Monday, July 17, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - July 17

Here are a few recent news items in Southern Gospel -
  • Silver Lining Entertainment presented their faith-based film, “A Question of Faith,” as the closing film at MegaFest 2017. Amber Nelon Thompson is one of the main cast members of the film. With more than 1,000 MegaFest attendees coming out to see the film, the turnout far exceeded expectations. The film is scheduled to release on September 29, 2017 via Pure Flix Entertainment.
  • The Mark Trammell Quartet announced the addition of Trevor Conkle as pianst. Trevor is only 19 and has been traveling with the Hoppers most recently. He is from Arab, Alabama. His first date with the group will be July 20. 
  • Mark and Carolyn Bishop became grandparents on Saturday July 8 at 1:38 p.m. Lochlan Rhys was born to Mark’s oldest daughter Courtney and son-in-law John Isaacs. Lochlan weighed 7 lbs., 11 oz. and measured 20 inches long.
  • Song Garden Music Group welcomed Mercy’s Reign. They were organized in the summer of 2011 and have appeared on The 700 Club and at the National Quartet Convention.
Anything I've missed?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - Sam Cam

The Nelons' canine star returned to Facebook this week. Check out the most recent Sam Cam video for today's Fun Clip Friday!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Songs and Testimonies - The Talleys - Concert Recap

You know when a pastor starts a service by telling the group to "sic 'em" you're going to be in for a good night. The Talleys were special guests at Hilltop Assembly of God in Malvern a few weeks ago.

The Talleys - Roger, Lauren and Debra Talley
I love hearing the music and certain songs, but I love hearing the artists' hearts. That's what I loved about this night. They each shared about certain songs, testimonies or memories throughout the night. We got to see their hearts in not only what they sang but what they said and shared.

Here's a look at how the night went -

  • "After All This Time"
  • "The Promise"
  • "What Is This Thing Called Grace" - This is a song that really didn't stand out to me until that night. And wow, what a moment it was. Debra talked about grace being too much for us to comprehend. It's what our lives as Christians are based on, but it's so hard for us to understand. It's such a beautiful song about the power of grace in our lives. 
  • Piano Medley - They let the audience call out songs for Roger to put together for a medley. The first song shouted out was "Keep on the Firing Line." Roger protested a little at first but Debra and Lauren insisted that it was in the hymnal so it should be included. The other two called out were "He Set Me Free and "Amazing Grace." He managed to put those three together!
  • "Hidden Heroes" - There were a few families in the audience that night that Lauren dedicated this song to because of how it represented their family life. This is always a touching one to hear live. 
  • "My Hope Is in the Lord"
  • "When He Calls Me I'll Fly Away"
  • "He's Alive"
  • "Namaan" - Always love hearing this song live!
  • "Thinking About Home" - Debra talked a little bit about her dad's homegoing before she sang this one because the day before was the one year anniversary. She said she could imagine when her dad walked through the gates of how he was completely healed at that point. Heaven will be more than we can ever imagine; we have something to be excited about. 
  • "People in the Line" - This song is convicting every time I hear it! It's so easy to go by people every day, get frustrated with them and not thinking about what they might be going through. 
  • "The Broken Ones" - This is such a beautiful song. Lauren talked about how Jesus talked more about how we treat other people than anything else. How we treat people matters. She said sometimes the best thing we can do for a hurting person is just to be kind. We've all been where we feel broken and have needed that kind word or a smile. We all need to be reminded that Someone cares. 
  • "Hallelujah Praise the Lamb" - So glad that they closed with this song!

Monday, July 10, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - July 9

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

  • Wilburn and Wilburn announced the change that Jordan will be stepping back from touring to focus on his family. Jonathan Wilburn will be touring as a solo artist and fulfilling all dates. 
  • Liberty Quartet announced the return of Philip Batton to tenor. He will start traveling with them on Aug. 1. 
  • Pray for Ernie Phillips who was hospitalized earlier this week. Ernie is a 10+ year survivor of stage 4 colon and liver cancer. About a year ago, doctors found a spot of cancer that had come back in his colon and he’s been undergoing various treatments for it. His current dilemma is due to the side affects of the latest chemo drug he was taking. He went into the hospital running a high fever this past weekend. His white blood count was really low and he had pneumonia in both lungs. Please keep him in your prayers. 
  • Pat Barker announced a one-night only event with an all-star quartet with Joseph Habedank on lead, Steve Ladd on tenor, Mark Lanier on baritone and Pat Barker singing bass. The band will feature Corey Pearson, Jordan Hamby, Scoot Shelnut and Josh Singletary. This will be in Oxford, Alabama on Nov. 9.  
Anything I've missed?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - On the Couch With Fouch

I've been on vacation this week, so I haven't had a chance for regular posting. I have several concert recaps coming up next week! For now, here's a Fun Clip Friday post that's Matt Fouch's latest On the Couch With Fouch interview with Josh Feemster. Check it out below!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - July 1

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

  • Singing News Radio announced this week that Troy Peach will be joining the team as a DJ for "Southern Nights."
  • Several Southern Gospel artists have been sharing a petition to help relieve some of the DOT regulations they are under now. Read more about it. 
  • Eli Fortner of the McKameys is now home and continues to recover from his kidney transplant. 
Anything I've missed?

Friday, June 30, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - Karen Peck & New River

Happy Friday! I had the chance to see Karen Peck & New River in concert on Sunday night. They sang several songs from their Hope for all Nations release and talked about their trip to Honduras. Here's a concept video they shot while they were there. Enjoy for today's Fun Clip Friday!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Enjoying Testament with the Perrys - Concert Recap

I love seeing groups around the time of a new project release. As many times as you can listen to songs on a CD, there's just something about hearing them live. There's something about seeing the power of a lyric communicated during a live setting. The song can take on a new meaning and can speak to you differently. I was glad to see that the Perrys were in my area just a few weeks ago after their release of Testament on June 9. Of course, they sang many of their most requested songs, but it was so good to hear them stage and sing a lot of their brand new songs.

They started out with a few familiar ones like "His Love Lights the Way," "It Was the Blood" and "I Rest My Case at the Cross." Then, they started singing a lot of their newer songs like

  • "The Harder the Battle, The Sweeter the Victory" - Of course, this isn't exactly a new song, but it is a newly recorded song by the Perrys. 
  • "Sing in the Valley" - Troy does such an incredible job on this song. I feel like this could become one of my new favorite Perrys songs period.
  • "It's Not Here to Stay"
  • "Moses and Elijah" - This is a fun uptempo song to see live!
  • "Lord, Send Me" - It was good to see Tracy featured on this one in person. 
  •  "Who I Could Have Been" - It's great to hear more from Jared in concert with him stepping up to sing this one. 
  • "It Carried Him" - I love this song and especially how Andrew communicates this song live!
  • "Find Me Faithful" - The moment of the night for me was this song! Before the song, Libbi told the story of how the group got started and how God used a tragic situation to start a ministry that has affected so many people. 
  • "My Hope Is in the Blood"
If you're counting, that's only two songs they didn't sing from Testament. I feel like one of the ways you can judge the stretch of the project is by how many songs group stage after a release. It's evident that Testament is full of incredible songs the Perrys can't wait to share with the audience. 

They did sing a couple more songs not from Testament like "Cry No More," "Until I Start Looking Ahead" and they had a request at the end for "Celebrate Me Home." I was not familiar at all with "Until I Start Looking Ahead," but this is such a powerful song that Libbi sings. They ended the night with "Whosoever Will" as an invitation. 

It was good to hear so many songs live from the new project! I love how powerful these songs are. If you get a chance to see the Perrys near you, don't miss them!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - June 24

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

  • Eli Fortner of the McKameys had a successful kidney transplant this week. He had to have a second surgery because of some blockage. He is still at the hospital recovering. Please be in prayer for him as well as his donor CJ Shetley as they both recover.
  • Prayers for Landon Beene and his family. Landon's father, Kenneth Wayne Beene, passed away yesterday morning.
  • The final round of voting for the Singing News Fan Awards is now open. Subscribers can go vote at
  • The National Quartet Convention and Southern Gospel Music Association have announced a new partnership to present the inaugural SGMA Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Benefit Concert to be held on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 during the afternoon at the LeConte Convention Center in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The program will honor the 2017 SGMA Hall of Fame class of inductees - Troy Burns, LaBreeska, Hemphill, Randy Shelnut and Tony Greene.
  • Kody Erwin gave an update on his health this week that he is 100% back to normal and thanked everyone for the prayers.
  • The BMI Christian Music Awards were held this week in Nashville. Joseph Habedank performed and the following Southern Gospel songs and writers were honored - 
    • "Battle Cry" - Lee Black, Joel Lindsey and Sue Smith
    • "I Am Blessed" - Karen Peck Gooch and Kenna West
    • "Put Out the Fire" - Rodney Griffin
    • "The Beauty of the Blood" - Joseph Habedank
    • "Worry Ends Where Faith Begins" - Sandy Blythe
Anything I've missed?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - Memphis Quartet Show

I shared some clips from the Memphis Quartet Show last week. I was able to be there on Saturday night and what a great night it was! Steve Ladd shared this video on Facebook of the second half with all the groups. Check it out below for today's Fun Clip Friday!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

11th Hour - Concert Recap

June has been a busy concert-going month so far! The first group I got to see this month was the popular trio 11th Hour. Their last album What a Moment was one of my favorite projects of last year. It was good to hear them sing several from that project as well a few older favorites.

