Enter To Win: Friday Fun Give Away

kingdomheirs1992extraordinarymaxInstead of fighting all the black Friday crowds today, why not win this classic Southern Gospel CD and you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home.  Today, I am giving away the Kingdom Heirs 1992 recording, Extraordinary.

The vocal line-up on this particular CD was Rick Strickland (tenor), Clayton Inman (lead), Steve French (baritone) and Eric Bennett (bass).  The songs found on Extraordinary included “Extraordinary Grace”, “God Will Make A Way”, “I Can See Heaven”, “I’m Gonna Rise”, “Keep Your Eyes On Jesus”, “Mercy’s Hearing”, “Rest A Little While”, “Silver & Gold”, “There’s A Change” and “Under Control”.

Remember all CDs given away are used (I have been the only owner).  The first person to email me (swea215@yahoo.com) the correct response to the following question will win the Kingdom Heirs, Extraordinary.

Please name the (7) quartets listed in this musical mash-up.

The Definitive Southern Gospel Collection – 2007

kingdomheirs2007truetothecallmaxBack to one of my regular features this week; the definitive Southern Gospel collection.  I take a look at a specific year in Southern Gospel music and determine the (20) best albums released in that given year.  I am taking a look at the year 2007.  I started with a list of 75 albums and worked on narrowing it down to the (20) best.

crossway2007beautifulthingmaxThe Booth Brothers started their award show domination in 2007 by winning artist of the year at the Singing News fan awards.  Live In Music City by Legacy Five won album of the year as “I Have Not Forgotten” (Inspirations) won song of the year.  “Give It Away” (Gaither Vocal Band) won both album and recorded song at the Dove Awards in 2007.

The (20) best albums released in 2007 were:

  1. True To The Call – Kingdom Heirs (Sonlite)
  2. A Beautiful Thing – CrossWay (Big Ten House)
  3. Look No Further – Perrys (Daywind)
  4. Journey Of Joy – Karen Peck & New River (Daywind)
  5. You Gotta Love It – Triumphant Quartet (Daywind)
  6. Eyes On The Prize – Freemans (Goldenvine)
  7. Down East Boys - Cross Still StandsFar Down The Road – Greenes (ACA)
  8. Austins Bridge – Austins Bridge (Daywind)
  9. Once Upon A Cross – Mark Trammell Trio (Daywind)
  10. The Cross Still Stands – Down East Boys (Crossroads)
  11. Life Is Great And Gettin’ Better – Jeff & Sheri Easter (Daywind)
  12. Get Away Jordan – Ernie Haase & Signature Sound (Gaither Music)
  13. Real Faith – Brian Free & Assurance (Daywind)
  14. Big Sky – Isaacs (Spring House)
  15. Vocalized – Ball Brothers (Permanent)
  16. Know So Salvation – Legacy Five (Daywind)
  17. ballbrothers2007vocalizedmaxCarry On – Booth Brothers (Custom)
  18. Stages – Talley Trio (Horizon)
  19. Come Eat Bread – Hayes Family (Crossroads)
  20. Hope Is Alive – Crystal River (BSA World)

Listen to a musical mash-up from the (20) best Southern Gospel albums of 2007.  Enjoy!

1st Annual Southern Gospel Views From The Back Row Honors – Wrap Up

1stbrian-freeThe 1st annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors is now in the record books.  I initially chose the five nominees in each category that I thought best represented Southern Gospel music in 2014.  I then let you, the reader, decide on the best of the year.  Here were your decisions and a brief statement of each category.

I want to thank everyone who participated in the voting rounds.  While I am not a huge fan of ‘fan’ voted popularity award shows, I do enjoy an awards program that honors the best in a specific musical genre for a given year.

Recorded Song of the Year (song recorded on a 2014 release, did not have to be a radio single)

  1. “Say Amen” – Jason Cox/Michael Farren/Kenna Turner West; recorded by Brian Free & Assurance (Unashamed)

I am not surprised at the reader’s decision here.  “Say Amen” was one of the biggest recorded songs of the year and this would not be the only win for this particular song.  If I was asked to choose the winner of the five nominees, my choice would have been “Falling” by Amber Nelon Thompson.  I have not heard a more exquisite song in Southern Gospel music.

Album of the Year (had to be a 2014 release)

  1. Your Walk Talks – Mark Trammell Quartet (Crimson Road Records)

Quartets will always dominate when stacked up against other artists, such was the case with Your Walk Talks winning album of the year.  No doubt this was Mark Trammell Quartet’s best album release to date.  My choice would have been Church In The Kitchen by the Dunaways.

