Cody McVey joins First Baptist Atlanta staff

The Ball Brothers announced today that their pianist, Cody McVey, is leaving the group. McVey has accepted the position of Associate Arranger / Pianist at First Baptist Atlanta. McVey commented:

I really want to thank the Ball Brothers for allowing me to travel with them for the past three years . . . and for letting me marry their sister. I’ve traveled full-time since I was 17, and I feel like it’s time for me to take the next step in God’s plan for my life. Anyone who knows me knows that my true passion is arranging and orchestrating. I couldn’t be more excited to join the ministry team of Dr. Stanley, and Pastors Anthony George, Rodney Brooks, and Matthew Slemp.

Ball Brothers manager Daniel Ball adds:

Cody has been a great blessing to our ministry. He will continue to be a part of arranging and producing for the Ball Brothers, and has already begun work on our new project that will be released this summer. Cody has incredible talent and is being mentored by legendary producer, Lari Goss. We will miss having him at the piano, but are excited for the opportunity he has to be involved in the ministry of Dr. Charles Stanley and First Baptist Atlanta.

The funniest press releases in Southern Gospel are consistently any personnel change releases from The Ball Brothers. This one was no exception; it concludes: “The Ball Brothers are not looking to add another pianist at this time, but they do have a sister that is single and if she happens to marry a pianist…”

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Saturday News Roundup #195

Worth Knowing

  • Tracy Stuffle reached another milestone in his stroke recovery: The pulmonary doctor was able to take his trach out. His voice is already sounding stronger after just a couple of days.
  • Freedom Quartet (John Rulapaugh, Dale Shipley, Preston Garner, and Burman Porter) have signed a booking agreement with the Beckie Simmons Agency.
  • The Ball Brothers announced that they will be giving away four Christmas songs.

Worth Watching

Gold City lead singers are measured by how well they sing the group’s signature song, “Midnight Cry.” Here’s a look at new lead singer Chip Pullen’s take on the song:

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday—you decide!

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3:1 CD Review: Strength (Ball Brothers)

Strength (Ball Brothers)3:1 Reviews offer three highlights of an album and one area that could have been improved.

1: Not Anymore: This anthem, anchored by the vocals of Andy Tharp, easily makes a top-three list of the strongest songs the Ball Brothers have introduced (and/or introduced to our genre). It’s on par with “Mercy Said No” and “It’s About the Cross”; depending on your stylistic preferences, this track may even head your list.

The lyrics are thoughtfully crafted. The first verse discusses the waiting for the Messiah, “but not anymore.” The second chorus is from the perspective of the disciples right after the crucifixion, how they had hoped He would save them, “but not anymore.” Then, naturally, a bridge discusses the Resurrection, how the disciples witness that He “once was in the grave / but not anymore.” It’s obvious that a Southern Gospel song won’t quit with Jesus in the grave, but the story twists the lyric takes on its way to that conclusion are fresh and delightful.

2: All I Have To Be: New bass singer Chad McCloskey proves that the Ball Brothers haven’t slipped any with their new vocal lineup. This song features his upper baritone register, and is both one of the strongest songs and the strongest vocal performances on the album.

3: Over the Horizon: This fun, up-tempo song was introduced by 4HIM on their 1991 Face the Nation record. Brian Free & Assurance brought it into the Southern Gospel genre as the stellar opening track to their 2009 Acapella album; bass singer Jeremy Lile shone with a memorable walking bass part. While it would have been cool to hear how new Ball Brothers bass singer Chad McCloskey did with a walking bass part, the Ball Brothers’ rendition here sticks closer to the original 4HIM version. That’s not entirely a bad thing, as it works well for the group’s current sound and style and is the project’s strongest fast song.

:1: ?: It’s hard to pinpoint any specific weakness of the album. The group’s taste in arrangements and song selection tends to fall out of the mainstream of the groups currently dominating the charts. This, of course, gives them one of the most distinctive and easily recognizable sounds in our genre—a sound that remains consistent despite the lower half the group changing since their previous mainline album.

If you haven’t liked their previous albums, you probably won’t care for this one, either. But, on the flip side, if their previous albums have been your cup of tea, there is a good chance you will view this album as their strongest to date. Most of the songs and arrangements are in their wheelhouse, while tracks like “Not Anymore” transcend sub-genre and should appeal to virtually any Southern Gospel fan.

Traditional or Progressive: Progressive.

