And The Winners Are…4th Annual Southern Gospel Views From The Back Row Honors

Now that we are officially halfway through the annual countdown of Southern Gospel’s best albums, I thought I would take today and officially announce the winners in the 4th annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors.  I picked the nominees, you picked the winners


Recorded Song of the Year (song recorded on a 2017 album, did not have to be a radio single)

**”Here He Comes” – Chris Cohn, Joseph Habedank, Tony Wood; recorded by Joseph Habedank (Resurrection)

I consider recorded song of the year the highest honor in this presentation.  Chris Cohn, Joseph Habedank and Tony Wood are given that honor in 2017 for penning, “Here He Comes”.  And to Joseph Habedank, for bringing the song to life for listeners.

Single of the Year (had to be on the radio singles chart from January to December 2017)

**”Never Made A Promise” – Lee Black, Sue C Smith, Kenna West; recorded by the Kingdom Heirs (Something Good)

Loren Harris’ return to Southern Gospel music was just what the Kingdom Heirs needed.  Voters thought so as well.

Song Cover of the Year (a previously recorded song covered on a 2017 album release)

**”My Hope Is In The Blood” – Perrys (Testament); Reagan Riddle

The Perrys took one of the most popular Primitive Quartet songs and made it sound brand new.


**Joseph Habedank

Joseph Habedank had a huge year!  This is his first win for songwriter of the year.

Album of the Year (had to be a 2017 release)

**Resurrection – Joseph Habedank (Daywind)

Give another win to Joseph Habedank as he was awarded best album of 2017.  Joseph won every category he was nominated in.

Album Cover Design (best album artwork/cover design from a 2017 release)

**Resurrection – Joseph Habedank

I like to honor the graphic designers/photographers who create album covers and add a little something special to a great recording.  Aesthetic’s are important.  The win for Joseph Habedank’s Resurrection, belongs to Jeremy Ryan (photographer) and Blake Bennett (graphic design).

Artist – Breakthrough (New)


The closest margin of victory in this year’s honors was the Wisecarvers beating out Master’s Voice for breakthrough artist of the year.

Artist – Duo/Trio (no more than 3 vocalists)

**11th Hour

11th Hour picks up their second win in a row for best vocal duo/trio.

Artist – Mixed Group (at least 4 vocalists)


The Perrys returned in full force in 2017 by picking up three wins.

Artist – Quartet

**Kingdom Heirs

The Kingdom Heirs and Triumphant went back and forth the entire time polls were open.  Kingdom Heirs came out on top.

Artist – Soloist

**Joseph Habedank

The biggest margin of victory was Joseph Habedank’s win for soloist of the year.  Joseph was this year’s biggest winner with five wins!

Vocalist – Alto

**Libbi Stuffle (Perrys)

With the Hoppers (Connie) sitting out this year with no new albums (nominations), Libbi Stuffle returned as best alto vocalist.

Vocalist – Baritone

**Mark Trammell (Mark Trammell Quartet)

Mark Trammell won best baritone vocalist marking his third win in four years.

Vocalist – Bass

**Jeff Chapman (Kingdom Heirs)

After winning in 2014, Jeff Chapman returns as best bass vocalist of 2017.

Vocalist – Lead

**Bill Shivers (Brian Free & Assurance)

Bill Shivers squeaked out a win over Arthur Rice by a razor-thin margin.

Vocalist – Soprano

**Amber Thompson (Nelons)

This is the 4th annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors and this is the fourth win for Amber Thompson as best soprano vocalist.

Vocalist – Tenor

**Chris Allman (Greater Vision)

After picking up a big win at the 2017 edition of the Singing News fan awards, Chris also takes tenor vocalist for this year’s honors.

**Thanks to all the readers who participated in this year’s honors**.


VOTE: Best Of 2017: Lead/Soprano/Tenor

Who were the top vocalists in Southern Gospel music for 2017?  Today, starts the voting for best lead, soprano and tenor vocalist.

You get one vote per day.  Poll closes 11/27/17.  Click the link on each nominee to see an audio/video of the nominees.

