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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Friday News Roundup #216

Worth Knowing

  • Gerald Wolfe has been undergoing physical therapy on his neck and shoulders. On medical advice, he has taken the last three weekends off from singing; Brian Alvey (Lauren Talley Alvey’s husband) has been filling in. Wolfe has been at each date, playing piano and emceeing. This setup with Alvey filling in on lead and Wolfe on piano is expected to continue for three more weeks.
  • Phil Cross’s father passed away on Wednesday evening; on the same day, his mother was hospitalized with extremely high blood pressure and concern about possible blood clots.
  • Primitive Quartet guitarist Mike Riddle suffered a severe injury to his left ring finger on Wednesday. His finger was broken in multiple places. He visited a surgeon on Thursday to discuss surgery options.
  • The Old Paths are recording a live DVD next Wednesday at Sagemont Church in Houston, Texas. The taping will be free and open to the public.
  • Daywind announced a date and location for a Nashville-area memorial service for their recently-deceased former A&R Director, Norman Holland. It will be from 1-3 PM on Monday, April 14th at Christ Church in Brentwood, TN.

Worth Reading

Yesterday’s discussion on radio chart speed prompted some thought-provoking letters to the editor.

From Josh:

I’ve been thinking about the difference between SG and other genres in other areas of the industry, but it has an effect here too. Its widely understood that a major difference between our industry and others is our motives.

In other genres, chart success is what drives their success on the road. If you don’t have a chart-topper, its very difficult to get your foot into the industry. In southern gospel, while chart success is important, I’m not convinced its what drives a group to continue on the road. If it does, maybe they should check why they are in this industry to begin with. Groups will (should) continue to travel if they don’t have a chart-topper. That’s not what this industry should be based on. The importance needs to be placed less on the chart-toppers and more on the lives saved.

Could the charting process be sped up? If its a core part of the industry and why groups continue to travel, go right ahead. But I won’t be hurt if it stays the way it is because I hope groups would realize that they don’t travel for chart-topping success or the royalties they could earn.

An excerpt from Kevin Kreuger’s letter:

If we look back in history from the 50′s, 60′s and in the 70′s, all formats (country, pop, etc) had songs that dominated the #1 position on the charts for months. Now that we’ve become the instant everything culture, we see songs rise and fall in a quicker manner. I think another thing that comes into play is that we have more ‘national’ groups than we did in prior decades. With more groups clammering for airplay, I see songs coming off charts sooner because we have to make room for the new addtions to the chart.

I like Absolutely Gospel’s weekly chart (disclosure: we are a reporting station to this chart) versus a monthly chart, but I believe the charts are for industry professionals. Nobody walks up to a product table and says, ‘well this CD has one number one song, a top ten song and a three top twenty songs, but that one had only one number one song and one top fourty song. I’ll take the first one’.

 

And, finally, an impressively lengthy one from Tony Watson:

I’m of the school that says the charts have much less impact today than they did 20 years ago. Honestly I subscribe to Singing News but I seldom ever look at the chart anymore and I don’t look at any other charts at all. I was in radio for a few years in the late 80′s-early 90′s so I looked at it then. Now with so much instant access to songs through websites, YouTube, iTunes, social media, etc. the need for charting is lessened for the consumer. It’s still a measure for the artist of what the buying public is listening to, but I think other factors have bit into that as well.

Services like Enlighten, iTunes Radio, Pandora, etc. have had a very positive effect in getting the music by the top groups “out there” more. Sure there are still some quality issues, but it’s still better quality than was demonstrated on much local gospel music radio before these were available. The push-back is this . . . artists are seeing that people are buying fewer and fewer CD’s. They either buy it on iTunes, with many just buying the songs they like, or due to the exposure with these web and satellite-based services, people don’t feel like they need to buy the CD’s/songs because they get to hear the top songs for free or for a monthly subscription.

While the artists do get royalties from services like Enlighten, the impression I’m getting from the artists is it’s many times a lesser return than they used to see from CD sales just a few years ago.

