Sunday, September 28, 2014

NQC Day 6 Highlights - National Quartet Convention Recap

The last night of the 2014 National Quartet Convention is over. The first convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is in the books. I missed last night and some sections of the other nights, but overall I think this was one of the strongest nights of the convention.

Sometimes it can be easy to forget the first groups of the night by the end, but tonight was definitely an exception. Some of the strongest sets occurred early on. The night started with the Sneed Family, Gold City and the Whisnants. The Sneed Family continues to impress me more and more, and I love that they sang "Hallelujah Square!" Gold City turned in another strong set tonight with a repeat of "Power of the Cross" and bringing back "There Rose a Lamb." It was also neat to see them take the stage on "I Get Down" by Quarteto Gileade which was a highlighted showcase artist. The Whisnants started their set with "A Greater Yes," my favorite of their songs! I was also glad that they brought up Austin and Ethan to sing "On the Road to Emmaus" with Jeff.

And it was a great night for all quartets in general at the quartet convention. It's hard to single out anyone out but for me Old Paths, Triumphant Quartet and LeFevre Quartet also had really strong sets. I love that Triumphant had part of the choir from First Baptist Sevierville join them on stage for a couple of songs, "Oh Happy Day" and "We Will Remember" (And I think I spotted a few Triumphant family members in the choir!). The LeFevre Quartet was joined by the Booth Brothers on "Jesus Saves" which both groups have recorded.

The finale or bonus had several groups coming back to the stage for one of their most requested songs. The groups were the Mark Trammell Quartet, Collingsworth Family, Booth Brothers, Triumphant, Whisnants, Hoppers and Greater Vision. The night ended with them all on stage for "Bless the Lord," which is the song the Sunday night concert started with, a very fitting ending to a great night! :)

Here are highlighted songs and moments (in no particular order) -

  • "Love of God" - Hoppers
  • "I Bowed on My Knees" - Old Paths
  • "I Rest My Case at the Cross" - Perrys
  • "Arise My Love" - Soul'd Out Quartet
  • "Jesus Saves" - LeFevre Quartet with Booth Brothers
  • "There Rose a Lamb" - Gold City
  • "A Greater Yes" - Whisnants
  • "For All He's Done" - Greater Vision
  • "When the Trumpet Sounds" - Triumphant Quartet
  • "Homecoming Day" - Tribute Quartet

Saturday, September 27, 2014

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - Sept. 27

With the National Quartet Convention this week, that's really been the focus. However, here are a few other news items -

  • Lily Isaacs' mother, Faye Blauschild, passed away on Friday. She was 95 and a Holocaust survivor. Lily had flown out last week to be with her mother after she had emergency surgery.
  • The Jubilee Christmas Tour has announced a partnership with Socks for Seniors in an effort to collect and distribute socks for senior citizens. They are working on special appearances by the artists to deliver socks themselves.
  • The Singing News fan awards were held on Thursday during an afternoon showcase at NQC. Here's my recap with a list of winners.
  • The Dixie Melody Boys announced Doug Pittman as their next tenor. He took the stage with them earlier this week for a song.
  • The Old Paths announced Josh Townsend as the group's piano player. He has been traveling with them for select dates, but will now be full-time. He is only 16 years old.
  • If you've missed any of my highlights and recaps of NQC, check them out here. Last night was the only night that I wasn't able to watch any of the webcast. And don't forget to check out my fellow bloggers' sites as well for their thoughts as well. Some of them are actually there in person! Here are the ones who have posted so far from NQC (I hope I haven't missed anyone.) -

Anything I've missed?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

NQC Day 4 Highlights - National Quartet Convention Recap

I actually got to watch most of the webcast in its entirety tonight. Now, I'm not going to promise that I was glued to the screen the entire night to catch every detail, but I caught almost everything! :)

Probably the moment of the night happened early on during the Booth Brothers set. They sang several and then called Paul Lancaster (who will replace Jim Brady) and the Collingsworth Family up to join them. They sang "Jesus Saves" which featured Paul. It was absolutely incredible!! I love how the Booth Brothers and Jim Brady have handled this transition. It was great to see them all so supportive of each other. Paul did an amazing job on the song, and it was great to hear them backed up by the Collingsworth Family!

A lot happened toward the beginning tonight with Karen Peck and New River and the Bowling Family being two of the first groups. KPNR had a solid set as always. I'm disappointed to see the Bowling Family with only one set this week. They had a great set and featured the Bowling girls on one song. These girls have great harmonies now, so I can't wait to hear them in a few years! Hope continues to amaze me. I love that they have brought "Jesus Pilots My Ship" back!

The Collingsworth Family also brought up additional family members tonight. They had all their children's spouses join them on stage for "We Will Serve the Lord." Another great moment!

It was a night for the younger generation of singers to stand out! Karlye Hopper was featured on a verse of "I'll Worship Only at the Feet of Jesus." The Taylors had a great night that featured not only songs from their latest project but also their brother-in-law Aaron Perkins on a few songs. It was cute to see Leslie and Aaron bring up Isaiah to the stage.

