Friday, January 31, 2014

Fun Clip Friday - The Whisnants

It's always neat to see children of gospel artists who have grown up on a bus or on stage start taking a larger role in the ministry that has always been their parents. Austin and Ethan Whisnant have started to make their mark on the industry. Austin is now playing guitar on stage with the group. Both sing and have started singing with Jeff during concerts. For today's Fun Clip Friday post, take a look at the male Whisnants singing "On the Road to Emmaus."

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Talleys - Test of Time CD Review

When I saw the Talleys earlier this month in Arkansas, I got the chance to pick up their latest CD Test of Time. The project contains mostly songs that have stood "the test of time" with a few new ones that are sure to be around for a while.

While many of the songs are not new, the project isn't full of songs that have been overdone. Many of them I had heard before but was not extremely familiar with. The songs selected are timeless and the Talleys leave their mark on the songs. 

The project starts with an orchestrated blend of "Bless the Lord/ My Tribute." It's a great mix of the two songs that showcases all three vocalists well.

"When He Calls (I'll Fly Away)" is a great uptempo song. In the live concert setting, the song is incredible and really gets the audience clapping along. There are a couple other fun uptempo songs including "Jesus Is Alive and Well" and "God Rides on Wings of Love."

The two new songs are "Hidden Heroes" and "What You Leave Behind." "Hidden Heroes" is a beautiful song written by Dixie and Sharon Phillips, who lives in Arkansas and was at the concert that night. The song is about caretakers whether it's a parent of a child with special needs or a spouse of a person with Alzheimer's. People may not see all that they do day in and day out, but they are not hidden from the Father. That night, Lauren told how the second verse about the older couple told the story of her grandparents and how her grandfather cared for her grandmother who had Alzheimer's unbeknownst to the writers. Lauren sings this song, and it's sure to become a mainstay in Talleys' concerts.

"What You Leave Behind" is the other new song and is sung by Roger. It's a great song about the legacy you leave behind. It's a great message that reminds us it's not about the stuff of life but what you invest in those you leave behind. The song really seems to be a perfect fit for Roger and his voice. 

Besides "Hidden Heroes," Lauren is featured on "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" and "I Go to the Rock," which are a couple of other favorites on the album.

Debra sings "And He's Ever Interceding" which is another highlight. Her alto voice brings new life to the song. She also sings "Serenaded by Angels" which was written by Kirk Talley.

If you're a Talleys fan, this is must add to your collection. It's a great project that will definitely stand the "test of time."

Song List -
1. "Bless the Lord/ My Tribute"
2. "When He Calls (I'll Fly Away)
3. "Isn't the Love of Jesus Something Wonderful"
4. "Hidden Heroes"
5. "And He's Ever Interceding"
6. "I Go to the Rock"
7. "What You Leave Behind"
8. "God Rides on Wings of Love"
9. "Great Is Thy Faithfulness"
10. "Serenaded by Angels"
11. "Jesus Is Alive and Well"
12. "Holy Ground"

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Crist Family Announces Retirement

The Crist Family announced this afternoon that they have decided to come off the road. The group has been in full-time ministry since 2004. The family moved from Seattle, Wash. to Knoxville, Tenn. to pursue this ministry full time. The group will officially retire at the end of this year and will do limited dates finishing out 2014.

Here's the full release - 

After travelling full-time for the last ten years, The Crist Family has decided that it is time to come off the road. With John and Tami Starkel’s recent decision to pursue some new paths at this time in their lives, along with the Crist girls getting married and looking to start families of their own, it is evident that this chapter in The Crist Family is coming to a close.
“One thing is certain,” says Rich Crist of The Crist Family, “life will have changes. It was a major time of change ten years ago when God called us in to full-time ministry. Now, with this change, we are looking forward to see where He takes us next. It has been a wonderful journey and we will forever be grateful for the friendships we have made along the way.” 
Following their West Coast Tour in February, The Crist Family will finish out 2014 with “Farewell Concerts” on a limited basis.
“We thank God, Crossroads, The Harper Agency, our peers and all of the Southern Gospel Music fans. Thank you for the love and support you have shown to us along the way. We will always love you!”
The Crist Family
The Crist Family is booked by Harper Agency to see their remaining schedule.

