Friday, May 31, 2013

Fun Clip Friday - Mark Trammell Quartet

Happy Friday to everyone! When I started Fun Clip Friday, I hoped to find fun interviews or more interesting clips that just the group singing, and this clip fits that exactly! This video is a couple of years old now as you can tell by the group members, but Mark shares a story of him singing with the Cathedrals that is not to be missed! Enjoy!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Love Is a Verb - Devin McGlamery - CD Review

I've been a fan of Devin McGlamery since I saw him with Karen Peck and New River for the first time. He has a great soulful tone that suited him well with them and now with Ernie Haase and Signature Sound.

Devin released Love Is a Verb on May 21, 2013. I was anxious to hear his first solo recording, and it didn't disappoint. It has a  little something for everyone with a variety of musical styles.

"Love is a Verb" is the title track of the project, and he gets some help from Beyond the Ashes on this one. This song for me was the perfect choice as a title track and really encompasses the other songs on the album. It's definitely one of my favorites!

Beyond the Ashes are not the only guests on this project. Karen Peck and New River lend its vocals to "While I Still Can" a song that Devin was featured on and recorded while with the group. I've always really liked this song, and was happy he chose to recut it and include it on this project.

Dailey and Vincent join Devin on "From My Rags to His Riches." The song doesn't have a bluegrass feel that you would expect when you see Dailey and Vincent joined him, but has more of a country flavor.

Russ Taff joined Devin on "Up Above My Head (I Hear Music in the Air)" that makes for a fun duet! The introduction of this song is fun with Devin and Russ talking. This a fun uptempo song with comments throughout from Devin and Russ!

"That's Why" is a song that Devin was featured on with Ernie Haase and Signature Sound's latest project Glorious Day. I really liked that Devin included several different people from the industry and that he worked with on this project including his current group. Even though this song is such a recent song that was also just released on another project, I think it was fitting here.

Another standout track for me is "As Long as You Walk With Me." It's a great ballad that has a great message. "Waiting at Home" has a similar feel and sound.

I also really loved that Devin went back and did a classic like "When He Was on the Cross." This is one of the standout vocally for me, even though this song has been done so much. He slows it down and really communicates the lyrics beautifully!

Album rating - 4 stars - I love the variety that the album has. It really has something for everyone. I also love that there is a clear theme throughout the project of "Love Is a Verb." You won't be disappointed with this project!

Song List:

1. "Love Is a Verb"
2. "Hold On, Help Is on the Way"
3. "From My Rags to His Riches"
4. "I Will"
5. "I Tasted Your Water"
6. "While I Still Can"
7. "As Long As You Walk With Me"
8. "Waiting at Home"
9. "When He Was on the Cross"
10. "That's Why"

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Nothing's Worrying Me - When Lyrics Speak

I haven't done one of these "When Lyrics Speak" posts in a while, and decided it was time for another one. I've been hearing "Nothing's Worrying Me" by the Collingsworth Family a lot lately, both on the radio and on repeat on my iPod.

Sometimes this happens to me with songs, I'm singing along with a song I've heard many times before and the lyrics just sucker punch me. As I was listening to this song, I felt like a liar as I was singing along. Could I honestly say that nothing is worrying me?

I'm by nature a worrier. I allow my mind to wander to "what if" scenarios and question things that could go wrong. I over analyze situations to the point that it's bad and ridiculous, and I know it.

As I was listening to this song, it was such a reminder that I don't need to worry and dwell on all the things that might or might not be. God is in control. This song basically says, "Bring it on," the wind can blow and the rain can come. You might get wet, but it will be ok. God has a plan and He's not only holding the world in His hands, but He's also holding our hands. We are safe and secure in the hope that we have in Christ. Nothing that we face takes Him by surprise, and nothing can ever take us from His hand.

My prayer is to look at the world more like this. It's a daily choice to not let my mind wander and to focus on the promise and hope I have in Christ that nothing should worry me!

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:34

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Names You Might Not Know Yet - The Old Paths Quartet

The Old Paths have just made the top five nominations in the Singing News Fan Awards. I had the chance to see the Old Paths last year in Branson at Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic. The Old Paths' Jeremy Peace was willing to answer a few questions for me so you can get to know him and the group a little bit better!

Question: When did you become interested in singing Southern Gospel music? What are some of your earliest memories of Southern Gospel?

Jeremy Peace: My grandfather sang bass with a group for 30 years, so I was sorta "born" into it. It was some of the first music I heard, and I was raised around. I've loved it and have been interested in it for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of watching my granddad sing, and going to my first southern gospel concert to see the Kingsmen Quartet. I was really hooked after that!

Question: How did you get started as the Old Paths? How long have you been singing?

Jeremy: I met the Old Paths back when I sang tenor with the Kingsmen, almost 7 years ago. Our groups sang together a couple of times, and I became friends with them then. A few months after I left the Kingsmen, I got a call from them asking if I were interested. Seven years later, I guess I'm still interested! I've been singing since I was 4, and started playing bass guitar with a group when I was 7.

Question: How did you come up with the name the Old Paths?

Jeremy: The group name comes from the verse Jeremiah 6:16 - Seek ye the Old Paths...

Question: Do you have a favorite song that you sing? And what song from another group has ministered to you?

Jeremy: My favorite song to sing is "Oh What A Savior."  I used to not care for it, as I've sang it all my life, but since my salvation in 2008, and the Lord calling me to preach, I can understand the need for a Savior to come to earth and sacrifice his life for mankind. He's been my Savior when I didn't deserve one. As far as another group's song that's ministered to me, it would be "He Didn't Throw The Clay Away," by the Lesters. It's my testimony song.