Brian Free and Assurance also brought up Lauren Talley Alvey to sing "Where There's a Will" with them live. She was a guest vocalist on their album, so it was neat to see them sing it live together!

Lauren and Gerald Wolfe co-hosted the evening and did a fantastic job!

Here are the highlights from the night (in no particular order) -

  • "Jesus Saves" - Booth Brothers (with Paul Lancaster) and Collingsworth Family
  • "Jesus Pilots My Ship" - Bowling Family
  • "We Will Serve the Lord" - Collingsworth Family
  • "Where There's a Will" - Brian Free and Assurance with Lauren Alvey
  • "Until You Know the Love of God" - Greater Vision
  • "Broken Ones" - The Talleys
  • "I'll Worship Only at the Feet of Jesus" - The Hoppers
  • "Up Above My Head" - The Taylors 
  • "The Living Years" - Isaacs
  • "Little Is Much" - Dixie Melody Boys

2014 Singing News Fan Awards

The 2014 Singing News Fan Awards returned to the National Quartet Convention. This afternoon, the winners of the 2014 awards were announced on the main stage.

I was able to watch the first part during my lunch and listen to the rest. However, I did catch the opening number of "I've Got a Song" that featured Lauren Talley Alvey, Jason Crabb, Brooklyn Collingsworth Blair and Joseph Habedank and a choir of Karen Peck and New River, Tribute Quartet, the Whisnants and Triumphant Quartet. It was great, and lots of fun seeing all of them on stage trying to add a little bit of choreography to the number! :)

For the most part, there were no surprises this year. I loved hearing Michael Booth's speech after the Booth Brothers won for Favorite Trio. He said that regardless of the awards, all the artists are going to keep traveling and singing and lifting up the name of Jesus and do what they are called to do.

I was so glad to see Joseph Habedank win favorite new soloist. Definitely one of the most heart-felt speeches of the afternoon! Great to hear how God has worked in his life in the past year and a half!

It was so good seeing Amber Nelon Thompson receive her second award this year. Without a doubt, she's one of the best and so glad to see her recognized!

I was surprised and excited to see Greater Vision take home two of the biggest awards of the night with favorite song and album! Very deserving wins!

Here's a complete list of the winners -

Musician - Kim Collingsworth
Young Artist - Amber Nelon Thompson
Soloist - Ivan Parker
Small Market DJ - John Whisnant
Medium Market DJ - Lottie Squires
Large Market DJ - Daniel Britt
New Soloist - Joseph Habedank
New Traditional Quartet - Canton Junction
Male Singer - Ronnie Booth
Band - Kingdom Heirs Band
Lead Singer - Ronnie Booth
Tenor - Michael Booth
Non-performing Songwriter - Dianne Wilkinson
Baritone - Jim Brady
New Trio - Hyssongs
Bass - Eric Bennett
New Mixed Group - Mylon Hayes Family
Soprano - Kim Hopper
Mixed Group - Collingsworth Family
Trio - Booth Brothers
Alto - Libbi Stuffle
Female Singer - Kim Hopper
Songwriter (performing) - Rodney Griffin
Traditional Quartet - Triumphant Quartet
Album - For All He's Done by Greater Vision
Song - "Preacher Tell Me Like It Is" by Greater Vision
Artist - Booth Brothers

Congratulations to all the winners!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

NQC Day 3 Highlights - National Quartet Convention Recap

Tonight was one of those off again and on again watching the webcast. I caught some performances after I got home from work and then a good bit of the later sets after I got home from church.

The past few years there has been an all-quartet night on Wednesday. While this was not the case tonight, quartets had a strong showing tonight! I feel like that was the majority of what I saw. The first group I saw tonight was the Kingsmen. They sang several from their newest release. Tribute Quartet closed the night out. While they are still considered a relatively young group, they carried the responsibility of ending the night well. They are also the last group another night this week. Another relatively young quartet that sang tonight was Old Paths. This group gets better each time I see them, and they had one of the standout performances of the night with "Love Live the King."

There were a few family groups in the mix. The Mylon Hayes Family got to sing one song on main stage, "Little Is Much." In this case, little was not much, this family definitely needed more time on stage! They are fantastic!!

Guy Penrod sang a set primarily of worship songs and hymns. He had the audience join in with the words on the screen or at least they were on the webcast. I applaud the efforts to make it more interactive and like a worship service, but it seemed a little out of place to me with the mix of a contemporary worship service feel.

From pictures on Facebook, it looks like I missed Connie Hopper joining her family on stage for the first time since her surgery. That's a moment I'll definitely have to watch on demand!

Again, I'm not sure there was one moment of the night , but here are standout performances/ highlights for me (in no particular order) -

  • "Yes, I Am" - Kingsmen
  • "Little Is Much" - Mylon Hayes Family
  • "King Is Coming" - Mark Trammell Quartet
  • "It's Still the Cross" - Gold City
  • "He Made a Change" - Legacy Five (joined on stage by Ernie Haase)
  • "Long Live the King" - Old Paths Quartet
  • "New Day Dawning" - The Whisnants
  • "In the Valley I Can Hear His Voice" - Tribute Quartet

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

NQC Night 2 Highlights - National Quartet Convention Recap

Tonight I didn't get to see as much as I had hoped, but I was able to catch about the last hour and a half at least. I'm not sure if the entire night was like this or not but the entire stretch I saw was incredible. Not a weak set or moment!

