This week finds the artist ranked 27th among the most influential in Southern Gospel history; the Martins.
The Martins rose to prominence in the late 1980′s/early 1990′s. This mixed trio of siblings wowed audiences night after night with their tight harmonies and excellent a cappella singing.
The group found even greater success in the late ’90′s when Gaither introduced them to a whole new audience.
The Martins progressive style of the 1990′s is the Martins most Southern Gospel listeners are familiar with. Their influence was felt and seen in other groups that came after.
Groups with the Martins influence in their music included: Ball Brothers, Beyond The Ashes, First Love, Hope’s Call, LordSong, Sisters, Sweeter Rain and 11th Hour.
Hit Songs: ”Count Your Blessings”, “Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”, “Effectual Fervent Prayer”, “Except For Grace”, “Grace”, “He Leadeth Me”, “It Came To Pass”, “Marks Of The Trade”, “Only God Knows”, “Out Of His Great Love”, “Prepare The Dwelling Place”, “The Promise”, “Settle On My Soul”, “So High”, “Tell Them That I Love Them” and “Unredeemed”.
Best Album: Wherever You Are (1996)
Here is a YouTube clip, published by GaitherVEVO, of the Matins performing their biggest song; “The Promise”. Enjoy!
This week the ten on ten feature will highlight the recording career of the Martins. A mixed trio of siblings that burst on the scene in the early 1990′s and became a fixture on the Gaither Homecoming tour by the latter part of the decade.
The Martins intricate family harmony has won the group many fans and their a cappella work is flawless. The group took some time off and returned to the concert stage a couple of years ago and also released a new album in 2011.
The ten best albums by the Martins are as follows:
Wherever You Are (1996)
New Day (2011)
Glorify, Edify, Testify (2001)
Above It All (2003)
Marks Of The Trade (1991)
Dream Big (1998)
An Acappella Hymns Collection (1996)
The pinnacle of the Martins recording career is the 1996 album Wherever You Are. This album captured the Martins at a point in their career that no other album in their discography could. One of the best songs the Martins ever recorded, “Grace”, is found on this album.
Along with “Grace”, the listener is also treated to “Stand Up And Be Strong”, “Only God Knows”, “There’s Not A Crown”, “Hazy Days”, “Well Water” and “Fly Away With You”.
The group’s most recent release, New Day, ranks #2 among the Martins best recordings. This was a great album for the group to release after an eight year absence. ”Tell Them That I Love Them”, “Unredeemed”, “The Truth”, “Somebody Like Me” and “I Surrender” was some of the best music released in the year 2011.
Speaking of the eight year absence, the last new album released by the Martins before New Day was the 2003 album Above It All. This was the only album in the group’s discography that didn’t feature the three siblings of Jonathan, Judy and Joyce. Paul Lancaster was a member of the group with Judy and Joyce at the time of this recording.
Above It All ranks #5 among the group’s best albums. The biggest song of the Martin’s career, “The Promise”, is found on Above It All. Up until the release of New Day, Above It All was the most musically progressive album in the Martin’s discography. ”What Mercy Means”, “For The Love”, “I Can’t Help Myself”, “In The Arms Of Someone Who Loves Me”, “Somebody Give Me A Stone” and “Sing Me Home” all deserve a listen from this recording.
The best album of the early days of the Martins recording career is the 1991 album Marks Of The Trade. Ranked at #7 among the group’s ten best, Marks Of The Trade features the title track along with “Kickin’ Up Dust”, “I”m Not Ashamed”, “He Leadeth Me”, “Joy In The Camp”, “It’s All Under The Blood” and “He Grew The Tree”.
I mentioned the Martins flawless a cappella singing. The group released an entire a cappella recording in 1996 titled An Acappella Hymns Collection. The album, ranked #10 among the group’s best recordings is a gem of an album that should be part of Southern Gospel aficionado’s collections.
The Martins are actually working on a new a cappella album with Lari Goss that will be released sometime in 2013.
In addition to the songs already listed, the Martins can be identified with the songs “Count Your Blessings”, “Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing”, “The Effectual Fervent Prayer”, “Except For Grace”, “In The Presence Of Jehovah”, “It Came To Pass”, “Now I’ll Follow”, “Out Of His Great Love”, “Prepare The Dwelling Place” and “Settle On My Soul”.