Radio Single of the Year (had to be a chart hit from January 2014 to current)

  1. “Long Live The King” – Chris Binion/Dianne Wilkinson; recorded by Old Paths (These Truths)

The readers gave the Old Paths a couple of wins in 2014 including radio single of the year.  You and I were on the same page with this category as “Long Live The King” was also my choice.

Song Cover of the Year (a previously recorded song covered on a 2014 album release)

  1. “When He Calls, I’ll Fly Away” – Talleys (The Test Of Time); Vep Ellis

If the readers were not choosing traditional quartet options, you were going for traditional quartet songs.  The Talleys cover of “When He Call, I’ll Fly Away” dominated the song cover of the year category.  Good choice, but I would have given the honor to Master’s Voice for their cover of “The Saving Kind”.

MTQVideo – Short Form (best concept video – links to the videos will be provided during the voting rounds)

  1. “Say Amen” – Brian Free & Assurance

“Say Amen” picked up a second win with short form (concept) video of the year.  The popularity of the song definitely carried over to the video win.  I particularly loved the mainstream country treatment given to the Freemans video for “Where I’ve Been”.  That would have been my choice.

Songwriter

  1. Dianne Wilkinson

No one can argue the choice for songwriter of the year.  I was glad to see Kenna Turner West rising among the ranks of well deserved songwriters and see her finished second to Dianne.

Songwriting Collab

  1. Jason Cox/Michael Farrren/Kenna Turner West

Give “Say Amen” its third win for the year as the songwriting collaboration team of Jason Cox, Michael Farren and Kenna Turner West win the songwriting collab of the year.  Just like my recorded song choice, I would have chosen Gina Boe, Ronnie Freeman and Tony Wood the win for collaborating on “Falling”.

Old PathsQuartet

  1. Old Paths

Even though “Say Amen” dominated and gave Brian Free & Assurance (3) wins, the Old Paths would win the quartet prize.  This gave the Old Paths two wins for the year.  Good to see this quartet finally getting recognition.  Old Paths would have also been my choice for 2014.

Mixed Group (at least 4 vocalists)

  1. Nelons

The Nelons moving to a four vocal configuration allowed them to pull off a win for mixed group of the year.  The music this group has given Southern Gospel listening audiences the last several years makes this a well deserved honor.  The Nelons were my choice as well.

Duo/Trio (no more than 3 vocalists)

  1. Greater Vision

When the Booth Brothers are not a contender for trio, you are guaranteed that Greater Vision will be there to claim the prize.  Greater Vision did have a great year with the success of radio songs from their For All He’s Done album.  If I was looking at just 2014, I would have given the prize to 11th Hour.

Solo Artist

  1. Taranda Greene

Stronger will end up being one of the top album releases of 2014.  Taranda has already proven she is one of the top female voices in any genre of music.  Well deserved win; my choice as well.

ErwinsNew Artist

  1. Erwins

Erwins fans came out in force and crushed the competition for new artist of the year.  Erwins fans know what they were talking about because the Erwins was also my choice for best new artist of 2014.

Most Underrated (based on 2014 releases/hit singles)

  1. Ball Brothers

The Ball Brothers have been around Southern Gospel music now for nearly a decade and still get very little recognition.  Winning most underrated is fitting.  The artist I would have chosen fits in to the same mold; the Dunaways.

Cutting Edge (artists who create their own sound/think outside the box)

  1. Brian Free & Assurance

As you already see, Brian Free & Assurance were the big winners of 2014.  Winning cutting edge gave the group their 4th honor.  My choice for the year would have gone to Akins.

Concert Performer/Touring Artist (artists selling out venues in 2014)

  1. Booth Brothers

After the Collingsworth Family led this category for most of the week it was up, the Booth Brothers squeaked out a win in the end, proving they are still at the height of their popularity.  If I was hand picking the winners, the Collingsworth Family would have been my choice.

NelonsPianist

  1. Kim Collingsworth (Collingsworth Family)

No surprise Kim Collingsworth was honored with pianist of the year.  Fans love her.  My choice would have been Michael Howard with Soul’d Out Quartet.

Musician

  1. Ben Isaacs (Isaacs) – Bass

Bass playing Ben Isaacs was honored with musician of the year.  All five of the nominees were deserving.  My choice for 2014 would have been Eli Akin.

