Friday, March 30, 2012

Fun Clip Friday - Dove Brothers

Here's a fun clip Friday for you that goes back several years from NQC. Have some fun with the Dove Brothers as they add a little "signature" flair to the song "Stand By Me."

If you haven't voted yet in the Southern Gospel March Madness competition, be sure to vote in Round 3!

Hope everyone has a good weekend! Is anyone going to any concerts this weekend? If so, I would like to hear about them!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Almost Morning - When Lyrics Speak

"... Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." - Psalm 30:5

I love hearing the story behind a song. For me it's not only about when the song connects with the audience, but it's about when a song connected with the writer during its creation. Watch the clip below as singer/ songwriter Joseph Habedank explains his inspiration for "Almost Morning."

"And weeping may endure for the night,
But it's almost morning.
Joy will replace the tears,
Calm all your darkest fears,
It won't be long till the dawn.
Tomorrow's another day,
To leave free of all your pain
So don't give up on your faith,
Cause it's almost morning."

This song is full of hope. So many times when we are going through a difficult time, all we can see is the darkness, our current circumstances. We don't know how long the night will last, but we do have the promise of the morning. Christ will be there to meet our needs and help us no matter what we are facing. It's such an encouragement when we go through the trials and the dark times of life, that morning is coming.

It's easy to focus on the fears and doubts. Our faith can tend to waver in the hard times, but we have the promise that it's almost morning. When it seems that the darkness will overtake us, we have the reassurance that morning will come.

I love the second verse that speaks of empathy and relating to each other during the trials in life. It's such a comfort knowing that others understand when you are going through a time of hurting and questioning. I think that this such a crucial part of the Christian walk to have fellow believers who can relate to what you are going through in life. I'm so glad that this is depicted in the song.

This song is a beautiful reminder of the verse in Psalms. I love how Joseph took this verse and the words he heard during a sermon to craft it into a great song about the hope we have in Christ. When we are going through the dark night, remember that it's "almost morning."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Class Act - Mark Trammell Quartet Concert Review

Saturday night I made the drive down to South Arkansas to see the Mark Trammell Quartet. I was at their concert early in March, but I was going with my best friend who had never seen them. I still say that this group is at the top. Their sound is the best it's ever been in my opinion.

Here was the song list for the night:

  • "Hallelujah, I'm Going Home"
  • "How Big Is God"
  • "An Old Convention Song"
  • "Glory Road"
  • "Echoes From the Burning Bush"
  • "Wedding Music"
  • "Testimony"
  • "How Long Has It Been"
  • "Loving the Lamb"
  • "I Want to Know"
  • "Bloodwashed Band"
  • "That Day at Calvary"
  • "I Thirst"
  • "Boundless Love"
  • "It's Almost Over"

Standout points to me:

I love that the set list was not the same. I don't like when groups don't change up the songs and order and instead go completely "by the list." They did sing the majority of the same songs, but in a different order, and it's the songs that people would be disappointed if they didn't sing. I was glad to hear "Boundless Love," it's one of my favorites.

"How Big Is God" is always a highlight of the concert for me! I love hearing Pat Barker sing this song. Someone from the audience requested "I Thirst," which I had not heard him sing before. It was such a great song that featured his voice as well. He is one of the best bass vocalists in the business, no doubt.

I've never heard them sing "Loving the Lamb" better than they did on Saturday night! It was such a great moment! You could sense the power and conviction behind what they were singing. The best moment of the concert to me!!

They are such a fun group to watch! Their antics back and forth and how they pick on each other. You can tell that they love what they are doing and enjoy being on stage with each other. 

If the Mark Trammell Quartet is even close to your area, don't miss them! They are a class act all the way around. You won't regret making the drive to see them!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fun Clip Friday - Legacy Five

Hope everyone has had a great week! I've been on vacation this week, so that's the reason for my lack of blogging this week. But I'm back now, and had a great time!!

Enjoy this funny clip from Legacy Five. At the end of the concert, the pastor of the church asked them to come back and sing "Winging My Way Back Home." Needless to say, it had been a while since they sang the song, and Scott Howard picks on Glenn Dustin, which always proves to be pretty funny!

Is anyone going to any concerts this weekend? I might be making a trip to South Arkansas tomorrow night to see Mark Trammell Quartet again. Hopefully I can make it. If so, you'll hear about it next week!

Monday, March 19, 2012

He Gives a Song - Murray Family - CD Review

He Gives a Song is the debut project of the Murray Family with Crossroads. I had not heard of the Murray Family before, but definitely want to hear more after this!