Teach Me Lord to Wait - When Lyrics Speak

Ever go through times when you have no doubt God is trying to teach you something? Everywhere you turn the same verse or concept is staring you in the face. I finally have to resign myself to the fact that God is trying to get my attention and teach me an important lesson. Lately the lesson has been waiting.

Kelly Bowling posted this on Facebook yesterday -

I took it as another reminder from God about how I needed to learn the lesson of waiting and patience. Patience is not a virtue that I possess. I'm not good at waiting. We live in a such a fast-paced world with technology where we can have a hot meal in a matter of minutes and news from around the world in seconds. I could blame society and the times we live in, but if I'm being honest I probably would have been just as impatient had I been born 100 years ago.

The song that comes to mind is "Teach Me Lord to Wait." I remember the first time I heard Aaron McCune sing this song when he was with Gold City. It was in a little church in Hot Springs, Ark. and the message still applies to me just as much today as it did when I first heard it.

I say that God has a perfect timeline but my actions and impatience definitely do not reflect that. Am I waiting down on my knees in prayer before God? Am I trying to make things happen for myself? Am I looking at what others have and wondering why I don't have the same? Are my eyes only on Christ? Am I allowing God to teach me to wait or am I just hoping the time will pass by quickly?

I choose to believe that God's plan allows for these teachable moments in our lives. This is one of them for me. He's teaching me to wait. It's not a lesson I like or even one I want to learn, but it's needed. His timing and plan is perfect, and I can rest on that. I choose to believe that regardless of how God answers my prayers, His grace is sufficient.

I'm thankful for this promise - "Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary." - Isaiah 40:31

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Transformation Tuesday - Amber Nelon Thompson

Amber Nelon Thompson grew up in gospel music. She made appearances on stage as a young child and quickly it became apparent what a talent and gift she had. Amber was featured on the Gaither Homecoming series before she was a teenager. Here's a clip of her singing on the Heaven DVD (If you're in the mood for Christmas, here's a clip that predates that one.). It was easy to tell even then that Amber was destined to be a singer not only with her vocal abilities but also how she felt the song.

Since 2002 at the ripe age of 13, Amber has been the soprano singer for the Nelons. Since that time she has grown into one of the premier female vocalist not just for her age but for all of Southern Gospel. Amber has had the chance to go on a national platform and decided that her commitment to Christ was more important. Musicscribe named her as the best female vocalist of 2013, and I definitely agree with their decision. Here's a look at Amber now -

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fun Clip Friday - Thank You Lord for Your Blessings

Happy Friday to all! The unplanned moments at concerts are sometimes the moments I love most. I also love at concerts with multiple artists when they all come together to sing at the end. This clip combines those.

This what happened at a recent concert with Jeff & Sheri Easter, Gold City, the Perrys and Karen Peck and New River. All the groups came together to sing "Thank You Lord for Your Blessings on Me." Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Joseph Habedank Solo - Concert Recap

Sunday night I got the chance to attend a solo concert by Joseph Habedank in Vilonia, Ark. After leaving the Perrys in May, he has started doing a number of solo concerts in the past few months. And it looks like his schedule is filling up, and after Sunday night I can certainly see why.
Joseph Habedank

Joseph started the night with a couple of familiar Perrys favorites "He Forgot" and "You Cannot Improve on the Truth." It was easy to hear from the first note that the time off from singing full-time hasn't hurt him one bit.

Then, he sang "Royal Descendant." He was absolutely incredible on this song. And I think this was the only song he sang all night that he didn't write. This alone speaks volumes for him as an artist and the songwriting collection he has built. It would be very easy for him to do an entire concert of only songs he had written.

