Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Brian Free and Assurance Unashamed - CD Review

Over the years, Brian Free and Assurance have developed a unique sound all their own. The group has a knack of selecting songs that fit their sound and their voices while delivering powerful messages. Unashamed, which was released earlier this month, is no exception. The album is exactly what you have come to expect from this group!

The project starts off with "God of Possibilities" which features lead singer Bill Shivers. It's been said before but it definitely bears repeating. He has to be the most underrated lead singer out there. I love this song, but the song for Bill that really sticks out on this project is "Say Amen." It's the group's first single, which is an excellent choice. It seems to already be getting a lot of airplay. The song asks if anyone has found God faithful, seen His power or knows that He is able to just "say amen." It's an incredible reminder of just how God has worked in your life and His greatness.

The title track features Brian Free and really serves as a challenge to all Christians. Are we willing to live unashamed no matter the cost even if it means persecution or costs us everything? Love the song and its message. Another song that features Brian is "He Still Saves." This might be one of Brian's best vocals with him really showing off his upper range. The message of the song is also so timeless.

"A Little Bit of Me and You" is a fun song that Jeremy Lile sings. The song really fits the smoothness of his voices and sounds similar style-wise to some of his past bass features. When it's not broke, don't fix it!

Mike Rogers is the newcomer to the group with this being his first recording with them. He sings "Tell It Like It Was," "Evidence of You" and "One." The first one has a similar message to Greater Vision's "Preacher Tell Me Like It Is," but the sound is all Brian Free and Assurance. The last feature of Mike's is the stronger one to me. "One" is an incredible ballad that really showcases his voice. I'm really impressed by how well he has blended with the group so far.

Another newcomer to Brian Free and Assurance but just for this album is Lauren Talley Alvey. She joins as a guest vocalist for "Where There's a Will, He Has a Way." This is another favorite of mine from the project. Brian is on the first verse of the song, and Lauren takes the second. It's great to her included on the project!

This is another quality project from Brian Free and Assurance. They seem to have really hit their stride and establishing their own progressive sound in the industry. It's a project you don't want to miss this year!

Song List -
1. "God of Possibilities"
2. "Unashamed"
3. "Tell It Like It Was"
4. "Say Amen"
5. "He Still Saves"
6. "Evidence in You"
7. "A Little Bit of Me and You"
8. "One"
9. "Where There's a Will, He Has a Way"
10. "Before the After"

Monday, April 28, 2014

Why blog?

As I approach my 500th blog post, I feel like the question of why has been coming up a lot lately. Both from personal friends and people I've gotten to know through gospel music and the blog, and it's caused me to ask myself the same question. Why blog?

I wasn't one who was "raised" on this music. I had heard gospel music some growing up but it wasn't until I was a teenager that I really discovered it. And what a discovery it was! It's a discovery that has enriched my life, comforted me on bad days, encouraged me during tough times and lifted my spirits reminding me of how much my God loves me. I can look back on times in my life and clearly identify a song that has helped me through it.

I'm a public relations person by day. It's my job to make people aware of my employer and all the great benefits we have to offer and highlight good work that's being done. That's how I see my blog. I want to help others discover the greatest music and highlight artist achievements, whether that's just a great concert performance or a special award.

I've never claimed to be a good critic. That's just not me. I try to always be honest, but at the same time I'm going to put a positive light on it. It's just who I am. This platform never is and never will be used to tear down artists or hurt their ministry in any way. I want to be an encourager, not only to fans but also to the artists themselves. They need to know and be reminded that what they are doing matters, and if I can do that in some small way, then I've half accomplished my mission.

Looking around at concerts, it's not hard to see that I'm a minority as still part of the under 30 crowd (even though I am fast approaching that number). I've had so many people tell me at concerts that it's good to see "young people" at concerts. As someone in her late 20s that comment is definitely appreciated! :) As I've tried to educate my friends by dragging  taking them along with me to concerts, they too have made comments about how much this music can have an impact. But regardless of age, gospel music fans are some of the greatest there is. I've personally witnessed them sitting through rain and 100 degree temperatures just to see their favorite artists sing. The industry has a dedicated fan base that loves keeping up with what's going on. This is just another outlet to help tell people about the industry, news, recent concerts, latest album releases, etc.