The Martins have more years ahead of them to release additional albums to change this list of ten. I look forward to hearing each and every one.
***NEXT UP ON TEN ON TEN: ERNIE HAASE & SIGNATURE SOUND***
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.
Can you believe it is already May 2012? To kick off another month I want to take a look at five current radio songs that have grabbed my attention over the course of the last month. This month finds the return of the Crabb Family to radio, another #1 hit for Triumphant Quartet, one of the strongest radio singles for the Down East Boys, the Martins and the Bowling Family. The Bowling Family song wins points for that crying steel guitar intro. Enjoy!
The big three are here. The final three in the count down of the best albums and recorded songs of 2011. The Martins returned to the Southern Gospel recording scene in 2011. New Day was the trio’s first new album in eight years. Picking up right where they left off, the Martins offered the listener their progressive Southern Gospel sounds with some modern country and pop stylings mixed in throughout.
Jay Demarcus’ production work was flawless, bringing out the best vocally in all three members. While some may consider New Day too progressive to be considered a Southern Gospel album, it doesn’t stray that far from what the Martins have offered the Southern Gospel listener in the past. My boundaries for what I classify as Southern Gospel is also a lot broader than some. While the style found on New Day may not be to every Southern Gospel listener’s liking, it doesn’t diminish the fact that the album ranks #3 among the best Southern Gospel albums of 2011.
Personal favorite songs from this recording include: ”Unredeemed”, “I Surrender”, “The Truth”, “New Day”, “Tell Them That I Love Them”, “Somebody Like Me”, “Good To Me” and “Love Enough”.
It just so happens the Martins also claim the #3 spot in the best recorded songs of the year. Covering the CCM song “Unredeemed”, Judy Hess took this lyric and conveyed it to the listener in a way the original CCM version did not.
Penned by Chad Cates, Brian Petak and Tony Wood, “Unredeemed” is a rare case where the Southern Gospel cover version actually bests the CCM original. Southern Gospel music is built around songs of redemption. The way in which the writers took that concept and used the word unredeemed as the title, allows the listener to really listen to the song and understand that redemption is the message being conveyed in the song.
Listen to the first verse and chorus of the song that sits at #3 among the best recorded songs of the year; “Unredeemed”.
The best of 2011 rolls on with the album and song that land at #18. One of the most enjoyable recordings I listened to in 2011 was the Roy Knight Singers, Staying The Course. I knew it would be filled with great new Sandy Knight compositions that would eventually be recorded by other artists, but I didn’t expect the recording would land among the best albums of 2011. There was one song, from Staying The Course, that was put on another artist’s 2011 release, but the Roy Knight Singers version comes out on top.
By the time this annual count down is done, some may wonder why certain more established artists didn’t make the top 20, while a lesser known group did. The simple answer; the album is better. #18 among the best albums of 2011 is Staying The Course by the Roy Knight Singers.
Personal favorites from this recording include: ”God’s Great”, “Suddenly One Morning”, “Battle Stand”, “Come And See”, “Love Like Water Poured On Me”, “So Simple So Profound” and “What Cloud You Gonna Ride On”.
The Martins returned to the Southern Gospel recording scene in 2011 with the release of New Day. The album was filled with high-caliber songs, including the song that finds its way at #18 for best recorded song of 2011. Co-written by group member Joyce Sanders and Chris Eaton, “I Surrender” closes out New Day on a worshipful, reflective tone.
Some may consider this song to fall too far on the praise and worship spectrum, but the vocal is really allowed to shine as Joyce turns in one of the best vocal performances on the entire album. Listen to the first verse and chorus of “I Surrender”, #18 among the best recorded songs of 2011.
Let’s get back to the music. The retro spotlight feature this week shines on the year 1996. There was plenty of great Southern Gospel music released 15 years ago. Here is a sample.
The Bishops were riding high during this time period. The release of You Can’t Ask Too Much Of My God gave the group another #1 hit with the title track. ”It Takes The Blood” is the clip provided here.
No year would be complete without mentioning the music of the Cathedrals. The group’s 1996 release, Radio Days, was a collection of classic Southern Gospel standards. Listen to the group turn in a fine performance of the classic, “Hard Trials Will Soon Be Over”.
