Southern Gospel Tidbits

DID YOU KNOW?:  The 2016 edition of the National Quartet Convention gets under way in Pigeon Forge, TN tomorrow evening.

I will be providing evening recaps of this year’s event providing all the hits and misses as I’ve done the last five years.  Are you looking forward to NQC 2016?

*Video Credit (Clarke Beasley)

Here For You: Tribute Quartet

tributeqt2016hereforyouGRADE:  B+

  • Album – Here For You
  • Artist – Tribute Quartet
  • Label – Daywind Records
  • Style – Traditional, Progressive
  • Release Date – 09/16/16
  • Available For Digital Download? – Yes (Apple Music)

SYNOPSIS:

This week we take a look at the latest album from the Tribute Quartet; Here For You.  The album hit retail on 09/16/16.

Tribute Quartet is celebrating their first decade in Southern Gospel music.  Three years ago the group got their first #1 hit with “Good News From Jerusalem”.

Tribute has had vocal consistency over the last five years with Riley Clark (tenor), Gary Casto (lead), Josh Singletary (baritone) and Anthony Davis (bass).

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Tenor Riley Clark has the big stand out songs on Here For You.  The biggest on the album is the Lee Black penned, “When The Prodigal Comes Home”.  A Southern Gospel power ballad that could give Tribute their second #1 hit.  You have to hear this song!  May very well be the best recorded Southern Gospel song of 2016.
  • Riley doesn’t stop there as he delivers another powerful tune with “God Of The Storms”.  This would also make for another radio single possibility.
  • Riley closes the album with another stand out, “Nothing Stops The Savior’s Love”.  A nice reminder of God’s love for us.
  • The album opens with a progressive up-tempo number with the standard Wayne Haun brass/horn arrangement.  “Here For You” is a song from the Ernie Haase and Signature Sound playbook; jazzy and fun.
  • From “Here For You”, the group goes right in to another up tempo stand out, “Never Forsaken”.  Wayne Haun and Joel Linsdey penned both the former and latter.
  • Gary and Riley trade-off on verses to the ballad, “Grace At Its Best”.  One can never hear enough about the grace of Jesus.
  • Tribute Quartet has given listeners a Harry Connick style tune on each of their albums as it tends to fit Josh’s vocal style.  Here For You has a nice Connick style tune that Josh and Anthony trade verses; “Somebody Sing Me That Song”.  Fun song.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “When The Prodigal Comes Home”, “Nothing Stops The Savior’s Love”, “God Of The Storms”, “Here For You”, “Never Forsaken”, “Grace At Its Best” and “Somebody Sing Me That Song”.
CRITIQUE:
  • Tribute Quartet attempt a Hoppers cover with “Jesus Saves”.  This was a Connie Hopper co-write originally recorded by the Hoppers on their 1998 album, One Foundation.  The cover did not live up to the original.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Jesus Saves” and “That’s How I Know”.

WRAP UP:

I’m going to go ahead and claim Here For You the best Tribute Quartet album of their ten-year career.  This is the kind of album I have been waiting for from this group.  I knew they had it in them.  You should definitely give this album a listen.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “Here For You”/Ensemble – Wayne Haun, Joel Linsey  2. “Never Forsaken“/Gary – Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey  3. “Somebody Sing Me That Song“/Josh; Anthony – Lee Black, Sue C Smith  4. “When The Prodigal Comes Home”/Riley – Lee Black  5. “Meeting In The Middle Of The Air”/Gary – Lee Black  6. “God Of The Storms”/Riley – Jeane Bope, Mikah Boudreaux, Carrie Inabnit, Tim Inabnit, Daniel Johnston  7. “Everybody Come See Jesus”/Josh – Dianne Wilkinson  8. “That’s How I Know“/Anthony – Becky Bowman, Sonya Isaacs Yeary  9. “Grace At Its Best”/Gary; Riley – Gary Casto, Barbara Huffman  10. “Jesus Saves”/Ensemble – Geron Davis, Connie Hopper  11. “Nothing Stops The Savior’s Love”/Riley – Daniel Crews, Don Koch

VOTING: Greatest Songwriter: Round 2 – Poll 2

Today continues round 2 voting in our search for Southern Gospel’s greatest songwriter.  Please click on the link in the poll to hear a song written by poll 2’s fourteen contenders.  Here are the rules for voting:

  • All readers of this blog can vote.
  • You are allowed to vote for up to three choices.
  • You are allowed one vote per day.
  • The top (6) by vote tally will advance to round 3.
  • Voting closes Monday (09/26/16).

Lineage: Perry Sisters

perrysisters2016lineageGRADE:  B+

  • Album – Lineage
  • Artist – Perry Sisters
  • Label – Custom
  • Style – Progressive, Traditional Country
  • Release Date – 05/06/16
  • Available For Digital Download? – NO

SYNOPSIS:

This week we take a look at the latest album from the Perry Sisters; Lineage.  This is the first new album from the Perry Sisters since A New Season in 2007.

Many current listeners don’t know the impact the Perry Sisters had in Southern Gospel music from the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s.  The all female trio had their biggest hit in 1988/1989 with “There’ll Be A Payday”.

