Upcoming Southern Gospel Releases: April 2014

This list aims to be inclusive of Daywind, Crossroads, Horizon, Sonlite, Gaither Music Group, Stow Town, New Haven, Difference Media, Song Garden, Mansion, and major independent group releases where known.

April 2014

  • 4/1: Because He Lives: Favorite Easter Songs, Gaither Homecoming Friends (Gaither Music Group / Capitol)
  • 4/8: Into His Presence, The Perrys (Stow Town / Provident)
  • 4/21Unashamed, Brian Free & Assurance (Daywind / New Day)

May 2014

  • 5/20: This Is What It’s All About, Mark Bishop (Sonlite / Crossroads)
  • 5/20: Decade, The Old Paths (Sonlite / Crossroads)

Is this list missing anything significant, especially among major independent releases? Let us know!

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Songs about Sanctification

When Jesus called His disciples, he called them to come and follow—to believe and then to take up a cross.

His call today is the same. The Gospel we preach in our sermons and songs includes the glorious moment when we receive God’s gift of salvation. But the Gospel message doesn’t stop there: “… whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Romans 8:30, KJV). The Gospel message includes our sanctification (becoming more like Jesus) and our glorification (being raised with Him).

When we speak of “Gospel songs”—songs that contain the Gospel—we certainly speak of songs that contain the “good news” (the literal meaning of “Gospel”) of the offer of salvation. But the good news we proclaim doesn’t stop with the moment we are rescued from Hell fire. It goes on to say that God permits us to become more like Jesus, to die to our old sin nature. And this good news certainly continues through the resurrection, through eternity spent with Jesus and with the redeemed through all the ages.

This is the Gospel our preachers preach. It should also be the Gospel our songs proclaim.

Certainly, songs that rejoice in the themes of salvation and resurrection are magnificent. Songs about sanctification are a little harder to pull off. But Southern Gospel has certainly seen a few through the years, and needs to see more. What are some of the best Southern Gospel songs that discuss the process of becoming more like Jesus?

Here’s one of the best from recent years, Brian Free & Assurance’s “Die Another Day”:

For readers on email and RSS, a direct link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jHrSY1Gaag

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NQC 2013, Day 5: NQC Music Awards

Daniel is at work, so Daniel’s Siblings are live-blogging the afternoon showcases.

For all those who signed up, remember the Friday NQC coverage is free!

3:25 Favorite Male Group: The Booth Brothers. Ronnie: “This is called a Quartet Convention award…” Michael, “We did a quartet album this year, so we’re okay.”

3:19 Les & Clarke Beasley brought on stage to explain that a CPA firm validates the results. They introduced the individuals representing the firms. The Southern Gospel Music Guild chooses a business who has made an impact on Southern Gospel. This year’s winner of the Les Beasley Impact Award is Herschend Properties, the parent company of Silver Dollar City and Dollywood.

3:16 Favorite Song: “I Played in the Band” by the Booth Brothers. Michael Booth talking about Bill Gaither believing in the body of Christ and each person doing there part to honor the Heavenly Father.

3:12 Booth Brothers singing “I Played in the Band.”

3:07 Favorite Album: Through the Night! The Perrys.  Libbi, “I’m totally blown away.” David Ragan has his baby on stage with him! Bryan Walker and Leah Page are up there with Libbi. She is saying how Tracy usually is the one who accepts the awards and has something to say. She never dreamed they would live every song of the album. Every song needs to have a message and say something and be scriptural. Someone will need it. This year she was one of those people who needed the songs (and songs from other artists). Libbi thanking Leah for helping and being her right arm and doing an incredible job. She’s thanking the guys in the group and is asking for prayer. Libbi said “Next year, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Tracy Stuffle will be there.”

3:05 Radio Stations of the Year: WGUS & FWFC.

3:05 Promoter: Landon Beene.

3:05 Producer of the Year: Ben Isaacs.

3:04 The Hosts are introducing Autumn, the award girl.

3:00 Favorite Songwriter: Dianne Wilkinson…and the feed went down! She didn’t expect it. She is saying how she feels such a responsibility. “Sinners need to be saved. Christians need to be encouraged, The Church needs to be awakened, and God needs to be Glorified.”  Thanking the singers and studio players, who do her songs. She is overcome!

2:55 Hoppers singing, “He Didn’t Just Carry the Cross, He Carried Me.” Claude was absent, but Mike and Karlye were singing, making the Hoppers a five part group.

2:53 Video of the Year: “I Wanna Be That Man” by Brian Free and Assurance. BF&A were not in town, touring in North Carolina. The producer accepted the award for them.

