Monday, August 31, 2015

Day of Worship - Silver Dollar City Southern Gospel Picnic - August 30,2015

So when you're missing out on being at Silver Dollar City during the Gospel Festival, what do you do? Blog about how much fun the day before was.

We started Sunday at the worship service with the Hosea Bilyeu Family. It was a great time of worship and a fantastic message. Really enjoy seeing this family and them leading in worship!

We saw four more groups during the day. Here are the highlights -

The Craguns

  • This was my first time to see this group live, and I certainly hope it's not the last. 
  • "Pass Me Not" - They sang this song a cappella! It was absolutely amazing!!
  • "I Want to Be a Servant"
  • "I Believe" - They ended with this song. Their bass has one of the smoothest voices I've ever heard. 

The Browns
  • "Sinners Come to the River" - Vocals and violins on this song were fantastic!
  • "Didn't It Rain" - Andrew Brown has to be the most energetic singer in Southern Gospel. He knocked it out of the park.
  • "Great Is Thy Faithfulness/ Majesty"

Karen Peck and New River

  • "Pray Now"
  • "Four Days Late" - Always a highlight, but it was really special. Karen went over time in order to sing this song in the last show. It was immediately after leading the audience in "The Old Rugged Cross."
  • "We Shall Wear a Robe and Crown"
  • Ricky Braddy was filling in for the weekend. He did a great job. He sang the song "Were You There" a cappella, a definite highlight!

Booth Brothers

  • This was my first chance to see Paul Lancaster with the group. I was definitely impressed with him. Great fit for the group!
  • It was a great night like they all have been, but probably one of the more worshipful concerts I've experienced in Echo Hollow.
  • "Touch of the Master's Hand"
  • "Jesus Saves" - They ended the first half with this song! Wow, powerful moment!
  • "Through It All"
  • "Feeling Fine" and "Still Feeling Fine" - Both fun songs, and they ended the night with "Still Feeling Fine."
  • "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" - Ronnie said during intermission and product pitch that Paul sang this song better than anyone he had ever heard. After hearing him live, I have to agree! Just incredible!!
  • "I Am the Word" - Great song and probably the moment of the night!

Silver Dollar City Southern Gospel Picnic - August 29

Rain is an inevitable part of Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic. And this year it happened during Triumphant Quartet's concert. About four songs in, there can a downpour. But more on that a little later. First, here are the highlights of the other shows we saw today.

LeFevre Quartet

  • "Come and See" 
  • "I Love to Call His Name" - This has always been a favorite song of mine! They did this song with just the piano and voices.
  • This group has helped make two more contemporary songs popular in Southern Gospel. They sang both "Jesus Saves" and "Days of Elijah" during the set both by request. Loved them both!

The Browns

  • We saw the Browns during their patriotic set. They sang a few patriotic songs but my favorite was definitely "Because of the Brave."
  • The Browns' playing their violins is amazing!
  • "Peace on Earth" 

New Road
  • They had a live band, so no tracks at all!
  • "With These Hands" - This is a new song written by one of their members. Outstanding!
  • This is a newer group so they sang a number of popular gospel songs including ""I'm Rich," "The Lighthouse" and "Meet Me at the Table."

Southern Raised

  • "Glorious Day" - They put their own spin on this song, loved it!
  • They talked about having been raised and trained more on classical music. They created an arrangement of "Four Seasons" with "Holy, Holy, Holy." Amazing!!

Triumphant Quartet

  • Honestly four songs into the night, the rain started. Triumphant capitalized on this and sang "I Wish It Would Rain." The rain started coming down even harder. 
  • "Old White Flag" - Clayton stepped out into the rain with the audience to sing this one! He got soaked but put everything he had into it!
  • Thankfully the rain didn't last all night but unfortunately for them a lot of the audience left. But they are the ones who missed out! 
  • "Saved by Grace" - This was the last song before the sky opened up. The crowd was on its feet, everyone loved it!!
  • "This Blood" -- I love this song!!!!
  • "He Is" - Great song to end the night on!!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Silver Dollar City Southern Gospel Picnic - Aug. 28, 2015

Yesterday morning I headed north to Branson, Missouri for Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic. It was the second day of the festival, but my first day to attend. 

The lineup for the day included 2nd Generation, the Ball Brothers, the Perrys, Mark Bishop and The Old Paths. It's really almost impossible to see everyone while you're here. And there are some groups you want to see more than once. The park does a great job of scheduling so many different shows each day.

