Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Perrys with David Ragan

I got the chance to see the Perrys Friday night in Monticello, Ark. There will be a full concert recap, but I couldn't wait to share this clip with you. Here's a video of David Ragan taking one of the Perrys' most beloved songs "If You Knew Him."

David, Leah and Bryan are doing an incredible job carrying on as the Perrys. Check back tomorrow for more on the concert, but for now enjoy this!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Fun Clip Friday - Jeff Easter and Gaither Homecoming Band

Happy Friday to all! Hope you all have had a great week and have a great weekend!

I found this older clip on YouTube of Jeff Easter and the Gaither Homecoming band and friends having a little fun during a taping! Enjoy!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

For All He's Done - Greater Vision - CD Review

Greater Vision's latest project is For All He's Done which was released May 21, 2013. The project is solid and is exactly what fans have come to expect from Greater Vision in the last 20 plus years.

Rodney Griffin is one the most awarded songwriters in gospel music, so it's no doubt that several of his songs are on the album. He has five that he either wrote or co-wrote. However, Chris Allman is also quite the songwriter and also has four cuts on the project, all written solely by him. This only leaves one song that a member of Greater Vision didn't have a hand in writing, which I think is a strength of the project!

One song that immediately caught my attention was "Looking for the Grace." It's a strong, up-tempo song that's sure to be a great one to see live. It features Rodney, who has several nice features on the album. This is the first single from the project.

"This Is Mercy" is a ballad that also features Rodney. The first verse tells the story of the sign being nailed above Jesus' head on the cross and what it might have said instead. It's from the same story-song vein that "No Longer Chained" is that Rodney is so masterful at!

"I Can Trust You" comes from the pen of Chris. The message and lyrics of this song are so powerful and relate to so many people. And Chris' vocals on this song take the song to a new level! Chris continues to solidify his position as one of the best tenors in gospel music. Definitely one of my favorites!

"Seeking for Me" is a cover of a Cathedrals' song. Gerald Wolfe and Chris are both featured on this one. It's another personal highlight. The orchestration and buildup to when Chris' voice soars on the second verse is incredible!

"Preacher Tell Me Like It Is" has one of the most unique concepts. We need more preachers who don't try to sugar coat their messages on Sundays, but preach and speak the truth in love. The song has a country flavor.  It's a Rodney song, both written by him and featuring him.

"For All He's Done," the title track of the project, is one that Chris Allman released on his most recent solo CD. It fits really well with on a Greater Vision project though. I also really enjoyed them recutting "The Blood Hasn't Ever Changed" that was on Greater Vision's 1996 project The Shepherds Found a Lamb.

One thing that does seem to be missing is a strong feature for Gerald. He's featured on a verse of "Seeking for Me." His voice is heard all through the project, but Chris and Rodney are featured much more on this project.

Album Rating - 4.75 stars - I think this is one of the best projects Greater Vision has released. None of the songs stand out as "filler songs." And from what I've heard they seem to be staging most of these songs live. Each song brings a strong and different message to the project, but each one brings the focus to God for who He is and "for all He's done."

Song List:

1. "Come Unto Me"
2. "Looking for Grace" **
3. "This Is Mercy" **
4. "The Blood Hasn't Ever Changed"
5. "Forever Is Sure"
6. "Seeking for Me" **
7. "Preacher Tell Me Like It Is" **
8. "I Can Trust You" **
9. "I Will Take Care of You"
10. "For All He's Done"

**Personal favorites

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Took It All Away - When Lyrics Speak

God can take you down some unexpected paths in life. I don't understand the way God works, and I don't pretend to. I recently had to watch a friend go through an unexpected change in life. It wasn't a welcome change, but a life change that left you standing there wondering why. When things are taken away in life, it can really cause us to question and wonder where God is in everything.

I couldn't help but put myself in the same situation. How would I react? What if God took the same thing away in my life? Would I still praise Him? How would I handle the situation?

The song "Took It All Away" by Crossway and written by Annie McRae came to mind. The first verse talks about being numb from the shock of devastation, being confused and your faith just barely hanging on. But God, if you took it all away, not just one thing, not just a couple, but all, I will still stand and praise Your Holy Name.

So many times when one bad thing happens, we find it difficult to praise Him. We are left questioning, but what if we believed in His plan praised Him for the very things we don't understand.

The second verse of the song talks about how these trials allow God to try us so that we can come out stronger in the end relying on God's strength to make it through. How much better off would we be if we stood firm in our faith praising Him when He takes it all away?

As I listened to this song again, I thought about all God has blessed me with and couldn't even grasp the devastation I would experience if all of those blessings were suddenly taken. Not only, but it what if He never chose to bless me again? I pray that I would have the strength to "rise up from the ashes of my despair" and declare that if He took it all away I would still stand and praise His Holy Name.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Memphis Quartet Show

Apparently those of us who were not at the Memphis Quartet Show missed a great event! Several videos have been circulating on YouTube and SocialCam from the event that shows us just how much we missed out on! Here are a few of the clips and highlights that people have shared from the event.

There are several more on YouTube and SocialCam, so be sure to search for them and check them out!

Elvis and Triumphant Quartet

Booth Brothers Quartet (courtesy of Lynn's Chronicles' SocialCam)

Dove Brothers

Friday, June 21, 2013

David Ragan Joins Perrys

Libbi Perry Stuffle announced that the Perrys have a new lead singer via Facebook last night. David Ragan who has been filling in and most recently sang with the Inspirations will join the Perrys full-time. Read her post below.

