Signature Sound not hiring Replacement Pianist – UPDATE

According to Ernie Haase, Signature Sound will not be hiring a full-time replacement for Roy Webb. In an email today, he explained: “I like to build my future on the four faces of the singers like the Oak ridge boys and the GVB.”

For the time being, he’s hired Gordon Mote to play piano for Signature Sound during this group’s Summer Tour.

From the perspective of a quartet fan, I like the practice of having the pianist as the member of a group. But I can see the wisdom in Haase’s course. As Greater Vision knows well, the fewer faces you keep before the public, the easier of a time you have keeping the same lineup together. As most any group manager does, Haase will try to maintain a stable lineup with the same four singers. If he succeeds, Signature Sound’s best days are yet to come.

UPDATE: A question some might ask is if Haase is keeping the spot open for Webb to return. In response, Haase says: “Roy was a fine addition to our group for the time he was here, but my decision has nothing to do with him coming back.”

About Daniel J. Mount

Daniel Mount has written 3194 posts.

Daniel J. Mount is the founder and editor of Southern Gospel Journal.


For more about —and other Southern Gospel news and commentary—follow our RSS feed or sign up for our email updates!

39 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Can’t say that I blame him…..one less mouth to feed. :-)

  2. I don’t think that’s a bad decision for them at all, although I don’t think they have a problem feeding mouths!!!

  3. Ahhhhh……but now the rest of the group could be fed a little better!!!!! :-)

  4. Maybe they will still hire a pianist but he won’t be in the publicity photos…similar to the way The Hoppers do things.

  5. I’m not surprised. It’s a business and image decision.

    “I like to build my future on the four faces of the singers like the Oak ridge boys and the GVB.”

    When Ernie says this, I don’t really get his point. The GVB changes at least one singer every two or three years on average. They’ve never been about four faces. They’ve been about who Bill will hire next to maintain or exceed the standard of quality set by the previous group.

    The comparison to the Oak Ridge Boys is pretty funny, since the name of the group is currently “Ernie Haase and Signature Sound.” The Oaks have only had a total of five singers in the past 35 years. I don’t really see Ernie pulling off anything like that unless he stops being “the star” and makes the other three equal partners…and even then, it would be a real surprise if it worked out that way.

    • I really like your thoughts. It has bothered me a little that Ernie has to have his name in the group title and I call them Signature Sound. Is he that insecure?

      • You know, it’s funny you should say that, because just the other night, I heard a really insightful message from someone about not being jealous of others’ success and humbly rejoicing with them instead of getting insecure for yourself.

        Trying to think who it was…

        Oh yeah. Ernie Haase.

      • I heard the explanation to this. The “original group” was called Signature Sound. When the two guys left (can’t think of their names right now), they changed the name to Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, to distinguush it from the original. There were maybe some legal problems with just the name Signature Sound too, as the piano player was part owner of the group.

  6. Adam:

    Now they can eat better indeed, but I believe we all hope they will not become the next ton of fun. Especially since they only have four members now.

  7. As active as they are on stage, they probably could use the extra energy!

  8. Ernie eliminates two situations by not hiring a pianist
    Now they can play basketball without deciding who sits down for a while.
    Ernie won’t have to worry about his piano player hurting one of his fingers going after a basketball pass under the basket.
    Makes alot of sense to me.
    Its serious business when a piano player hurts one of his fingers.

  9. What is Ernie trying to say when he mentions the Oaks!? Will Sig.Sound leave gospel music if money gets tight?
    (The rumor I heard about Oak Ridge)
    Then again, maybe that’s why they aren’t seeking a pianist. And of course he’d mention the Gaithers.Maybe he wants to build his future simmillar to the GVB in terms of the finances. Can’t blame him on that !
    One thing I think is very egotistical is the name “Erine Hass and Signature Sound”. I mean, what makes him so special ? I thought that a group was supposted to be a team.
    Sometimes I wish I was a ‘little mouse’ on their bus shortly before Garry and Ernie split. There’s been many changes {not good ones, in my opionion} since then for Sig.Sound. It’d be interesting to know the stuff that the public dosen’t.