Yes, I've heard the argument that, for the genre, we do have a lot of bloggers, but I think we all bring our own unique perspectives to the table. I know I was a fan of reading blogs long before I started one. I definitely still consider myself "the new kid" when it comes to this. I appreciate what all the other bloggers do and the contributions they have all made. I think I can safely say that we all do it because we love this music. We all want to see this music thrive.

And that's why I do this. I love the music -- the message, the impact, the encouragement and most importantly how it can be used to share the gospel. I want to in some small way help others discover what I consider to be the greatest music there is.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Fun Clip Friday - Nelons & MANNA Worldwide

This Fun Clip Friday post is a little different to feature a group that is breaking ground and branching out to the world in a new ministry.

The Nelons announced this week that they are partnering with MANNA Worldwide to open a brand new orphanage in Guatemala. The orphanage is set to open in Summer 2014.

The orphanage will help rescue 60 orphans. Through "The Nelons' Kids," these children will receive an education, medical care, a loving home and the chance to hear the gospel. You can help the Nelons in their efforts. Learn more here.

Last October, the Nelons went to Guatemala with MANNA and visited a MANNA nutrition center. The video below gives you a glimpse of their experience.

The Nelons & MANNA Worldwide: Merely a Shack from Don Schaffer on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Perrys - Into His Presence CD Review

The Perrys released their highly-anticipated release Into His Presence on April 8. This is the their first album with StowTown Records. It's their first project with David Ragan and Jared Stuffle. And perhaps it's mostly anticipated because of Tracy Stuffle's miraculous recovery and healing after his stroke last January. The journey that the Perrys have been on this last year is incredible, and I feel like this album is a celebration of what God has done and will continue to do in their lives. Many of the songs fit exactly where the Perrys are in their ministry and how far they have come.

One of the highlights of the project has to be "Three Men on a Mountain" with Tracy carrying the song. Last year as updates poured in of his condition, fans could only dream that one day he would be back singing. Thankfully, this song shows the progress that Tracy has made so far. Jared joins him for a touching father/son duet. Jared adds his bass vocals throughout the album, but is most clearly heard on this song. He does a great job rounding out the group's sound throughout the project. Can't wait to hear more from him as he becomes more comfortable in his role.

Another stand out track is "I Can Trust Him" which features Libbi. Beautiful song with lyrics that mean so much more after the year they have had. The song written by Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey sounds tailor-made for Libbi. "Reminders" is another one that Libbi sings. You can tell she really sings from the heart and from experiences with these songs. And that's all the more evident in "Privilege of Prayer." Probably the strongest vocals from her, and the one I can see becoming a staple in their concerts.

While this is Bryan Walker's third project with the group now, I think he turned in some of his greatest vocals to date. He was featured on the lead on several songs. One of my favorites is "How Long," which is a Johnny Minick original. The strongest has to be "I Owe Him Everything." Love how his voice soars at the end of the second verse!

He's also featured on "Sooner Than Later" which is a fun uptempo song. It fits his voice really well. There are not a lot of uptempo songs on the project, the other one being "When He Comes Walking on the Water" that features David.

David sings another highlight of the album which is "Lord, I'm Thankful." This was one that I repeated several times. His power vocals make this song.

The Perrys set the bar high with their previous release of Through the Night. This project had a hard act to follow, but it really speaks to where the group is now. It's a testament to God's faithfulness. It's a strong project in its own right, and it's a must add to your collection for this year!

Song List - 

1. "Into His Presence"
2. "When He Comes Walking on the Water"
3. "I Can Trust Him"
4. "How Long"
5. "Reminders"
6. "Lord, I'm Thankful"
7. "Sooner Than Later"
8. "Three Men on a Mountain"
9. "I Owe Him Everything"
10. "Just Stand Still"
11. "Privilege of Prayer"

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

God's Been Faithful - When Lyrics Speak

"God's Been Faithful" is a song written by Scotty Inman and Dianne Wilkinson that is on the Mark Trammell Quartet's latest project Your Walk Talks. The song features Mark, and for me it's one of my favorites from the album. When I saw the Mark Trammell Quartet a few weeks ago, I was glad to hear them sing it that night. Then as I sat there listening, it really hit home.