The Perrys are pleased to announce the addition of David Ragan as their new lead singer. David, who has been filling in the past two weeks, will be stepping into the role full-time. David most recently sang with the Inspirations, and he brings to this award-winning mixed group not only a great lead voice, but also touring experience. He is "road ready," which was an important hiring consideration, while Tracy continues to recover from a stroke suffered in January and Libbi works select dates while tending to Tracy’s care. 
David is thrilled to be a part of the Perrys. He admits, "Whenever the Inspirations would sing with the Perrys, I always enjoyed it. I’ve been a fan of theirs for along time. With the lead singers they’ve had through the years, I know I have big shoes to fill, and I’m thankful for that opportunity. I thought the biggest change for me would be going from a male group to one that’s co-ed, but Bryan, Leah and I gelled almost immediately. They’re both laid back and very easy to travel with. Bryan is such a great singer with one of the best hearts. And Libbi is incredible. I’m not sure I could put into words the grace and determination she has. I admire her and Tracy both very much, and respect this ministry they’ve built. I’m very happy to be a part of this fine team." 
Libbi says, "On behalf of the Perrys, Tracy and I are thrilled to welcome David, his wife Michelle, and son Bradley to our FAMILY!" We have known David for several years and have always admired his love for God, the music and the fans. We are excited to start a new chapter with David." 
For more information on the Perrys, visit their website at To schedule the Perrys, visit

I think this will be a great fit for the Perrys based on YouTube videos I've seen of him with them. I will be seeing the Perrys next Friday night in Monticello, Ark., so I'm looking forward to seeing them in person then!

Fun Clip Friday - Karen Peck Gooch and the Snake Story

Happy Friday to all! I don't know about you, but this weekend couldn't come soon enough. It's been a long week! It's been the first weekend in a while that I haven't been able to catch a concert, but I'll make up for it next weekend! :)

Last weekend was Karen Peck and New River's Homecoming. The New River Band was a part of the event and after the concert on Saturday night. Karen Socialcammed some of the band members telling old road stories. Check out this video of a story of Karen and the snake!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Spending Father's Day with Spoken 4 Quartet - Concert Recap

Spoken 4 Quartet
Spoken 4 Quartet is based in the Branson area, but it's a treat when the group gets to Arkansas because it doesn't happen very often. Usually I get to see them in Branson at Silver Dollar City during the Southern Gospel Picnic, but it was great to see them in Hot Springs Village, Ark. on Sunday night, Father's Day.

Spoken 4 Quartet consists of Brandon Britton (tenor), Jon Charles Taggart (lead), Steven Hickinbotham (baritone) and Cecil Stringer (bass). These guys are top notch. It was good to see them in a full concert setting and not just a 30 minute set at the City.

Here's a breakdown of the night:
  • "In the Garden" - They started the concert with this song a cappella! And wow, what a way to start the concert!
  • "Try a Little Kindness" - Love this uptempo song, such a fun one!
  • "I Hold a Clear Title to a Mansion" 
  • "Every Step You Take Brings You Back to Me" - I might have the title wrong on this one. Jon Charles said he was hesitant to sing this one since it was a knew song that they weren't as familiar with. He had the feature on this song, and he really is one of the most underrated lead
    singers in the industry. Great new song on the prodigal son, hope to hear it on the new album! And the guys all seemed to know the song, so the worry was for nothing!
  • "Somebody Touched Me"
  • "Hold Me" - Cecil was featured on this one. He has such a classic-sounding bass voice. He told a story of his daughter learning to ride a bike and how she wanted to try on her own. He compared that to how we so many times tell God that we don't need His help and then fail on our own. Thankfully He will always be there to hold us. 
  • Intros - Jon Charles asked how many people were seeing them for the first time. Not very many raised their hands. So they decided to have a little fun with the group members' names and introduce each other with fake names! It was funny to hear what names of famous people they gave each other!
  • "Put Your Hand in the Hand" - They had the audience join in with them on this one.
  • "Who Am I" - Steven went to the piano and sang this one as he played. Loved hearing him sing this classic with just the piano. He also shared some of his testimony before singing. 
  • "Rainbow of Love" - This song allowed Cecil to show how low his voice is, and you could feel your seat vibrate! At the end Brandon also got to show off his upper range. 
  • "Bigger Sins" - Brandon gave his testimony and opened up about personal struggles and trials he had gone through. Then he sang this one with such power and conviction after a very touching testimony. 
  • "I Know My God Can Do It" 
  • "It's in Your Hands"
  • "We Believe" - Incredible song to end the night on!! 
If this quartet comes anywhere close to you, don't miss them! They are so strong vocally at all four positions, and they really do a great job of giving each member a chance to show what he can do.

It was an incredible night not only full of great music and quartet singing, but also stirring testimonies from personal stories to the story of how the group survived a 45-vehicle pileup in 2010. Not only will their songs and music impress you, but also how their faith shines through what's said between the songs. Thanks guys for a great evening of music and worship glorifying our Father on Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

300th Post

This is my 300th blog post! It's hard for me to believe that I've already been posting that long. Thank you to all who read the blog! To celebrate this milestone with each of you, I've got a fun giveaway contest!

To enter the contest, look at the picture above and comment below naming with album titles of three CDs from each number. I'll enter your name twice if you name at least two CDs that had not been mentioned previously. I'll randomly select a winner from the entries to win one of the CDs above (you will get a choice from a few of these). I'll take submissions through Monday, June 24.

Thanks for reading and coming back to visit! And good luck to each of you!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Redeeming the Time - Kingdom Heirs - CD Review

The Kingdom Heirs released their latest project Redeeming the Time on May 21, 2013. The project is solid from beginning to end. It's one of those albums where it's impossible to pick out just one or two favorite songs!

Dianne Wilkinson wrote or co-wrote eight of the 11 songs on the project. Rebecca Peck also had a number of cuts (six), many she wrote with Wilkinson. I can't say enough about the strong selections on this album!

The project starts with "The Sermon on the Mount" which is one of my favorites. It's traditional quartet style that really can get stuck in your head. I think this is going to be a fun one to see live! "How We Gonna Live in Babyon" is another standout favorite of mine. And add "The Joys of Heaven" to yet another strong quartet song! You can't help but start tapping your foot along. I can see this one getting several turn arounds in a live concert setting!