  10. Actually, I see the GVB being more the faces of Bill and Guy, with two other guys that change every 2-3 years.

  11. And also, Garry and Ernie split because of different visions and ways of running the group. As far as I know, there is no bad blood between them since the split…

  12. “Ernie Haase & Signature Sound” isn’t any different than “Brian Free & Assurance” or “Karen Peck & New River” If I remember right Ernie changed it to what it is now because promoters when introducing them would say welcome “Ernie Haase & Signature Sound”, and to avoid confusion with a local group. I *think* this is why.

    Daniel, did you get a personal e-mail from Ernie about this? I haven’t received any e-mails from Ernie saying this. Just curious.

  13. Yes, that is true. It was changed to avoid confusion…

  14. Daniel, thanks for this. I’m sure Ernie has good reason for his decision in this matter. And for one thing, with how loved Roy was, everyone needs time to adjust, and maybe it’s better to just leave it this way rather than try and make things “like they used to be”. The guys are loved and supported by a great many people, and I only expect to see that keep growing.

  15. Roanna, Yes, I received a personal email from Ernie.

    To whoever was wondering about the name change, I understand that there was another group with a similar name and the change was to avoid confusion.

  16. The GVB is not a good example,Ernie.. as they kept their piano player (who was literally working for them as he took his last breath) longer than most all the “four recognizable faces”. Hmmmmm…..try again.

  17. The former name is a generic group of words which would drive anyone crazy in real life and on the internet.
    There are other people that have rights to those words in the United States and Canada.
    Ernie picked those words because he truly wanted to have signature sound.
    Some might not like the style and sound but I think the signature sound is being well-received around the world.
    If I was Ernie, I would be proud to have a team that can produced that signature sound with the help of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  18. Yea I don’t get Ernie’s philosophy or statement at all. I’m with David Murray on this one. By the way, GVB has not had “4 recognizable faces” over the years. They’ve had Bill, and for a while now, they’ve had Guy. That’s it. The other guys rotate like a fan. Poor example, poor philosphy, IMO.

  19. I don’t want to sound critical of anyone but I wish all the speculations between EHSS and Roy Webb would die. If you like EHSS you probably have bad feelings toward Webbandif you like Webb you may have bad fellings toward ss and I don’t think this is good for them or when anyone leaves a group. I just don’t think it helps things in the southern gospel field. I wish them both well whatever they pursue.

  20. Roanna wrote:
    “Ernie Haase & Signature Sound” isn’t any different than “Brian Free & Assurance” or “Karen Peck & New River”

    Correct…it isn’t any different from those groups who each have owners with their names listed in addition to the group. It isn’t any different from “Bill Gaither and the Gaither Vocal Band” which appears on some GVB recordings either.

    The distinction I was drawing is between EH&SS and “The Oak Ridge Boys,” which is a four member partnership. I’m not saying the group won’t stay together with the same four faces (or only one change) for a period of decades. I’m simply saying it’s less likely when the group is set up with one person being the owner and primary drawing card vs. an equal partnership.

  21. By the way, I’m a fan of Southern Gospel music. I’m not against anyone, past or present. I’m pulling for the success of EH&SS just as much as any other group that sings this style.

    At the moment, they’re doing a better job of drawing new fans to SG than any other group out there. I hope they continue to do as well.

    Just because I have an opinion on one statement that seems a little off to me doesn’t mean I’m anti-Ernie…for whatever it’s worth.

  22. None of the GVB promo pictures or album covers picture a pianist…just the 4 singers. I think this is what Ernie meant.

  23. DBM makes an excellent point on his most recent comment on this thread.

  24. You’ll notice, however, that both Brian Free & Assurance and Karen Peck & New River have seen their fair share of turnaround in recent years. They also have a similar problem with billing….

    Most people simply refer to them as “Karen Peck” or “Brian Free.” The group names are more often than not dropped. EHSS could be next on the list.

    As for the four faces thing, I can understand it to an extent. For years, The Oak Ridge Boys included pianist Tommy Fairchild in their lineup (as he was actually a partner in the group), and later on was projected as an 8-man group (four singers, four vocalists), all the way up to 1977, when the made the switch to country music (even their first country album still had their band pictured on the cover). From that point on, however, they were the four singers.

    What I find somewhat ironic is the old “five-man quartet” joke…. Their original name was “Signature Sound Quartet,” and Garry Jones was the “fifth quartet man” playing piano. Now that they have only four members, they’re no longer using “quartet” in their name. GO FIGURE!!!

