Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Come Thirsty - Jay Stone Singers - CD Review

The Jay Stone Singers have a 41-year heritage in Southern Gospel music. The second and third generations of the family are now carrying on the name and legacy with Jay's daughter Sharona, her husband Bobby and their children, Stone and Emma.

Come Thirsty is the latest release from the group. It's actually their third album with Crossroads Music.

Emma Carter kicks off the album with "Just Receive It." It's a great country sounding song that really shows off her young talent.

Sharona is featured on "Your Will Another Way." It's a beautiful song about surrendering to God's will and purpose even when it may not be clear to us. She has a strong, power voice that lends itself to this song beautifully.

"I'm Saved," which was written by Karen Peck Gooch, Jason Cox and Sue Smith and previously recorded by Karen Peck & New River switches back to the more country-flavor. Bobby takes the lead on this song.

"Each Time" takes a more progressive turn. The song was written by Stone Carter and Matthew Lawson. Stone is featured on this song. I knew that Stone has been recognized for his drum skills in the industry, but he is also a great vocalist.

Sharona steps up again with "I Won't Turn Back," which is Karen Peck Gooch's second cut on the project. She also sings the ballad "That Great Tomorrow," a definite highlight of the project. There's something about Sharona's voice that really makes me want to hear her sing something from a Broadway musical. She's definitely got an incredible vocal talent!

Stone is not only the group member with a writing credit. "That's Where Miracle Begin" was written by Bobby Carter and John Mathis. He's also featured on the song. The song wraps up the project going back to the more country sound.

If you were like me and weren't that familiar with the Jay Stone Singers, pick up Come Thirsty today and give them a listen!

Song to Put on Repeat - "That Great Tomorrow"
Song to Turn Up - "I Won't Turn Back"
Song That Will Take You to Church - "Cornerstone/ I Go to the Rock"

Song List -
1. "Just Receive It"
2. "Your Will Another Way"
3. "I'm Saved"
4. "Each Time"
5. "I Won't Turn Back"
6. "Come Thirsty"
7. "Kept by the Promise Keeper"
8. "Cornerstone/ I Go to the Rock"
9. "That Great Tomorrow"
10. "That's Where Miracles Begin"

Saturday, November 18, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbit - November 18

Here are some news and tidbit items from this week in Southern Gospel music -
  • Gus Gaches will host the very first Song Garden Summit to be held October 26-28, 2018 at Ridgecrest Conference Center just east of Asheville, North Carolina. This three-day conference event will feature music and unique activities with seven Song Garden artists. In addition to concert times, attendees will enjoy contests, games, hiking, fellowship and laughter along with an intimate time around the campfire each night. “We are very excited about the level of enthusiasm we have received from the artists, sponsors and attendees for this unique weekend event,” said Gus Gaches. “We look forward to providing a weekend where folks can relax and renew, make memories that will linger throughout the year and leave with lasting friendships.” The conference event pass includes admission to five sessions, two nights lodging and four meals on campus. For more information or to register for the conference event please visit:
  • Paul's Journey announced a new tenor singer, Ron Higgins. Ron has been singing gospel music for 29 years previously singing professionally with the Pacesetters Quartet.
  • The Troy Burns Family have reached an exclusive booking agreement with The April Potter Agency. Troy Burns is a 2017 inductee in the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame. The Troy Burns Family consists of Troy Burns, his wife, Tammy, their baritone, Shane Mathis, and pianist, Jacob Kluttz.
  • Congratulations to Chapel Valley’s CEO Shane Roark and his fiancĂ©, Jacqueline Ratliff on their upcoming wedding on December 8, 2017. Shane and Jacqueline welcome your prayers as they begin their life together as husband and wife.
Anything I've missed?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Concert Recap - Brian Free & Assurance

A few weeks ago I got the chance to see Brian Free & Assurance in Arkansas. It had been over a year since I had gotten to see this group in person and this was coming right off the release of their new album, Beyond Amazed. Here are some highlights of the night -

  • They had a lot of requests for fan favorite songs, but they were able to get in two new songs and they probably were the two I most wanted to hear live - "He Can Take It" and "Sometimes You Need a Song." Glad that they are already staging a few new ones!
  • "For God So Loved" - This is one of the most powerful songs. I love hearing this one live!
  • "Say Amen" - This is another powerful song. I love when the audience will chime in and say "Amen" as the song progresses. This is becoming one of their staple songs.
  • "He Will Carry You" - I've heard this song on the radio so much lately. It's a beautiful reminder that when tough times come He will be there to carry us.
  • "You Can Be the Difference" - This song is a fun upbeat song, but also very challenging. It's another great one to hear live.
  • It's always good to hear those fan favorite songs. It wouldn't be a Brian Free & Assurance concert without "Long As I Got King Jesus." They also sang "I Keep Looking Up," "Praying Man" and "If It Takes a Valley," three more of my personal favorites.

Check out Brian Free & Assurance's schedule to see when they are near you!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - November 11

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

  • The Triumphant Quartet will now be booked by the Harper Agency.
  • The Dixie Melody Boys also announced a new booking agent with the Beckie Simmons Agency. 
  • The Talleys, Tribute Quartet, Kenna West, Highroad and pianists Jeff Stice and Sandra Payton as well as other gospel artists will start the holiday season with “Bells, Boots, and BBQ,” a dinner and music event benefiting The Veranda. The event will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at The Depot Square in Gallatin, Tenn. A silent auction begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and concert at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $40 per person, and tables of eight are available for $300. Seating is limited to 300, and reservations are requested before November 24. Reservations may also be made online at

Anything I've missed?

Friday, November 10, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - CMA Awards

In case you missed the CMA Awards that aired this week, you missed an incredible version of "Softly and Tenderly" that has been circulating now online. Carrie Underwood sang the hymn during the "In Memoriam" tribute. And I've also heard that gospel music's own Gordon Mote did the arrangement and played during the performance. I've yet to see anything from him post that, so if anyone knows for sure, be sure to comment!

Watch the video below for today's Fun Clip Friday!

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Last Big Thing - Kingdom Heirs - CD Review

The Kingdom Heirs released The Last Big Thing at the end of September during the National Quartet Convention. That week, I got to hear a few of the songs live from main stage. Of course, the big hit of the week was the title song, "The Last Big Thing." I have to say it's the standout track of the album.

The project starts with a standard Kingdom Heirs style song, "Plenty of Singing." Then Jeff Chapman really gets the album going with "Victory." If this song doesn't get your toe tapping along, nothing will. I think one will be a big hit for them. I can see this one going over really well live.

This is the first mainline release with baritone Loren Harris. He is featured on "Telling the Story." This song really showcases Loren's voice. It's a great song that goes through many of the miracles of the Bible. It talks about these stories about the power of God never get old and can serve as reminders when we go through trials.

"Heroes of Faith" is another great uptempo song featuring Jerry Martin. He also sings the country-flavored "Just Another Mile." Fun fact - this is actually Dianne Wilkinson's 1,000th song!

Jeff Chapman gets a feature again with "I Wanna Do More." He shows why he's consistently one of the best in the business. I love the harmonica on this song. The style is great with Jeff's voice. Another standout from NQC was Jeff singing "Heaven Just Got Sweeter for You." On a project with a lot of uptempo songs, this ballad definitely stands out. It's a a great tender song about the promise of Heaven and letting our loved ones go.

The project wraps up with the classic sounding "I'll Trust You With My Tomorrow." The style is completely different than any other song on the project. It has a timeless sound, and the message of the song is definitely just that!

Song to turn up - "Victory" and "The Last Big Thing"
Song to grab a tissue for - "Heaven Just Got Sweeter for You"
Song to put on repeat - "I'll Trust With My Tomorrow"

Song List -

1. "Plenty of Singing"
2. "Victory"
3. "Telling the Story"
4. "The Last Big Thing"
5. "Heroes of Faith"
6. "I Wanna Do More"
7. "Heaven Was Counting to Three"
8. "Heaven Just Got Sweeter For You"
9. "Just Another Mile"
10. "Live It Up"
11. "I'll Trust You With My Tomorrow"

Saturday, November 4, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - November 4

Excuse the blog hiatus this week. Here are some news items from this week in Southern Gospel -

  • Thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Naomi Sego. The gospel legend passed away on Friday.
  • Christ Church Choir founder and long time director, Landy Gardner passed away on October 28, 2017.
Anything I've missed?

Saturday, October 28, 2017

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

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

  • Congratulations to Morgan Easter and Landan Smith who got married on Wednesday, Oct. 25 in Lincolnton, Georgia!
  • Former National Quartet Convention (NQC) board member and Director Don Shumate passed away on October 24, 2017 at age 88. The funeral service was held Friday, October 27, 2017 in Lebanon Tennessee.
  • Karen Peck & New River was featured on Joni's Table Talk on Daystar on Thursday.
  • Prayers requested for Down East Boys bass singer Rick Walls. He was admitted to the hospital in Monterey, California after experiencing severe abdominal pain. After evaluation by doctors he was admitted for a minimum of three days for further testing. 
  • Tracy Stuffle is home after being in the hospital this week. Pray as he continues to recover from his Watchman procedure and heart cath and that his AFib will be controlled. Tracy will have to have a pacemaker later on. 
Anything I've missed?