I tuned in just in time to catch the Crist Family's last appearance at National Quartet Convention. The group announced its retirement earlier this year. Their set ended with a tearful goodbye and a heartfelt "Will You Love Jesus More." Incredible song to end on!

It seems like this is the year several young faces are making their NQC main stage debut. I forgot to mention that Kari Gooch (Karen Peck Gooch's daughter) was with Karen Peck and New River last night singing. Tonight, Autumn Nelon Clark, Valerie Crist and Sharlenae Collingsworth also made their main stage debuts with their families.

It was a night for hymns. We heard "Blessed Assurance" twice. Both times were incredible! The first was during Greater Vision's set when Gerald Wolfe led the 12,000 member congregation in singing. I'm sure the webcast didn't do it justice! Then, Autumn was featured on the hymn during the Nelons set and showed what a great talent she has! The Nelons also sang "How Great Thou Art," which featured Amber. Gold City did a new hymn and an old hymn with "Redeemed" and "Power of the Cross." Then, the Collingsworth family started and ended with hymns "Holy, Holy, Holy" and a piano medley of classic songs and hymns.

It's hard to crown a clear-cut moment of the night. Last night was much easier. The sweet farewell of the Crist Family, the hymn sings and the incredible pianorama ending with Kim Collingsworth, Tim Parton. It looked like from the schedule that the Nelons were set to go on last. I'm not sure if I missed an announcement or something, but I'm guessing they switched the two families because of the grand piano ending.

Here are highlighted songs/moments for me in no particular order -

  • "Will You Love Jesus More" - Crist Family
  • "Blessed Assurance" - congregation
  • "Looking for the Grace" - Greater Vision
  • "Power of the Cross" - Gold City
  • "Look for Me at Jesus' Feet" - Booth Brothers
  • The entire Nelons set - Really from start to finish it was incredible!
  • "Holy, Holy, Holy" - Collingsworth Family
  • Pianorama Medley with Kim Collingsworth, Tim Parton and Stan Whitmire

Thoughts? What stood out to you tonight? What did I miss?

Monday, September 22, 2014

NQC Day 1 Highlights - National Quartet Convention

The first official night of the 2014 National Quartet Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is in the books. I was able to catch most of the webcast tonight.

The Perrys were the last group to go on and had the moment of the night. We all knew it would be an emotional return to the main stage for the Perrys with Tracy Stuffle present. The group got an overwhelming applause once they got to the stage. Then, Libbi sang "I Can Trust Him." Incredibly powerful and emotional moment from the audience and on stage!!! They sang "Three Men on a Mountain" to feature both Tracy and Jared. I loved seeing the pride in Tracy's face as Jared sang. They closed the night with "I Wish I Could Have Been There," perfect closing song! Andrew Goldman really impressed me with his lead vocals on that song!

Mark Trammell Quartet had a strong set, but it was the last song that really stood out. Mark took the time to mention that he was notified that the U.S. had launched airstrikes on Syria. They then sang "It's Almost Over," so timely and great moment!

A highlight early on in the night was the LeFevre Quartet singing "I Love to Call His Name." I've always been a big fan of this song. They mentioned that Rex Nelon had been the one to sing it with the LeFevres many years ago. Brandon Barry sang it and then Kelly Nelon Clark and Karen Peck Gooch joined the quartet on stage!

Another surprise stage visit was during Mark Bishop's set when he called his dad Kenneth Bishop and Archie Watkins to join him on "I Rely on Him." Kenneth stayed on stage with his son for one more song after that.

Brian Free and Assurance had a strong set to start the night off. They sang mostly new songs and ended the set with "Long As I Got King Jesus," always a crowd favorite. Several other groups had strong sets from start to finish - Karen Peck and New River, Legacy Five, Wilburn and Wilburn, Triumphant Quartet and the Talleys.

Here's my list of the top performances of the night (no particular order except first one) -

  • "I Can Trust Him" - The Perrys
  • "It's Almost Over" - Mark Trammell Quartet
  • "Finish Well" - Karen Peck and New River
  • "I Love to Call" - LeFevre Quartet
  • "Christ Is Still the King" - Legacy Five
  • "I Thank You" - Kingdom Heirs
  • "Somebody Died for Me" - Triumphant Quartet
  • "A Man Like Me" - Wilburn and Wilburn
  • "I Will Rise" - Tribute Quartet

What moments stood out to you??

NQC 2014 - Sunday Night Bonus Concert

As promised, here is the first post in my spotty NQC coverage this week. I got to catch some of the webcast before church and part of it after church.

When I tuned it, each group of the night, Greater Vision, Kingdom Heirs, the Hoppers and the Mark Trammell Quartet, sang one of their most well-known songs to start the night.

The Mark Trammell Quartet had the first full set of the night. I actually caught both of their sets. Highlights were "Too Much to Gain to Lose" and "The King Is Coming," which were their closers for each set. Mark did announce that there is a possibility they could be singing as a trio this week. Nick's wife Jessica (Brown) is expecting their second child Charlie any day now.