11th Hour - Grant Gibson, Jaquita Lindsey
and Amber Eppinnette
Here are a few highlights of the night -

  • "How Will You Plead"
  • "Room With a View" - I've always been a fan of this song, but I loved how Amber then led the congregation in "How Beautiful Heaven Must Be" after. It was a sweet moment of the night.
  • "He Welcomes the Beggar" - This is my favorite song from What a Moment, so glad they staged it! Such a powerful song!
  • "I Trust" - I don't remember getting to hear this song live before. The song features Jaquita, and it's one she wrote. She shared a little bit of her heart before the song talking about how it's hard to trust what God's doing in our lives sometimes. When we can't trace His hand, we can trust His heart - love that line! 
  • "Bloodline"
  • "Adam's Fall"
  • Worship set - Grant was not feeling well that night. He had driven most of the night. In fact, he was losing his voice and told Amber and Jaquita to take over. It's interesting how God really used that because Amber went to the keyboard, and she and Jaquita just led in a few worship songs. It was the sweetest spirit in the room. I know the situation wasn't ideal for the group, but God used that and the trio followed God's leading of how to guide their set.

If you've somehow missed this group, be sure to check out the next time they are near you!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - June 17

Here are news items from this week in Southern Gospel -

  • Ed O’ Neal announced the addition of Jerry Skaggs to his legendary Dixie Melody Boys as tenor. Skaggs joins the quartet after an extensive search and will make his official debut at the Memphis Quartet Show. He most recently sang with the Skyline Boys Quartet.
  • The 2017 Singing News Songwriters Search is now open. Find out more here
  • Ivan Parker was a featured performer this week at “Sunday Mornin’ Country,” held at the Grand Ole Opry House on the final day of CMA Music Fest. It was hosted by Brenda Lee, and the event also featured appearances by Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, LuLu Roman, Joanne Cash Yates and more.
  • Mark Trammell received his medallion for the Gospel Music Hall of Fame at the Memphis Quartet Show on Thursday night. He was unable to be present at the ceremony where Gold City was honored earlier this year. Nick Trammell was the one who got to present his dad with the medal.
Did I miss anything?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Memphis Quartet Show - Fun Clip Friday

The Memphis Quartet Show is going on this week. That's where I plan on wrapping up my week. It's always a great event!

The Memphis Quartet Show has been sharing a few clips this week on Facebook of concerts, news announcements and even one special moment you don't want to miss! Check them out below for today's Fun Clip Friday!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Testament - The Perrys - CD Review

The Perrys' newest project Testament is just that. Any one familiar wth the Perrys know they have been through a lot in the past few years. This project is full of songs of testimony that speak to where they have been and what they desire in their relationship with God. This is the second album with its current lineup.

The project starts with "Let's Stop for a Moment," which reminds us all just to slow down, stop and mediate on what God has done and praise Him. The song is a slower style that features the group, but also has step out lines for Libbi and then Andrew on a verse.

Libbi has one of the most loved and most recognized voices in Southern Gospel. She has several features on this project including "I Will Pray, "Find Me Faithful" and "My Hope Is in the Blood."  "Find Me Faithful" is the highlight of the project for me. This song features Libbi and was written by Jeff Bumgardner, Karen Peck Gooch and Joel Lindsey. Jeff Bumgardner lost his young daughter unexpectedly earlier this year. This is one of the first songs after that tragic event in his life. Libbi does an incredible job conveying the strong lyrics of this song because she's lived that the past few years as well.

Another highlight is "Sing in the Valley," which has a country sound with a lot of steel guitar. Troy is featured on this song and does a great job. Don't miss the incredible message of this song - sing in the valley, like you're on the mountaintop. Praise Him no matter where He leads, whether that's the mountain or the valley.

"It's Not Here to Stay" is a great toe-tapper song for the Perrys. It features Andrew. This is one of my favorites. "Lord Send Me" is another great uptempo song. It's good to hear Tracy on a few step out lines. My favorite uptempo song is probably "Moses and Elijah," which also features Andrew.

Jared is featured on "Who I Could Have Been." It's nice to hear him on this song. It really shows how he's grown over the past few years. The song has a nice hook and challenges us to think about who we could have been without Jesus and if things had gone differently in our lives.

I love story songs. "It Carried Him" is another highlight and my favorite feature of Andrew's on this project. Andrew does an incredible job on this country-flavored song. It's hinted at what the "it" is throughout the song, but it's clearly revealed toward the very end of the song.

The Perrys shows again why they are consistently one of the top mixed groups in the industry. Testament is the strongest release from the Perrys in several years. From strong ballads to energetic fast-paced songs, the project has a nice variety of songs. The message of each song builds on the theme of Testament and leaves listeners hitting repeat on this project!

Songs to turn up - "It's Not Here to Stay" and "Moses and Elijah"
Song to put on repeat - "Find Me Faithful"
Song to give a second listen - "Sing in the Valley"

Song List -

1. "Let's Stop for a Moment"
2. "I Will Pray"
3. "It's Not Here to Stay"
4. "Find Me Faithful"
5. "Lord Send Me"
6. "Who I Could Have Been"
7. "Sing in the Valley"
8. "Moses and Elijah"
9. "It Carried Him"
10. "My Hope Is in the Blood"
11. "The Harder the Battle the Sweeter the Victory"

Saturday, June 10, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - June 10

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

  • Wilburn & Wilburn were honored with a 2017 Telly Award for the "Gospel Music Southern Style” 2016 Christmas show. The duo was the featured artist on the program, which was recorded at the First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Alabama last year.
  • Congratulations to Parker and Melodi Webb on the birth of their first child. Parker Bryce Webb Jr. was born on Friday May 26, 2017 at 10:43 p.m. Bryce weighed 7 pounds 3 ounces and measured 18 inches long. 
  • Karen Peck & New River are currently in Honduras for a special trip. They will perform our new album title song “Hope for All Nations” with a choir comprised of the island churches. 
  • Ian Owens of Soul'd Out Quartet was hospitalized this week with appendicitis. He had surgery to remove his appendix and physicians discovered a twisted bowel and scar tissue that was likely the result of an undetected birth defect. Pray for him as he recovers from surgery.
Anything I've missed?

Friday, June 9, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - Triumphant Quartet and Guests

Happy Friday to all! Here's a cute clip from a recent Triumphant Quartet concert. The guys were singing "Bottom of the Barrel" from their latest project and got a little help from Eric Bennett's granddaughters. Watch and enjoy!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

No Excuses, No Regrets - Steve Ladd - CD Review

Steve Ladd's solo project No Excuses, No Regrets releases tomorrow. Of course, gospel music fans will remember Steve from his days with Gold City and the Anchormen. He was also announced earlier this year as the new tenor for The Old Paths quartet. This is his first album with Crossroads Sonlite Records. It's his first solo album in a few years.

The EP of six songs starts with "All Things Are Possible God." This country-flavored uptempo song is a great opener. It's a great reminder of the many attributes of God.

"Chain Breaker" is the Zach Williams song that has also been recently recorded by Triumphant Quartet. This song is getting a lot of play, but don't miss Steve's version!

The highlight of the recording for me is "What You've Already Done." The song really shows off the tender side of Steve's voice. The only accompaniment is the piano to really showcase Steve's voice. The song talks about remembering God's faithfulness in our past while we are in a waiting period.

The title track "No Excuses, No Regrets" brings the tempo back up with a great statement of faith song with a message of stepping out and living fully for Christ.

