Are You Listening? Question 2

Several weeks ago I started a series where I provided my readers a way to express their view/thoughts on Southern Gospel music.  Let artists/industry folk know how you feel about certain aspects of Southern Gospel music.

The second question in the series is this; If you had to choose only ten artists (current) to represent Southern Gospel music; who would they be?

The Beginning: Bowling Sisters

GRADE:  B-

  • Album:  The Beginning
  • Artist:  Bowling Sisters
  • Label:  Custom
  • Style:  Progressive, Pop
  • Release Date:  03/10/17
  • Digital Download:  Yes (Apple Music)
  • Running Time:  49 Minutes

SYNOPSIS:

This week we take a look at the debut album from the Bowling Sisters, The Beginning.  The Bowling siblings have been performing at Bowling Family concerts for a while now.

These young ladies break away from their parents country-style and provide listeners with progressive Southern Gospel sounds mixed with pop.

The Bowling Sisters are Hope, Katelanne and Gracie.  Their parents should be proud of what these young ladies have accomplished with The Beginning.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The stand out track on The Beginning is a song that doesn’t fit the Southern Gospel market, but it grabs your attention from the first note.  The pop infused, “Higher Ground” is a must listen! The haunting melody stays with you long after the song ends.
  • The most Southern Gospel friendly song is the latest radio single, “He Sees What We Don’t”.  Always hoped 11th Hour would release this song, but glad the Bowling Sisters decided to record it.
  • The girls go back to the late 1980’s to pick up, “He’ll Do It Again”.  This was the go to song for aspiring female vocalists during this time.  Glad to hear it re-done.
  • The Bowling Sisters also show their prowess on an a cappella rendition of the traditional hymn, “At The Cross”.
  • The youngest sibling, Gracie, absolutely pulls at your heart-strings with “Fragile Hearts”.  The vocal maturity she shows on this number is outstanding.
  • Mike and Kelly should be proud.  Hope, Katelanne and Gracie show maturity beyond their years in what they’ve provided listeners.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Higher Ground”, “He Sees What We Don’t”, “He’ll Do It Again”, “At The Cross”, “Fragile Hearts”, “You Brought The Sunshine” and “Forever”.
CRITIQUE:
  • The girls may have considered cutting the two weakest songs and leaving the listener with ten songs.  A running time of 49 minutes causes a bit of listener fatigue by the end of the recording.
  • Stylistically, The Beginning may be a bit too bold for a good chunk of Southern Gospel listeners.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Stronger” and “That’s What He’ll Be”.

WRAP UP:

The Bowling Sisters wowed me with what they provided listeners on The Beginning.  Their vocal maturity, considering their ages, has to be heard.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “So Smile”/Gracie – Lee Black, Ben Storie  2. “He Sees What We Don’t“/Hope – Amber Eppinette, Joseph Habedank  3. “Higher Ground“/Katelanne  4. “You Brought The Sunshine”/Ensemble – Elbernita Clark Terrell  5. “He’ll Do It Again”/Hope; Katelanne – Hazel Trubee  6. “Fragile Hearts”/Gracie – Jessica Campbell, Jason Cox, Sue C Smith  7. “Stronger”/Katelanne – Keisha Buchanan, Mutya Buena, Marius De Fries, Felix Howard, Johnny Lipsey, Heidi Range  8. “I Love The Lord“/Hope – Richard Smallwood  9. “Forever”/Katelanne – Christa Gifford, Kari Jobe, Brian Johnson, Jenn Johnson, Joel Taylor, Gabriel Wilson  10. “Nothing’s Too Big For My God”/Ensemble – Nancy Harmon  11. “At The Cross”/Ensemble – Isaac Watts  12. “That’s What He’ll Be”/Katelanne – Lee Black, Kenna West

Leroy ‘Spiritual Man’ Howard

Wendy Bagwell was known more for his comedy than his singing.  The group placed at least one Wendy story on every album Wendy Bagwell and the Sunliters recorded.

On the group’s 1991 album, Wendy recorded a story called “Leroy Spiritual Man Howard”.  It was indicative of the Southern Gospel industry during that era.  Something we can still see today.

That brings me to today’s post, and this question.  Are you ok with artists creating or embellishing emotional stories from the stage to create a certain atmosphere/mood with the audience?

A fair portion of those ‘stories’ you hear by artists from the concert stage are either 100% made up or largely embellished.  If the artist’s intent is to create a certain atmosphere with the audience to set up a specific song; are you ok with the story not being 100% true?

Southern Gospel Tidbits

DID YOU KNOW?:  It is commonplace in the Southern Gospel music industry for singers to perform with more than one group in the span of their career.

Then you have those special moments when several veteran singers come together.  Such is the case with the Landmark Quartet. Many readers are not familiar with the Landmark Quartet considering they were around in the late 1960’s.

