Songs from II Samuel: Feasting At The Table of the King

Books-songs

Each week, we will go through the books of the Bible, looking at a song that illustrates a passage from each book.

The history books in the Old Testament are anything but dry and boring. Read them; time and again, you’ll find stories with rich parallels to New Testament themes.

II Samuel 9 is exactly such a story. After King Saul died, David ascended to the throne in his place. Now there was a practice in ancient Middle Eastern cultures that we sometimes still see today: When a king ascended to a throne, it was customary for him to kill all his enemies, especially any who might have designs on the throne. This often included any surviving male family members of the preceding king.

Yet when King David took the throne, he asked if Saul had any surviving family members, “that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake” (II Samuel 9:1, KJV). He had been close friends with Jonathan. He learned that Jonathan had a surviving son, Mephibosheth, who had been dropped as a baby and was crippled, lame in both feet. Mephibosheth was living in the land of “Lodebar,” which, translated, literally means “the land of nothing.”

So David took someone who would have been a natural enemy who, in the mind of the culture, deserved to be killed. Instead of killing him, though, he granted mercy, and invited him to spend the rest of his days eating at David’s own table.

God is holy. Inherent to the nature of holiness is to hate that which is unholy, sin. So while we were sinners, we were God’s enemies, as Romans 5:8-10 says: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”

While we were God’s enemies, living meaningless lives—in the “land of nothing”—He showed mercy to us. Not only did He grant us salvation and permit us to live, but He also brought us to feast at His table—both the Lord’s Supper here on this earth, and the wedding feast of the Lamb.

Here is songwriter Ricky Atkinson singing a song (also recorded by the Kingdom Heirs) that recounts this story:

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Friday News Roundup #204

A note: For the time being, I’m planning to move to posting five days per week, taking Saturdays and Sundays off. So the Saturday News Roundup will become a Friday News Roundup. As always, if something especially newsworthy happens on a weekend, or after a weekday’s main post is up, I’ll post it.

Worth Knowing

  • Last week’s roundup mentioned that Jeff Whisnant’s father, John Whisnant Sr., sustained serious injuries in a car accident. Sadly, he has passed away as a result of those injuries. Jeff Whisnant offered some thoughts here.
  • In case you missed it amidst the Christmas Eve festivities, the big story of the week was that the Mark Trammell Quartet is leaving Daywind to start their own label.

Worth Watching

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Friday—you decide!

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NQC 2013, Day 6: Live Blog

If you’re at NQC in person or watching on the live webcast, jump in and join the discussion in the comments area!

Highlights

In reverse chronological order:

  • “Till We Meet Again,” Legacy Five. It was fitting that the final full set at NQC was by the group that came directly out of the Cathedrals at their retirement.
  • “Burdens Are Lifted at Calvary,” The Collingsworth Family. There aren’t many singers or songs that could follow the emotional moment Freedom Hall just experienced. Perhaps the Collingsworth Family themselves, as good as they are, would have struggled prior to starting to sing this song earlier this year. But the song and the moment came together!
  • Freedom Hall came unglued again at the end of the Perrys set. There was an emotional and prolonged standing ovation for Libbi Perry Stuffle as she walked off stage. It’s one of the longest I’ve heard in convention history. Then, Libbi held up a cell phone with Tracy Stuffle on FaceTime, watching live; when the camera picked up Tracy live, there certainly could not have been a dry eye in the house.
  • During the Perrys’ set, the video crew played a video greeting from Tracy Stuffle, thanking everyone for their prayers. He closed with, “I’ll see you next year in Pigeon Forge. I love you!” At that, Freedom Hall came unglued.
  • The Mark Trammell Quartet’s entire set was perfectly paced. This time, it wasn’t a song that stood out—it was Mark Trammell’s classy and elegant introduction to “Too Much to Gain To Lose.”
  • “Movin’ Up to Gloryland,” The Voices of Lee. Verse one was performed like you’ve never heard it before; a young African-American man delivered the solo as a slow, jazzy, spectacular high tenor solo. The tempo kicked into the familiar high gear for the chorus and second verse. Another young man (this one Caucasian) did verse 2 as a bass solo. After a medley segment with “Just Over in the Gloryland,” the young man from verse 1 nailed the classic “Mo-ooo-ooo-vin” tenor feature on the final chorus. This young man, who was also featured on the following song, has a tremendous vocal talent and on-stage charisma. It would be an unexpected move, but it sure would be nice if one of the genre’s leading quartets hired him on board as their tenor after he graduates college.
  • The Kingdom Heirs’ set was strong beginning-to-end, with three recent #1 hits and the strongest slow song on their latest CD. They ended with all cylinders firing—the sort of ending that the Kingsmen loved to pull off when their live band was at its very finest.
  • After The Talleys’ set, Roger Talley stayed at the piano as Michael English walked on stage, singing “Going Home.” Dean and Kim Hopper walked on stage for chorus harmonies. After verse and chorus 1, Michael talked about losing his father three weeks ago, and how much the song meant to him at that point. He then sang verse two, going through the roof on the verse ending. 
  • The Talleys’ entire set. After one song with tracks, Roger Talley went to the piano for the next three. The piano-and-vocals-only portion of the set was a welcome change of pace from the rest of the evening. The high point of the night was “The Broken Ones,” The Talleys. Lauren Talley introduced it with an incredibly moving story a fan told her this week of how the fan shared it with a girl in an abusive situation, and how that girl learned the song and even sang it for her church.
  • “All is Well,” The Whisnants; Melissa shared how, about the same time the Whisnants recorded it, both her parents were diagnosed with cancer. The song came full circle, as the Whisnants’ version ministered to her. (Thanks be to God, both her parents beat cancer.) Melissa sang the song with them.
  • The Taylors’ set was strong beginning to end. It takes no small level of vocal confidence to attempt a complicated acapella arrangement to kick off an NQC set, and no small level of vocal talent to pull it off.