Steve lets his soulful side show with the familiar "Since I Laid My Burden Down." He gets some nice background vocal help on this song that really adds to the old time gospel feel. I liked the pause toward the end for it only to kick off again at a faster tempo, and then it has the big finish. Traditional gospel fans will love this track!

The project ends with the worshipful song "Living Water." It's a great powerful song that invites Christ to come fill our lives. He really show off his upper range and the power behind his voice.

The six-song EP will only leave fans wanting more! I love all the different styles he included in just six songs. It really shows the variety that he's able to sing. This is definitely a project that you'll want to buy this year!

Songs to Turn Up - "All Things Are Possible God" and "Since I Laid My Burden Down"
Song to Put on Repeat - "What You've Already Done"
Song That Will Take You to Church - "Living Water"

Song List -
1. "All Things Are Possible God"
2. "Chain Breaker"
3. "What You've Already Done"
4. "No Excuses, No Regrets"
5. "Since I Laid My Burden Down"
6. "Living Water"

Monday, June 5, 2017

It Is Time - Barry Rowland & Deliverance - CD Review

Barry Rowland & Deliverance's It Is Time was released in April of this year. This is the first album with Matthew Burgess as the group's lead vocalist. The group consistently produces the same quality gospel sound that you've come to love from them. And with the resident family writer, Kyla Rowland, penning seven of the 10 songs, you know the project will be full of strong material.

With this project you'll find some familiar songs like "Redemption Draweth Night" and "There Rose a Lamb." "How Long" is another song that's been previously recorded by groups like the Speer Family, Perrys and the Kingsmen. "Redemption Draweth Nigh" is a little bit different arrangement that what you're used to hearing.

Tammy is featured on "He Can't Follow Me Home," "Help Me Make It" and "God Will Take Care of It All." The first has a country, bluegrass feel, while the latter two are ballads. "Help Me Make It" is a song that you need to put on after a rough day as a reminder of God's strength during trials. "God Will Take Care of It All" is one of those songs that really encourages believers.

You really get to hear from Matthew on the opening track "Delivered Again." You get to hear a soulful side of his voice. He does a really nice job on the classic "There Rose a Lamb." This is probably my favorite feature of his.

"Hold Your Ground" tells the story of the Israelites conquering Jericho and then again Elijah praying fire down from Heaven. This song features Matthew on the verses, but also shows off the group blend on the verses nicely.

"The Ark" is a nice uptempo song that will have your toe tapping along. I can see this song going over really well in a live setting.

If you are a fan of pure, straight Southern Gospel music, you'll want to check out this latest release from Barry Rowland & Deliverance.

Songs to turn up - "The Ark"
Songs to put on repeat - "God Will Take Care of It All"
Songs to give a second listen - "Hold Your Ground"

Song List -

  1. "Delivered Again"
  2. "He Can't Follow Me Home"
  3. "Hold Your Ground"
  4. "The Ark"
  5. "God Will Take Care of It All"
  6. "It Is Time"
  7. "Redemption Draweth Nigh"
  8. "How Long"
  9. "Help Me Make It"
  10. "There Rose a Lamb"

Saturday, June 3, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - June 3

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

  • The Southern Gospel Music Association Board of Directors announced the Hall of Fame inductees for 2017 for individuals who have shown a lifetime commitment to Southern Gospel music  - Tony Greene, LaBreeska Hemphill, Troy Burns and Randy Shelnut, Sr. SGMA President Arthur Rice said, "All of these individuals are well-deserving, and we thank our membership for their participation in making the selection." 
  • Congratulations to newlyweds Adam and Kaitlyn Crabb who got married this week in Florida!
  • The top 10 semi-finalists for the 2017 Singing News Ultimate Talent Search were announced this week - 
    • Exodus – Gadsden, AL – Mixed Quartet 
    • Blake and Jenna Bolerjack – Yukon, OK - Duet 
    • Then Came Sunday – Texarkana, AR - Male Trio
    • Matt Linton – Katy, TX – Male Soloist 
    • Hinshaw Trio – Bahama, NC – Female Trio 
    • Donna Kilmurray – Ada, OK – Female Soloist 
    • Ben Chapman – Mocksville, NC – Male Soloist 
    • Sojourner Quartet – Findlay, OH – Male Quartet 
    • Heather Van Deren – Millsap, TX – Female Soloist 
    • Harrell Family – Teachey, NC – Mixed Trio
Anything I've missed?

Friday, June 2, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - On the Couch With Fouch - Dean Hopper

Happy Friday! Matt Fouch released his latest video interview for his "On the Couch With Fouch" series. This interview is with Dean Hopper. Hear him talk about what it's like on the road with his family, tips for communicating song lyrics and what he might be doing if he weren't singing gospel music. Enjoy this for today's Fun Clip Friday!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

When Lyrics Speak - Anything But Happy

I'm reviving an older series today. This music is all about the message. It's about how the Spirit works through the music to encourage and draw people closer to him. It's about how songs minister to us when we need to most.

Today, I'm just going to focus on just a few lines -

"The windows of Heaven are pouring out blessings,
And here I stand with this tiny cup.
When will I learn that I cannot contain the love of God?"

This is from the song "Anything But Happy" by Jeff and Sheri Easter. I've always been drawn to these lyrics. But it's funny how words and phrases mean different things to you at different times. On the good days, it's easy to see how rich God's blessings are. You might sing along with a smile feeling and knowing how God has blessed you thinking about an answered prayer, time spent with a loved one and little extra money in the bank.

However, on the days that are just a struggle, it can be sung through tear-filled eyes. God doesn't change. His love doesn't change. His blessings remain the same. Even when we don't feel Him, when our prayers feel unanswered, when life is overwhelming, His blessings are still pouring out to us. His love is still uncontainable. His love is unfathomable.

So many times, I find myself standing ready with my small vessel waiting for God to drop this tiny blessing in there, whatever my human mind has been praying for at the moment. Because in my humanness, I dwell on these small, specific blessings and I miss the outpouring that God is giving all around me. I'm missing the chance for Him to move in a way that overflows my cup. He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly beyond what I can think or imagine.

The song is rightfully named "Anything But Happy" because when you think about all that God has in store, His blessings, His love, His faithfulness ... how can we be anything but happy?

Saturday, May 27, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - May 27

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

  • Prayers are requested for Mike Watson, a founding member of Exodus. He was diagnosed with cancer and had surgery to remove a tumor in his jaw. He's unable to travel with the group at this time. Cole Watson, Mike's son, is now singing and traveling with the group.
  • Prayers also requested for Bryan Elliot's stepfather, Tony Butler. He's been diagnosed with cancer. Bryan has set up a GoFundMe to help with their expenses during this time. 
  • Daryl and Jessica Amundrud from The Amundruds (Canadian gospel group) welcomed a baby boy, Wells Alan Amundrud, on May 7. Mother and baby are doing well.
Anything I've missed?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Thankful - Triumphant Quartet - CD Review

Triumphant Quartet released Thankful last month. This is the group's third release with StowTown Records. The quartet proves why they continue to be the fan favorite in the industry with this release. Triumphant Quartet is one of the most consistent groups in the business not only with the lineup but also with their own sound we have all come to love.

The project starts with the worship song "We Welcome Your Holy Spirit." It's a nice song that features a snippet from "Sweet, Sweet Spirit." I thought it was a nice touch.

"Chain Breaker" is the next song and the first single. I've already heard this song quite a bit on the radio and wouldn't be surprised to see it at the top of the charts soon. The song was originally done by Zach Williams, but I really prefer Triumphant's version. The quartet sound works really well with this song. Scotty does a great job on the verses.

Thankful has 11 songs, five of which were written by baritone Scotty Inman. It's no surprise that he's been listed as a top five songwriter for the last couple of years. The first one on the project is "God Will Always Be God" also featuring Scotty. The message is simple but always a needed reminder. "The Cross Is All the Proof I Need" is the next one. The song features Clayton and David. I love the arrangement and how the song builds for a powerful ending.

Eric is featured on "One Happy Man," a song that tells the story of a man's funeral from a rather interesting perspective. It's his funeral but knowing the life he lived and where he is now, he's one "happy man." However, my favorite feature of his is "Bottom of the Barrel." It's a fun uptempo song with some nice brass in the background.

"Thankful, So Thankful" is definitely a favorite for me and one of the more upbeat songs. It picks up the pace with a little bit of a banjo and bluegrass. "Never Assume" is another uptempo song that will make you tap your foot along but also might step on a few toes as well. The song reminds us to always be a witness to others around us, because we never know when we need to be ready to share Jesus with those around us.