Next, Joseph brought up Lindsay, his wife, who has been able to travel with him some to sing. I had never heard her sing before, but she has an incredible voice. Joseph had written a song "How You Hold Me" during a rough time for their family. He wanted to be there for his mom, but God showed him that He was there for her, holding her. Lindsay sang the song beautifully! I can definitely see them doing more together in the future.

Joseph then sang a couple of new songs himself that he had written that have not been recorded yet. He sang a song entitled "Long Live the King" that he wrote with Tony Wood and Krissy Nordhoff. Then, he sang "Now I Know Him." He said it was one of the most personal songs he had written. He had experienced one of the hardest years last year in his life. However, God had used it to bring him closer to Him. He said God had a purpose and plan for it all. God brought him through it all and now he knows God like he never has before. The song beautifully describes that, and you could tell Joseph felt every word he sang. Incredible song and a highlight of the concert!!

Lindsay Habedank singing
He then picked up the tempo a bit with "Dying Is Day." He then sang my personal favorite, "Almost Morning." We don't know how long the night will last, but we have the promise that morning is coming. Joseph walked into the audience as he sang the song. Another great moment!

He ended the night with "If You Knew Him." He called the pastor, his wife and brother from the church to sing the song with him. They have some talented people in the church. It was a great song to end on!

If you get the chance to see Joseph in your area soon, don't miss him! It was great to see and hear him back on stage. He's sounding better than ever. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Transformation Tuesday - Libbi Perry Stuffle

For this week's Transformation Tuesday, let's take a look back at the reigning Favorite Female vocalist, Libbi Perry Stuffle.

Here's a clip from 1987 of Libbi singing "I Know a Man Who Can." Libbi started singing with her siblings in 1970. She is the only original Perrys member still in the group.

Now let's take a look at Libbi from August 2013. This was taken in Branson at Silver Dollar City.

While things may have changed from 1987, it's clear that Libbi was and will remain one of the top alto singers of the genre.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fun Clip Friday - Brian Free and Assurance

I didn't mean to have back to back posts mentioning Brian Free and Assurance, but it's how it worked out. This clip was too funny not to share this morning. If you've wondered what happens on a gospel bus late at night, here's a little peak on what can happen on Brian Free and Assurance's bus. This clip is courtesy of their YouTube channel. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I Will Be Praying - When Lyrics Speak

Growing up in the Bible Belt around Christians most of my life, sometimes it comes as second nature to blurt out the phrase "I'm praying for you." It's just what you say to a friend who is going through a tough time. But how many times do I really take time to talk to God on their behalf?

One of my resolutions for this year has been to really pray for others more. I've had numerous friends in the past few days come to me with burdens with things weighing heavy on their hearts. I know for me it's a comfort knowing that friends are approaching an almighty God on my behalf.

"I Will Be Praying" is a song by Brian Free and Assurance that really speaks to this. The song says that these temporary trials won't last long, but until they are I will be praying. I will down on my knees praying for strength and answers for people in need. The message of the song is simple, but it's such a comfort when you know that someone else is praying for you. It's reassuring to know that God is hearing from someone else on your behalf.

The song says that one prayer can put angels in flight. What a miracle that is when you stop to think about it. Whether God sends angels or simply gives you the peace you need, every prayer is heard on your behalf.

We all have something going on, something that is weighing down in our own lives. It might be insignificant or a life-altering circumstance. Regardless, I hope that I'll be more attentive to my friends and family and how they need me to pray for them.

"...The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." - James 5:16

"For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding..." - Col. 1:9

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Transformation Tuesday - Adam Crabb

Here's another Transformation Tuesday post. With Adam Crabb's recently joining the Gaither Vocal Band, I thought it might be fun to take a look at him.

Here's a clip from 2002 of him singing with Mike Bowling and Aaron Crabb. I'm almost positive that he's the last one of the trio to take a solo part (Sorry, if I'm wrong on that.)

Now here's a look at Adam just a few weeks ago.