I was there that night with my grandparents. Since the concert wasn't too far from where they live, they were able to be there. In the weeks prior, I had watched my grandfather who had always been a pillar of strength in my life struggle to get his breath. It was hard for him to walk across the room. It was hard to see how his condition had gone down. Two years ago, he was diagnosed with leukemia, and it's been a battle with his medication lately. While it was definitely doing its job of managing his leukemia, it was the cause of his struggles. 

After tests and multiple doctors' visits, they decided that by changing the dosage of medication it would keep doing its job but reduce the side effects. And he has started showing improvement. Weeks before the concert, I don't know that he would have been able to go. So as I heard the lyrics of the song "God's Been Faithful" that night, it really hit home.

In the mountains and deserts, God has been faithful. In the doctor's office as I watched him struggle for breath, God was faithful. When he started showing signs of improvement, God's faithful. "And in the darkest hour, there is healing power." As I heard that line and I looked over to see my sweet grandfather listening and enjoying the music beside me, it was the perfect reminder of just how faithful God is.

I'm so thankful of God's faithfulness not only during my grandfather's journey of leukemia, but over the course of my life. It's easy to look back and see all that God has done. He's been my Rock, a Friend and the One who has filled every longing. He's seen my wandering away, and yet He's always there.

I love the line at the end of the second verse that says "He has brought me through my trials every time." I love Mark's voice as he hits that peak in the song. No matter the struggle or my need, He has been faithful.

The message of the song is simple, but it's exactly the reminder I needed and that night especially.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cathedral Family Reunion Returns

The Cathedrals Family Reunion is returning! And it's on a much larger scale with a tour continuing through next year. All the artists and groups involved had been teasing to a big announcement to be made this morning, and it did not disappoint!

Here's the full release -

April 22, 2013 (Nashville, TN) – Today IMC Management, in association with Showcase Media, announced plans for the Cathedrals Family Reunion Tour in select cities. Due to the overwhelming response to the original event held in Dallas, TX in November 2013, organizers have planned for six special weekends during 2014 and 2015 that will place the event within 500 miles of most of the population of the United States.

It all kicks off where it all began, in Akron, Ohio - the birthplace of the Cathedral Quartet. The Akron Civic Center will welcome Cathedral aficionados November 7-8, 2014 as Danny Funderburk, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, Greater Vision, Legacy Five, and the Mark Trammell Quartet, once again, join together to honor the legacy of the Cathedral Quartet.

Today Scott Fowler, Danny Funderburk, Ernie Haase, Mark Trammell and Gerald Wolfe made the special announcement in a video from the Younce family home in Akron.

As with the original event, each weekend will focus on celebrating the legacy of the iconic Cathedral Quartet, featuring music from each of the current artists as well as the very special Cathedrals Family Reunion quartet. The weekend event will also feature memorabilia displays, special matinees, a behind the scenes Q&A, a chance to tour "Silhouette," the last tour bus the Cathedrals used and much more!

"We planned the original Cathedrals Family Reunion as a one-time weekend event," said Landon Beene, IMC Management. "Immediately after the event and consistently, the IMC Concerts office and the artists were flooded with requests to "do it again" or "take it on tour." Today, we are excited to announce that we have heard your voice and we are taking the Cathedrals Family Reunion on the road!"

Each tour city has been strategically planned to be within a 500-mile radius of most of the United States of America so that as many people as possible can experience this wonderful weekend of music and memories.

In addition to the tour, a preview of the Cathedrals Family Reunion event will take place during a special matinee performance at the 2014 NQC in Pigeon Forge, TN this September.

Tickets for the hometown weekend in Akron, OH will go on sale April 28, 2014 at 10:00 AM EST. More information can be found online at

Sept. 24, 2014 - Pigeon Forge, TN (Matinee preview performance only)
Nov. 7-8, 2014 - Akron, OH
Nov. 14-15, 2014 - Fort Worth, TX
Jan. 16-15, 2015 - Orlando, FL
Apr. 24-25, 2015 - Denver, CO
Jul. 17-18, 2015 - Lancaster, PA
Oct. 9-10, 2015 - Branson, MO

*More to be announced at a later date!