David has the solo on the Kirk Talley-penned "I Know Him." This is a great ballad; I love the hook of the song, I know Him, but best of all He knows me. I love David's smooth vocals on this song.

Clayton has a great feature on "Grace and Mercy." It's a great traditional church song with the organ backing them up. The last song "My God Called Me This Morning" has a soulful, black gospel sound that's a cappella. It really showcases the great blend these guys have.

Triumphant continues to show why they have been the top quartet in the industry with Thankful. The project has a number of songs that I could see as chart-toppers for the group. The project does have a number of slower songs, but with the strength of each song on the album I don't really mind it. It's a CD you must add to your collection!

Song that will take you to church - "Grace and Mercy"
Songs to turn up - "Bottom of the Barrel" and "Thankful, So Thankful"
Song to put on repeat - "Chain Breaker"
Song to give a second listen - "I Know Him"

Song List -
1. "We Welcome Your Holy Spirit"
2. "Chain Breaker"
3. "God Will Always Be God"
4. "The Cross Is All the Proof I Need"
5. "One Happy Man"
6. "Thankful, So Thankful"
7. "I Know Him"
8. "Never Assume"
9. "Grace and Mercy"
10. "Bottom of the Barrel"
11. "My God Called Me This Morning"

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Gold City - Concert Recap

Gold City was in Arkansas earlier this month in Jacksonville at Landmark Baptist. It's become almost an annual stop for these guys. Last year when they were here it was the first night of a fill-in/try out lead singer by the name of Scott Brand. Of course, Scott went on to get the job permanently. And this lineup of Gold City is sounding better than ever together.

Gold City Quartet - Bryan Elliot, Thomas Nalley, Daniel Riley,
Scott Brand and Chris West
It's good to hear them bring back several of the older songs. A few I wasn't all that familiar with, so I like that they are introducing newer fans to these songs. Gold City has such a large repertoire of songs that I'm sure it's impossible to get in what everyone wants to hear along with new songs from recent projects. I really enjoyed the variety of the set list that night.

Here are a few highlights -
  • "If God Be For Us"
  • "Windows of Home" - Really love hearing Scott on this song. You can definitely hear the Ivan Parker influence in his voice. 
  • "Shouting Ground" 
  • "A Strong Hand" - This was a song I was not familiar with. In fact, I had to do a little research when I got home on the exact title. It's actually from their Standing in the Gap project. Chris has the feature on this one. It was probably the moment of the night for me. 
  • "God of All Gods" - Thomas sang this one right after he gave his testimony of how God miraculously restored his hearing. It makes for such an incredible moment. 
  • "Victory in Jesus" - This is always a fun one to hear the guys sing. I love their rendition of this song. Danny does a great job on this song. 
  • "When I Get Carried Away" - Danny passed off his mic to Bryan on this song. I think this is becoming a more regular part of their concerts to let Bryan sing a little bit. It's good to hear him step out a sing. 
  • "That Little Baby"
  • "Midnight Cry" - Of course, it's always a highlight to get to hear this song live. 
It was a great night filled with a lot of great music. I enjoyed hearing a few songs that I didn't know as well. After hearing them, it's easy to see why they have brought them back recently and why Gold City is known for having incredible songs and has been such a strong group through the years. In fact, the group was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame just a few days after this concert. 

Don't miss Gold City if they are in your area. Check their schedule to see when they might be in concert near you!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - May 20

Here are news items from this week in gospel music -
  • Prayers go out to the family of Rosa Nell Speer Powell. She passed away at age 94 on Tuesday. Services were held today.
  • Top 5 nominees for the Singing News Fan Awards were announced this week. Check out the full list here
  • Kody Erwin is still in the hospital because of viral meningitis/encephalitis. Please continue to keep him and his family in your prayers.
  • Eddie Couch has joined 4 One Quartet as bass singer. He replaces Will Funk who was a member of the group since its inception.
Anything I've missed?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - Amber Nelon Thompson He's Making Me

Happy Friday! This week the music video for "He's Making Me" from Amber Nelon Thompson "He's Making Me" debuted on Facebook. The song will actually be included in the the motion picture soundtrack for Champion The Movie. The movie opens this Friday night in select theaters. The video features Amber and scenes from the movie. Check it out below!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Ball Brothers - Concert Recap

The last day of April I made the trip south to Pine Bluff, Arkansas to see the Ball Brothers. They are one of those groups I really don't get to see very often. The group consists of brothers Andrew and Daniel Ball, brother-in-law Chad McCloskey and newest member Matt Davis.

The thing I love about this group is that they really bring something different to the industry. They are their own style.

Here's a look at what they sang -

  • "Let Your Light Shine"
  • "I Wouldn't Miss Heaven for the World"
  • "Gentle Shepherd" - Andrew does a great job on this arrangement of the familiar hymn. He really shows off his higher register. 
  • "Happy Rhythm"  - This one featured the newest member of the Ball Brothers, Matt Davis. 
  • "Count Your Blessings" - Chad shows off that "big band" sound with this song. 
  • "Mary Did You Know" - Daniel said that since he got to pick the set list he was going to have them sing one of his favorite songs, which was more associated with Christmas, but  
  • "Victory in Jesus" - Love their take on this hymn!
  • "Mercy Tree" - Great take on a more contemporary song. I'm glad they are introducing this song to Southern Gospel audiences. 
  • "Good Day"
  • "Glory to God in the Highest"
  • "I Smile" - The guys have a lot of fun with this one!
  • "It's About the Cross" - Love this song!! One of my favorites. 

The music was, of course, great, but it was also great hearing the hearts of the guys on the stage. Daniel shared a story of how they grew up with seven kids in a relatively small house. They didn't really think about it growing up but knew they didn't have a lot of things that other kids their age had like new basketball shoes. However, they realized how blessed they were when they had the chance to go on a mission trip and visited an orphanage. Daniel said he was amazed at the living conditions of those boys, the holes in the walls, the food they had to eat and the lack of heat in the building. He realized what it was really like to be poor and not being able to have basic needs of life. It gave him a better understanding of how blessed he was and how he committed to use his platform to help kids like he saw that day.

If you get a chance to see the Ball Brothers, don't miss them!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - May 13

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

  • Congratulations to Gold City for being inducted in the Gospel Music Hall of Fame this week. Check out this video from the induction courtesy of Dayna Ladd that Gold City shared on Facebook.
  • Continue to pray for Kody Erwin who was diagnosed with viral meningitis/encephalitis and hospitalized this week. He is home now, but still has two to four weeks where he could suffer from headaches.
  • Gordon Mote has joined Canton Junction as vocalist and instrumentalist. He replaces Ryan Seaton who left last fall. Gordon will continue his solo ministry. 
  • The Troy Burns Family recently announced Jacob Kluttz of Salisbury, North Carolina has joined the group as piano player.
  • Ray Flynn announced his cancer had returned at Singing in the Sun. It was found in late December and he underwent radiation from January through March. He also reported that the numbers on his latest reports were significantly lower and classified in the level of undetectable for cancer!
Anything I've missed?

Friday, May 12, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - Jeff and Sheri Easter's Homecoming

Well, I'm back. After a long week out of town for my regular job, I am back home and back to blogging.

Jeff and Sheri Easter have their annual homecoming this weekend in Lincolnton, Georgia. They had Triumphant Quartet last night. Apparently they had some fun yesterday with Jeff Easter before concert time. Check out these videos from Jeff & Sheri's Facebook of Jeff hanging out with the Triumphant guys for today's Fun Clip Friday!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - Ed O'Neal - On the Couch With Fouch

Happy Friday to everyone. The latest installment in the On the Couch with Fouch series is the legendary Ed O'Neal. Be sure to check it out for today's Fun Clip Friday. Here him talk about Ed O'Neal University, J.D. Sumner, his golfing and more!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

They Don't Know - The Kingsmen - CD Review

The Kingsmen's new project They Don't Know released a few weeks ago. The group's last CD Battle Cry was one of the best releases of the group to date. This is also the quartet's first release with tenor Joshua Horrell. Let's see how They Don't Know follows up.

The project starts with the title track. It's one of the more progressive songs that the Kingsmen have released. I love the play on words here ... they don't know (what the Lord can do). I also like that they chose that as the album title. The song is definitely one of my favorites on the CD.

"Keep the Lions Hungry" has that country gospel flair, probably also a bit more on the progressive side. Bob Sellers is featured on this one. It's a fun, toe-tapping song that talks about several different lion stories in the Bible with David killing the lion and then Daniel in the lions' den. Then it brings in that "application" verse. I really like this style for the Kingsmen.