 He has always been a great singer with his family. When he stepped out with his own group, Crabb Revival, and then eventually solo, we really got to hear Adam. He made a name for himself. Now he's really about to take advantage of a great opportunity to make a name for himself with the Vocal Band. I can't wait to hear more clips of him with the Vocal Band. I think he will be a great addition to the group!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Braving the Cold with the Talleys - Concert Recap

The Talleys - Roger, Lauren and Debra
The Talleys braved the cold Monday night and made their way to Central Arkansas. With temperatures in the teens, the crowd wasn't what it could have been, but for those of us who did brave the weather it was well worth it!

The Talleys started with "Bless the Lord/ My Tribute" which is on their new project, Test of Time. Lauren then was featured on "The Promise," one of favorites that they sing. Then Roger sang "Every Scar."

Debra told the story of Angel next. I've heard her tell this a couple of times now, but it never gets old. Debra saw a young lady in a Walmart parking lot one day holding a sign in need of money. The lady was a Christian and felt embarrassed about having to ask for money. Debra helped the lady and asked to pray for her. As she was praying, she realized she didn't know her name. She asked, and the lady said it was Angel. She said God spoke to her as she left Angel that it could be her asking for money on a Walmart parking lot if not for God's grace. This set up the song "Amazing Grace" that featured Debra.

They picked up the tempo with "When He Calls Me I'll Fly Away" which is one from their new project. Lauren was featured on another song from that project next. The song is entitled "Hidden Heroes," and the writer, Sharon Phillips, of the song was there that night. Lauren said it was some of the most powerful lyrics she had ever heart, and one verse of the song perfectly described her dad's parents. She watched as a hard man became so gentle after caring for his wife in sickness and in health. She learned through their example what those words and for better or for worse truly mean. She said you don't really love until you serve, and true love is serving someone who can give you nothing in return. After hearing the song, I have to agree with Lauren, it's some of the most powerful lyrics I've ever heard. Beautiful song and great delivery by Lauren.

Before the break, they sang "Up Above" which will be the #1 song for February. It's a great song, and Roger and Lauren sound great on it. They ended with "He's Alive." Perfect song to end the first half!

They started the second half with "Isn't the Love of Jesus Something Wonderful?" and then sang "Searchin.'" It was good to hear this one live again.

Then Debra was featured on "Thinking About Home."I love hearing her sing this song and her incredible alto voice really does the song justice.

The last song of the night was "The Broken Ones." The last chorus of the song, Lauren took down her microphone and just sang. She is great at really capturing a moment. She communicates lyrics in a way that no other artist does. Amazing moment!!

The night ended with a challenge to us all. Lauren had been waiting in line at Chickfila at lunch that day when she noticed a group of teenagers who were unusually quiet. As she watched them she noticed they were hearing impaired and had a interpreter with them. She said what an amazing thing that interpreter does for them. Something as simple as ordering chicken we take for granted. The interpreter does what she does because she cares. How many of us fail to see the needs of ordinary people around us? Lauren challenged us to think about how we have the opportunity every day to touch someone's life by being the hands and feet of Jesus.

It was such a great night of ministry by the Talleys. I was definitely glad that I braved the cold, nasty winter weather to see them! And I know that everyone else that was there felt the same way!

Arkansas readers - Lauren mentioned that she will be leading a women's conference in Fordyce on Feb. 15. For more information, go to

Friday, January 10, 2014

Adam Crabb Joins Gaither Vocal Band

The Gaither Vocal Band has announced its newest member this afternoon. The group welcomes Adam Crabb. Adam had been singing and filling in with them some, but will now join the group full-time. Here's the release from the Gaithers - 

We are thrilled to welcome Adam Crabb aboard as the newest member of The Gaither Vocal Band!  Adam comes to us with years of musical expertise, including on-stage and studio work as a member of award-winning Crabb Family, and as a solo artist and worship leader.

Bill Gaither is grateful and excited about the future! He says, “For decades now, we have reinvented the Gaither Vocal Band again and again, and in the process we have found some of the most incredible male singers and wonderful human beings on the planet. Adam is a very exciting addition to this 30-year legacy of excellence."

