NQC 2013, Day 4: Live Blog

Highlight of the Night

The Perrys’ set was one of the strongest sets of the week. They started with “Blue Skies Coming,” a song with an incredibly timely message given their struggles over the last eight months (as bass singer Tracy Stuffle recovers from a January stroke and five cerebral hemorrhages since.) Things got even better with another song appropriate for this trial, “Through the Night.” I was prepared to note that song as one of the highlights of the night, but the Perrys were just getting started.

Libbi told David Ragan and Bryan Walker that she was going to throw them a curveball and change up the program. She spent the time frame that would normally have gotten allotted to song three testifying to God’s faithfulness during these last eight months. She then talked about how the two most important things in our lives are God and our families, and offered a sharp rebuke to people who put expensive cars, houses, and boats at higher priorities. It was a passionate and timely reminder.

Libbi said that as she was leaving Tracy’s side this morning for the drive up to Louisville, she told him that they would use FaceTime to show him their set live. She asked if there was a song he wanted them to sing. He asked them to sing his all-time favorite song, “I Rest My Case At The Cross.” They did, and Louisville came unglued.

These are the sort of moments that capture the essence of the National Quartet Convention, the moments that make it feel more like a family reunion than just a big concert or a trade show.

Other highlights

In chronological order:

  • Southern Raised was one of the best performers in today’s showcases. Their rendition of “Angels, Swing a Little Lower” was incredible, both instrumentally and vocally.
  • “I’m Winging My Way Back Home,” Dixie Echoes, featuring Andrew and Alex Utech. Andrew was singing lead; Alex was singing bass. The audience responded with an enthusiastic ovation.
  • “He Ain’t Never Done Me Nothin’ But Good,” The Isaacs. 
  • “He’s Alive,” The Talleys. (The whole Talleys set was strong.)
  • “Grace Will Always Be Greater Than Sin,” The Hoppers.
  • Triumphant Quartet had an all-around solid set, with moments of heartfelt testimony, humor, and no-holds-barred big endings.
  • “We Believe,” Booth Brothers—both the song and how Michael Booth used humor and serious exhortation to introduce it.
  • “Tradin’ The Old Cross,” Booth Brothers. The Collingsworth Family, who also recorded the song, came up on the encore. Great energy late in the night!
  • “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” The Collingsworth Family. An acapella highlight!
  • “Oh, Holy Night,” Kim Collingsworth piano solo.
  • “Hope Has Hands (Grace Has a Face),” Greater Vision. Subtle brilliance; a highlight of the Christmas section.

Play-by-play highlights

We’ve hidden the complete play-by-play from the home page for space considerations; click “read more” or on the post’s title to read the detailed coverage.

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NQC 2013, Day 1, Live Blog

Highlights of the Night

In no particular order:

  • “My Jesus, I Love Thee” – Collingsworth Family. (See the live blog, at 8:40).
  • “I Know a Man Who Can” – Chris Allman with Greater Vision. (Is the man incapable of having an off night?!) (See 9:30.)
  • Triumphant Quartet’s set. There wasn’t a single moment that stood above the rest, because the entire set was so solid. (See 7:59.)
  • “When I Wake Up to Sleep No More” – Eagle’s Wings. (See 9:01.)

Webcast Quality

As always, the camera work was exceptionally strong. Thinking back to the endless primary Presidential debates last year, I doubt if a single network crew doing one of those events could top the NQC crew in this setting. The audio work was also fairly good; there was the occasional soloist buried in the mix for a few notes, but the audio team did a fantastic job, overall, of keeping the featured soloists prominent in the mix and the harmony vocals blending in smoothly.

The website serving up the video feed, though, had a number of issues through the evening. The live feed went down in seven or eight of the evening’s twelve multi-song sets, making it all the way through four or five. The website itself went completely down at a couple of points. But to their credit, the customer service agents @NQCOnline on Twitter put in a valiant effort to check in one-on-one with fans reporting problems. They also posted a “Thanks in advance for your patience” message on Facebook here.

Live Play-by-Play

Due to length, we’ve hidden the complete play-by-play from the home page. Click “read more” to read the complete play-by-play.

