Hall Of Fame 2018: Ann Downing

This week the Southern Gospel Music Association announced it’s 2018 class into the Southern Gospel music hall of fame.

Among the four members included, and the only woman inducted this year, was Ann Downing.  Ann started her singing career just out of high school when she joined the Speer Family.

When Ann married Paul Downing in 1969, they immediately formed the Downings.  The group released three albums on the Heart Warming records label that inaugural year.

Ann went on to win female vocalist of the year, at the Singing News fan awards in 1973.  Ann continues her legendary career, today, as a solo artist.  An honor that is long overdue; congratulations Ann Downing!

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Best Radio Songs Of The 1980’s: #28

Happy Monday!  Lets continue with the countdown of the best Southern Gospel radio songs of the 1980’s.

Ranked 28th among the best, is one of the most well-known songs by Rusty Goodman.  Rusty recorded “Leavin’ On My Mind” on his 1978 album, You Make It Rain For Me.

The song entered the charts in 1979 but would continue its success well into 1980, where it remained a top five hit.

Honor The First Families Of Gospel Music: Hoppers

GRADE:  B-

  • Album:  Honor The First Families Of Gospel Music
  • Artist:  Hoppers
  • Label:  Gaither Gospel Series
  • Style:  Traditional
  • Release Date:  04/06/18
  • Digital Download:  Yes (Apple Music)
  • Running Time:  38 Minutes

SYNOPSIS:

Today, we take a look at the tribute album from the Hoppers; Honor The First Families Of Gospel Music.

The award-winning family chose eleven songs from the Gaither catalog.  That tended to keep the Hoppers limited in the songs they could/did record.

The album is traditional Southern Gospel and scaled back musically from what listeners are used to from the hoppers.  There are no over orchestrated, track heavy songs on the recording.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • I want to start by saying the best thing about the album is the scaled back approach the Hoppers took with this recording.  I was happy to not get the over orchestrated tracks listeners have become so accustomed.
  • I also preferred the songs that haven’t been recorded a thousand times before.  The stand out for me was “I’m Longing For Jesus To Come Back”.  The accordion used throughout the song only adds to its charm.
  • The same can also be said of a song remembered from the Chuck Wagon Gang, “Lord Lead Me On”.  A simple arrangement with Connie adding that alto on the chorus makes for a must listen.
  • I also enjoyed that the Hoppers chose to record the Luther G Presley, “I’d Rather Have Jesus” than the George Beverly Shea song of the same name; which has been recorded more times than need be.
  • The album opens with an old song that I can’t recall ever hearing until this recording, “Be An Overcomer”.  The song was also chosen as a radio single from the recording.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “I’m Longing For Jesus To Come Back”, “Some Glad Day”, “Lord Lead Me On”, “I’d Rather Have Jesus”, “Be An Overcomer” and “He Is Mine And I Am His”.
CRITIQUE:
  • Even with the unique Cajun music given to “I Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now”, I did not want to hear another version of this song.
  • For that matter, we can also add “God Walks The Dark Hills”, “He Looked Beyond My Fault” and “Gentle Shepherd” to that list.
  • You know what would have been more unique; one of the biggest mixed groups in the history of the genre honoring Southern Gospel’s greatest quartets.  It would have been neat hearing them record songs like “Meet Me At The Table” (Kingsmen), “John Saw” (Gold City), “The Flowers Kissed The Shoes” (Oak Ridge Boys) and “The Bridegroom Cometh” (Singing Americans) for example.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “I Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now”, “God Walks The Dark Hills” and “He Looked Beyond My Fault”.

WRAP UP:

The Hoppers have nothing to prove.  They have given Southern Gospel listeners nearly 30 years of unparalleled success, with the same vocal line-up.  That is unheard of in Southern Gospel music.

SONG (tempo)/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “Be An Overcomer” (Mid/Fast)/Ensemble – Andrew Byers, Charles Naylor  2. “Lord Lead Me On” (Mid)/Ensemble; Connie – Marion Easterling  3. “God Walks The Dark Hills” (Slow)/Kim – Audra Czarnikow  4. “I’m Longing For Jesus To Come Back” (Mid/Fast)/Connie – Traditional  5. “One More River” (Mid/Fast)/Dean; Kim – Bud Chambers  6. “He Is Mine And I Am His” (Slow)/Ensemble; Claude – George T Speer  7. “I Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now” (Fast)/Claude – Jimmie Davis, Rusty Goodman  8. “I’d Rather Have Jesus” (Slow)/Ensemble; Connie – Luther G Presley  9. “He Looked Beyond My Fault” (Slow)/Ensemble; Kim – Dottie Rambo  10. “Some Glad Day” (Mid/Fast)/Ensemble – Will Ramsey, Clyde Williams  11. “Gentle Shepherd” (Slow)/Ensemble – Gloria Gaither, William Gaither

Best Radio Songs Of The 1980’s: #29

Counting down the best Southern Gospel radio songs of the 1980’s.  We’ve arrived at #29.

The Perry Sisters began their singing career in 1974 and released their first album in 1976.  It was the mid 1980’s when the group began getting recognized by a wider listening audience.

During this time, the Perry Sisters garnered hits such as “In The Ark Of Safety”, “I Wonder How Mary Felt” and “We Shall Stand”.  It was in 1988, the trio would finally become a household name in Southern Gospel music with the release of “There’ll Be A Payday”.

The song would go on to become the Perry Sisters biggest chart success of their career.  This Diana Gillette penned tune ranks 29th among the best Southern Gospel radio songs of the 1980’s.