As the Dixie Melody Boys celebrate 50 years in Southern Gospel music, taking a look back at the group’s 1996 recording Old Time Religion and a clip of the song “A Mansion Being Built”. The song features bass singer Ed O’Neal.
Charles Johnson & Revivers found success in Southern Gospel music during the period of about 1986 to 1997. The group performed on all the major concert stages at this time and also had radio success. Charles released a Hymns album in 1996 that featured one new song; “Holy City, New Jerusalem”.
Tony Gore & Majesty were also among Southern Gospel’s top trios during this time period. Bursting on the scene in 1994, the group continued until the early 2000′s. The group released a live recording in 1996 titled All Access Live! This would probably go on to be the group’s biggest recording and it also contained the group’s biggest song; “Meanwhile In The Garden”.
The Martins released what I consider to be one of the best albums of 1996, Wherever You Are. With hit songs such as “Only God Knows” and “Grace”, the Martins were at the top of their game. I have provided a clip of the song “Fly Away With You”.
Karen Peck & New River were still traveling with their band during this time period and easily one of the best groups in the live concert setting. Right On Time was the group’s album release that year and featured is the song “Glory To Glory”.
Closing out part 1 of our look at 1996 is Paid In Full. This group was just hitting the scene 15 years ago with the release of their debut album A New Start. While this recording was a collection of all previously released music, it still allowed the listener a glimpse of what this group could do. Listen to a nice arrangement of the song “The Land Of Living”.
The Martins will go down as one of Southern Gospel music’s best artists. To see them rise from their humble beginnings to the mega group status they achieved by the late ’90′s was a musical journey I was glad to be a part of as a listener. New Day picks up where the group left off giving the Southern Gospel listener that progressive, modern country sound the Martins are known for. Original group members and siblings Jonathan Martin, Joyce Sanders and Judy Hess combine to record one of the best albums released so far in 2011.
Expected to land at retail on Tuesday (06/21/11), New Day starts with the modern country infused “Love Enough” (Chad Chates/Barry Weeks/Tony Wood). Featuring Joyce on the lead, this song is a highlight from the recording and would make a great radio single. The modern country sounds don’t stop there as Judy takes the title track, “New Day” (Jeff Pardo/Stephan Sharp) and makes the song one of my favorites on the entire recording. ‘By Your Love I Am Saved, All The Old Is Washed Away, And I’m Living In A New Day’.
The modern country overtones found on New Day is no surprise considering Jay Demarcus of country vocal group Rascal Flatts produced the recording. Even Rascal Flatts member Joe Don Rooney has a guitar solo on “All The Love In The World” (Tim Nichols/Joe Don Rooney/Jason Sellers).
The masterpiece found on New Day is a cover of the song “Unredeemed” (Chad Cates/Brian Petak/Tony Wood). Originally recorded by CCM artist Selah on their 2009 recording You Deliver Me, Judy Hess turns in one of the finest vocal performances of her career. Easily one of the best recorded songs in Southern Gospel music this year. ‘It May Be Unfulfilled, It May Be Unrestored, But When Anything That’s Shattered Is Laid Before The Lord, Just Watch And See, It Will Not Be Unredeemed’.
Also worth mentioning is Joyce’s worshipful performance of “I Surrender” (Chris Eaton/Joyce Sanders) and Jonathan performs another one of my favorite songs from the recording, “The Truth” (Steven Dean/Ian Eskelin/Brian White). This song has an ’80′s rock sound reminiscent of Heart or Jefferson Starship.
If you’re already familiar with the music of the Martins, you must buy this recording. This recording ranks as one of the best of their career. If you’re new to the scene and were not around for the Martins rise in Southern Gospel music in the mid to late ’90′s and you enjoy progressive Southern Gospel sounds with modern country overtones you will also want to pick up this recording. This album should easily make my year’s ten best album list in 2011. It’s that good!!
SONG LIST: 1. “Love Enough” 2. “New Day” 3. “Tell Them That I Love Them” 4. “Good To Me” 5. “All The Love In The World” 6. “Unredeemed” 7. “The Truth” 8. “Somebody Like Me” 9. “Love’s Gonna Drive This Train” 10. “I Surrender”