The 2016 edition of the Perry Sisters is composed of Diana Gillette (lead), Nicole Mathews (alto) and Tammy Underwood (soprano).  Diana Gillette is an original Perry Sisters member and also responsible for writing nearly all of the Perry Sisters music over the course of their 40 year career.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Lineage is a collection of 16 songs mixed with new material and song covers.  The strongest song is a new song, “No Stranger To The Pain”.  This song is reminiscent of the great Perry Sister songs of the past.  Diana takes the lead on a song that should be considered for Southern Gospel radio.
  • The group shines on several Perry Sister remakes.  One of the group’s first big hits in the mid 1980s was “In The Ark Of Safety”.  The trio re-records “In The Ark Of Safety” and makes for one of the best listens on the album.
  • Another Perry Sisters cover is “Build My Home”.  The remake is slower in tempo than the original and Diana conveys the song perfectly.
  • The group kicks in to high gear with a cover of the biggest up-tempo song of their career, “Bought By The Blood Of The Lamb”.  Smart to place this song at the end of a 16 song recording.  It may have you hitting repeat.
  • Another new song that deserves a shout out is one that is a co-write between Gillette and Mark Mathews.  “Here I Am” is a reflective song with just piano and Diana’s vocal.  An absolute must listen!
  • The album opens with a nice country flavored up-tempo number, “How About You”.  The song sets the stylistic tone for the rest of the album, which is filled with traditional country sounds layered with progressive Southern Gospel music.
  • The Perry Sisters also decide to cover another of their biggest songs, “Imagine If You Will”.  Many listeners remember this song with the concept video the group recorded in the early 1990s.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “No Stranger To The Pain”, “In The Ark Of Safety”, “Here I Am”, “Build My Home”, “Heaven Holds All To Me”, “Imagine If You Will”, “How About You”, “The Writing’s On The Wall” and “Bought By The Blood Of The Lamb”.
CRITIQUE:
  • Lineage has a string of slower tempo songs in the middle of the recording that tend to bog down the pacing of the album.
  • Can we put a moratorium on Southern Gospel artists recording “It Is Well With My Soul”.
  • While covering Perry Sister classics, I think the group missed a chance at re-recording the biggest hit of their career; “There’ll Be A Payday”.
  • The Perry Sisters need to make Lineage available for digital download.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “It Is Well With My Soul” and “You Can Catch A Miracle”.

WRAP UP:

It is a bold move to trust listeners with a 16 song recording.  That is a lot of music to digest in one sitting.  If you were a fan of the Perry Sisters during their prime, you need to pick up this album.  I am certain the Perry Sisters are new to a lot of my readers who maybe only have a decade of familiarity with Southern Gospel music.  If so, take a chance on Lineage, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “How About You”/Ensemble – Diana Gillette  2. “No Stranger To The Pain“/Diana – Diana Gillette  3. “The Writing’s On The Wall“/Diana – Diana Gillette  4. “In The Ark Of Safety”/Ensemble – Diana Gillette  5. “Hold On”/Ensemble; Nicole; Diana – Diana Gillette  6. “Look Who’s Holding Them Now”/Diana – Diana Gillette  7. “The Silence Of The Night”/Diana; Nicole – Diana Gillette  8. “You Can Catch A Miracle“/Ensemble; Nicole – Diana Gillette  9. “Build My Home”/Ensemble; Diana – Diana Gillette  10. “Hold To God’s Unchanging Hand”/Tammy – Jennie Bain Wilson  11. “I Heard About A Stone”/Ensemble – Traditional  12. “It Is Well With My Soul”/Nicole – Horatio Spafford  13. “Here I Am”/Diana – Diana Gillette, Mark Mathews  14. “Imagine If You Will”/Diana – Diana Gillette  15. “Bought By The Blood Of The Lamb”/Ensemble – Diana Gillette  16. “Heaven Holds All To Me”/Ensemble – Tillit Teddie

**Here is the original concept video to the song mentioned in the review; “Imagine If You Will”.

Hot Or Not? – “Now A Witness Am I”

Today we look at another Southern Gospel radio single to determine if it is ‘hot or not’.  This series allows you, the reader, to let artists/record labels know if they are choosing the right songs for radio.

This week, is the new single from the Down East Boys 2016 album, Ransomed.  “Now A Witness Am I” was penned by Regina Walden, who picked up a #1 hit last year with the Kingsmen’s, “Oh Yes I Am”.  What say ye; hot or not?

Southern Gospel Tidbits

nqc-96DID YOU KNOW?:  We are just over a week away from the 2016 edition of the National Quartet Convention.  It seems as though the NQC becomes less and less buzz worthy each year.  Looking back 20 years to NQC 1996 and the fan awards program that year; these were the artists nominated.

  1. Booth Brothers
  2. Common Bond
  3. Crabb Family
  4. Men Of Music
  5. Ruppes

There are some fairly big names in that list of nominees.  Do you know who won?  Common Bond.  Some of you are probably scratching your head when you see names like Booth, Crabb and Ruppe, but tis true; Common Bond won horizon group at the 1996 fan awards.

