Time to turn the page on another month. Welcome October 2012. As I start every month, I will highlight five current radio singles that piqued my interest over the course of the preceding month.
This month finds another strong radio single from Palmetto State Quartet’s 2011 album, a great up tempo quartet number from Legacy Five, a country tune from Akins, a great baritone vocal performance from the Inspirations and another chart worthy hit from Karen Peck and New River. Enjoy!
I decided to attend the last night of the 2012 Singing In The Foothills in Wilkesboro NC on Saturday (06/23/12). Six artists capped off this event to a large crowd of Southern Gospel enthusiasts. On this particular night Jonathan Martin was recording some social cam videos. I will also be providing some audio sound bytes of each set to give my readers a small taste of the event. Here are highlights in order of appearance.
Kingsmen – The Kingsmen kicked off the event to a crowd ready to hear some great music. This was my first opportunity to see the group with Chris Jenkins (tenor) and Bob Sellers (lead). They sounded great. Chris was a great addition to the group. He is reminiscent of the classic high tenors the Kingsmen were known for in the past. Here is a social cam clip from Jonathan Martin and some sound bytes for you to enjoy.
Nelons – This was the third time in a two month time span that I’ve seen the Nelons. Similar set, but I am still in awe at the vocal talent that Amber possesses. Enjoy these audio sound bytes of their set.
Talleys – It was great seeing the Talleys in a four-part harmony mixed group. They did quite a bit of material from the new album (Love Won), most notably “Make Way For The Master” and “Broken World”. But the song that caused that crowd to come unglued was their closing number, “He’s Alive”. Wow! Here are some sound bytes of their set.
Karen Peck & New River – New River is a favorite among the Singing In The Foothills crowd. It was evident from the first song. It was great hearing “On The Banks Of The Promised Land”, but the crowd would not let them leaven the stage after performing “Four Days Late”. Jonathan Martin picked up a social cam video here. Enjoy sound bytes from New River’s set.
Primitives – Bluegrass Southern Gospel artist the Primitives delighted the crowd with their brand of mountain flavored music. A favorite of folks in North Carolina, the Primitives highlights included “I Don’t Have To See The Tomb” and “Walking In The Highway”. Another social cam video of the Primitives picking here. Also, sound audio sound bytes of their set.
Martins – I can’t tell you how great it was to see the Martins again. It has been several years since I had the chance to catch up with these folks. They have never sounded better. ”The Promise” and “Unredeemed” knocked my socks off. Jonathan even got a social cam video of the group on stage, here. Enjoy sound bytes from the Martins set.
As a result of the great time I had at Singing In The Foothills, there is some free music to give away. I have two brand new, unopened copies of the Talleys newest album Love Won. Easily one of the best Southern Gospel albums released so far in 2012. The first two individuals to email me (email@example.com) the answer to the following trivia question will win.
***Question: Name the group Debra Talley was a member before marrying Roger and joining the Hoppers.***
UPDATE: Congratulations to Charles and Justin for being the first two to answer the Songmasters correctly. They won a copy of the Talleys new recording Love Won. Thanks for the continued readership and more free music to continue through the summer.
A new week brings a new SWOT analysis. This week, Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row takes a look at the strengths and weaknesses of Karen Peck & New River. Karen started her career with the Rex Nelon Singers and continued with them until forming New River in 1991.
Karen, along with Kim Hopper, is the most awarded soprano singer in Southern Gospel history. She won the award eleven straight years (1986-1996).
Karen: There wouldn’t be a New River if not for Karen Peck. Her off stage personality has endeared her to many fans. She is now even starring in movies alongside Dolly Parton.
Song Selection: Karen has a knack for picking the perfect songs for New River. Recent hits, “I’m Bound For The Promised Land”, “Last Night”, “Special Love” along with countless others have kept this group at the top of this genre.
Four Day Late: Speaking of songs, Karen Peck & New River is lucky enough to have that mega-song in their arsenal. ”Four Days Late” continues to thrill audiences night after night.
Loss Of The Band: When Karen Peck & New River launched, they had one of the best bands to ever grace a Southern Gospel stage. When the group scaled back and moved to tracks, their live concert performances took a hit. It would be nice if the group would do a few selected dates each year with the band.