Saturday, October 21, 2017

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

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

  • The Dove Awards were held on Tuesday in Nashville. They will air on Sunday night on TBN. Here are a few winners - 
    • Southern Gospel Artist of the Year - Gaither Vocal Band
    • Southern Gospel Recorded Song of the Year - "Better Together" by Gaither Vocal Band
    • Bluegrass/Country/Roots Recorded Song of the Year - "When Grandpa Sang Amazing Grace" by the Nelons (writers Wayne Haun and Barbara Huffman)
    • Southern Gospel Album of the Year - Resurrection by Joseph Habedank
    • Bluegrass/Country/ Roots Album of the Year - Sing It Now by Reba McEntire
  • Congratulations to Jeremy and Jennifer Peace (of the LeFevre Quartet) on the addition of their baby girl Leah Rebekah. Mother and baby are doing well. Leah was born on Oct. 17 and weighed 7 lbs. and 1 oz. and was 20 inches long. She joins big sisters Abigail, Elizabeth and Rachel.
  • Prayers go out to Arthur Rice (of the Kingdom Heirs) and his family in the death of his sister, Juanita. Services will be held on Sunday afternoon in Ashville, North Carolina.
  • Daywind Records announced the launch of Daywind Radio Station and the Daywind Radio App. Daywind Radio will play Southern Gospel music 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Gaither Music Group and UP TV have announced a joint partnership this fall with special programming of content from the award-winning Gaither HOMECOMING brand scheduled to air on the network and UP Faith & Family, a streaming service.
Anything I've missed?

Friday, October 20, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - Dove Awards

The Dove Awards were held this week in Nashville. They will air on TBN Sunday night. Several gospel artists performed on the show and the pre-telecast show including Tribute Quartet, Joseph Habedank (with Reba McEntire) and the Gaither Vocal Band.

For today's Fun Clip Friday, here's a clip from last year's awards with the Gospel Music Hymn Sing segment. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Beyond Amazed - Brian Free & Assurance - CD Review

Brian Free & Assurance released its latest CD Beyond Amazed the last week of September. The quartet turned trio has become known and loved for its unique, progressive sound.

Brian Free is known for picking top-notch songs and this project is no exception. This collection of songs is one of the strongest to be released this year. The album credits contain a who's who of songwriters.

The project kicks off with "Anything Is Possible." It has the same sound we've come to love from this group. It's not the same song that was recorded on the group's Never Walk Alone project.

Brian takes the lead on "He Can Take It," which is the current single. It's a great reminder of the power of God. All our fears, doubts, questions, troubles - He can take it. Not only that but He can take whatever we have, take it and heal it. It's a powerful reminder how God can use whatever we might be going through for His glory.

Mike Rogers steps up to mic on the title track as well as "The Voice of Jesus." The latter is definitely more on the progressive end. It's a great uptempo number that reminds us to simply listen to the voice of Jesus. No matter what the world is saying or how tough the situation we are facing is, we can listen to Him.

"Leave With Nothing Left" is one of the slower songs on the album. It's an inspiration to really make the most of the time we have here on earth. Bill turns in a powerful performance on this song.

The lyrics of "Sometimes You Need a Song" will grab your attention. It's one you'll find yourself repeating to allow the truths of the song to sink in. Sometimes music can speak to us in ways that a sermon or other things can't.

"At the Cross" is another one of those songs that just has the Brian Free and Assurance sound. Brian takes the lead on this one that might not be what listeners expect from the title. Brian also has the ballad, "The End of Grace." It's the type of song that Brian just shines on.

"Unheard" is the closer of the album. It's one that you should not miss. When we can't even find the words, there's not a prayer unheard. Also, I never realized how similar Mike and Bill sound until this song.

It's impossible to find a song that is not going to speak to you on this project. Beyond Amazed is one of the projects you definitely need to add to your collection.

Songs to Turn Up - "Anything Is Possible" and "At the Cross"
Song to Put on Repeat - "He Can Take It"
Song to Give a Second Listen - "Sometimes You Need a Song" and "Unheard"

Song List -
1. "Anything Is Possible"
2. "He Can Take It"
3. "Beyond Amazed"
4. "Leave With Nothing Left"
5. "The Voice of Jesus"
6. "Everything He Forgot"
7. "At the Cross"
8. "Sometimes You Need a Song"
9. "The End of Grace"
10. "Unheard"

Saturday, October 14, 2017

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

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

  • Joseph Habedank will be performing at the Dove Award with Reba McEntire. The awards will be held on Tuesday in Nashville and air on TBN on Sunday night, Oct. 22. 
  • Paul's Journey welcomes Keith Gillam as its lead singer. Keith has been singing for more than 25 years. He previously sang with the Toney Brothers Quartet and the Harmony Quartet.
  • New Day Records has added the LeFevre Quartet to its roster of artists. The quartet's newest project is slated for a Spring 2018 release.
  • Johnny Minick and the Stewart Brothers have reached an agreement with Spring Hill Music Group, a subsidiary label of Gaither Music Group. Their release is scheduled for January 2018.
  • The LifeFM Network has been selected to receive the Southern Gospel Radio Impact Award from the Gospel Music Association at the Dove Awards on Tuesday.
Anything I've missed?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - Gospel Singing Jubilee

At NQC, I got to attend the afternoon showcase that was a tribute to the Gospel Singing Jubilee. It was great to see a lot of the old footage they showed that day. As someone who didn't get to watch the show, I enjoyed seeing and hearing how much it meant to so many artists as fans growing up or how it helped them as artists.

So for today's Fun Clip Friday, we're pulling from the archives to this clip from YouTube of The Gospel Singing Jubilee. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What's Not to Love - Mark Lowry - CD Review

Mark Lowry released his most solo CD in August. This is Mark's second solo release with Daywind Records. The project features five songs that Mark co-wrote. The majority of the songs are from the pens of Reba Rambo-McGuire and Dony McGuire.

I think sometimes we think about comedian Mark Lowry but forget about what an incredible voice he has. This CD reminds us 

"Why Don't We Sit and Talk" opens the album. This song has a great soulful feel. It's a fun song and really speeds up and takes you for a ride at the end.

The Gaither Vocal Band joins Mark on "What's Not to Love." The song is second on the album and then reprises as the last song.

"Love Is the Golden Rule" is a great song. Interestingly enough Michael English recorded the same song on his solo project (it's also the title cut). The song paints such an accurate picture of where we are in the world today. It's a song that everyone needs to be reminded of. "No Room for Hate" is the next song and really follows that same idea. Both were co-written by Chip Davis, who had four cuts on the project.

"What if He Meant What He Said" is one of those songs we all need to just sit and ponder on. It's the type of song that really challenges all of us as Christians. We all know the words of Jesus, but do we really consider that He meant what He said?

"Mama Prayed" is a sweet tribute to Mark's mother. I'm sure most of us have mothers or women in our lives that this song will make us think of.

"Feels Like I'm Already There" is stylistically different from most of the other songs. It has a beautiful and heartfelt message. It's another one from the McGuires along with Jimmy Yeary. When we feel at our end, it's His power we can rely on.

I was familiar with the Dunaways' version of "Didn't I Walk on the Water." I've always been a fan of this song and I love Mark's version of this song.

"Only Jesus" reminds me of the "Untitled Hymn" style wise. This is one of my favorite songs on the project. It's a reminder that He is enough, only Jesus can truly satisfy and be what we need. 

Song to Turn Up - "What's Not to Love"
Songs to Give a Second Listen - "What if He Meant What He Said" and "Only Jesus"
Song That Will Take You to Church - "Didn't I Walk on the Water"

Song List -
1. "Why Don't We Sit and Talk"
2. "What's Not to Love"
3. "I Know When I'm Hearing From Home"
4. "Love Is the Golden Rule"
5. "No Room for Hate"
6. "What if He Meant What He Said"
7. "So You Will Know How to Pray"
8. "Mama Prayed"
9. "Feels Like I'm Already There"
10. "Didn't I Walk on the Water"
11. "Only Jesus"
12. "What's Not to Love?" (Reprise)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

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

Since I was out at NQC last week, I'm catching up on news this week. Here all news items and tidbits in Southern Gospel music -

  • The Singing News Fan Awards were held last week at NQC. There were a few changes in the typical awards with favorite soloist going to Joseph Habedank and favorite tenor going to Chris Allman. Here's a full list of winners. 
  • Les Beasley was honored last Friday at NQC for his work with the Gospel Singing Jubilee
  • Southern Gospel promoter Norm Basden, of Altoona, Alabama, passed away this week. Visitation for will be held Monday with the funeral services on Tuesday.
  • Triumphant Quartet celebrated its 15th anniversary last week with a special appearance by Louise Mandrell who helped the group in its beginning stages.
  • The latest "On the Couch With Fouch" episode features Matt Fouch interviewing Tribute Quartet bass singer Anthony Davis. Watch it here.
Anything I've missed?