"Just Beyond the Sunset" is definitely one of the strongest and probably my top favorite on the CD. I love the bass feature with Jeff Chapman showing what he can do. Another great feature for Chapman is the first verse of "Expect the Unexpected." Arthur Rice also gets to flex his vocals on this song and really brings it home!

I really liked "Just Preach It" but it's interesting they just had a recent #1 with "Just Preach Jesus." I'm not sure how I feel about the song titles being so similar within a short time span.

The tempo of the album slows down with "I Thank You." The message is simple, but timeless. Jerry Martin gets the feature on this song and really delivers!

"The Borrowed Tomb" closes the album. The concept has been covered before with other songs, but the message never gets old. There is a short chorus of "He Lives" included in the song, but I think it works really well. Great closer to the project!

Album rating - 4.5 stars - The Kingdom Heirs have consistently put out strong projects but this one might be at the top! It really was impossible for me to try to pick out just a few favorites. All southern gospel fans will love it, but if you're a fan of traditional quartets definitely put this one at the top of your list!

Song List:

1. "The Sermon on the Mount"
2. "Just Preach It"
3. "How We Gonna Live in Babylon"
4. "Redeeming the Time"
5. "Wasted Years"
6. "Just Beyond the Sunset"
7. "I'll Know I'm Home"
8. "The Joys of Heaven"
9. "I Thank You"
10. "Expect the Unexpected"
11. "The Borrowed Tomb"

Monday, June 17, 2013

Names You Might Not Know Yet - Down Home Family

Down Home is a Nashville-based group with a country flavor. Down Home is comprised of the McEwyn family. Mac, the dad of the group, sings tenor, and Sharon, the mother, is the alto of the group. Their children AnnMarie (16) and Michael (14) round out the group at lead and bass, respectively.

Get to know more about Down Home!

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

Down Home - Mac:  Absolutely yes. I was blessed to grow up in a family that loved music. If there was a group coming to a nearby town, we would load up the family station wagon and head out to hear them sing. At a very young age, I reckon third-grade or so, we went to a concert in very small church where a relatively new group was going to perform. Being that my dad was one who never wanted to be late, we arrived early at church. So there we sat on the front row. Halfway through the concert the lady who was singing with the other two gentlemen came down from the stage and as she was talking about children tousled my hair. That was the biggest moment of my young life. The next time I saw that lady and those two men they were singing on a huge stage in a coliseum. I came to know this lady as Miss Gloria Gaither. As the years went on, so many other artists played their part in developing our family’s love of music: the Gaither Trio, Henry and Hazel Slaughter, Ronnie Hinson and the Hinsons, Doug Oldham, J.D. Sumner and the Stamps, Jake Hess, the Imperials, the Cathedrals, the Blackwood Brothers, the Happy Goodman family, the Speer Family, The Rambos and so many others.

Down Home - Sharon: It is difficult to pinpoint when we first became interested in Southern Gospel because it has been such a foundational part of our life. I can say that the family aspect of Southern Gospel has definitely been a major drawing influence. Southern Gospel has a strong heritage of family groups and family focus and we feel privileged to be part of that legacy.

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

Down Home - AnnMarie: I love to sing and so I sing all the time. One day my parents sat us down as a family and asked us what we wanted to do with our lives. I told them I wanted to sing professionally and use music to share God’s love. We talked about the sacrifices that would be required from each of us and decided together that we would pursue this as a family. I remember my Dad bringing us around the dinner table and as we began to sing the harmonies just came into being and we knew we had something to share.

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

Down Home - Mac: It has become completely evident to each one of us in our family that the culture we live in is in desperate need of HOPE. As I reminisce back through my spiritual journey it was people, family, and friends that provided a continual reminder that there is HOPE for any circumstance. But it didn't stop there….. They always pointed my nose in the direction of where HOPE comes from…….. Jesus Christ. Life as we know it will be filled with mountaintops that need to be climbed and valleys that will need to be crossed, how sad is it for those who have to do this alone without HOPE.

We want each individual that comes in contact with Down Home to not only hear of HOPE but sense it in every aspect of our concerts. We want our words to be hopeful and true. We want our interaction with them to be sincere and authentic. Through our music and presentation we want each individual to sense the powerful embrace of the one with whom all HOPE stems from…. Jesus Christ.

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

Down Home - Michael: "What if Jesus Came Back Like That" is one of my favorite songs because it brings up an interesting question… What would we do if Jesus came back as a homeless vagrant? The words of this song force me to examine how I see people around me. I want to make sure that I don’t overlook the gift because I am uncomfortable with the wrapping.

Down Home - Sharon: One song which deeply ministers, has been sung by many groups and congregations over the years is "It Is Well with My Soul."  Not only do the timeless words Horatio Spafford penned minister but the story behind the words of a man losing so much and in a moment of such pain and loss turning to God and saying, “Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.” One could write a hundred sermons on that one verse alone. The lesson I have learned is to never give up hope, God has a unique plan for our lives in which he will use our greatest loss for His greatest gain.

Q: What artists have been your biggest influence?

Down Home - Michael: I love the guys that shake the ground! George Younce, Tim Duncan, Richard Sterban and J.D. Sumner have all influenced my life. I know these are some big shoes to fill but I’m 14 years old, 6’3 inches and wear size 13 shoes, and I’m still growing! My dream is to follow in these men’s footsteps and someday meet Tim Duncan and Richard Sterban.

Down Home - AnnMarie: Sonya Isaacs continues to be influential both musically and personally. Sonya has a beautiful voice, a sweet presence and encouraging demeanor. I want to do and be the same. Growing up in the music industry like she did, I consider her a great mentor.

