Southern Gospel Clones

In the case of today’s post, a clone is an artist that duplicates, imitates or closely resembles another artist in appearance, performance or style.

Today’s post is not meant to be a bad thing (as in the myriad of carbon copy artists in the industry), but one that will take a Southern Gospel artist from the past and match them to an artist of today that best resembles/carries on the sound of the great artist of the past.  I will continue this feature with several more posts.

  • Downings match is the Taylors
  • Florida Boys match is Freedom Quartet
  • Happy Goodmans match is the Perrys
  • Hinsons match is the Hinson Family
  • Mid South Boys match is Akins
  • Oak Ridge Boys match is Triumphant

So with the artists in today’s grouping, do you agree with my choices or do you feel other artists match closer to the great artists of the past?

The Fab Five – February 2015

Kicking off February as I do each month, providing readers the five most played Southern Gospel radio songs in my musical playlists the preceding month.  The Gaither Vocal Band tops the list in February, while the Wisecarvers, Jeff & Sheri Easter, Akins and the Nelons round out the top five.  Enjoy!


*Video Credit (Various Artists – Topic)


*Video Credit (Various Artists – Topic)


*Video Credit (Allen Edwards)


*Video Credit (TheAkinsVideos)


*Video Credit (TheNelonsFan)

Best Of 2014 – #20

AkinsIt is time to begin my annual count down of counting down the best Southern Gospel albums and recorded songs of the year.  As mentioned yesterday, there were 44 new albums listened to and/or reviewed by me in 2014.  Of those, I chose what I felt to be the twenty best.

To kick off the count down at #20 is Akins; Vintage.  Akins left the comforts of a record label (Crossroads) to produce and record Vintage.  As the title suggests, Vintage is a 12 song collection of all previously recorded songs.  What sets this apart from the run-of-the-mill Southern Gospel table project is the arrangements Akins gives to these classic songs, making them sound original.

Akins not only recorded the vocals, but laid down all the musical tracks as well to produce one of the best “vintage” albums I have heard.  The way they took the classic “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” and made it sound Akins (country), makes the song sound brand new.

Personal favorites from this recording include:  “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee”; “Revive Us Again”; “In The Sweet By And By”; “There Is Power In The Blood”, “He Looked Beyond My Fault”; “Nothing But The Blood”.

MTQAfter listening to all 44 albums, I ranked every song on every album to come up with what I felt to be the best recorded songs in Southern Gospel music in the year 2014.

When the dust settled, the song to kick off the count down is a Dianne Wilkinson, quartet standard.  The Mark Trammell Quartet also left the comforts of a major record label (Daywind) to release the best quartet album of their career in 2014; Your Walk Talks.

The one song that stood out to me is “When The King Comes To Claim His Throne”.  From the first note you can hear Dianne all over it.  It is reminiscent of a song she would have penned for the Cathedrals.  This up tempo quartet standard even has the obligatory reprise that has you singing along before the song ends.  I am glad Dianne is still pitching these style quartet songs.

Here is a YouTube clip (published by Nathan Shaw) of Mark Trammell Quartet performing the song ranked 20th among the best recorded in 2014.  Enjoy!

Voting Rounds – Duo/Trio and Performing Artist

Happy Monday!  Today you get to vote on two more categories for the 1st annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors.  That will leave us with four remaining categories that will wrap up this week.  What is the best duo/trio and performing artist of 2014?

Duo/Trio of the year is any artist with no more than three vocalists.  Performing artist (or touring artist) are those artists who are still selling out concert venues for 2014.  While they may have not had new albums or hit singles this year, these five nominees were still among the most sought after in terms of purchasing concert tickets.  There will be YouTube clips provided showcasing the five nominees in each category.


1.  11th hour (published by Diana Brantley)

2.  Akins (published by TheAkinsVideos)

3.  Greater Vision (published by psalmofpraise)

4.  Master’s Voice (published by dasahuikko)

5.  Karen Peck & New River (published by myong cha)


1.  Booth Brothers (published by Lauren SGBlog)

2.  Collingsworth Family (published by Joy Miller)

3.  Jason Crabb (published by Allyson Praytor)

4.  Gaither Vocal Band (published by Silas Henrique Santana Mendes)

5.  Ernie Haase & Signature Sound (published by EHSSVEVO)

Voting Rounds – Radio Single/Song Cover

1stToday you get to decide the best radio single and song cover of 2014.  Eligibility for radio single was any song that was a Southern Gospel chart hit between January 2014 and present.  Song cover for 2014 had to be a previously recorded song covered by an artist on a 2014 album release.  A musical mash up of each category highlights the nominees.