Buzz Worthy 2017: “God Is Always Good”

buzzworthyThis week’s buzz worthy clip comes from Amber Nelon Thompson.  Amber released one of the biggest Southern Gospel albums in 2015 with Just Sing.

The fourth single from that recording, “God Is Always Good”, should already be part of your musical playlists.  Chad Cates and Marty Funderburk penned this tune to remind listeners of God’s goodness.  A good reminder to get us through 2017.

Southern Gospel Tidbits

Cloud-Predictions-2014-700Welcome to 2016!  First official new post of the new year is a little Southern Gospel tidbits.  I thought I would provide some Southern Gospel predictions for 2016.  What do you think?  What are some predictions you have for Southern Gospel music for 2016?

  • With the half-dozen albums coming out in January and those slated for first quarter 2016; I am going to go ahead and say 2016 will top 2015 in terms of Southern Gospel album releases.
  • Amber Nelon Thompson will finally win her first soprano vocalist award from Singing News readers (I’ll stuff the ballot box if I have to).
  • Brian Free & Assurance will call it quits.
  • Canton Junction will decide to do an actual tour (not just six dates).
  • Some artist will continue to cash in on the Cathedral name.
  • The Kingsboys will come together for a reunion tour only to realize they are all now retirement age.
  • The Collingsworth Family will still be Southern Gospel’s favorite group without a #1 song.  Leonardo DeCaprio knows how you feel (Oscar anyone).
  • The Singing Cookes will choose to record another song about mama.
  • The new Crabb Family tour will have limited tour dates, until they come together in two more years for another Crabb Family tour.
  • With the number of personnel changes each group experiences, the Dixie Echoes and Dixie Melody Boys will merge in to The Dixie Melody Echoes.
  • Ernie Haase & Signature Sound will release another landmark album that Southern Gospel listeners will totally ignore.
  • Bill Gaither will remain with the Vocal Band, but only to provide his signature vocal, “boom”, “boom”, “boom”.
  • Gold City will finally realize they are not Gold City without Tim Riley and change the name of the current group.
  • Candy Christmas, Sheri Easter and Tanya Goodman Sykes will come together to record another Heirloom album.
  • The Inspirations announce their retirement.
  • Ivan Parker kicks off his 2016 tour by not wearing his signature hairpiece and everyone in the audience keeps asking each other who is on stage.
  • Karen Peck & New River will celebrate their 25th anniversary by opening and closing their set with “Four Days Late” every night.
  • Scott Fowler will find Benjamin Franklin’s book of secrets and sell it at NQC by providing quotes from everyone but Ben Franklin.
  • The Ruppes will record their first album in over a decade.
  • Tribute Quartet will finally pay Tribute to Tribute and release a greatest hits album.

*In all seriousness, I hope you all have a wonderful 2016 and I am going to leave you with this new song that is already promising to be a big hit for the Wisecarvers in 2016; “Just To Save Me”.

*Video Credit (#TheWisecarvers)

2015 Wrap Up

2015goodbyesign-825x510Everything that needs to be said of Southern Gospel music in 2015 is said; just about.  Here are a few more things to wrap up the year and look ahead to 2016.

Some Stats:

goodmanrevival2015happymaxTop Five Read Posts of 2015

  1. 2nd Annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row Honors – And The Winners Are…
  2. And Southern Gospel’s Greatest Song Is…
  3. Songs In The Key Of Happy – Goodman Revival
  4. 2015 NQC – Monday Night Recap
  5. Ready To Sail: Erwins

**This tells me that my readers enjoy awards/honors (where they decide the results) and album reviews.  If I had expanded this list, you would be surprised at how many of the most read posts are album reviews.

dunaways2014kitchenmaxTen Most Played Southern Gospel Songs of 2015

  1. “Pray Now” – Karen Peck & New River
  2. “Jesus Loves You” – Jeff & Sheri Easter
  3. “What Do You Say” – Amber Nelon Thompson
  4. “Battle Cry” – Kingsmen
  5. “Just As I Am” – Ball Brothers
  6. “Greater” – Erwins
  7. “He Left No Stone Unturned” – LeFevre Quartet
  8. “Mercy Built A Bridge” – Dunaways w/Ronny Hinson
  9. “My God Is So Good To Me” – Jordan Family Band
  10. “Pray On The Little Days” – Mark Bishop