The group consists of husband and wife, Ernie and Connie Murray. Their two sons, Jason and Chris, and their wives, Emily and Cindy, make up the rest of the group. They have a strong family blended sound. This CD is had a more traditional, family-style Southern gospel feel.

Song list:

“What Heaven Means to Me” – The album starts with the known Vestal Goodman song. The family definitely did Vestal proud on this song. Great way to start the project! The song features Connie, the mother of the group.

“Sufficient Grace” – This one of my favorite songs on the project! The song has a beautiful message reminding listeners of God’s great grace and the promise we have in Him. Emily is the featured vocalist on the verses. There are some great harmony vocals on the chorus of the song.

“I’m Going Where He Lives” – This song has a slower, country feel. The song holds the promise of one day going to Heaven and seeing our Savior face to face.

“He Will Deliver Me” – This song features Cindy. The song is a great reminder of how Christ has delivered in the past and He will deliver us as well no matter what we are going through.

“Lazarus” – This a cappella song really features the family’s tight harmonies. For me, this was a shining moment of the album that really shows off their vocal abilities.

“He’s Alive” – It’s a great, up-tempo song. The song has a strong Easter message. With most
“Easter” songs being slower, I found this song a breath of fresh air.

“Rise Up and Walk” – This song is their first single off the project. It features Chris and tells the story of Christ healing the lame. It’s a beautiful song with a wonderful message and a perfect first single! 

“Hills of Old Judea” – The group adds a bluegrass feel with this song. The chorus of the song picks up some lines from the hymn “Lily of the Valley.”

“To the Glory of My Father” – This song is one of complete praise and adoration to our Lord. It recognizes all the wonderful things that God has done for us.

“It Won’t Be Long” – The last song on the project has a very traditional, classic Southern gospel feel. It talks about how it won’t be much longer until we will be going home to Heaven.

Personal Favorites: “Sufficient Grace,” “Lazarus,” “He’s Alive,” “Rise Up and Walk”

I strongly encourage you to listen to the Murray Family. Be sure to check out He Gives a Song, you will not be disappointed! The CD releases on March 20. For more on the Murray Family, go to

*Review Copy Provided

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fun Clip Friday - Booth Brothers

Hope everyone has a good Friday! Enjoy this clip of the Booth Brothers from Southern Gospel Picnic  in Branson at Silver Dollar City from this summer. Towards the end of the clip, you will see why even at this outdoor concert, it can be quite interesting to come in late from intermission!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hold Me While I Cry - When Lyrics Speak

This summer, I took a step I never thought I would as a single woman. I purchased a home. A series of events led me to decide to start looking for a place to buy instead of rent. I found a condo that I loved for not much more per month than what my current rent was. It seemed like the perfect opportunity, a condo that already included appliances and was nearly double the space of my apartment. And buying a condo meant I still didn’t have to do yard work, and as a single woman this was important! :)

Everything went pretty smoothly, and I was confident that God had opened this door. The seller accepted my first offer, and I was set to move in late August.

The Monday morning before I was supposed to close on Thursday, I got an email from my mortgage consultant about the loan. When it was going through underwriting, they discovered some issues with the loan. And if the loan did happen, I would need more money at closing than what they initially quoted me. I panicked. I thought, “Ok, God, you seemed to be bringing me to this place. What happened?” I was set to move in less than a week and would no longer have an apartment in less than two weeks.

I called him back and, of course, no answer. He had requested additional documents in the email, so I sent those to him. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I was the door was about to be closed, and I would be left without a place to live.

My mortgage consultant finally got back with me, explained the situation and told me even more documentation that was needed. I was able to get everything to him. But I wouldn’t get answers that day.

I got home from work, and I broke. I was trying to be a grown-up and make this huge purchase on my own, but at that moment I felt like a scared, little girl. At my breaking point, I thought about the song “Hold Me While I Cry” by Karen Peck and New River.

“It’s been one of those days,
If anything could go wrong it went wrong,
I know I’m feeling sorry for me,
There’s a lot of self-pity going on.”

It had definitely been “one of those days.” I just needed to relieve the stress of the day and cry it out, and so that’s what I did.

Here I was making one of the biggest decisions of my life, trying to prove my independence and that I was a “real adult” now, but all I wanted to do was cry and feel my Heavenly Father near me, holding me. I prayed and cried and wondered what was going to happen next.

“I take a lot of your time,
When I should be strong,
I should be standing by now when it’s you I’m leaning on...
I try to be strong, but if anyone can fall apart, I fall apart…”

I had tried to be strong and hold it together all day long, but in the comfort of my bedroom that afternoon, I couldn’t any longer. I know we’ve all experienced days like this, many situations I’m sure a lot more serious than this one. We've tried to hold it together, but then when we get alone, all we can do it go before God and just cry out to Him.