Live Play-by-Play

11:38: Dean Hopper closes by saying: “We love you very much. All these artists love you very much. Keep us in your prayers. See you at Pigeon Forge in 2014!” And with that, the Louisville era of the National Quartet Convention is in the history books.

11:08: The Finale begins with The Talleys singing “Testify.” Song 2: The Mark Trammell Quartet, “I Want To Know.” Song 3: The Perrys, “I Wish I Could Have Been There,” with Libbi FaceTiming Tracy as she sang. Guests, including Jeff Chapman, joined in by the end. Song 4: The Kingdom Heirs change up the pace completely with a piano-and-vocals rendition of “How Great Thou Art,” featuring Arthur Rice doing his signature hold-a-note-forever ending to the final verse. Song 5: “Show a Little Bit of Love and Kindness,” Collingsworth Family. Final song: “Statement of Faith” (Hoppers, Greater Vision, Booth Brothers, Legacy Five).

10:50: Legacy Five begins their set with “He Loves Me So.” It’s a good choice; after the emotional high point we’re still on after the Perrys moment and the Collingsworths’ solid set, most songs would have been jarringly out of place. That one fit. Song 2: “Ask Me Why.” Song 3: Scott Fowler shares memories; he was on the main stage (with the Cathedrals and then Legacy Five) at every single Louisville NQC. He uses those memories to introduce “Till We Meet Again.” Song 4: “Boundless Love.” And Michael Booth is on drums, which means things are about to get really good. (Let’s revise that. They were already really good. They’re about to get better.) They did.

10:50: We’re fourteen minutes behind schedule at this point, but given the sort of unforgettable moments that led to the delay, I doubt anyone minds.

10:29: The Collingsworth Family begins their set with “Burdens Are Lifted at Calvary.” See the highlights section! Song 2: “The Lord’s Prayer,” featuring Phil Jr. It was wise to do another piano-and-vocals song, I think, before bringing the energy level back up. Song 3: “At Calvary.” Another standing ovation! Song 4: “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” A Kim Collingsworth piano solo was listed in the schedule for the start of the set. But it just didn’t make sense to put it there, so it was moved to this slot. Song 5: “Hallelujah Chorus,” a piano solo; part of a medley with the previous song.

10:06: The Perrys start their set with “If You Knew Him.” This is their first time to stage at NQC after Joseph Habedank’s departure. Well, they pulled it off to a standing ovation! Song 2: “I Know It Was The Blood.” Song 3: “Celebrate Me Home.” Libbi Perry Stuffle nails her feature, as always. Then, there’s a video clip from Tracy Stuffle, thanking everyone for their prayers, and closing with “I’ll see you next year in Pigeon Forge. I love you!” That video clip got a standing ovation! Song 4: “This Old Sinner Testifies.” Leah Page, who has been filling on alto all year, came up for the final chorus. There is an emotional and prolonged standing ovation for Libbi as she walks off stage. See the highlights section!