  1. “I’ll Know I’m Home” – Jeff Crews/Dianne Wilkinson; recorded by the Kingdom Heirs (Redeeming The Time)
  2. “Lead Me Home” – Randy Houser/Craig Monday; recorded by the Freemans (Voice In The Desert)
  3. “Long Live The King” – Chris Binion/Dianne Wilkinson; recorded by Old Paths (These Truths)
  4. “That’s Why” – Ernie Haase/Wayne Haun/Joel Lindsey; recorded by Ernie Haase & Signature Sound (Glorious Day)
  5. “Whenever I Hear His Name” – Joseph Habedank/Marty Funderburk; recorded by the Hoskins Family (A Gathering)


  1. “I Want To Be Like My Lord” – Down East Boys (Beyond The Blue); Jimmy Jones
  2. “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” – Akins (Vintage); Henry Van Dyke
  3. “Mercy Built A Bridge” – Dunaways (Church In The Kitchen); Ronny Hinson
  4. “The Saving Kind” – Master’s Voice (Rescued From Religion); Linda Bolton
  5. “When He Calls, I’ll Fly Away” – Talleys (The Test Of Time); Vep Ellis

Voting Rounds – New Artist/Musician

Back to voting for the best of 2014 in Southern Gospel music.  Today you will be able to vote for new artist and musician that best represented Southern Gospel music in 2014.  Today you will get YouTube clips of each nominee.


1.  Canton Junction

2.  Erwins

3.  High Road III

4.  Horn Family

5.  Mylon Hayes Family


1.  Eli Akin (Akins) – Lead/Acoustic Guitar; Mandolin; Banjo

2.  Ben Isaacs (Isaacs) – Bass

3.  Anna Grace Kimbrough (High Road III) – Fiddle

4.  Michael Rowsey (Jason Crabb Band) – Percussion

5.  Mike Salley (Dove Brothers Band) – Steel Guitar

Voting Rounds – Cutting Edge/Underrated Artist

1stThe 1st annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors continues today with best cutting edge and most underrated artist of 2014.  Cutting edge artists are those who think outside the box; who create their own brand/style of Southern Gospel.  Most underrated are artists who had a strong album release or hit single that gets little recognition from fans/industry.  There is a musical mash-up of each category to showcase why they were chosen to represent the best of 2014.


  1. Akins
  2. Brian Free & Assurance
  3. Ball Brothers
  4. Jason Crabb
  5. Taranda Greene


  1. Ball Brothers
  2. Down East Boys
  3. Dunaways
  4. Freemans
  5. High Road III

Vintage – Akins

akins2014vintage300This must buy or not feature is a collaboration from Diana Brantley and Steve Eaton.

Akins (Father David and sons; Dave, Nick and Eli) hit the Southern Gospel scene with their 2008 debut album, Good Tired.  They followed that up with their self titled sophomore album and a #1 song from that recording, “I Want My Stage To Be An Altar”.  2014 brings the 5th mainline album release by Akins; Vintage.

Akins decided to step away from Crossroads Music to record Vintage.  The group not only produced the album but recorded all music used on Vintage.  I love it, because what you hear on the record you will also hear in the live concert setting.  Novel concept for Southern Gospel music, but one I applaud!