I was watching the Booth Brothers right before I left for church and as soon as I got back they were on again. I love that they sang "I'm Only Passing Through," one of my favorite newer songs they sing that Jim wrote! They ended with "Then I Met the Master" which was another highlight.

I also caught the Hoppers' second set. Kim started out with a solo "Come Out Praising." I've always been a fan of that song. Melissa Brady is filling in for Connie as she recovers. Love hearing Melissa sing! Dean gave a heartfelt thanks to the people for praying for his mom after her cancer diagnosis and through her recovery. The most touching moment of the night I saw. They sang the Ray Stevens' song "Everything Is Beautiful." I thought that was a cool song to stage, and Dean came out into the crowd and had people sing with them. They ended with "Jerusalem," another highlight.

I was glad to be able to catch the parts of the webcast that I did. My coverage will definitely be off and on this week. I plan to watch most of tonight's broadcast, so tomorrow's post will be more thorough! :)

Overall, I didn't have any issues with the webcast, just a few hiccups a couple of times which is to be expected. I thought it was nicely done.

It will be interesting to see when the full stage is used tonight how the main stage looks. It was different seeing everyone seated on the floor at the same level, but it was hard to really get a good feel for what it will be like with the stage and seating not fully opened.

Be sure to check back for more recaps throughout the week!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

NQC Coverage

My answer about whether or not I'm going to be at NQC has been the same for the last several years - "Maybe next year." This year, it's the same. One year I will actually make it there in person!

But for this year, like in years past, I'll get to experience NQC via the webcast. I'll watch it as much as I can this week and have a recap of highlights each night. I know Thursday and Saturday nights I'll get to watch the entire night's webcast, the other nights I will be hit and miss. I'll just have to hit the highlights of what I can and watch what I miss online later. Part of the beauty of the webcast is being able to watch it all on-demand either for the first time or enjoying it for the second time.

What are your plans for NQC? Attending in person or virtually like I am?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - Sept. 20

Here are some news and tidbit items from this week in gospel music -

  • The Booth Brothers and the Jim Brady Trio both announced their new members yesterday in a joint video announcement. Tim Parton will be joining Jim and Melissa Brady for the Jim Brady Trio. Paul Lancaster will be the third member of the Booth Brothers.
  • Jim and Melissa Brady also announced earlier in the week that Daywind Records has signed the Jim Brady Trio.
  • Mary Tom Speer Reid passed away on Sept. 16 of natural causes. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.
  • Singing News and Solid Gospel have announced their coverage of NQC next week. Be sure to check it out!
  • Horizon Records, a division of Crossroads Entertainment and Marketing, has renewed its contract with the Kingsmen. This new long-term agreement will further their 22-year partnership.
  • Buck Rambo had surgery on Friday to repair a bone spur and two damaged discs. The surgery went well, and the family asks for you to prayer for a speedy recovery.
  • Our thoughts and prayers are also with Adam Wagner and his family. Adam plays keyboard for the Sneed Family and also worked for the Hoppers for many years. His dad passed away on Sept. 15. 
  • Angela Primm has started a Kickstarter campaign for a new memorial project to remember the songs of Mahalia Jackson. Find out more about the Kickstarter campaign.
Anything that I've missed?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Booth Brothers and Jim Brady Trio Announcement

The Booth Brothers announced that Jim Brady will be leaving at the end of the year last month. Today, the Jim Brady Trio announced its third member, and the Booth Brothers announced who will be singing baritone. Watch below for the announcement!

Be sure to watch until the end!!


Fun Clip Friday - NQC 2013

In honor of NQC  next week, today's Fun Clip Friday post highlights one of the stand out moments from last year. There were some great moments, but one of the funniest occurred on the all-quartet night. It's none other than the All Bass Quartet! Thanks to Ben Wolfe for posting this moment on YouTube!

Happy Fun Clip Friday!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mary Tom (Speer) Reid Passes Away

Mary Tom Speer Reid passed away yesterday of natural causes. Please keep the family in your prayers during this difficult time.

Here is what Ben Speer posted on Facebook -

Born in Double Springs, Alabama, on June 13, 1925, Mary Tom Speer-Reid is the youngest daughter of GT “Dad” Speer and Lena Darling Brock “Mom” Speer. Mary Tom spent many years performing with the Speer Family prior marrying the Reverend Robert “Bob” Reid in 1954. She left the group to support her husband’s ministry and raise her family of three children: Teresa Ann Reid Fontaine (1955), Cynthia Lee Reid (1958), and Timothy Scott Reid (1960). They moved to Ohio in 1961 where they lived and pastored until Bob’s death in December of 1968. After the untimely death of her husband, Mary Tom and children moved back to Nashville in 1969. She returned to the Speer Family on a limited basis for special concert appearances in the early 1980’s and continued to appear with the Speers until the retirement of the group. Mary Tom has also been a staff member of the Ben Speer’s Stamps-Baxter School of Music, secretary for Ben Speer Music, and quite active in the Gaither Homecoming Series.