9:48: The Mark Trammell Quartet begins their set with “How Long Has It Been.” Song 2: “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.” Song 3: “Way Past Ready.” Song 4: After some heartfelt testimony and recollections, song 4 is “Too Much to Gain To Lose.”

9:47: Clarke Beasley pays a heartfelt tribute to NQC’s twenty-year run in Louisville, mentioning some of the greatest moments in Convention history.

9:21: The Voices of Lee start their a cappella set with “The Old Rugged Cross.” A young African-American man offered an excellent solo on the final verse. Song 2: “Movin’ Up To Gloryland”; see the highlights section! The choir director shared that the young man who sang the first verse lost his sister to brain cancer recently, introducing him on another song, the Chris Tomlin top 5 CCM radio hit “I Will Rise.” He did an excellent job on both.

9:16: Showcase winners: The Stevens Family, singing “Unclouded Day.”

8:59: The Kingdom Heirs begin their set with “Tell Me Why.” Song 2: A second #1 hit, “Just Preach Jesus.” Song 3: “That’s When I’ll Know I’m Home,” one of the strongest songs from their current CD. Song 4: They close with their current #1 hit, “Just Beyond the Sunset.” Watch for a big ending! Afterwards: The video cutaway to Josh Singletary absolutely beside himself in excitement at the power ending was really neat.

8:58: Clarke Beasley came on stage and noted that attendees of the 2012 NQC reserved 2,600 hotel rooms that week for NQC 2013. He said it would interest anyone wondering if the move would be a flop to hear that, this year, over 5,000 rooms were reserved for NQC 2014!

8:52: See the highlights section!

8:35: The Talleys begin their set with “The Promise.” Song 2: Debra Talley sings her signature song, “Thinkin’ ‘Bout Home.” Roger Talley went over to the piano for this one; it’s a simple piano-and-vocals-only rendition that’s a welcome change of pace. In fact, it’s been two hours since the last piano-and-vocals-only song (and I’m not even really sure if we should count that one, since it was Susan Whisnant singing “Happy Birthday” to her son!) Song 3: “The Broken Ones.” (See Highlights section.) Song 4: “Orphans of God,” performed as a medley with “The Broken Ones.”

8:31: A video is played of highlights from the week. At this point, it looks like we’re now seven minutes behind. (A video clip from a past NQC, scheduled for 8:06, was bumped to bring us closer.)

8:17: The Down East Boys start their set with a medium fast song, “Every Word in The Word.” Lead singer/manager Ricky Carden has the solo. Song 2: “I’ve Got That Old Time Religion.” Song 3: Tenor Tony Jarman is featured on a strong slow song, “I Won’t Trade My Crown.” Song 4: “Waiting For The Day.”

8:02: The Crist Family begins their segment with “Where it All Comes From,” from their CD that (officially) releases next Tuesday. Song 2: Their new radio single, “The Closer I Get To The Cross.” Song 3: “Great Beyond,” from their debut recording. Song 4: The Crist Family closes strong with “Lift Up The Cross.”

7:57: An ad for TBN. We’re now twelve minutes behind schedule.

7:53: Showcase winner: High Road III. This isn’t the first time they’ve been on the main stage; I seem to think they’ve been a showcase winner before, and they also provided instrumentation for the Grassroots Rambos set a year or two back. They’ve never disappointed, either.

7:34: Tribute Quartet takes the stage, starting with their signature song, “Good News From Jerusalem.” If this is the start, then they surely must have something pretty incredible planned for the ending! Song 2: They do their version of Greater Vision’s classic “God Wants To Hear You Sing”—but as an Anthony Davis bass solo instead of Greater Vision’s tenor solo. Song 3: “Outside the Gate.” They went into the audience for an a cappella encore. It was quite the challenge for the camera crew (filming in the dark) and the audio crew (avoiding feedback), but it was effective for the audience.

7:17: The Kingsmen start their set with “Meet Me At The Table.” Les Butler is making a guest appearance on piano. Song 2: “I Will Rise Up From My Grave.” Song 3: “Land of the Free.” Song 4: “Stand Up”; an energetic ending.