Question: What artists have been your biggest influence (musically and/or personally)?

Jeremy: Tim Surrett was my hero growing up, as his voice was unique and he sang with my favorite group, the Kingsmen. When I joined them, Tim had come back and was singing lead. Getting to stand beside him was a dream come true. And what was better was his influence on my life. I watched him from the bus one hot day in California as he stood in a parking lot for more than three hours, witnessing to a lost woman and leading her to Christ. I'll never forget that.

Question: What has been your favorite memory so far in your ministry? Do you have a particular concert that stands out?

Jeremy: My favorite memory is the night we gave an altar call and a family of 5 atheists came to the alter and received Christ as their Lord. Now that was a service to remember! A funny concert that stands out was one just last weekend. I've been doing this for a lot of years, but this night was one I'll never forget. The church had left their sound system on, and it was conflicting with our wireless mics. We went a whole set with the most gut wrenching noise bursting out of the speakers. We couldn't figure out what was going on. Everytime it would happen, the people would jump out of their seats. They began to look back at our FOH engineer with mean looks on their face as he helplessly tried to figure out the issue. Finally our M.C. stopped the service and asked for a break so we could fix it. It was embarrassing at first, but then I couldn't help but crack up everytime I saw the crowds reaction to the noise. Again, it ended up being the church's issue and the music minister opened the second half with an apology for it being their fault. We then gave the people a concert again, interference free.

Question: What new things are coming up for the Old Paths?

Jeremy: Its been an amazing year for The Old Paths. We've experienced two #1 songs, "Battlestand" and "Gods Great", in the Official Southern Gospel Chart within a 6 month time span. We had two songs in the Top 40 songs of the year of 2012, "The I Of The Storm," and "Battlestand." We were featured on the cover the Singing News Magazine in February, and currently have the #1 New Release and #1 DJ Hit Pick with the song, "He's My Song." We are making trips to Silver Dollar City and Dollywood for their Sothern Gospel festivals, the Memphis Quartet Show, The James D. Vaughn Festival, Bill Baileys' Winterfest, and the Wednesday Quartet Night at The National Quartet Convention. We signed with Crossroads Music, under their Sunlite Record Label. We were nominated in the Top Ten Singing News Fans Award categories as Quartet and New Quartet of the Year, Jeremy Peace as Tenor of the Year, Daniel Ashmore as New Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Right Now, and currently in the Top 5 for New Quartet of the Year. In saying all of that, there are still a lot more exciting things on the way from the Old Paths Quartet. Our new CD, These Truths, is due out in August, with some of the greatest songs we have ever recorded. We filmed a new DVD, "Center Stage", in 1080p HD, to be released next month. The film is currently being broadcasted around the world, and getting great response. Emails are pouring in everywhere from fans requesting more of our music. Though all these things mentioned are exciting and humbling, the most anticipated news is the expectation for lives to be changed and hearts to turn away from sin and towards the Son of God.

Learn more about Old Paths by going to

Monday, May 27, 2013

Hearing Albums Before They Are Released

It seems that it's becoming an increasing trend for artists to preview their upcoming album releases online. It could be a video of a rehearsal or a clip of each song that is going to be on the album.

I think if you see an artist live right before their next album releases you can expect to hear some of these songs live. However, with social media, it's easier than ever for artists to give fans a tease from their latest project. Many artists have released clips of each songs before you can buy the CD in stores or from them.

So my question is, do these previews really affect whether or not you're going to buy the album?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dixie Melody Boys Hire Aaron Dishman

The Dixie Melody Boys announced last night that they have hired Aaron Dishman to fill the baritone spot. Here's the release:
The Dixie Melody Boys have announced the addition of Aaron Dishman to the legendary group as their new baritone and piano player. The group announced last month that Steven Cooper would be stepping down due to vocal issues but will stay on as their bass guitar player. “Aaron had filled with us in a few years ago at piano. We fell in love with his spirit. When this came open, we knew he would be a great fit,” said Ed O’Neal. Aaron Dishman is 26 and lives in Mississippi with his wife Erica. “We are excited to have Aaron join us. When he came to audition and sat down at the piano to sing us a song, you could feel God’s spirit. He will add so much to our concerts and I know the fans will love him,” stated Matt Felts. Aaron will join the group in time to appear at the Memphis Quartet Show in June. 

The Dixie Melody Boys were voted favorite Male Quartet for the second year in a row at last month’s Southern Gospel Music Fan Awards. They are currently accepting applications for the lead singer position. They will be back in the studio with Aaron and the soon coming lead singer to finish their sophomore album with Song Garden Music Group.

I'm  glad to see that they were able to fill this spot now that Mike Rogers has left for Brian Free and Assurance so that they don't have two spots empty! Best wishes as they move forward with Aaron and search for a new baritone singer.

Fun Clip Friday - Triumphant Quartet

Happy Friday! Here's a gem of a video that was posted on SocialCam. "The Old White Flag" is always a fan favorite with Triumphant Quartet fans and Clayton Inman, and everyone also knows that Jeff Stice is not a big fan of the song on stage. However, thanks to Jamie Minchey on SocialCam, she captured what happened when the song was requested and Clayton was not there! Enjoy!


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Playing Catch Up

I have been gone for a little over a week with limited Internet access, and it's good to be back! I had some posts scheduled, but I knew things would probably come up while I was gone, but didn't realize how much! Some things I suspected, but some things definitely not!