2:50 Presenter Gordon Mote brought on and said his trick worked. “I swapped glasses with Kim Collingsworth and it worked!” referring to when she said she couldn’t see to read what was on her card. They continued with a series of humor as would be expected from Mote, Williams, and Easter. The crowd was laughing!

2:46 Favorite Bass: Eric Bennett. Says he’s amazed. Every bass loves to do what he does. “All of them deserve to be up here.” He hopes to never let the fans down. He’s thankful for his wife, the super guys he travels with, and to God.

2:43 Kim Collingsworth’s card didn’t say who was to sing next, so she said, “Whoever is supposed to sing now, come out and they’ll welcome you.” Greater Vision appeared and sang, “He Didn’t When He Could Have Passed By.”

2:41 Favorite Lead:  Ronnie Booth. He said, “I don’t know what to say.” He talked about growing up in Florida, hearing his dad sing for the Rebels Quartet. He talked about the day when there will be an award show like no other and we will lay our awards at Jesus’ feet.

2:40 Presenter Kim Collingsworth introduced. She will be presenting the Favorite Lead award.

2:36 Triumphant Quartet singing “Take it From Me, Meshach.”

2:32 Favorite Tenor: David Phelps. “I’m just amazed by this.”  He’s thanking the fans. “I have nothing other than great appreciation for this.” He loves singing for the people in the seats.

2:29 Legacy Five singing “I’m Still Amazed.”

2:26 Favorite Soprano: Kim Hopper. Saying thanks to the fans. It has been a wonderful year, but one of the most trying years of her life. She was sick at the beginning of the year and enjoyed being at home with her kids, but became homesick for being on the road, doing what God has called her to do, encourage the Christians. She is thankful for God’s sustaining grace.

2:24 The Hosts brought up Josh Singletary as the next presenter.

2:14 Favorite Musician: Kim Collingsworth. Kim’s says she’s at a loss for words. Before she is a musician, she is a wife and a mama. Thankful for parents who introduced her to music and taught her to love God with her heart, soul, and mind. Thankful to her visionary husband. Matthew Holt asked her to play a song.  Kim played “His Eye is On the Sparrow” with just the piano–no tracks! She got a partial standing ovation.

2:09 Kingdom Heirs singing “Just Beyond the Sunset.”

2:07 Favorite Baritone: Jim Brady. “This music is all I ever wanted to sing.”  Psalm 37:4 is true. He is doing the desire of his heart, singing for the Lord. Thanked Booth Brothers, his wife, Melissa Brady, and NQC.

2:05 Presenter Matthew Holt introduced.

2:01 Favorite Alto: Sheri Easter. Sheri saying how she watched Libbi and was thinking of the Grace of God that it takes to sing on stage after 30 years of it being different. “We are blessed.” Sheri thanking fans.

1:57 The Perrys sang “I Got A Hold of God.” (Libbi Perry Stuffle, David Ragan, Bryan Walker)

1:53 Favorite Mixed Group: The Collingsworth Family! Phil Sr. saying 10 years ago, they never envisioned standing here.  He thanked fans for their support and prayers.

1:49 Presenter Jeff Stice brings on the Gaither Vocal Band to sing their top ten nominated song “Glorious Freedom.”

1:47 Favorite Soloist: Guy Penrod! Guy Penrod is in Canada so Jeff Easter held his award for him.

1:45 First hosts: Kevin Williams and Jeff Easter.

Dixie Stampede sponsored the Gaither Sing-a-Long, and it looks like Dollywood is sponsoring the Awards show.

1:42 The NQC Music award show was kicked off by Gordon Mote. There was no microphone at the piano and he shouted something about someone saying he didn’t need a microphone. A microphone promptly appeared at the piano and he started with “Ain’t It just Like the Lord.”  As long as the feed stays up, we plan on bringing you play by play coverage of the award show!

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NQC 2013, Day 3: Live Blog

Far and away, this evening’s program has been the strongest so far. In fact, this evening has had so many highlights that it will be rather hard for the days later in the week to top it.

Perhaps a much better attendance has energized the performers. @jon_leighton posted this picture on Twitter, commenting: “ironically,  a huge crowd on quartet night at quartet convention!”

I missed the first three hours; I was at my church’s Wednesday night service. My siblings, who live across the country and don’t have a midweek service, provided our coverage of the first three hours. 

Highlight of the Night

The moment of the night was the retirement performance of The Couriers. It was the final time most of the people in the audience or watching the webcast will see these legends live and in person; they have announced that their final performance is later this year.