6:57: The Primitive Quartet starts with “You’ve Been So Gracious To Me.” Song 2: “God Can.” Song 3: “I’ll Be Waiting At The River For You.” Song 4: “I Wonder What They’re Doing In Heaven Today.” Song 5: They close strong with “No Longer an Orphan,” quite possibly their most-beloved song.

6:51: Penny Loafers sing “Ain’t Got Time to Die” (? on title). The Primitive Quartet evidently isn’t set up yet, so Dean Hopper asked for a second song, “That’s When the Angels Rejoice.” At this point, we’re about seven minutes behind schedule.

6:35: The Whisnants begin their segment with “I’m In The Gloryland Way.” Song 2: It’s Ethan Whisnant’s 16th birthday today; he stands as Susan sings “Happy Birthday” to him. Song 3: The Whisnants bring up Melissa Brady to sing “All Is Well” with them. (See the highlights section!) Song 4: “New Day Dawning.” Encore: Melissa Brady, Kim Hopper, and Jim Brady join on stage. The audience is on their feet!

6:33: Several minutes of recording audience applause for later editing. This always a fun segment.

6:14: The Taylors begin their set with “I Can Call on Jesus Anytime / Operator,” performed acapella. There were some microphone feedback issues; they worked past those flawlessly, like the true professionals they are. Song 2: “Oh, I Want to See Him.” The Taylors are performing a very strong set. Song 3: “I’m Gonna Make It.”

6:09: The Browns had another instrumental feature; they performed “I Sing the Mighty Power/Canon in D” with three fiddles. They have had a number of instrumental features this week in addition to their mainstage headliner slots, and I believe they have performed this in three or four of them. In past years, the instrumental showcase slots were spread between a half-dozen players, most of them pianists. Most of those slots were given to the Browns this year; perhaps it is because fewer groups carry a pianist than in past years?

5:57: 11th Hour starts their set with “Steppin’ Out.” Song 2: Outgoing soprano Candice Jordan, who recently announced her upcoming departure from the group, sings the solo on the group’s biggest song so far, “Room With a View.” Song 3: “Adam’s Fall,” featuring alto Amber Eppinnette. This was a professional, nicely-paced set; the group acquitted themselves well for their first headliner (i.e. non-showcase-winner) appearance on the mainstage.

5:55: Dean and Kim Hopper will host this evening.

5:51: Dean Hopper leads an audience singalong, with Gerald Wolfe on piano.

5:46: Greater Vision sings “My Name is Lazarus.”

5:39: Tim Lovelace talks with audience members via the fan cam.

5:37: Showcase winner: The Erwins are singing a song you may have heard the Kingdom Heirs do twenty years ago, “That Very Moment.” There are three brothers and a sister; the sister, who is the youngest, isn’t merely good for her age; she’s good, period, and exceptional for her age. Tim Lovelace talked with her after the song and found out that she was twelve.

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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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NQC 2013, Day 2: Live Blog

Are you watching in person or online? Jump in; join the discussion and share your thoughts in the comments section!

Highlights

In no particular order.

  • The webcast quality was greatly improved from last night. There was only one point where there were any significant interruptions—though, sadly, it was…
  • The Cathedral Family Reunion appearance—Danny Funderburk, Ernie Haase, Gerald Wolfe, Mark Trammell, and Scott Fowler, joined by guest bass Paul Harkey—singing their new radio single, “We’ll Work.” I could only catch a few seconds here and a few seconds there, but it was enough to confirm that it was one of the evening’s highlights.
  • Even though Legacy Five’s set had the somewhat odd pacing of three bass solo songs to open, it showcased Matt Fouch’s growth into his role as a Legacy Five-style bass singer within the past year.
  • I was prepared to describe the Kingdom Heirs set much like I described one or two sets from yesterday: Solidly paced, and so great as a whole that it deserved mention here, even though there wasn’t one song that stood head and shoulders over the rest. But then they closed with their current #1 hit, “Just Beyond the Sunset.” They gave it the all-our barn-burner treatment that they’ve given to previous favorites, “He Locked the Gates” and “I Know I’m Going There.” 