Here's my attempt to play catch up of what I missed while I was gone:

Kellan Monroe Departs Beyond the Ashes

I had the chance to see Beyond the Ashes right before I left, and Tyler Vestal was at baritone. I wasn't sure if Kellan just happened to be off that weekend and didn't want to jump to conclusions. However, he posted this to his Facebook page last week:

As of May 1, I have stepped down from my position with Beyond The Ashes. The past three years have been nothing short of incredible and I am forever grateful that God allowed me to live my dream! I sang with the greatest guys in all the world, on stage and off. I am very excited about this new season and direction in my life and thankful for all God is doing. Thank you to Anthony Facello, Dustin Doyle, Dusty Wells, Rob Estep and all of the BTA team who helped me grow, learn, and love like Jesus. Your impact on my life is invaluable. 
Thank you to the countless friends, fans and family I made on the road for your love and support! Keep up with the guys and watch God do some amazing things in the ministry of BTA. Love y’all!
Kellan was with the group for three years. I'm sure there will be a process to finding a new baritone singer, but after hearing Tyler with the group, I think he would be a great fit!

Mark Trammell Quartet Hires Dustin Black

I thought this might happen while I was gone, since the group hinted at news coming last week on its Facebook page and Dustin had been traveling with the group for a while now. Here's the full release from the quartet:

Gadsden, AL - GREAT NEWS!!!!! On his 26th birthday, Dustin David Black has accepted the position as the new tenor vocalist for Mark Trammell Quartet! Dustin is from Saginaw, Michigan, and will soon become a "southern boy." 
Mark shares the following..."We are SO excited about Dustin coming on board and we look forward to what is in store for both Dustin and MTQ. I am still convinced that God knows exactly what we need and when we need it." Dustin has been traveling with the group on a 90 day trial basis. He is a brand new face to gospel music and has already made many new friends across the country with his winning smile and warm personality. He has proven to be a true Christian Gentleman in every way. Mark continues, "I was immediately impressed with this young man and his ability to just be one of the boys. Dustin had only been to one gospel concert prior to walking on our bus. It was a Gaither event in California a few years back while he was finishing his Masters degree in music at West Coast Baptist College." 
When Mark was asked about having a "yankee" on his bus, he smiled and replied, "It's certainly a first for me, but we will eventually get accustomed to the smell!" 
When you see MTQ in concert in the coming days, make it a point to stop by their table and welcome this fine young man to the world of gospel music.

I had the chance to see with group with Dustin in April and was really impressed with how well he fit with the quartet already! Look forward to seeing them again in Arkansas in June!

Joseph Habedank Leaves the Perrys

This the one I definitely did not see coming!! Joseph has been a mainstay in the Perrys for 10 years. He's grown into not only an incredible lead singer but gifted songwriter as well. I know this was not an easy decision especially with Tracy's situation, but he feels that this is what the Lord is leading him to right now. Here are the statements from Joseph and Libbi:

Dear Friends,

After 10 years of having the great privilege to serve with the Perrys, I have decided to step down as Lead Singer at this time. Libbi and I talked earlier this week, and while I would never want to abandon her in such a great time of need, sometimes The Lord has other plans. There aren't enough words for me to express how truly grateful I am for both Tracy and Libbi giving me the opportunity that they have. They are like parents to me and I love them dearly. I will miss them.

To the Gospel Music community, thank you all for loving and accepting me over the years. I never dreamed that The Lord would allow me to feel so loved by the fans of Gospel Music. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
As for my future, only The Lord knows what He has in store. I am confident of this one thing tho; I am absolutely nothing without Him and I only want His perfect will for my life. My wife, Lindsay, and I both covet your prayers in this time of transition. We love you all.

With a grateful heart,Joseph Habedank

A personal note from Libbi,
While it saddens me that Joseph is leaving, we definitely respect his and Lindsay's need to reevaluate their lives and future. He has been like a son to me and Tracy. Although he is leaving our group, we will always consider him part of our family.

As for the Perry's, we will continue on. It is my plan to be back on the road as soon and as much as possible. I don't have all the answers right now, but God is in control. Thank you for your love and prayers for me, Tracy, Jared, Bryan, and Leah; and your continued support of the group. 
In His Grip,  
Joseph will most certainly be missed with the Perrys! I hope that if the Lord does not lead him to continue singing full-time, we will still have his presence in the industry as a songwriter!

Mike Rogers Leaves Dixie Melody Boys and Joins Brian Free and Assurance

It seems that this was a pretty fast transition for Brian Free and Assurance. Glad to see that they were able to find someone so quickly! Here's the release from Brian Free:
Douglasville, GA – May 22, 2013 Brian Free announced today a decision has been made in filling the baritone position. Joining the BFA family will be Mike Rogers of Kinston, NC who fans will recognize from his recent position as lead singer for the Dixie Melody Boys. Mike will join the group on June 20 at the Memphis Quartet Show. 
Twenty-four year old Mike shares, “The warmth and humility from Brian and the guys when I auditioned made me feel this was truly a God-thing, and confirmed for me that I wanted to be a part of their ministry. BFA is very family-oriented, which means a lot to me. Ministry is important, but after God, family is top priority. Quartet music doesn’t get any better than BFA. They are top notch, and I am honored to join them." 

Brian states, “When I received the audition info for Mike I was very impressed with his vocal ability and the gift to deliver a song. After spending some time with him, his wife Bekki and daughter Coraline at my home, I knew he was the one God had sent to be a member of our family. I love his heart and the love he has for people. He will be a wonderful addition to BFA. 

Having over 300 people apply for the job, it was a hard decision due to all the talent I heard. I want to thank each person who took their time and effort to apply for the position. I am truly honored that so many wanted to be a part of our ministry. I know God has a place and time for you to use your talent for him.” 