Credits: Tenor: Andrew Ball. Lead: Daniel Ball. Baritone: Andy Tharp. Bass: Chad McCloskey. Pianist: Cody McVey.

Song List: There is Hope; All I Have to Be; I Smile; Walk With Me; Eyes On You; Not Anymore; You Love Me Anyway; What If; Over the Horizon; To Ever Live Without Me.

Five-star songs: Not Anymore.

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Saturday News Roundup #139

Worth Knowing

  • Scotty Inman posted an update on his daughter Embry’s health to his Facebook page: “Hey ALL! Some have asked for an update on Embry. She’s doing GREAT! She has 3 doctors visits in the next week to check her monitor, brain activity, etc. we can’t say THANK YOU enough for the continued prayers and concerns. God is good, no matter what!”
  • The Ball Brothers announced this week that their sound technician, Josh Gibson, is now engaged to Molly Clawson.

Worth Watching

Two videos jumped out this week. First, I went to see Revelation from Northern Ireland the night after NQC. Here’s a video filmed that night:

Second, we all first learned about Caleb Garms and the Garms Family with this video of Caleb singing with Legacy Five. Legacy Five’s annual visit to Minnesota was last weekend; he joined them again, this time on “Boundless Love”:

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday—you decide!

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Saturday News Roundup #136

Worth Knowing

  • Scotty and Kasey Inman’s infant daughter Embry, whose hospitalization we’ve covered here and here, continues to recover. Scotty Inman posted this update on Wednesday: “As many of you know, Embry had her 2nd EEG today. we just talked to the Neurologist, face to face. He said that the EEG looked “completely fine” and didn’t resemble the one taken earlier in the week! He went on to say that she doesn’t look like the same baby that he read about & saw on Sunday. Kasey & I told him that MANY PEOPLE had been praying for her and that we Thank & Praise the Lord for these results And he agreed with us. We are one step closer to taking our girl home. When she goes home she will be on medicine & sleeping with a monitor for at least 2 months.” They were able to take her home yesterday afternoon.
  • HisSong tenor/founding member Adam Elrod is leaving, after over ten years with the group. He is recording a solo CD.
  • April Potter Holleman, a veteran booking agent who has worked for the Harper Agency and her own former agency, the April Potter Agency, has launched Creative Vision Entertainment. She will be booking the Ball Brothers and singer/songwriter John Lemonis, among others.

Worth Reading

  • Lauren’s SG Blog has a review of Matt Fouch’s first night with Legacy Five.

Worth Watching

School is in session! Paid in Full shows how Southern Gospel should be done—and the excitement a live band brings to the stage:

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday—you decide!

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Saturday News Roundup #127

Worth Knowing

Worth Reading

  • Chris Allman’s songwriting blog is at a new domain, http://hooklinesandsingers.com/.
  • Legacy Five calls fans who support their ministry with prayer “Ropeholders.” This morning, I happened across some interesting historical context regarding the origin of the term. William Carey was a pioneering figure in the modern missions movement. Andrew Fuller, a Particular Baptist pastor who was the General Secretary of the society (Baptist Missionary Society) that supported Carey twenty-one years, coined the term “ropeholder.” Fuller said, “Our undertaking in India really appeared to me, on its commencement, to be somewhat like a few men who were deliberating about the importance of penetrating into a deep mine which had never been explored. We had no one to guide us. And while we were thus deliberating, Carey, as it were, said, ‘Well, I will go down, if you will hold the rope.’ But before he went down, he, as it seemed to me, took an oath from each of us, at the mouth of the pit, to this effect, that while we lived, we should never let go the rope.” (Quite from this Fuller audio-biography; hat-tip to Friday Night Revival.)

Worth Watching

Here’s a rare video of Southern Gospel songwriter Dianne Wilkinson on the piano:

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday—you decide!

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Past the Press Release: An Interview with Chad McCloskey

The new kid on the block: Chad McCloskey.

Chad McCloskey (Photo by The Garms Family)

Past the Press Release is an interview series featuring a new member of a professional Southern Gospel group. It’s a chance to look past the standard “excited to be here” press release comment and learn a little more about them. Meet new Ball Brothers bass singer Chad McCloskey!

Daniel: When did you become interested in singing Southern Gospel?

Chad: Well Daniel, to be honest, I was never really interested in singing growing up, even though I had been singing since I was just a kid. Both my mom and dad grew up singing with their parents and siblings, so naturally it carried on into the rearing of my sister and I. I guess my interest in music didn’t really come until 2006 when my family and I started traveling full time in evangelism.

