Friday News Roundup #219

Worth Knowing

  • Freedom has a new pianist, Cody McCreary.
  • Joe Kitson has left Paul’s Journey and plans to finish his college education. He will be replaced by Dennis King.
  • Marshall Hall’s younger brother, Matt Hall, passed away. He had cancer.

Worth Reading

From the “take it from someone who knows” department, this week’s Letter to the Editor is from legendary tenor Ernie Phillips, reflecting on Pat Barker’s decision to come off of the road:

I got acquainted with Pat while Eric was singing with the quartet. A great talent and sweet spirited man. I know how hard it is to have to come to a crossroads in life, and having to leave a ministry that you love and have a passion for. I also know that there are priorities in life that the Lord expects us to be aware of, that being immediate family. Been there, done that. The Lord always opens other doors of opportunity. Although he will be missed no doubt, I’m sure Pat has prayed about his decision and will be at peace. Let’s just pray for him during this transition. God Bless you Pat, and hope to see ya down the “Glory Road.”

Ernie Phillips

This was particularly neat, because Phillips and Barker made very similar impacts on the genre in a very similar period of time (around 7/8 years). They are two of a very small handful of individuals who will still be mentioned as legends decades from now despite spending less than a decade in the genre’s leading quartets.

Worth Watching

It’s Good Friday. Southern Gospel is filled with songs perfect for the day, but this old Mosie Lister song is one of the best:

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Jordan’s Bridge signs with Mansion

Jordan’s Bridge has signed a recording contract with Mansion Entertainment. Pianist Joe Lane comments: “We are so thankful to have been able to get with a great record company like Mansion Entertainment. Phil and I had worked with Bill Traylor in the past and he was always been so good to the quartets we were in and a great Christian man. I never would’ve dreamed that a group that has been together a little over a year would have gotten a break like this. … We have had a great time  and look forward to a long relationship with Mansion.”

Mansion President Bill Traylor adds, “Our paths with Jordan’s Bridge crossed due to a long friendship with Joe Lane and Phil Barker.  After learning of this new group’s endeavors they were pursing, I was personally excited about the opportunity to work again with some old friends.  As I anticipated, the sound, the blend and the extraordinary talent of these four men called Jordan’s Bridge, set them in the ranks of Southern Gospel’s best.  I’m grateful for the association and expect that all who hear them on radio, see them on TV and experience them in concert will agree with me that Jordan’s Bridge is destined for success.”

John Mathis first met the group while engineering their Mansion debut. He said, “Right away their experience and knowledge of Southern Gospel Music was evident. That’s when I get excited for the artists I work with, when I see first hand that not only are they talented but they know the music they want to sing, they know the songs they want to share and they know who they are and how to present that. They have all the right elements to make some great strides this year.”

The group’s debut single is “All Who Call,” a song penned by Rodney Griffin. Griffin comments on the song: “I really believe the heart of God was shown when He had Paul to write in Romans:  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  I’m honored that Jordan’s Bridge is singing the song that I wrote after reading this scripture all those years.” The song was originally recorded by the Mark Trammell Trio in 2003, on their first project of new songs. It can be previewed on the group’s website, jordansbridge.com.

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The Taylors sign with Stow Town

Stow Town Records announced yesterday evening that they have added The Taylors, a rising Southern Gospel family group, to their roster. Stow Town co-owner Ernie Haase commented:

To see these brothers and sisters—all in their early 20’s—perform together is something to behold. I think everyone will hear what we first heard in The Taylors—passionate, tender voices blending into glorious overtones of a heavenly sound. You are going to love The Taylors!

Jonathan Taylor added: “We’ve been so impressed by Ernie always wanting to do his best in everything he’s been called to do. We look forward to seeing how God uses this new relationship to spread our music to unexpected places!”

The Taylors’ national debut release, Measure of Grace, is scheduled to come out on June 10.

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Song Snapshots #29: The Joy of Serving Jesus (Couriers, Blackwood Brothers)

Song Snapshots is a column featuring the stories behind new and classic Southern Gospel songs.

“The Joy of Knowing Jesus” is one of Neil Enloe’s best-remembered songs. But when he’s asked about the song’s inspiration, he answers, “This is not that interesting.” But then he clarifies: “I mean, it’s interesting, but it’s not inspirational.”

He elaborates: “We did missions for years in the West Indies. We were in Barbados one year for ten or twelve days. We had an outdoor crusade every night, in a park, and huge crowds. But during the day, I had an occasion to go back to the church, and on the platform, they had an old upright piano. I was sitting at the piano musing about Jim Hill’s songs ‘What a Day That Will Be’ and ‘For God So Loved,’ his two big songs.”

He thought, These songs are so simple. There’s a lot of songs in Southern Gospel that are just really ultra-simple. But simplicity is very, very powerful.” And as he was thinking about those songs, he thought, “Well, I could do that. I could write a song that simple!”

“So I wrote ‘The Joy of Knowing Jesus,’ and little did I know that it would connect! It’s not an inspiring story at all, and it wasn’t meant to be funny, but that’s just the way it happened!”

Within a decade, many of Southern Gospel’s leading groups, including the Blackwood Brothers, the Hoppers, the Inspirations, J.D. Sumner and the Stamps, the Oak Ridge Boys, the Rebels, and the Singing Americans had recorded versions of the song. In recent years, the Dixie Melody Boys and the Blackwood Brothers both brought the song back with their 2007 and 2010 versions, respectively.

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