Brian Free & Assurance’s first single I Want To Be That Man off their current project, Nothing But Love, went to number one the month of February on the Singing News Charts. Their follow up single, Calvary’s Cry has quickly climbed the charts and currently holds number six for the month of May. 

To keep up to date with Brian Free & Assurance visit their website at:
Look forward to seeing this new lineup of Brian Free and Assurance!

It's been a couple of weeks full of group changes! Any thing else I've missed?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A cappella - Who Does It Best?

If you're like me, a few names immediately come to mind as having amazing, standout a cappella performances. They have the tight harmonies and the long notes that can send shivers down your spine. These groups not only have one signature a cappella song, but have several they can pull from their repertoire.

Here are the four names that come to mind as being the at the top of a cappella singing -
  • The Isaacs
  • The Martins
  • The Nelons
  • Sisters
I don't think it's any coincidence that all of these are family groups. Here's examples of why these groups stand out to me above the rest:

The Isaacs

The Martins

The Nelons


What do you think? Is there another group that comes to mind when you think of amazing a cappella singing? And who do you think is best when it comes to a cappella singing?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Names You Might Not Know Yet - The Taylors

Some groups I was a little hesitant to ask to do this series because I feel like they have been on the
gospel music scene for a while, but since they were still nominated in a "new" category for the Singing News Fan Awards, I figured it would be ok.

So this week's post is on the Taylors, a brother, sister group based out of North Carolina. While still considered a young group, the Taylors have demonstrated their commitment to their ministry and sharing Jesus through southern gospel music.

Question: Did you grow up with a strong southern gospel influence? When did you first become interested in southern gospel?

The Taylors: We grew up in a small Southern Baptist church singing traditional hymns. Southern gospel music was not introduced to us until we were in our teenage years. A trio came to perform a concert, and we immediately fell in love with the songs and style. It was shortly after that concert that we became interested in singing that style of music.

Q: How did you get started singing and traveling as a family?

The Taylors: Our mom taught us 4 part harmony around our family piano -an upright, out of tune, Wurlitzer. She picked songs from her choir books and we learned to love singing together, although it wasn't very good at the time! I don't remember how we got our first singing engagement, but I know there were a lot of sweet people who encouraged us. With dad behind the wheel of our minivan and older brother, Matthew, as sound technician, we would travel locally to sing for banquets, club meetings, and fundraisers. God truly blessed those early years as we continued to follow his leading.

Q: What's the one thing that you want people who walk away from your concerts to know about the Taylors?

The Taylors: We would love for each of our listeners to know two things. First, that God loves them and has a plan for their lives. That is the reason we leave our families for over 170 dates a year. As glamorous as it may seem to be a musician/group, we can honestly say that if it weren't for God's calling and anointing, we would have chosen different careers. He is the reason we exist, so we want to share his love with as many people as possible before He returns, and music is a great way to do that. Second, we will always give an invitation for those listening to accept Jesus as Savior.

Q: Do you have a favorite song that you sing? And what song from another group has ministered to you?

The Taylors: Currently, we love to sing "I'm Going to Make It."  This song has a special place in our hearts as we find life to be discouraging at times, to say the least. "If Only Just a Few" by the Mark Trammell Trio is one of our favorites.

Q:  What artists have been your biggest influence (musically and/or personally)?

The Taylors: There are so many. Really we couldn't even begin to name them.

Q:  What has been your favorite memory so far in your ministry? Do you have a certain concert that stands out?

The Taylors: We performed a concert in Florida at a very small Methodist Church where a 93 year-old woman gave her heart to Christ for the first time in her life. That concert was not our best performance as we were weary from traveling the roads for two weeks straight. God spoke to our hearts by reminding us that when we are weary, He is strong. It was a bittersweet concert, in that, this woman came to know Christ, but when we asked her why she waited until that age to ask Jesus to save her she said no one ever gave her the chance to know the Lord. We never take a concert for granted anymore.

Q:  What new things are coming up for the Taylors?

The Taylors: We have some very exciting things in the works, but we can't tell just yet! Keep an eye on our website for latest news in the coming weeks. We can't wait to let you know what's happening soon!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Fun Clip Friday - Bowling Family

It's time for a Fun Clip Friday to feature a SocialCam video again. This one is too good not to share. The Bowling Family has done a couple of SocialCams playing pranks on each other. This time Mike decides to get the drummer, Taylor Guffey. Watch below!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Aaron and Amanda Crabb - Mercy - CD Review

Aaron and Amanda Crabb released their third and latest project as a couple in April. The couple serves as worship leaders at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. Aaron is also one-fourth of Canton Junction after traveling for years with his family as the Crabb Family.

You can tell that this project is by worship leaders. Many of the songs of this project have a more worship feel, but southern gospel fans will not be disappointed. All of the songs have such a great message and meaning behind them. Aaron and Amanda helped write more than half of the songs on the project.

The album starts with "If I'm Guilty," which features more of Aaron while Amanda comes in with beautiful harmony parts. I love the message of this song, "if I'm guilty, let me be guilty of too much mercy." Wow! Lord, help me to think like that! Convicting lyric!!

The first half of the project is so strong. The first three songs are all favorites of mine. "Somethin' About Love" is a fun, more upbeat song that has a country flavor. I also love "Take Him to the Place," which has been sent to radio.

Amanda's beautiful soprano voice has really developed and she absolutely shines on several songs. However, I love her singing "God Loves the Broken." There is a beautiful tenderness to her voice that comes out when she gets into her higher register. Another great vocal performance from Amanda is on "It's Gonna Rain." Her voice immediately grabs you at the beginning and pulls you into the song.

"I'm Learning" is also a song with a strong country sound. Aaron really shows off his lower register on the first verse with a little bit of a Josh Turner sound.