I needed strength from God to get through this. I honestly had no idea what was going to happen in the coming days. The last part of the first verse says:

“Tomorrow I will be ok
The dawn will bring a brand new day
I’m sure by then I’ll be fine…”

The sun would come up the next morning, and I would be ok. I had to start looking at the positives. I had friends who I could stay with for a while if I needed to, and I could always rent somewhere to put my furniture. I started thinking logically and making those “what if” plans. It would all be ok in the end, no matter what happened. God had a plan, even if I wasn’t sure what that was anymore.

Wednesday afternoon, one hour before I was scheduled to do the final walk-through of my condo, I got the call that everything was approved. The amount I would need the next morning to close was actually less than what I was originally quoted. God had indeed worked it all out, even far better than I had thought!

That Monday afternoon when I was crying it all out to my Father, I had no idea how much He would provide just two days later. Sometimes we just need to cry out to God after “one of those days,” and be reassured that it’s all in His control. He will give us strength, and hold us when we cry.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Singing News Fan Awards Top Ten Finalists

Top ten finalists for the Singing News Fan Awards were announced yesterday. A complete list can be seen here.

Looking over the lists it seems that most of the top 10 nominations this year are the same as last year. Most of the categories only have one or two differences in the nominations from 2011 with the exception of the Horizon categories and Young Artist where winners change every year.

I'll confess I was one of those people who in September was tired of seeing the same people win again. So my nominations this year had no one who won last year on it. Not because I didn't like those artists, but just because I would have no right to complain about the awards being the same if I voted for the same people. I'm not sure how my final ballot will turn out, but I really wanted to see nominations vary this year.

The biggest surprises for me came in the Album category. I expected to see "Part of the Family" by the Collingsworth Family and "Reach Out" by Karen Peck and New River. I also thought that Jason Crabb's "The Song Lives On" might be included. All three of these earned Dove nominations. In fact, none of the Dove nominated Southern Gospel albums were nominated. I don't think that these are necessarily predictors of one another, but at least last year there was some overlap.

What do you think? Were there any surprises for you? Do you think awards will be different this year or will it be pretty predictable again?

Edit: Daniel Mount has a great breakdown comparing this year and last year's nominations!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Worth It - Brian Free and Assurance Concert Review

Brian Free and Assurance (Brian Free, Bill Shivers,
Derrick Selph, Jeremy Lile) during their opening song,
"Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee"
Last Thursday night, friends and I made the drive to Hot Springs, Ark. in rainy, nasty weather. The rain did not deter the mood or the crowd at the Brian Free and Assurance concert that night, though. As little as I liked having to drive the curvy roads to Hot Springs in the rain, it was definitely worth it after we got to the concert.

The song list for the night was:
  • "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee" 
  • "Go Tell the World" 
  • "Anything Is Possible" 
  • "I Believe" 
  • "Glory Road" 
  • "Just a Little Talk With Jesus" 
  • "Part Where You Come In" 
  • "Never Walk Alone" 
  • "I Keep Looking Up" 
  • "O What a Savior" 
  • "Jesus Will Pick You Up" 
  • "First Day in Heaven" 
  • "You Must Have Met Him" 
  • "For God So Loved" 
  • "What Will You Choose" 
  • "Long As I Got King Jesus" 

Standout moments of the night:

The night started with “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” a capella. It was an interesting but great choice to start the night. I was very impressed with the blend vocally they had and staying so well together a capella.

“I Believe” is definitely one of my favorite Brian Free and Assurance songs. I’m always amazed at Brian’s high voice, but it really struck me on this song also how well Jeremy was on the low end as well.

I didn’t ever remember seeing them stage “Glory Road” before. But it was interesting since I saw the Mark Trammell Quartet do this same song just last week. Eric Phillips owned the song the week before, but I think it’s a fair statement to say that most will say Brian Free is at the top of the list when it comes to Southern Gospel tenors. He proved it with a standing ovation from the crowd. He, like Eric the week before, nailed the high part at the end. I’m not sure I could pick a favorite version.

Brian told about how several of the guys had lost parents in the past couple of years to set up “Never Walk Alone.” I had heard him tell before about all the family member deaths that they experienced in a short period of time. However, this time the testimony along with the truths that Brian spoke of how God’s love is greater than any other love in our lives was a touching moment right before the song. This song is just a beautiful reminder of how God is always with us.