Getting back to the issue at hand, I see there being fewer “landmark” songs” today than 20 years ago. I think it’s partially because of increased exposure, partially because there are more groups who have a “national” platform than there were. The internet and it’s related venues like YouTube, social media, artist websites, e-mail lists and the like make it easier for folks to keep up with and interact with their favorite groups and really not be as interested in the industry as a whole. Used to be, Singing News was the lifeline of information – now the information is 2 months old when you receive it and it’s greater value is the behind the scenes stuff with the artists, their at home visits and the stories behind the songs. Still a great value, but much different than grabbing it out of the mailbox and seeing what song is #1 this month.

Some may argue that there are MORE landmark songs than 20 years ago, but I would disagree. I think you get some songs with “definition” for a group from time to time but I don’t think they, overall, have the lasting impact as “Midnight Cry” or “We Shall See Jesus” or “Learning to Lean” or “Touring that City” or other songs that are instantly identified with a particular group from days gone by.

It’s the same thing in the rest of society. There are many other options for music, for entertainment, for pretty much everything these days. Overall TV ratings are down for particular shows because there are so many other options for viewing. Shows come and go much quicker because networks will not stick with shows to let them breathe.

The same reality exists in gospel music. The most successful groups in recent days have had a simple formula – good songs, good people skills, believability and very little personnel turnover – period. I tell people all the time, the key to being successful in gospel music comes down to 2 words “stay there”. The problem is now, economic issues are going to swallow more and more up and those who are in debt up to their eyeballs are going to be tempted to do some unethical things to try and stay afloat (some already have) and that’s a tough place to be.

With that said, back to the issue at hand (I keep chasing my own rabbits), who can name the “landmark” song of more recent groups? It often comes down to the song you first heard them sing or the song you like the best or the song that ministers to you the best. I’m asking some hypothetical questions now because I don’t want this thread to become a list of people’s choices for “landmark” song, but what is the “Landmark” song of Triumphant Quartet? Crabb Family? Collingsworth Family? Whisnants? Mark Trammell Quartet? Booth Brothers? Greater Vision? Tribute Quartet? I’m thinking specifically off the top of my head of groups that have come to more prominence within the past 20 years, give or take. If we were to list them, we couldn’t likely come to a consensus of what those were in many cases. In some cases it’s a little clearer, to be sure.

To summarize, I’m of the opinion that radio still has much value, but the charting impact has lessened significantly in gospel music and I don’t see it coming back.

Worth Watching

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Devin McGlamery wins vote for 2013 Best Southern Gospel On-stage Video

The results are in! The readers of Southern Gospel Journal voted this video as the best Southern Gospel on-stage video of 2013:

With over 3,000 votes cast, the second and third place finishers had such an overwhelming showing as to deserve an honorable mention. In fact, the second-place finisher, The Inspirations’ “He Broke The Chains,” had more votes than the total votes cast in the concept and behind-the-scenes polls combined:

Meanwhile, the third-place finisher, The Old Paths’ “Long Live The King.” Their showing would have been enough to win either of the first two polls!

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2013 SouthernGospelBlog.com Awards: Best On-Stage Video: Voting

Quite a few Southern Gospel magazines and websites offer “best of” contests and awards shows. But they often cover much the same ground: Favorite artist, song, album, musician, singer at each vocal part, and the like. Let’s do something different. Let’s honor the best Southern Gospel videos—concept videos, behind-the-scenes videos (including studio videos), and live concert videos. For each category, we’ll do a nominations post and a follow-up post with a poll featuring the top nominees.

You’ve already selected the best concept video and the best behind-the-scenes video. You’ve also nominated and seconded the finalists for this final category, best on-stage single-song video, here. It’s time to vote!

