November 2012 is upon us and time to highlight five current radio songs that piqued my interest over the course of the preceding month. Family groups dominate the current radio hit list this month with chart topping hits from the Isaacs, the Hoppers, the Crist Family and the Collingsworth Family. Beyond The Ashes also found a spot among all the family groups. Enjoy!
This week returns to the SWOT analysis feature. The strengths and weaknesses of one of Southern Gospel’s biggest mixed groups, the Collingsworth Family, will be examined. This family unit seems to get stronger every year as the kids continue to mature vocally.
On the brink of becoming the next award winner for mixed group of the year, lets take a look at the Collingsworth Family’s strengths and weaknesses.
The Power Ballad: The Collingsworth Family are the masters of the Southern Gospel power ballad. They like to start off and build the power in the song that by the time the song is over the crowd is on their feet.
Kim Collingsworth: Kim’s piano work is currently the star of the show in any Collingsworth Family concert appearance. The fans can’t seem to get enough.
Harmony: Southern Gospel is built around harmony singing. If one can’t sing harmony you might as well forget a career in Southern Gospel music. The Collingworth Family have superb vocal harmony and flexibility that allow them various vocal configurations on any given song.
Broad Fan Base: The Collingsworth Family are the type of group that can appeal to a wide Southern Gospel fan base, not just a specific sub set. The most successful groups are able to do this (see Gaither Vocal Band, Hoppers, Booth Brothers, Triumphant Quartet, Perrys).
Signature Song: While the Collingsworth Family have had some great songs, they have yet to break through with that signature song (#1, song of the year contender).
The Children Getting Older: Will the Collingsworth Family hold the same appeal with fans as the children continue to get older (and are no longer kids).
Kid’s Recording: To back up the argument the group will only get stronger as the children mature vocally, the four kids (only) need to record an album to show that talent.
Winning Mixed Group: The Collingsworth Family are not that far away from claiming their first mixed group award at one of the many awards shows happening this year.
Members Leaving: As the kids do get older, get married and begin their own lives will the group stay together as a family unit? Time will tell, but the loss of any one member could change the whole vocal dynamic of the group.
April is upon us and in the midst of the Southern Gospel march madness competition I thought I would take a look at five current radio songs that have garnered my attention over the last month. Sometimes artists and record labels don’t get it right when selecting radio singles. The five songs I selected for April deserve a ‘shout out’ for getting my attention. They include two Stow Town recording artists, the Collingsworth Family and Ernie Haase & Signature Sound. You’ll also find Soul’d Out Quartet, Beyond The Ashes and a single from a four-year old album by Mitchel Jon. Enjoy!
The best of 2011 continues with the album and recorded song that find a home at #7. Vocally, The Collingsworth Family get stronger with each new recording. As the children continue to mature vocally and the harmonies get tighter among the family unit, the group’s future in Southern Gospel music is assured.
The album that is #7 among the best album releases of 2011 is the Collingsworth Family; Part Of The Family. This is the group’s first recording on the newly formed Stow Town Records. The group has built a formula around bringing the listener big power ballads that seem to build as the song progresses.
The one downside to offering so many power ballads on this recording is the lack of up tempo songs. It wasn’t enough of a downside to warrant a lower rating in the annual count down of Southern Gospel’s best album releases.
Personal favorite songs from this recording include: ”The Resurrection Morn”, “Tell The Mountain”, “That’s The Place I’m Longing To Go”, “At Calvary”, “Nothing’s Worrying Me”, “Joy Unspeakable” and “Jesus Is All I Need”.
The Booth Brothers have been releasing quality music since bursting on the scene over 15 years ago. Since their introduction to the Southern Gospel listener, the Booth Brothers have built their sound around near perfect harmony singing.
The song that lands at #7 among the best recorded songs of 2011 is a song from the group’s 2011 album, Let It Be Known, that showcases that near perfect harmony singing. ”The Master’s Table”, penned by Rebecca Peck, is a lesson in harmony singing. It is harmony that separates Southern Gospel music from many other musical art forms. Listen to the first verse and chorus to “The Master’s Table”.
Synopsis: The Bowling Family had the #1 album of 2010 with Shine. The group’s 2011 release is a collection of favorites titled Feels Like Sunday. The production quality is strong enough to make these previously recorded tunes sound good with the Bowling Family adding their special vocal touch.
OVERALL RATING: 7.809
SONG LIST: 1. “I Thank You Lord”** 2. “Mercy And Grace”** 3. “Winds Of This World” 4. “Church Medley”** 5. “Jesus Messiah” 6. “Unclouded Day” 7. “Thou Art Worthy” 8. “Blood Medley” 9. “I’m On The Battlefield” 10. “We’ve Come This Far By Faith”** 11. “Farther Along”
Synopsis: The Collingsworth Family have climbed the ranks in Southern Gospel music over the course of last several years. As the kids get older and their voices grow stronger, each new album release seems to top the last. Part Of The Family is filled with Collingsworth style power ballads that make this recording one of the best of the year. The only downside is the lack of up tempo features.
OVERALL RATING: 8.233
SONG LIST: 1. “God’s Family” 2. “Tell The Mountain”** 3. “Joy Unspeakable” 4. “Jesus Is All I Need” 5. “Nothing’s Worrying Me”** 6. “I Pray (Because He Loves Me)” 7. “At Calvary”** 8. “I Found It All” 9. “Just Another Rainy Day” 10. “Praise You”** 11. “That’s The Place I’m Longing To Go”** 12. “The Resurrection Morn”**
Synopsis: Chris Hester had one of my favorite radio singles of the entire year with “Evidence Of Love”. His country vocal is distinctive and is reminiscent of Mike Bowling. The strongest song on Chris’ newest effort, Reach, is a duet with singer/songwriter Sheri LaFontaine; “Child, I Know The Plans”. The slower paced recording could have used several more up tempo numbers to pace the album better.
OVERALL RATING: 7.600
SONG LIST: 1. “House Of Change”** 2. “It’s Not Worth it” 3. “Miracle In Reach”** 4. “Walk Like It” 5. “Smile Through My Tears”** 6. “The Life You Gave” 7. “That Memory”** 8. “That’s Good Enough” 9. “I Fell For You” 10. “Child, I Know The Plans”**
Synopsis: The Waiting Is Over was the fifth album release for Tribute Quartet. The quartet continues to release classic quartet arrangements with several progressive ballads. The group is still waiting for that big hit song to move them to the next level. A solid effort.
OVERALL RATING: 7.891
SONG LIST: 1. “Songs Of Zion” 2. “Makes Me Want To Go”** 3. “Jesus Is Alive”** 4. “Homecoming Day”** 5. “More Than Able” 6. “The I Am”** 7. “There Is A City”** 8. “The Climb” 9. “He Is Leading The Way” 10. “Save My Family, Save My Friends” 11. “Bring On The Joy”**