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Best Of 2012 – #15

This first week of December closes with the album and recorded song ranked #15 among the year’s best.  Yesterday, the Nelons had the #16 recorded song of 2012.

Today, the album of the same name, Come On Home, ranks #15 among the best Southern Gospel albums released in 2012.  Produced by Bill Gaither, Come On Home is an easy listening type recording.  Reminiscent of what the Bill Gaither Trio would record, this album is dominated by slower, more reflective type songs.

What sets it apart is the power house vocal work put in by all three members of the Nelons.  As a result, Come On Home is one of the best Southern Gospel albums released in 2012.

Personal favorites from this recording include:  “Come On Home”, “Jesus, I Just Want To Say I’m Sorry”, “Come To The River”, “The Sun’s Coming Up”, “I Choose The Lord” and “Morning Has Broken”.

The song ranked #15 among the best songs recorded in 2012, is one of the most personal you’ll find in the entire list.

Everyone in Southern Gospel music is aware of the battle Sheri Easter faced with breast cancer several years ago.  Now that she in on the other side of that battle, she recorded a song on the group’s 2012 album, Eyes Wide Open, titled “I Know How It Feels To Survive”.

Penned by Sheri and son Madison Easter, Sheri delivers this song with assurance.  The listener can believe every word she is singing.  Listen to a clip of #15 among the best recorded songs of 2012; “I Know How It Feels To Survive”.

The countdown continues Monday with #14.

Best Of 2012 – #16

The countdown continues and it is mixed trios that land at #16 among the best Southern Gospel albums and recorded songs of 2012.

The mixed trio that lands at #16 among the best album releases of the year is 11th Hour.  This trio is new to many listeners as Steppin’ Out is only the group’s second album.  The group’s style is reminiscent of the Hinsons, mixed with a little Crabb Family and add just a dash of the Martins.

11th Hour gained exposure with their hit radio song from 2011, “Adam’s Fall”.  Anchored by lead vocalist and songwriter Amber Eppinette, the group’s future looks bright.

Personal favorites from this recording include:  “He’s See What We Don’t”, “Bloodline”, “Tomb To The Table”, “Steppin’ Out” and “It’s A Wonderful Life”.

The mixed trio that has the #16 recorded song of 2012 is the Nelons.  A group name that has been around for over thirty years but the Nelons of today have seen a resurgence in their career over the last several years.

That resurgence is a direct result of their last several album releases.  The title track of their 2012 album, “Come On Home” is the song that finds a home as the #16 recorded song of the year.

Penned by the dynamic songwriting duo of Bill and Gloria Gaither, the strength of “Come On Home” is the vocal performance turned in by Amber Thompson.  Amber is one of the best female vocalists singing Southern Gospel music right now.  Listen to a clip of the #16 song of 2012; “Come On Home”.

Tomorrow brings #15.

Album Covers To Rank – Set 12

You know the drill.  Rank the following set of album covers from best to worst in the comments section (1 being best, 6 being worst).  Also, if you didn’t get a chance, go back and rank set 11.  Click on thumbnail for larger image.

From Out Of The Past – Kingsmen (1979)

Serenade – Kirk Talley (1995)

Beside Still Waters – Nelons (2010)

No Trace Of Rain – Paid In Full (2009)

The Unseen Guest – Rebels Quartet (1964)

Hymns II – Ricky Atkinson & Compassion (2006)

Album Covers To Rank – Set 11

Last week, I chose six quartet albums to rank.  This week I have chosen six mixed group albums to rank.  In the comments section rank the following albums from 1 to 6 (1 being best, 6 being worst).  Click on thumbnail for larger image.

Home Cookin’ – Hemphills (1979)

Places To Go, People To See – Hoskins Family (2003)

Journeys – Nelons (1986)

Gloryland Gold – Lesters (1983)

It’s Out Of This World – Paynes (1982)

Rise Above – Talley Trio (2006)

More Singing In The Foothills And Free Music Give-Away

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 ( 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.

Another Concert Review And More Free Music

Friday (05/25/12), I decided to go to South Iredell High School in Troutman NC to see the Nelons.  I had a chance to catch the group at the beginning of the month, but since they were so close to home, I figured why not?  They performed a lot of the same songs from the other concert but turned in several power house a cappella numbers.

“Down To The River” and “Were You There” were absolutely flawless.  Amber Thompson has become one of the top female vocalists in Southern Gospel music.  Her performance on the last verse of an a cappella version of “Were You There” had the crowd on their feet.  Amazing!

It was nice to hear Kelly on “Settled At The Cross” and the crowd loved the up tempo closer, “I’m Going Home With Jesus”.  So, in honor of another good concert performance I feel like giving away some more free music.  The first person to email ( me the answer to the following trivia question will win a brand new, unopened copy of the Nelons new CD, Come On Home.

***Who was the first/only group to take the song “I’m Going Home With Jesus” to #1 on the Southern Gospel charts?***

UPDATE:  Congratulations to Bradley for being the first to answer the McGruders as the correct answer to the trivia question.  Consider this contest closed.  Thanks everyone for participating and keep checking back because I plan to give away free music all summer.

Come On Home – Nelons


  • Album – Come On Home
  • Artist – Nelons
  • Label – Independent
  • Style – Traditional, Progressive
  • Release Date – February 2012
  • Available For Digital Download? – Yes


The Nelons have been spending time on the Gaither Homecoming Tour recently.  It is no surprise, the Nelons would call on Bill Gaither to produce their new recording Come On Home.  Released in February 2012, Come On Home is a fifteen song collection of mainly covers of classic Bill and Gloria Gaither tunes.

