his road took a much different turn. He said that he wasn't a bad kid growing up just a little mischievous. But without the conviction of the Holy Spirit, he went down a bad path when he got older. He shared that as a 19-year-old church choir director, he fell into some bad decisions. He said, "Once you fall, it's easy just to keep falling." He went on to serve at another church as choir director, youth director and Sunday School teacher still far from God. He said that he was eventually fired from the church, and that the sin had taken over his life. When he was 25, his mother gave him a Bible. He opened it up to James, and found this verse: "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" (1:22). He said that the last part, deceiving yourselves, really hit home with him and he realized his need for salvation. He went back to his home church that he grew up in and told the pastor that he needed to be saved. He said not to think that you've done something that can keep God from loving you. He ended his testimony by quoting "I'm Free," which is at the end of "The King Is Coming" on their Lifetime project. "I'm free from the fear of tomorrow. I'm free from the guilt of the past."

Mark then shared his testimony before giving a short devotional to end the services. He said he was saved on a golf course on July 13, 1988. At the time he was singing with the Cathedrals which was the #1 quartet. He wanted for nothing, blessed with a great wife, son, home and job, but he was miserable. He could play church really well. He had said a prayer with his lips, but didn't mean one word of it with his heart. That morning of July 13, God started dealing with him. The Cathedrals had sung at a crusade the night before and the sermon had convicted him. Tom Eliff, the preacher, said before you do anything, you must settle the question of your salvation. He told God if He was telling him that he was lost that God would let him play golf with the preacher the next day. And the next day when the preacher got to the course, he and Mark ended up in the same four-some. At the third tee box, he got out of the golf cart and said, "Bro. Tom, I need to do something. There's one thing you don't know about me." He said that Bro. Tom could tell something wasn't right. Mark told him that if he died right now, he would go to hell. The preacher led him down the Roman Road, and Mark knelt down in the golf course asking Christ into his life.

I appreciated so much each of those men sharing their stories and testimonies. It takes so much courage to stand in front of people and share when you've been down the wrong path and when you've just been playing church. Your courage and willingness to share so that He was glorified through your stories did not go unnoticed. Thanks to the Mark Trammell Quartet for such an incredible evening!