Saturday, June 28, 2014

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - June 28

Here are a few news worthy items from this week in Southern Gospel -

  • Congratulations to the Perrys' Andrew Goldman on getting married this past week. He married fiance Rebecca Helms.
  • Ernie Haase and Signature Sound members are using their vacation time to answer your questions. You can submit your questions by email to the group members. Check out Southern Gospel Yankee's blog for more details. 
  • Sisters announced on their Facebook page that their ministry will be taking a shift. They will release a new project this summer and then take a sabbatical from touring to focus on this new endeavor. 
  • The 2014 SGMA inductions will take place at the National Quartet Convention on the main stage in multiple ceremonies. 
  • Jason  Crabb has signed with Reunion Records a part of Provident Label Group. This new deal will allow him to branch out more into Christian AC. Read the full release.
Released this week - 
  • Nelons - A Cappella Hymns

Anything I've missed?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fun Clip Friday - Gold City Reunion

The Memphis Quartet Show was held last week. One of the most talked about events within the event was the Gold City Reunion. While I tend to hear more about the lineup of Brian Free, Ivan Parker, Mike Lefevre and Tim Riley, the reunion featured my favorite lineup of Jay Parrack, Jonathan Wilburn, Mark Trammell and Tim Riley. This was not the first reunion these guys have had together.

For today's Fun Clip Friday post, check out a clip from the guys' reunion in 2008.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Taylors - Measure of Grace - CD Review

The Taylors are a brother-sister quartet from North Carolina. The siblings are no strangers to gospel music earning Favorite New Mixed Group in the 2013 Singing News Fan Awards. The group was signed to StowTown Records earlier this year so Measure of Grace is their first release with their new record company.

The project starts with "I'm Committed to You, Lord." It's a great opening number. It really shows the great blend of these siblings. I love the message of the song, "with each breath I am given, I will lift your Holy Name." May that a prayer for all of us.

The album has some incredible ballads, but it is not lacking in strong upbeat songs either. "He's My Guide" is a great uptempo song that was previously recorded by Ernie Haase and Signature Sound. It's a highlight for me. "I Want the World to See" is another great upbeat song. I like how the features are shared to show the siblings' strengths. "Heaven is Ready" is another fun song that is convention style. "The Least I Can Do" is stylistically a little different than the rest of the album, but this is one I found myself repeating!

Some may remember "I Tremble" that TK and McRae recorded several years ago. I have always been a huge fan of this song. While it's hard to rerecord a song that Katy Peach was featured on, Leslie does an incredible job on this song. And I'm so glad that they chose to include it on this project to bring new life to the song.

"Measure of Grace" is a beautiful ballad and a must listen, but my favorite new ballad on the album is "The Cross Is Calling" written by Rachel McCutcheon. The song features Suzanne. The message makes it standout in itself, but I love the orchestration and the way the song builds.

I love how the Taylors are a such a family unit. One sibling does not stand out and seem to be featured more than others. They have a great natural blend together that is evident throughout the project.

The project is full of 11 great songs. The sibling group made a great move with StowTown Records. I think this has been a great fit for their style and to get them more exposure that they deserve. If you haven't heard the Taylors before, pick Measure of Grace up today. You won't be disappointed!

Song List - 
1. "I'm Committed to You, Lord"
2. "He's My Guide"
3. "Measure of Grace"
4. "I Want the World to See (Jesus Lives in Me)
5. "I Tremble"
6. "The Least That I Can Do"
7. "The Cross Is Calling"
8. "He Goes Before Me"
9. "The Greatest Wonder"
10. "Heaven Is Ready (And Waiting for Me)"
11. "That Will Be Heaven to Me"

Monday, June 23, 2014

Names You Might Not Know Yet - Poll

Last year I did a series of posts called "Names You Might Not Know Yet." It asked various up and coming groups several questions to allow readers to get to know them better. You can check out all the posts here.