Not Featuring Their Male Vocalist Enough: Through their career, it seems as though the male vocalist in the group was limited in their features. New River has had some talented vocalists pass through the group since their start.
Being The Top Trio: Karen Peck & New River is probably the most popular mixed trio in Southern Gospel music right now. If the Booth Brothers didn’t have a stranglehold on that category, New River would be in line to win that award.
Selected Dated With The Band: As already mentioned, it would be nice to see Karen Peck & New River do selected dates throughout the year with the band. If nothing else, a live album and video that brings the band back would be great.
Losing Great Songs: With one of the biggest strengths being song selection, a couple of albums with mediocre material could impact the group.
Time to turn the page on another month and start a fresh. It is June 2012 and time to highlight five current radio songs. Southern Gospel radio has plenty of strong material to play, some stations just need to find it. The five radio songs that have piqued my interest over the course of the last month include two Dianne Wilkinson penned tunes performed by Wilburn & Wilburn and the Kingsmen. You’ll also find a career record for Tribute Quartet, another soon to be #1 song from Karen Peck & New River and another strong singer/songwriter tune from Michael Wayne Smith. Enjoy!
This week’s smack down feature highlights a nice up tempo Southern Gospel song penned by Mike Sage. ”In The Name Of Jesus” was recorded by Karen Peck & New River on their 1997 recording Makin’ A Difference. David White is featured on the verses to KPNR’s version.
Listen to Karen Peck & New River take the first verse and chorus of “In The Name Of Jesus”.
In 2010, Paul’s Journey decided to cover the song on their Great Big God recording. Paul’s Journey created some buzz after their appearance at the 2011 National Quartet Convention performing “This Is Just What Heaven Means To Me”. This is a perfect quartet song allowing each member to shine on respective verses.
Listen to Paul’s Journey take the second verse and chorus. Enjoy!
This week’s ten on ten feature highlights the recording career of Karen Peck & New River. Karen has been getting quite a bit of media attention recently with her appearance in the film ‘Joyful Noise’. Karen rose to prominence after joining the Rex Nelon Singers in the early ’80′s. It was 1991 when Karen began New River with sister Susan Jackson. That same year the group released their first album.
Since that debut recording, Karen Peck & New River has just over 20 recordings in their discography. The group is consistently one of the top trios touring the Southern Gospel circuit.
Karen Peck & New River’s top ten albums are:
A Taste Of Grace (2000)
Journey Of Joy (2007)
Reach Out (2011)
For His Glory (2003)
Ephesians One (2008)
Daddy’s Home (1993)
Turn It Loose (1999)
The group’s biggest song, “Four Days Late”, is found on New River’s biggest album. The 2000 release A Taste Of Grace is the pinnacle in the group’s discography.
The 1995 effort, Unlimited, ranks #2 among the best Karen Peck & New River albums. The group’s first #1 song, “God Likes To Work”, was found on this recording. The album was also anchored by “Ten Thousand Angels Cried”, “I Called And You Answered”, “I’m Gonna Fly Away” and “Go Rest High On That Mountain”.
Early albums also found a home among the group’s ten best. The 1992 sophomore release, Restoration ranks highest at #4, while the 1993 recording Daddy’s Home ranks 9th. Early favorite songs “When Jesus Passes By”, “God Still Answers Prayers”, “Rain And Shine”, “Daddy’s Home” and “Last Mile Running” were found on these two recordings.
When Karen Peck & New River hit the scene they toured with a full live band. One of the greatest bands to ever tour in Southern Gospel music. Something that I definitely miss when seeing the group in concert.
The group’s most recent effort, Reach Out, was strong enough to land at #5 among the group’s best recordings. Having “On The Banks Of The Promised Land” on the recording was a huge factor but the group should be proud of the entire strength of the recording.
While Karen and Susan have been mainstays since the beginning, the male vocalist in the trio has seen a who’s who come through. David White, Eric Morris, John Darin Rowsey, Devin McGlamery and Jeff Hawes among others have all spent some time with Karen Peck & New River.
