Friday, November 29, 2013

Fun Clip Friday - Jubilee Christmas

Happy Day After Thanksgiving! I hope you all had a great holiday yesterday. I was blessed to spend the day with family. Sometimes there's nothing better than quality time at your parents' house.

Today really marks the start of the full Christmas season. So today's Fun Clip Friday is a promo clip of Jubilee Christmas. For a limited time, you can order the Jubilee Christmas DVD and get a Jubilee Acapella CD for free! Visit any of the groups' websites for more information and ordering. I know I'm looking forward to both!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all! May your day be spent with family and friends giving thanks for the blessings of life.

I pray that today especially we focus on the fact that "we are so blessed."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Spoken 4 - Spoken 4 Quartet CD Review

I've been a Spoken 4 Quartet since day one of the group's formation. They formed in 2006 out of Branson, Mo. Being an avid Branson-goer, I was familiar with original members already from previous groups.

The group released their latest album entitled Spoken 4 earlier this year. I have to say, I think it's their best one yet. The project features 11 songs and nine of them brand new. The album was produced by Jeff Stice of Triumphant Quartet.

The album starts with "I Know I'm Going Home," which is also the first single. And I've been hearing it played a lot. It's a great uptempo song that features Cecil Stringer, bass singer. It's definitely one of my favorites and one of the highlights of the project. Something about it reminds me of the style of "I'm Still Feeling Fine." Another song where Cecil really shines and shows what an incredible bass singer he is is "Hold Me."

"It's Quite a Valley" is the same song that was previously recorded by Brian Free and Assurance. The instrumentation on this song is a little bit more stripped down than the Brian Free version, but it doesn't stray too far from that version. I like Spoken 4's take on it just as well as BFA's. It features Jon Charles Taggart, lead singer, but my favorite song of his on the project is "Back to Me." It's a beautiful song that tells the story of the prodigal son.

"That's Why He Died" is a great song with such a strong message. He was the only One who could be the perfect sacrifice for us. He knew how we would fail and still chose to die for us. Baritone Steven Hickinbotham sings this one. The song fits his voice so well! Another favorite for sure!

Tenor Brandon Britton really shines on "I Find No Fault in Him." The track of the song is simple to really showcase his voice and what he can do. It soars and builds at the end to make for a great song and arrangement!

"When the King Comes to Claim His Throne" is a personal favorite as well. It's a great song that really showcases the group's quartet-style singing. "We're in the Same Boat" is another great uptempo song.

Album Rating - 4 stars - There's no question to me that this a group to watch. This album is only further proof of what this quartet is capable of. The album is full of 11 great songs with a strong mix of uptempo and slower songs. If you're a fan of quartets, get this project. You won't be sorry!

Song List -
1. "I Know I'm Going Home"
2. "It's Quite a Valley"
3. "That's Why He Died"
4. "Back to Me"
5. "When the King Comes to Claim His Throne"
6. "I Find No Fault"
7. "We're in the Same Boat"
8. "Legend of the Fall"
9. "In the Valley I Can Hear His Voice"
10. "You'll Find Me There"
11. "Hold Me"

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Transformation Tuesday - Kim Greene Hopper

Kim Greene Hopper started singing with her family the Greenes in 1979. She was the soprano for the Greenes for 10 years before joining the Hoppers in 1989 after she married Dean Hopper. Even in her beginnings with the Greenes, you could tell she was going to be a powerhouse female singer in gospel music one day. Here's a clip from 1986 of Kim singing with her brothers Tony and Tim.

Kim has become one of the most awarded female singers in gospel music. Since 1997 she has been named the Favorite Soprano in the Singing News Fan Awards. She also also been awarded the Favorite Female singer more than 10 times. But she's still the same amazing singer she was in 1986, here's a clip from this year's NQC of her singing with the Hoppers.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Christmas CDs

I'm sure if you have been reading, you know I'm a huge Christmas fan. I love it all - the trees, the lights, the music, the Salvation Army bell ringers. You name something Christmas, I love it! I've been listening to Christmas music since the beginning of November. I have several Christmas albums that I love. Many familiar favorites that I listen to again and again. But more recently, I've been pulling out Southern Gospel artists' Christmas projects.