As for a fifth member of the Gaither Vocal Band, Bill adds, "We are taking our time and trying out some wonderful individuals during the next few weeks. You will see some very gifted guest artists out on the tour with us as we seek the perfect fit.  Trust me. You do not want to miss the chance to see what is about to happen as we enter this new season."

Check below to see upcoming Family Fest 2015 ticket information and 2014 concert tickets so you get in on the next chapter of GVB history!

I think this is a great choice, and I can't wait to see what is in store for Adam and the Gaither Vocal Band.

Fun Clip Friday - Mark Trammell Quartet Preview of Your Walk Talks

Happy Friday to all! The Mark Trammell Quartet has posted a preview of their upcoming release Your Walk Talks on YouTube. It is well worth a listen! I can't wait to hear the full project.

The group is offering a special presale of the CD for only $10!! Check out their website for more details. And for now enjoy listening to the preview -

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Either Way - When Lyrics Speak

I started working toward my master's degree since 2010 while working full-time, and the light at the end of the tunnel was finally in sight with plans to graduate last month. However, at the last minute several things came up and I also needed extra paperwork that I wasn't aware of until the day before graduation. Also, my brother getting an award the same day and same time, so my family was forced to split up and make decisions about who was going where. And to top it all off, I was facing some decisions about job opportunities and the disappointment of one not working out. 

With a lot on my plate I was frantically making phone calls and sending emails the day before graduation to see if it was possible for me to get everything turned in on time. Something that I had been working toward for years was in sight, but I wasn't sure that it would actually happen as planned. As I waited in line at one of the campus offices less than 24 hours before I was supposed to walk across the stage with what felt like hundreds of people ahead of me, I came to realization that it would be ok. Either way, graduation or later graduation, I would still graduate. It might not happen as I planned it, but it would work out. No matter what happened with my job, it would all be ok.

I've been hearing Morgan Easter's song "Either Way" a lot on the radio recently, and in the midst of all the chaos, it was one that really spoke to me. While I was waiting or feeling the deadline pressure, it would all be ok in the end. When I didn't get the response I wanted, it would be ok. We know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

The first line of the song is one that really grabs you about a phone call that could change your life. Now my circumstances were nowhere near that serious. With the song's writer being Sheri Easter, I can imagine that alludes to a phone call about her cancer diagnosis. Life is full of ups and downs, but we can rest assured that God is in control, and He will be with us no matter what.

I love the line that says even in our darkest hour, we can see the blessings around us. When we can't understand how things are going to work out and are bogged down with a trial, we can still look for the blessings around us. It's easy to lose sight of that when we are going through the tough times.

Life is full of crossroads. Sometimes you have intentional decisions to make, and other times situations are thrust upon you that you didn't bargain for. I'm a firm believer that God will work things out according to His plan, but that's much easier said that truly believed sometimes. Either way it will be ok.

And for those wondering, I was able to graduate, turned in all paperwork that afternoon. My mother, grandmother and friends were there to support me. And I'm blessed to be in the same job for almost five years now. Either way, in all circumstances, it was and is ok. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

News Tidbits

I've been falling behind on news posts lately, so here's kinda a "catch all" post on some things that have been going on lately -

  • T.J. Evans has joined Declaration as its tenor. His first date with them was Jan. 2. He left Promise which has announced that the group is disbanding.
  • Jared Stuffle has joined his family on stage as bass singer. The Perrys posted on Facebook on January 3 that he would be singing bass with the group. He has always been a more behind the scenes guy with the group so it's good to see him stepping out front with his family. Look forward to hearing him with them soon!
  • Courtney Parker has joined 11th Hour. She is 19 years old and from London, Ken. Candice Jordan left a few months ago to focus on other ministry opportunities with her fiance.
  • Aaron and Amanda Crabb are stepping down from their positions at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. They are stepping out on faith to plant a church in Hendersonville, Tenn. The church, Restoring Hope Church, will begin in September. Aaron and Amanda will be doing select travel dates starting in the month of June.
  • The Dove Brothers have hired Mark McPherson as its new tenor singer. He has been with Vintage Quartet and Holy City. He spent last weekend with the group.
  • Joseph Brown has announced that he is leaving the Diplomats. He was with the group for eight years as bass singer.
Any other noteworthy news I've missed?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Ending 2013 with the Bowling Family - Concert Recap

Bowling Family - Troy Peach, Hope, Kelly and Mike Bowling
I decided to end 2013 the same way I did 2012 - with a gospel concert. This time I traveled to Natchez, Miss. to see the Bowling Family.