I think I'm already marking Oct. 9-10, 2015 on my calendar!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fun Clip Friday - Diplomats

By now, I'm sure you've heard of "On the Couch With Fouch." And if you've missed out on his latest interview with Pat Barker, you've really missed out.

But now it's time you hear about "On the Bus with Gus." The Diplomats Corey Pearson has done his own interview show that they have shared on Facebook. Episode 1 is below, but be sure to check out episodes 2 and 3 as well. Enjoy this for today's Fun Clip Friday!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Great Day CD Review - Legacy Five

Legacy Five released Great Day on March 25. This was the project funded by the group's Kickstarter campaign last year. They let their fans help them make the project as well as be a part of it through the Kickstarter choir.

Great Day is produced by Lari Goss and definitely has that sound and feel to it. The orchestration behind many of the songs is simply amazing. The project begins and ends with medleys with "Great Day and "Great Medley" with one thrown in the middle "What a Happy Day."

"Christ Is Still the King" has to be the best cut on the project. Gus Gaches does an incredible job on this song, and the Kickstarter choir add so much to the song at the end. The song keeps building and building to its grand finish. The lyrics are really strong. It was written by Rebecca Peck and Dianne Wilkinson.

The project picks up the pace with "That's a Hallelujah." The song definitely has the "Legacy Five" sound to it. It's another one that features Gus. Love the horns on this song! "He Is to Me" also fits in the vein of the type of song you would expect to hear on a Legacy Five project. It's not to be confused with the Greater Vision song of the same title.

And when you've got a good horse, ride him. Another strong stand out on this album is "Only the Living" that also features Gus. I love the look of "only the living regret the leaving." The song speaks of the death of a loved one and how it's only the ones left behind who cry, there's only joy on the other side. Beautiful lyrics and execution of a powerful song!

Another favorite is "He Heals," which has an incredible back story. Gus and Scott Fowler take the verses of the song. It incorporates a little bit of "Hold to God's Unchanging Hand" in toward the end.

"So Many Things" is a Scott Howard feature. Great song with a simple message of appreciating all the little things that God has given us. The song lyrics remind me a little bit of "I Get To" by Jeff and Sheri Easter.

"Who Is This Man" was previously recorded by Soul'd Out Quartet when Matt Fouch was with them. In fact, Matt is a writer of the song. I feel like it's not a typical sounding Legacy Five song like "That's a Hallelujah," but I like them branching out stylistically with this one.

Overall, it's another strong project from Legacy Five. The new songs are definitely stronger than the medley songs, but definitely worth adding to your collection!

Song List -
  1. "Great Day"
  2. "Christ Is Still the King"
  3. "That's a Hallelujah"
  4. "So Many Things"
  5. "What a Happy Day"
  6. "Only the Living"
  7. "Who Is This Man"
  8. "He Heals"
  9. "He Is To Me"
  10. "Great Medley"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Absolutely Gospel Awards 2014

Last night was the Absolutely Gospel Music Awards. To be honest, I always look forward to this awards a little more than others. I love that it's not predictable. I got to watch most of it thanks to live streaming. I didn't have the right link for about the first 45 minutes, so I missed the beginning.

There were several standout performances last night, but one of them had to be the Isaacs, who came out as big winners last night. They sang "Walk Together Children" a cappella with Gene McDonald joining them!

I also enjoyed hearing from songwriters singing their own songs. There's something really incredible when you see songwriters sing their own words, even when it's the artist who typically sings it like Sheri Easter singing "Hear My Heart" or Rodney Griffin singing "It Pays to Pray." So it was great hearing Kenna West, Sue Smith and Jason Cox on "Calvary's Cry" since those you don't normally hear sing their song.

The tribute to the Easter Brothers was a great way to end the night! All in their 80s now, the Easter Brothers are still on the road. The Nelons, Isaacs, Dailey and Vincent, Daryl Freeman and Jeff and Sheri Easter all sang a medley of Easter hits. Then they brought the brothers up to present them with a special plaque and have them sing "Holding Up the Ladder" and "Thank You Lord for Your Blessings."

Like I mentioned, I love this awards because it is different. I love that Amber Nelon Thompson won for Female Vocalist and really am shocked to know that this was her first time to win an award. She is one of the most talented females in the industry. I missed her speech live, but thanks to social media I watched it later. It was so touching!