Friday, October 6, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - NQC

Excuse the lack of posts this week, I'm still recovering a bit from NQC last week. So in honor of that, here are two clips of NQC from last week. The reunions the week features were some of my favorite sets. Here's a look at the Gold City reunion and the Perrys reunion. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Saturday Night - National Quartet Convention

Well, NQC 2017 has now come to an end. Since I first discovered gospel music as a teenager, I heard about the National Quartet Convention and how it was a "must" event for gospel music fans. It's been a "bucket list" item for a while for me, and this week I got to check it off. It's truly been an incredible week. I've gotten to attend more than 42 hours of concerts during this week (and I didn't even go to everything!).

This morning's chapel was a hymn sing hosted by Gerald Wolfe and Dr. Tim Hill speaking. It was one of the most precious times of worship I've ever been a part of. The message was one of the best I've ever heard. This afternoon, we got to see a Dixie Melody Boys reunion and a tribute to the television show The Gospel Singing Jubilee.

Here's a look at highlights and commentary from tonight -

  • The reunions and tributes were my favorite sets of the night. The Gold City reunion featured Jay Parrack, Mark Trammell, Jonathan Wilburn and the one and only Tim Riley. The Perrys reunion went through the decades starting with the original Perry siblings - Libbi, Debra and Randy. They sang clips of all their hits through the decades. Then, the Nelons did a sweet tribute to Rex Nelon. They had Jason's dad, Dan Clark, singing bass for them. They all lived up to the hype!
  • Tribute and the Isaacs had the longer sets tonight. Tribute got to sing a lot from Here For You. Sonya (who hosted along with Scotty Inman tonight) got to give part of her testimony before singing "I Love You More."
  • The finale of the night featured #1 songs from eight different groups. Well, except for the Kingdom Heirs who were supposed to sing "Joys of Heaven" but there was a track issue. They ended up having Gerald Wolfe come up and play piano for them on "I Know He Heard My Prayer." This ended up being such a great moment!

Key Performances -

  • "I'd Rather Have Jesus" - The Blackwood Brothers featuring Michael Helwig
  • "Scars in the Hands of Jesus" - Diplomats
  • "When He Calls I'll Fly Away" - Gold City Reunion
  • "Every Cry Is Heard" - Jim Brady Trio
  • "Jesus Saves" - Tribute Quartet
  • "I Wish I Could Have Been There" - The Perrys Reunion
  • "Just When You Thought" - Joseph Habedank
  • "Damascus Road" - Kingdom Heirs
  • "He Is Mine and I Am His" - The Hoppers
  • "I Love You More" - The Isaacs
  • "It's Almost Over" - The Mark Trammell Quartet
  • "Oh, For a Thousand Tongues" - The Nelons
  • "Then Came The Morning" - Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
  • "Til the Storm Passes By" - Greater Vision

National Quartet Convention - Friday Night

Tonight was my favorite night overall. Every group pressed through it being Friday night of NQC and put together amazing sets. There are a lot of highlights and standout peroformances, so here we go -

  • The past two nights have been more quartet centric. Tonight it was more about family groups with the majority of the groups being mixed groups. But even with the quartets you had some family connections.
  • The Erwins had one of the strongest sets of the night close to the beginning of the night. They brought Joseph Habedank up to join them for a sing since they are doing some tour dates together now. They also paid a sweet tribute to Vestal Goodman with "What a Lovely Name."
  • We got to hear several new songs again tonight with Gold City singing "If Church Pews Could Shout" and Jeff and Sheri Easter singing several from their new project including Sheri featured on "Wayfaring Stranger" and Morgan on "'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus," loved both of these old/new songs. I'd also never heard Ricky Braddy of Karen Peck & New River sing "I Bowed on My Knees and Cry Holy," but he did an outstanding job on that song!
  • The Browders told the story of a woman who had been given a grim diagnosis listening to the song "Put It Into God's Hands." The song became an anthem for her and she called the Matthew Browder after a followup appointment. The Browders played the voicemail they received saying that all the tests were now completely clear. It was a powerful moment! They then had some help on the chorus of the song from Riley Harrison Clark, Lauren Talley and John Darin Rowsey.
  • The Whisnants singing "New Day Dawning" on main stage never fails to disappoint. They were joined by Suzanne Taylor Hise (one of the hosts for the evening) and several members of Second Half Quartet with Rodney Griffin showing off his dance moves around the stage.
  • It's too hard to crown a best set of the night. 
Key Performances

  • "Heaven in the House" - The Littles
  • "We'll Understand It Better By and By" - Dixie Echoes
  • "I Can Through Christ" - Erwins with Joseph Habedank
  • "I Will Stand" - Gold City
  • "I've Won" - The McKameys
  • "Cost of the Cross" - Kingsmen
  • "I'm Trusting the Blood" - The Whisnants
  • "Put It Into God's Hands" - The Browders
  • "Going Home" - Second-Half Quartet
  • "Wayfaring Stranger" - Jeff and Sheri Easter
  • "Jesus Only Jesus" - The Rick Webb Family
  • "Jesus Changed Everything" - Ernie Haase and Signature Sound
  • "Four Days Late" - Karen Peck & New River
  • "The Cross Is All the Proof I Need" - Triumphant Quartet
  • "This Is My Father's World" (a cappella) - Collingsworth Family

Friday, September 29, 2017

National Quartet Convention - Thursday Night

Day four of the National Quartet Convention is in the books. I attended the afternoon showcase of Aaron Wilburn and the Gaither Homecoming sing-along. I have to say that the two-hour Homecoming sing has been my favorite part thus far of convention. I've never had an experience quite like that one. When I've been to Homecoming concerts in the past, there have never been that many artists on stage at one time.

So for the evening concert, here are highlights -

  • Tonight was a sell out. Of course, the Gaither Vocal Band was the closer tonight. They had an extended set as well as the Hoppers.
  • The reminder of Heaven was a major theme tonight. Jim Brady shared of his dad's passing and the song that came out of that. Mike LeFevre said goodbye to his mom only a few weeks ago and shared about her passing and then they sang a tribute to her.
  • Patriotism was another theme of the night as it has been all week. The Nelons sang several from their recent Americana project. Selah actually joined the Nelons during their set. Of course, Legacy Five sang and played a couple as well. 
  • Bill Gaither came up during the Hoppers' set talking about the new album he just worked on with them. Mark Trammell paid a touching tribute to Gaither before singing his song "The King Is Coming."
  • The Gaither Vocal Band set was great tonight and gave us something different from what we had been hearing this week. Mark Trammell Quartet, the Hoppers and Tribute Quartet also had some of my favorite sets of the night.

Key Performances -

  • "I'll Worship You Again" - The Taylors
  • "To Say Goodbye" - LeFevre Quartet
  • "When Grandpa Sang Amazing Grace" - The Nelons
  • "Hallelujah, Praise the Lamb" - The Talleys
  • "It Is Well" (a cappella) - The Isaacs
  • "The King Is Coming" - Mark Trammell Quartet
  • "Farewell, But Not Forever" - Jim Brady Trio
  • "What a Meeting in the Air" - Tribute Quartet
  • "Be An Overcoming" - The Hoppers
  • "Facts Are Facts" - The Booth Brothers
  • "'Til the Storm Passes By" - Gaither Vocal Band
  • "It Is Finished" - Gaither Vocal Band

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

National Quartet Convention - Wednesday Night

We're more than half way over with the 2017 National Quartet Convention. Only three nights left! Wednesday was another night full of great music. And everything seemed to run a little bit ahead of schedule.

Here's a look at highlights and commentary from the night -

  • It was a night for quartets. Kingdom Heirs, Second Half Quartet and Triumphant were all featured artists having a longer (30ish minutes) set. It's a toss up with Second Half and Triumphant for the best set of the night. With Second Half, they took the time to tell a little bit about how the group came to be. It's good to hear just the voices the the piano and bass guitar. Triumphant sang a few songs from Thankful including the title song and their two-time #1, "Chain Breaker." Eric got to share a little bit about how much the song "Chain Breaker" is changing lives.
  • Specials guests were a plenty tonight. Karen Peck & New River's set featured the Wilmington Celebration Choir. Jeff Easter in true Jeff Easter fashion was kind enough to share the stage with Michael Combs and Eli Fortner both of whom have undergone transplant surgery this year.
  • For those who left before the power half-hour, they missed some incredible young talent. The Chitans was the showcase winner. The group is five young siblings. 
  • Layke Jones and Morgan Easter were the hosts for the night. It's been so good to see the younger generation of Southern Gospel artists showcased in this way this week. 
  • There were a number of debuts tonight with new songs and new featured singers. Gold City debuted its new single "I Will Stand." Jason Crabb also sang another new one his dad wrote, "God Works in Mysterious Ways." Kingdom Heirs also sang a few new ones with "Heaven Will Be Sweeter" being a highlight of the night. I think this was the Wilmington Choir's first trip to the mainstage of NQC. Also, the Perrys featured Jared Stuffle for the first time on main stage. 