Tenor Vocalist

  1. Chris Allman (Greater Vision)

No arguments here.  My readers and I were on the same page.

Lead Vocalist

  1. Arthur Rice (Kingdom Heirs)

After years of nominations in the major ‘fan’ voted award shows, readers of Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row finally give Arthur Rice a lead singer of the year honor.  Long overdue.  As overdue as it was, my choice of 2014 would have been Tim Rackley (Old Paths) by a small margin.

Baritone Vocalist

  1. Mark Trammell (Mark Trammell Quartet)

Another win that is hard to argue.  In this case with a solo album release in 2014 I would have gone with Doug Anderson.

GVBass Vocalist

  1. Jeff Chapman (Kingdom Heirs)

Just like band mate Arthur Rice, Jeff Chapman has never been given the recognition as bass singer.  Readers have rectified that in 2014.

Alto Vocalist

  1. Libbi Stuffle (Perrys)

Libbi Stuffle is always an obvious choice when looking at alto vocalists.  Another good year for Libbi on radio with the success of “I Can Trust Him”.  While Libbi is always deserving I would have leaned slightly to Kelly Nelon Clark in 2014.

Soprano Vocalist

  1. Amber Thompson (Nelons)

Amber Thompson has continued her winning streaks of late.  The readers and I agree on this choice.

Emcee

  1. Gerald Wolfe (Greater Vision)

While a little long-winded at times there is no denying Gerald Wolfe will go down as one of Southern Gospel’s greatest emcee’s of all time.  To move from humor, to serious, to read a crowd and change a program accordingly.  Only the best can do this with precision.

Fan Event

  1. National Quartet Convention (Pigeon Forge, TN)

Even with the less than stellar reviews of its first year in Pigeon Forge TN, the National Quartet Convention is still the most popular Southern Gospel fan event.  This event dominated its competition in this category.

Buzz Worthy: The Hopper Brothers, Take 2

The Hoppers posted a video on their YouTube channel from a concert two weeks ago.  Both Kim and Connie were out and the boys had to improvise.  With the help of Matt Griffith and Nathan Kistler, Dean and Mike formed a quartet and performed “I Believe In A Hill Called Mt Calvary”.  Enjoy!

Family Affair – Barry Rowland & Deliverance

deliverance2014familyaffairGRADE:  B-

  • Album – Family Affair
  • Artist – Barry Rowland & Deliverance
  • Label – Skyland Records
  • Style – Traditional
  • Release Date – 10/14/14
  • Available For Digital Download? – Yes (iTunes/Spotify)

SYNOPSIS:

Sorry for the brief hiatus this week, but life happens sometimes that takes us away from our hobbies.  I’m back today with one of the final album reviews of 2014.  This was the first album I have reviewed from Barry Rowland & Deliverance; Family Affair.

Some may ask what has taken me so long to review an album by Barry Rowland & Deliverance, considering this is the sixth album released by the trio.  I really don’t have an explanation for that so I will attempt to rectify it with a review of Family Affair.

If any of my readers are not familiar with Barry Rowland, I know you are familiar with the name Kyla Rowland.  Kyla is one of Southern Gospel’s greatest songwriters and Barry is Kyla’s son.  Barry is joined by his wife Tammy and vocalist Shawn Rupert to make up the trio Deliverance.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Right from the start, what I enjoy about the style of Barry Rowland & Deliverance is they remind me a lot of the ‘high energy’ type artists from the late ’80’s/early ’90’s.  Also, if Southern Gospel listeners were familiar with the Rowlands during this same era, the sound of Family Affair is pure Rowland.
  • The album starts with a song the Rowlands recorded in the early ’90’s; “Our Third Day”.  This up tempo number gets the listener ready for the rest of the album.  I even found myself hitting repeat before continuing to the rest of the album.
  • Another Rowlands song from the early ’90’s, “I Think I’ll Just Go With God” is another stand out track.  The song features Tammy and is a mid-tempo style song that is reminiscent of the songs being released in Southern Gospel music in the early ’90’s.  More recently this particular song was covered by Master’s Voice on their New Grace album.
  • Another song in the same style is “Telling The Story”.  This song would make a great radio single choice.  This is a newer song penned by Kyla and most recently was recorded by the Sneed Family.
  • If any Southern Gospel listener is familiar with the Rowlands, you will remember the power house vocal of Aquilla Martin (Barry’s Aunt).  She gets two features on Family Affair; “Glorious Night” and “Because”.  The latter is the stronger of the two ballads.
  • The album is book-end by two up tempo songs.  The closing track is “This Jordan”.  The song features Barry and Tammy’s Daughters and most Southern Gospel listeners will remember this song from Mercy’s Mark debut album.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Our Third Day”, “I Think I’ll Just Go With God”, “Telling The Story”, “Somebody Go Get God”, “This Jordan”, “Heaven Is Waiting” and “Because”.
CRITIQUE:
  • The pacing of the album has ten mid to slow tempo songs book-end by two up tempo numbers.  As a result, mid way through the album the listener is waiting for another up tempo number to mix it up a bit and the album doesn’t deliver that.
  • Matriarch, Kyla Rowland gets one feature on Family Affair.  She is featured on “How Blessed”, which many will know the Bowling Family’s recording of this song on their album Shine.  I would have preferred one more song featuring Kyla than the several that features the children.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Tell Me The Story Of Jesus” and “A Family Affair”.