The concert was at Natchez Church of God where the pastor is Brian Monehan. Brian and Angela Monehan are not strangers to gospel music. They were at a church in Little Rock for many years, and I got to know them while they were there since they had several groups come to their church. It was always great to hear the different artists persuade them to get on stage and sing as well. They are extremely talented singers and songwriters. (Check out their most recent concept video.) Angela sang a new song she had written after intermission. Great song that I think was entitled "There's Hope in a Living God," but not certain. Mike also called Brian to join them on "Power in the Name of Jesus."

You can always count on one thing when seeing the Bowling Family. They are there to have church. And this night was no exception. It wasn't all about the music which was great, but it was about their testimony and what they shared between the songs as well.

Here's what they sang -
  • "As Soon as I Touch Calvary"
  • "Come Along Let's Fly"
  • "I Know Enough" - I was so glad to hear this one. It's one of my favorites from their new project!
  • "Call Me Gone" - It was good to hear Mike go back and do this Hinson classic. It's definitely my favorite of those that he does.
  • "Victory's Coming"
  • "Everything's Going to Turn Out Right" - Hope is continuing to grow as a singer each time I see her.
  • "I'm Glad I'm Saved"
  • "Accentuate the Positive" - This song was done with all three daughters, Hope, Katelanne and Gracie.
  • "Your Cries Have Awoken the Master" - I never get tired of hearing this song. It's really become the group's signature song, and each time they pour their hearts into it. Mike repeated the chorus several times. It was an incredible, worshipful moment.
  • "You Deserve the Glory" - Kelly sang this one, praise and worship style.
  • "Too Much to Gain to Lose" - Mike sang this with just John accompanying him on the piano.
  • "He Can" - Love that they have started staging this song.
  • "Just What I Need" - Another great one from their latest project that I hadn't heard live yet!
  • "That I Could Still Go Free"
  • "That's What I Miss the Most"
  • "Power in the Name of Jesus" - Brian joined them on this one, powerful moment of worship.
  • "I Surrender All" - They led the congregation in this to close the service.
Kelly talked about their bus wreck, which has become a mainstay in their concerts. She said that she would never get tired of telling how God is a God of restoration and mercy. And each time I see the pictures, I can't blame her. She said that they wouldn't be there if not for his healing touch. She was humbled when she thinks about how God spared them that day not because of anything they had done but because they are His children.

Toward the close of the service, Mike talked about how this time of year always gave more perspective into why they do what they do. It's so that people will come to know Jesus and grow closer to Him. In 2014, all of our goals should be to grow closer to Him.

At the close of the service, the focus was all about Him and what we as individuals needed to do to grow closer to the Lord. And people came down to the altar to make those commitments and decisions. It was an incredible way to end 2013!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Zach and Rodney - Cookes and the Hinsons - Fun Clip Friday

Daniel Mount on recently had voting for best concept video of 2012 (Results are here). This is a becoming more frequent among Southern Gospel artists. There were a few videos I wasn't aware of until he started accepting nominations.

This is one of them, and it's today's Fun Clip Friday feature. Here's a video from Zach and Rodney of their song "The Cookes and the Hinsons." Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year to everyone! I'm praying the best for 2014 and for it to definitely be better than 2013!

I'm not sure if you've heard of the "one word" challenge for the new year. Instead of making a New Year's resolution, many people are now opting to choose one word to live out this year. What if instead of one word, you picked one song. What one song would be your theme song for 2014?  What song would you choose to live out this year?

I'll share mine with you - "My God Will Always Be Enough." I pray that no matter what I face in 2014 that I will remember that He is enough.