Daniel: Have you sung with any groups before knowing the Ball Brothers?

Chad: I sang with two of my close friends in college but nothing on a stage of recognition by any means. I also traveled with my family for 3 years prior to going to college.

Daniel: Have you known Andrew and Daniel and been familiar with their music for years now, or are you still relatively new to their repertoire?

Chad: I’ve actually known Andrew, Daniel, and their family for about ten years now and have gotten pretty familiar with their music over the last several years. I’m still in somewhat of a learning stage with some of the music, but things seem to coming together better week by week.

Daniel: What is your favorite Ball Brothers song?

Chad: “Healer of My Heart” and “It’s About the Cross” would be in a dead heat for favorite songs. Both songs have such a deep meaning and direct message, it doesn’t seem fair to just choose one!

Daniel: I’m not sure it would be an interview of a Ball Brothers member without at least one random question. Is your biography page on the Ball Brothers’ website empty because you haven’t thought of any interesting to say yet, or is it because it would be so interesting that the other group members are afraid that nobody would visit any of the other pages? :)

Chad: Well, my life is just so exciting it’s hard to condense it into a simple paragraph or two! Plus, I’d hate to make the other guys jealous! All kidding aside, things have been a little busy over the last several months, I’m still playing catch-up on emails and messages.

Daniel: Do you play any musical instruments?

Chad: Unfortunately I do not play any instruments. I took piano lessons for roughly two week when i was 11 but the urge to play outside got the better of me.

Daniel: If you were to put together a dream-team Southern Gospel quartet, who would be in it? (Let’s say that you can pick anyone besides Ball Brothers members, just so you don’t feel obligated to name them.)

Chad: Dream team Southern Gospel quartet… This is kind of a tough question. I would have to say David Phelps, Josh Cobb, Marshall Hall, and possibly Tim Duncan.

Daniel: Have you had any voice training?

Chad: I have not had any vocal training, even though my mom did vocal coaching when i was growing up for people in our church/community.

Daniel: Are you married? If so, could you tell us a little about your family?

Chad: I am not married but I am open to that concept later down the road.

Daniel: What are good ways for fans to keep up with you and the band?

Chad: The best way to stay in contact with the Ball Brothers would be through our Facebook Fan Page, our individual Facebooks, Twitter, email, or through our website.

Daniel: Thanks! By the way, the Ball Brothers have a Kickstarter campaign going to fund their upcoming album; check it out here.

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Saturday News Roundup #125

Worth Knowing

  • NQC announced this week that footage from the 2012 show will be broadcast on TBN.
  • The American Society of Gospel Music is announcing higher-quality broadcast capabilities and demonstrating them by offering a free Tribute Quartet streaming concert on Monday, June 25. [EDIT, 2/22/13: Broken link removed.]
  • Gaither has posted the TV special featuring The Best of David Phelps for free online viewing here.
  • The Ball Brothers are funding their next recording with a Kickstarter campaign. Ten days into the campaign, they’re already 2/3 of the way to their goal.

Worth Reading

Worth Watching

Greater Vision recorded “He’ll Carry Me” on their 2005 Faces project. Here is the first time I’ve seen it with Chris Allman:

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday—you decide!

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Past the Press Release: An Interview with Andy Tharp

Andy Tharp, puzzling over Daniel Ball's emcee work.

Past the Press Release is an interview series featuring a new member of a professional Southern Gospel group. It’s a chance to look past the standard “excited to be here” press release comment and learn a little more about them. Meet (relatively) new Ball Brothers baritone Andy Tharp!

Daniel: I understand that you go way back with the Ball Brothers – so far back that you were actually singing with them before they started singing with Stephen. At what ages did you start singing together?

Andy: My older brother and I started singing with Andrew and Daniel when I was 10 years old. We were all pretty nervous the first few times we sang to a congregation. We almost sounded like the chipmunks with our quivering voices.

Daniel: At the time, who sang the highest and lowest parts? If this was before your voices changed, were you calling the parts tenor, lead, and baritone, or something else?

Andy: Each person had a “title” as either a tenor, lead, baritone or bass. When we first started I believe that Andrew sang tenor but we quickly realized that Daniel had a higher voice and so he took over as the tenor of the group and Andrew took the lead. After our voices began to change, which I might add was a crazy time for our group, Daniel and Andrew switched the lead and tenor parts again. My brother Matt sang the bass part and I was the baritone of the group but all four of us learned to switch parts as needed.