I'm just going to hit the highlights from each group I got to see today -

2nd Generation

  • "What a Day That Will Be"  - Loved hearing Brenda sing this song! Such a sweet moment where they had the audience join in too!
  • "Sheltered in the Arms of God" - Elaine sang this one. Beautiful song!!
  • "Soul Searching" - Good hearing this one from their newest project!!

Ball Brothers

  • "I Shall Know Him" - They started the set with this one a cappella. Amazing!!
  • "Wedding Music" - Jon Epley went to the keyboard for this one. Good hearing them sing this Cathedral classic.
  • "Just As I Am" - Probably my favorite Ball Brothers song!!

The Perrys

  • "I Can Trust Him" - Great getting to see Libbi sing this song live! 
  • "He Will Hide Me" - Always a favorite!
  • "If You Knew Him" 
  • "Damascus Road" 
  • They sang a couple of the older Happy Goodman songs. I like hearing them do some of these older songs.
  • Troy talked about all they had been through in the past couple of years. He also gave part of his testimony and set up "Calvary Conquers It All." Great hearing them stage this one again!!

Mark Bishop

  • "Pray on the Little Days" - Love the message of this song!!
  • "My Name Is Jesus" - I'm used to the version where he has guest singers but it's fun hearing him sing all the different roles.

The Old Paths

  • "I Bowed on my Knees" - I know Michael English is known for this song but Tim's version is right there with his! Amazing!!
  • Daniel Ashmore, bass singer, was featured a lot tonight! It's hard to pick one highlight from what he sang. And as impressive as his bass singing is, his saxophone playing is equally as impressive!!
  • "Until Then" - Doug sang this and then had the audience join in on the chorus. Such a sweet worshipful moment.
  • "If That Isn't Love" - It was good to hear them sing this featuring both Daniel and Chuck Pettyjohn.
  • "Love Them to Jesus" 
  • Doug gave his testimony to set up "Ordinary People." Love hearing him tell his story of how God moved. He also talked about how they are coming off the road and this being their farewell tour. 

Fun Clip Friday - Southern Gospel Picnic - Jeff and Sheri Easter - Hinson

In honor of the start of Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel picnic, here's a clip that goes back a few years. Jeff and Sheri Easter called Eric Hinson to join them on stage one night. He came just to be in the audience, but Jeff put him on the spot to sing "Call Me Gone." Enjoy for today's Fun Clip Friday post!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic

Today the Southern Gospel Picnic at Silver Dollar City begins. This is the one Southern Gospel event I attend each year. I may not be there for the full time, but I haven't missed a year since its inception. This year is no exception!

I will be Branson bound tomorrow, but I won't get to stay the full time because of previous commitments. However, I will be there for nine of the 12 days. Needless to say, I'm a little excited. I have to miss today and Monday and Tuesday of next week. And yes, I plan on blogging as much of it as I am there for. I'll also try to do some Periscopes live, so be sure to follow me there!

There are a few groups I'm looking forward to seeing live for the first time - Ernie Haase and Signature Sound is at the top of that list! The Craguns and the Williamsons are two other groups that I've never seen live.

If you're in the Branson area or even in Arkansas like I am, make the trip up to Branson in the next 12 days! You won't regret it! Here's a full schedule below.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Gus Gaches Departs Legacy Five

Legacy Five announced this morning that tenor Gus Gaches will be leaving the group. He has been with Legacy Five for five years. He was with LeFevre Quartet before that. I always enjoyed watching Gus with the group, he will definitely be missed!

Here's the full release from Legacy Five on its Facebook page -

It is with sadness that we have to let you know that our tenor, Gus Gaches will be departing Legacy Five after more than five and a half years with us.

Gus states that, "singing tenor in a southern gospel group is a very demanding job vocally. The reality is that it has become increasingly more rigorous for me over the past several months because of severe allergies and vocal fatigue. I have sought much assistance from doctors and voice teachers alike and cannot seem to find a lasting solution to these nagging vocal issues. When I started this Legacy Five season of my life, I thanked Scott Fowler for hiring me. I move into the next chapter of my life thanking Scott Fowler for allowing me to be a part of this great group for over five years. I also want to thank the Legacy Five Family, those who follow, love and support Legacy Five, for their love support and gifts to me and my family."

Scott Fowler says, "Everyone on this bus respects and appreciates Gus and his heart. He has been a great asset to the ministry of Legacy Five and he has been such an easy and delightful person to travel with. The only times that I ever saw Gus upset was anytime the Nashville Predators failed to advance in the play-offs....seriously...the guy never gets mad. Gus has a beautiful voice and we pray that with continued treatment and some time off, he will continue to sing in a less taxing capacity than this position demands. The voice is the one instrument that you cannot simply go to the store and purchase. As such, we all have to take great care of the one voice God has given us. Gus and his family are precious people and we wish them all the best as they enter the next season of their lives."