WRAP UP:

Even though I have not reviewed any of their prior albums, I have been familiar with Barry Rowland & Deliverance since their Prior To A Prayer album.  Their style and approach would appeal to listeners of groups such as the McKameys, Inspirations, Primitive Quartet and any long time listener familiar with the original Rowlands.  An enjoyable listen!

SONG/Featured Vocalist - All songs written by Kyla Rowland:  1. “Our Third Day”/Ensemble  2. “How Blessed“/Kyla Rowland  3. “I Think I’ll Just Go With God”/Tammy  4. “A Family Affair”/Daughter Tori; Barry - co-written by Jessica Thomas  5. “Somebody Go Get God”/Shawn - co-written by Jessica Thomas  6. “Tell Me The Story Of Jesus”/Daughters (Tori, Holly) - Traditional (PD)  7. “Glorious Night”/Aquilla Martin  8. “Purpose”/Daughter Tori  9. “Telling The Story”/Ensemble; Shawn - co-written by Jessica Thomas  10. “Because”/Aquilla Martin  11. “Heaven Is Waiting”/Tammy  12. “This Jordan”/Ensemble

Voting Rounds – Recorded Song/Album

1stThe end has come for the 1st annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors.  Today you get to vote on the final two categories; the best recorded song and album of 2014.  Recorded song is any song found on a 2014 album release (doesn’t have to be a radio single).  The only criteria for album is that it has to be released in 2014.  I want to thank everyone who participated in helping determine the best Southern Gospel had to offer in 2014.  Once this final poll has closed (one week), I will have a wrap up where I will re-list all winners.

RECORDED SONG

  1. “Falling” – Gina Boe/Ronnie Freeman/Tony Wood; recorded by Amber Nelon Thompson (Without Your Love)
  2. “He Heals” – Don Poythress; recorded by Legacy Five (Great Day)
  3. “How Will You Plead” – Amber Eppinette/Dianne Wilkinson; recorded by 11th Hour (Picture This)
  4. “Reassure Me” – Ronny Stoots; recorded by the Dunaways (Church In The Kitchen)
  5. “Say Amen” – Jason Cox/Michael Farren/Kenna Turner West; recorded by Brian Free & Assurance (Unashamed)

ALBUM

  1. highroad2014crossroadsmaxAngel At The Crossroads – High Road III (Custom) 
  2. dunaways2014kitchenmaxChurch In The Kitchen – Dunaways (Custom) 
  3. perrys2014intohispresencemaxInto His Presence – Perrys (Stow Town Records) 
  4. 11thhour2014picturethismaxPicture This – 11th Hour (Skyland Records) 
  5. mtq2014yourwalktalksmaxYour Walk Talks – Mark Trammell Quartet (Crimson Road Records) 

Voting Rounds – Quartet/Mixed Group

We are close to wrapping up the 1st annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors.  Today you get to vote for best quartet and mixed group of 2014.  Quartet has to be at least (4) male vocalists while mixed group of the year has to be at least (4) vocalists.  YouTube clips of each nominee is included.