Key Performances
  • "I Will Stand" - Gold City
  • "What a Day That Will Be" - The Guardians
  • "Heaven Just Got Sweeter" - Kingdom Heirs
  • "Like My Mother Does" - Jeff and Sheri Easter
  • "Let the Church Arise" - LeFevre Quartet
  • "Hope for All Nations" - Karen Peck & New River
  • "God Works in Mysterious Ways" - Jason Crabb
  • "I Love You This Much" - The Whisnants
  • "Wonderful Grace of Jesus" - Second Half Quartet
  • "Then I Met the Master" - Booth Brothers
  • "It Carried Him" - The Perrys
  • "Hallelujah" - Triumphant Quartet

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

National Quartet Convention - Tuesday Night

Night two of the 2017 is now complete. The last few hours of the night were packed with highlights. For those who left before the power half-hour missed a lot of great up and coming groups. Here are my thoughts on the night.

Highlights and Commentary -

  • I am really enjoying the longer sets for featured groups. Last night it was the Whisnants. Tonight it was the Jim Brady Trio and Greater Vision.
  • The entire Daywind set was incredible. It featured Legacy Five, the Hoppers, Greater Vision, Joseph Habedank and Tribute Quartet. 
  • If for some reason you didn't love Katie Erwin before, you would after tonight. She and Joseph Habedank hosted together. She looked just as comfortable and at home up there as he did. They did a great job!
  • I was impressed by the unity and support of groups tonight. From artists in the artists circle supporting each other to actual on-stage support. Jason Crabb had several younger artists back him up on a new song. He returned the favor for Highroad's song. Jaquita Lindsey of 11th Hour filled in for Lisa Williamson, whose grandmother just passed away. Riley Harrison Clark joined the Talleys set for "What Grace Is Mine," a duet with Lauren.
  • Josh Townsend of Legacy Five gave a stirring testimony before playing and singing "God's Been Good." Today was his 20th birthday and he told everything that he'd been through in his 20 years. He's a walking miracle. He gave such a touching performance singing and playing "God's Been Good." It's one of those moments people will be talking about for years to come. 
  • The power half-hour tonight featured a lot of great playing and picking from the live music of Highroad and the Lindsey family to the incredible piano playing of Jacob Klutz with the Troy Burns Family.
  • It was another night for a lot of new songs. The Perrys had all songs from Testament, their latest project. Jason Crabb sang a song he wrote after the recent hurricanes that had never been sung before.

Favorite Performances -
  • "The Greatest of All Miracles" - Jim Brady Trio
  • "It's About the Cross" - Ball Brothers
  • "Give Me Jesus" - The Talleys
  • "What Grace Is Mine" - Lauren Talley and Riley Harrison Clark
  • "Find Me Faithful" - The Perrys
  • "Love in Your Heart" - Jason Crabb
  • "God's Been Good" - Legacy Five
  • "Something's Happening" - The Hoppers
  • "Still" - Greater Vision
  • "Here He Comes" - Joseph Habedank
  • "Beauty of the Blood" - Joseph Habedank
  • "When the Prodigal Comes Home" - Tribute Quartet

Monday, September 25, 2017

National Quartet Convention - Monday Night

The first official night of the 2017 National Quartet Convention is now in the books. And what a full night of great gospel music, it was! It's great getting to be here in person this year.

Here are commentary and highlights from the night -

  • The Kingsmen Reunion with Squire Parsons was a highlight of the night. Nick Bruno had the original chart he wrote for "Beulah Land" when the Kingsmen first cut the song. Kingsmen alumni joining them on stage included Arthur Rice, Ernie Phillips, Mark Trammell along with Squire and Nick. It was probably the highlight of the night.
  • The young talent was out in full force tonight with the Erwins and the Hayes kids all doing incredible. These kids can sing!
  • There were seven groups that took the stage I'd never seen before live. One that you might be surprised about is the Kingdom Heirs. It was good to finally see them in person.
  • Recent events in the NFL and national anthem were front and center tonight with several groups singing patriotic songs and having commentary on it. 
  • We got to hear a lot more new songs tonight from several different groups including the Kingdom Heirs, 11th Hour, the Mylon Hayes Family and the Whisnants. 
  • Riley Harrison Clark and Lauren Talley were great hosts for the night!
  • The power half-hour featuring a lot of new or lesser known groups is a nice addition. I was glad that most people around us at least stuck around to see all these groups. It's a nice way to feature them on main stage.

Favorite Songs of the Night - 
  • "He's Still Alive" - The Erwins
  • "The Last Big Thing" - Kingdom Heirs
  • "He Welcomes the Beggar" - 11th Hour
  • "Is That the Old Ship of Zion" - Kingsmen Reunion
  • "I Choose Christ" - Karen Peck & New River
  • "The Lighthouse" - Mark Trammell Quartet
  • "Grace Happened Here" - Mylon Hayes Family
  • "When the Trumpet Sounds" - Triumphant Quartet
  • "All Is Well" - The Whisnants
  • "God Calls It Grace" - Kingsmen

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday Night at National Quartet Convention

Today we drove all day to get to Pigeon Forge tonight. We weren't sure if we'd make it in time or be able to go to the kickoff concert, but we made it! The Sunday night bonus concert featured the Hoppers, Mark Trammell Quartet, Tribute Quartet, Tim Lovelace, the Jim Brady Trio and Greater Vision. Each group came out and sang two sets. I have to say overall the second sets were better than the first sets. There were some incredibly powerful moments!

As is pretty typical, we got to hear some songs from some new projects. Mark Trammell Quartet sang several from their Great Moments project. Tribute Quartet also featured one from their quartet tribute CD.

Here are some highlights of the night -

  • "Life Is Good" - The Hoppers - Dean is back on stage with them. For them to stand and sing "Life Is Good" with all they have been through with Dean back on stage, you couldn't help but smile.
  • "Why Me Lord" - Greater Vision
  • "God of the Storms" - Tribute Quartet
  • "What a Day That Will Be" - Jim Brady Trio
  • "He Is Mine and I Am His" - Mark Trammell Quartet
  • "Come on and Go to That Land" - Tribute Quartet
  • "Grace at Its Best" - Tribute Quartet 
  • "Love of God" - Jim Brady Trio
  • "Grace Will Always Be Greater Than Sin" - The Hoppers
  • "The King Is Coming" - Mark Trammell Quartet
  • "For All He's Done" - Greater Vision
I'm going to tie the two grace songs for the moment of the night with "Grace at its Best" and "Grace Will Always Be Greater Than Sin."

Can't wait for a week full of gospel music!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - September 23

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

  • Jason Crabb will join Selah on the “Your Love Is Unbreakable” tour this fall. It is presented by World Vision and will start tonight. It is scheduled to be in 13 cities during the months of September, October and November.
  • Smacker Bats has partnered with Matt Felts to release a special edition bat. The company is now offering a “Matt Felts Signature Series” baseball bat. The bat has Matt Felts signature and logo on the barrel of the bat.
  • The Griffith Family reached an exclusive recording and distribution deal with Newday Records, a division of Daywind Music Group and Newday Distribution.
  • Karen Peck and New River, the Talleys, Highroad and Emily Ann Roberts have kicked off The Gospel Through Girls and Guitars Tour. This tour will be in fall 2017 and continuing into the spring 2018. 
Anything I've missed?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Fun Clip Friday - NQC

Well in honor of National Quartet Convention, today's Fun Clip Friday is a clip from last year's NQC. Greater Vision pulled up young Eli Shaw to sing "I Know a Man Who Can" with them. Check it out below.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

National Quartet Convention

Sorry for the lack of blogging lately. I promise to make up for it next week since I'll be at NQC! This is my first time to go to National Quartet Convention. I normally end up watching it on the webcast. This has been a bucket list item of mine for a long time, so I'm excited for the chance to be there in person.

There will be several groups there that I will get to see for the first time in person and of course so many favorite groups. Since it's the 60 anniversary of the convention, I know they have a lot of great things planned throughout the week.

If you're in the area, it's not too late to get tickets. Or if you can't make it, tune into the webcast. Go to

If you're going to be there next week, I'd love to hear from you. What's your favorite part of NQC? What do I not need to miss? Any tips for the week?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Still Greater Vision - Concert Recap

Earlier last month, I had the chance to see Greater Vision in Arkansas. This was my first time to see the group since Jon Epley's addition. When a group as consistent as Greater Vision makes a big change, fans are always interested to see what the group will sound like. You'll be happy to know they are still Greater Vision with the same sound they've always had. Jon is a great addition to the group and fits in well with their overall blend.

Here are some highlights from the night -

  • "He'd Still Been God"
  • "Rolled Back Stone" - It was good to hear so many songs from their new project during this concert. This is just one of the new ones that has a country-flair that Chris sang.
  • "Why Me Lord" - Jon was featured on this great, old song.
  • "His Grave Wrote the song" - Another great new one!
  • "I Know a Man Who Can" - Never get tired of hearing Chris on this one.
  • "God Doesn't Care" - I don't know of a person who doesn't need to hear this song and be reminded that God doesn't care what we have done in the past.
  • "Still" - This was the moment of the night for me. Such a powerful song that Rodney sings.
  • They pulled Wade Lentz on stage who is the pastor of the church. He got to sing bass with Greater Vision last time they were there, so they made a quartet and had him sing with them again. He has a great bass voice. They sang "Wedding Music," then he said there's a quartet song he's always wanted to sing but never gotten the chance. The song was "Boundless Love."
  • "Until You've Known the Love of God" - Gerald stepped out from the piano to sing this song. Good hearing him featured on this one!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

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

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

  • Prayers go out to the family of Elinor LeFevre. She was the mother of Mike LeFevre and grandmother of Jordan LeFevre. The services were held this past Monday in Gainesville, Georgia.
  • The Blackwood Brothers have welcomed Jonathan Mattingly as their new lead singer. Jonathan and his wife Sarah and first child Asher now live in Nashville, Tennessee. 
  • Daywind Publishing has welcomed Hunter Leath to its family of writers. 
  • Several artists including the Perrys, Legacy Five and the Chuck Wagon Gang had damage to their personal vehicles and bus from recent flooding in Nashville. 
Anything I've missed?