Album rating - 4 stars - This album is a must buy if you lean toward more praise and worship songs. Aaron and Amanda Crabb have really developed their own style and their vocals have grown stronger with every project they release.

Song List:
  1. "If I'm Guilty"
  2. "Somethin' About Love"
  3. "Take Him to the Place"
  4. "I'm Learning"
  5. "God Loves the Broken"
  6. "Holy"
  7. "It's Gonna Rain"
  8. "Without You"
  9. "Come on, Come on"
  10. "Reaching Out"
  11. "Guide Me"

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Enjoying the Moments - Beyond the Ashes

Beyond the Ashes - Dustin Doyle, Anthony Facello
and Tyler Vestal
Sunday night I had the chance to see Beyond the Ashes for the first time in person. I was excited to see reviewing their latest album, Living in the Moment. The more I listen to it, the more I love it and think I might should go back and adjust the rating even a little higher! There were plenty of stand out moments from the concert to enjoy!

Tyler Vestal formerly of Freedom was singing baritone for the group that night. Anthony said during the concert that it was only his third night with the group. I'm not sure if he is just filling in right now or not. Regardless, he did a great job for just being his third day with them. I was impressed that not only had he learned to sing the songs, but many of his he had learned to play along with on the keyboard!

The group had a great lineup of songs, mixing classic favorite songs with songs from their latest CD. Here's a breakdown of what they sang:

  • "Amazing God" - Love that they started the concert with this song. It really set the night off with a more worshipful feel. 
  • "Over for Good" - This was a favorite from their Living in a Moment CD, so I was glad they sang it! Dustin played guitar while he sang and really impressed me as a musician as well.
  • "Amazing Grace" - Dustin started out playing on guitar and then sang a verse. Tyler then played part of it on the keyboard and they sang a bit more of it.
  • "Just Over in the Gloryland" - Tyler played this on the keyboard.
  • "What a Meeting"
  • "Walking With My Eyes on Jesus"
  • "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" - Anthony had talked about before this that he was raised in church with a little soul to it, and he definitely put a soulful spin on the song that really showed off what a great singer he is! One of my favorites of the night!
  • "Living in the Moment" - They had the audience whistle along at the beginning of the song, which was pretty fun!
  • "Oh Happy Day/ What Can Wash Away My Sin"
  • "He Looked Beyond My Faults" - Tyler played and was featured on this song and did a great job!
  • "I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary" - This was the vocal performance of the night! As I was taking notes, all I said was "Wow!" beside the song title and as I was writing it, the crowd started clapping. We were all feeling the power of the song and the moment!
  • "Peace in the Midst of the Storm" - Another powerful song and loved hearing Dustin sing this live! This song is my absolute favorite from their latest project. It has a great message and hearing the delivery that Dustin gave the lyrics live was incredible! This stretch right before the offering/ intermission were my favorite moments of the night!
  • "Oh the Thought That Jesus Loves Me"
  • "I Can't Even Walk" - Anthony was featured on this, and it was another standout moment of the night for me!
  • "He Is Here" - Great choice to end the night on!
If you get the chance, definitely go see Beyond the Ashes! 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Names You Might Not Know Yet - Murray Family

The Murray Family is from Ohio and consists of father Ernie, mom Connie, their sons Chris and Jason and their wives Cindy and Emily. And the third generation of Murrays who can sometimes be seen on stage are Shelby, Kylie, Brynna, Alivia and baby Levi.

I had the privilege of meeting this family in Branson at Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic. They are such sweet people and the real deal! Get to know the Murray Family, and you will find out they are incredible people as I did!

Question: When did you start singing as a family? How is it traveling as a family?

The Murray Family: Our family started singing in 1997. It is a blessing to travel as a family sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. We laugh, cry, have devotions and are making some wonderful memories while traveling down the road. To be truthful, it gets crowded sometimes, (5 kids with 2 in diapers!!), plus 6 adults. Sometimes it is seems that we are like a day care on wheels. However, through all the good times and bad times, it is wonderful having a ministry with your family and with those that you love.

Q: As a bi-vocational group, what other jobs do you have, and how do you balance that?

Murrays: Balancing jobs through the week and singing is one of the most difficult tasks that we have. Jason and Emily work for an insurance company. Jason is an IT specialist and Emily is an underwriting clerk. Cindy works for the schools as a librarian. Chris is an OTR truck driver. Ernie is retired, but drives a bus for a local school district and Connie helps with the grandchildren. You have to truly love the ministry to do this while working normal jobs. We use all of our vacation through the year to accomadate the traveling with the group. This makes for a lot of late nights on Sunday evening returning home, and a lot of tired individuals on Monday morning. Although it is trying and tiring, it is well worth it to see souls saved and others uplifted and encouraged.

Q: What's the one thing that you want people who walk away from your concerts to know about the Murray Family?

Murrays: Our main objective is to share the message and love of Jesus Christ! Jesus stated in John 12:32 "If I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." We want people to know that we love Jesus and that HE has changed our lives forever and for the better, and that HE wants to do the same for you. We want people to know that His Holy Spirit lives in our lives. He leads us, guides us, and drives us! We want to share that love with those struggling, sad, feeling alone, or most of all for those who have never accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior.

Q: Do you have a favorite song that you sing? And what song from another group has ministered to you?

Murrays: That is difficult question because we love the songs that we sing. We all have a lot of favorites. Ernie - "He's Alive," Connie - "It Won't Be Long," Chris - "Lazarus," Cindy - "I'm Going Where He Lives," Emily - "Going Home," and Jason - "To The Glory Of My Father."