I would like to revive the series, but I would like to hear from you. What up and coming groups would you like to see featured? Is there a new group that people need to hear more about? Or is there a group that has been around for a while that just hasn't gotten the attention you think they deserve?  What about regional groups that more people need to hear from? What group would you like to get to know better? Leave a comment below with your suggestions!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - June 21

Here's what's been going on this week in Southern Gospel music -

  • StowTown Records and IMC Concert Management have joined forces. You can read more about it here.
  • The final round of the Singing News Fan Awards is now open! Subscribers can vote at
  • Don Light, SGMA Hall of Famer and concert promoter passed away on June 18. In 2005 he was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and then received the Living Legend Award in 2007 at the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion. Read more here.
  • Adam Brown was married yesterday to fiance Jennifer Bolkema. Congratulations to them!
  • The Memphis Quartet Show has been going on this week. I was really hoping to make it this year only being a few hours away, but had work obligations. Diana at MusicScribe has been doing some great recaps with videos! Don't miss the video from the Gold City reunion (featuring Jay Parrack, Jonathan Wilburn, Mark Trammell and Tim Riley) on Thursday featuring fathers and sons! I also feel like I should mention three of the eight are Arkansas guys! :)
  • Pat Barker announced that his first solo concert will also include live music and some quartet singing with a semi-Mark Trammell Quartet reunion. Dustin Sweatman, Eric Phillips and Corey Pearson will be joining him. The concert is in Oxford, Alabama on June 29. 
  • Amber Nelon Thompson was featured on Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta Friday night. She along with Kelly, Autumn and other family and friends filmed the show several months ago, and TLC chose to air the episode Friday night. The episode will replay next Friday night.
New Releases 
Anything I've missed?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Fun Clip Friday - The Isaacs in Israel

The Isaacs made a trip to Israel earlier this month. They had the chance to visit several Biblical landmarks including the garden tomb and the Jordan River. They participated in a baptismal service at the Jordan River and then sang "I Will Praise Him." The Isaacs posted that clip and several other clips and pictures on their Facebook page. But for today's clip, here's the video of "I Will Praise Him" at the Jordan River.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Having Greater Vision on Father's Day - Concert Recap

Greater Vision - Gerald Wolfe, Rodney Griffin
and Chris Allman
Sometimes from the first note of the first song, you can tell you're going to be in for a treat. That was the case on Father's Day as Greater Vision took the stage.

The night started with "He'd Still Been God." From the first note, the crowd was clapping along, enjoying every bit of it. I was glad to hear them sing this one; it's a personal favorite! They then sang "Come Unto Me."

The next song featured Chris Allman and is the title track of their most recent project, "For All He's Done." I've been hearing this song a lot on the radio lately. It was great hearing it live! They then sang "When They Ring the Bells of Heaven." They got a big audience response from that one. Gerald said he knew when he walked in and saw the church used a Heavenly Highway Hymnal that we would enjoy it!

Gerald mentioned that it had been 18 years since the group had been in Conway, Ark. for Toad Suck Daze. (Yes, that is a real thing in Arkansas.) This was a little different from the Toad Suck setting but the reason was the same. They came to tell people about Jesus and how He came to seek and save the lost. This led into "He Was Seeking for Me."

They sang one of Rodney Griffin's best known songs "My Name Is Lazarus" before Gerald introduced him. Gerald talked about what accomplished songwriters both Chris and Rodney are and how Rodney has won Singing News' Fan Favorite Songwriter for more than a decade. The next song they did was also one written by Rodney. Gerald mentioned that a lot of people were quick to say we had a political problem in our nation today, but it was really a spiritual problem. If the spiritual issues would get solved, then everything else would fall into place. We just need more people to be honest about our spiritual condition which led into "Preacher Tell Me Like It Is."

Gerald then introduced Chris mentioning that he was the group's original tenor singer. He spent a few years as a soloist and then as a pastor before returning to the group. The first half closed with Chris singing "I Know a Man Who Can." It was a highlight of the night! I never get tired of hearing him sing this song. At the end, Chris repeated the last verse and chorus with the audience giving it a standing ovation when he finished.