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Wrapping Up Southern Gospel Picnic

Well I'm finally getting a chance to wrap up the rest of Southern Gospel Picnic at Silver Dollar City. On Sunday, we enjoyed a great morning service with Dennis Swanberg. I got to see Voices of Lee, Jeff Stice and the Martins later that day. Then on Monday, I enjoyed the last day of the festival with Spoken 4 Quartet, the Diplomats and the Isaacs before heading back to the real world.

Here are highlights from the last two days -

Voices of Lee

This was my first time seeing this group live, and I was impressed!

  • "The Lord's Prayer"
  • "No Longer a Slave" - This song featured Tripp Hess (son of Judy Martin Hess). Since the Martins sang that night, his mom and other family members were there to support him. He did a great job on this feature!
  • "Higher"
  • "Gloryland Medley"

Jeff Stice
  • Andre Crouch Medley
  • "Hallelujah Chorus"
  • He brought Maddy on stage to sing "Sing." At 12 years old, she has quite a good voice!
The Martins
  • "He Leadeth Me"
  • "Love's Gonna Drive This Train"
  • "The Promise" - One of my favorite gospel songs ever. Love hearing this long live!
  • "Out of His Great Love"
  • "On Days Like This" - This is a new song that will be on their upcoming album. I think I have the title right. It was great hearing new material from them!
  • "You'll Never Walk Alone" - No one does a cappella like they do!
  • "Love Enough"
  • "I'm Still Standing" - Another new one that featured Judy!
  • "So High" - They were about to close the night when Duane Garren came out and said they had to sing this song! I'm glad he did!

Spoken 4 Quartet
  • "I Know My God Can Do It"
  • "Blessed Assurance" 
  • "Because He Lives" - Love hearing them on the classic hymns.
  • "Light at the End of the Darkness" - Great hearing Cecil featured on this song!
The Diplomats
  • "Sheltered in the Arms of God"
  • "Walking With Jesus"
  • "Scars on the Hands of Jesus" - Harold Reed was featured on this song. Love this one!
  • Their live band is incredible!
  • "I Wouldn't Take Nothing for my Journey Now"
The Isaacs
  • "Rocks"
  • "I Love You More" - Love hearing Sonya's testimony with this song. Definitely the moment of the night!
  • "If That Isn't Love"
  • "I Find It All in You"
  • "Yours Amen"
  • "Lord's Prayer" - You can't beat family a cappella harmonies.
  • "Walk On"
  • "If That's What It Takes" - Ben gave a bit of testimony before singing this song talking about how much it meant to him. 
It was a great festival again this year! Thank you Silver Dollar City, Brad Thomas, DA Callaway and Duane Garren for all you do to make this event happen each year!

    Sunday, September 3, 2017

    Saturday at Silver Dollar City - Southern Gospel Picnic

    I went out to the park late yesterday afternoon. I went to see the Browns before heading down to Echo Hollow to see Michael English and the Nelons. Here are a few highlights!

    The Browns

    • "Aim Higher"
    • "What a Beautiful Day" - Andrew has more energy on stage than anyone else in gospel music. It's great to see him have such an energetic spirit!
    • Instrumentals - Love hearing them play their violins. 
    • "Grandpa Tell Me 'Bout the Good Ole Days"

    Michael English 
    • "Mary Did You Know"
    • "Daystar" - Michael talked about the song and how it has been a breakthrough song for him with the Gaither Vocal Band.
    • "In Christ Alone"
    • "Love Is the Golden Rule"
    The Nelons
    • "In My Father's Hosue"
    • "The Sun's Coming Up" - Always good to hear Kelly sing this song!
    • "Coat of Many Colors" - Autumn was featured on this one playing her mandolin. She did a great job! 
    • "God Bless America" - Their a cappella arrangement of this song was great! 
    • "You Needed Me" - Kelly dedicated this song to Jason for this birthday! It was such a sweet moment!
    • "Then Came the Morning" - Amber does an amazing job on this song!!

    Both groups came out of the very last part and sang a number of songs together including - "Home," "Look for Me," "I Bowed on my Knees" and "We Shall Wear a Robe and Crown."

    Saturday, September 2, 2017

    Good Things Happening - Friday Recap of Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic

    Friday, we made it out to the park in time to catch four different groups. Three of these groups I don't get to see very often or at all, so it was good to see them live. We ended the night with a packed house for the Booth Brothers! Don't miss the video on my Facebook page of the song that Michael Booth requested to warm up the crowd.

    Here are highlights from the day -

    High Road

    This is the first time I remember seeing this group live. These young people are talented and used no tracks -- all live music. And they write a lot of their own music!

    • "We Are Broken"
    • "Somewhere I'm Going" - Beautiful song about Heaven!
    • "His Hand on Me"
    • "Two Coats"
    The Craguns
    • "Blessed Assurance" - Elena does an incredible job on this song!
    • "I Know the Master of the Wind" - They did this chorus a cappella.
    • "On the Other Side"
    • "This Is My Father's World"
    • "Oh What a Savior"
    • "Giver of Life" - Loved hearing Chris on this song!
    • "I'm Going There" - Newest member Ronnie Bright was featured on this song.
    • "Come to the Fountain"
    Booth Brothers

    Of course, it's always good to see the Booth Brothers. They sang several songs from their recent project that I wasn't as familiar with, so it was a good mix of the newer songs and classic favorites. 
    • "I Just Feel Like Something Good Is About to Happen"
    • "Moment of Grace" - Love hearing Paul sing this song!
    • "Stop the Storm"
    • "It Is No Secret"
    • "Down by the River" - Such a fun one that really gets the crowd going!
    • "Jesus Saves" - This was just a powerful moment of worship with the crowd on its feet!
    • "Life's Railway to Heaven"
    • "Look for Me at Jesus' Feet" - Always a powerful song from Michael!
    • "Then I Met the Master" - No one sings this better than Ronnie.
    • "Facts Are Facts"

    Friday, September 1, 2017

    Ain't God Good - Thursday Recap of Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic

    Wednesday night was the Second Half Quartet and the good news is that all of the members were back in the park on Thursday. I got the chance to see the Mark Trammell Quartet, Pat Barker and Greater Vision before heading down to Echo Hollow to see Ernie Haase and Signature Sound. Here's a look at highlights from the day -

    The Mark Trammell Quartet

    • "Leave Your Sorrows"
    • "Treasures in Heaven" 
    • "I Know" - Nick did a great job on this song! This is one from their new project, which releases today. 
    • "The King Is Coming" - No one does this song better than this group!
    • "He Hideth My Soul"
    • "Echoes From the Burning Bush" - They joined new piano player Trevor Conkle around the keyboard for this song with just the keys backing them up. 
    Pat Barker
    • "Ain't God Good"
    • "How Big Is God" - Of course he received several requests for this song. He said it was 10 years ago when he first sang that song at Silver Dollar City on the stage where he was yesterday.
    • "I Can See (Emmaus Road)" - Such an incredible song!! He shared a bit of his testimony and what the song meant to him now.
    • Request time - Pat took time just to hear what people wanted him to sing or answer questions. He sang a cappella verses and choruses of several songs like "Amazing Grace," "The Lighthouse" and "Because He Lives." 
    • "Thanks to Calvary"
    Greater Vision
    • "There Is Hope" - Great one they started with from Still.
    • "God Doesn't Care" - Love this song also from their new project! It's a song that Chris wrote.
    • "My Name Is Lazarus" 
    • "He's Still Been God" - They ended with this one that you could tell the audience still loved hearing!
    Ernie Haase and Signature Sound
    • "Some Day"
    • "Noah Found Grace" - Even if it might not be Devin's favorite song, it's one the audience loved hearing. 
    • "Give Me Jesus" - This is a song that Fanny Crosby wrote lyrics to but was only recently found. 
    • "Sometimes I Wonder" - So glad to hear them staging this song again!
    • "A Soldier Coming Home" 
    • "Then Came the Morning" - This was the moment of the night for me!! Ernie said it had been a while since they had sung this one, but it was incredible!
    • "Step Into the Water"
    • "Heavenly Parade" - It's good to hear them doing a lot of these older gospel songs. 
    • "Draw Me Nearer" - They put an EHSS spin on this Fanny Crosby classic.
    • "Any Other Man"

    Thursday, August 31, 2017

    Beginning the Second Half - Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic

    I was back at Silver Dollar City Wednesday ready for a full day of gospel music. And I'll be here for the rest of the second half of the festival. And what a better way to start the second half of the picnic than a night with the Second Half Quartet! But before the evening in Echo Hollow, here's a look at highlights from other groups throughout the day -