I’ve never seen or heard them sing “For God So Loved” better than they did on Thursday night. It was a moving performance and people were on their feet midway through the song with most everyone in the church standing clapping at the end.

As an invitation, the group sang “What Will You Choose,” which I thought was a great song choice. However to end the concert, they sang “Long as I Got King Jesus,” which is always a fun, lively song choice! I love how they had the serious moment with an invitation for those to make decisions at the end, but  still ended the night with a fun, up-tempo song. Just a personal preference!

Other notes:

Bill Shivers impressed me so much throughout the concert. He is definitely one of the most underrated lead singers in the business, in my opinion.

The group told in a recent interview that Brian Free is one of the hardest song pitches. Brian mentioned that he always makes to choose songs that match the Word of God. He said toward the end of the concert, “If you’ve missed the words, you’ve missed the whole point. We came to point you to the cross.” I feel like overall the group has extremely strong songs that proudly proclaim the message of the gospel. Overall, it was a great night, worth the rainy drive along less than ideal roads for the concert!

I had never seen Brian Free and Assurance in concert by themselves, just at a large event with other artists, so it was nice to see them in this environment. I love getting to hear more of the testimony and words between the songs of the artist that you often don't get to hear when they are with other groups. I think it really shows a lot of the group's character.

I'm glad we didn't let the weather keep us from making the drive to see them! It was definitely "worth it!"

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fun Clip Friday - Karen Peck and New River

I saw Brian Free and Assurance in concert last night in Hot Springs! The downpour that we drove in most of the way to get there was well worth it! They sang most of the songs that I was hoping they would. The only exception was "Looking for a City." I was really hoping to hear it, since this clip had started circulating online again. I shared it with my friends a couple of weeks ago, so I was hoping they would get to hear Brian Free's version live. Look for a full concert recap early next week!

Are you ready for another Fun Clip Friday? Karen Peck and New River is one of my favorite groups. A highlight of their concerts is always hearing Karen tell funny stories on the road. If you haven't watched this interview with her talking about Susan's boots, you should. It will be sure to make you laugh!

Hope everyone has a great Friday!! Anyone going to any southern gospel concerts this weekend or coming up that they are looking forward to? Would love to hear about them!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What About Now - When Lyrics Speak

Sometimes lyrics speak in hard times when you need encouragement or a reminder that God’s still there. Other times lyrics speak words of conviction. One of the most convicting songs I’ve heard recently is “What About Now” by the Booth Brothers.

I applaud the Booth Brothers for recording this type of song. We need songs that challenge believers as much as encourage them. Michael Booth had the idea for this song, and then went to Jim Brady who was able to craft it into such a great, lyrically-strong song!

The song asks, "What about now?" So many times we concentrate on the peace and the assurance that comes from knowing Christ because of a prayer we prayed. This is a key factor in our faith, but it’s not all there is to it. If all we have to show for our faith is the day that we accepted Christ, it’s not going to prove much. It’s how we are living out our faith. What about now? Is there evidence seen by those you’re around? This song is extremely thought-provoking for Christians and really makes you think about what your relationship with Christ is based on.

While I know that I’m a Christian, and those around me may know that I go to church, do they see my relationship with Christ from my daily actions? Do I love those around me like I should? Do I immediately point to the moment I was saved when people ask me about my relationship with Christ or can they see that in my life?

The part that’s the most convicting to me says: “Do you love God and others? Are you drawn to His Word? Do you feel convicted of sin? Are you sharing the Good News? Forsaking what’s wrong? Have you stood faithful and strong?”

These words stopped me in my tracks. Am I drawn to His Word? Do I miss it if I don’t spend time in His Word? Do I really desire that time alone with God like I should? How long has it been since I’ve shared the gospel with others? Do I show Christ’s love to others?

At the beginning of the year, one of my resolutions was to make sure I spent time with God daily in His Word. There are times in my life when I've been very consistent in this, but at times when I've found it so easy to skip a day or two. So far, it's a resolution I’ve kept it, but it’s only March. I can definitely tell a difference when I rush through just to say I’ve done it and other days when I spend longer, more quality time reading and studying.

I encounter people every day who need Christ. What am I doing to actively share Christ with them? Do I love people like I should? I'm still praying through ways to open those doors of communication more to share the gospel with them.

This song definitely made me think about how my actions daily reflect my faith and my relationship with Christ. It made me examine some areas of my life and make changes so that my life better reflected Christ. That relationship started with a prayer, but that’s not what it’s about. It’s about now.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Keeping the Focus - Mark Trammell Quartet Concert Review

The Mark Trammell Quartet was in concert on Thursday in DeWitt, Ark. I have been anxious to hear the group in concert since Eric Phillips rejoined the group.  I had watched some of the clips on YouTube of their current lineup consisting of Mark Trammell, Eric Phillips, Dustin Sweatman and Pat Barker, and was very impressed. After seeing them in person last week, I think that the best is yet to come from the Mark Trammell Quartet.