Daniel: That would be a crazy time for a group! Did you just sing together in your own church, or did you sing at other venues in your area?

Andy: We started out just singing at our church where we grew up but began to get requests to sing at other churches, camps and youth conferences. We always looked forward to summer time when we had the opportunity to do a little traveling and singing.

Daniel: In the fifteen years or so before you (re)joined the Ball Brothers, what have you been up to, musically and otherwise?

Andy: I’ve worked a normal 40 hour a week job since I was 18 and stayed busy helping in our church as the music director for over 9 years. Being involved in our church is very important to my wife and I. We are so thankful for the church that God has led us to be a part of.

Daniel: I suppose it wouldn’t be an interview of a Ball Brothers member without at least one totally random question. Do you only hate lettuce by itself, or do you also hate it in burritos? :)

Andy: That’s actually not an uncommon question for me. I have 11 siblings and all of them love to eat lettuce, so I’m the oddball (no pun intended). I generally do not care for lettuce on or with anything. I think my mother always assumed that it was something I would grow out of but that’s not the case.

For the rest of the interview, click the post title or, if you’re viewing this on the website, the “read more” button.

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Concert Review: The Ball Brothers with Chad McCloskey (Buffalo, MN)

Despite a bus tire exploding, a car not starting, and a “late” leave time, our family was able to attend a Ball Brothers’ concert this past Sunday evening (May 6th, 2012) in Buffalo, Minnesota during Chad McCloskey’s second full weekend with the group.

When the Ball Brothers ran up on stage, immediately, the crowd was interested in this exciting group of five young men. As they opened with their signature “do-dos” on “Happy Am I”, we were instantly impressed with their cohesive blend. With each note precise and solid, the Ball Brothers have probably the strongest group blend we have heard live. And with their new vocalists, Andy Tharp and Chad McCloskey, they are on top of their game. They easily master intricate harmonies and send them hurling into the audience as a unifed wall.

Daniel Ball’s robust lead vocals provide a rich, full sound to the group, and Andrew Ball’s clear, silky tenor fuses their distinctive blend. Both of the brothers’ voices have matured since we first heard them on tour with Ernie Haase and Signature Sound in 2006, and they are some of the most polished vocalists in our genre.

Andy Tharp, who recently replaced Stephen Ball as baritone, has a very reliable, resonant voice and unassumingly adds greatly to their harmonies. The Ball Brothers made a fine choice for a new baritone!  Andy does well adding a country twang to his voice, as on “Walking in Jerusalem” and “I’ve Been Redeemed”.  

At 22 years old, the newest member, Chad McCloskey, has an exceptional voice and range. He sang “Beulah Land” with his own creative improvisations, and held down the low parts of the rest of the songs well.  He is a great addition to the group!  

Cody McVey, formerly of the Kingsmen Quartet, is a talented piano player and it was fun to observe his technique.

Enthusiastically diverse, the group offers a broad selection of music, covering their style of Southern Gospel, contemporary, jazz, country, bluegrass, and even a touch of classical. But each song was refreshing and filled with the message of Jesus Christ.  Their ending song of the concert, “It’s About the Cross”, defines their ministry and message, and they passionately deliver their now popular song with power.  (See below for a video.)

A particular highlight was listening to the story of their beginnings, which they shared candidly while sitting on the church’s stools (theirs weren’t as nice, supposedly). They also paid tribute to the Cathedral Quartet by singing “Plan of Salvation”, which was neat for our family to experience, as we were never privileged to hear the famous quartet share this touching song live. Daniel Ball carried the solo well and Cody McVey’s piano playing recalled Roger Bennett’s familar piano arrangement.  Also, they made a familiar Cathedrals’ song “Glory Train” their own, adding a humorous twist.  (See video below.) 

In 2006, when we first saw the Ball Brothers, Ben told one of the brothers that when they had their first stand-alone concert in Minnesota, we would be there. Amazingly, God graciously allowed this to happen, and are we glad to have been able to attend! The promoter told us that many people wanted the Ball Brothers back, and we’d encourage any promoter to have this 2011 Horizon Group of the Year at their church or venue.

Here’s a video of assorted song clips from the night:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcUz1AE9RzM&w=560&h=315]

 

“It’s About the Cross”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLinkohiPRg&w=560&h=315]

 

“Ride that Glory Train”

[youtube http://youtu.be/Tx_xYCeIFRI&w=560&h=315]

 

 

To read a list of songs from the concert, click “More”.  

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