To start the second half, they sang "Just One More Soul" and then went into "He Is To Me." Rodney then sang another song he had written called "It Pays to Pray." This is one of my favorite songs of his. I love the lyrics and the promise this song holds. Rodney wrote the song about his father-in-law, and you can tell he feels the lyrics every time he sings it. Great moment of the night! Chris was featured on "Like I Wish I Lived in the Past."

Then, Gerald went over the keyboard and started playing "The Love of God." He said there is no other more powerful force in the universe than the love of God. It is what carried our sin debt to the cross and gave us the hope and assurance of eternal life.

Gerald talked about how a song lyric can absolutely overwhelm you sometimes. He grew up as a big fan of the Happy Goodman Family and specifically Rusty Goodman. He wanted to record one of Rusty's songs, but every time he tried to sing it in the studio he would cry when he got to a certain lyric. He was overwhelmed with the profound simplicity of it. Gerald then sang "Until You've Known the Love of God." Incredible moment! I was not very familiar with the song, but fell in love with it. Gerald did an amazing job of conveying every word of the song.

Rodney then led the congregation in "Oh How He Loves You." He told a story about his daughter Riley and how when she was 3 she had thrown a toy at him and refused to apologize. They kept telling her she needed to apologize to him before he left to go on the road. Right after he left, he got a call on his cell phone that was Riley apologizing. Rodney asked how many times does God tell us to say that we are sorry when we need to make things right, but we refuse. He led in a time of invitation. They closed the night with "God Wants to Hear You Sing."

It was an incredible night! I don't get to see Greater Vision that often, but when I do it's always a treat, and Sunday night was no exception! On a day when we recognize our earthly fathers and all they have done for us, it was a sweet reminder of the love and the grace we receive every day from our Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

StowTown Records and IMC Join Forces

StowTown Records and IMC Management are joining forces. The two companies announced a "strategic partnership" yesterday. Here's the full release -

NASHVILLE, TN (June 16, 2014) – A strategic partnership has been announced between StowTown Records and IMC Management. The new and reimagined StowTown Records will launch an even more effective platform for their artists, and will harness the power of IMC management and concert event companies to serve the needs of StowTown Records’ roster. StowTown Records founders Ernie Haase and Wayne Haun will team with IMC’s Landon Beene and Nate Goble as equal partners in the new company.

Landon Beene believes the possibilities are endless. “We have worked diligently over the last several years at IMC to build an engine for promotion—of not only events, but also the development of the artist within our brand. StowTown Records has been growing rapidly at the same time, with a strong catalog of great music and retail presence via Provident/Sony in the Christian music marketplace. Our goal is to create a new innovative way of marketing the best music in the world!”

Haase and Haun have been exploring options for innovation, and they are confident that the expanded StowTown label is one more key component in bringing those dreams to life. Haun is excited about the possibilities. “Ernie and I believe that this new partnership will encourage the growth of gospel music because it’s a fresh approach to artist development, marketing, concert promotion, and a strong presence in retail. We believe that StowTown Records can offer the best of all worlds to our artists, so they can focus on what God has called them to do.”

While the press release doesn't exactly outline what this will mean, I think this could mean big things for Southern Gospel. Both companies are very innovative in getting Southern Gospel out to more people. Look forward to seeing what comes from the partnership!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Torch DVD

A few weeks ago, I found my copy of the Torch DVD from 2005. The DVD was a showcase at the National Quartet Convention in 2005. It featured under 30 artists, Souther Gospel's next generation. It was fun to go back and watch all these young artists who have grown so much in the almost 10 years since the filming of the project. Most of the artists included are still involved in Southern Gospel music.

Some of the singers and musicians included - the Crabb family, Lauren Talley (Alvey), Joseph Habedank, Jeremy Lile, Jeremy Peace, Troy and Katy Peach, Scotty Inaman, the McRaes, Amber Nelon Thompson, Matthew Holt and Josh Singletary... just to name a few.

Here are a couple of clips from the DVD:

My thoughts for this Monday morning. If they were to have a similar showcase and DVD taping in 2015, what artists/ musicians should be included who are under 30?