**I present the fab five feature at the start of every month to let you know my most played Southern Gospel radio songs in my musical playlists.  I get asked on occasion what I am currently listening to and this allows me to let the readers know.  These were the ten most played songs of the entire year.

lannywolfe1973songaboutjesusmaxMost Viewed YouTube Clips of 2015

  1. “I Love Him Too Much” – Lanny Wolfe Trio (1973)
  2. “An Unfinished Task” – Hemphills (1970)
  3. “There’s Something In The Air” – Lanny Wolfe Trio (1972)
  4. “Jesus Is Still The Answer” – Lanny Wolfe Trio (1974)
  5. “Someday I’ll Walk On Gold” – Lanny Wolfe Trio (1975)
  6. “I’ve Been To The Potter’s House” – Quinton Mills (1988)
  7. “My Soul Has Been Set Free” – Willie Wynn & Tennesseans (1975)
  8. “What A Happy Time” – JD Sumner & Stamps (1974)
  9. “Thank You Dear Lord” – McKameys (1980)
  10. “He Hideth My Soul” – Charles Johnson & Revivers (1989)

**I started a YouTube channel in September 2015 to go along with the blog.  This blog has always been about the music.  I try not to play favorites and present Southern Gospel music in all its forms throughout its history.  With my vast music collection, I noticed there were many classic songs missing from YouTube that may never be heard again.  I wanted to change that.  These were the ten most viewed clips since September.

LaBreeskaIn Honor of those who passed in 2015

  1. Tom Armshaw (Promoter/Radio)
  2. Jerrel Don Brashear (Artist)
  3. Andrae Crouch (Artist/Songwriter)
  4. Terry Davis (Artist)
  5. Jack Lee Eubanks (Industry/Producer)
  6. Savana Foust (Songwriter)
  7. Chris Hancock (Artist)
  8. LaBreeska Hemphill (Artist)
  9. Jimmy Justice (Artist)
  10. Carolyn Kirksey (Industry/Singing News Magazine)
  11. Mosie Lister (Songwriter)
  12. Margaret Mabry (Songwriter)
  13. Dickie Mathews (Artist)
  14. Carroll McGruder (Artist/Songwriter)
  15. Ken O’Shields (Promoter)
  16. Paul Roark (Artist)
  17. Faye Speer (Artist)
  18. Glenn Totherow (Artist)
  19. Luke White (Industry/Public Relations)
  20. Cheryl Jackson Wilds (Artist/Songwriter)
  21. Ruth Ellen Yates (Artist)

Looking ahead to features you will find in 2016

  • 3rd Annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row Honors
  • Album Reviews
  • Annual Countdown of Southern Gospel’s Best Albums/Recorded Songs
  • Fab Five
  • Most Overrated Southern Gospel Artist Series
  • Southern Gospel’s Greatest Songwriter Series
  • Southern Gospel Tidbits Feature
  • Top Ten Back Then
  • And Much, Much More….

**I want to thank everyone who stopped by the blog in 2015.  This year had to most views/site visitors of any year I have been doing this blog.  As long as you continue to stop by, I will continue the blog.

Best Of 2015 – #6

Amber #6Solo artists dominate the #6 spot for both album and recorded song of 2015.  The interesting thing is the album that finds a home at #6 contains four songs that was named the #1 Southern Gospel album release of 2014.

Amber Nelon Thompson’s EP, Without Your Love, was in fact the top album release of 2014.  So, when I listened to Amber’s full length solo recording, Just Sing, I judged it solely on the six songs not found on the EP.

Those six songs were strong enough to rank 6th among the best recordings released in 2015.  Even, a stuttering Bill Gaither (said in jest) didn’t reduce the listening enjoyment of Just Sing.  When you combine the six songs released this year with the four songs from last year, it makes for a must have recording.

Personal favorites from this recording include (outside the four on the EP): “Another Time, Another Place”, “Be Thou My Vision”, “Just Sing”, “He’s Making Me”, “Give It To Jesus” and “God Is Always Good”.