Highlights of their respective sets include: “Homecoming Day” (Tribute Quartet), “Searchin’” (The Talleys with Jason Crabb), “When He Spoke” (The Perrys), “That’s What The Blood is For” (Jason Crabb), “Calvary Conquers It All” (Gold City), “Goodbye World Goodbye” (Penny Loafers), “When We Meet to Part No More” (Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver), “When I Wake Up To Sleep No More” (Inspirations), “Reason Enough” (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound), “What Remains of Me” (Dixie Melody Boys with The Isaacs), “Hold On” (The McKameys), “Four Days Late” (Karen Peck and New River), “I’ll Trust The Potter’s Hand” (The Whisnants)

Live Play-By-Play

Click “Read More” to read the live blog; it is hidden from the home page for space considerations.

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Saturday News Roundup #185

Worth Knowing

  • The Kingdom Heirs’ current radio single—”Just Beyond the Sunset,” penned by Dianne Wilkinson—will be #1 on the October 2013 Singing News chart.
  • Perrys baritone Bryan Walker married Bethany Allred last Saturday. Perrys alumni Loren Harris filled in for Walker during his honeymoon.
  • Gaither Vocal Band lead singer Michael English’s father, Clifton Aubine English, passed away on Wednesday. Here’s an obituary.
  • Aaron Wilburn had gall bladder surgery on Tuesday. He is recovering well.
  • Bill Dykes, former baritone for The Cathedrals and for Jerry and the Singing Goffs, is recovering from major colon surgery.
  • Karen Peck & New River has renewed their recording contract with Daywind, signing a multi-album deal. Karen commented, “We are very honored to be a part of the Daywind family. We are excited about what The Lord has in store for our future together!”
  • Danny Funderburk, Ernie Haase (with Ernie Haase and Signature Sound), Scott Fowler (with Legacy Five), Mark Trammell (with the Mark Trammell Quartet), and Gerald Wolfe (with Greater Vision) were in the studio this week, recording vocals for a Cathedral Family Reunion CD, to be released this November. The album, announced in May, will at least be released in conjunction with Ernie Haase’s Stow Town Records. Stow Town is distributed by Provident/Sony. Provident/Sony releases a sales book marketing their new releases each quarter; Landon Beene, executive producer for the project, announced on Facebook this week that Provident will feature this CD on the cover of their 4th quarter book, and that this is the first time a Southern Gospel release is the cover feature.

Worth Watching

Thanks to MusicScribe’s Diana Brantley, here’s our first look at the new Dixie Echoes lineup:

Also worth watching:

Now this, my friends, is what a Kingsmen concert is supposed to sound like!

A third video worth watching: Ernie Haase & Signature Sound lead singer Devin McGlamery released a solo album several months ago. This week, he released his first concept video, based off of one of the songs from that album. It is posted here.

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday—you decide!

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Saturday News Roundup #170

Worth Knowing

Worth Watching

One of the strongest moments on the latest entry in Legacy Five’s, Greater Vision’s, and the Booth Brothers’ Jubilee series, Jubilee 3, was a Rebecca Peck-penned convention song, “Treasures in Heaven.” Here’s a pretty innovative take on the song; who would have thought of it as a female trio song?

Also worth watching: Matt Fouch has uploaded a video interview with Legacy Five pianist Trey Ivey.

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday—you decide!

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Saturday News Roundup #155

Worth Knowing

  • Mansion Records is launching a bluegrass imprint, BlueGrass Valley Records. They will be working with the bluegrass artists Brad Davis, Detour, Nightflyer, Tammy Larson, and The Wilhites.
  • On Thursday, the Crist Family announced that Breana Crist was coming off the road. Here’s an in-depth farewell open letter to her fans.
  • Lynn’s Chronicles recently reviewed Dianne Wilkinson: The Life and Times of a Gospel Songwriter. (Thanks, Lynn!) The review is here; more information on the book is here.

Worth Watching

There are too many good videos worth watching this week to only feature one! Here’s a first look at Randy Byrd with the LeFevre Quartet.

(Here’s a second video featuring new tenor Thomas Nally.)

Here’s a video of the Kingdom Heirs in the studio, working on their spring release Redeeming the Time, and having fun in between takes.

Finally, this Perfect Heart video has been making the rounds this week. Tenor Garry Sheppard sings bass, bass singer Mike Presnell sings lead, and pianist Jeff Stice singing tenor with Perfect Heart. Even though the spotlight is on Garry, since Jeff is the one on the scene today, definitely don’t miss Jeff’s high ending! Another point of interest is that Joseph Smith, who would eventually move on to the Booth Brothers and then the Mark Trammell Trio, is singing baritone. 