Gus will continue to travel with Legacy Five for a yet to be determined amount of time while Legacy Five begins the search for the tenor that will replace him. Please keep the Gaches family in your prayers as they seek God in this new season of their lives, and please pray for Legacy Five, as they seek God's provision for the right person to minister with them.

If you are interested in auditioning for Legacy Five, you may contact Scott Fowler at

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Just What I Needed - Kingsmen Quartet Concert Recap

You know those days where nothing really goes as expected? That was my day on August 13. It was the day my Grandaddy was put in the hospital. I was supposed to go see the Kingsmen Quartet that night in DeWitt, Arkansas. I was torn on really what to do, but decided to make some minor adjustments to my evening but still go to the concert. I knew that I needed the music as much or more than anyone that night.

The Kingsmen Quartet - Chris Jenkins, Ray Dean Reese, Bob Sellers
and Randy Crawford
The Kingsmen is a group I don't get to see that often. I'm really enjoying this lineup together of the Kingsmen with Chris Jenkins, Bob Sellers, Randy Crawford and Ray Dean Reese. Their latest project has to be one of my favorites. They did a great job of singing a mix of old and new songs.

Here's a list of what they sang -
  • "Go and Tell Somebody" - Great song to start the night with! 
  • "Traveling Home" - The Kingsmen found incredible talent when they added Chris Jenkins to their roster. He really impressed me on this song!
  • "Battle Cry" - This is the group's latest single and one of my favorites from their most recent project. 
  • "I've Never Seen the Righteous Forsaken" - Another great new Kingsmen song!
  • "I Know" - Ray Dean said this was his favorite from their latest project, and I can see why!
  • "When I Wake Up" - Loved hearing them go back and sing some of the older songs. This is one of the first songs I remember hearing of theirs. 
  • "Saints Will Rise"
  • "Cross of Grace" - Randy talked about when they first heard this song there was no question of whether or not it would make the final project. Rebecca Peck wrote the song. It's an incredible picture of how we are as believers. We can get away from him a little step at a time, but His love never left us. Definitely a highlight of the night!
  • "Oh Yes I Am" - This song is a fun one live!
  • "Beautiful City"
  • "Wish You Were Here" - This was a song I wasn't really familiar with. Beautiful song!! Definitely had to look it up again when I got home.
  • "Come and Dine"
  • "Look for Me at Jesus' Feet" - Absolutely incredible way to end the evening!
The day really had been nothing like I expected, but I'm glad that I still decided to squeeze in a trip to see the Kingsmen. Southern gospel ministries have two main objectives as I see it - bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus and encourage the believers. That night the Kingsmen definitely accomplished the second for me. It was the encouragement and reminder I needed. I didn't know what the week ahead would bring at the time. But I'm so thankful of the reminders I got that night -- reminders of Heaven, of God's peace, salvation, His omniscience, mercy and His amazing grace. It was exactly what I needed.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - August 22

Here are some news and tidbit items from this week in gospel music -
  • Mark Trammell Quartet named Blake Buffin as the group's new tenor singer. He had been filling in for the past several weeks after Dustin Black's departure.
  • Gold City also named its new tenor, Thomas Nalley. He has most recently been tenor for the LeFevre Quartet.
  • Tom Armshaw, Southern gospel promoter and broadcaster, suffered a fatal heart attack on Tuesday, August 18, 2015. He launched the Southern Gospel music format on WPET which is still a Southern gospel station. He was also a past member of the GMA board. Please pray for his wife Vicki.
  • Claude was released from the hospital this week. All of his motor skills and brain activity are at 100%. He speaks in complete sentences, but sometimes struggles to find the final words, so he will undergo some speech therapy.
Anything I've missed?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Thomas Nalley Joins Gold City

Gold City announced today on Facebook that it has a new tenor singer. Thomas Nalley who has previously been with the LeFevre Quartet has joined the group. Here's the full press release below -

Gold City proudly announces Thomas Nalley as their new tenor. Thomas most recently sang with the LeFevre Quartet. Group manager Daniel Riley says, "Chip Pullen, Chris West, Bryan Elliott and I are thrilled to have Thomas join our group. We know him to be, first and most importantly, a man of God, a hard worker and a great voice to add to our team. We welcome Thomas and his family to Gold City and are exited about what God has in store for our future."