New member Joshua Horrell is featured on the ballad "God Calls It Grace." This is the first of three features for Joshua. Love getting to hear a lot from him. This is probably my favorite of the three.

Bob is also featured on "Hear the Word of the Lord." This was another highlight. It's another more country sounding song. He's also highlighted on "Cost of the Cross." I love the challenge of the song - "May I never forget the debt my sin cost and live forever grateful for the cost of the cross."

"The Evidence I Need" is a slower-paced song. I really love Randy on this song. "Don't Underestimate God's Grace" is another great feature for Randy. It starts off with the steel guitar intro and is one of the more traditional songs on the project. Randy not only shows his vocal chops but also has a songwriting credit on the album with "Fade to Black," featuring Joshua. The song is a great ballad that reminds us of the promise of Heaven.

The Kingsmen throw in a traditional quartet song with "I'll Sail Away Yonder" showing off the high notes of Joshua and showing how low Ray Dean can go. It's a song that traditional quartet fans will love!

They Don't Know introduces Kingsmen fans to a new and fresh sound. They set the bar high with Battle Cry but this project is a great followup to that with a more progressive sound that really shows the blend of the group. Fans will NOT be disappointed with They Don't Know. It's one to add to your collection!

Songs to Turn Up - "They Don't Know" and "Hear the Word of the Lord"
Songs to Put On Repeat - "God Calls It Grace" and "Keep the Lions Hungry"
Songs to Give a Second Listen - "The Evidence I Need" and "Fade to Black"

Song List -
1. "They Don't Know"
2. "Keep the Lions Hungry"
3. "God Calls It Grace"
4. "Hear the Word of the Lord"
5. "The Evidence I Need"
6. "I'll Sail Away Yonder"
7. "Cost of the Cross"
8. "Let Go and Hold Fast"
9. "Fade to Black"
10. "Don't Underestimate God's Grace"
11. "Legacy"

Saturday, April 29, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - April 29

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

  • Congratulations to Morgan Easter and Landan Smith who became engaged this week!
  • Matt Felts announced the launch of his solo ministry. He will remain the general manager of Butler Music Group in addition to this ministry.
  • Master's Voice has re-signed with Sonlite Records (Crossroads Entertainment and Marketing). The group's new album Walk Worthy will release in July.
Anything I've missed?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Beginning - Bowling Sisters - CD Review

For anyone who is concerned about the future of gospel music, go get The Beginning from the
Bowling Sisters. With Mike and Kelly Bowling as their parents and talented aunts and uncles, these girls were raised singing gospel music. It's in their genes, but you can tell these girls have a passion and calling on their own lives.

The Bowling Sisters are Hope (17), Katelanne (13) and Gracie (10). This isn't one of those CDs that's just good for a group of young singers. It's just good. As you listen, you quickly forget how young they are.

The project kicks off with "So Smile." It's a fun song to remind us all that we have something to smile about and life's trials are temporary.

I'm so glad they chose to include "He Sees What We Don't" (previously recorded by 11th Hour and written by Amber Eppinette and Joseph Habedank). This song is a stand out solo by Hope. I've always been a fan of this song and love Hope's take on it. At only 17, she shows that she knows her way around a song and how to feel every word of what she's singing.

"Higher Ground" is definitely more contemporary sounding with a great guitar intro. "You Brought the Sunshine" is another progressive song that will really go over well with young audiences. I'm sure another one that younger audiences will know is the worship song "Forever."

Gracie at only 10 delivers some of the most mature lyrics of the project with "Fragile Heart," and she makes you believe every word of what she's singing like she's been there. Incredible song with a great message that shows you how she can already communicate a lyric.

Katelanne takes on a Mandisa song with "Stronger" showing the different style songs she can tackle. She also takes on "I Love the Lord" with a more soulful feel. This girl is a singer. Just listening you would never guess she's only 13.

"He'll Do It Again" is a tribute to the Crabb Family. The group sang this on its first talent competition and if you can believe it didn't receive any awards that night. I like this tribute to their heritage. And Hope knocks this one out of the park!

Their arrangement of "At the Cross" is probably my favorite track. You cannot beat the harmonies on this beloved hymn.

These girls have an incredible bright future ahead of them. This is an album that they will look back on in 10 years and can be extremely proud of. This is definitely a "must-buy" of 2017. With groups like the Bowling Sisters, the future of gospel music is in good hands. They already have the passion and the calling, and the talent is evident. The good news is this is only The Beginning. 

Songs to Turn Up - "So Smile," "Higher Ground," "Stronger"
Songs to Put on Repeat - "At the Cross," "He Sees What We Don't"
Songs to Give a Second Listen - "He'll Do It Again," "That's What He'll Be"

Song List -
1. "So Smile"
2. "He Sees What We Don't"
3. "Higher Ground"
4. "You Brought the Sunshine"
5. "He'll Do It Again"
6. "Fragile Heart"
7. "Stronger"
8. "I Love the Lord"
9. "Forever"
10. "Nothing's Too Big for My God"
11. "At the Cross"
12. "That's What He'll Be"

Saturday, April 22, 2017

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

It was a big news day on Friday for Southern Gospel with one addition and one departure. Here are news items from all of this week in gospel music -
  • Trey Ivey has resigned from Legacy Five. As a new father, he found it difficult to have the full-time touring schedule. Trey plans to continue to be active in the studio producing, arranging and orchestrating, so the good news is that he will still be involved in the industry. He will remain with Legacy Five until a replacement is found. For those interested in the piano playing position with Legacy Five, contact Scott Fowler via email at
  • Jon Epley joined Greater Vision as a fourth member. He will fill the harmony/ baritone vocals that has traditionally been Gerald Wolfe's part. Gerald will still be traveling with the group, singing some features, playing piano and emceeing. Jon has been with the LeFevre Quartet, the Ball Brothers and the Inspirations.
  • Daywind Records announced the addition of Gospel Music Hall of Fame member, Mark Lowry. Mark Lowry's first project on the label will be out in August.
  • Mark Hoggard of The Harvesters Quartet had open-heart surgery to repair several blockages on Thursday.  Surgery went well, but continue to pray for his recovery. 
  • Pray for Cana's Voice singer Jody McBrayer's in-laws. Diane, his mother-in-law, was having surgery for eye cancer and his father-in-law, Gary, collapsed in the waiting room with a stroke. The eye surgery for Diane went well, but Gary is still in serious condition. Please keep all of them in your prayers.
  • Tracy Stuffle (The Perrys) is still in the hospital after gallbladder surgery. He had a light stroke with some mild seizures. They are optimistic about him being able to go home this weekend. 
  • The second round of voting is now open for subscribers. Go to to vote. 
Anything I've missed?

Friday, April 21, 2017

News from Greater Vision - Jon Epley Added as Fourth Vocalist

There is big news from Greater Vision this morning. Jon Epley will be joining the group as a fourth member. Epley who has sung multiple parts will be coming on to sing the harmony (what has traditionally been Gerald's part). His coming on board will help Gerald stay on the road for many years to come by taking some of the singing load off his plate. He will continue to play, emcee and sing some features.

When I first saw the release I thought maybe Greater Vision was getting a bass singer after all these years. That's NOT the case. The group has always been a trio and will continue to be. I think Jon's baritone voice will be a great fit for the group to keep that traditional Greater Vision sound. Look forward to hearing him with the group!

The full press release is below -

Morristown, TN (April 21, 2017) –Greater Vision will be introducing a new vocalist to their audiences, beginning this week. Jon Epley is joining the trio, and will perform his first concert with the group on Friday, April 21, in Springfield, Missouri.

Jon says, “I have been a fan of Greater Vision for many years. To say that I am overwhelmed and honored to be singing with three of my heroes, Gerald, Rodney, and Chris, would be a huge understatement. I would like to thank these men for this opportunity to sing the music that I love. I look forward to learning so much from them. I sincerely desire to be a blessing, in any way that I can, to the wonderful ministry that Greater Vision has established over the years.”

Gerald Wolfe says, “I’ve known Jon for several years, and am very glad to have him as a part of our group.” Gerald added, “Jon isn’t replacing anybody. No one is leaving the group, and contrary to rumors that might arise… I’m not making plans to retire. Jon is actually coming onboard to help me stay on the road for many more years. Most people who come to our concerts know I was diagnosed with a chronic neck muscle issue (Muscle Tension Dysphonia), a few years ago. I have good days and bad days, but never a day without pain and tension in both sides of my neck. The condition often makes it painfully difficult to breath and sing properly through an entire concert. Jon will be singing what has historically been my part in the harmony with Greater Vision. I will still be singing some features, handling the emceeing, and playing the piano in our concerts. The really good news is, I can confidently say the overall “GV Sound” isn’t going to change, but Jon’s great baritone voice adds a fresh, new texture to the trio’s blend.”