Crabb #6Jason Crabb already sent one song to the top 20 recorded songs of the year, when “Chance For A Miracle” came in at #12.

Crabb topped that with a song that I believe will become a standard for Jason alongside “Sometimes I Cry”.  Jason came into his own as a songwriter contributing to nearly every song on Whatever The Road.

The song ranked 6th, “If I Shout”, was a collab with Michael Farren and Tony Wood.  This song of rejoicing is one every believer can relate.

*Video Credit (#JasonCrabb)

Best Of 2015 – #9

GV #9We are edging ever closer to finding out the top Southern Gospel album and recorded song of 2015.

Greater Vision continues to impress with their recent album releases.  For All He’s Done (2013) and The Only Way (2011) both made my annual countdown in the year in which they were released.  2015 continues that trend with As We Speak.

Branching out and recording songs from other writers added to the strength of As We Speak.  The group recorded a Joel Hemphill/Candy Christmas/Lari Goss cover with “Let The Blood Of Calvary Speak For Me”.

Personal favorites from this recording include:  “We Can’t Tell It All”, “As We Speak”, “Saved By The Same Grace”, “In The Sandals Of Daniel”, “He Does”, “Let The Blood Of Calvary Speak For Me” and “I Do Know”.

ThompsonThere has already been a classic CCM song land among the top 20 recorded songs.  A second finds a home at #9 for the year.  If current Southern Gospel listeners aren’t familiar with classic ’80’s CCM, then both songs would seem new.

Amber Nelon Thompson released her full length solo album this year; Just Sing.  She requested the talents of Michael English to join her on the classic CCM cover, “Another Time, Another Place”.  This song was made popular in the early ’90’s by Sandi Patty and Wayne Watson.

Again, current Southern Gospel listeners probably thought this Gary Driskell penned song was new.  Either way, these two talented vocalists came together to record one of the best collabs of the year.

*Video Credit (#AmberNelonThompson)

2nd Annual Southern Gospel Views From The Back Row Honors – And The Winners Are…

INVITATIONYou, as readers of this blog, decided who you thought represented the best of 2015.  Over the course of the last several weeks you voted in polls that represented 20 different categories (also chosen by you).  If you looked back through after the polls closed, you already know the winners, but I thought I would wrap up this year’s honors by listing the winners in each category.  Thanks for participating and continuing to come by on a daily basis to let me know you want me to continue this blog.


KPNRRecorded Song of the Year (song recorded on a 2015 release, did not have to be a radio single)

  1. “Pray Now” – Dave Clark/Michael Farren/Karen Peck; recorded by Karen Peck & New River (Pray Now)

*I’m not surprised Karen Peck and New River were given the highest honor of best recorded song of 2015.  “Pray Now” was hands down, the song that best represented 2015 in Southern Gospel music.  If I was hand picking the winners, my choice would have also been “Pray Now”.

Album of the Year (had to be a 2015 release)

  1. A New Look – Kingdom Heirs (Sonlite Records)

*Pray Now by Karen Peck and New River was leading early, looking like they would go two for two.  But the Kingdom Heirs, ultimately edged out a win for album of the year for A New Look.  My choice would have gone to Pray Now, but all five contenders in this category were worthy of the win.

Radio Single of the Year (had to be a chart hit from January to December 2015)

  1. “Battle Cry” – Lee Black/Joel Lindsey/Sue C Smith; recorded by the Kingsmen (Battle Cry)

*This was the closest vote tally of any category in the honors.  The Kingsmen and Gaither Vocal Band (“Sometimes It Takes A Mountain”) were swapping the lead throughout but the Kingsmen were honored for their hit single, “Battle Cry”; the best single of 2015.

kingheirscov2d (250x250)Song Cover of the Year (a previously recorded song covered on a 2015 album release)

  1. “Greatest Of All Miracles” – Jim Brady Trio (A New Chapter); Squire Parsons

*This was no surprise.  Ultimately one of the best cover songs in Southern Gospel music; beating the original recording by Gold City.