Thomas says, "I'm thrilled to be with such a legendary group who still carries the standard of great quartet music. The very first concert I ever went to was a Gold City concert. That night I remember telling Jonathan Wilburn I thought I might like to sing full-time, and I asked him about how to go about pursuing it. He directed me to the Singing News magazine! So, to now have the opportunity to stand on stage with this group is like I've come full circle. I know I have some big shoes to fill, following in the footsteps of some of the greatest tenors in gospel music who have sang with this group, like Brian Free and Jay Parrack to name just two. I'm greatly honored and humbled that God would see fit for me to find a home here with Gold City." Thomas adds that he's thankfully always been a Gold City fan, so he already knows most of their songs!

Daniel says the group is hard at work selecting songs for a much-anticipated new Gold City recording. "We've already met with our producer, Michael Sykes, and we are excited about making some new music for our fans." This project will be a follow-up to their highly acclaimed "Hymn Revival" project, of which their latest single, "Power of the Cross," currently sits at Number 9 on the Singing News radio chart.

Thomas' first date with Gold City will be Wednesday, August 26, at North Glencoe Baptist Church in Glencoe, AL.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

As Good As Goodbye Gets

My family said a hard goodbye on Tuesday when my precious Grandaddy passed away He'd fought a long battle with cancer, but it was time for him to get some relief. The man survived three types of cancer, two heart attacks and never complained or questioned why he was having to go through any of it. He took it all in stride and it just added to his testimony. He was a Matthew Cuthbert type, a true kindred spirit. And he was always my hero.

There's something so special about the relationship between grandfathers and granddaughters. I never doubted how much he loved me. I knew he would do anything in the world for me. He wasn't a man of many words but he never missed to chance to tell me that he loved me. Toward the end when he was confused as to where he was, he still knew all of his family. As I sat on his bed holding his hand Sunday night, he just looked up and me and told me he loved me. I told him I loved him too. We squeezed each others' hands tight. He drifted back and forth into confusion, but I know in that moment, he knew exactly what he was saying and who he was saying it to.

More important than the deep love he had for his family was the love he had for God. He was a strong Christian who held various leadership positions in the church. I loved watching him look up scriptures in church and studying for himself as he followed along with the message. For the first few years of my life, my seat in church was in his lap. When we stood to sing, he always held the hymnal down where I could see it. My grandmother played piano, so we sat next to each other and sang together.

And, of course, we shared the love of gospel music. I know without my grandparents' influence, I wouldn't have the love for gospel music I have today. That's one thing we shared. We went every year to the gospel festival at Silver Dollar City together. I loved it each year because of the music, but more than that it was also my time with my grandparents. The last few years as he's been sick and not able to go, it hasn't been the same. When concerts were close to where they lived, I tried to go pick them up and take them so they could enjoy the music. It was something to still share with them every chance I got. Sometimes he might doze off during a song, but he was the only person I know who could nod off and still tap his foot perfectly in time with the music. :)

The song "As Good As Goodbye Gets" has been on my heart the past few days. Goodbyes are never easy, but I can take great comfort in that I know his relationship with Jesus and I know where he is today. I'm so thankful for the 81 years he was here. He did a lot of living and had a great influence on many people around him. The amazing legacy he's leaving behind is something we will continue to pass on for generations to come. And that's as good as goodbye gets ...

Monday, August 17, 2015

Blake Buffin Joins Mark Trammell Quartet

The Mark Tramell Quartet posted today on Facebook that they have a new tenor singer. Blake Buffin has been filling in for a few weeks and has now officially joined the group. Blake Buffin has most recently been singing with the Mission Quartet of Kentucky. Here's the full release -

Southside, Alabama: Today, after weeks of prayer and searching, The Mark Trammell Quartet announces that 26-year-old Blake Buffin from Stow, Ohio has been selected as the man to fill the tenor slot. Mark states, "We have genuinely sought the Lord and His direction about this transition and the man to fill this position. We are thrilled with the opportunity to have Blake join our team. The fans have already embraced him, his spirit, his kind heart and his powerful voice. No greater way to celebrate my 41st anniversary of singing than to welcome this young man and his family to the MTQ family. He and his precious new bride Lauren will be moving from Stow, Ohio to the Gadsden, Alabama area in the next few weeks. Please be in prayer for this wonderful couple as God begins a new chapter in both their lives, and ours." Please join Randy, Nick, Mark, and Thom as they welcome Blake to the MTQ bus and their fans and friends across the country. Be watching for a new MTQ recording in the next few weeks!!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Prayers Requested for Claude Hopper - The Hoppers