The night started with “Gentle Shepherd.” Is it a new trend for groups starting with the slower songs? Seems to be recently in ones I have seen anyway. Again, it worked really well for the group. They started the concert with Mark playing the bass, and Dustin on the keyboard.

They reached a tender point in the song with just their voices and no instruments, and of course a cell phone rang. While I would have been tempted to laugh or make light of the moment, none of the guys did. A few corners of their mouths turned up, grinning about what happened, but they didn’t lose the moment of the song. It showed true professionalism, and that they didn’t want to lose the focus of the song.

They picked up the pace with the song, “Hallelujah, I’m Going Home.” Mark introduced the guys next. He talked about how Eric had been with the group before when they were a trio. He poked fun of the fact that he had been a police officer with his high voice.

Pat Barker was featured on “How Big Is God” next. This has become his signature song. He really shows the power and richness of his bass voice with this song. It was definitely one of my favorites of the night!

They sang “Echoes from the Burning Bush” next. Eric hit a nice high part, and Mark told him it was cute and said he should do it again. He did it again. The audience clapped, and Mark looked at Eric and told him they really liked that so he should do it again. And he did.

Mark set up the next song as being one of the most requested when Eric was with the group previously. He told the audience he was tired of the song, and if they never did it again, it would be too soon. But since people kept requesting it, they sang “Glory Road” next. Eric nailed the high part at the end. He proved that he lost nothing in this time away from singing full time and that he is sounding better than ever.

They then sang “Wedding Music,” and Dustin and Mark put their instruments up midway through the song. Next, Dustin took the lead with “Testimony.” This is such a great up-tempo song, and he does a great job singing it. The song definitely shows off what a great lead singer he is. This song started a run of several songs from their Testimony project.

“God Knows How Much Mercy I Need” was next which features Mark. Baritone singers in Southern Gospel don’t get better that Mark Trammell. I love the truths and message of this song.

The pace picked up again with “One Drop,” which was written by Dustin. He and Pat were featured on the verses.

The group brought new life to an old hymn with “How Long Has It Been.” Mark spoke after about what a sobering thought it was to really think about the words of the song what it meant. The last song before the break was “It’s Almost Over.”

After the offering, they talked about their product at the cruises they have coming up. This is when you really got to see the fun personalities of the group. Mark is not only one of the best singers in the industry, but also emcees. Mark talked about the Singing at Sea cruise and even though they just returned from this year’s, they were already taking reservations for Feb. 2013. He said if you love to eat and love the Lord then it’s the cruise for you. “You’ll grow in lard and in the Lord,” he said.

Mark mentioned that he had been doing “this” for 38 years. They all had been making jokes about his age and how long he had been singing. Pat joked he had been doing "this" for 38 years too. Mark asked what he had been doing for 38 years. Pat’s response was breathing. :)

On that note, they started back singing with “Blood Washed Band.” Then, they sang “That Day at Calvary.”

Mark said that the next song featured Pat. Pat piped up and said that he really liked this one. Mark looked at him and said that he didn’t even know what song it was. Pat replied it didn’t matter because if it featured him he liked it! “I Want to Know” started up.  This is another one of my favorites. All four put their all into it and tore the song up! Once they were done, Pat said, “Well, that’s enough.”

Pat then gave a short testimony about how we are all in need of God’s grace and mercy. He reminded the congregation that we don’t have to stray far from God or go off the deep end to be in need of God’s mercy. The “good ole boys” need God’s grace just as much.

They ended the night with their Calvary medley. This is a great arrangement of songs all about the cross. Even through the laughs and the jokes, which were plenty, you can tell this is the focus of their ministry. They all like to have a good time, but they make sure that it’s all about the cross and sharing the gospel.

If you get the chance to see the Mark Trammell Quartet in concert, you should definitely go! It was a night of great singing, laughs and most importantly the gospel. I only wish it had been a little longer! 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fun Clip Friday - Triumphant Quartet

I went to see the Mark Trammell Quartet in concert last night. It was such a great night. The group is a class act all the way around. If you read my previous post about them sounding the best they ever have, it's certainly the case!! Look for a full concert recap soon!

But for now, here's a fun clip of Triumphant Quartet for you on a Friday morning. Watch what happens here when Clayton Inman and Eric Bennett switch parts on "Just a Little Talk With Jesus!"