In addition to songs already listed, Karen Peck & New River have given the Southern Gospel listener songs such as “Bend In The River”, “Hold Me While I Cry”, “I Wanna Know How It Feels”, “I Want To Thank You”, “Last Night”, “Special Love”, “That’s Why They Call It Grace”, “The Truth Is” and “Whispered Prayers”.
The forgotten gem in the group’s discography is their 2003 release For His Glory. This album has everything that has made this trio popular.
The album that should be forgotten in the group’s discography is the 2004 collection of previously recorded songs; Faith, Hope and Love.
Karen Peck & New River has created a sound that is uniquely their own. While the listener is at a place where they know what to expect from a KPNR recording, the strength of song selection keeps each new release one of the top Southern Gospel albums released in any given year.
The time has come to crown the #1 album and recorded song of 2011. It took until the end of the year for the best album of 2011 to be released, November in fact. It had been two years since the release of the group’s last album. The wait was well worth it as the group ended up releasing one of the best album’s of their career.
#1 among the best album releases of 2011 is the Isaacs, Why Can’t We. The Isaacs have a way of delivering a lyric with passion and sincerity. Group members Becky Bowman and Sonya Isaacs have also become one of the best songwriting teams in Southern Gospel music. The duo delivers the goods on Why Can’t We, offering messages of hope, healing and answering the listener on those ‘why’ moments we all experience in life.
This album had just enough to edge out Wilburn and Wilburn’s Family Ties recording to claim the top spot for 2011. The year had some strong album releases but few were ‘landmark’ albums for the respective artist. The Isaacs, Why Can’t We, happened to be a ‘landmark’ album for the group ranking as one of the best of their career and is the #1 album of 2011.
Personal favorite songs from this recording include: ”Waiting In The Water”, “I’m Gonna Love You Through It”, “Why Can’t We”, “I Still Trust You”, “You Can’t Take My Joy”, “I Believe In A Hill Called Mount Calvary”, “He Knows All About It”, “Why” and “Four Men Walkin’ Around”.
The consistency of Karen Peck and New River lands them a top the list of best recorded songs of 2011. The song became another #1 hit for the group in the fall and anchored one of the best album releases of the year, Reach Out.
The #1 recorded song of 2011 is “On The Banks Of The Promised Land” by Karen Peck and New River. The song was the brain child of writers Jason Dyba, David Moffitt and Sue Smith. The inspiration for the song came after the passing of David’s grandfather. Karen added that special vocal touch with some great harmony singing by group member Jeff Hawes to create a song that will be sung and remembered for years to come.
‘Hallelujah, what a morning, when I reach for that nail scarred hand. And I’m led from grace to glory on the banks of the promised land.’ Listen to the first verse and chorus to the #1 recorded song of 2011; “On The Banks Of The Promised Land”.
Lets close out another week and take a look at the album and recorded song at #6 for 2011. One of the most consistent recording artists in Southern Gospel music is Karen Peck and New River. From their debut album to current, this trio has provided the listener with Southern Gospel music and a mix of country and light pop sounds that are now uniquely New River.
The album that lands at #6 among the best releases of 2011 is Reach Out. Filled with lyrically strong material and two of the best recorded songs of 2011, as is evidenced in this annual count down, Reach Out should keep radio busy with airplay. Karen Peck Gooch, Susan Jackson and Jeff Hawes combine to release one of the best albums of the year, at #6.
Personal favorite songs from this recording include: ”On The Banks Of The Promised Land”, “Broken Into Beautiful”, “This Is What Mercy Does”, “Faithful Love Of Jesus”, “Sustaining Grace”, “Good Things Are Happening” and “Mighty Big God”.
Crabb Revival released Going Places back in February 2011. At the same time it was announced the group would no longer be touring and Adam Crabb would venture out as a solo artist. If it wasn’t for the disbandment of Crabb Revival, Going Places may have been among the top 20 albums of the year.
There were several songs from that particular album that were considered among the best recorded songs of the year. One song was strong enough to rank #6 among the best recorded songs of 2011. Gerald Crabb must have been listening to the Wilburn’s classic “God’s Promised Land” when writing “The Crossing”. The verses to both songs are eerily similar musically.
Since he is now touring as a solo artist, I’ll credit Adam Crabb as having #6 among the best recorded songs of 2011 with “The Crossing”. Listen to the first verse and chorus.