Update on Monday afternoon from the Hoppers' Facebook page -

Claude and Connie Hopper made the trip home from Kentucky yesterday afternoon, safe and sound. Dad was released with all of his motor skills and brain activity at 100%, AKA he is still Claude! He speaks in complete sentences, only struggling to form the final words. God has blessed us as this can be treated with some speech therapy. We are humbled by your support in prayer, and blessed beyond measure at the mildness of this incident." - Dean Hopper

The Hoppers posted on the group's Facebook page that Claude Hopper suffered a stroke while on tour this weekend. Here's what the group posted -

Precious Friends & Supporters:

Last evening, while on tour in Frankfort, KY, Dad, Claude Hopper, suffered a small stroke. He was airlifted to the University of Kentucky Hospital where he has spent the last 18 hours. Connie, who is by his side now, is blessed to announce that his speech and word formations were the only areas affected.

We greatly appreciate your continual prayers for a speedy recovery.

The Hopper Family

Saturday, August 15, 2015

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - August 15

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

  • Roger Fortner is coming off the road. He's been traveling with the McKameys for 28 years. He plans to return to full-time studio work.
  • Crossroads music has added Dixie and Sharon Phillips to its family of writers. The duo wrote the popular Talleys' song "Hidden Heroes," which was recently nominated for a Dove Award. They were also the winners of the 2012 Singing News/ Solid Gospel Songwriter Search.
  • The 2015 Dove Awards were announced this week in Nashville. You can read more here.
  • Daywind added Aaron Wilburn to its songwriting staff. Aaron is probably most known for his comedy. He's had a number of songwriting hits over the years including "Four Days Late."
  • The Booth Brothers, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound and IMC Concerts have announced a Brotherhood Tour. The groups had success earlier in the year with this tour on the West Coast. They plan to add eight more dates in October and November.
  • Wayne Haun will launch a new show "Southern Gospel Today" on the Solid Gospel Network starting Monday. It will be on from 2 - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Anything I've missed?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Fun Clip Friday - Craguns

Here's a highlight clip of a newer group for today's Fun Clip Friday. Check out this great a cappella hymn by the Craguns!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Dove Award Nominees 2015

The 2015 Dove Award nominations were announced yesterday in Nashville. Congratulations to all those nominated!!

I think there were a few surprises. And I meant to check this but it seems some categories are a little different than in years past. I was surprised that no strictly "Southern Gospel" album was nominated in the country album category.

It seemed that this year in way more than years past, artists were posting about possible nominations during voting. I wonder if that really played any part.

Here's a look at nominations of Southern Gospel artists. What are your thoughts?

Southern Gospel Artist of the Year
  • Booth Brothers
  • Collingsworth Family
  • Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
  • Gaither Vocal Band
  • The Isaacs
Inspirational Song of the Year
  • "Ghost Town (Freedom)" - David Phelps
Southern Gospel Song of the Year
  • “Happy People” – Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, (writers) Ernie Haase, Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey 
  • “Sometimes It Takes a Mountain” – Gaither Vocal Band, (writers) Mark Mathes, Gloria Gaither 
  • “What A Happy Time” – Goodman Revival, (arrangers) Michael Sykes, Johnny Minick 
  • “Pray Now” – Karen Peck & New River, (writers) Karen Peck Gooch, Dave Clark and Michael Farren 
  • “Hidden Heroes” – The Talleys, (writers) Dixie Lynn Phillips and Sharon Phillips
Bluegrass Song of the Year
  • “Stacking Up Rocks” – Balsam Range, (writer) Buddy Melton 
  • “Mighty To Save” – Chigger Hill Boys & Terri (writers) Ben Fielding, Reuben Morgan 
  • “He Made The Tree” – Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, (writers) Tom Botkin and Donnie Skaggs 
  • “God Is There” – Lizzy Long & Rhonda Vincent, (writers) Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey
  • “Daddy Was An Old Time Preacher Man (ft. Rhonda Vincent) – Volume Five, (writers) Dolly Parton and Dorothy Jo Owens
Country Song of the Year
  • “I Saw The Light” – Alabama (writer) Hank Williams, Sr. 
  •  “I’ll Be There With You” – Doug Anderson (writers) Shelby Haun, Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey 
  • “Ain’t It Just Like The Lord” – Gordan Mote, (writers) Lee Black, Jason Cox, Kenna Turner West 
  • “I Wanna Be There” – The Isaacs, (writers) Jimmy Yeary, Sonya Isaacs and Rebecca Isaacs Bowman 
  • “Sweet Jesus (ft. Merle Haggard)” – The Oak Ridge Boys (writers) Merle Haggard, Kenny Vernon
Worship Song of the Year
  • “Because He Lives (Amen)” – Matt Maher, (writers) Chris Tomlin, Daniel Carson, Ed Cash, Gloria Gaither, Jason Ingram, Matt Maher, Bill Gaither (publishers) Alletrop Music/Hanna Street Music/I Am A Pilgrim Songs/Open Hands Music/S. D. G. Publishing/sixsteps Music/Sixsteps Songs/Worship Together Music/