I would say the majority of groups in Southern Gospel have put out a Christmas album. So when you hear a gospel artist is putting together a Christmas project, what do you expect to hear? Do you want all traditional Christmas carols? Do you think it should be all religious songs? Are you looking for another version of "Winter Wonderland" or "Let It Snow" despite them not being Christian songs? Does it bother you for the secular Christmas songs to be on their projects?

So here's your Monday morning poll -

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fun Clip Friday - The Freemans

The Freemans are the latest group to join in the fun of doing a concept video. They released Voice in the Desert several months ago. Just this week the video for "Lead Me Home" has been pushed on social media. So here it is for today's Fun Clip Friday! Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Every Cry Is Heard - When Lyrics Speak

Confession time: my prayers have been consumed with myself lately. I've been worrying with what seem like big things to me, but deep down I know in the light of eternity, they aren't so big. When things didn't go completely the way I hoped, it was hard, but as my dad reminded me, "They can't eat you."

However, I'm so thankful though that "Every Cry Is Heard" by the Father. Jim Brady wrote this song with his dad in mind. What has been going on in my life seems so insignificant, but God hears it. When faced with disappointments and crossroads in life, He hears it all. Whether I need guidance about the future or am looking for answers of why things happened the way they did, he hears it all.

He is the One we can depend on to always give us peace and comfort. I love the second verse of this song that speaks of the peace that we can only receive from Him. No matter what you may be going through, He hears us and He will be there by our side.

While my "rough" patch can be so insignificant, He still hears. And more importantly, when I have tough times of uncertainty or great loss, He will be the same God then as well. He hears every cry, and His love is exactly the strength I need in all circumstances.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Transformation Tuesday - Hope Bowling

For many family groups, the children have the chance to make an appearance on stage at an early age. And for some of those kids, it's apparent from a young age that they have a bright future ahead of them. Today's Transformation Tuesday post features one of those kids - Hope Bowling. Hope just this year has taken her place in the Bowling Family singing alongside her parents, Mike and Kelly, and Troy Peach.

Here's a clip of her singing "Jesus Pilots My Ship" from more than four years ago. She had an incredible power voice even then.

Here's a clip of Hope from earlier this year. I have a feeling that she has only begun her transformation. I look forward to seeing a lot more from her in the years to come!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Erwins - Back to the Basics - CD Review

The Erwin Family is a young family group that consists of siblings Keith (21), Kody (19), Kristopher (17) and Katie (13). Earlier this year, they released a new project entitled Back to the Basics. This is the group's first release as a mixed family group with the addition of sister Katie.

Groups like this one make you certain that the future of gospel music is in capable hands. This group is full of up and coming talent. I had never listened to this group much. And just listening to the project you would never realize they are as young as they are.

The album is a collection of all familiar songs that have been done "Erwin" style. Some will be more familiar than others.

Lone sister Katie does an incredible job on "Send Me." It's a great uptempo song that shows what kind of vocal performance a 13-year-old girl can do.

Kody is the bass for the group and already has an incredible bass voice. I can't wait to hear what he sounds like in a couple of years. He was featured on the classic "Plan of Salvation" for his best feature on the album.

"He Didn't Have the Heart," which Keith and Kris sing, is one of my favorites from the project. These two are also featured on "In Good Hands," which is another strong song.

Another favorite is "When Justice Called, Mercy Answered." This is probably the highlight of the album.

I love the blend that these siblings have. This is especially evident on "That Very Moment," "Heaven's Jubilee" and "Every Question Will Be Answered." I like that they chose to close the album with "Heaven's Jubilee." It's a classic, older song, and it's great to see a fresh spin on the song. The group really shines in the convention type singing.

Album rating - 3.75 stars - After listening to this project, you will be confident that not only does the future of Southern Gospel have a great future, but also the traditional sound will not be lost. I would love to hear more from them with their own songs. The Erwins have an incredible sound already, I can't wait to hear more from this group in years to come.