Song list:  (1) “Revive Us Again” – WP Mackay  (2) “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” – Henry Van Dyke  (3) “There’s A Land That Is Fairer Than Day (In The Sweet By And By)” – Sanford F Bennett  (4) “When We All Get To Heaven” – Eliza E Hewitt  (5) “Go Rest High On That Mountain” – Vince Gill  (6) “There Is Power In The Blood” – Lewis E Jones  (7) “There Is Power In The Blood” – Robert Lowry  (8) “Arise My Love”  – Eddie Carswell  (9) “He Looked Beyond My Fault And Saw My Need” – Dottie Rambo  (10) “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” – Louie Giglio, Chris Tomlin  (11) “Sweet, Sweet Spirit” – Doris Akers  (12) “I Saw The Light” – Hanks Williams Sr


  • If you have read any of my album reviews for any length of time, you know that I love artists who are unique, who stand out and who are not carbon copies of someone else.  Akins is one of those unique artists.  They are country (in terms of vocals/harmonies/style).  They actually tour as a band, meaning the concert audience actually sees the use of real instruments in the performance.
  • One may quickly glance the song titles for Vintage and feel, oh no not another album full of songs that have been recorded 1,000 times before.  Let me tell you, Akins takes these songs and arrange them to their own style (both vocally and musically) and turns Vintage in to an enjoyable listen.
  • “Revive Us Again” comes barreling out of the gate with musical intensity and power.  I guarantee it is unlike any version of “Revive Us Again” you’ve heard before.
  • The same can be said of “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”.  So many Southern Gospel listeners are used to the ‘high church’ treatment this song is given by quartets.  Akins takes this song to an entire different level with their Alabama-esque country style.  Yes, I am talking about the mainstream country act, Alabama.  Best song on the entire album!
  • Akins show off their a cappella prowess on “There Is Power In The Blood” (great short arrangement), “He Looked Beyond My Fault And Saw My Need” and “Sweet, Sweet Spirit”.
  • The musical interludes created by Akins on songs is what sets this album apart from being just another generic, previously recorded song, recording.


  • I agree with everything Steve said!!  There is so much energy from all of the instruments and vocals.  The Akins really have made these songs their own style coming from their hearts.
  • One of my favorites is “When We All Get to Heaven” with Eli’s happy little mandolin skipping along above the vocals!  There’s also some great guitar picking, particularly in the instrumental interlude.   I love this hymn anyway and the instruments add a freshness and joy to it.
  • Kudos to young drummer Lucas Vaughn!  With all the great instrumentation on this album, they needed great  percussion to help them keep up the tempo and intensity.  Lucas provides it – especially on “Revive Us Again,” “Joyful, Joyful” and “I Saw The Light.”
  • One of the things that make The Akins’ a capella numbers so nice is that they are not rushed.  With the exception of the short “Power In the Blood,” these are the slower songs on the album.  You will hear a few different than expected harmonies and a healthy supply of moving parts that keep them from bogging down.  If I didn’t like their instruments so well, I would want even more a capella!
  • OK, I know it’s a little bit corny, but the little sound effects at the beginning and the end of the “record” make you feel like you might have been listening to an LP playing on the old Victrola phonograph!! How many of you young’uns even know what I’m talking about?! HaHaHa!   And the vintage look to the CD label itself is the final little touch to make you think about a record that has been played so much it has the scratches and smudges to prove it.



  • There were a couple previously recorded songs I could have done without, “Go Rest High On That Mountain” being a top that list.  This seems to be the go to country (gospel based) song that seems to get recorded by so many artists.
  • The other was “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)”.  The problem I have is not with Akins performance, my problem is the with the song.  I have always seen this song as a rip off.  For Chris Tomlin to take the classic standard, “Amazing Grace” and add a few extra verses and now make royalties off of that does not sit well with me.  It reminds me of Vanilla Ice ripping off Queen’s “Under Pressure” to make a ton of money off of “Ice, Ice Baby”.  Tacky to the highest degree!!


  • I agree with Steve again here, but I’ll add one other thought.  I let an office friend whom I had taken to an Akins concert listen to the new CD and she immediately said her favorite was “Go Rest High” because she has a very personal sentimental attachment to that song.   I like the song but I think it’s probably been overdone.  It does fit with the theme of the album though.
  • This is more of a suggestion than a dislike, but I’d love to see a fast a capella song or two on the next album!



  • YES – This album is a must buy just for the musical interludes alone.  “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” is absolute musical perfection!  I don’t know why Southern Gospel audiences don’t embrace groups like Akins, who actually produce a top notch concert experience with voices and instruments.


  • YES – Most folks may already have albums with these songs but The Akins’ presentation makes this album worth the purchase.