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

Down Home - Sharon: My husband and I have been singing for a long time, but it has always been a dream of ours to sing and minister together as a family. I will never forget our first concert singing together, the joy I felt looking over and seeing our children on stage praising God. That moment was indescribable. It is overwhelming for me to see how God can take the seed of a dream, plant it in my heart and grow it into being.

Down Home - Mac: If y'all are not aware…… southern Daddys are not noted for their timidity concerning the wellbeing of their daughters when approached by young suitors. Those of you who are part of the extended Down Home family following know that AnnMarie (Down Home’s lead singer) just turned 16 years old. At a recent concert out West a particularly earnest 16 year old boy found a clever way to garner AnnMarie’s attention. When the request was made for volunteers for set up and tear down he made himself available. During the concert he worked as a stagehand and part of security team. At the conclusion of the concert he went up to AnnMarie and told her that he had been assigned as her personal bodyguard by her Father. AnnMarie knowing that her Daddy was very protective didn't think otherwise. This provided the opportunity for the young boy to be within arm’s reach of AnnMarie while she visited with concert attendees for the rest of the evening. When the group was all back in the bus it all came to light when AnnMarie asked me why I had sent a bodyguard who was so young. You gotta hand it to the boy.

Music is a powerful thing in any size venue. One of my favorite concerts in recent days was an impromptu concert. The group walked into a restaurant with a local community church pastor. We were walking with our host to our table when a lady who was eating with two friends recognized us. She informed the pastor that she had been unable to be in attendance at the Down Home concert the night before. We asked the ladies to stop by our table before they left. When they arrived we did an impromptu a cappella concert for them. When we were done the ladies all informed us that they had recently lost their respective husbands and one of the ladies stated that the song that we had just sung was her husband's favorite song. She leaned over and whispered in my ear you will never know what this moment meant to me. Music is a powerful thing.

Q: What new things are coming up for Down Home?

Down Home - Mac: Being from Nashville, Tennessee we are friendly folk, we look forward to and always enjoy meeting new friends at concerts around the country. The Down Home Family is extremely excited about the process of developing new music for our next two projects scheduled to be available mid- 2014. The group is also in the process of developing 12 national events that will serve the local community and local churches as catalyst for outreach. Event dates to be announced September 2013. Our passion as a group is to help people find the HOPE that is only found in Jesus. We want to see new hope and new life in the people we encounter.

Learn more about Down Home on their website, Thanks to Down Home for answering my questions!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fun Clip Friday - Greater Vision

Happy Friday to all! Hope everyone has had a great week! Today's Fun Clip Friday clip is from several years ago with Greater Vision and Legacy Five. There's not only great comedy by Gerald Wolfe and Roger Bennett at the beginning, but also enjoy Greater Vision imitating the Darlings especially Rodney!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Oh The Thought That Jesus Loves Me - When Lyrics Speak

Having grown up in church and in a Christian home, there are certain things that I grew up knowing. God is all powerful and always has been. Jesus is God's Son, and He was perfect. He died on the cross for us. He loves me. I don't ever remember learning them, but I'm sure they were ingrained in me at a very young age. However, as I've gotten older, the more I realize that can tend to take these truths for granted, especially that Jesus loves me.

" ... I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God ..." - Ephesians 3:17-19

O the thought that Jesus loves me! When you grow up singing the song "Jesus Loves Me," sometimes it becomes just mundane, and you don't think about all that means. However, I love the verse in Ephesians that says that his love surpasses knowledge. His love for us is incomprehensible. And honestly when I think about how much I fail Him daily and how He not only knew that but also the times in the future that I don't know about yet, it is inconceivable that He still chose to love me and to prove that love for me on the cross.

I love the song "O The Thought That Jesus Loves Me." The thought that Jesus loves me is more that I can understand when I really stop to dwell on it. The lyrics capture beautifully not only the assurance that it gives us as believers but also how hard that concept of His love can be to grasp.

His love changes us. It can ease our minds when we are unsure. In times when we feel far away from people or things don't go our way, His love is always there. And His love never fails. When we stop to think about the power of His love, it should change us, the way we view life and our circumstances.

Nothing can separate us from His love. No matter the sins we have committed or will commit, He knows it all and still chooses love. When we feel far away because of sin, He is steadfast in His love for us. When I think about my own love for others and how it can waver and I can pull away if there's been a rift between us. God never pulls away.  

No love we have on earth can ever compare to the love of God. We only know love because He first loved us (1 John 3:16). So today, I stop and reflect on the magnitude of the thought that Jesus loves me!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gospel Music Live Concert Series Re-launch

Akron, OH - June 10, 2013

When it comes to engaging web designs and marketing for the gospel music industry, many recognize the work of Candace Mills of Ex Nihilo Graphics. Candace has designed web and print materials for such note-able artists as Legacy Five, The Harper Agency, Triumphant Quartet, Brian Free & Assurance, The Perry's, Ivan Parker, Mark Trammell Quartet and others. Now she has decided to get involved in the promotions aspect of Gospel Music by partnering with long time concert promoter - James Lawson of "Gospel Music Live" who this year celebrated "22 years" with his Gospel Music Live concert series.

Mr. Lawson promoted his very first Southern Gospel concert forty years ago, featuring JD Sumner and the Stamps Quartet, the LeFevres and the Rhythm Masters Quartet. He was also the first promoter in the area to start Christian Dinner Concerts at the Kaufman Center in Hartville, OH. Over the past two decades James has had the opportunity of working with just about every major group and with many Gospel Music legends. Following a brief repose to focus on health, James returns to the world of Southern Gospel music on a full-time basis, this time joined by Candace. You have heard the saying - "two are better than one," so together they will re-launch a new era of family & inspirational "event promotions" with some of the top names in Gospel and Christian music.