Led by family patriarch George Thomas Speer (1891-1966), the Singing Speer Family was a well-known gospel group with its origins in Alabama. George Thomas "Dad" Speer, Lena Brock "Mom" Speer, and their children, Brock, Rosa Nell, Mary Tom, and Ben, were all part of the family group at some point. With the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, the G. T. Speer Family moved to Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. Speer made a living as an insurance salesman and a singing-school teacher. In 1934, Speer took a job with the James D. Vaughan Music Publishing Company of Lawrenceburg and blossomed as a music teacher and songwriter. He co-wrote many of his songs at that time with Adger Pace, who wrote the lyrics for Speer's compositions as well as for many other gospel writers who published songs for the Vaughan Company. G. T. Speer wrote or co-wrote more than 600 songs.

The group was popular for much of the latter half of the twentieth century, appearing on radio and television shows in Alabama and Tennessee and making more than 60 recordings. The Speer Family was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Gospel Music Association's Hall of Fame in 1998. Mary Tom Speer-Reid was inducted into the Southern Gospel Hall of Fame in 2006.

Mrs. Speer-Reid is survived by sister, Rosa Nell Speer Powell; brother, Ben Lacy Speer; daughters Teri Reid Fontaine and her husband Shannon and Cynthia Lee Reid, son Timothy Scott Reid and wife Pamela; grandchildren Megan Louise Reid Layne, Meredith Lindsey Reid, Marissa Lee Reid, Allyson Rose Fontaine, John Robert Fontaine and Anna Lee Reid; great-grandsons Gavin Scott Layne and Liam Matthew Reid.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Spending Sept. 11 with Gold City - Concert Recap

Thursday night, I had the chance to attend the last concert of the year in Ward, Arkansas at DaySpring Baptist Church. The church has hosted a number of concerts this year, and I'm glad that I've gotten to attending several of them! They already have some great groups booked for next year, so I'm looking forward. I appreciate all the church does to get gospel music to Central Arkansas! They ended their concert series this year with Gold City.

It hadn't been too long since I had seen Gold City since they were at Silver Dollar City. However, it was the night that it rained and the concert ended early, so it was good to see a full concert by them.

Gold City - Robert Fulton, Chip Pullen, Daniel Riley
and Chris West
The night started with "Somebody Sing Me a Gospel Song" and then they sang "Cast My Bread Upon the Water." They kept the tempo going with "I'm Saved, I'm Sure, I'm Ready" next.

Next, they sang "Redeemed" which is from their latest hymns project. It was great to hear them stage several of those songs live. 

Daniel Riley introduced piano player Bryan Elliot and he played "Keep on the Firing Line." Then, they sang the Joseph Habedank and Dianne Wilkinson-penned "Footprints on the Water." Daniel does a great job on this song!

Daniel introduced tenor Robert Fulton and then he was featured on "Calvary Conquers It All." Incredible job!! They then picked things back up with "I'm Rich," always a favorite!

Daniel gave an update on Tim Riley who is still recovering from the stroke he had in July. He was released from inpatient rehab sooner than expected because of his recovery. Doctors expect him to make a full recovery, but he still needs time to take it easy and get better. He thanked everyone who had been praying for him and joked that his mom requested prayers too since he was home now and she was taking care of him! :)

They introduced Chris West who has been filling in at bass for a few weeks. It was great to hear him featured on "I'm Free." They sang a couple more from their hymns project including "Farther Along" and "Nothing But the Blood." They have a lot of fun onstage with "Farther Along" that has more of a black gospel feel. They ended the first half with "I'm Not Giving Up."

After a quick break, they started back with "Look Who Just Checked In." Then, they sang "Power of the Cross," which was definitely the highlight of the night! Amazing and powerful song!! They pulled out the classic "When I Get Carried Away" next.

Daniel said he was thankful that if he was carried away, he would know exactly where he would go. The group members are not preachers but deliver the message and share the gospel through song. That's why they do what they do -- to make a difference using songs to encourage believers to not give up and keep trusting in Christ. He said that at 15 years old the Lord showed him that his righteousness was as filthy rags. All the good things we do are in vain, if we don't know Jesus as Savior. Their goal was to make sure all there that night were ready for Jesus' return. This set up "Midnight Cry." Chip did an incredible job on this Gold City classic with a standing ovation!

Being September 11, they ended the concert with "I Love This Land." They recognized the veterans in the audience. There were actually two World War II vets in the audience, which is amazing! Great ending to a great night!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - Sept. 12

Here are some news and tidbit items from this week in gospel music -

  • Congratulations to Randy Shelnut, Jr. (Scoot) and his wife Penny on the birth of their son Drew Vinson Shelnut. They welcomed him on Sept. 11, 2014. All are doing well!
  • Gospel music fans will for the first time have a chance to enjoy music and video on BluRay disc. The "Gospel Music Hymn Sing" recording will be the first gospel music event to be released in this format. It will be released on Sept. 22, 2014. You can preorder it online now.
  • Solid Gospel Radio will feature more NQC coverage than ever before this year! Read all about it on
  • The Steeles have announced their return to full-time gospel music on the road. The group has been doing "Monumental Monday" concert events with Jeff as senior pastor of a church in Alabama. He decided to resign, and he, Sherry and new singer Matthew Thompson (replacing Andrew Ishee) will travel and tour as the Steeles.
  • The Nelons were featured in CCM magazine. You can check out the article on their trip to Guatemala here
Anything I've missed?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fun Clip Friday - Gold City with Jeff Chapman

Last night I was in Ward, Ark. seeing Gold City in concert. They have had several fill-ins since Tim Riley had his stroke at the end of July. Chris West has been filling in for several weeks, but for one weekend they had none other than Jeff Chapman. Jeff has been the long-time bass singer for the Kingdom Heirs who happened to be on vacation that weekend.