QUARTET

1.  Brian Free & Assurance (published by Lisa Marie)

2.  Kingdom Heirs (published by Gospel Harmony Channel)

3.  Mark Trammell Quartet (published by Nathan Shaw)

4.  Old Paths (published by epworthconcerts)

5.  Ernie Haase & Signature Sound (published by EHSSVEVO)

MIXED GROUP

1.  Bowling Family (published by Nick Newman)

2.  Browders (also published by Nick Newman)

3.  Isaacs (published by Lauren SGBlog)

4.  Nelons (published by Marie Beddow)

5.  Taylors (published by Diana Brantley)

Stronger – Taranda Greene

TarandaGRADE:  A

  • Album – Stronger
  • Artist – Taranda Greene
  • Label – Stow Town Records
  • Style – Progressive, Inspirational, Traditional (choir) Gospel
  • Release Date – 11/11/14
  • Available For Digital Download? – Yes (iTunes/Spotify)

SYNOPSIS:

One of the last major album releases of 2014 is Taranda Greene’s new solo recording, Stronger.  An album that had already started production and anticipating release in August.  Before the original release, Stow Town Records signed Taranda and decided to release and distribute Stronger.

The wait was well worth it as Taranda provides Gospel music listeners with one of the top album releases of 2014.  Southern Gospel listeners are already aware of Taranda’s power vocal that was prevalent in her time spent with the Greenes.  She showcases that power vocal on Stronger, unlike any other female voice in Southern Gospel music.

The songs chosen for Stronger and the arrangements chosen by producer Geron Davis makes for an absolute enjoyable listen.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The power house “Awake My Soul” soars above the other songs on Stronger to stand out as the top song on the recording.  Taranda takes this Randy Phillips penned song and makes for one of the best recorded songs of 2014.  A must listen.
  • In honor of late husband Tony Greene, Taranda records the Fred Rose country classic; “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain”.  Originally recorded by Roy Acuff and then later by Willie Nelson (most remembered version), Taranda tackles this country ballad with a simple piano arrangement and somber style that makes it another must listen track on Stronger.
  • Without getting caught up in the modern praise and worship style, Taranda sings the praise song “Healer” to perfection.  She really turns it in to a progressive Southern Gospel power ballad.
  • The album’s opening/title track and first single was “Stronger”.  This song not only defines the strength of the album but conveys Taranda’s life experiences over the last several years.  By conveying the simple message of getting back up after falling, it is a message that we all need to hear at times in our lives.  Sometimes that simple message is the strongest message!
  • With all the work Taranda does with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, it is no surprise Stronger is filled with several traditional (choir) Gospel songs.  The choir is utilized on the Mary Mary cover, “Shackles”.  Taranda takes the listener to church on this particular number.  The same treatment can be heard in “A Little More Jesus” and the album’s closing track, “The Sound”.
  • Geron Davis’ production work needs to be commended.  He takes Taranda and the listener on a musical ride that leaves you wanting more.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Awake My Soul”, “Healer”, “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain”, “Stronger”, “A Little More Jesus”, “Shackles” and “Where Amazing Happens”.
CRITIQUE:
  • Some of the lighter inspirational style songs did get lost on this listener.  The song “Promise” probably stood out as the most forgettable of all the songs on Stronger.
  • I also got lost on the progressive Southern Gospel/praise style song, “All I Need”.  While the vocal work from Taranda is amazing, the song itself fell flat.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Promise” and “All I Need”.

WRAP UP:

Some consider the word Diva derogatory.  If we looked at the simple definition of Diva, it is a highly distinguished female singer.  Of all the female voices in Southern Gospel music I would consider Taranda Greene Southern Gospel’s Diva.  Her voice is one of the greatest you’ll find in any genre of music.  Stronger is a must have for any lover of musical excellence!

SONG (Style) - Songwriter:  1. “Stronger” (Progressive SG) - Joel Lindsey, Barry Weeks, Tony Wood  2. “Where Amazing Happens” (Progressive SG) - William Daniel Dean  3. “Shackles” (Traditional/Choir Gospel) - Erica Atkins Campbell, Tina Atkins Campbell, Warryn Campbell  4. “Awake My Soul” (Progressive SG/Praise) - Randy Phillips  5. “Deepest Place” (Inspirational) - Meredith Andrews, Ronnie Freeman, Tony Wood  6. “Healer” (Praise) - Michael John Guglielmucci  7. “Promise” (Soft Pop) - Geron Davis, Evan Milby  8. “A Little More Jesus” (Traditional/Choir Gospel) - Erica Atkins Campbell, Tina Atkins Campbell, Warryn Campbell   9. “If I Could” (Easy Listening) - Kenny Hirsch, Ronald Miller, Martha Sharron  10. “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain” (Country) – Fred Rose  11. “All I Need” (Progressive SG) – David Clark, Geron Davis  12. “The Sound” (Traditional/Choir Gospel) – Chip Dixson, William Murphy

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