    The LeFevre Quartet

    • "He Was There" - I've been hearing this song so much on the radio, so I'm glad I got to hear it live!
    • "Let the Church Arise" - Incredible song from their new album!
    • "I'm Gonna Be Movin'"
    • "I Want to Walk Every Day With My Lord" - Good to hear their new bass singer Keith Plott.
    Soul'd Out Quartet
    • "Blessed Assurance"
    • "I'll Fly Away" - Love their spin on this song!
    • "I Believe" - Always enjoy hearing Ian featured on this song. 
    • "Arise My Love"
    The Talleys
    • "After All This Time"
    • "His Life For Mine" - Always such a powerful song! 
    • "Up Above" - I hadn't heard them sing this one in a while, I forgot what a great song it is! 
    • "People in the Line"
    • "But I Need You More"
    • Piano medley - They had audience member call out hymns, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness, "What a Day That Will Be" and "How Great Thou Art" and Roger put them together on the piano.
    • "He's Alive" 
    Second Half Quartet

    • "Standing on Holy Ground"
    • "Master Builder" - Always love hearing Mark on this song! 
    • "There's Something About That Name/ I Will Serve Thee" - This was absolutely beautiful! 
    • "Cheer the Weary Traveler"
    • "Prodigal Son" - I believe this is the song that started it all for this group. 
    • "How Big Is God" 
    • "I Know a Man Who Can"
    • "Going Home"
    • "Wonderful Grace of Jesus" - Good to hear them on the Cathedrals a cappella arrangement. 
    • "Boundless Love" - Last song of the night and the audience was on its feet!

    Monday, August 28, 2017

    Sundays are Family Days - Silver Dollar City Southern Gospel Picnic

    I am currently back home working for a couple of days before heading north again to catch the last half of Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic.

    Sunday we started the morning at the Red Gold Hall for morning worship. We had a great service with the Hosea Bilyeu family. I was able to see four different family groups. Here is a look at some of the highlights.

    The Lesters

    This was the second time I have seen the Lesters since it became an all family group again with the addition of Bailee Lester. They are just getting better and better!

    • "Hold On Tight"
    • "Ain't God Good"
    • "Call on Jesus Medley" - Great song that really got the crowd going. 
    • "I Shall Know Him" - They did a great job on this old hymn!
    Reggie Saddler Family
    • "In Christ Alone" - Ingra sang this song solo from her new project. This was the highlight of the set for me! Absolutely beautiful!
    • "Whiter Than Snow"
    • "I've Got Me a Home"
    • "Fill My Cup Lord" - This is the title song from their new project. Good to hear some of their new songs!
    The Erwins
    • "Isn't He God" 
    • "I Choose to Be a Christian" - Katie knocked this one out of the park!
    • "Plan of Salvation" - With all that Kody has been through recently, it was good to hear him bring the bass on this Cathedral classic.
    • "Well Done"
    Jeff and Sheri Easter

    In true Jeff and Sheri Easter fashion, they didn't take the stage right away that night at Echo Hollow. They gave up part of their time to let the Erwins sing a few songs that night to a packed house of almost 5,000. The Erwins certainly got the crowd going with "Chasing After You," "He's Still Alive" and "What a Lovely Name." This was such a great opportunity for these talented siblings!

    • "Small Town Someone"
    • "Someone's Listening"
    • "Sitting on Top of the World" - One of my favorite love songs they have recorded.
    • "Jesus Loves You" - This has become one of my all-time favorite Jeff and Sheri songs. 
    • Instrumental - "Beulah Land" and "I'll Fly Away" - Jared Easter is one of the most talented musicians on the road today.
    • "Praise His Name" - So glad this was a request for Sheri to sing!
    • "Thank You Lord for Your Blessings on Me" - It's such an incredible moment to hear Jeff and Sheri and a full amphitheater choir sing the chorus of this song.  
    I can't wait to get back up there for the second half of the festival!

    Sunday, August 27, 2017

    Reasons to Shout - Saturday recap of Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic

    Today was the first day I was able to be at Silver Dollar City for the Southern Gospel Picnic. My morning started at Red Gold Hall and ended at Echo Hollow with one of gospel music's most beloved family groups. Here's a look at who I saw and some highlights!

    The Ball Brothers
    • "It's About the Cross" - Forever a favorite song they sing! Always such a powerful response!
    • "Forgiven"
    • "Gentle Shepherd"
    • "Count Your Blessings" - Love hearing them on the big band style songs!
    • "Mercy Tree"
    2nd Generation 
    • "Blessed Assurance" - They started their set with this one a cappella.
    • "On Business for the King"
    • "Waving on the Other Side" - They set this one up by singing "How Beautiful Heaven Must Be" with the audience.
    • "All Our Hope"
    The Whisnants
    • "I've Prayed Through It" - This is a brand new song from Susan's solo CD. She shared a little bit of testimony and how the song was written for her. What a moment this was!
    • "Be Not Afraid"
    • "Grave Mistake"
    • "1+2+3" - I was glad to get to hear this song from Austin and Ethan's CD live.
    • "New Day Dawning" - The audience was on its feet clapping only a few measures into the song!
    The Hoppers

    Given all this family has been through in the last few weeks, it was so good to see them. Dean, of course, is still recovering but the rest of the family was there. Shane McConnell, previously with Canton Junction, filled in for Dean.
    • "Life Is Good"
    • "Grace Will Always Be Greater Than Sin"
    • "Grace Will Get You Through" - It was good to hear Connie on this song.
    • "Jerusalem" 
    • "I've Come Too Far" - Before this song is when they shared their testimony about the last few weeks and all they had been through. Dean had a successful surgery with the stent but Kim shared if they hadn't been able to do the surgery when they did, things could have been much different. They had so much to be thankful for. Also, where Dean had the stroke has caused no permanent damage. He's still walking, talking and will be able to sing again when the doctors release him.  
    • "Something's Happening" - I love hearing this song live! So powerful! 
    • "If I Could Help Somebody" - Claude dedicated this song to Silver Dollar City General Manager Brad Thomas. Such a sweet moment!
    • "Shoutin' Time" - As soon as Claude announced it was shoutin' time, the audience was on its feet clapping along! 

    Saturday, August 26, 2017

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

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

    • Congratulations to William and Brooklyn (Collingsworth) Blair on the arrival of baby Winston James. He was born last Saturday on Brooklyn's birthday and was welcomed by big sister Emma. The family of four is doing well!
    • The Joylanders have announced they have a new name - Endless Highway. They are hoping with the new name they will reach a broader, younger audience. Founding members Perry and Nell Wimberly are passing the mantle on to the second and third generation more to carry on the heritage.  
    • The Freemans had a bus fire on Thursday. Everyone on board is ok, but the bus is in need of serious repairs from the damage. 
    • Prayers requested for former SGPA President and Southmen owner Jim Hefner who learned that only 38% of his heart is working. He was admitted to a Birmingham Hospital earlier this week where he received two stents and more stents will be required very soon.
    • Prayers also requested for Southern Gospel promoter Norm Basden of Oneonta, Alabama, who suffered a stroke on Thursday, August 17. He was driving on Alabama Highway 79 near Birmingham when he lost consciousness and crossed the median and collided with an 18–wheeler. He was transported to a local hospital where he later suffered a major stroke. He is still recovering in the hospital
    • Dean Hopper is now home recovering after surgery last week to put a stent in his brain. Please continue to pray as he recovers.

    Anything I've missed?

    Thursday, August 24, 2017

    Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic

    Today starts Southern Gospel Picnic at Silver Dollar City. If you've followed my blog before, you know that this is an event I look forward to each year. I'll be there again this year on and off for the next 12 days. Look for recaps going up throughout the festival and maybe even some Facebook videos along the way!

    If you are in the area at all, try to come out for this event. Check out the full schedule below. I can't wait to be there on Saturday!

    Tuesday, August 22, 2017

    Being Thankful With Triumphant Quartet - Concert Recap

    Triumphant Quartet doesn't make many stops in Arkansas, so it's always good to see this quartet when they are in the area. Seeing them live is always a reminder of why they are consistently the fan favorites.

    It was good to hear so many of their new songs from Thankful. The guys actually recently celebrated a #1 song from that project, "Chain Breaker," which they did sing that night.

    I love getting to hear this group sing, but I also love the chance to hear their hearts. They see how this music changes lives and draws people to Christ. They share stories of that with their audience, but you can see when they sing how they communicate every line making sure the message of the song is front and center.

    Here are some highlights from the night -
    • "Amazing God" - I love this song and hearing David sing this. The song really makes you stop and think about how blessed we are to have such an Almighty God. 
    • "Thankful, So Thankful" - Such a great song from their new CD! This is such a fun song to hear live. 
    • "Chain Breaker" - This is becoming one of my new favorite songs of theirs. I love how they brought this song to the Southern Gospel world.
    • "Hallelujah" - This was actually included on their Christmas project and is a spin on the Leonard Cohen classic. Love how this song tells the story of Christ. It's good to hear each of the guys get featured on a verse. 
    • "Hello Mama" - They featured Aaron Dishman on this song. Good to hear him step up the mic. 
    • "Grace and Mercy" - This was a highlight of the night for me! I love this song, another one from Thankful.
    • "I Know Him" - Such a great song that features David. After the song, Eric talked some about the song and what it meant. As great as it is for us to know Him, it's also a reminder that He knows who we are. Do we talk to Him enough and read His word enough? Are we really taking time to build that relationship with Him? It was a great challenge for all of us. 
    • "White Flag of Surrender" - Always such a fun song! I love watching the audience and seeing everyone involved from the little kids to the more mature audience members. :)

    Thanks, Triumphant Quartet, for a great night of incredible music and worship!