[UPDATE, 1/27/2014] The results are in! Here are the final vote totals and percentages:

  1. 42% / 1,313 votes: From My Rags to His Riches – Devin McGlamery – http://youtu.be/LC0B7idut00
  2. 33% / 1,036 votes: He Broke The Chains – Inspirations – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7clxQv-uRZ8
  3. 8% / 239 votes: Long Live The King – Old Paths – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bW-t09L4kk
  4. 4% / 132 votes: Thanks To Calvary – Pat Barker at the Cathedrals Family Reunion – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cnp8azmLVQ
  5. 3% / 83 votes: I Rest My Case At The Cross – The Perrys – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wozmtqhEfA4
  6. 3% / 80 votes: While I Still Can – Devin McGlamery – http://youtu.be/wi2CWLFEInE
  7. 2% / 52 votes: Glorious Freedom – Gaither Vocal Band - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qzxv8EYGCM
  8. 2% / 47 votes: Light a Candle – Ernie Haase & Signature Sound – http://youtu.be/sWvLdgG2RQk
  9. 1% / 44 votes: He Loves Me – Chris Allman, Gerald Wolfe, Mark Trammell, Pat Barker – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3z-vIVdoeE
  10. 1% / 43 votes: All Bass Quartet at NQC – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSBYqFdeKo0
  11. 1% / 28 votes: Something’s Happening – Hoppers with TaRanda Greene – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhTXW0Q8s5U
  12. 1% / 16 votes: All is Well – Whisnants with Melissa Brady – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nw7u9F1-n7k

Total votes: 3,115.

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Friday News Roundup #205

Worth Knowing

  • Last weekend, Jared Stuffle sang bass with The Perrys for the first time. He will be the Perrys’ regular bass vocalist as his father, Tracy Stuffle, continues to recover from a stroke. Tracy sings selected features on programs where he is healthy enough to make the trip.
  • Congratulations to Rodney Griffin, who just passed the twenty-year mark with Greater Vision.
  • Tim Lovelace’s mother Louise has passed away.
  • Songwriter Marty Millikin has passed away.
  • Colbert Croft has passed away. He had been married to Joyce Croft for 49 years. They wrote songs like “I Can’t Even Walk (Without You Holding My Hand),” “I Believe When He Died He Died For Me,” and “Is That Footsteps That I Hear?”

Worth Watching

Here’s a video of The Old Paths’ debut performance of their new radio single, “Long Live The King”:

Greater Vision sings the Booth Brothers’ signature song:

Probably the best part is the reaction from the Booth Brothers. Michael: “Never sounded better!” Ronnie: “We’re doing ‘Lazarus’!”

Worth Discussing

Are there any other significant Southern Gospel stories from the past week?

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The Need for Discipleship: A Sermon from Jeremy Peace

Old Paths tenor singer Jeremy Peace recently preached his first sermon, on the need for discipleship to be taking place in our churches. Peace, who sang with the Kingsmen prior to joining the Old Paths, also shares his testimony:

(Just to clear up any rumors: He has made it clear that he’s not leaving Southern Gospel. He only plans to preach on days when the group is not touring.)

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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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CD Review: These Truths (Old Paths)

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These Truths is one of the ten strongest Southern Gospel releases this year. There’s a pretty good chance it’s even top five.

Often, when I say that of a project, it is because a project is filled with truly great songs. These Truths is not without good songs, and one (“Long Live the King”) that is the strongest anthem they’ve ever recorded, but the vocal performances are what makes this album stand out. This is the strongest collection of vocal performances in the Old Paths’ career.

Few quartets have vocal talent this strong at every position. Founding members Tim Rackley and Douglas Roark anchor the quartet’s sound at lead and baritone. Roark shines on “If It Were Not For Grace.” Rackley’s performance of “Long Live the King” seals its spot as the single strongest track the Old Paths have ever released. 

With a jaw-dropping performance on “God Said I Love You,” tenor Jeremy Peace proves that he hasn’t lost a note since his Kingsmen years. But then turns around and offers a tender interpretation of “Isn’t That Why He Came.”

Meanwhile, newest member Daniel Ashmore, on his second album with the group, continues to impress. Ashmore is the finest young bass-singing talent to arrive in our genre since Pat Barker’s debut several years back. Their personalities, on and off the stage, couldn’t be more different—Ashmore is the gentle giant to Barker’s life of the party persona—but their talent level is similar. Ashmore probably has the most resonant, open lower bass tones that this genre has seen since Big John Hall’s days with the Blackwood Brothers.