Producer of the Year
  • Ed Cash 
  • Wayne Haun 
Inspirational Album of the Year
  • A Cappella – The Martins, (producers) Michael English, Lari Goss, The Martins, David Phelps, Matthew Holt
Southern Gospel Album of the Year
  • Sometimes It Takes a Mountain – Gaither Vocal Band, (producers) Bill Gaither, Ben Isaacs, David Phelps 
  • Songs in the Key of Happy – Goodman Revival, (producers) Michael Sykes, Johnny Minick 
  • Threads of Mercy – Ivan Parker, (producer) Roger Talley 
  • Pray Now – Karen Peck & New River, (producer) Wayne Haun 
  • Living in Harmony – Triumphant, (producer) Wayne Haun
Bluegrass/ Country Album of the Year
  • Rock of Ages, Hymns and Gospel Favorites – The Oak Ridge Boys, (producers) Ben Isaacs, Duane Allen
Children's Music Album of the Year
  • Kids – The Hoppers, (producer) Mike Hopper
Christmas Album of the Year
  • Christmas – Guy Penrod, (producer) Michael Omartian
Musical of the Year
  • The Cross Changes Everything, (creators) Jeff Bumgardner, Joel Lindsey 
  • If The Grave Could Shout, (creator) Jason Cox 
  • Once You’ve Seen The Star, (creator) Belinda Smith 
  • We’re Glad You Came (A Musical Celebration of the Savior’s Birth), (creators) Jeff Bumgardner, Joel Lindsey

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Greater Vision - Concert Recap

Greater Vision made the group's first visit to Malvern, Arkansas last week. When we got to the church after being delayed in road construction, the parking lot was full, and it seemed the entire town of Malvern had shown up to see the popular trio. And unfortunately, it was a few minutes after concert start time.

Greater Vision - Gerald Wolfe, Rodney Griffin and Chris Allman
Knowing how Gerald interacts with the audience, I was more than a little apprehensive to walk in late. We stood toward the back of the church looking for an open spot when a man from the church saw us looking around and ushered us toward open seats on the fourth row. Thankfully, there were people who walked in a little later than us who sat in the choir loft. They were not as lucky to escape being picked on by Gerald!

Gerald Wolfe has to be one of the best emcees on the road today. He's great at reading the audience, making smooth transitions setting up songs and adding a bit of humor to the evening.

Greater Vision released As We Speak since I last saw them, so it was great to hear so many of the newer songs! Here's a lineup of what they sang -
  • "I Could Never Praise Him Enough" - I'm actually taking a guess this was the first song they sang since we walked in a few minutes after the concert started. :)
  • "Redeemed Medley"
  • "Come Unto Me"
  • "When They Ring the Bells of Heaven"
  • "I Know a Man Who Can" - I love hearing Chris sing this song!! Always a highlight of the concert!
  • "Treasures Unseen"
  • "Preacher Tell It Like It Is" - This has become a must hear when you attend Greater Vision concerts. Love hearing this song. 
  • "Put Out the Fire" - This has to be a new favorite! It's the group's latest single, and the audience was on its feet at the end!
  • "He Does" - This is another Chris song, that he wrote and is featured on. Gerald talked about when he gets a new project he listens to it all the way through the first time. Then, the second time, he'll skip a song or two and hit repeat on a couple. When he listened to their new project, this is one he kept coming back to. We have all at some point experienced doubt, wondering if God really cares where we are now. The answer is He does. 
  • "My Name is Lazarus" - Not a Greater Vision concert without this song!
  • "Victory in Jesus" - During the intermission, the pastor came up to talk about the Hymn Sing and the tour this fall. He requested for Gerald to play hymn for congregation to sing
  • "He'd Still Been God" - Another classic favorite!
  • "Faces" - I didn't realize that this song was written for the man who led Rodney's dad to the Lord. Rodney always does an incredible job on this song!
  • "I Know He Heard My Prayer" - This was one of the hymns featured on the Hymn Sing DVD. 
  • "As We Speak" - I love, love this song. Gerald sang this one from the keyboard. It was so great hearing Gerald sing this one live!
  • "In the Garden" - Rodney led the congregation in the chorus of this song right before the invitation. 
  • "God Wants to Hear You Sing"
It's always a treat to hear Greater Vision when they are close to Central Arkansas. It was a great night in Malvern, Arkansas!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - August 8