One song into their set, the Mark Trammell Quartet sang one of The Couriers’ signature songs, “I Sing the Mighty Power of God.” Mark then talked about how he had seen the Couriers for the first time at NQC 1974, and talked about the impact they had on their fellow performers, on the fans, and on his life.

Then Mark said that the Couriers—Duane Nicholson, Neil Enloe, and Dave Kyllonen—were there, and he was going to call them up on stage. The artists in the artist circle, surrounding the stage, stood for a standing ovation.

If the audience had any clue what was coming next, the audience would have joined them.

Gerald Wolfe and Jim Brady join Mark to present The Couriers with plaques from the National Quartet Convention thanking them for their years of faithful service and integrity and commemorating their retirement, coming later this year.

Mark Trammell introduced “Statue of Liberty” with these words: “As we pay tribute to the fallen heroes tonight on 9/11, I want to pay tribute to living heroes who show us how to do what we do with grace style character, and integrity.” The Couriers sang most of the song; the Mark Trammell Quartet joined them for the dramatic final choruses.

The audience stood throughout much of the song. Based on the video feed, it looked like there wasn’t a person in Freedom Hall still in their seat by the midpoint of the song. After the song, the standing ovation was enthusiastic and prolonged. It was as if the audience didn’t want to sit down because they didn’t want that moment to end.

Mark Trammell deserves credit for giving up most of his set for this moment. The Couriers deserved this moment—their NQC retirement, and probably their final appearance at a major venue. (Their retirement concert is in two or three months.) It was the final moment most of the people in the room and watching the webcast will get to see them live, and thanks to this, they went out in grand style.

This is one of those NQC moments fans will still be talking about in ten or twenty years.

Other Highlights

My siblings noted these highlights from the first three hours.

  • The Booth Brothers Quartet (see 5:56)
  • The Quartet Choir (see 5:53)
  • The Basses Quartet (see 6:51)
  • Quartet Gilead of Rio De Verde, Brazil (7:17)

I picked up around 8:30. These are the highlights from 8:30 on:

  • The Couriers’ final NQC performance (see above).
  • Legacy Five singing “We Shall See Jesus” (10:22). Of all the times I’ve seen them stage the song, this was easily the best. They had a tough act to follow—the moment of the night, the Couriers’ retirement performance. It’s hard to turn around from that into another evening highlight, but they pulled it off. For about a dozen years after Glen Payne’s death, no major group was willing to touch the song, but, as Fowler said, “the song is too good to die.”
  • The Confused Quartet (8:35): Jeff Easter on tenor, Scott Howard on lead, Arthur Rice on baritone, Mark Trammell on bass, and Gerald Wolfe on piano. This was a highlight for comedic reasons; Easter did a brilliant Kingsmen tenor impression.
  • All-Star Quartet (8:58): On the other hand, this was a highlight for musical reasons. Riley Clark, Clayton Inman, Mark Trammell, and Jeff Chapman did an outstanding rendition of “Glory Road.”
  • The Old Paths set: They’ve had two #1 hits within the last year, and those songs carried their debut NQC appearance.
  • The Kingdom Heirs set was perfectly paced.
  • Triumphant was a great pick to close the night. Their set just kept getting better and better, and they were tearing Louisville up by the last two songs. Clayton Inman reprised his classic Singing Americans feature on “Welcome to Heaven.” And when you thought it couldn’t get any better, they pulled their best fast song—a song a few too many fans have forgotten—out of their back pocket, “I Know I’m Going Home.”

Live Play-by-Play

Click “Read More” to read the entire play-by-play; it’s hidden from the home page for space considerations.

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Saturday News Roundup #178

Worth Knowing

  • The Collingsworth Family recorded an upcoming DVD release, Hymns from Home, in their home on Thursday. Kim White of Viewfinders, who directed the video shoot, posted this video preview.
  • The classic Gold City lineup of Jay Parrack, Jonathan Wilburn, Mark Trammell, and Tim Riley will reunite for a featured matinee performance at next year’s Memphis Quartet Show.
  • George Amon Webster’s health has taken a turn for the worse. His son Tim Webster posted: “My dad has now found out that the cancer is not only pressing against his trachea, but it is also pressing against his carotid artery. This means that if the cancer pushes against the artery enough to tear it, that he could bleed to death. The doctors are going to do an emergency trache, and they are also giving him the strongest anti-inflammatory med available to help keep swelling to a minimum.”
  • Phil Cross has launched Phil Cross Productions, offering audio recording, graphic design, and mentoring services to rising artists.
  • Phil Cross, Mark Bishop, and Gerald Crabb are among the featured songwriters on a Song of a Lifetime mini-tour this weekend. Their Saturday night concert in McDonough, Georgia will be filmed for a future DVD release.
  • Update on Tracy Stuffle’s stroke recovery: On Wednesday, his therapists have started to test how he would breathe without a tracheostomy tube. The trial went well.
  • Worth Reading: Paul Heil’s column, Doctrinal Confusion, on the importance of Biblical literacy.