Song List -
1. "Basics of Life"
2. "Every Question Will Be Answered"
3. "Plan of Salvation"
4. "Send Me"
5. "He Didn't Have the Heart"
6. "That Very Moment"
7. "For What Earthly Reason"
8. "In Good Hands"
9. "When Justice Called, Mercy Answered"
10. "Heaven's Jubilee"

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fun Clip Friday - Jeff and James Easter

Jeff and James Easter recently went into the studio to record a special album Like Father, Like Son. The  duo had a number of special guest on the album including Wilburn and Wilburn, Gerald Crabb and Jason Crabb. They shot a video of the title cut from the project in the church that James Easter helped start in 1963. Take a look at that video for today's Fun Clip Friday!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A 2nd Look at 2nd Generation - Concert Recap

In Branson in August, I had the chance to see 2nd Generation as a duet. Sisters Brenda Denney and
Elaine Robinson from Oak Grove, Ark. made up the group. Sunday night I got the opportunity to see 2nd Generation again, but this time as a trio. The sisters have added fellow Arkansan Randy Barnes to the group since August.

Sunday night, the trio was in Cabot, Ark. and Randy's home church. It was the first time they had been to the church since he joined the group, which made it a special night for them.

Randy was experiencing some issues with his voice on Sunday night that they addressed from the platform. Despite that, the three of them are already sounding great together, and also seem to meshing well on stage together. They joked several times about having a Baptist guy traveling with two Pentecostal sisters.

Here's a list of what they sang -
  • "One More River"
  • "Trouble Me No More"
  • "Feel the Joy" - This is such a fun song that they get the audience involved in! They had everyone on their feet doing motions during the chorus of the song. They told the pastor not to watch, because people were about to move in church as they never had before. The pastor was on the front row, so they told him to just keep looking forward, Well, when it got to that part of the song, he turned around and stood on the front pew to watch! LOL
  • "One Day Closer" - This song has a great classic country sound that suits Elaine's voice so well!
  • "Hanging on a Nail" - I love hearing this song. It was my favorite when I heard them in Branson. Brenda absolutely shines on this song.
  • "Singing and Rejoicing"
  • "Come Too Far to Look Back" - Elaine sings this well-known Connie Hopper song, and does an incredible version herself!
  • "Waving on the Other Side" - This song featured Randy, and I'm sure the title is not correct. It was a great song, and I'm hopeful it's going to be a signature song for Randy with this group.
  • "Victory Is in Sight"
  • "Look Up for Your Redemption Draweth Nigh"
Brenda also took some time to tell about her Price Is Right experience. It really is an incredible story about how God blessed her!!

Brenda and Elaine both told about Randy and his heart for ministry. They really had not pursued finding a third singer for the group, but tried Randy out. I'm sure for Randy and the members of the church it was truly special to have him home. Even as an outsider, it was a memorable night of great music!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Transformation Tuesday - David Sutton

David Sutton is a founding member of Triumphant Quartet. He is not only an integral part of the fan favorite quartet, but he's also consistently named in the top tenors of the industry.

David began his career with the Anchormen in 1989. Here's a clip of the group with him from 1991.

Now here's a look at David today with Triumphant Quartet. He hasn't changed much in looks, but he's sounding better than ever!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Veterans Day!

Happy Veterans Day to all! I'm thankful for all those who have served and are currently serving our country and the sacrifices they make. This Veterans Day is a little more sentimental for me than most with my practically brother-in-law serving overseas now. I see first hand the sacrifices that are being made both by them and their family.

I'm thankful for the freedoms I'm able to enjoy both here in the U.S. and through Christ. So here's just a simple clip for today!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fun Clip Friday - Cathedral Reunion

This weekend is the Cathedrals Family Reunion in Fort Worth, Texas. I definitely wish I could be there! I'm sure it's going to be a great weekend!

The Singing News did a number of videos with members of various groups when the reunion was announced. For today's Fun Clip Friday, here are just a few of them. The entire list of videos is on their website.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Stephens - Names You Might Not Know

The Stephens were another group that garnered attention at the National Quartet Convention in the
afternoon showcases. They had the chance to sing twice on the main stage at NQC. The group consists of Melody and Thom Stephens and Bethany, Melody's sister. Get to know a little bit more about this group -

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

The Stephens - Thom grew up with what he knew as "church music." He, like his dad and one of his sisters, sang in church growing up. It really wasn't until he was a senior in high school (1982) that he really became aquainted with Southern Gospel music. Melody and Bethany, being sisters, grew up singing together in their family group, The Givens.

Q - How did you get started singing and traveling?