I never realized how much Jeff and Tim sound alike, but this clip shows it pretty well! Enjoy for today's Fun Clip Friday!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Awesome God - Triumphant Quartet

I'm way behind on CD reviews, so I've got several coming up in the next few weeks. The first one I'm diving into is Awesome God by Triumphant Quartet.

Normally, I'm a fan of projects with new songs not previously recorded songs, but I love the concept of this album. Triumphant Quartet took popular songs of the church both current and classics. I love hearing the Southern Gospel, quartet-spin on some of the more contemporary songs.

The highlight of the project has to be "This Blood" which is a David Sutton feature. Our church choir has sung this song many times, and I've always been partial to it, but I absolutely love David singing this song. And live it's even more powerful!

Another song that stands out is "I Will Rise" which Clayton Inman sings. This song really impressed me when I heard him sing it live at Silver Dollar City. The song is a popular worship song by Chris Tomlin, but the quartet adds a bit of Southern Gospel flair to the end with a bridge of "Going Home."

"Days of Elijah" has always been a fun song to sing in church. I think it was a great choice for this album to have a bit of a faster song in a mix of more ballads and slow worship songs.

I like the way "O the Blood" starts out with an a cappella version of "Jesus Paid It All." Eric Bennett is featured here but it's interesting to hear him out of his normal bass range and singing more of a lead. I like the use of the choir here. "We Will Remember" is another favorite of mine on the project and another one they used a choir on.

They pulled out several older popular contemporary songs like "I Can Only Imagine," "How Great Is Our God" and "Awesome God." Scotty Inman does an incredible job on "I Can Only Imagine."

The more Southern Gospel tracks are "I'll Put on a Crown," "Sing for You" and "Happy Day Medley." Both are great arrangements and offer more traditional sounds for the gospel quartet lover.

Overall, I love that Triumphant Quartet tried something different with album and a great concept! They successfully introduced the Southern Gospel community to more contemporary praise songs of the church with their own spin on it! Definitely recommend giving it a listen!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

SGMA Class of 2014 Announced

The Southern Gospel Music Association has announced the eight individuals who will be inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame for 2014.

Southern Gospel Music Association president Arthur Rice says, “As we have been with each inductee class, we are very excited to have another group of Southern Gospel pioneers and leaders come into the Hall of Fame membership. The Southern Gospel Music community has certainly benefited from the work and dedication of these people through the years.”

The newest members of the Hall of Fame are -

  • Colbert Croft - He and his wife wrote more than 5,000 songs including "I Can't Even Walk (Without You Holding My Hand), "Is That Footsteps That I Hear?" and "Flow Through Me." For more than 25 years, the Crofts hosted the annual Labor Day Singing in Valdosta, Georgia. He passed away on Jan. 1, 2014.
  • Eddie Crook - He began his career as a pianist playing for groups like the The Sego Brothers & Naomi and the Happy Goodman Family. He started the Eddie Crook Company in 1977 and became one of the most recognizable producers in the industry. He helped launch the careers of the McKameys, the Bishops, the Perrys and others. He has produced more No. 1 gospel songs than any other producer.
  • Claris G. "Cat" Freeman - He is the older brother of Vestal Goodman who joined the Blackwood Brothers in 1948. He sang with Hovie Lister and the Statesman Quartet, Oak Ridge Quartet, Revelaires and several others. In 1990, the Cat Freeman Foundation was established to assist young artists to attend Southern Gospel music singing schools.
  • Paul Heil - Heil is best known for "The Gospel Greats" which first aired in 1980 and is heard on more than 200 stations today. He started Springside (the largest online catalog website for Southern Gospel) in 1986. He is a founding member of the Southern Gospel Music Guild and served as its president for nine years. He has received several other lifetime achievement and impact awards in gospel music.
  • Claude Daniel Hopper - He along with his four brothers and future wife Connie Shelton started the Hopper Brothers in 1957. The group now consists of Claude, Connie, Mike, Dean and Dean's wife Kim and is known as simply the Hoppers. As "America's Favorite Family of Gospel Music," the Hoppers were given a lifetime achievement honor and then inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012. He serves on the Board of Directors of the National Quartet Convention and oversees Hopper Heritage Foundation.
  • Warren Lester Roberts - He began producing the popular radio program "Gospel Quartet Time" in 1948 which aired for 40 years. He was the master of ceremonies for the Wally Fowler All-Nite Singing at the Atlanta Civic Auditorium. He did a 30-minute weekly Southern Gospel television program in the Atlanta area and then later hosted a live nationwide program on the Christian Broadcasting Network.
  • Faye Ihrig Speer - She married Brock Speer in 1948 and became a part of the iconic Speer Family. She was part of the group's first No. 1 song, "What Sings Are You Talking About?" She was featured on many of the group's recordings and has made frequent appearances on the Gaither Homecoming videos. She has received numerous awards individually and with the Speer Family including a living legend award.
  • Francis Jane Crosby Van Alstyne - She wrote more than 9,000 hymns of the church. She became blind at 6 weeks old. She was hired by William Bradbury to write hymns for his publishing company. She is best known for "Blessed Assurance," "Safe in the Arms of Jesus," "Near the Cross," "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior" and "I Am Thine O Lord." She wrote until the time of her death at age 94 on Feb. 12, 1915. 
The induction will take place during the National Quartet Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Inductions and tributes for the deceased members will take place during selected evening NQC performances. The Singing News Fan Awards on Thursday afternoon will host the induction honors for the living members of the 2014 class.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - Sept. 5