Worth Watching

Here’s a first look at the new Inspirations lineup—including new tenor Mark Clark and new lead singer Steven Srein—live at the Memphis Quartet Show:

Speaking of first looks, here’s a video of the Dixie Boys, featuring new baritone singer Aaron Dishman on their signature song “Antioch Church House Choir”:

And a third first look, this one of Mike Rogers with Brian Free and Assurance:

Finally, don’t miss a surprise guest appearance during Triumphant Quartet’s song “The Old White Flag”!

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday—you decide!

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Mike Rogers joins Brian Free & Assurance

Mike RogersLast night, Brian Free & Assurance announced that Mike Rogers is their new baritone singer. Brian Free stated:

When I received the audition info for Mike I was very impressed with his vocal ability and the gift to deliver a song. After spending some time with him, his wife Bekki and daughter Coraline at my home, I knew he was the one God had sent to be a member of our family. I love his heart and the love he has for people. He will be a wonderful addition to BFA.

Having over 300 people apply for the job, it was a hard decision due to all the talent I heard. I want to thank each person who took their time and effort to apply for the position. I am truly honored that so many wanted to be a part of our ministry. I know God has a place and time for you to use your talent for him.

Mike Rogers added:

The warmth and humility from Brian and the guys when I auditioned made me feel this was truly a God-thing, and confirmed for me that I wanted to be a part of their ministry. BFA is very family-oriented, which means a lot to me. Ministry is important, but after God, family is top priority. Quartet music doesn’t get any better than BFA. They are top notch, and I am honored to join them.

Rogers is the latest graduate of Ed O’Neal University. He was introduced to Southern Gospel when he joined the Dixie Melody Boys, ten months ago. (The day his hire there was announced, we interviewed him, here.)

Dixie Melody Boys owner Ed O’Neal commented, “We wish Mike and his family the best.” Tenor/publicist Matt Felts added, “Change can be hard but also exciting. History has proven that every time a singer has left, God has brought us another great addition to the Dixie Melody Boys. We know God has someone coming that will be the right fit for years to come.” The Dixie Melody Boys are accepting auditions at dixiemelodyboys@yahoo.com.

UPDATE, 5/25/13: The Dixie Melody Boys have issued this press release:

As many of you read last week, Mike Rogers resigned as our lead and will join Brian Free and Assurance in June. We will miss Mike. He has been a blessing to us and we know he has a bright future wherever God leads him in the future. We have begun to search for a new member of our team. This is truly an exciting time for our group. Over the last two years, we have been blessed to see the Dixie Melody Boys rise back up to the top of Gospel music. We are currently in the studio working on a new project that is sure to be a milestone recording for us. This album will be finished released shortly after the addition of a new lead singer. Last week, we announced that we have hired Aaron Dishman as our new baritone and piano player. With Steven Cooper moving to bass guitar, we know the fans will love seeing us add live music back to our program.

Ed O’Neal has set the standard in Gospel music for having the very best talent in his group through the years. We plan to keep that tradition alive for many years to come. Working for a true legend like Ed is a special opportunity. We are currently seeking the very best person available for this posistion. Our producer and Executive VP of Song Garden Music Group David Staton had this to say. “This is a rare opportunity for a singer. The Dixie Melody Boys are iconic and the next lead singer has a chance to become part of something special. This next album will allow them to make their mark on Gospel music as a great vocalist. The Dixie Melody Boys are set to be the group to watch over the next decade.” … 

We will be accepting applications at dixiemelodyboys@yahoo.com. We look forward to hearing some great singers. We covet your prayers through this process and your support for the group.

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Song Snapshots #6: I Want To Be That Man (Brian Free & Assurance)

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

Brian Free & Assurance’s current radio single, “I Want to Be That Man,” was co-written by Ricky Free and Lee Black. Neither are newcomers to the group’s music; Free is tenor/manager Brian Free’s son, while Black co-wrote a song that was on the group’s debut project. In fact, that song, “Flood the Altar,” was Lee Black’s first professional cut. He co-wrote the song with Sue Smith and David Moffit—both of whom remain good friends and co-writing partners to this day.

