Unbreak The World: Hoskins Family

hoskins-300x300GRADE:  B+

  • Album – Unbreak The World
  • Artist – Hoskins Family
  • Label – Chapel Valley
  • Style – Progressive, Country
  • Release Date – 10/28/16
  • Available For Digital Download? – YES (Apple Music)


This week we take a look at the latest album from the Hoskins Family, Unbreak The World.  How I missed this release in 2016 is beyond me.  Shows how little the record label cared about letting listeners know there was a new Hoskins Family album.

The Hoskins Family burst on the scene in 2000 with their first big hit record, “Joyful Morning”.  They would follow that up with their first #1 song, “Safe Thus Far”.

After a hiatus, the Hoskins Family returned in 2014 with a greatest hits album that contained three new songs.  Unbreak The World continues the progressive Southern Gospel style listeners have come to expect from the group.


  • Young, Abigail Aldridge has several stand out tracks on Unbreak The Word.  The album closes on a strong note as the ballad, “As I Am” claims best track.  With just piano accompaniment, Abigail performs this song to perfection.  This is a must listen!
  • Abigail also has a stand out near the beginning of the project, “I’ll Take The Valley”.  A progressive Southern Gospel song that defines the style of the Hoskins Family.
  • The most Southern Gospel friendly song, penned by Gina Vera, is “I Don’t Wanna Lose That Feeling”.  This mid tempo number would make a great radio single choice.
  • There are a couple really strong up-tempo songs on Unbreak The World.  The first is the album’s opening track, “This Ain’t That Song”.  I love the fun spirit found in the lyric.  ‘If you want to hear me sing the blues, so you can sing along, this ain’t that song’.
  • Another strong radio single possibility is the Rick feature, “One More Miracle”.  Another up-tempo number that deserves a repeat.
  • Donna King penned the first single from the album which happens to be the title track, “Unbreak The World”.  Angie takes the lead on a song that should find plenty of airplay at Southern Gospel radio.
  • I don’t want to leave this review without mentioning the Angie feature, “And I Know”.  This country flavored tune has already found a home in my musical playlists.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “As I Am”, “I’ll Take The Valley”, “I Don’t Wanna Lose That Feeling”, “And I Know”, “Unbreak The World”, “This Ain’t That Song” and “One More Miracle”.
  • The Hoskins Family could have kept Unbreak The World to ten songs and chop off, “We Win”.  Musically, the song sounds like something from Carmen in the 1990’s and absolutely does not meld with the progressive Southern Gospel, country-style found on the rest of the album.
  • Shame on the record label’s A&R/publicity department for not letting listeners know this album was available.  I keep up with all that is going on in Southern Gospel music and I didn’t even know it was available until about two weeks ago.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “We Win”.


There is no doubt this album would have been in my annual top twenty list for the best album releases of 2016.  Now that you are aware this album is available, like myself, give it a listen. It ranks as one of the Hoskins Family best albums!

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “This Ain’t That Song”/Angie – Twila Labar, Kenna West  2. “Unbreak The World“/Angie – Donna King  3. “I’ll Take The Valley“/Abigail; Angie – Donna King  4. “Let’s All Go To The House Of The Lord”/Rick – Lee Black, Marcia Henry  5. “And I Know”/Angie – Sue C Smith, Gina Vera  6. “Here’s A Reminder”/Abigail – Angie Aldridge  7. “We Win”/Abigail; Angie – ??  8. “Silence“/Abigail – Angie Aldridge  9. “One More Miracle”/Rick – David Clark, Joseph Habedank  10. “I Don’t Wanna Lose That Feeling”/Angie – Gina Vera  11. “As I Am”/Abigail – Angie Aldridge

In Observance Of Martin Luther King Jr

mlkThe greatest civil rights leader in the history of America is Martin Luther King Jr.  In 1983 congress passed legislation, of which President Reagan signed, that proclaimed the third Monday in January would be used to recognize the accomplishments of this civil rights icon.

The contributions of Black Americans can be seen all over American society, even in the fabric of Southern Gospel music.  It is a well-known fact that as far back as the Statesmen (40s/50s/60s), they were using traditional Black spirituals along with their traditional quartet repertoire.  The biggest example was the song, “Get Away Jordan”, penned by legend Dorothy Coates.

Southern Gospel Tidbits

gospelbrassDID YOU KNOW?:  There was an artist in Southern Gospel music who found success without singing a single note.  The Gospel Brass were around in the 1970’s but didn’t find success with a larger Southern Gospel audience until the mid to late 1980’s.  They joined with the Cumberland Boys and picked up a top ten hit on the Southern Gospel radio singles chart with “Hallelujah Heavenly Horn”.

American Evangelicalism And The Future Of Southern Gospel Music

I knew when the new year approached, I wanted to tackle a year-long commentary on modern American evangelicalism and the future of Southern Gospel music.  So, today, in order to get the commentary off the ground, I would like to know the make-up of my readership (both artists and everyday listeners).  Please select which denominational affiliation you associate.