We'll just give you songs that have touched us individually. Ernie - "Two Winning Hands" (The Hinsons), Connie - "I'll Be Alright As Soon As I Touch Calvary" (Mike Bowling), Cindy - "Thank You For Saving Me" (The Primitive Quartet), Chris - "I'm Amazed" (Jason Crabb and The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir), Emily - "The Broken Ones" (The Talleys), Jason - "I Believe" (Dailey and Vincent).

Q: What artists have been your biggest influence (musically and/or personally)?

Murrays:  Ernie, Connie and Cindy - The Primitive Quartet, Emily - The Martins,  Jason - Tim Surrett and Ben Isaacs (musically) and The Primitive Quartet (personally), Chris - Mike Riddle and David Johnson (musically) and The Primitive Quartet (personally).

QWhat has been your favorite memory so far in your ministry? Do you have a certain concert that stands out?

Murrays: Our favorite concerts and church services are those where people have came to know Christ as their personal savior. We have made many friends and memories where we have laughed and cried over the years. We look forward to making many more memories.

Our favorite concerts would have to be playing at Silver Dollar City and Dollywood last year. Another favorite concert was the times we have played at the Primitive Quartet singings at Hominy Valley in Candler, NC.

Q: What new things are coming up for the Murray Family?

Murrays: We are excited about what God has in store for us in 2013! We are going back to the studios in June to record our second project with Crossroads music in Arden, NC. God is opening up doors for our ministry to sing at churches where we have been in the past and for many new places this year. We are also going to be singing again at Dollywood for Harvest Fest this fall, The Gospel Barn in Somerset, Ky. in October, and the 4th of July Celebration in Williamsburg, Ky.! We are excited about how God is expanding our ministry and we pray for it to grow even more. Please keep us in your prayers because it is our desire to be a full-time ministry. We would love to come be with you at your church or venue sometime. You can check us out at our website at,, or God Bless you!

Thanks Murray Family for taking the time to answer my questions and for allowing readers an insight into your ministry!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fun Clip Friday - Mark Lowry "Mamma Had Enough"

Happy Friday to all! I don't know about you but this week has been a long one! It might have something to do with the fact that I'll be on vacation for two weeks though. :) The blog will keep going in the next few weeks, but I might not be as quick to respond or post any news items that come up in that time.

Since Sunday is Mother's Day, I decided it was a good time to post Mark Lowry's classic "Mamma Had Enough" story. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Palmetto State in Search of a New Name

Larry Strickland, owner of Palmetto State Quartet, has announced a major change for the legendary quartet. It was announced today that the popular vocal ensemble will undergo a name change in the coming weeks. The change comes at a time when Strickland sees the group evolving. “We feel that this is the perfect time to make a name change since we have had vocal changes in our group recently” stated Strickland. “The talent and sound that has come together is exciting! We still have the close harmony, but also this group can deliver unique, modern vocal arrangements for our time. We’ve spent months writing new material, working in the studio and can’t wait to premier our new music to radio and our fans!”

So, what’s the new name? “Well, we don’t really know,” says Strickland, with a laugh. “We need some help, so we are going to our friends and fans, the ones who come to our concerts, to ask for their input.”

Now through May 29, 2013, fans can submit their suggestions for the new name of the group to The brand-new name will be announced on June 3, 2013. The winning entry will receive the following as a “thank you” from Larry Strickland and members of the group:

  • $500 Cash Prize
  • Front Row seats to any upcoming concert
  • Meet-and-Greet before a concert
  • The first copy of the new CD, autographed
  • Autographed Picture
The group is currently in the studio finishing their new project and a tour will be launched in conjunction with the recording release. “These are greatly exciting times,” says Larry. “I love southern gospel music and I am looking forward to the next phase of this group!”

Palmetto State Quartet is booked exclusively through BSA/Beckie Simmons Agency. Beckie Simmons states ” This is the perfect time for the name change with this Quartet. We are behind them 100% and looking forward to taking this journey with Larry Strickland and PSQ for the future!” For further information call 615-595-7500 or visit

From a PR/ communications background, I'm not sure what to think about this. I can understand wanting to emphasize that this is a somewhat of a new group and they are not from the Palmetto State anymore really, but Palmetto State Quartet is a recognizable name. I think even after they are renamed fans and promoters will need to tie in the Palmetto State name for a while so people will know it's not a new group to the industry. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Never Disappointing - The Hoppers Concert Review

I was excited to have the chance to see the Hoppers again in concert on Thursday, May 2. Last time I saw them TaRanda Greene filled in for Kim Hoppper, so I was hoping for the chance to hear these two dynamic singers together. So I was a little disappointed to find out that Kim was not there once the concert started; however, I was not disappointed in how the concert went overall at all!

The Hoppers started with Claude singing "If I Can Help Somebody." I had never seen them start a concert with this song, normally it's an uptempo song, but this really worked well. This is Claude's signature song, and rightly so, it's one that I love hearing him sing.

Then, Dean and TaRanda were featured on "I Am Whatever You Need." The more I hear this song, the more I love it. Then they sang the always favorite, "Yahweh."

Claude asked how many people got an NQC brochure as they were coming in. He said now if you got one, put it down, we're up here singing. Haha! I have a feeling there's never a dull moment with Claude on stage, especially if you're on stage with him. 

He mentioned to the audience that Kim had needed to stay home with her baby girl. The audience all "aww"ed over the baby girl reference, and Dean quickly stepped in to say that the baby girl was 8 years old, and there were no new babies in the Hopper household! Then, Claude introduced TaRanda, and she sang "Sky Full of Angels." It was so good to hear her go back and sing a song that you regularly saw her sing in concert with the Greenes. Loved hearing this!!