Another standout moment for me was Kathy Crabb Hannah winning the Susan Unthank Memorial Award. She pulled up all her kids and grandkids she had there. She talked about just praying that they would be able to eat in the beginning and how she has been able to watch and support all her kids in their ministries. (If you haven't check out her blog, it's definitely worth your time to read!)

Also, loved Karen Peck and New River's speech after they won for favorite album. She dedicated the award to Norman Holland. Jeff talked about how they had recorded the project soon after his pastor died and how much the songs meant to him because of that. Karen then reminded us all that our better days are ahead, not only Heaven but here on earth. She quoted Ecc. 7:10 that it's not wise to think our better days are behind us.

Karen Peck Gooch and Kelly Nelon Clark were fantastic hosts!!! There were a few moments where they had to "go live." They recovered well with the few technical issues!

Here's a list of winners -

  • Male Vocalist - Mike Bowling
  • Female Vocalist - Amber Nelon Thompson
  • Country Song of the Year - "Voice in the Desert" by the Freemans
  • Country Album of the Year - Safe... After the Storm by the Bowling Family
  • Progressive Song of the Year - "Revival" by Karen Peck and New River
  • Progressive Album of the Year - Classics Collection by Sisters
  • Traditional Song of the Year - "Good News from Jerusalem" by Tribute Quartet
  • Traditional Album of the Year - The Greatest Story by Triumphant Quartet
  • Susan Unthank Memorial Award - Kathy Crabb Hannah
  • Pacesetter Award - Write About Jesus (Sue Smith)
  • Engineer of the Year - Kevin Ward
  • Producer (Professional) of the Year - Michael Sykes
  • Songwriter (Professional) of the Year - Dianne Wilkinson
  • Producer (Artist) of the Year - Ben Isaacs
  • Songwriter (Artist) of the Year - Becky Issacs Bowman and Sonya Isaacs Yeary
  • Musician of the Year - Becky Issacs Bowman
  • Special Event Project of the Year - Like Father, Like Son by James and Jeff Easter
  • Live Performer of the Year - Isaacs
  • Female Group of the Year - Sisters
  • Mixed Group of the Year - Isaacs
  • Breakthrough Artist - Sneed Family
  • Male Group of the Year - Booth Brothers
  • Fan Favorite Artist of the Year - Jeff and Sheri Easter
  • Song of the Year - "Revival" by Karen Peck and New River
  • Album of the Year - Revival by Karen Peck and New River

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Feeling at Home with the Booth Brothers - Concert Recap

It's not often that I get to see the Booth Brothers. Normally it's only once a year at Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic. So I was excited to know that they would not only be in concert in Central Arkansas but at my home church! We have a lot of southern gospel connections within the church, but it's not often we have a group in concert. When we do though, we get one of the best!

We were the last stop for the Booth Brothers on a 10 day tour. Michael joked that they had been looking forward to coming to our church the most.

Booth Brothers - Ronnie Booth, Jim Brady and
Michael Booth
They started the night with "Let It Be Known" and then sang "In Christ Alone." It was such a powerful performance, a favorite of mine! The group then sang two songs from their tribute album to Bill and Gloria Gaither, "Because He Lives" and "Let the Healing Begin." Their harmonies on the latter were just incredible!

Next, they sang "I'm Free," which featured Jim Brady. Loved to hear him sing this! Beautiful song!

They then sang their Southern Gospel Samba, "All Over the World." Michael joked with Gerald Williams (former Melody Boys bass singer) who was in the audience that they probably never sang that type of song.

Ronnie came up and told the story of their dad, how he started out in gospel music but then became an alcoholic. He came off the road and had become a successful businessman, but it was all taken away. He went to a place for alcoholics that a church ran. It was there that his dad was saved. After his dad got home, the Booth Brothers were started. Ronnie played the guitar and they sang "The Secret Place." Michael did incredible on this song!

They sang "I See Grace" next, which is another favorite! But Jim came up before the song and talked about the inspiration for the song. He said his sister had sent him a video of cardboard testimonies at her church. He said that through grace, God makes all things new. He puts us all back together and redeems us.

They picked up the pace next with "Trading a Cross for a Crown." They sang a new song written by Jim next around one microphone. It was called "Only Passing Through on my Way Home." They used the one mic again and sang the Mills Brothers style song "Since Jesus Came."