The group was composed of Mack Evans (also with Old Time Gospel Hour Trio/Weatherfords) singing tenor, Carroll Rawlings (also with the Rhythm Masters) singing lead, Don Norman (also with Old Time Gospel Hour Trio) singing baritone, Buddy Liles (also with the Florida Boys) singing bass and Lorne Matthews (also with the Cathedrals) playing piano.

Song Hall Of Fame: “Bring My Children Home”

Hall of Fame (350x202)The month of June is just around the corner.  It is time for me to honor another of Southern Gospel’s greatest compositions by placing it into the Southern Gospel song hall of fame.

Today’s inductee goes back to 1988.  “Bring My Children Home” was recorded by the Nelons on the album, Get Ready.

Not only is Get Ready one of the greatest albums in the Nelons discography, “Bring My Children Home” happens to be one of the greatest songs the group recorded.

This masterpiece was penned by Jerry Thompson.

Something Good: Kingdom Heirs

GRADE:  B-

  • Album:  Something Good
  • Artist:  Kingdom Heirs
  • Label:  Sonlite Records
  • Style:  Traditional
  • Release Date:  02/03/17
  • Digital Download:  Yes (Apple Music)
  • Running Time:  33 Minutes

SYNOPSIS:

This week we take a look at the latest album from the Kingdom Heirs, Something Good.  An album that seemed to be originally slated as a table project, but released on Sonlite Records.

The Kingdom Heirs continue to remain at the top of their game as it relates to giving listeners traditional Southern Gospel quartet music.  Something Good is also the first Kingdom Heirs album to feature Loren Harris.

The 2017 edition of the Kingdom Heirs is composed of Jerry Martin (tenor), Arthur Rice (lead), Loren Harris (baritone), Jeff Chapman (bass), Andy Stringfield (pianist), Dennis Murphy (percussion) and Kreis French (bass guitar).

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The Kingdom Heirs may be the best they’ve ever sounded with Loren Harris in the group.  He is the highlight of Something Good.
  • The quartet have now recorded “Never Made A Promise” three times.  On A New Look (2015) featuring Brian Alvey, on Carolina Live (2017) featuring Andy Stringfield and now on Something Good featuring Loren Harris.  Third time is the charm as Loren’s version is the best.
  • Loren also brings a couple of songs he recorded when he spent time with the Perrys.  Both “Damascus Road” and “Calvary Answers For Me” are highlights.
  • I enjoyed the Kingdom Heirs cover of “Better Hurry Up” to close out the recording.  Great ensemble work!
  • One can’t go wrong recording a cover of the Squire Parsons classic, “Master Of The Sea”.
  • Jeff and Jerry trade verses on a nice version of the Ira Stanphill classic, “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow”.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Never Made A Promise”, “Damascus Road”, “Better Hurry Up”, “Master Of The Sea”, “Calvary Answers For Me” and “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow”.
CRITIQUE:
  • When an artist records a table project, the listener can expect songs that have been recorded a thousand times before.  In this case the listener is treated to “I Just Feel Like Something Good Is About To Happen” and “How Long Has It Been”.  Sadly, not long enough.
  • Eerily, I thought I heard Libbi Stuffle on “Calvary Answers For Me”.  I am certain they didn’t use the Perry’s recorded track??
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “How Long Has It Been” and “I’m Telling The World About His Love”.

WRAP UP:

For a table project, Something Good is quite enjoyable.  Sonlite Records picking the album up makes me believe they were in a hurry to get something out with Loren Harris.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “I Just Feel Like Something Good Is About To Happen”/Ensemble; Arthur – William J Gaither  2. “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow“/Jeff; Jerry – Ira Stanphill  3. “Damascus Road“/Loren – Kyla Rowland  4. “Master Of The Sea”/Ensemble; Arthur – Squire Parsons  5. “I Want To Walk With My Lord”/Ensemble – Squire Parsons  6. “Calvary Answers For Me”/Loren – Joel Lindsey  7. “I’m Telling The World About His Love”/Ensemble – Kenneth Fulkerson  8. “How Long Has It Been“/Jerry – Mosie Lister  9. “Never Made A Promise”/Loren – Lee Black, Sue C Smith, Kenna Turner West  10. “Better Hurry Up”/Ensemble – James B Paris

Southern Gospel Tidbits

DID YOU KNOW?:  Please allow me to indulge in a bit of shameless self promotion.  Did you know that Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row has a companion YouTube channel.  It’s sole purpose of keeping Southern Gospel music from the 60s/70s/80s/90s alive.

Also, I wanted to alert my readers that the song of the day is back.  Please look on the left sidebar.

And, finally the ‘ask me anything’ feature will stay a permanent part of the blog.  Please look on the left sidebar.  Click on the ‘ask me anything’ pic and leave a question anytime in the comments section.

All of this was also to say thanks to my readers for allowing me (7) years now to provide you my insights on Southern Gospel music through Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row.