  25. They dropped the word “Quartet” when the name changed to Ernie Haase & Signature Sound.

  26. Just a hunch, but I’d keep an eye out for Tim Duncan jumping ship soon.

  27. Me personally, I think there is way too many egos to contend with.I think you will start seeing changes also, but, I could be wrong.

  28. And the countdown begins…..

  29. I agree about Tim Duncan he seems the least in to all the dancing around and playing dress up with the goofy hair and short ties

  30. This is sounding more and more like it wasn’t an amiable breakup. Ernie wants the focus off the pianist. He spends very little time appreciating Roy’s contribution to the group or acknowledging Roy’s fans. That’s sad and why this breakup continues to be written about in my opinion.

  31. Hey guys, let’s step back here! First of all, Ernie and the guys were trained by George Younce. Tim was probably, next to Ernie, the greatest beneficiary of that tutelage. Anyone who listens to or sees SSQ perform, knows that they enjoy what they’re doing, know they are men of the spirit, and know that they are continuing the ministry of the Cathedral Quartet. So enough on the conspiracy theories, and jump ship theories and the down on Ernie and the guys stuff! Now, I don’t know why Roy is leaving but he will be missed. While I do wish that he or Ernie would release some more specific statement to squash all the talk, it really isn’t important. And as to the reason why Ernie isn’t naming a full time replacement right now, there are two perfectly good reasons: 1) The guys are jumping almost immediately from the Gaither Homecoming Tour to the SSQ Summer Tour and that doesn’t leave a lot of time for auditioning and searching for a new pianist; and 2) there are not a lot of available quality quartet pianists who are sitting out there unemployed waiting for a position. If you look at the last two high profile pianist changes, Gaither had to bring in studio pianist Gordon Mote to replace Anthony Burger and Roger Bennett suggested to Scott Fowler about six months before he went home that he “grab Tim Parton while available before someone else does” as his substitute and eventual replacement, which Scott and L5 have done. Thus, there may be no readily available pianists at this time for Ernie to hire without doing auditions and adding someone from another quartet. And for the time being, Gordon Mote makes perfect sense sense he is already familiar with the guys from the Homecoming Tour and since the guys are going to do a series of concerts with the Vocal Band as a backdrop to the new project the two groups recently collaborated on. This gets SSQ through the summer, keeps them with someone they have already worked with in some other capacities and perhaps even does buy time for Roy to return. So let’s not blow this all out of proportion. Ernie’s a quartet man, a Cathedral at that, so I doubt he will stray far from his quartet roots. Let’s just all lift Ernie, SSQ and Roy up in our prayers, pray that the Lord continues to use them to his will and glory and know that God will work everything out for them and for us, their fans.

  32. For additional info on Roy’s leaving, see the posting on SouthernGospelReporter

  33. JMR:I don’t buy into this “they were trained by George Younce and they are carrying on the Cathedral tradition”. They are nothing like the Cathedrals or George Younce. They are their own unique group. Ernie is the son-in-law and yes, he sang with the best when he was a Cathedral, but, you cannot compare the two. We knew George and Glenn personally and they were a class act all the way around.

  34. i don’t really blame roy webb for not wanting to come back to the signature sound quartet.i love you roy webb and miss you very much and i also love you too very much tim duncan and i miss you very much.

    • Honey child, If you haven’t noticed that it wasn’t Tim on the piano stool for the last 3 years, you’ll hardly notice if the deep noise from the guy on the right isn’t from Tim tomorrow! Bless You!

  35. I saw EHSS in Nov. What a show! I just love those guys. And in talking with them, they are just as gracious and kind as you could want.
    There are no negatives from me on EHSS. Yes, I miss Roy; I miss Ryan. But Devin was with them in Nov, and I enjoy his voice and personality as well. Oh my… I’m so glad I got to see EHSS with Tim Duncan before he left; he was such a joy to hear as were all of them. They will have to come back now with Ian; I look forward to hearing him. I don’t know how they physically do their world-wide schedule… but they are young. God bless them; they are letting the world see a superb singing group. I hope they are together for many years. I think they are the most exciting group I’ve seen in years, and I think millions of other folks think so too. God bless you EHSS!