Album Cover Design (best album artwork/cover design from a 2015 release)

  1. Just Sing – Amber Nelon Thompson

*The Nelons had another good year, tallying four wins in this years honors.  The first is  Amber Nelon Thompson’s solo recording, Just Sing, picking up best album cover design.


  1. Kenna Turner West

*It is finally great to see non-performing/touring songwriters getting the recognition they deserve.  It is also nice that the general Southern Gospel listening audience is also beginning to recognize these names.  All five nominees in the songwriter category this year were non-performing/touring songwriters.  Kenna Turner West is one of the best and she was given this year’s honor as best songwriter.

ANT (250x250)Songwriting Collaboration Team

  1. Sheri Easter/Don Poythress/Kenna Turner West

*Kenna Turner West would grab two wins as she was also part of the best songwriting collaboration team of 2015.  Along with Sheri Easter and Don Poythress, they penned one of the best recorded songs of the year; “Jesus Loves You”.  The song was recorded by Jeff and Sheri Easter.

Artist – Quartet

  1. Triumphant

*Fan favorites tended to dominate the artist categories.  Triumphant grabbed best quartet of the year.  My hand-picked choice would have gone to Ernie Haase & Signature Sound.

Artist – Mixed Group (at least 4 vocalists)

  1. Collingsworth Family

*Another fan favorite, the Collingsworth Family picked up the honor for best mixed group.  My choice would have gone to the Erwins.

jimbradyrelease (250x250)Artist – Duo/Trio (no more than 3 vocalists)

  1. Greater Vision

*One can’t argue the contributions Greater Vision made to Southern Gospel this year with the release of As We Speak.  For me, one artist would have slightly edged out Greater Vision; Karen Peck and New River.

Artist – Breakthrough (New)

  1. Jim Brady Trio

*A strong debut album (A New Chapter) along with a strong debut radio single (“Steppin’ Out In Faith”) and immediate name recognition made for a fairly easy choice for most voters.

Artist – Underrated (overlooked by majority of listeners)

  1. LeFevre Quartet

*While the Dunaways attempted to provide some competition, the LeFevre Quartet would pick up the honor for most underrated artist of 2015.  Even though, the new album (Home) has been pushed back, the success of the first single, “He Left No Stone Unturned” was enough for this win.

Triumphant (250x250)Vocalist – Tenor

  1. Chris Allman (Greater Vision)

*Greater Vision would grab a second win as Chris Allman picked up tenor vocalist.

Vocalist – Lead

  1. Arthur Rice (Kingdom Heirs)

*Arthur Rice being snubbed from other fan voted award shows has given him two wins in a row for the Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors.

Vocalist – Baritone

  1. Scott Inman (Triumphant)

*Triumphant would also grab a second win with Scott Inman garnering baritone vocalist.

Greater-Vision-2 (250x250)Vocalist – Bass

  1. Eric Bennett (Triumphant)

*Actually, go ahead and make that three wins for Triumphant as Eric Bennett was chosen as best bass vocalist for 2015.

Vocalist – Alto

  1. Kelly Nelon Clark (Nelons)

*The Nelons would make a clean sweep of the female vocal spots as Kelly won Alto.

Vocalist – Soprano

  1. Amber Thompson (Nelons)

*And Amber would get her second soprano win in a row.

KTW (250x250)Vocal Collaboration (two artists coming together on a song from a 2015 album release)

  1. “Without Your Love” – Jason Clark/Joel Lindsey; recoded by Amber Nelon Thompson (Just Sing); joined by Joseph Habedank

*Amber Nelon Thompson’s success over the last couple years has been unmatched.  She, alone, made up three of the four Nelon wins.  “Without Your Love”, along with Jospeh Habedank garnered Amber a win for vocal collaboration of the year.

Hall Of Fame – Individual (artist with a 30+ year career in Southern Gospel still producing hits in 2015)

  1. Karen Peck Gooch (Artist/Songwriter)

*Karen Peck Gooch is one of the most known female vocalists in Southern Gospel music.  Her career has now spanned more than thirty years.  As a result, you honored Karen with the hall of fame individual for 2015.

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners.  Thanks for providing the best Southern Gospel had to offer in 2015; at least the readers of this blog think so.