Here are my suggestions, would love to hear yours!

Jonathan, Chris, Suzanne and Leslie Taylor
Amber Nelon Thompson and Autumn Clark
Riley Harrison Clark
Amber Eppinette
Morgan and Madison Easter
Karlye Hopper
Jared Stuffle
Trey Ivey
Jordan Wilburn
Matthew and Kari Gooch
Austin and Ethan Whisnant
Michaela, Adam and Andrew Brown
Chip Pullen
Robert Fulton
Dustin Black
Mike Rogers
Daniel Ashmore
Chris Jenkins
Keith, Kody, Kris and Katie Erwin
Connor, Bailey and Kennedy Hayes
Hope Bowling
Andrew Goldman
Eli Fortner
Jordan LeFevre
Alex and Andrew Utech
Collingsworth Family - Brooklyn, Courtney, Phillip and Olivia

Saturday, June 14, 2014

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - June 14

Here are some of the news and tidbits from Southern Gospel this week -
  • Phillip Collingsworth married Sharlenae Dotson on June 10. The Collingsworth Family has posted a number of pictures on their Facebook page. There are also a few videos including one of Phillip and Sharlenae singing to each other. Congratulations to the happy couple! 
  • Joseph Habedank is having a pre-release concert for Welcome Home on July 1. Several song writers will be in attendance along with a surprise special guest. 
  • Lauren Talley Alvey received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Laurel University in High Point, N.C. on May 11. Lauren plans to work with the Worship Arts department periodically with special master classes and guest seminars.
  • Kingdom Heirs drummer Dennis Murphy's 15-year-old daughter was missing earlier this week. However. thankfully, after less than 48 hours, she was found safe. Please continue to pray for the Murphy family.
  • Rhonda Frye has organized a theft recovery fundraiser for Old Paths since the group's trailer with equipment, product and clothes was stolen recently. You can learn more or donate online here.
Releases this week
  • Taylors - Measure of Grace
Anything I've missed?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Fun Clip Friday - Jeff and James Easter

Father's Day is this weekend. In honor of that today's Fun Clip Friday post features a father/son duet (with a little help. Jeff and James Easter released Like Father, Like Son last year. This is one of the songs from the project. Jeff posted this video a few weeks ago, that I think may have been taken at Jeff and Sheri Easter's homecoming in May. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Angel at the Crossroads - High Road III - CD Review

High Road III made a big splash on the main stage of the National Quartet Convention. With their latest project Angel at the Crossroads, they are making an even bigger splash.

The trio consists of Sarah Davidson, Anna Grace Kimbrough and Kiley Phillips. The girls are not only talented vocalists but musicians and song writers. They showcase all three on this project. The girls played their own instruments only getting a little help on drums, mandolin and banjo. No one in the industry is doing what these young women are.

The girls are receiving help from big names in Southern Gospe with Ben Issacs as producer and Bill Gaither with guest vocals. You can definitely sense the Isaacs influence. With the trifecta of vocal talent, musicianship and song writing, these girls are definitely similar to the Isaacs.

The album is a pretty even mix of familiar hymns/songs and new songs. I like High Road's take on "My Savior's Love." It's a highlight of the hymns. The other one would be "Beulah Land." The violin intro alone makes it noteworthy. It's interesting to hear them cover "Redeemer" which is more of a contemporary song, but I liked hearing their version of it. "When God Dips His Pen of Love" is the song that Bill Gaither makes a guest appearance on.

"Angel at the Crossroads" is the title track and the highlight of the project. With the incredible vocals on this song, it is absolutely in the girls' sweet spot. Also, don't miss their concept video with this song.

"Worry" is one of the songs that the girls wrote. It's a great uptempo song that for me was a favorite that I found myself putting this song on repeat. The other song written by the trio is "Don't You Weep for Me."

"For the Rest of Our Lives" is a sweet, country love song. It reminds me of a song that Jeff and Sheri Easter also might record.