    Saturday, August 19, 2017

    In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - August 19

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

    • Legacy Five officially announced Josh Townsend as their new piano player this week. He's previously played for the LeFevre Quartet and The Old Paths.
    • Dean Hopper had surgery this week to put a stent in his brain after having three strokes recently. The surgery was successful, but please keep him and the family in your prayers as he recovers.
    • Trey Ivey has moved into a new role as staff pianst and arranger/ orchestrator for First Baptist Church in Indian Trail, North Carolina. He will continue to serve as producer and arranger for many gospel artists in addition to being in the band for The Music City Show.
    • Gerald Crabb recently celebrated his 25th #1 song as a songwriter with "I Choose Christ" by Karen Peck & New River. 

    Anything I've missed?

    Friday, August 18, 2017

    Fun Clip Friday - Bass vs. Tenor Challenge

    Matt Fouch recently posted the latest installment of the bass vs. tenor challenge. He and Chris Allman competed for a note holding contest with Michael Booth serving as the impartial judge. Watch what happens below!

    Thursday, August 17, 2017

    Still - Greater Vision - CD Review

    Two weeks ago, Greater Vision released its new project Still. Since Jon Epley joined the group several months ago, this is the first project with him as baritone, Rodney Griffin filling out the lead part and Chris Allman on tenor. Gerald Wolfe is definitely still present. Even with the main vocal lineup shifting, fans will soon discover the project is definitely still the same Greater Vision sound they love.

    I had the chance to see the group live last week, and it was really good to hear several of these songs live.

    I must say that the title track, "Still," is the highlight of the album. The song was one of seven that Rodney Griffin had a hand in writing. I'm already hearing this one on radio quite a bit. I think it's going to turn into a most requested for them. The strong lyrics backed by great orchestration make it a hit!

    "Rolled Back Stone" is another favorite of mine. This is a great country-flavored song that featured Chris. It was written by Lee Black and Dee Wilkinson.

    Chris also has several cuts on the project. Hands down my favorite of his is "God Doesn't Care." Gerald said they expected to receive some criticism over the title. Listen to the song, and it's definitely the perfect choice for the title. When we stop to really think about how much God has forgiven and His grace, it really should amaze us. Whatever your story and your past, God doesn't care. I love the line that says - "His grace has covered sin we'll never know." How many times do we fail Him and don't even realize it. He forgives us when we don't realize how much we've wronged Him.

    Jon is featured on "His Grave Wrote the Song," which also has a bit of a country feel. The trio opens the song. You won't hear that much of a difference in the sound and blend you're used to hearing. Jon steps out on the second verse. His baritone voice is a great compliment for this song.

    "Jesus Stood" is a great story-song, ballad from Rodney's pen. I also love his vocals on this song and how well he tells the story.

    Chris is featured on "Forgiven by the Lord," which is a little bit different style than what we're used to hearing from him. "All the Above" is another catchup uptempo song that will have you clapping and toe tapping along. This is another one that you get to hear Jon on.

    It was good to see them bring back an older Rodney Griffin song, "Common Garments," to this project. Always enjoyed this song and didn't feel like it got enough recognition.

    "Nothing to See" has an old country feel with a lot of steel guitar. Chris has the verses on this one. It's another song that talks about the empty grave, which seems to be a theme of the project. We can be thankful that there's nothing to see there in that tomb. In the same way, our sins are now no more because He has forgiven us.

    Gerald starts "The Gospel" with a recitation. This is a great closing song that really rounds out the project.

    Greater Vision and gospel music fans can rest assured this is "still" Greater Vision. And this is the same quality and caliber you're used to hearing. Still is definitely a must-buy of 2017!

    Song to put on repeat - "Still"
    Song to give a second listen - "God Doesn't Care"
    Songs to turn up - "Rolled Back Stone" and "Forgiven by the Lord"

    Song List -
    1. "There Is Hope"
    2. "Still"
    3. "Rolled Back Stone"
    4. "I Believe It All"
    5. "God Doesn't Care"
    6. "His Grave Wrote the Song"
    7. "Jesus Stood"
    8. "Forgiven by the Lord"
    9. "Common Garments"
    10. "All the Above"
    11. "Nothing to See"
    12. "The Gospel"

    Monday, August 14, 2017

    Ministry of 2nd Generation - Concert Recap

    It's amazing what can happen when a group allows the Holy Spirit to take over and lead the service. That's exactly what happened when I saw 2nd Generation a few weeks ago.

    If you're not familiar with 2nd Generation, they are based in Arkansas and consist of sisters Brenda Denney and Elaine Robinson and Randy Barnes. They were actually at Randy Barnes' home church. It was a special night not only because of the worship, but it was a night for the church to pray over Randy before he left for a two-week mission trip in Mongolia.

    Randy not only stepped out to follow God's leading by going on this mission trip, but when God led them to stop the service to pray over a friend who received troubling news right before the concert started that's exactly what they did. I love seeing groups when they live out exactly what they sing.

    It was a great night of incredible songs and worship, and I'm thankful of how this group ministered that night.

    Here are a few highlights from the night -

    • "It's a Good Life Living for the Lord" - Wonderful song to kick off the night featuring Brenda.
    • "One More River" - This is one of my favorite songs to hear them sing live.
    • "What a Day That Will Be" - Love hearing Brenda and Randy featured on this classic hymn!
    • "Sheltered in the Arms of God" - Elaine talked about not fully understanding this song when she started singing it as a teenager. Sometimes in this life we still don't understand the path we are one and what God is doing, but we can rest assured that God is right there with us. No matter what is going on, we are sheltered in His arms and He is in control. Elaine does a beautiful job on this song. 
    • My God Can Do Anything" 
    • "Somebody Go Get God" 
    • "Faces" - Since this was Randy's home church, they asked for requests and this was one of them. Love hearing Randy sing this song!
    • "Redemption Draweth Nigh" - Such a powerful, incredible song. The moment of the night for me!
    • "Feel the Joy" - This is always a fun one that gets a little audience participation!
    • "Rock of Ages" - This is not the hymn you might be used to, but a fun uptempo song from their most recent project The Church.
    If you get a chance to see 2nd Generation in your area, don't miss them!

    Sunday, August 13, 2017

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

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

    • Pray for Dean Hopper, who has three strokes in the last week. In December he had two strokes and doctors found that he only has one vertebral vein. This has now become 80-90% blocked causing the recent strokes. On Monday he will have surgery to have a stent placed in the vein. 
    • Freedom Quartet announced the addition of Nathan Parrish as the group's new piano player. He formerly played with the Florida Boys.
    • The Dove Award nominees were announced last week. See the full list of nominees here
    • TaRanda Greene made a surprise appearance at the Grand Ole Opry last weekend with Dailey and Vincent. She sang "Go Rest High on That Mountain" in memory of Glen Campbell.
    • Jason Crabb will be inducted in the Kentucky Gospel Music Hall of Fame as part of its 2018 class. The ceremony will take place in May 2018.
    • Pray for the family of Lisa Hamblen Jaserie, CEO of Hamblen Music Company and singer/songwriter, who passed away this past week at age 79.
    • Pray for Aaron Wilburn and family. His brother Jackie passed away on Thursday. 
    Anything I've missed?

    Friday, August 11, 2017

    Fun Clip Friday - Perrys Christmas

    The Perrys are gearing up for their first Christmas album. They had a very Perry Christmas party yesterday to get ready for it.  Check out this movie from their Facebook Live yesterday.

    Wednesday, August 9, 2017

    The One in the Water - Inspirations - CD Review

    The Inspirations bring the classic gospel sound back with The One in the Water. The group has gone through transitions recently, but the traditional sound of the group has remained constant. The project features the lineup of Archie Watkins, Eddie Deitz, Marlon Shubert, Matt Dibler and Roland Kesterson.

    The project starts with the title track "The One in the Water" with Archie taking the lead on this one. He also sings the ballad "Teaching Me to Fly." It's a more tender song that still has a little bit of Inspirations flair, but it definitely departs from their normal cuts. It's one to really stop and take a second listen to.

    Traditional quartet fans will enjoy "I Want to Be Like My Lord" and "I Shall Not Be Moved." Bass singing fans will really enjoy Martin's feature lines.

    Roland Kesterson's vocals shine on "When Jesus Turns My Prison into My Shouting Ground."  It's a fun uptempo, toe-tapping kind of song.

    Fans of the Browders will probably recognize the cut "I Am So Blessed." This song was written by Tommy and Matthew Browder. Matt Dibler takes the verses on this one. They do a good job of making it their own.