The Stephens - We each sang with family growing up. We also sang in local groups for a period of time. Melody has been one of the most sought after sopranos in gospel music. She gave in to God's call in 1999 to become one of the most recognizable voices in gospel music as a soprano with the Nelons. Her position with the famed Nelons allowed her to sing on the very popular Bill Gaither Homecoming videos. She also has Dove Award nominations. Melody, her husband Thom and her sister Bethany started singing together as the Stephens almost six years ago.

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

The Stephens - We want them to know that we are real. We go through storms just like everyone else but we don't go alone. Because Christ is the center of our lives, we are never alone. We want them to be encouraged and if they don't have a personal relationship with Christ, we will gladly show them what the Bible says about being saved. Our goal for every singing is to encourage the believer and save the lost.

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

The Stephens - One of our favorite songs that we sing right now is "My God Will Always Be Enough." This is a powerful song that ministers to us as well as those attending the services where we sing. It is on our LIVE CD that was just released. Many songs from other groups minister to us. Trying to pinpoint just one is very difficult. Many times the songs that really touch us just when we need it usually will be an old hymn of the church that some group has re-done. One that comes to mind is Jason Crabb's rendition of "I'd Rather Have Jesus."

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

The Stephens - There are so many, a few would be the Nelons, the Isaacs, the Bowlings, the Martins, currently 11th Hour and the Collingsworth Family. This list could literally go on and on. I'm not sure of how much space you have. LOL

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

The Stephens - Just recently we sang on the Regional Artist Showcase at the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, Ken. We won the daily event on that Tuesday and got to sing on the main stage that night. Winning on Tuesday allowed us to also sing on the Saturday showcase which was composed of all the 20 weekly winners. We won Saturday as well and got to sing on the main stage again Saturday night. The prize was a recording contract with a major record company. This truly was just a God thing and nothing that we can take credit for. We give Him all the honor and glory! However, the most memorable services that we have are those where someone comes to know Jesus as their personal Savior. This is what we pray for before we ever enter a venue to sing.

Q - What new things are coming up for the Stephens?

The Stephens - We just released our latest CD, The Stephens LIVE. It is turning out to be a huge success thanks to our affiliation with Morris Music Group and GAT3 Midsouth studios. We record on their Delta Sky Records label. Morris Music has released a song from our LIVE CD to radio. It's a new version of an old hymn, "Unclouded Day." It currently is #68 on The Singing News Top 80 chart. A brand new CD of all original songs is currently under way to be released some time in 2014. To learn more about us, visit our website at Please pray for our ministry! God Bless!

Thank you Stephens for taking time to answer all my questions!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Transformation Tuesday - Lauren Talley

I'm not sure this is a feature I'll be doing every week, but this is fun to go back and find older clips of artists. Today we're looking at one of the younger, but also more accomplished artists in the industry - Lauren Talley.

Lauren started making appearances on stage with her family at a young age. Let's take a look at one of those appearances from 1987.

She's held the soprano position with the Talleys since 1996. She won the Singing News Fan Awards Favorite Young Artist for several years. Lauren has not only been a stable with the group, but she also has released solo projects and more recently written a book. So let's look at Lauren Talley from a couple of months ago when they were in Arkansas -

Monday, November 4, 2013

When to start Christmas music?

Halloween is over, and the stores are already filled with Christmas decorations, candy and music. I think I've said this before, but I love Christmas. I love everything about it. On November 1, all systems are go for Christmas music. And my Christmas tree will be up early next week.

But when you go to Southern Gospel concerts, do you expect to hear Christmas music already? I'll just be honest if you are TaRanda Greene or Gerald Wolfe and want to sing "Oh Holy Night" in July during a concert, I'm perfectly ok with that. On the other hand, I've been a concerts in August when the group was about to release a Christmas project and most of the concert was Christmas. I'm ok with one or two if it's out of season, but not a full concert.

So what are your thoughts? Are you an after Thanksgiving person or can you listen to Christmas music year round?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fun Clip Friday - Nick Trammell On the Couch with Fouch

Matt Fouch is known not only for his great bass singing, but also his great interviews. He started a YouTube series called "On the Couch with Fouch" when he was with Soul'd Out Quartet. He interviews various gospel music personalities. Check out his latest interview with Nick Trammell for today's Fun Clip Friday.