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday—you decide!

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3:1 CD Review: A Living Legacy: The Songs of Squire Parsons

A Living Legacy: The Songs of Squire Parsons3:1 Reviews offer three highlights of an album and one area that could have been improved.

1. Concept: In the last few years, Jim Brady has cemented a position as one of the genre’s strongest writers. His songwriting hero is Squire Parsons, and he made this as a tribute to him. Over the last year, Squire has been fighting cancer, and this is a heartwarmingly magnificent example of the genre coming together to recognize one of its finest while he can still smell the roses.

2. “I Call it Home”: Karen Peck delivered a magnificent rendition of this Squire classic. Jim and Melissa Brady completed the trio harmonies. It’s genuinely a hard thing to blend with a first soprano, but Jim and Melissa pull it off with class and perfection. In fact, they sound as good backing Karen up as Karen’s group, New River, does—no small feat. 

3. “I Sing Because”: The Mark Trammell Quartet offers this standout rendition. Mark Trammell has the solo—and, astonishingly, carries it all the way through. From the Kingsmen on, it has been standard practice to hand the high chorus to a tenor singer. But Mark hits the highest recorded notes of his career, singing all the way to a C5 (C above middle C) by the end. This is also notable for being Joel Wood’s final recorded performance with the group.

4 (bonus). “I’ve Got a Reservation”: This features an all-star quartet of Chris Allman, Jim Brady, Mark Trammell, and Glenn Dustin, with Glenn on the solo. It’s as strong as you would expect from a quartet with this level of vocal talent!

5 (bonus). “The Broken Rose”: Ivan Parker turns in a new rendition so strong that it will stand as a highlight, even in this august company. Even if you’re not a fan of Ivan’s typical style, give this one a chance. You won’t be sorry.

6 (bonus). New vocals for Kingsmen, Kingdom Heirs: Rather than simply pulling a track from an old recording, the Kingsmen and Kingdom Heirs both went to the time and trouble to record new vocals with their current vocal configurations.

:1. One thing I would change: Songs pulled from previous recordings: This point must be made in a nuanced fashion, since it’s easily understandable why Jim Brady chose the route he went. There are eight new songs, and two more (mentioned in #6) with new vocals. But the remaining eight are pulled from old projects. Among the most notable are the Booth Brothers’ Song of the Year-winning “Look for Me at Jesus’ Feet,” Brian Free & Assurance’s “The Greatest of All Miracles,” and Gold City’s two songs. Gold City’s are the oldest, from 1992 and 1995; mixing and mastering techniques are so different now that it’s obvious on a casual listen that they are from twenty years ago.

Now, the nuanced point: If Jim Brady wanted to produce a five-star recording, he should have released the ten tracks that are all-new or have new vocals. But, understandably, that wasn’t the point here. He wanted to involve as many groups as possible. So it’s completely understandable why he went the route he did.

Even if there may be a few tracks you skip—a decent chance, with eighteen tracks!—there are so many strong performances on this CD that it is a must-purchase for fans of any of the participating groups. 

Traditional or Progressive

Largely traditional to middle of the road.

Album Rating: 4.5 stars.

Credits

Producer: Jim Brady. • Review copy not provided.  • Song list: He Came to Me (Booth Brothers); I Go to the Rock (Legacy Five); The Greatest of All Miracles (Brian Free & Assurance); I Call it Home (Karen Peck, Jim and Melissa Brady); I’m Not Giving Up (Gold City); The Broken Rose (Ivan Parker); I’ve Got a Reservation (Glen Dustin, Mark Trammell, Jim Brady, Chris Allman); I Sing Because (Mark Trammell Quartet); I Know the Lord (Triumphant Quartet); Hello Mama (Jim Brady); Master of the Sea (Whisnants); You’re Not Alone (Kingsmen); Always In My Hand (Debra Talley); Ever Since That Wonderful Day (Kingdom Heirs); Look For Me at Jesus’ Feet (Booth Brothers); I Stand Amazed (Arthur Rice, Jim Brady, Greater Vision); If God Be For Us (Gold City); Sweet Beulah Land (all artists).

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