Their first joint efforts will take place Saturday, September 21 in the heart of Amish country at the state of the art Kent State Performing Arts Center, New Philadelphia, Ohio. Easily accessible from State Route 250 and Interstate 77, the Performing Arts Center boasts free and convenient parking. The centerpiece of this building is the 1,100-seat theater with a mezzanine level. A very interesting feature of the balcony level is that the arms of the balcony start at the upper level and descend to connect to the stage level. The Gospel Music Live re-launch concert event will feature a stellar line-up of Singing News Favorites - The Whisnants, The Mark Trammell Quartet and Wilburn & Wilburn. Danny Jones of Singing News will be the guest emcee for this special event.

Be sure to come bask in the contemporary elegance of this fabulous auditorium as we gather together to celebrate with this powerful line-up of artists!

Three groups. One incredible night. Tickets go on sale June 17th.
Box Office-330-308-6400

For more information visit or stay connected on or

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Having Church at the Zoo with the Bowling Family - Concert Recap

Bowling Family - Troy Peach, Hope Bowling, Kelly Bowling and
Mike Bowling
Friday night, June 7 the Bowling Family was at TNT "The Zoo" Church in Dennard, Ark. Only in Arkansas would there be a Zoo Church, you can't make this up. The church does have a pretty cool story of its name. I had never been to the Zoo Church before, but if they keep having gospel concerts with great groups like the Bowling Family, it won't be my last time there!

This was my first chance to see the Bowling Family since Terah Penhollow came off the road. While Terah's sweet spirit was missed, the group has not missed a beat since she left. Mike and Kelly's oldest daughter, Hope, and Troy Peach have joined them on stage. The four of them make for a great lineup. It's great to see Troy back on stage singing, and Hope has such a great voice for her age. I can remember seeing her several years ago singing "Jesus Pilots My Ship" and being impressed, and she has only improved since then.

They started the night with their latest single, "I'll Be Alright As Soon As I Touch Calvary" and then sang "Oh How Sweet Is the Victory." Troy was featured on this one. It's so good to see him back on stage singing! His voice has been missed in gospel music. There were a couple of moments that you could hear just Troy and Mike together, and I loved the blend of their voices! They got the audience into the next one, "I'm on the Battlefield." Mike asked the audience to sing along toward the end of the song.

Mike made the introductions next and told that Hope had stepped up in Terah's absence. Hope was featured on "Any Day Now." She has such a great voice at 13. I can't wait to see what the future holds for her!

After the other introductions were made, Kelly was featured on the Crabb Family favorite, "Don't You Wanna Go?" After the song, Kelly said that it was wonderful to be there at the "Zoo Church."

She shared the testimony of their bus accident in July 2010. She said it would be a shame not to share how good God has been. It was the scariest thing that she had ever witnessed. She said that the audience was seeing a direct answer of prayers that they were able to come through that accident. And God far exceeded anything they dreamed of. After the accident, they were just hoping and praying they could get back to normal, not knowing that God would help them return to their music ministry. She said she didn't think she would be able to trust God the way she does now had it not been for the valley, and she wouldn't know God the way she knows Him now had it not been for the time of fellowship she was able to have with Him while lying flat on her back.

I love hearing Kelly give their testimony of how God delivered them and has brought them so far. It's easy to see how she's now doing some women's conferences and will be doing one in October in Arkansas! I'm already looking forward to it!

They sang "Your Cries Have Awoken the Master" next. This song never gets old! Mike started the chorus back a cappella and the others joined in. They sang "By the Time," a Hinson song that I wasn't really familiar with before. Then Kelly was featured on "A Miracle Today." Of all the songs that Kelly sings, this is probably my favorite. Her soprano voice conveys the lyrics of this song so beautifully. It's amazing to think how God gave them this song before they knew how much it would apply to their lives.

Mike sang one of my favorites, "The Lighthouse." He really is my favorite person to hear sing this song! They ended the first half with the uptempo song, "I Never Shall Forget the Day."

Kelly started the first half with "Unclouded Day." Mike went over to their drummer, Taylor Guffey, after the song and asked him if he had a testimony. Taylor laughed and asked the others if he was for real. The preacher piped up and said if he didn't have a testimony this was his test! Apparently Mike had threatened to do this, and tonight he actually decided to put Taylor on the spot. He did a great job talking about working in a trauma team at a hospital and realizing how short life is and how fragile life can be. And it was time to make sure that you knew Jesus as Savior.

Mike then was featured on "Too Much to Gain to Lose" with just John playing on the keyboard. Someone had requested him sing "Please Come Down to Me" which is typically a Jason Crabb song, but Mike sang it with a little help from Kelly!

They drew the service to a close with three classic hymns each featuring a different person, "What a Day That Will Be" (Troy), "I Surrender All" (Mike) and "Without Him" (Kelly). And we had church! Great altar call and moving of the Holy Spirit!

The pastor requested they sing "Your Cries Have Awoken the Master" again. I don't think anyone in the audience minded hearing them sing it again!

I love seeing this family when they are close! Troy and Hope are both great additions to the group to round out their sound. If you get the chance to see them in your area soon, don't miss them! Their sincerity exudes on stage, and it's evident to see how thankful they are to be singing for His glory. It was truly a worship service at "The Zoo!"

And Troy, I was nice and didn't tell everything! ;)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Names You Might Not Know Yet - 11th Hour

I got to see 11th Hour for the first time in January. I had heard of them, but wasn't familiar at all with their
music. However, it didn't take long for me to become a big fan of the group and its music! The group consists of Amber Eppinette, Candice Jordan, Grant Gibson and Ethan Allen. The four of them all in their 20s help reassure gospel music fans that the future of this genre is in good hands.

Amber was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about their group and how they got started.

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

Amber Eppinette: I was born a bus baby, born and raised in the ministry so Southern Gospel has always been a big part of my life. There came a point where I had to decide what I was going to do the rest of my life and God just showed me this was what I was supposed to be doing. Different genres of music will satisfy and last you for just a little while but Southern Gospel music changes you for eternity. That’s why I became and am still interested in Southern Gospel music.