The Old Paths’ previous album, their major-league debut Right Now, was a breakout album for the ensemble, scoring them two #1 hits. Forget any talk of a sophomore slump; These Truths is head-and-shoulders above its predecessor.

Traditional or Progressive: Traditional to Middle-of-the-road.

Group Members: Jeremy Peace (tenor), Tim Rackley (lead), Douglas Roark (baritone), Daniel Ashmore (bass).

Credits: Produced by Danny Crawford. Engineers: Van Atkins, Jeremy Peace. Mixed and mastered by Van Atkins. Musicians: Danny Crawford (piano, keyboards, orchestrations), Tony Creasman (drums, percussion), Jeremy Medkiff (bass guitar, electric guitar), David Johnson (acoustic guitar, mandolin, fiddle, resonator guitar, harmonica, steel guitar, banjo). Review copy provided.

Song List (songwriters in parentheses): We Are Those Children (Jeff Gibson); Isn’t That Why He Came (Karen Gillespie, Rachel McCutcheon); Enough and Then Some (Christie Capps); We Hold These Truths (Steve Marshall, Phil Mehrens); Love Them to Jesus (Rodney Birch); If It Were Not For Grace (Christopher Clayton); Passing Through (Steve Marshall, Chris Binion, John Darin Rowsey); God Said I Love You (Craig Edwards); God’s Gonna Do the Same (Ronny Hinson); Long Live the King (Dianne Wilkinson, Chris Binion).

Five-star songs: Long Live the King.

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Someone Else’s Signature

Yesterday evening, I caught a concert by The Old Paths. One highlight of the evening was lead singer Tim Rackley’s version of “I Bowed On My Knees and Cried Holy.” The song, of course, is a signature song for current Gaither Vocal Band lead singer Michael English. English’s vocal gymnastics on the song could not be farther from the solidly straight-ahead lead vocals Rackley typically offers. Rackley wisely did not attempt to match English’s gymnastics, but he added enough runs to his more straightforward rendition to convey an appropriate level of passion.

This got me wondering. What are some of the other signature songs for one singer that have become exceptionally strong showstoppers in the hands of another singer?

(Note: Keep the discussion positive and constructive; no comments, please, about perceived weaknesses of the original renditions of signature songs!)

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The Old Paths sign with The Harper Agency

Over the last two years, the Old Paths have risen to the ranks of the industry’s leading quartets. After signing with Crossroads in 2012, their first Crossroads release produced two #1 Singing News hits. This year, they moved to the premiere Sonlite/Crossroads label for their latest release (These Truths, which came out this Tuesday).

This morning, the Harper Agency, one of the industry’s leading booking agencies, announced that they have added The Old Paths to their roster. Harper Agency president Ed Harper states:

My dad, who founded The Harper Agency in 1986, was a member of The Oak Ridge Boys for 12 years. As a result of Dad’s love for four-part harmony, our agency has a rich tradition of representing quality quartets. The Old Paths help us continue that tradition. They have been around for quite a while, but they have recently begun to make a real impact in so many areas. They have received major endorsements from such prominent pastors as Dr Jerry Vines and Dr Charles Stanley, which is a great testament to their desire for ministry, as well as their exceptional talent. We are honored to have the opportunity to work with and represent such an outstanding group of young men. We look forward to being a part of their future for many years.

Old Paths baritone Douglas Roark adds: 

We are honored and humbled by the recent success of our ministry, and all the glory is given to the Lord, Jesus Christ. We are thankful for the support of our families, friends, fans and diligence of the Crossroads Music team. Along with that success there’s been a greater demand for scheduling. We’re delighted to announce an agreement with the renowned Harper Agency! With their shared interest in keeping the Gospel of Christ at the forefront, we have every confidence that we can better focus on the day to day task of the ministry and allow more time with our families when we’re home. We are so looking forward to what we believe God has in store.

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