"Dear Jesus Abide With Me" was next. This is one that was on their quartet album they did with Gene McDonald, but they rearranged it some so that they could sing it as a trio.

They closed the night with Ronnie singing "Then I Met the Master." Definitely the highlight of the night!!! Incredible song and vocally they knocked it out of the park! The audience was on its feet by the end of the song!

It was really interesting to see them in concert in a church setting as opposed Silver Dollar City's outdoor amphitheater. And it was really a special treat to see them at my home church! Coming off a 10-day run, they absolutely gave it their all. Despite of what they said, their voices did not indicate their long road stretch either! It was absolutely a great night!!

And if you've been counting or keeping track, yes, this was the fourth weekend in a row I've been to a concert. Unfortunately I think that streak is going to end this weekend.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fun Clip Friday - Nelons "Keep on the Firing Line"

Monday the Harmony Honors aired on TBN. If you missed it, it was a great salute to the Red Back Church hymnal with two hours packed full of many of your favorite artists singing beloved hymns.

If you missed it, you can watch the program in its entirety online here. There have also been a couple of videos posted on YouTube. 

One of them is of the Nelons doing an a cappella arrangement of "Keep on the Firing Line." This family knows how to do a cappella that's for sure! Happy Fun Clip Friday to you all! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Letting Your Walk Talk - Mark Trammell Quartet Concert Recap

It's always great to have Mark Trammell return to his home state of Arkansas. I had not had the chance to see the group in a while. I was looking forward to seeing them and also hearing song from their new project Your Walk Talks. They did not disappoint! It was a great night of gospel music with one of the best quartets around.

Mark Trammell Quartet - Dustin Black, Nick Trammell, Mark Trammell
and Pat Barker
It really speaks to how strong an album is when a group stages almost the entire album during a concert. They sang nine new songs! I had been hoping to hear a few, so I was very pleasantly surprised to hear almost all of them.

They started the night with "I'll Go Over Jordan Someday." They went into the familiar favorite, "How Long Has It Been." Love hearing them on this hymn! Then, they sang "Ransomed and Redeemed."

Nick was featured on a song that he wrote "Don't Stop Running." Nick did an incredible job; it's a fun one to hear live! Then, Mark sang "God's Been Faithful." This was one that stood out in the night, as a powerful performance by Mark, but also the lyrics definitely hit home that night!

Next, they picked up the pace with "Echoes from the Burning Bush" and then went into "Wedding Music," always a crowd favorite.

After the group introductions, they sang another new song that was also written by Nick and Rodney Griffin "To Know He Knows Me." Mark said that they hadn't really done the next one on stage, and he hoped they remembered all the words. It was "When the King Come to Claim His Throne." They did remember all the words, and it was great! So glad they included it in their set!

They ended the first half with "Man of Sorrows." Mark talked about how powerful that name of Jesus was, thinking of all He went through to bear the burden of our sins. Beautiful song! Dustin really came on strong with the "O What a Savior" part. Wonderful way to end the first half!

During the break, the track to "The Sweetest Song I Know" was playing. When they got back to the stage, Mark commented that he could see people were enjoying that song, and they should sing it even though it hadn't been planned! The audience definitely loved it! Then, they sang another familiar song, "Meet Me Over on the Other Side."

They sang the title track of their latest project next, "Your Walk Talks." This was probably my favorite one to hear and see live. It's just a fun song, and I loved Pat's bass lines in there!

Mark said they had gotten several requests before the concert for the next song, a song that was originally called the "Gospel Boogie." It was "Wonderful Time Up There," which featured Pat. Love this song, and you can tell Pat has so much fun singing it. This started a string of Pat features with "Thanks to Calvary" being next. It was another stand out of the night. It's great to hear him on slower songs like this. It truly speaks to the vocalist he is. Then they sang "I'll Take it to the Grave."

They ended the night with "The King Is Coming," which was amazing as always. Very powerful end to the night!