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Nick and Jessica Trammell leave The Browns

Shelly Brown of The Browns posted the following announcement on Facebook:

The Browns are entering a new season of their musical journey after welcoming baby Tessa Nichole into the family June 21st. With the birth of their new daughter, group members Nick and Jessica Trammell, will be making some changes. Jessica will be coming off the road to care for Tessa at home and Nick will be joining his father’s group, The Mark Trammell Quartet. “It is our greatest joy to see Nick and Jessica choosing to raise Tessa in a godly home filled with Southern Gospel song!” The Browns, Michaela, Adam, Andrew, Keith, and Shelly, continue their 12 year tradition of Sharing Music from the Heart!!

More information will be shared when it is known.

UPDATE: Dustin Sweatman is coming off of the road, and Nick will assume the lead singer position.

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Saturday News Roundup #126

Worth Knowing

  • BMI handed out its Christian Music Awards earlier this week. Songs and songwriters were both honored; Kyla Rowland joined three CCM songwriters as one of the four “Songwriters of the Year.” Several Southern Gospel songs were honored as “Award-winning songs,” evidently a top-25 list of sorts:
    • Did I Mention (Kyla Rowland / The Perrys)
    • I’ve Never Known a Day (Van Mitchell / The Inspirations)
    • Somebody Died for Me (Kyle Matthews and Christy Sutherland / Triumphant Quartet)
    • This Old Sinner Testifies (Kyla Rowland / The Perrys)
    • You Were Faithful Yesterday (Rodney Griffin / Greater Vision)
  • Nick and Jessica Brown Trammell (of The Browns) had their first child Thursday morning—a daughter, Tessa. Congratulations to the parents (and the ecstatic grandparents, too!)
  • The Freemans signed with Rivergate Talent Agency for booking.
  • Sheila Heil (wife of legendary Gospel Greats host Paul Heil) had eye surgery yesterday. Prayers are requested for her recovery.

Worth Watching

Here’s a video of the Garms Family (who are SouthernGospelBlog.com contributors) singing “Tell Me the Story of Jesus.” It’s probably their best performance to make it to YouTube yet.

Also, here’s a ten-minute Gaither.com video interview with Ben Isaacs (about producing albums).

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday—you decide!

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Saturday News Roundup #98

Worth Knowing

  • Booth Brothers Contest: Thank you to all who entered in Tuesday’s contest for free seats to next week’s online Booth Brothers concert. Congratulations to the ten winners (selected by ASGM): Robert A., Stephanie S., Penelope L., Aaron Swain, Linda F., Aaron J., Katie Crutchfield, Stephen G., Eric S., and Dan Plemmons. (Full names were only given for individuals who comment online under their full name.)
  • The Browns: Browns members Nick and Jessica Trammell announced that they are expecting their first child next June. Congratulations! (Nick is Mark and LaReesa Trammell’s only child.)
  • The Kingsmen: Randy Crawford’s heart surgery was this morning. His heart valve was worse than expected, but the surgery went well, and he is recovering. Bob Sellers of the Capstone Quartet filled in for the last two weekends.

Worth Reading

  • Friday Night Revival’s Dustin Allman asks if youth’s interest in Southern Gospel is slipping. It seems the consensus is that there are quite a few talented young singers looking to make their mark in our industry, but not quite as many as (say) twenty years ago.

Worth Watching

Here is rare professionally recorded footage of Scotty Inman and Tim Duncan with Poet Voices (from their final NQC performance before the quartet configuration disbanded):

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday. You decide!

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Question of the Week: Nick Trammell

Last Friday, I reviewed the Browns’ new CD, Now. I offered high praise for “My Child is Coming Home,” calling it the “best song the Browns have recorded to date.” I was trading emails with Browns member Nick Trammell, who co-wrote the song with his father, Mark Trammell, before the review went up. He shared the following about the song:

Nick: I wrote it after hearing the story of Tony Greene’s passing. I heard he had friends and family around his bedside preparing to say goodbye, and singing him in to Heaven.

When I thought about that, I started thinking about what was going on those same few moments in Heaven preparing for him to come home. I get chills every time I hear the song and think about it.

Just a little something to visualize about next time you listen to it!

DJM: Thank you, Nick! 

It is not often that I say this, but this is one of the year’s absolute must-buy songs. You can find it individually on iTunes and eMusic, and the whole CD on the Browns’ website.

