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!