Jon has already been in the recording studio with Greater Vision, and will be heard on their new CD, Still, which will be released by Daywind Records in July. Rodney Griffin said, “I was impressed with Jon’s quick learning curve in the studio, and look forward to traveling with him… and hope he’s a slow bus driver.” Chris Allman added, “Change is always a scary thing, but our experience with Jon in the studio has served as confirmation that he is the right man for this season in our ministry. Looking forward to what the years ahead have to offer!”

Jon Epley isn’t new to Gospel Music, having traveled with his family’s evangelistic team, The Inspirations, The Ball Brothers, and The LeFevre Quartet, before leaving the road one year ago. He and his wife, Tiffany, reside in Johnson City, Tennessee.

Fun Clip Friday - Collingsworth Family

The Collingsworth Family is set to record a live DVD this weekend. They shared a clip of rehearsal last night on Facebook courtesy of Courtney. The event is sold out, but you can still watch a webcast online. Find out more at the Collingsworth Family's website.

Enjoy this short preview for today's Fun Clip Friday!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Joshua 24:15 - Jordan Family Band - CD Review

The Jordan Family Band might be a new name for many gospel fans. This family group consists of husband and wife Joshua and Randa Jordan and their sons, Hutch (17), Alex (12) and Grant (10). Their latest album Joshua 24:15 was my first real introduction to the group. I'd see a few viral Facebook videos and been impressed, but hadn't had a chance to really listen to the group.

While Randa is the main vocalist of the group, Joshua had a hand in writing all 11 songs on the projects with only two co-writes.

The project kicks off with "Our Time to Shine" which I think does a nice job of setting the tone and really saying where the group is now. Judging from this album, I think this project is the one that's going to make a lot of people notice the Jordan Family Band.

Joshua has a nice country voice that is featured on "Better Than I Used to Be" and "I Miss Them All." "Better Than I Used to Be" is a song that really can speak to every Christian regardless of where they are in their walk with Christ. "I Miss Them All" is a song that could easily fit on country radio.

"The Day" is one of the group's singles from this project. It features Randa, and to me is one of the strongest songs on the project. It tells the story of Christ's death and resurrection. Great Easter song! "

One of my favorite songs she sings is "My God Is Faithful." The song really showcases the mountain, folksy flavor in her voice. Songs about God's faithfulness can always serve as the reminder believers need.

"It's a Big Big World" and "Joshua 24:15" highlights Alex Jordan's young talent. "Remember the Ember" features oldest son Hutch. It's a great song with a strong message for a younger singer, but he delivers it well.  I can definitely hear the potential in both boys. Look forward to great things from them as they get older.

This might be your first time hearing about the Jordan Family Band, but it won't be your last. I expect great things to come from this group based on Joshua 24:15.

Song to put on repeat: "Our Time to Shine," "My God Is Faithful"

Songs to turn up: "The Day"

Songs to give a second listen (those songs that don't necessarily stand out on a first listen-through but then become a "repeat" song): "Remember the Ember," "How Much the More"

Song List -

1. "Our Time to Shine"
2. "I've Got You Covered"
3. "Better Than I Used to Be"
4. "The Day"
5. "It's a Big Big World (But I've Got a Big Big God)"
6. "My God Is Faithful"
7. "I Miss Them All"
8. "How Much the More"
9. "Joshua 24:15"
10. "Remember the Ember"
11. "Heart Healer"

Saturday, April 15, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits -

Here are news items from this week in Southern Gospel -
  • Doug Pittman has joined the Down East Boys at tenor. He was most recently with the Dixie Melody Boys. His first concert with the group will be on April 21.
  • Congratulations to Kody and Cayla Erwin on the birth of their daughter, Laney Brooke on Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 3:35 p.m. She was 7 pounds, 11 ounces, and measured 20 1/2 inches long.
  • The Absolutely Gospel Music Awards were held on Tuesday. Here's the full list of winners. You can also view the entire awards show on Facebook.
  • Prayers requested for Tracy Stuffle. He had his gallbladder removed on Friday. With his medical history, there are always risks; however, Tracy came through the surgery well. Please pray for him and Libbi as he recovers.
Anything I've missed?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - About the Cross

It's Friday ... and Good Friday at that. It's the season where we reflect on the sacrifice of Christ, His death and resurrection. With it being that season, let's look at a few songs all about the cross.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Absolutely Gospel Awards 2017

The Absolutely Gospel Music Awards were held last night in Nashville. I always look forward to this awards show every year. It does a great job of highlighting achievements made over the past year and showcasing different groups.

Thanks to Absolutely Gospel for Facebook Live streaming the event. I got to watch most of it last night. Before the full list of winners, here are a few of my thoughts/ observations about the ceremony -

  • I loved The Isaacs' acceptance for their award for Nature’s Symphony in 432 talking about the album and how much it meant to them because of all they walked through in the past couple years. They talked about how it was such a reminder of God's faithfulness and then seeing Sonya up there with her new baby was just icing on the cake!
  • Each of the genre recording of the year awards were exactly as I would have picked. 
  • Loved Karen Peck Gooch getting recognition for her songwriting! Her humility in her speech and how much she appreciated the award was so evident.
  • The Bowling Sisters had one of the performances of the night. And it was apparent the crowd loved it. These girls not only showed their vocal chops, but they had church on stage.
  • Another performance of the night was the Nelons. Not many groups can just get on stage and sing an a cappella hymn like that.
  • Lauren Talley and Riley Harrison Clark were great hosts for the night. And their duet was amazing!
  • It was sweet seeing Amy Zika getting the Susan Unthank Memorial Award.

Here's the full list of Absolutely Gospel Music award winners:

Song of the Year: “Home” – Jason Crabb (written by Gerald Crabb)

Album of the Year: Nature’s Symphony in 432 – The Isaacs (produced by Ben Isaacs)

Pacesetter: Crossroads Music Group

Breakthrough Artist of the Year: The Wilbanks

Male Vocalist of the Year: Riley Harrison Clark (Tribute Quartet)

Female Vocalist of the Year: Chris Freeman (The Freemans)

Male Group of the Year: Ball Brothers

Female Group of the Year: Bowling Sisters

Mixed Group of the Year: Karen Peck & New River

Songwriter of the Year (Artist): Karen Peck Gooch (Karen Peck & New River)

Songwriter of the Year (Professional): Sue C. Smith

Producer of the Year (Artist): Ben Isaacs (The Isaacs)

Producer of the Year (Professional): Cody McVey

Engineer of the Year: Van Atkins

Musician of the Year: Josh Singletary (Tribute Quartet)

Traditional Song of the Year: “Amazing God” – Triumphant Quartet (written by Lee Black, Janice Crow and Sue C. Smith)

Traditional Recording of the Year: Here For You – Tribute (produced by Wayne Haun)

Progressive Song of the Year: “Calling” – Karen Peck & New River (written by Jason Cox, Gerald Crabb and Karen Peck Gooch)

Progressive Recording of the Year: What a Moment – 11th Hour (produced by Jeff Collins)

Country Song of the Year: “Christ My Hope, My Glory” – HIGHROAD with Jason Crabb (written by Sarah Davison and Kenna West)

Country Recording of the Year: Nature’s Symphony in 432 – The Isaacs (produced by Terry Bradshaw and Ben Isaacs)

Special Event Project of the Year: The Hinson Side of Me – Chris Freeman (produced by Darrell Freeman)

Music Video of the Year: “The People In the Line” – The Talleys (directed by Jared Meyers of Meyers Media, LLC)

Fan Favorite Artist of the Year: Karen Peck & New River

Susan Unthank Memorial Award: Amy Marie Zika

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Praisefest Branson 2017 - Recap - Part 2

Friday morning at Praisefest Branson they teased that there would be a surprise that night. You could hear a few guesses and suspicions of what that might be. The groups scheduled to be there that night were Legacy Five, Cana's Voice, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound and the Mark Trammell Quartet.