They sang the title track from their latest project, "Count Me In," before Josh Simpson was featured on a piano solo. Then Dean was featured again on "Going Home." Dean continues to impress me as a lead singer, I'm not sure why he's not recognized more for his vocals.

They sang "I'll Worship Only at the Feet of Jesus," and at the end did one more repeat of the chorus a capella! Absolutely beautiful! Then, TaRanda sang "Grace Will Always Be Greater Than Sin." She was simply incredible on this song, not only were the vocals spot on, but the way she conveyed the lyrics of this song made it the standout performance of the night for me.

"Yes I Am" was next and the audience was standing and clapping along through most of the song. Claude thanked people for being there after the song and for being a good audience so far. He talked a little bit about how they loved coming to Arkansas.

Claude then started giving his testimony, and said he was saved when he was a teenager in the 6th grade. Several people in the audience chuckled at this, and Dean started laughing as well. He cut into Claude's story and said, "Y'all are quick." Claude was a little confused about what he said that was so funny to people, but kept right on. He introduced Mike and said that he was the only guy who has been voted Favorite Musician who is a drummer! Didn't know that!

He then introduced Connie who then sang "I've Come Too Far To Look Back." Connie Hopper is one of the classiest ladies in gospel music. I  love hearing her sing this song, but I also loved what she said during the song. She said she didn't care to go back because of all she had seen God do in her life and in others' lives. She talked about different times when she had prayed to God knowing there was nothing she could do, and He provided and gave her a peace that passes all understanding. "We serve a God who hears our prayers and nothing is too hard for Him," she said. Then she had TaRanda restart the chorus of the song in Kim Hopper fashion. TaRanda added her own little style and runs to make it her own and knocked it out of the park. They sang "Jerusalem" before taking a break.

At other Hoppers' concerts I've been to they normally have the halves pretty even, but with so much packed into the first half they only sang a few after the break. They started it off with "Waiting on my Ride." They said this was TaRanda's first time to sing Kim's part on the song, but no one would have known if they hadn't told it.

Claude picked on TaRanda a bit saying that during one song in the first half she sang it a little worldly. She asked him what made it worldly if it was how she moved her foot. He said that it was, it was how you would move your foot in a night club. So Dean chimed in with, "How would you know, Dad?" :) TaRanda said that she was raised Penecostal so that explained moving her foot! I love seeing moments like this with the Hoppers, the just for fun, picking on each other times.

They closed the night with "That's Him" and "Shoutin' Time." During "Shoutin' Time" Claude brought up a young girl from the audience, just a toddler who had requested them sing this song. She even had her own little pick microphone that she brought on stage with her! Precious!!

I love seeing the Hoppers live. They never fail to disappoint. It was not only a night of great singing and testimonies, but a night where they seemed relaxed on stage and free to joke around and have fun with each other. I was a little dejected at first finding out that I wouldn't be able to hear Kim and TaRanda sing live together, but the night was not disappointing in the least!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Derrick Selph Leaving Brian Free and Assurance

Brian Free posted on Facebook this afternoon that Derrick Selph is leaving Brian Free and Assurance. He sings baritone with the group. Here's the post in its entirety:

It is with sadness that I must inform everyone that Derrick Selph is leaving BFA and coming off of the road. He has been such an amazing part of this ministry for almost 10 years, and he will be greatly missed. As many of you know, Derrick and his wife Jennifer are expecting their second child, and he feels that he needs to be at home more. He will be greatly missed because we truly are family but we all want him to do what he feels he needs to do in this situation.

We are currently taking applications for the baritone position. Please send all applications to:
P.O. Box 1909
Douglasville, GA 30133

Or you can email me an audio clip, bio and picture to:
Derrick will be with us a few more weeks and we truly wish him and his family the best God has to offer. We love you Derrick, Jennifer and Lydia.

This group has held a pretty steady lineup for the last several years. Selph left before but was not gone for long before rejoining the group in 2010. It's certainly understandable when someone comes off the road for family reasons! I wish the best for Derrick and his family and Brian Free and Assurance as they look for a new baritone singer!

Names You Might Not Know Yet - Lindsay Huggins

Here is the third installment in Names You Might Not Know Yet. This week focuses on soloist Lindsay Huggins. Get to know Lindsay a little more!

Question: When did you become interested in singing Southern Gospel music? What are some of your earliest memories of Southern Gospel?

Lindsay Huggins: When I was a little girl, my daddy played guitar with Southern Gospel group Marcia Henry & Latter Rain. (Marcia is a prolific songwriter with many credits to her name.) I thought it was so cool to be "with the band," especially if I got to ride the bus or go backstage. Haha. :) Those are my earliest memories of Southern Gospel.

Q: How did you get started singing and how long have you been singing?

Lindsay: I started singing in church just as soon as soon I was old enough. My first memory of singing is from a church talent competition at age five. I won!! :)

QTell a little bit about your family and where you are from.

Lindsay: I grew up in Sandersville, Ga., a small town in the central part of the state. My mom always sang in church. My father is an awesomely talented musician who is self-taught and can play just about any instrument he picks up. He started traveling with a Southern Gospel group at about the age of twelve playing bass guitar. My grandfather sang in the group. Daddy can sing, too...but you'll probably never hear him. I have a younger sister who sings as well, and has a beautiful soprano voice.

Q: Do you have a favorite song that you sing? And what song from another group has ministered to you?

Lindsay: My favorite song to sing is "God Whispers." It's a great reminder of how God uses everyday situations to speak to us. So many songs from others have ministered to me. I don't know that I can pick just one!!