One of the standout tracks of the project has to be "Prayer Chain" just for the novelty of the song. You can't help but laugh at how true it can be. We all know church people who use the prayer chain as the gossip mill and exaggerate circumstances. It's a fun song; while not the most spiritually deep song on the album, don't miss it!

High Road III is full of talent, and this project proves that these girls are earning their spot in Southern Gospel. If you love the style of the Isaacs, this is a "don't miss" album for you. Even if that style normally isn't your cup of tea, Angel at the Crossroads is definitely worth a listen! You will be nothing less than impressed by this trio!

Song List -

1. "Count Your Blessings"
2. "Worry"
3. "My Savior's Love"
4. "Angel at the Crossroads"
5. "Walk Beside Me"
6. "Jesus Built a Bridge"
7. "Don't You Weep for Me"
8. "For the Rest of Our Lives"
9. "Beulah Land"
10. "Redeemer"
11. "When God Dips His Pen of Love"
12. "Prayer Chain"

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Singing on Sundays Commentary

A few weeks ago, an article circulated on social media called "Why They Don't Sing on Sunday Anymore." The author noticed the lack of people joining in on congregational singing at his church on Sunday. He made the statement that "congregational singing has become congregational staring." He had several arguments for why this could be the case - music choice, professionalism and even it becoming a spectator sport.

Now there have been several arguments on both sides. It's true that worship is not just about singing. Worship is the feeling or expression of reverence, love and adoration. I don't have to sing to worship, and I can be singing and not worship if my heart is not in it. But is congregational singing really declining in our churches today? And if so, why?

It's interesting that at many recent concerts groups will lead the congregation in a hymn. I think there is a hunger for the hymn singing in churches. The Gospel Music Hymn Sing that many artists are participating in has almost sold out. I go to a church where there is a good mix of praise and worship and hymns. I like them both, and worship occurs with both.

Worship also occurs during gospel concerts we attend, and we aren't the ones on stage singing. We still worship without singing. So even if there is a decline in congregational singing on Sundays, there could still be worship taking place within.

I'll never forget a service at my home church where they stripped down the service from a full choir and orchestra to just the piano. Then, at one point, they had us stop singing and just read the words of the song silently, focusing and concentrating on what we had been singing. It was one of the most powerful moments of worship in my life.

Now, does it make me sad to think that people just aren't singing as much as a congregation in churches? Yes, but worship comes in many forms.

What are your thoughts?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - June 7

Here are a few news and tidbits from this week in Southern Gospel -

  • It was the end of an era on Sunday with Daniel Mount's last post on Don't miss it reading it here. His blog will definitely be missed!
  • Absolutely Gospel has announced the artists for the 2014 Absolutely Gospel Music Festival, which will be held July 14 - July 19. See the full list and find out more on the festival.
  • Don't miss Matt Fouch's latest On the Couch with Fouch interview with Devin McGlamery.
  • Musicscribe's David Bruce Murray has an interesting post about song pitching and trying something a little different! Be sure to check it out. I think it's a great new concept.

Anything I've missed?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Fun Clip Friday - The Taylors Measure of Grace

The Taylors will be releasing Measure of Grace  next week. The album will be officially released on June 10, but the group is having a pre-release party on June 7 at Lifeway in Fayetteville, N.C.. This is the second (I believe) StowTown artist to do something like this. Southern Gospel Yankee had a great post this week on StownTown and how they are Southern Gospel's most cutting-edge label.

Here's a preview of Measure of Grace for today's Fun Clip Friday post. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

When Lyrics Speak - Ephesians Chapter One by Karen Peck & New River

Yesterday was a Jonah day. You know those days when nothing seems to be going your way? That was me... all day long. I felt like I couldn't do anything right, and nothing went as planned. Work had me overloaded, and I spent the day putting out fires instead of doing actually what I needed to do that day. I didn't feel respected for the actual achievements I had made, but everyone was quick to notice the mistakes. To top it off, the Bible study I had the night before was on insecurities, and I learned that I seek approval from others way too much. Satan was winning this battle.