Here are some news items from this week in gospel music -

  • Congratulations to Randy Byrd of the Mark Trammell Quartet who got married last Saturday. 
  • Wilburn and Wilburn released a new concept video of their song "Help Me Help Someone." They did the video with some help from Compassion International. Along with the video release,  Wilburn and Wilburn are issuing a 30-day challenge to themselves and everyone to help one person each day for 30 consecutive days. It can be as simple as paying for someone's line in the drive through, assisting someone with their groceries or a committing to sponsor a child through an organization such as Compassion International.  
  • Connie Hopper had surgery for breast cancer on Sept. 2. The surgery went well, and they are waiting to hear back on the pathology report from the lymph nodes. Please keep her and the family in your prayers.
  • The Chuck Wagon Gang has announced a new album and a DVD documentary highlighting the legacy and history of the group. The DVD will feature rare family photos and videos, personal stories, old recordings and live performances.
  • Karen Peck Gooch's latest film will be released to DVD this coming week on Sept. 9. The film Redeemed stars Ted McGinley and is a Christian film that deals with issues facing a married couple. Karen plays the best friend of Rose, the wife.
Anything else that I've missed?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fun Clip Friday - Ice Bucket Challenge

By now, I'm sure most of you have seen the ALS Ice Bucket Challenges on Facebook. For today's Fun Clip Friday post, you get to see two different groups doing the challenge!

Last Monday night, Triumphant Quartet took the Ice Bucket Challenge in front of thousands at Echo Hollow Amphitheater in Silver Dollar City. Here's what it looked like -

Danny Jones of Singing News got a better, longer video that is on their Facebook page. They called out the Booth Brothers and challenged them to do the same the next Monday night.

The Booth Brothers along with emcee Duane Garren took the challenge this Monday night. Here's a full clip -

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Going Out With a Bang - Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic Day 11

I'm a little late getting my final recap of the festival up, but getting back in the real world after being on vacation for more than a week took its toll! Haha!

On Monday morning when I got up I could hear the rain beating down outside. I decided to go ahead, brave the rain and head out to Silver Dollar City to see Tribute Quartet. I got there for their 11:30 show that morning. 

They really are becoming one of the top quartets in the industry. They sang a couple of songs from their latest project including "I Will Rise," "Those Who Know Me Know" and "In the Valley He Can Hear My Voice." The last one featured Anthony on the first verse and Riley on the second. This was one of my favorites that they sang!

They also sang a couple of their standards like "He Is Leading the Way," "Makes Me Want to Go" and "Homesick Angel." They ended their set with "Good News from Jerusalem." This is definitely becoming their signature song! It's an incredible song to see and hear them sing live!!

I had to leave the park, but came back to catch the last show of the Diplomats. I'm really loving this lineup of the group. They sang a lot of familiar songs like "When I Cross to the Other Side of Jordan," "I'm Going There," "I Wouldn't Take Nothing for my Journey Now" and "Rainbow of Love," which featured Joe.

Jimmy pulled a few people from the audience to sing "This Little Light of Mine" with them. One of the guys had made a sarcastic comment from his seat earlier, so he thought he would choose him to pick on him in return. Well, the guy could really sing. When he started, Jimmy just shook his head and told him to go sit down! Haha!

They did an instrumental version of "Unclouded Day" that was great! This group has a lot talent not only vocally but also as musicians!

This year the Booth Brothers were given the task of closing out the festival. It's always a treat to see these guys live but especially coming off the announcement of Jim leaving the group and not knowing if I'll get to see these three sing together again. 

They sang several favorites like "The Blind Man Saw It All," "Welcome to the Family," "Trading This Cross for a Crown" and "I See Grace."

They sang a couple from their latest release Isaiah 12:2, which I was able to get a copy of Monday night!! One of my favorites that they sang was "I'm Only Passing Through on my Way Home." They sang it all around the one mic. It's a beautiful song about Heaven and remembering that this world is not our home. They also sang "If God Didn't Care" and "What Will You Do With Him" from that project.