My earliest memories were traveling and singing with my family group called “Pure Heart”. We traveled every weekend and my family would sing and my Dad would preach. It was a wonderful lifestyle and experience as a kid growing up. Also, Candice’s dad played the piano in the group so we all grew up together being preachers' kids and musical kids.

Q: How did you get started as 11th Hour? How long have you been singing?

Amber: Six years ago at a revival meeting, God was telling me to start a group. He told me to ask Candice (my best friend) to join it with me. What’s funny is, Candice had only sang maybe two specials in church her whole life so this is proof, all of this is a GOD THING. We went through a few singers but she and I always stuck together, and now I believe God has in this group exactly who he wants in it. Everyone’s hearts and minds are into it, and I am thrilled to say as the owner of 11th Hour, I wouldn’t trade them for anyone in the industry. To me, they are the best there is, vocally and spiritually.

I have been singing all of my life. Born and raised in it. Loving every minute I get to do it.

Candice: I have been singing since 11th Hour started for two years and I am thankful for the way God has allowed me to minister.

Grant: I have been singing with 11th Hour for about two months now and enjoying where God has placed me. I have been singing southern gospel for 10 years.

Ethan: I have been playing for years but I have been playing professionally with 11th Hour for two years and its been a joy to watch God work in everyone’s lives including my own.

Q: How did you come up with the name 11th Hour?

Amber: Matthew 20:6-7 - In the 11th Hour, others were standing idle in the vineyard when there was work to be done so the Lord equipped them and said “Go ye also into the vineyard…”

That is what we are trying to do. Go and try to win as many to Christ as we can because we believe we are in the 11th Hour and the midnight cry is about to arrive (when the Lord returns).

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

Amber: My favorite song would have to be "Bloodline" because so many times satan tries to fight us in mind and body but we can hold on to the fact, he can tempt and try us but he can’t harm us if we have the relationship (shield of protection) with Christ.

The Perrys sing a song called "Did I Mention" written by Kyla Rowland. So many times we are trying to share the story with others but I love how this song is personally between you and the Lord. Many times the Lord just wants to hear from his children that we love him and this is what this song does.

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

Amber: Karen Peck Gooch whom I’ve known since I was a baby has really portrayed what a true Christian lady should be like. She also has a wonderful voice that I have admired since I was younger.

Q: What has been your favorite memory so far in your ministry?

Amber: Seeing the change in people’s lives. Seeing and getting to be a part of someone’s salvation. Hearing the testimonies will absolutely melt your heart with joy and it gives us another boost of energy to go and minister every time we hear these songs are touching lives.

Q: What new things are coming up for 11th Hour?

Amber: We will be singing Saturday night at NQC and we are very nervous yet excited for the opportunity the Lord has allowed us to have there.

Also, in September/October we plan on recording our new project with our new singer Grant Gibson. Help us pray for the right songs.

Wherever the Lord leads us to go, that’s where we will be. We are just very thankful God chose to use nobodies like us and make us somebodies for HIS glory.

Thanks Amber and 11th Hour for agreeing to be part of this series! For more on 11th Hour, check out the group's website,

Dixie Melody Boys Announce New Lead Singer Austin Foster

The Dixie Melody Boys announced the group's new lead singer over the weekend. They issued the following release on their website:

With the departure of Mike Rogers, the Dixie Melody Boys have been searching for the last few weeks for a new lead singer. Over 300 men applied, applications coming in from all parts of America as well as 3 countries including London, England. “We listened to each demo and prayed that God would send us the right fit for where the group is headed. There were so many great singers, many already established names in Gospel music so it was hard to narrow them down.” Said Matt Felts. After sorting through the overwhelming response, the group auditioned ten men. “Each one brought something completely different and special to the table. We took a different approach than usual and had the men spend the day with us and all go to lunch together. It was a great way to get to know them more.” Added Ed O’Neal. “I met a young man at NQC last year and he stuck in my mind. We invited him in last week to audition. His voice was powerful and anointed but his personality instantly fit right in. After the last man left, we talked and decided to offer him the job. We are excited to announce Austin Foster as the new lead singer for the Dixie Melody Boys” said Matt Felts.

Austin Foster is 18 years old and from Birmingham, Alabama. Austin is the son of well-known promoter and radio host Ron Foster. Austin has been singing for years and has appeared with Michael English and many others on stage. “We are excited to have Austin with us. I know the fans will love him. He is true Southern Gospel and a great young man. His ability to sing the great songs of the past as well as the newer songs we do makes him a unique talent.” Said Ed O’Neal. Austin had this to say regarding joining the legendary group, “I am super excited to sing with the Dixie Melody Boys. I have been listening to these guys all my life. It is an honor to share the stage with them. “

The Dixie Melody Boys have been known for breaking new talent into the industry. Unlike any other, Ed O’Neal has had an eye for talent and has introduced McCray Dove, Rodney Griffin, Devin McGlamery, Harold Reed, Ernie Haase and so many others to Gospel music. “His ability to maintain one of the top groups year after year while launching so many young men’s career is amazing. While others look for singers in other groups, Ed gives new faces a chance and cultivates Gospel music for years to come. That is an incredible legacy to leave behind. Austin is sure to add to that rich tapestry. “ Said David Staton, Executive V.P. of Song Garden Music Group.
The Dixie Melody Boys will back in the studio in June to finish their new album which will feature new members Aaron Dishman and Austin Foster. The Dixie Melody Boys would like to thank Josh Garner from Freedom for filling in while they searched for a new lead singer.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Fun Clip Friday - Lauren Talley

Earlier this week, Lauren Talley tweeted about an incident they had over the weekend with their bus. Apparently, after she had finished getting ready in the back of the bus, she tried to open the door leading to the front of the bus, but it wouldn't open. So she had to crawl out a window in the back of the bus to get out.