The listener can hear Bill Gaither’s influence all over the recording.  It reminded me of something the Bill Gaither Trio would have recorded.


  • Amber Thompson.  Amber is showcased on Come On Home, taking the lead on six songs.  “Jesus, I Just Wanna Say I’m Sorry” and “Come On Home” are the strongest cuts featuring Amber.
  • The ensemble work on the Gaither used tune “Come To The River” makes it one of the strongest songs on the entire recording.  The group should consider releasing this to radio.
  • It was nice hearing a throw back to the Nelons glory days in Kelly covering “The Sun’s Coming Up”.  That song goes back to the Rex Nelon Singers first recording in 1977 and became the first major song for the group.
  • The mixed trio vocal harmony this version of the Nelons have perfected is absolutely flawless.  With only two up tempo songs on a fifteen song collection, the listener could fade in to boring territory, but a specific vocal moment will hit you when you least expect it.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Come On Home”, “Jesus, I Just Wanna Say I’m Sorry”, “Come To The River”, “The Sun’s Coming Up”, “The Diff’rence Is In Me”, “Excuse Me, Are You Jesus” and “Somebody’s Praying”.
  • I understand the Nelons were going for a slower paced recording with Come On Home, but at times the lack of up tempo numbers does wear on the listener.  The positive is that the listener is not bombarded with over orchestrated tracks.  The vocals are the focal point, instead of the music.
  • The number of cover songs.  While each song is sung with precision and vocally the Nelons don’t disappoint, knowing the number of times certain songs have already been recorded does take away from the overall appeal.
  • Come On Home doesn’t quite match the strength of the group’s previous effort Beside Still Waters.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “The Little Brown Church”, “Down To The River” and “When He Talked About His Home”.

SONG/FEATURED VOCALIST – SONGWRITER:  1. “I Have Seen The Children”/Ensemble, guest appearance by Bill Gaither – Gloria Gaither, Paul Overstreet  2. “Come On Home”/Amber Thompson – Gloria Gaither, William Gaither  3. “Come To The River”/Ensemble – Suzanne Jennings, Woody Wright  4. “Somebody’s Praying”/Kelly Clark – John Elliot  5. “Down To The River”/Amber Thompson – Public Domain  6. “The Diff’rence Is In Me”/Amber Thompson – Gloria Gaither, William Gaither  7. “Excuse Me, Are You Jesus”/Jason Clark – Gloria Gaither, William Gaither, Larry Gatlin  8. “Handful Of Dust”/Kelly Clark – Anthony Arata  9. “Morning Has Broken”/Amber Thompson – Eleanor Farjeon  10. “When He Talked About His Home”/Jason Clark – Gloria Gaither, William Gaither, Woody Wright  11. “The Sun’s Coming Up”/Kelly Clark – Dee Gaskins  12. “I Choose The Lord”/Jason Clark – Micah Henson  13. “I Heard It First On The Radio”/Amber Thompson – Gloria Gaither, William Gaither  14. “Jesus, I Just Wanna Say I’m Sorry”/Amber Thompson – Jason Clark  15. “The Little Brown Church”/Jason Clark – Jason Clark

Concert Review – Nelons, Brian Free & Assurance + More

Saturday (05/05/12), I had the chance to attend a concert in Lexington NC put on by Facing Reality Music Group.  I have attended several of this particular promoter’s concerts in the past and this was definitely his best.  He has learned as a promoter and the concert flowed seamlessly.  Each artist brought on the next and the entire first half was uninterrupted music.  Here are highlights in order of appearance.

NELONS – The Nelons opened the program with the Gaither used tune “Come To The River”.  Great opening selection.  The Nelons wowed the crowd with an a cappella rendition of “Christ The Lord Is Risen Today”.  The group also performed another selection with just acoustic guitar.  The vocals were the true stars of each song.  Perfection!  The Nelons then closed with the big power house “There Is A Way” right in to the crowd pleasing “I’m Going Home With Jesus”.  The Nelons set the pace for the entire night in probably my favorite set.

ADAM CRABB – Adam, just like brother Jason, is touring as a solo artist.  Adam is missing the full band aspect of a live show that Jason has perfected so well.  Adam has become a lot more comfortable performing in the solo setting.  The crowd enjoyed his performances of “Try Walking On The Water”, “Unforgiven”, “Jesus Messiah” and “Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus”.  I enjoyed “Unforgiven” the most from his set.

BRIAN FREE & ASSURANCE – Brian Free & Assurance continue to delight crowds with their progressive Southern Gospel quartet sounds.  No difference in song selection from the last time I seen the group.  They did leave “Never Walk Alone” off the set list.  I would have liked to have heard that one.  The crowd enjoyed the group on the quartet classic “Glory Road”.  It received one of the largest responses of any song in their set.  The group also gave the crowd “Anything Is Possible”, “I Believe” and “The Part Where You Come In”.  Brian Free & Assurance closed with their one, two punch of “For God So Loved” and “Long As I Got King Jesus”.

JEFF & SHERI EASTER – Jeff & Sheri Easter closed the program with great song choices.  They used several different selections from the various other times I have seen the group over the last couple of years.  They opened with “Over And Over” to an enthusiastic crowd response and followed that up with “She Loved” in honor of Mother’s Day.  Morgan performed her latest song “God Knows What He’s Doing” and they had Madison perform with them on “Workin’ On A Road”.  I also never tire of hearing Sheri perform “Hear My Heart”.  Great close to a great evening of music.


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