Here are a few highlights of the first half of the night -

  • "One Holy Lamb" (Legacy Five) - Tenor Josh Feemster was featured on this song. 
  • "Hands of a Carpenter" (Legacy Five) - Scott Fowler told a little bit about the background of this song. It was a last minute edition to their latest album. Trey Ivey arranges all their music and Scott sent him the song the night before to arrange. Scott later told him the final piece of including this song on the project would be for Trey to sing it. So Trey stepped out from behind the piano for this one. 
  • "Oh for a Thousand Tongues" (Cana's Voice) - They said this was the first song they ever sang together at Wayne Haun's house when they were talking about forming the group. Loved hearing them sing this with just the piano.
  • "Jesus Never Fails" (Cana's Voice) - This is one of my favorite songs released in the last year. Love hearing it live!
  • "Blessed Assurance" (Ernie Haase and Signature Sound) - I love the group's unique take on this classic hymn. 
  • "Get Away Jordan" (Ernie Haase and Signature Sound) - This is always such a fun, uptempo song, and it definitely got the entire audience on its feet clapping along. However, Ernie took it down a notch and took a break between the song to talk about the lyrics of the last verse and what it meant to him especially after George Younce passed. I think it's easy for us to get caught up in the fast songs and sometimes lose the meaning, so I loved that he did this!
  • "The King Is Coming" (Mark Trammell Quartet) - Love hearing Mark sing this song! It was their last song of the night.

The Mark Trammell Quartet sang a few songs actually to start the second half. Then, Landon Beene,president of IMC Concerts, came out and said when you had Gerald Wolfe, Ernie Haase, Scott Fowler and Mark Trammell all together, there needed to be a little bit of a Cathedral Reunion segment. Pat Barker was brought on stage to join them for the bass part. Here are some of my favorites that they sang -

  • "Echoes From the Burning Bush"
  • "Master Builder"
  • "Boundless Love"
  • "There Is a Fountain" (a cappella)
  • "We Shall See Jesus" - This was the last song of the night and was probably the moment of the night!
The tease to a surprise was better than expected! So glad we got this mini Cathedral Family Reunion!

Saturday morning was the last session of the weekend. It was a little sad for it all to come to an end. In addition to great music, we also got to hear great preaching from Phil Hoskins. This was my first time to hear him speak in person. I'm thankful that IMC Concerts included Biblical teaching and preaching during the weekend. 

Saturday morning had music from the Erwins, Cana's Voice and Legacy Five. This was my first time to hear the Erwins in person. Jody McBrayer led the congregation in worship to start the final session of the day with "Oh How I Love Jesus" and "In the Garden." 

Here are a few highlights from the morning - 
  • "Greater" (Erwins) - I'm really glad they included this one in their set. It's one of my favorites they sing. 
  • "Clouds" (Erwins) - They talked about how the song came from a verse in Nahum. It's such a great song about how great God is if the clouds are the dust at His feet. Keith does a great job on this song. 
  • "Big Enough" (Cana's Voice) - Loved hearing this one live. TaRanda also took time to explain where the name of Cana's Voice came from. Jesus used the broken and dirty ceremonial pots to perform his first miracle. She talked about the repurposing of those pots for a new purpose. God had a special plan and way to use them, they felt the same way with their ministry and where they were in their lives. 
  • "Great Medley" (Legacy Five) - Love hearing all these old songs together. Their arrangement of these songs is one of my favorite songs from that project. 
  • "Christ Is Still the King" (Legacy Five) - Such a great song to end the weekend on!
If you ever get a chance to attend a Praisefest event, I highly recommend it! Check out IMC Concerts for information on next year's event or one near you!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

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

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

  • Gospel music legend and Hall of Fame member Ben Speer passed away yesterday morning at age 86. His funeral will be held on Tuesday. Thoughts and prayers are with his family during this time. Read below a few tributes to Ben Speer from fellow artists - 

"I'll never forget the first night I sang with the Booth Brothers. We were in Nashville and I was really just filling in (I thought) but when Ben Speer heard our set, he grabbed Michael Booth walking off stage and said "You found your man!" That night after the concert, in a conversation with Ben and Jake Hess, they both said to me "You fit with these boys and your future is bright." He would often say "If I ever put together The Ben Speer Quartet" I'm calling you!" I will always appreciate how he welcomed me into this music industry with kindness and encouragement. He and I served on the NQC board together and I had the privilege of driving him to a few meetings. I cherish the great advice and wonderful stories he would tell. He was a friend to Gospel music and a friend to us all. Ben Speer will be missed." - Jim Brady

I love the Speer Family! Grateful they paved the way for all us singers! Loved Ben! He was a precious soul! I have no words to explain the bitter/sweet feelings of the passing of my friend Ben Speer! I'll Meet You in the Morning! - Libbi Stuffle

Not much can be added to what everyone has posted about Ben Speer and his transition to heaven this morning .I'll just say the Gospel music world has lost a legend . For me I've lost a friend and mentor. He made me a viable piano player in my time on the road with the Speers.I will never forget those times! You were loved , you will be missed And never forgotten! Prayers for his family at this time - Sue Dodge

In my early days of singing, I had 6 men that took an interest in helping mold whatever it is i've become vocally. Jim Hamill, Glen Payne, George Younce, Neil Enloe, Steve Hurst, and Ben Speer. Today I wake up to the news that Mr. Ben is now realistically "seeing the picture" that he so craftfully and artistically painted with music and words. Rest in peace Mr. Ben. - Mark Trammell

Ben Speer was a pioneer. He fought the good fight, and won. Gospel music owes him an amazing debt of gratitude. I was privileged to sit with him at several NQC events, and glean some incredible words of wisdom. He even tried to teach me shape notes. That didn't go very well. I will not pretend that we were as close as he was to so many in the industry, but his family's influence on me goes back to my childhood. He will be dearly missed, until we meet again. - Pat Barker

  • Prayers also go out to Jeff and Dusty Treece (Sunday Drive) in the loss of their father, Frank Treece. He died suddenly of a brain aneurysm on April 3. 
  • The National Quartet Convention announced the addition of Bill Gaither and the Gaither Vocal Band to NQC 2017. The Gaither Vocal Band will be there on Thursday and Thursday afternoon will feature a Gaither Homecoming sing-along. 
Anything I've missed?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - On the Couch with Fouch and Amber Nelon Thompson

Happy Friday! Matt Fouch has a new interview up for his On the Couch With Fouch series. This month's interview is with Amber Nelon Thompson. Watch as she talks a little bit about the Nelons' history, her grandfather's influence and gives some vocal tips!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Praisefest Branson 2017 - Part 1

Praisefest Branson was one of those events I'd always heard about but never been able to experience. This year, I decided to fix that. The event was held at the Mansion Theater over the course of three days with more than 10 different artists. 

As my grandmother and I were driving back to where we stayed Thursday night, we said if the rest of the weekend was like that it would be one of those events we wouldn't forget. It was! I keep trying to pinpoint a favorite session, but they were all great and different because of the artists, comedian or speaker. 

Gerald Wolfe kicked off the first night with a little hymn singing "The Family of God" and "Because He Lives." On Thursday night, the featured artists were the Jim Brady Trio, Greater Vision, Aaron Wilburn and Triumphant Quartet.

Here are some highlights of Thursday night (in order of the night) - 
  • "Greatest of All Miracles" (Jim Brady Trio) - I love to hear Melissa Brady sing this Squire Parsons song. She talked about her dad and what a great testimony he had of completely turning his life around for Christ.
  • "I Know a Man Who Can" (Greater Vision) - No surprise that Greater Vision had some requests for this song. In my opinion, no one does it better than Chris.
  • "Hallelujah" (Triumphant Quartet) - The group sang its own version of this song that was included on their latest Christmas project. If you see them anytime soon, make sure to request this song. Each member takes a verse and it walks through the life of Christ to the melody of the popular Leonard Cohen song. 
  • "Side by Side" (Aaron Wilburn) - This definitely wasn't the most spiritual moment of the night, but Aaron Wilburn sang the song that George Younce sang during one of his public appearances. The audience definitely enjoyed it!
  • "He Is" (Triumphant Quartet) - The quartet ended their second set with this song. I love their version of this song that is such a reminder of God's power and presence throughout all of scripture.
  • "That Sounds Like Home to Me" (Jim Brady Trio) - Loved hearing the trio on this Goodman classic.
  • "My Name is Lazarus" (Greater Vision) - Greater Vision ended the night with probably Rodney Griffin's most-loved song.
Friday morning started the same way as Thursday night with Gerald leading the audience in a couple of hymns. 