Let me just say, kudos to Lauren for being such a good sport about this and not only letting them video it but also put it on YouTube! Not sure this Lauren would have done that! :)

Happy Fun Clip Friday to everyone!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Arkansas Wins Big With Mark Trammell Quartet - Concert Recap

Mark Trammell Quartet - Dustin Black, Nick Trammell,
Mark Trammell and Pat Barker
Mark Trammell returned to his hometown of North Little Rock for a concert on Tuesday, June 4.

Not only is North Little Rock Mark's hometown, the quartet was also at the church that Mark's mother was a member of for many years. It was like somewhat of a homecoming for him. Tuesday night was full of great music, but also you could tell how much fun they all have together.

This group has quickly become one of my favorites, and it's clear that they are becoming one of the industry's most loved quartets as well. I saw the group in early April when Dustin Black was still in a trial period, so this was my first time seeing the quartet since he became an official member.

The group started with "Leave Your Sorrows," such a fun song to kick off the night. Then, they slowed things down with "How Long Has It Been." I love that they chose this classic hymn. Their blend on this song was amazing. It's incredible how Dustin's voice already blends so naturally in the group.

The quartet sang another one from Testimony next, "Ransomed and Redeemed." I don't think I had ever heard this one live, and I got the feeling that it's not one they sing that often. Mark jumped the gun a little bit starting to the sing the song, and Pat and Nick both just reached over and gave him a "bless your heart" pat on the shoulder.

Mark made the introductions next, which I always find entertaining. He started with Dustin, telling that he'd never traveled with a Yankee before but they had gotten used to the smell. He then introduced Nick as his "worthless sponge of a son" until he became "Father of Tessa Trammell."

He started introducing Pat but then stopped when he talked about him being from Alabama. He said that he wanted the congregation to do something for the guys so they would know what the angels sounded like. And it was something they could only experience in Arkansas. I I figured what was coming and got excited. Mark said that Pat had on a red tie but it wasn't the right color and the A on his cuff links was the wrong kind of A, because he was Tide fan. Mark wanted us to call the Hogs for the guys! He said he wanted that Wolverine to be able to call his mama and tell her that now he knew what angels sounded like!

So we called the Hogs! Pat made a jab that he wasn't sure what that sound was, but he knew what a national championship sounded like. Mark then answered back that it sounded like he's rather have a national championship than a job! He finished introducing Pat, and then they started back up singing with "Echoes From the Burning Bush."

The group then sang the classic Cathedrals' song "Wedding Music." Nick then was featured on "Testimony." Nick has really made this song his own.

They went back and slowed the pace down again this time with "God Knows How Much Mercy I Need." Mark made the comment that it was a new song but it didn't sound new. It's true, I honestly had assumed this was an older song that the group recut. Again the blend that this current lineup has is really incredible for no longer than Dustin has been in the group.

Pat then got to showcase his bass vocals with "Wonderful Time Up There," which has to be one of my favorites from Lifetime. And it's clear that it's a fun one for the group to sing as well. Mark talked about that it was on the latest project and that he had the chance to sing it with Pat Boone. He said that even though at that point in his career he had sung in some prestigious places, his mother said that after he sang with Pat Boone he had really done something she could talk about. Pat Barker then asked if he was the pioneer guy. Dustin then replied that he was Daniel Boone. Mark told Pat even the Yankee knew the answer to that, but that must be because in Alabama they didn't worry about education as much as football. Pat responded that they didn't worry about football because they always won!

Mark quickly brought it back to talking about his mom and how he got to spend special time with her before she died. She moved to Alabama to be closer to him and his family from North Little Rock. His mother loved the song "Too Much To Gain to Lose," and he got to sing the chorus with her alone not too long before she passed away. The group then sang it right before the break. I love hearing Mark sing this song!

After a brief break, the group took the stage again with "Meet Me Over on the Other Side." Then Pat was featured again on "I Thirst." I'm not sure who the request came from for that song, but it was really good to hear Pat sing that one again!

They sang "Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah" next. Then Mark said they were going to sing another one that featured their bass singer. It was "I Want to Know." Mark mentioned that it was a number one song for the group, and Pat had to chime in that it took the group 11 years to get a number one, but him only three months! They turned the chorus around a couple of times. It's another favorite of mine to see them sing live, because you can tell they all have fun with the song.

They ended the night with "The King is Coming." I love this medley, and it was a great song to end the night on!

I love seeing groups that can pick at each other and laugh together on stage. You see how real the guys are. But they also know how to bring the focus back and be sure it's about the ministry.

I have to say though in a night of Arkansas vs. Alabama, Arkansas had the win with a great night by the Mark Trammell Quartet! And maybe next year, we'll have the national championship to go with it!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sneed Family - Names You Might Not Know Yet

The Sneed Family is from Glasgow, Ken. and consist of husband and wife, Jeff and Pam Sneed, their
daughter and son-in-law, Caleb and Amanda, Cowan and their sons Seth and Jacob. They are in the top five nominees for Favorite New Mixed Group for the Singing News Fan Awards. Get to know a little bit more about this family below and hear from Jeff Sneed!

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

Jeff Sneed: My dad was a Baptist preacher, and they took me to gospel singings all over the country. We went and heard professional and local groups on a regular basis. My wife, Pam, was also taken to churches all around Kentucky and Tennessee to listen to the groups. Neither of our set of parents ever sang in a group or played an instrument. As I traveled as a child I used to watch the piano player and pretended to be pushing the pedal every time the player would. I remember well pretending to play on our coffee table at home and on the back of the car seat while in the car. This set up a desire in my heart to want to be a part of a gospel group. Then Pam and I married we were already singing and our children have never known anything other than traveling with us and singing. Caleb, who is my son-in-law, his dad was a Baptist preacher, also and he would go and listen as a child too. That is why that I feel that it is very important that parent and grandparents take their child to concerts, singings and services to plant a seed of desire in their heart to want to sing for the Lord. I have often been ask how did I get my children's because it was important to us as parents and we encouraged our children by not just sending them but taking them...and it worked.