16: Highland Park

highland-park-300x299GRADE:  C+

  • Album – 16
  • Artist – Highland Park
  • Label – Custom
  • Style – Progressive, Country, Folk
  • Release Date – 10/07/16
  • Available For Digital Download? – YES (Apple Music)


Welcome to the first album review of 2017.  Still one of the most read features on the blog.  I don’t take for granted that you appreciate the way I present album reviews.

The first couple reviews of the new year will be 2016 album releases I didn’t get around to reviewing.  Up first, is new group Highland Park and their debut album; 16.

While the group may be new to you, the individuals in the group is not.  Noted singer/songwriter Phil Cross (tenor/harmony) came together with original Poet Voices members Howard Stewart (baritone/harmony) and Philip Hare (lead/pianist) to form Highland Park.  Jump Keys (musician) is the fourth member to round out the group.


  • Original Poet Voices baritone, Howard Stewart gives listeners the most Southern Gospel friendly song on 16; “Family Of Faith”.  The song hearkens listeners back to the original Poet Voices days.
  • Highland Park’s sound is built around vocalist Philip Hare.  As a result, it gives the group a more progressive/folk style.
  • The group’s latest single, “Gonna Get Baptized”, features Philip and has already become a top 40 hit on the Southern Gospel radio singles chart.
  • Group members Phil Cross and Jump Keys co-wrote five songs on 16.  Along with “Family Of Faith”, listeners should take a listen to “Gonna Go With The Lord”.  It is a nice progressive up-tempo number.
  • The album closes on a high note with one of the few songs that feature Phil Cross; “Take The High Road”.
  • Another song from 16 that would do well at Southern Gospel radio would be the ballad, “I Want You Beside Me”.  Another song reminiscent from the original Poet Voices days.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Family Of Faith”, “Gonna Get Baptized”, “Gonna Go With The Lord”, “Take The High Road”, “I Want You Beside Me”, “Somebody’s Calling Your Name” and “Glory To Jesus”.
  • Highland Park doesn’t want to define themselves with musical labels.  Listeners expecting to get a sound similar to the original Poet Voices will be disappointed.
  • There was stylistic monotony with several songs, not allowing the listener to differentiate one from the other.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Tell Me” and “Clean Up”.


It is nice seeing Phil Cross and Howard Stewart working together again.  Highland Park offers a diverse style palette that will appeal to a broad audience.  Decide for yourself; give 16 a listen.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “Somebody’s Calling Your Name”/Ensemble; Philip – Phil Cross  2. “Gonna Go With The Lord“/Philip – Phil Cross, Jump Keys  3. “Family Of Faith“/Howard; Phil – Phil Cross, Jump Keys  4. “Tell Me”/Ensemble – Phil Cross, Jump Keys  5. “Glory To Jesus”/Philip – Matthew Browder, Phil Cross  6. “Clean Up”/Philip – Wallace Strickland, Harvey Lee Watkins  7. “You Gave”/Howard – Phil Cross, Jump Keys  8. “Gonna Get Baptized“/Philip – Phil Cross, Jump Keys  9. “Jesus Gave Me Water”/Ensemble – Lucie Campbell  10. “Sowing The Good Seed”/Philip – Jenny Berens, Phil Cross  11. “I’ll Fly Away”/Phil – Steven Cheney, Phil Cross  12. “Jesus Built A Bridge To Heaven”/Ensemble – Glen Duncan, Mark Grantt  13. “I Want You Beside Me”/Philip – Phil Cross  14. “Take The High Road”/Ensemble; Phil – George Huff, Jerry Salley

Southern Gospel’s Best Songs: Dixie Echoes

Last year I started a new series that highlights the ten best songs an artist recorded during their career.  We’ve seen lists for the Steeles, Anchormen, the Downings and Down East Boys.  Today, I wanted to look at the best songs recorded by the Dixie Echoes.

1.”I Want To See Jesus” (Billy Dale Sexton; Live, 1973)

2. “Close To The Master” (Paul Hughes/Alphus LeFevre; Close To The Master, 1964)

3. “I’ll Take Jesus” (Dale Shelnut; Today, 1975)

4. “Trouble In My Way” (Traditional; Exciting And Inspiring, 1968)

5. “Salvation’s Plan” (Billy Dale Sexton; Harvest Of New Hits, 1974)

6. “Walkin’ On With Jesus” (Randy Shelnut; Walkin’ On, 1987)

7. “So Many Reasons” (Jimmie Davis/David Reece; For God So Loved, 1967)

8. “Suddenly A Rainbow” (Ray Holliday; Reunion, 2000)

9. “Too Near The Crown” (James Payne; 30th Anniversary, 1989)

10. “Tell It To Him” (Randy Shelnut; Assurance, 1982)

Southern Gospel Tidbits

DID YOU KNOW?:  This time of year has some of the biggest sports highlights.  Bowl games (college football), NFL playoffs/super bowl (football) and the march madness competition (college basketball) is just around the corner.

Did you know that Southern Gospel personality, Doug Anderson, played college basketball with Purdue University.