Here are highlights of Friday morning - 
  • "Hallelujah Square" (Greater Vision) - I think this was another request from the night before. Always enjoy hearing Chris on this one!
  • "I'll Carry Him" (Greater Vision) - I don't get to hear this song often enough live! I forget what a powerful song it is. So glad they chose to include this in the morning set!
  • "I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked" (TaRanda Greene) - I was really glad that she did a few solo songs that morning. I don't remember ever getting to hear her sing this one live. It's such an incredibly powerful song!
  • "It Is Well With My Soul" (TaRanda Greene) - Her version of this hymn is simply incredible! Probably the moment of the morning for me! (Funny side note: Aaron Wilburn was right after this, he took the stage and asked, "How do I even begin to follow that?" )
  • "Lay Up Treasures in Heaven" (Mark Trammell Quartet) - They sang several fast songs from their latest project, but this one is probably my favorite.
  • "My Faith Still Holds" (Mark Trammell Quartet) - Love, love, love this song from their Full Sail project. It's always a highlight to hear them sing this in person. 
  • "Too Much to Gain to Lose" (Mark Trammell Quartet) - Love hearing Mark featured on this song!
Will post the second session on Friday and Saturday morning later this week!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - April 1

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

  • Audrey Woods, mother of Tim Woods and grandmother of Jim Hutson (The Woodmen Quartet) and Bryan Hutson (formerly of The Kingsmen and Soul'd Out Quartet) passed away at her home on Sunday, March 26. 
  • The Gaither Homecoming Magazine is now rebranded as Back Home. Jason Crabb is featured on the inaugural cover.
  • Congratulations to Jimmy and Sonya (Isaacs) Yeary who welcomed a baby girl on Friday. Evya Marcella Yeary was 8 lb., 6 oz. and 21 in. She is welcomed by big brothers Ayden and Gatlyn. 
Anything I've missed?

Friday, March 31, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - Isaacs at Spring Break NQC

The National Quartet Convention Spring Break events started last weekend in Louisville and is going on again this weekend in Sevierville. Here's a clip from the Isaacs last weekend. With Sonya Isaacs Yeary's due date so soon, Judy Martin Hess was filling in for Sonya. Check out the clip below for today's Fun Clip Friday.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sweet, Sweet Spirit - Diapers 2 Depends - Mark Lowry and Cana's Voice

A few months ago, I saw an announcement about the Diapers 2 Depends tour coming to my home church. Needless to say, I was excited. I was looking forward to get to see Mark Lowry before he "retreaded" and hear Cana's Voice in concert. To top it off, it would be at my home church, which doesn't host many gospel concerts. The evening did not disappoint! From the first notes of the piano  to the last words of "Mary, Did You Know?" the entire night was just incredible.

Pianist Stan Whitmire opened the night with several songs on the piano. Then, Cana's Voice (Doug Anderson, TaRanda Greene Beene and Jody McBrayer) took the stage with "Heavenly Father" featuring TaRanda. I saw this trio at a hymn sing before they were officially Cana's Voice, but this was my first time to hear their songs from This Changes Everything (which if you don't have a copy, you should). Then, Doug was featured on "Love Anyway" and Jody on "All My Reasons Are You." Then, they sang "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," which is guaranteed to give you chills. Each of these artists are so amazing individually, but when they come together it's just incredible. Their harmonies and blend are unmatched. They ended their first set with "Jesus Never Fails" (my favorite) and "I Give It To You."

The video introduced Mark Lowry and then he came out from the back of the auditorium singing "What a Wonderful World." And in true Mark fashion, he danced with a few of the audience members during the song -- in a Baptist church, gasp! Of course then he joked about the different denominations and getting old. He also told the story of his motorcycle wreck, which I hadn't heard him ever tell in person. Only Mark Lowry could make a story about breaking your leg from a motorcycle accident so funny! Mark ended the first half with "How We Love." I think sometimes we forget what a great singer he is along with comedian.

For the second half, both Mark and Cana's Voice were on stage the full time. It was good to hear them all together. Mark put together the male quartet of him, Stan, Jody and Doug singing "He Touched Me." It was a great moment of the night!

Then, at one point Mark wandered again out into the audience. "They have hymnals!" he exclaimed. Then he encouraged everyone to pull out a hymnal, and he called out a number. The hymn was "Wonderful Grace of Jesus." We had a good congregational hymn sing with "Victory in Jesus" after that and then "I Know Whom I Have Believed." You could tell it was completely unplanned but the audience was loving the chance to sing these familiar songs along with the artists. Then, an audience member asked for "Sweet Sweet Spirit." And you could feel the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit in the church. It was such a beautiful moment.

Jody shared a little bit about what that hymn meant to him and how it reminded him of the church he grew up in. He talked about his dad who was a Baptist minister and the influence he had on his life. He said that they wanted the audience to be reminded that God loves you no matter what is going on in your life or what you are facing. Cana's Voice sang "Big Enough" and then the night closed with them joining Mark Lowry on "Mary, Did You Know."

There are still a couple of dates left with this tour. If it's in your area, don't miss it! It was a night I had been looking forward to for a while, and it did not disappoint!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - March 26

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

  • The Top 10 Singing News Fan Awards nominations were announced this week. See the full list here
  • Eli Fortner has been hospitalized after having issues with his kidney. He had a kidney transplant with his father's donated kidney almost 10 years ago. He is now in need of a new kidney. Please keep him and the family in your prayers as they look for a new donor.
  • Keep the family of Hovie Walker in your prayers. He suffered a massive heart attack on Sunday and passed away on March 24. Walker sang bass with The Singing Americans, The Thrasher Brothers and others.
  • The Adoration Agency announced the signing of Gaither Homecoming artist Gene McDonald.
  • Prayers go out to Sue Dodge and her family with the passing of her mother this week. Ethelene Chenault passed away on March 20 and services were held on March 23.
  • Michael Combs is returning to full-time ministry in April after undergoing a successful kidney transplant earlier this year.
Anything I've missed?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - Gold City Quartet with Tim Riley

Happy Friday to all! Here's a great video from a recent Gold City Reunion concert featuring the one and only Tim Riley.  Enjoy this clip (courtesy of Gold City's Facebook page) as today's Fun Clip Friday.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Resurrection - Joseph Habedank - CD Review

Joseph Habedank's latest solo CD released from Daywind Records last Friday. Resurrection is a collection of 10 songs all co-written by Joseph. Joseph's first solo release Welcome Home was one of the best projects of 2014, so it set the bar high for his second release.

The project starts out with a dramatic intro that sounds like it came straight out of a movie with the song "Here He Comes." The song goes through Jesus' life and then ultimately His coming again. This is actually his first single. 

"Jailbreak" takes a different style with a heavy guitar sound. It's a fun uptempo take on the story of Paul and Silas in jail when an earthquake occurs.

One of my favorite songs on the project is "Just When You Thought." This great ballad shows the tender side of Joesph's vocals. You can hear the vulnerability in his voice. Another great ballad is "I Love You (From an Old Rugged Cross)." It offers a unique perspective on Christ's death from his point of view.

"I Believe in the Resurrection" has that soulful, gospel feel. The background singers give it a bit of a choir feel. "Say the Name" is a great ballad that features the background singing of Joseph's wife Lindsay. It reminds you of how precious and powerful the name of Jesus is.

You can't help but tap your foot along to "Devil Can't Dance." It's a great uptempo song co-written by Jimmy Yeary. It's a fun song but also a reminder that ultimately the devil will be powerless against us as children of God.

The project ends with "Long Live the King" reemphasizing the theme of the album.

It's already been a strong year for solo releases, and Joseph's project just adds to that. Welcome Home set the bar high, but Joseph has raised the bar once again with Resurrection. I predict it's going to be one of the best of 2017. He shows that a solo album can still have a lot of diversity and really something for everyone. Every song really fits the theme of the album, but everyone offers a different musical journey to get there.

It's a must buy album for any gospel music fan!

Song to put on repeat: "Just When You Thought"

Songs to turn up: "Jailbreak," "Devil Can't Dance," "Dead Things"

Songs to give a second listen (those songs that don't necessarily stand out on a first listen-through but then become a "repeat" song): "I Love You (From an Old Rugged Cross)" and "Say the Name"

Song List -
1. "Here He Comes"
2. "Jailbreak"
3. "Just When You Thought"
4. "I Believe in the Resurrection"
5. "Middle Man"
6. "Devil Can't Dance"
7. "I Love You (From an Old Rugged Cross)"
8. "Dead Things"
9. "Say the Name"
10. "Long Live the King"