It was a great night of quartet singing, which is exactly what you expect with the Mark Trammell Quartet. They truly are one of the best in the industry today. And considering yesterday's news of Pat's departure, I'm so glad I got to see the group Saturday night. It was a night to remember!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pat Barker to Leave Mark Trammell Quartet

The Singing News posted a statement this afternoon from the Mark Trammell Quartet that bass singer Pat Barker will be leaving. Pat made the Mark Trammell Trio a quartet when he joined the group in January 2010. Pat was previously with the Dixie Echoes and the Diplomats before joining Mark Trammell.

Here's the full statement from Mark -

There are some things in life that you just cant imagine ever having to do. What I’m about to say is one of them. After much prayer, fasting, and seeking the mind of God, our beloved bass singer Pat Barker has tendered his resignation. He is much in need of being at home with his precious family. While it grieves our hearts, we must honor his decision and begin the process of moving on with God.

We are once again reminded that the only thing that doesn’t change is Jesus. A new chapter in the life of MTQ. And, a new chapter in the life of the finest, most Christlike man to ever travel on a quartet bus. Pat has stated that he will be with us until early May and then will be going home. I would ask that you not only pray for us as we begin the process of looking forward, but also pray for Pat, Kesha, and their three sweet children. Pray that God will give them direction, peace, and spiritual strength. Auditions will begin as soon as possible. If interested, please email a brief resume, recent photo, and two songs to We will schedule auditions after reviewing this information.

Thank you in advance for your prayer and support during these days ahead. God is STILL in control. 

Mark Trammell

Mark Trammell Quartet

Personally, this is not a headline I wanted to see. He will definitely be missed. Pat brought not only great vocals but also a great energy and presence to the group! But it's always understandable when singers feel the need to be at home with their families. Please be in prayer for the Mark Trammell Quartet and Pat as they seek these next steps.

Transformation Tuesday - Mylon Hayes Family

With family groups, there are definite shifts that occur. New generations of the family are born and take their place on stage. Gospel music is blessed with many different family groups and names that are carrying on the legacy of previous generations.

Mylon Hayes started with his family at a young age. As a teenager he was singing full-time with his parents, Lucy and Howard Hayes, and his siblings. He not only sang but also played bass guitar. Here's a look at him with his family.

Now Mylon Hayes has a family of his own. He along with his wife Wendy and children Connor, Bailey and Kennedy are carrying on the Hayes Family tradition. They put out their first project as the Mylon Hayes Family in 2011. And with their kids already taking their places on stage, I'm sure the family legacy will carry on!

Here's a look at Mylon Hayes now singing with his family at last year's NQC (video on YouTube by Diana Brantley)  -

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fun Clip Friday with the Collingsworth and Duggar Families

Arkansas is not known for a lot, but the Duggar Family is probably near the top of the list. This family is the subject of TLC's 19 Kids and Counting. Apparently the family members are also fans of gospel music. The Collingsworth Family were recently in Northwest, Ark. for a concert, unfortunately it was too far for me to go. But the Duggar family was there. After the concert, the Collingsworth family was invited to the Duggar house where they had a private mini concert. Here's a clip -

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Experiencing Revival with Karen Peck and New River - Concert Recap

Friday night I got the opportunity to see Karen Peck and New River in Batesville, Ark. The concert was to benefit WARP 180, which is a ministry in Batesville to help women who are struggling with substance abuse and chemical dependency issues. You can learn more about the ministry here.

This is a concert that the group does every year to help the ministry. Doc and Connie Spurlin along with their daughter Kristi head up the program. Doc and Connie got the night started by singing a few themselves. They sang several songs including "Celebrate Jesus," "Pass Me Not" and "I'll Fly Away."

Karen Peck and New River - Matthew Gooch, Jeff Hawes, Kari Gooch,
Karen Peck Gooch and Susan Jackson
Then, Karen Peck and New River took the stage. They took the stage with Karen's daughter Kari joining them. Karen stated later on in the night that she had battled laryngitis about six weeks ago. Kari agreed to join them on stage to help out and continued on. She did a great job Friday night. She never sang by herself but you could definitely hear her voice clearly at times. Karen was very proud of her daughter and how she had stepped up. She said Kari was extremely shy, but she had seen God do a work in her life over the last several weeks of her being on stage with them.

The group started with "Ephesians Chapter One" and then sang "I Wanna Know How It Feels." It was good to hear them stage this song again. Jeff took the second verse of the song and did an incredible job on it.