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3:1 CD Review: Now (The Browns)

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

1. “My Child is Coming Home”: This is a great song and a great performance. A few years have done wonders for Nick Trammell’s voice; his increased vocal richness and maturity call to mind a mid-1980s Mark Trammell (his father). He’s well on his way to being Jimmy Blackwood to his father’s James Blackwood. But even more impressive than the vocal delivery is the song, which Nick co-wrote with his father: If he’d written this when he was with the Perrys, this song would have been nominated for “Song of the Year.” It’s the best song the Browns have recorded to date.

2. “Worth of It All”: This song about the events leading up to and following the Crucifixion fuses a Classical-influenced track with a soaring 6/8 melody that bursts with the energy of a Keith & Kristyn Getty Celtic song. Michaela Brown delivers the chorus with vocal runs reminiscent of yodeling. The song, co-written by Nick and Jessica Trammell, joins “My Child is Coming Home” as stronger than any previous song the Browns have recorded.

3. Nick Trammell as a songwriter: Before I saw songwriter credits, I listened through the project and noted the six strongest songs: “Now and Forevermore” (written by Michaela Brown and Nick Trammell), “Good Enough” (Nick Trammell), “My Child is Coming Home” (Nick & Mark Trammell); “Silent for Me” (Michaela Brown, Dianne Wilkinson); “Worth of It All” (Nick & Jessica Trammell); “Still My Child” (Nick Trammell). With one exception, each of these songs have a common thread: Nick Trammell as a co-writer. His writing is taking the Browns to the next level.

:1. One thing I would change: Length. If the set list had been whittled down to the ten strongest songs (there are fourteen), this would have been a five-star recording. But even as it is, this is not just the Browns’ strongest project yet—it’s one of the ten strongest Southern Gospel CDs of 2011. If you enjoy great songs and family harmonies, add this album to your must-buy list.

Traditional or Progressive

Middle-of-the-road, more so than their last one.

Radio Single Picks

“My Child is Coming Home,” “Worth of it All,” “Still My Child.”

Album Rating: 4.5 Stars

Credits

Producer: Tim James, The Browns. • Group members: Nick Trammell, Jessica Brown Trammell, Shelly Brown, Adam Brown, Michaela Brown, Andrew Brown. • Review copy provided.  • Song list: Now and Forevermore; Good Enough; Nothing is Impossible; My Child is Coming Home; Everywhere I Go; Beautiful Day; Silent For Me; Joyful Medley (instrumental); When Grace Became Amazing; Rained Out; God of a Second Chance; Worth of it All; Put Your Hand in the Hand; Still My Child.

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Nick and Jessica Trammell join the Browns

A few years ago, after Nick Trammell married Jessica Brown of the Browns, Jessica left the group. In November 2009, Nick and Jessica launched their own trio, the Trammells; SouthernGospelBlog.com featured an interview with them here.

Nick and Jessica have accepted an invitation to join/rejoin the Browns. The Browns’ first tour as a six-member ensemble will be a trip to Canada later this month. The group has a CD release planned for late spring, which will also feature the new lineup.

 

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CD Review: Heritage Hymn Collection Vol. 1 (The Browns)

brownsAfter two previous reviews of Browns projects (Hope and A New Day), the Browns need no introduction here. At the risk of being redundant, for any new readers: The Browns are a family group from Iowa that has been on the national scene for several years now, with a steadily growing fan base. Their first several projects were produced by Roger Talley; with their last recording of new songs, they worked with Bubba Smith for the first time. Under Smith, known for producing CCM marquee acts like Point of Grace, Sandi Patty, and Petra, they tried a new sound on for size and found that it was a pretty good fit.

When a group goes from an ambitious project, pushing their sound in new directions, to a hymns table project, some might take that as an admission that the new sound either didn’t work out or was too much too fast for their fans. But that doesn’t appear to be the case here, since the project covers a broad range of styles and offers arrangements that are innovative without making unnecessary changes just for change’s sake.

“Standing On the Promises” features older son Adam and is arranged in a jazzy / big band style.

“I Sing the Mighty Power / Canon in D” features the children on their electric violins (or, at any rate, probably will in live concerts, though from the liner notes it appears as though daughter Michaela may have laid down all violin tracks in the studio). The arrangement, which was put together by Michaela, is an interesting mixture of the old and new, with string arrangements and keyboards combining for a driving arrangement with clear classical influences.