Lee Black co-wrote “I Want to Be That Man” with Brian’s son, Ricky Free, last summer. Brian’s father (Ricky’s grandfather) had passed away several months ago. Black and Free started talking about that loss and about their own families. Ricky and Kelly Free were expecting their own first child in a month or two. “I was just thinking about my own kids,” Black adds,” wanting to pass on to them things that had been handed down to me. We were thinking about these things, talking about heritage and leaving a legacy. I don’t remember how it happened or how that title even popped out, but it started from that standpoint.”

When Brian Free first heard the song demo, he didn’t know who wrote the song. The song’s message of faithful fatherhood stirred his heart, and he knew he had to record it. As he says when introducing the song live:

When I first heard this song, I immediately thought of my father. My father passed away almost two years ago. My mom passed away a few months after that. But Dad was a great example for me, growing up, and my brothers—a wonderful Christian man that I’ll never forget, and I know I’ll see again. In this day and time, men, fathers, and husbands—more than ever, it’s so important that we understand the legacy we leave behind, and what we do on a daily basis with our children—the things they see, the things they hear. The things that we do, how we respond. I’m far from perfect; I make many mistakes. I’m a work under progress. But tonight I can truly stand here and tell you that I want to be a man that would be an example to my sons.

When he checked the lyric and found out that one of the co-writers was his own son, he was even more deeply moved.

Brian Free & Assurance picked the song as the debut radio single from their current record, Nothing But Love. “It really surprised me,” Black recalls, “because it feels so much like a Father’s Day or Promise Keepers kind of song.”

Cross and Heaven songs are always safe picks for Southern Gospel radio singles, Black observes. “My wife kids me that I’ve written ‘Settled at the Cross,’ ‘Beneath the Cross,’ ‘At the Cross’—you name the preposition and I’ve written it! There’ll never be enough cross songs.”

A song about faithful fatherhood is an unusual pick for Southern Gospel radio, but early feedback indicates the song is resonating with listeners and reviewers as deeply as it did with Brian Free. It has only been on the chart for two months, and is already at #13 (December 2012 chart).


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3:1 CD Review: Nothing But Love (Brian Free & Assurance)

Nothing But Love - Brian Free & Assurance

3:1 Reviews offer three highlights of an album and one area that could have been improved.

1: I Want To Be That Man: This song is a tribute to the power of a father who lived what he believed. Brian Free, whose father passed away two years ago, converts a passion for the lyric into the album’s strongest vocal performance.

2: Guard Your Heart: The number of songs address the theme of guarding our hearts are few enough that a new song on the topic inevitably draws comparisons to earlier ones. If you lined up this song in the sonic equivalent of a blind taste test with Steve Green’s 1989 track of the same name, a majority would likely lean toward the 1989 track.

All comparisons aside, though, this is a strong track on its own merits. An imperfect rhyme in the chorus is particularly well-phrased: “So, believer, don’t forget Whose you are / Guard your heart.”

3: Nothing But Love: The first two or three spins through the song, I had to resist the temptation to just press skip. By spin five, I couldn’t get it out of my head! It’s progressive enough to not be for everyone, but it’s actually quite catchy. 

:1: Almost…: The group’s previous album, Never Walk Alone (2010), was a monumental tour de force, earning a five-star rating in our glowing review. Albums of that caliber are almost impossible to top. While Nothing But Love isn’t an exception to the rule, it is almost as strong. It certainly has its moments of brilliance.

Traditional or Progressive: Very progressive, with some middle-of-the-road moments.

Credits: Group members: Brian Free, Bill Shivers, Derrick Selph, Jeremy Lile. Produced by Ricky Free.

Song List: Nothing But Love; It’s Quite a Valley; If the Lord Says Do It; I Will Be Praying; Guard Your Heart; There is Power; Calvary’s Cry; You Can Be a Bridge; I Want to Be That Man; Revival.

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Saturday News Roundup #106

Worth Knowing

  • Brian Free & Assurance: Brian Free was concerned that he had heart problems; testing revealed that his heart is in good shape, and that it’s more likely to be either blood pressure or acid reflux related. [EDIT, 6/18/12: Broken link removed.] (Notably, the Facebook post making that announcement accumulated 720 likes, which must be something approaching a record for Southern Gospel groups on Facebook.)
  • Collingsworth Family: The Collingsworth Family announced that they will release two albums this year, an acapella hymns album and a Christmas project. They are accepting song suggestions here.
  • Gaither Vocal Band: The Gaither Vocal Band is in the studio working on a new project. It will have a bluegrass feel, and include acoustic versions of “Rumor Mill” and “The Love of God.”

Worth Reading

Worth Watching

Recently, multiple users (including the group themselves) have posted footage of Eric Phillips with the Mark Trammell Quartet. There are too many good clips to post just one, so here’s a list:

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday—you decide!

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