*Video Credit (herecalico)

VOTING: Greatest Songwriter: Round 2 – Poll 1

Some of you probably thought round 1 voting would never end.  It has and today begins round 2 voting.  We started with over 150 contenders and have since narrowed it down to 70.  Round 2 will have 5 total polls and most likely get tougher for most of you.  Please click on the link in the poll to hear a song written by poll 1’s fourteen contenders.  Here are the rules for voting:

  • All readers of this blog can vote.
  • You are allowed to vote for up to three choices.
  • You are allowed one vote per day.
  • The top (6) by vote tally will advance to round 3.
  • Voting closes Wednesday (09/21/16).

Nature’s Symphony In 432: Isaacs

isaacsGRADE:  A-

  • Album – Nature’s Symphony In 432
  • Artist – Isaacs
  • Label – House Of Isaacs
  • Style – Progressive, Bluegrass, Country
  • Release Date – 09/02/16
  • Available For Digital Download? – Yes (Apple Music)

SYNOPSIS:

This week we take a look at the new album from the Isaacs; Nature’s Symphony In 432.  The album hit retail outlets on Friday (09/02/16).

Much has already been said of the tuning (432) used for the album.  Does it in fact make for a more enjoyable listen?  I guess that is up to the listener.

The Isaacs provide listeners with their brand of eclectic bluegrass mixed with country overtones and progressive Southern Gospel arrangements.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • There are a lot of good things about Nature’s Symphony In 432.  The first is the Becky feature, “Lord Of My Heart”.  This praise style tune is sung with such passion, it can’t help but lift your spirits.
  • A good chunk of the album has reflective type songs that allow the listener to look inward.  Sonya has two features of this nature.
  • The first is the proclamation of “I Love You More”.  The heartfelt tone of the song would make for a strong radio single choice.
  • Sonya also gives the listener another reflective song in “Keep Breathing”.  As hard as life can be sometimes, we must keep going, keep breathing!
  • Nature’s Symphony In 432 also has some nice up tempo numbers. I love, love, love the song “Rocks”.  This country twinged tune has the message you would expect from the title; basically mind your own business and quit throwing stones.
  • The first single from the album is the Jewish flavored, “This Is The Year”.  Listeners are treated to the shofar at the beginning of the song to set the tone for jubilee.
  • Ben has a nice feature on the ballad, “If That’s What It Takes”; a reminder to always stay humble.
  • I can’t leave this review without also mentioning the Becky feature, “Dining With The King”.  A must listen!
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Lord Of My Heart”, “Rocks”, “I Love You More”, “Keep Breathing”, “This Is The Year”, “Dining With The King”, “Bird On The Wing”, “If That’s What It Takes” and “God Is Still With Me”.
CRITIQUE:
  • The Isaacs provide listeners with their obligatory a cappella song to close out the recording.  This is not one of their strongest a cappella recordings.  The addition of Terry Bradshaw may have something to do with that.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and “None So Lovely”.

WRAP UP:

The Isaacs provide listeners nearly one hour of music with the 15 songs found on Nature’s Symphony In 432.  The Isaacs accomplished that by not boring this listener.  They provided what I feel to be one of the best albums released in 2016.  I don’t know if the tuning added to the overall listening experience, but great music is great music, no matter the reason.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “Nature’s Symphony”/Becky – Becky Bowman, Marcia Henry, Sonya Isaacs Yeary  2. “Fields“/Ben; Ensemble – Becky Bowman, Tony Wood, Sonya Isaacs Yeary  3. “I Love You More“/Sonya – Becky Bowman, Kenna West, Sonya Isaacs Yeary  4. “Lord Of My Heart”/Becky – Becky Bowman, Joel Lindsey, Sonya Isaacs Yeary  5. “This Is The Year”/Ensemble – Becky Bowman, Carmen Mariea, Tamara Mariea, Sonya Isaacs Yeary  6. “Bird On The Wing”/Sonya – Becky Bowman, Jimmy Yeary, Sonya Isaacs Yeary  7. “Keep Breathing”/Sonya – Jeffrey Bumgardner, Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey, Jody McBrayer  8. “I Find It All In You“/Lily – Becky Bowman, Jimmy Yeary, Sonya Isaacs Yeary  9. “Rocks”/Sonya – Becky Bowman, Jimmy Yeary, Sonya Isaacs Yeary  10. “If That’s What It Takes”/Ben – Becky Bowman, Jimmy Yeary, Sonya Isaacs Yeary  11. “Yours Amen”/Becky – Becky Bowman, Benji Cowart, Sonya Isaacs Yeary  12. “God Is Still With Me”/Sonya – Becky Bowman, Kenna West, Sonya Isaacs Yeary  13. “Dining With The King”/Becky – Becky Bowman, Jimmy Yeary, Sonya Isaacs Yeary  14. “None So Lovely”/Sonya – Benji Cowart, Jenna Cowart, Sonya Isaacs  15. “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”/Ensemble with Terry Bradshaw – Thomas Chisholm, William Runyan