One of the highlights of the night came right before intermission when Ronnie sang "Then I Met the Master." Absolutely love hearing him sing it live and see the power he puts behind the song! Another highlight was Michael on "Look for Me at Jesus' Feet."

The guys sang their latest hit "I Played in a Band" which always gets a huge audience response! Such a fun song for them to do live. It would have been easy to them to go out with that song, but they chose to bring the focus back to Jesus and end with "Because He Lives." Michael said it was one of the most powerful songs that had ever been written.

But if you pay attention to social media, you will know the night didn't exactly end with singing. The Booth Brothers had been challenged by Triumphant Quartet to do the ice bucket challenge. And they were up for it! So they went out with a bang, and the festival ended a little icy! :) Check back tomorrow for the full video of the challenge!

Overall, it was an incredible 10 days, and I was sad I had to miss the day I did. Seriously, if you are wanting to attend a major Southern Gospel event next year, consider joining us at Silver Dollar City. The park and its staff do a spectacular job with this event every year! The dates for next year are Aug. 28 - Sept. 7.

Monday, September 1, 2014

How Could I Be Anything But Happy on Day 10 - Southern Gospel Picnic

Yesterday was a day almost 10 years in the making. Chosen Few was the house gospel group for Silver Dollar City for a number of years. The group was my first introduction to Southern Gospel music. They left the City more than 10 years ago and were invited to come back for Southern Gospel Nights in Echo Hollow during their first years of touring full time. That’s how I started going to the event and got introduced to other gospel groups and this whole genre of Southern Gospel music. It had been almost 10 years since I had seen the group live in person since they left the road. But yesterday, that changed with a reunion worth waiting for!!

But first, we got out to the park for the morning worship service with Dennis Swanberg. He preached a great sermon on the importance of planting shade trees and leaving a legacy for others.

From there, I went to see the Skyline Boys. This was my first time to see this group. They sang mostly familiar songs like “I’ll Meet You in the Morning,” “The Lighthouse,” “Until the Storm Passes By” and “It’s Almost Over.” They ended with the always crowd-pleasing “Boundless Love.”

Then, it was reunion time. I definitely wasn’t the only one looking forward to this. I heard some people in line saying they had driven four hours just to see them. I’m pretty sure all three shows were near capacity. It was great to see the group’s reaction to the outpouring from the audience. They said they really had no idea what kind of response they would get. You could tell they were really humbled to see how much the audience loved seeing them back together!!

I went to all three of the their shows that afternoon. All three were a little different with a few repeats, but when you have waited almost 10 years to hear a group, you don’t mind hearing them sing favorites a few times.

They sang their songs like “Deliverance Has Come,” “I Am the Man,” “Just Because” and “Let Go and Let God.” It had been since January that the four guys, Ashley Ellison, Casey Ellison, Brian Arnold and Scott Fraker, had sung together and I’m not sure how long before that. But it was like they never stopped singing together full-time.

Brian is the songwriter of the group, and I love hearing them sing some of the songs that he had written, “The Little Things” and “I Will Carry On This Way.” Two of my favorites!!

Scott, the bass singer, was featured on “I’m the Biggest Fish in the Sea,” which is a kid’s song, but Brian said it was one of their most requested. It’s always been fun to see Scott sing this one live. However, my absolute favorite was hearing him sing “How Great Thou Art.” I’ve heard this song a lot in the past 11 days, but NO ONE does it better in my opinion. (Have a video I will upload later.) He shows off his four and a half octave vocal range. And 10 years later, it still gave me chills!!!

The last song they sang featured Casey and was “I Bowed on My Knees and Cried Holy.” I know this is a Michael English signature song, but Casey does an incredible job on this song!

I can’t begin to say how good it was to see these guys back singing together. Had it not been for them, I wouldn’t have been introduced to this music and there certainly would be no blog.

And then tonight in Echo Hollow was Dennis Swanberg and Jeff and Sheri Easter. Dennis did about 30 minutes of comedy before the music. He told the zipper story which is always hilarious!!

Jeff and Sheri kicked off the night with “Anything But Happy.” This was the first of many they sang from their latest project. They also sang “Sitting on Top of the World,” “I Know How It Feels to Survive” and “A Little Bit of Sunshine.”

Morgan sang both “Either Way” and “I Need You More Today.” The last one was one someone requested during the second half and it’s my favorite to hear her sing. Madison and Shannon sang “Letting Go” from their release together. It was so good to hear them sing on stage together!!

Jeff also pulled out a few of his country roots on the second half singing "I Like My Women on the Trashy Side" and "Mama Tried!" It was pretty funny! The first one was actually a request from an audience member!! Haha!

The second half was all requests and they sang "Roses Will Bloom Again," "Praise His Name" and "Going Away Party." They also of course sang "Thank You Lord." They pulled up a Silver Dollar City staff member to sing with them! It was great!! They ended the night with "I Won't Have to Worry Anymore," and Jeff pulled up a man to sing with him who requested the song!

It was an incredible night and day at Silver Dollar City, and after all that great music "how could I be anything but happy!"