Q: What artists have been your biggest influence (musically and/or personally)?
Musically, I love Kim Hopper, TaRanda Greene, Lauren Talley, Sonya Isaacs much space do I get? :) Personally, Allison Speer and Ann Downing have both been a big encouragement in my ministry, and I love their music, too!

Q: What has been your favorite memory so far in your ministry? Do you have a certain concert or moment that stands out?

Winning the NQC Talent Contest and singing on the main stage was a huge honor! I just finished my first music video. That was a little surreal! You can watch it here or below.

Q: What new things are coming up for you?

I will be part of a women's cruise called the Girlville Getaway in January! You can learn more at God is continuing to open doors for ministry and you can keep up with my schedule at

Thanks again Lindsay for being willing to answer all my questions!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Fun Clip Friday - The Hoppers

I had the chance to see the Hoppers last night in Hot Springs, Ark. It was such a great night! Kim was not with them because she needed to stay home with her and Dean's youngest daughter. TaRanda Greene filled in at soprano. Look for a full recap early next week!

For today's Fun Clip Friday post, here's a fun video of the Hoppers from their official YouTube channel. It's a blooper reel from their interviews for the First Baptist Dallas DVD. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Secular Songs in Southern Gospel

Typically I'm a fan of new projects by southern gospel artists having new songs. I mean, if there were no new songs we'd all be hearing the same songs over and over, right? (There are definitely exceptions to this rule. "I Want to Know" by Mark Trammell Quartet and "I Know a Man Who Can" by Greater Vision are two that immediately come to mind.)

I do love the older songs and hymns and enjoy hearing them in a live setting. It's interesting not only the artists lately who have gone back and covered older songs, but also artists who have covered songs previously sung by secular artists. The songs definitely have a positive message and apply to Christians, but it's different to see them covered as a southern gospel song. Some of them even fit better as a gospel song than in the original genre. And honestly, some secular songs that are covered I don't always realize it was sung by a secular artist first.

A full list of these might be more comprehensive that I bargain for, but I think it would interesting to see how many we can name.

To get you started, here are a few secular artists from various genres who have had songs covered by southern gospel artists, see if you can name the song and the southern gospel artist who sang it! And feel free to comment with any more that come to mind!

  • Jason Mraz - "Living in the Moment" - Beyond the Ashes
  • Jonas Brothers - "Time for Me to Fly" - Jeff and Sheri Easter
  • John Mayer - "Love Is a Verb" - Devin McGlamery
  • Diana Ross - "Reach Out" - Karen Peck & New River
  • Lady Antebellum - "I Run to You" - Crawford Crossing
  • Reba McEntire
  • Johnny Nash
  • Leeann Womack
  • Dolly Parton

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Greatest Story - Triumphant Quartet - CD Review

Triumphant Quartet's latest album, The Greatest Story, was released on April 9, 2013. This 15-song
project shows why this group has been named the favorite quartet for the last several years in the Singing News Fan Awards.

First, I love projects that contain more than the usual 10-12 songs. Yes, normally that means that there are a few filler songs, but as a fan I can't help but have the mindset that more music is always better. Many of the songs have been covered by other groups previously, a few even by Triumphant themselves. I keep getting reminded that I'm still a relatively new fan and not as familiar with older projects, so some of these sounded new to me! Most songs are traditional quartet style.

I liked how within the first few songs all seemed to take turns featuring each of the four singers. This lineup of Triumphant is so solid and has been for the entirety of the group which is a rarity in gospel music, so it's really nice to see that come through not only in concerts but also on the projects.

The first single from the project is "Take It From Me Meshach," and this is one of my favorites from the project. This uptempo songs makes a great radio single, and judging by how much I'm hearing it, radio stations are loving it too! It's definitely a Triumphant Quartet-style song. I predict this one will also be a fun one to see them sing live, along with "No Such Thing."

I liked hearing Clayton Inman on "Thomas Never Doubted Again," but I thought his strength of a lead singer really came out in "He Would Do It All Over Again." I love the message of that song, and the orchestration of the song is great!

Eric Bennett also does a great cover of "Because He Loved Me." I love this rendition of the "The Greatest Love Story," the title track. There are some tweaks from the original version, and Eric's bass vocals are just incredible on this song.

David Sutton has such a great tender tone to his voice. He has some great moments during several of the songs, but my favorite feature of his was "He Was There All the Time."

Scotty Inman is growing not only as a singer but also as a songwriter. His feature "I Go to Calvary" is one of my favorites on this album. He also co-wrote two songs with Dianne Wilkinson, "Heaven Will Be Mine Someday" and "I Can't Help But Smile."

"There's a Fountain" is one of the more traditional quartet sounding songs on the project. The blend and tightness of the four vocalists on this song really comes out!

"I Saw the Light" is an instrumental song. I love the piano and harmonica songs live in concert, but it wasn't my favorite to listen to on CD.

Album rating - 4.5 stars - This album has so many great standout songs that it was really hard for me to narrow it down to a few favorites, but the lack of original songs moved it down a bit for me. At the same time, it's hard to beat an album that has 15 solid songs, not all are standouts or my favorites, but all are very solid!

1. "Because He Loved Me"
2. "I Go to Calvary" **
3. "Thomas Never Doubted Again"
4. "Take It From Me Meshach" **
5. "He Was There All the Time"
6. "No Such Thing" **
7. "He Would Do It All Over Again" **
8. "There's a Fountain"
9. "Heaven Will Be Mine Someday"
10. "I Saw the Light"
11. "I Can't Help But Smile"
12. "Jesus Is the Anchor" **
13. "I've Got Confidence" **
14. "If You Had the Only Key"
15. "The Greatest Love Story" **

** Personal favorites