This week, Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row tackles the strengths and weaknesses of Brian Free & Assurance. Brian Free rose to fame in Southern Gospel music as a member of Gold City. A career that started in 1993, Assurance went from trio to quartet to Brian becoming a solo artist before returning as a quartet.
The current group blends progressive Southern Gospel sounds with traditional Southern Gospel quartet music.
- Bill Shivers: It has been said on more than one occasion how Shivers is a great vocalist. He is the group’s greatest vocal strength. One of these days fans need to recognize this fact and give this man an award.
- Progressive Sound: Brian Free & Assurance are masters at progressive Southern Gospel music. The arrangements tend to be built around the group singing as a unit instead of shining the light on any one vocal member.
- Brian Free’s Leadership: While Free is still a strong tenor, his leadership as owner/manager of this group had led Assurance to success.
- “Long As I Got King Jesus”: As much as I would like for them to retire this song for a while, it is the group’s mega-song. Closing every concert for the last seven years, fans still seems to enjoy hearing this song night after night. As long as that is the case, they should keep performing the song.
- Tracks: Last week with EHSS, I missed the opportunity to mention the live band. This week, we go back to the use of tracks. Brian Free & Assurance is a four man unit. There is not even a piano player any longer, all tracks. It is a shame the economics of keeping a Southern Gospel artist on the road has sucked some of the life out of the music.
- The Unit Is Stronger Than The Individual Parts: While Derrick and Jeremy are great on the blending/harmony work, they are not really recognized as the strongest vocalists in their respective categories.
- Classic Quartet Recording: Brian Free & Assurance have proven they are masters at progressive Southern Gospel music. The group should record an entire classic quartet album, both old and new material, with traditional Southern Gospel quartet arrangements.
- Getting A Band: While the economics keep this a mere pipe dream, it would be nice to see Brian Free & Assurance touring with a live band.
- Losing Bill Shivers: The biggest vocal loss BFA could encounter would be the loss of Bill Shivers.
- Going Solo: Brian deciding again to scrap the quartet and go back to solo work. Here’s hoping this never happens again.
***NEXT SWOT ANALYSIS: JASON CRABB***