They then sang "On the Banks of the Promised Land." They started the chorus again a cappella, and Karen led "I Am Bound for the Promised Land" a cappella after that.

Susan was featured next on "Sustaining Grace." Love hearing her sing this song! Karen then was featured on "Hold Me While I Cry." I never get tired of hearing that one!

Karen spoke of how they had been declaring a revival across the country as they traveled. She encouraged the audience to state that they wanted revival to start in them. Previously that week, they taped the Harmony Honors for TBN. Karen, Susan and Jeff sang what they did on the program a cappella. They kidded about being able to remember all the words, but they didn't struggle one bit!

Then the group sang "Revival." It was neat since they had just sung a song from the red back hymnal to go to them singing a song that mentions the hymnal. The audience was on its feet at the end. And we didn't sit for a while. They picked up the tempo even more with "We Shall Wear a Robe and Crown." Toward the end Karen motioned for someone in the audience. I thought she was inviting the Spurlins to join them on stage. Nope, it was Dennis Duggar, former bass singer with Tribute Quartet! They finished another chorus or two of the song. And Karen said that they still weren't done, so they turned it around again!

After the song Jeff talked about how incredible Heaven was going to be and how we should work so that everyone we know is there with us. He opened up about his pastor dying suddenly this last year and how hard it was for him and his home church. But he has the promise of seeing him again and the peace of God to reassure him and us through the toughest of times. He then sang "You Did It Anyway." I love this song from their project Revival, and Jeff did an amazing job vocally and communicating each lyric. The closed the first half with "Four Days Late," always a favorite! Karen was incredible as always!

The group opened the first half with "Mighty High" from the movie Joyful Noise. Then Jeff was featured on "Look What the Lord Has Done." They had a request from a cute little boy in the audience for "Hey," so they sang that one next. It's always a fun one to see live.

Susan sang "I've Been Broken." Her sweet voice is so beautiful on this song! Then Karen sang "Fix Me Jesus." I had never heard her sing this one live. It's from her solo project. Her pure soprano vocals on this song give everyone else who has recorded this a run for their money! They then sang "Everybody's Going Through Something."

Karen led an invitation, and talked about how as long as we are living on this earth we were going to be going through something. However, we might have problems, but with Jesus we can have a peace that passes all understanding.

After the invitation, she asked for people in the audience to give a line of testimony. Several offered touching tributes of what God has done in their lives including some of the women who had been in WARP 180. It was an incredible reminder of the faithfulness of God!  They ended the night with "Finish Well," which was just amazing!

It was a true night of worship and revival. It was an expression of God's love, provision and grace. Karen Peck and New River did a great job vocally, but it was more than that. As an audience, we were ready for God to speak to us through them and ready to experience revival. And we did!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fool's Day Lyrics

Happy April Fool's Day!

People have started experimenting with Google Translate lately with song lyrics. You post the lyrics in Google Translate and take them through several languages and then translate it back to English. If you're a fan of Frozen or at least know the song "Let It Go," you can check out the Google Translate version of "Give Up!" to get the concept.

I thought it might be fun for today since it's April Fools to take a few well-known Southern Gospel songs and play with them in Google Translate. I took the chorus or a verse and put them through several rounds of Google Translate. See if you can guess the songs below. Leave your best guesses in the comments section!

I work in the afternoon
I heard a few blocks
And I wonder what happens there
The young man began to run
and only stopped taking my soul,
I asked, tell me please, what is the rush
He smiled and said

I can not get a broken heart all over again.
But I know one
I can not do spirit, and it is a sin for patients and white as snow.
But one can not know.

The sun will wake up before opening his gospel
For those who seek the truth in all pages
Who thinks Dad
Sweet heart and passion for the blood of Jesus
I know we have the time, it was agreed
But while we live, for me,
I want to be

Ask in the dark, come light step in if, nail injured hands to do things
Trust can help where most of the left and the light and
Friends death you will be taken securely to help be able to reach you,
however address Your just one step love me was then seen
You know him as I know how I feel,
I am deeply in resurrection is if it did, you would know that he was alive,
he knows who live there happens death

Voice strong wind
nothing more, and is now closer
I can almost hear the trumpets
Gabriel sounds like a call to
We're going home to cry at midnight