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

  • Jeff Hawes announced in a video released Sunday that he will be leaving Karen Peck and New River. He's going back to work in education in his hometown.
  • George Shelton, Jr. will be leaving the Dixie Echoes after the National Quartet Convention. 
  • Congratulations to Scotty and Kasey Inman who welcomed a baby boy this week. Bo Clayton was born on Tuesday and weighed 9 lbs. and 10 oz. 
  • Prayers requested for Randy and his wife Linda Barnes (2nd Generation). Linda has been diagnosed with lymphoma. Further tests will determine the stage of the cancer, and then a treatment plan will be developed.
  • Matt Fouch's latest On the Couch with Fouch interview features Gerald Wolfe. Check out part 1 and part 2 on YouTube.
  • Les Butler is returning to radio with three different hour-long, weekly radio shows. Learn more about his new ventures here.
  • The 2015 National Quartet Convention webcast is now on sale.  This year the on demand viewing will last until December 31. You can purchase online here
Any other news? Anything I've missed?

Friday, August 7, 2015

Fun Clip Friday - Hymn Sing

I got the chance to see Greater Vision last night in Malvern. It was a great night! Gerald Wolfe talked about the hymn sing tour coming up this fall.  The pastor asked if we could sing a hymn then with Gerald on piano. Of course, he obliged and the congregation joined in "Victory in Jesus." Right next to me, I hear the sweetest little voice joining in and singing along. He knew every word and didn't miss a beat! It turns out that this little boy was quite a hit on the Gospel Music Hymn Sing Facebook page back in May. His parents said he knew every word to all the hymns on the DVD. Gerald asked if during the hymn sing in Hope in October, they could get him to come up on stage and join them for a song! So if you're attending that one, that will definitely be a highlight of the night!

For now, here's the video that was shared on Facebook of him enjoying the Hymn Sing DVD for today's Fun Clip Friday -

The next time someone says "Kids don't like those old songs," show them this. This is 4-yr. old, Criss Langston, singing...
Posted by Gospel Music Hymn Sing on Friday, May 15, 2015

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

As We Speak - When Lyrics Speak

I was reunited with some college friends a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, while we were close years ago, it's not that way anymore. We didn't fight or argue, but life happened. We moved away from each other and are in different phases of life. While we had a great time catching up and seeing each other, it was a reminder of the lost close friendship that used to be there. And while I can make excuses about distance and just being in different stages, the truth is, I wasn't intentional in keeping the friendship strong.

In whatever relationship we have, we have to be intentional about keeping it. Relationships take time investment. Close friendships and relationships don't develop overnight. God's been reminding me that it's the same way with my relationship with Him.

Relationships are a two-way street. While in the case of my friends and me, we were all at fault for not keeping in touch more. However, in our relationship with God, He's constant, never moving away from us or pursuing us less. It's our job to be intentional about spending time in His Word and talking to Him.

I love the title song from Greater Vision's latest project As We Speak. It's so easy for us to get busy and consumed with our own lives that we miss that quiet, quality time alone with God. We miss out on the blessing of a more intimate relationship and being reminded of the love He has for us. I love the line that says "My mind can't seem to fathom how much love He has for me, but He's trying to explain it as we speak."

It is so easy for us to move away and to get wrapped up in ourselves. Thankfully, God is always there. It's so important we are intentional in our talks with God. Speaking to Him and listening to Him is vital to our walk. It can set the tone for how our days will go. It's not that God blesses me more on days when I start my mornings with Him, but my outlook is different. Like the song reminds us, there's a peace that comes from speaking to Him.

The challenge is not going to Him when it's convenient. It was easy for my friends and I to meet up when it was an event we were all planning to attend. But on ordinary days, why don't we make the same efforts. Oftentimes, we go running to God when it's convenient, when we're facing the big trials. We want Him to do great things, but what about the ordinary days?