I came home resigned to the fact that it was just not my day. I couldn't shake the funk of a mood I was in. Music is my go to, but even that didn't seem to speak to me and help me. So I went where I should have gone in the first place, I got in the Word. I opened up my Bible and found I could rely on Ephesians chapter 1. And then God used the song to speak as well.

"For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved ... I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength." - Ephesians 1:4-6, 17-19

In the midst of the chaos, the criticism, the mistakes, God chose me. When I feel like I've messed up, God knew all that before and still adopted me. When all I find is criticism and rudeness from those around me (and I found plenty yesterday), God gave me favor, mercy and wisdom. When I didn't understand why things weren't going right, I could rest in that God has called me to the place I am now for a reason. And when the rough days come as they did yesterday, I have a hope and peace that only comes from Him.

I love when Southern Gospel songs come directly from Scripture. The song "Ephesians Chapter One" by Karen Peck and New River says we can feel beat down, backed down and the struggles of life can weigh us know. But thankfully, the God and His Word is there to lift our spirits. We are blessed, chosen, adopted and favored.

I love the second verse of the song that says God is working through our hurting. We can trust Him and not doubt because "His fear takin’, way makin’, chasin breakin’, life changin’ power’s gonna see me through." We can feel secure in who we are in Christ and know that His power will see us through whatever struggle we face, whether that's just a bad day or a health scare or a great loss. Whatever you may be facing, rely on Ephesians Chapter 1.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

11th Hour - Picture This - CD Review

11th Hour will release Picture This on June 17. I had the chance to get the project when I saw the group a few weeks ago, which was the first weekend they were carrying it with them.

This is the group's first project since 2012 and the first one with the lineup of Amber Eppinette, Grant Gibson and Jaquita Lindsey. From what Amber said at their concert, Jaquita joined the group just a short time before they went into the studio which accounts for Amber and Grant having a much stronger presence on the project.

Amber continues to show that she is making her place among the top young female vocalists of Southern Gospel. "Wounds" is a really stripped down ballad that features Amber. It's simple arrangement really allows her voice to shine through.

Amber not only adds her strong vocals, but also her songwriting chops to the album with "How Will You Plead" that she wrote with Dianne Wilkinson. This is one of my favorites on the CD. There will come a day when we will be guilty of our sins, but can we plead that we have been pardoned through Jesus? This type of song suits Amber so well vocally. It was great to see in a live setting with her on the keys singing it.

Grant has the feature on "This Changes Everything." I love the way the song builds, and the message of this song is great. Grant has been a great addition to the group as the male singer, and definitely one to watch in the future.

While I love the slower ballads on this project, the CD is full of great uptempo songs! "No Death" really gets the project started off right! "Picture This" (another Dianne Wilkinson song), "Jesus Is in the House," "Everlasting Arms" and "Step In" are also great faster songs. "Jesus Is in the House" is stylistically very different from the other songs, but I think it's a great addition.

11th Hour continues to emerge as a strong mixed trio in Southern Gospel. This project only solidifies their place in the industry.

Song List -
1. "No Death"
2. "Picture This"
3. "Jesus Is in the House"
4. "This Changes Everything"
5. "Wounds"
6. "Everlasting Arms"
7. "Waving on the Other Side"
8. "Step In"
9. "How Will You Plead"
10. "Saints Are Born"

Monday, June 2, 2014

Best Decade?

This weekend, some friends and I relived our teenage, teeny bopper, boy band crazed, teenage years. Yes, unfortunately, I was one of those girls. A friend had programmed in a 90s pop Pandora station that prompted us to relive those days. It was fun going back and still remembering every word to songs that we hadn't heard in years.

So let's just go ahead and say that as far as pop music goes, the 1990s was the best decade. (Just go with me on this one.) If you had to pick a decade of Southern Gospel music to listen to, what would it be? Take the poll below (you can pick two). I'm anxious to see which decade you would listen to over and over for gospel music.

Also, if you haven't already, be sure to check out Musicscribe's polls on the best albums by decade!