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

Sneed: I started singing in a group when I was 15 years old. Then at 18 years old I was an original member of an all male quartet. As time passed and some began to leave the group to preach and do other things for the Lord. My wife, then girlfriend, started singing. As the years passed and the members were lead other directions, our daughter, Amanda started singing with us a harmony part at age 9. The rest is history, our son Seth then began to sing and play guitar, and our youngest son, Jacob began to play drums and sing. It just sort of developed into a family group and then Amanda started dating Caleb, who at that time was with the legendary, Naomi Sego. He was our latest addition to our group and family and we have been very blessed as the children matured over the years.

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

Sneed: The one thing that I want people to walk away from our concerts with is this main thing, I hope that they can feel the Spirit in the message of the songs or in something that is said or done. I want them to know and feel that we have been saved and born again, and if they haven't been saved I hope that it causes them to search the Lord for their salvation.

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

Sneed: Probably "Hallelujah Square" - The song gives hope for a time beyond this life of another meeting place where there will be no more pain and sorrow for all of the REDEEMED.

Many songs have ministered to me from many groups over the years. A lot it had to do with where I was at in life and what I was going through. Many of the McKameys, Naomi Sego and the Hoppers have touched me over the years, along with many others. However, the Hoppers, "I've Come too Far to Look Back" has blessed my soul many times.

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

Sneed: Well I guess for Caleb it has been Naomi Sego for the christian example she showed him on the road. It was at one of their concerts when he was singing with her that he was saved. For me, I guess the Hoppers have made a big impression on our family the most as a whole because of the love and support they have given our family. Their Christian love and friendship has shown bright on our family over the years.

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

Sneed: I guess one of the most moving experiences for our family was when we sung on the National Quartet Convention for the first time. It was just amazing to think how God had brought us to that point. It was a place that I had always taken the children to each year and was hard to believe that we were actually singing on that stage. God is good!

Question: What new things are coming up for the Sneed Family?

Sneed: We have a lot of exciting things going on this year. We are still doing an hour long Southern Gospel TV program each week. Which by the way can also be viewed on our website, and then click on Glory Bound Jubilee. We are getting ready to do a weekly radio program. We are very excited about this. We are excited about being booked on Hominy Valley by the Primitive Quartet, singing again main stage at NQC. Also, we have been booked on the Bill Baileys Bean Blossom, and his Winter Convention next year. Also, an exciting thing for our family is Loretta Lynn hired me to plan and promote a Southern Gospel Festival on her ranch in Hurricane Mills Tennesse on September 28 and 29 of this year. It has been such an honor to work with her family on this event. That will be two days of packed southern gospel, southern style. Some of the groups that I booked for the event are: The Hoppers, Mark Lowery, Karen Peck and New River, Sneed Family, Gold City, Brian Free and Assurance, Freemans, Rambo-McGuire, Archie Watkins and Smoky Mountain Reunion, Singing Cookes, Michael Combs, Isaacs, along with Loretta Lynn herself. A VERY exciting time for our family. Also, were just found out that we were nominated in the top 5 for the Singing News "New Mixed Group" award and that our song "Hallelujah Square" just hit the Singing news top 80 charts. So thankful for Gods Blessings!

For more on the Sneed Family, check out their website at Thanks to the Sneed Family for answering all my questions!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Night with 11th Hour - Concert Recap

11th Hour
Saturday night, June 1, I had the chance to see 11th Hour in concert in Pottsville, Ark. I saw them for the first time in January and fell in love with their songs and their sound! Not only was I impressed with them vocally and musically, but Candice and Amber were so sweet and genuine to talk to after the concert as well.

The first time I saw them was shortly after Justin left and Ethan Allen, the bass player, was filling in for them that night. So this was my first time seeing them with new member, Grant Gibson. He has sung gospel music for 10 years and been with the groups for two months.

Here's a breakdown of what they sang:
Ethan Allen, Amber Epinnette, Candice Jordan
and Grant Gibson
  • "I Like the Promise" - This upbeat song was the perfect choice to kick off the night. 
  • "Bloodline" - This is one of my favorite 11th Hour songs, and Amber delivered a great vocal performance on this song!
  • "God's Still God" - Love to hear Candice featured on this song!
  • "He Sees What We Don't" - This is my absolute favorite song that they sing, so I was so glad they sang it! Beautiful message and you could tell it resonated with so many others in the audience by all the "Amens" you could hear. Such a powerful song.
  • "It's a Wonderful Life" - This was the first chance the audience really got to hear Grant by himself.  I was really impressed with not only his vocal ability on features, but also how well he blended with the group already.
  • "Please Come Down to Me" - Amber brought Ethan forward to sing this one, and he delivered an amazing vocal performance!
  • "Gloryland" - The four performed this one a cappella, and it had to be the vocal performance of the night! It was absolutely incredible!!
  • "I'd Rather Have Jesus"
  • "Steppin' Out"
  • "It Sure Sounds Like Angels to Me" - Another powerful vocal! They did several a cappella reprises of the chorus, absolutely beautiful!
  • "I Love Jesus" 
  • "Going Home"
  • "Adam's Fall" - Another incredible vocal by Amber and standout moment of the night. 
  • "Room With a View" - Candice was featured on this song that served as the invitation. I'm such a fan of her voice and of all the songs she was featured on that night, to me it was on this one that she shined the most!
It was a great night of music and worship. Throughout the night, it wasn't only about the music, but the heart and the testimonies shared between songs that really showed what genuine spirits they have. If you get the chance to see 11th Hour near you, don't miss them!