Everywhere I Go: 3 Heath Brothers

GRADE:  B-

  • Album:  Everywhere I Go
  • Artist:  3 Heath Brothers
  • Label:  Custom
  • Style:  Progressive, Acappella
  • Release Date:  02/02/18
  • Digital Download:  Yes (Apple Music)
  • Running Time:  43 Minutes

SYNOPSIS:

Today, we take a look at the latest album from new group the 3 Heath Brothers; Everywhere I Go.

Listeners immediately hear the talent these three young kids possess.  The brothers hired Roger Talley to produce this first major release to the Southern Gospel listening audience.

The siblings are Nicholas (age 17), and twins Christian and Clayton (age 15).

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The harmony these brothers possess, at this age, is truly staggering.  I was impressed.  You can tell they have been singing together nearly their entire lives.
  • The album kicks off with the title track, which is also the first single and strongest song from the recording.  “Everywhere I Go” shows the strength in harmony but also portrays the youthfulness of the group.
  • Even more impressive is the acappella strength of the 3 Heath Brothers.  They blew me away with their rendition of the hymn, “From Every Stormy Wind”.  Glad they took a song many are not familiar.  This is a must listen!
  • Speaking of acappella, the trio has a nice version of the Southern Gospel classic, “I Don’t Wanna Live No More Without Jesus”.
  • Another fun, youthful song is the group’s cover of another classic hymn, “For I Know Whom I Have Believed”.  If you’re not careful, you may forget this song is a classic hymn.
  • Don’t want to leave this review without mentioning the brother’s cover of Joseph Habedank’s, “Just When You Thought”.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Everywhere I Go”, “From Every Stormy Wind”, “Pray Hard”, “For I Know Whom I Have Believed”, “We Believe”, “Forever Home” and “I Don’t Wanna Live No More Without Jesus”.
CRITIQUE:
  • Speaking of Joseph Habedank covers, the brothers attempt to cover “If You Knew Him”.  With the power contained in the original version, any other version is weak in comparison.  At least the boys know how to pronounce ‘direction’.
  • Why oh why did they record “A Place In The Choir”.  One of the worst songs I’ve heard recorded in Southern Gospel during the last decade.  The Browns version was absolute torture.
  • I also didn’t understand the placement of the pop song, “Can’t Help Falling In Love”.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “The National Anthem”, “Can’t Help Falling In Love” and “A Place In The Choir”.

WRAP UP:

The 3 Heath Brothers would have been best served cutting the album to 10 songs.  With that said, these brothers are the best young group to come along in Southern Gospel music since the Erwins.  What an impressive first effort!  There is definitely a bright future ahead.

SONG (tempo)/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “Everywhere I Go” (Fast)/Ensemble – Jason Ingram, Paul Mabury, Tim Timmons  2. “From Every Stormy Wind” (Acappella)/Ensemble – Thomas Hastings, Hugh Stowell  3. “We Believe” (Slow)/Ensemble – Nathan Digrese, Richie Fike, Matthew Hooper, Travis Ryan, Dan Scott  4. “For I Know Whom I Have Believed” (Fast)/Ensemble – Thomas Hastings, Hugh Stowell  5. “Pray Hard” (Slow)/Nicholas – Carolyn Cross, Kristi Fitzwater, Bev Herrema, Dixie Phillips  6. “I Don’t Wanna Live No More Without Jesus” (Acappella)/Ensemble – Carvel Horton  7. “Just When You Thought” (Slow)/Nicholas – Michael Farren, Joseph Habedank, Wayne Haun  8. “A Place In The Choir” (Fast)/Ensemble – Bill Staines  9. “Can’t Help Falling In Love” (Acappella)/Ensemble – Luigi Creatore, Hugo Peretti, George David Weiss  10. “Forever Home” (Slow)/Ensemble – Jason Cox, Joel Lindsey  11. “My Savior First Of All” (Acappella)/Ensemble – Fanny Crosby, John Sweney  12. “If You Knew Him” (Slow)/Ensemble – Rodney Griffin, Joseph Habedank  13. “The National Anthem” (Acappella)/Ensemble – Francis Scott Key

Smack Down!! “Message Of His Coming”

One of the most popular features on Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row in the early days of the blog was a feature, song covers Smack Down.  It has been nearly a year since the last Smack Down.

Today we look at an RE Winsett classic, “Message Of His Coming”.  The Hemphills were the first to record the song on their 1981 album, Good Things.

Today’s battle takes the Goodmans 1982 version (Chosen) and pits it against the recent cover by the Williamsons (Give Them Jesus).  Which version comes out on top.  You decide.

  • Artist:  Goodmans
  • Album:  Chosen
  • Release Year:  1982
  • Featured Vocalists:  Michael English; Sam Goodman

vs

  • Artist:  Williamsons
  • Album:  Give Them Jesus
  • Release Year:  2018
  • Featured Vocalist:  Karl Rice; Donnie Williamson

Best Radio Songs Of The 1980’s: #30

We’ve reached the song ranked 30th among the best Southern Gospel radio songs of the 1980’s; “Master Of The Wind”.

The Hemphills were at their prime in the 1980’s releasing hit record after hit record.  It started with Workin’ in 1980 and continued until their final album release Celebration (1989).

From the 1984 album, Together, “Master Of The Wind” became a top ten hit for the Hemphills in early 1985.  While not a huge chart hit at the time, the song would go on to become one of the group’s most memorable songs.

“Master Of The Wind” was another in a long list of songs in Joel Hemphill’s songwriting catalog.

Thanks For Sticking Around

To all my faithful readers, I want to thank you for sticking around, even though I am currently not able to post as much as I used to.  At the beginning of the year I mentioned that life has been barreling full steam ahead, which leaves me little time for my hobbies (ie; the blog).

I am hoping as summer approaches, I will have some time freed up to post on a more frequent basis.  There is plenty of posts to share with you, just currently no time to get them finished/posted.