“I’ll Fly Away” also features the electric violins, and a vocal solo by younger son Andrew. He is vocal dynamite right now, one of the strongest child vocalists in Southern Gospel in recent years. If his voice can retain the same power once it changes, it may be the bankable power needed to take the group to a new level.

There are two acapella songs, arrangements of “In the Garden” and “Beulah Land.” The latter is a song they have done live (on their Live @ the Factory DVD), but put on CD for the first time.

Michaela turns in a strong rendition of “My Jesus, I Love Thee.”

Mother Shelly’s rich alto is a perfect fit for “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”; a duet with Adam on several lines in a verse is brilliantly executed and all too brief.

The project’s standout track, an a capella rendition of “Wonderful Grace of Jesus,” starts off sounding like pretty much every other rendition since the Cathedrals introduced a now-classic arrangement in the 1980s. Through the verses and first two choruses, they do the standard two counterpoint lines with harmonies.  A little over two minutes into the track, they break into three counterpoint lines, with vocal activity rivaling what a top quartet could pull off on “Heaven’s Joy Awaits” or “Getting Ready to Leave This World.”

Returning to an earlier comment, these arrangements are innovative without making unnecessary changes just for change’s sake. Far from being “just another hymns project,” this project helps establish the Browns as a serious player on the national level, as a group that can be creative and innovative even on a smaller table project-sized budget.

Rating: 4.5 stars. ♦ Average song rating: 4.1 stars. ♦ Group members: Shelly Brown, Michaela Brown, Adam Brown, Andrew Brown. ♦ Produced by: None credited. Executive Producers: Shelly Brown, Michaela Brown. ♦ Available from: The Browns. Review copy provided. ♦ Song list: Standing On the Promises; My Jesus I Love Thee; I Sing the Power / Canon in D; Cross Medley; When We All Get to Heaven; In the Garden; Wonderful Grace of Jesus; I’ll Fly Away; Beulah Land; Great Is Thy Faithfulness / Majesty.

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CD Review: A New Day (Browns)

Rating: 4 stars (of 5)

Average Song Rating: 3.9 stars (of 5)

Producer: Bubba Smith.

Song List: A New Day; It’s a God Thing; I Can’t Forget the Blood; Get On the Boat; Don’t Doubt in the Darkness; You’re My Friend; Running To The Rock; My Heart Has Found a Home; Something Like the Likes of You; He/He Touched Me/He is Lord.

* * *

The Browns’ previous projects were produced by Roger Talley; on A New Day, they use a new producer, Bubba Smith. Smith, a multi-Grammy and Dove-winning producer, is best known for his production efforts in black Gospel and CCM, producing artists as diverse as Shirley Caesar, Helen Baylor, Bruce Carroll, Sandi Patty, Petra, and Point of Grace. He has also produced projects for Karen Peck & New River (Journey of Joy), the McRaes (Perfect Love), and the Crabb Family (Blur the Lines).

Not surprisingly, bringing in someone with a background like Smith’s gives the project a sound quite different than on their previous Talley-produced projects. While the project is still Southern Gospel, certain tracks bring Point of Grace to mind. Smith’s influence is most evident in the little things, like the vocal introduction to “Get on the Boat.” It’s not the sort of thing a typical Southern Gospel producer would do, but it’s a nice touch that just works. And it’s hard to argue with success.

Since their last project, the Browns have not only grown as vocalists, they have also grown as songwriters. Though they have written a few songs for previous projects, they wrote or co-wrote over half the songs on the project—including the project’s three most memorable songs, “Don’t Doubt in the Darkness,” “Running to the Rock,” and “I Can’t Forget the Blood.” Mom Shelly Brown co-wrote the first with Marty Funderburk, Adam Brown, the older of the two boys, co-wrote the other two, also with Marty Funderburk. Michaela Brown and Rebecca Peck contribute “You’re My Friend.”

Jessica Brown and her fianceé Nick Trammell co-wrote two of the tracks: “It’s a God Thing,” the CD’s first single, and a song they sing as a duet, “My Heart Has Found a Home.” Their voices complement each other’s voice nicely, and it’s not hard to imagine the two of them performing together down the road.

With every successive project since hitting the national scene, the Browns have matured vocally and stylistically. A New Day is no exception.

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