Are we missing out on the blessings of life or friendships because we're not intentional? That's been my challenge lately, to be more intentional with friendships and relationships but more importantly in time with my Heavenly Father. May we all be encouraged today "as we speak" with God.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Aim Higher - The Browns - CD Review

The Browns are a family group that have literally grown up in this industry. The group now consists of mother Shelly Brown and siblings Michaela, Adam and Andrew. It's incredible how much the group has matured and how well their sound has developed over the years.

Aim Higher is the family's second release with StowTown Records. This project was released on July 14. I was impressed with how many of the songs were written by Brown family members. Shelly and Michaela had co-writes on this project.

It starts with the uptempo, catchy song "On the Winning Side." For the most part, it features the ensemble with each brother getting a small feature. I feel like this type of song will be great for radio and in the live setting and is really where the group shines! I like the little growls that the guys add in. I did wonder though if the "white flag of surrender" line was a little jab to fellow StowTown artists Triumphant Quartet :) Just kidding, but I did think it was funny for that phrase to be used. This song is definitely one of the strongest!

Adam is featured on the title track. "Aim Higher" has a great message and encouragement to Christians. Adam does a great job of bringing this message home. I can see this song really resonating with the younger audience. I really love the addition of the horns one on this song.

I really liked Michaela's feature on "Love That Won't Let Go." She really shines vocally on this song. The song definitely has a more progressive, contemporary feel to it. "Know You Now" is another Michaela feature and is a great ballad on a project that is not heavy on slower songs. This a beautiful, easy listening song.

Shelly gets her chance to step out on "You Speak to Me" and does a great job. This song has a great message. The orchestration on this song is really incredible. It was a solid choice to end the album on.

"Sinners Come to the River" starts with a nice violin intro. The unique vibe of this song sets it apart from the others on the project. The group has a really nice blend on the chorus. Definitely a highlight of the project!

The Browns had a few covers of songs on this project. I think it was an interesting choice to cover the song "Didn't It Rain" on this project. Though the Browns give this song their own spin. I can see Andrew really getting into this song in a live concert setting. The Browns also cover the Third Day song "Soul on Fire." I really liked how they made this song their own with a country flair. This is one of my favorites on the project. The Browns do a completely different take on "Touch of the Master's Hand" than I've ever heard. They give it a strong country sound that's very reminiscent of the Charlie Daniels Band's "Devil Went Down to Georgia." I would like to see this one live with their fiddle playing. I think it could work better live than on a recording.

Overall, I think the Browns aimed higher with the project and succeeded. It's easy to see how much they have grown over the years. I'm really impressed by their original songs. And while I might not have chosen some of the cover songs. I admire how they take risks and make songs their own. While they have grown a lot, they still bring a youthful energy to this genre! It's a project that you will want to give a listen!

Song List -
1. "On the Winning Side"
2. "Aim Higher"
3. "Didn't It Rain"
4. "Soul on Fire"
5. "Love That Won't Let Go"
6. "Sinners Come to the River"
7. "Fur Elise"
8. "Know You Now"
9. "Touch of the Master's Hand"
10. "You Speak to Me"

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Jeff Hawes to Leave Karen Peck and New River

Karen Peck and New River announced on Facebook yesterday that Jeff Hawes will be leaving their ministry. He has been with the group since January 2010. Jeff has accepted a position for the school district in his hometown as the college and career coach. Best wishes to Jeff who will definitely be missed in this industry! Please keep him and Karen Peck and New River in your prayers during this time of transition.

A new season. We love you Jeff Hawes.
Posted by Karen Peck and New River on Sunday, August 2, 2015

Saturday, August 1, 2015

ICYMI - News and Tidbits - August 1

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

  • Please pray for the Freemans. Their bus caught fire in Canada they had just started home to Hendersonville from Canada. No one was injured. The fire was contained to one area, and the group was able to travel the rest of the way home.
  • Prayers also requested for Gerald Crabb. He had triple bypass surgery this week after experiencing chest pains. Everything went well. He will spend a few days in the hospital recovering.
  • The National Quartet Convention will be in Pigeon Forge through 2016. The event recorded its largest attendance in 13 years after its move to Pigeon Forge in 2014.
  • Claude Hopper's oldest sister, Virginia Hopper Steele, passed away on Thursday. Please keep the family in your prayers. 
  • The Memphis Quartet Show has announced its lineup for 2016. Some different groups for next year include the Hopper Brothers 2.0, Ball Brothers and Gerald Williams and the Melody Boys. Check out the website for the full schedule (dates are not all correct, but it is the schedule for next year). 
  • Joseph Habedank announced that he is funding a scholarship for Ben Speer's Stamps Baxter School of Music for 2016. 

Anything I've missed?