    Eddie Dietz pays tribute to those who have made an impact on our lives with "Thank God for Preachers." It's a song that makes you stop and be thankful for those in your life, your salvation and all that God has done.

    Song List -

    1. "The One in the Water"
    2. "I Want to Be Like My Lord"
    3. "I Know Him"
    4. "When Jesus Turns My Prison into My Shouting Ground"
    5. "I Shall Not Be Moved"
    6. "Teaching Me to Fly"
    7. "I Am So Blessed"
    8. "We Are Christians"
    9. "Thank God for Preachers"
    10. "Jesus They're Offended at Your Name"

    Monday, August 7, 2017

    Worshipping with Tribute Quartet - Concert Recap

    Toward the end of July, Tribute Quartet made its way to Arkansas. I got to see them at Unity Baptist in DeWitt. A sister duo, the Walker Sisters, opened for them that night. They did an a cappella version of "It Is Well" that was incredible! They were fantastic and set the night up for a great time of worship.

    When Tribute took the stage, it was so good to hear so many song from their most recent project Here For You. They even started out with the title track. They featured more than half of the songs that night including "Everybody Come See Jesus," "Jesus Saves" and "Somebody Sing Me That Song." If you don't have a copy of that project, get it now. It was, in my opinion, the best Southern Gospel album released last year.

    I love the energy these guys bring to the stage and to the music but also how they always bring the focus back to the main thing. They make sure that Christ is at the forefront of the night. I'm thankful I was able to be there for such a great night of worship. 

    Here are a few highlights from the night - 

    • "That's How I Know" - This is such a fun one to see and hear live!
    • "God of the Storms" - This has probably become my favorite song from Here For You. When you take time to stop and really pay attention to the lyrics, they are incredible. "Troubled waters of danger set a stage for His feet." Riley took the time after the song to talk about them. Our circumstances and situations are too big for us, but in the middle of what we are facing, we can know that God is faithful and more than able to take care of it. We can experience an extreme peace because of this even when we are in the midst of the storms. 
    • "Oh What a Savior" - I haven't seen Riley sing this one live very much, so I was glad they chose to include it that night.
    • "I've Been Blessed" - They called up Dennis Duggar to sing one with them. Dennis sang with Tribute for several years and was in the audience that night. It was good to have him back on stage!

    Gary closed the night by talking about how much the hymns of the church have meant to him. He talked about specific hymns and how encouraging they have been to him - "In the Garden," "Because He Lives" and "Leave It There." It was such a sweet time of worship with the congregation singing along with the choruses of each song. 

    Thank you, Tribute Quartet, for a great night of worship. Thank you for being an encouragement to believers and pointing people to Christ. 

    Saturday, August 5, 2017

    In Case You Missed It - News and Tidbits - August 5

    Here are some news items from this week in Southern Gospel -
    • Common Bond Quartet announced that Chad Riley has been named to the position of tenor singer following the departure of Kevin Willis. Chad has been part of Southern Gospel groups including The Stamps, The Mystery Men, and most recently Steve Hess and Southern Salvation. Additionally, Riley began his career singing with his family. The group also announced that Karen Melton, wife of Rick Melton, will join the group on stage providing keyboard and background vocals.
    • Timothy Armour, pianist for Debra Perry & Jaidyn’s Call, passed away this week. Armour died as a result of a recent illness. He was only 54.
    • Karen Peck & New River recently celebrated the group's 18th #1 song with "I Choose Christ."
    • The 2017 Songwriters Search is now open. Find out more information here.
    • You can now order the National Quartet Convention webcast for this year. Order it online here for $64.99. 
    Anything I've missed?

    Friday, August 4, 2017

    Fun Clip Friday - Four Days Late

    Happy Friday! In July, Karen Peck & New River visited Israel with the Isaacs. Karen said she was able to do something she also dreamed about, which was singing "Four Days Late" at Lazarus' tomb. Becky Isaacs Bowman was able to capture the moment on video. Watch it below for today's Fun Clip Friday!

    Thursday, August 3, 2017

    Walk Worthy - Master's Voice - CD Review

    Master's Voice made its mark with its first project Undivided. The project set the bar high for what this group was capable of. Now, Walk Worthy is the sophomore release and the first one with lead singer T.J. Evans.

    "He Saw Me" kicks off the project featuring T.J. It's a great opening song that should definitely be a single. "Love Goes a Mighty Long Way" is another fun one that T.J. sings. The song reminds me a bit of "Footprints on the Water" by Gold City stylistically, which makes sense since Dianne Wilkinson and Joseph Habedank were co-writers along with David Edwards.

    Bass Jerry Pilgrim is featured on "Another One Like Him," which has a fun, jazz style. The song definitely brings something a little different to the table.

    "One Day Longer" is a heartfelt song that touches on the subject of Alzheimer's. It's such a tender song sung by Ricky Capps. I don't know if he's been personally affected by Alzheimer's but he communicates the lyrics so well you think that could be the case.

    The group takes on the very traditional quartet-style song "Yes He Did, Yes He Does, Yes He Will," which is another Dianne Wilkinson cut along with Jerry Salley. You'll find yourself clapping or toe tapping along. It's a definite highlight of the project!

    "Sowing the Good Seed" is a song that's really an encouragement to believers to keep planting seeds. We may never see what comes of seed that is planted and don't be discouraged when the seeds sometimes fall by the wayside.

    The quartet goes back and pulls out a familiar hymn for gospel fans with "Burdens Are Lifted at Calvary." The song just has piano accompaniment and features Jerry again. He has such a great smooth bass voice!

    "Where My Savior Is" is the first radio single and features Stan Watson. This is a great uptempo song that I feel like will do really well on radio. I think this will also be a great one live!

    Walk Worthy closes with "Lift Up Your Hands When You Can't," and they might have saved the best for last. This is a must-listen! The song is a more progressive ballad that you'll find yourself listening to over and over again. There are some great harmonies and blend on this song. T.J. communicates the message of this song so well. Even when we can't see his face, we can sing to the One who is faithful.

    When Master's Voice hit the scene with Undivided, they set the bar so high, but this sophomore project is just as strong and proves this quartet is rising to the top of the pack in gospel music. Walk Worthy is a must buy for any quartet fan!

    Songs to Hit Repeat On - "Where My Savior Is" and "Lift Up Your Hands When You Can't"
    Song to Turn Up - "Love Goes a Mighty Long Way"
    Song for Traditional Quartet Fans - "Yes He Did, Yes He Does, Yes He Will"
    Song to Give a Second Listen - "Sowing the Good Seed"

    Song List -
    1. "He Saw Me"
    2. "Another One Like Him"
    3. "Love Goes a Mighty Long Way"
    4. "One Day Longer"
    5. "Yes He Did, Yes He Does, Yes He Will"
    6. "Without You I Haven't Got a Prayer"
    7. "More Than Enough"
    8. "Sowing the Good Seed"
    9. "Do What Jesus Did"
    10. "Burdens Are Lifted at Calvary"
    11. "Where My Savior Is"
    12. "Lift Up Your Hands When You Can't"

    Tuesday, August 1, 2017

    God in the Interruptions - Jim Brady Trio - Concert Recap

    It's said that God can be in the interruptions. I'm sure when a breaker was flipped during the first song of the night the Jim Brady Trio didn't exactly know what kind of night was in store. However, the group never missed a beat and let God use the moment.

    The fist song of the night was "If It Had Not Been the Lord" and about halfway through the song the group lost power. Instead of stopping or even pausing for a moment, the group just kept going a cappella. They moved up to the front of the church and kept singing. Jim stopped after the song and talked about how sometimes God was in the interruptions of life and whether or not they got the issue fixed, they would keep going with the concert. Sometimes when things don't go as planned, those can be the sweetest moments of worship with God.

    While Jim took a minute to introduce the group, they were able to get the issue fixed before the second song started, but God definitely used that time just as a reminder of what the night should really be about.

    Here's a look at the songs the rest of the night -

    • "He Saved Me" - They did the chorus a cappella, absolutely beautiful!
    • "Stepping Out in Faith"
    • "The Love of God" - Love their version of this song. 
    • "What a Day That Will Be" - They featured Layke on this one with just Melissa at piano to accompany him. 
    • "Keep on the Firing Line" - Always a fun one to hear live. 
    • "Wherever I Am" - This was my first time seeing them stage this song. I was glad they included this one from their Promises CD. 
    • "Greatest of All Miracles" - I love hearing Melissa sing this song!!
    • "Tell Me" - They had Chase Davis traveling with them this summer. He goes to Bethel University and sings in a group there. He sang on this one with them and the next one. 
    • "Because He Lives" - The three guys sang this one with Melissa on the piano. Chase has a great voice!
    • "That Sounds Like Home to Me"
    • "All Over the World"
    • "Every Cry Is Heard" - One of my favorite Jim Brady songs! He talked a little bit about all their family had been through in the last few years with the death of his dad, sister, Melissa's mother and then Jim's brother. It had been a rough season, but what an encouragement the song was. None of the moments they were prepared for, but God was evident in those trials -- those interruptions of life. Through the heartbreak, Jim said he could thank the Lord for the promise of Heaven and His faithfulness through it all. 
    It was a great night with this group. The night was a powerful reminder of how God is faithful to walk with us through everything we face.