The First Shall Be Last, The Last Shall Be First

I thought I would kick off the week by offering a little switch of Southern Gospel’s current popular artists and swapping them with artists that deserve to be recognized as ‘first’.

Starting with mixed group, I would swap the Collingsworth Family with the Erwins.  These young kids have proven they are at the top of their game.

On the solo artist side, I would easily swap out Ivan Parker with Jason Crabb.  “Home” and “If I Shout” are more than enough reason.

Taking a look at trio, the Booth Brothers would be swapped out with Goodman Revival.  The musical concert experience offered the audience by Goodman Revival with actual musicians is a missed art in Southern Gospel music.

Finally, quartet would have me swapping Triumphant Quartet with Tribute Quartet, for the mere fact they are currently providing the listener with some of the best Southern Gospel quartet music.

So, how would you handle the swapping of Southern Gospel’s current most popular artists?

Buzz Worthy 2017: “Only Faith Can See”

buzzworthyThis week’s buzz worthy clip comes from the Erwins.  The group had one of the top recordings in 2016 with the release of Only Faith Can See.

The first single from that recording happens to be the title track, “Only Faith Can See”.  The songwriting talents of Jeffrey Bumgardner, Daniel Doss and Kenna West combined to create a song that should find a home in every Southern Gospel listener’s musical playlist.

3rd Annual Southern Gospel Views From The Back Row Honors: And The Winners Are…..

3rdannualI thought I would take a break from the countdown today and officially announce the winners in the 3rd annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors.  I picked the nominees, you picked the winners

AND THE BEST OF 2016 IS:

Recorded Song of the Year (song recorded on a 2016 album, did not have to be a radio single)

**”In The Hands Of A Carpenter” – Lee Black, Jerry Salley; recorded by Legacy Five (In The Hands Of A Carpenter)

I consider recorded song of the year the highest honor in this presentation.  Lee Black and Jerry Salley are given that honor in 2016 for penning, “In The Hands Of A Carpenter”.  And to Legacy Five, for bringing the song to life for listeners.

Single of the Year (had to be on the radio singles chart from January to December 2016)

**”Amazing God” – Lee Black, Janice Crow, Sue C Smith; recorded by the Triumphant Quartet (Living In Harmony)

After already winning song of the year at the 2016 edition of the Singing News fan awards, “Amazing God” grabs another honor, this time for single of the year.

Song Cover of the Year (a previously recorded song covered on a 2016 album release)

**”The Prodigal Son” – Second Half Quartet (Refreshing); Lavon Cantrell

The Cathedrals will forever have an indelible mark on Southern Gospel music.  That shows as 2016 found the Second Half Quartet picking up honors for covering a Cathedral classic, “The Prodigal Son”.

blackSongwriter

**Lee Black

One of the biggest margins of victory in the 3rd annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors is Lee Black winning songwriter of the year!!

tributeqt2016hereforyouAlbum of the Year (had to be a 2016 release)

**Here For You – Tribute Quartet (Daywind Records)

Tribute Quartet walks away with Southern Gospel’s best album of 2016, hands down the best recording of the group’s career thus far.

11thhour2016whatamomentAlbum Cover Design (best album artwork/cover design from a 2016 release)

**What A Moment – 11th Hour

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 11th Hour’s What A Moment, belongs to Kim Brantley (photographer) and Lynn O’Hara (graphic design).

canas-voice-260x195Artist – Breakthrough (New)

**Cana’s Voice

When you combine three power house vocalists like Taranda Greene, Doug Anderson and Jody McBrayer you are left with nothing short of spectacular.  Readers chose Cana’s Voice as best new artist of 2016.

11th HourArtist – Duo/Trio (no more than 3 vocalists)

**11th Hour

Talk about another group having a monster year.  11th Hour picks up their first win as best vocal duo/trio of the year.

erwins_2016_tall_smArtist – Mixed Group (at least 4 vocalists)

**Erwins

This was the closest vote tally among the five contenders than any other category.  When the dust settled and voting closed, the Erwins grabbed their first mixed group honor.  These youngin’s seem unstoppable at the moment.

mtq_satArtist – Quartet

**Mark Trammell Quartet

Another clear victory came with Mark Trammell Quartet picking up their first quartet of the year honor.  So many first time winners this year!

Vocalist – Alto

connie-hopper-brother-passes-away-200w-tn**Connie Hopper (Hoppers)

Connie Hopper has remained in a league of her own as one of the greatest individuals to ever grace a Southern Gospel stage.  When the vote tally ended, Connie beat out Sheri Easter by one vote to win best alto vocalist of 2016.

marktrammell2013Vocalist – Baritone

**Mark Trammell (Mark Trammell Quartet)

Mark Trammell was the clear front-runner from day one of voting.  He held that lead and won with 57.7% of the vote total.

paulbigbioVocalist – Bass

**Paul Harkey (Signature Sound)

Paul Harkey picked up his first win as best bass vocalist.  I imagine it won’t be his last.

hamptonVocalist – Lead

**Wes Hampton (Gaither Vocal Band)

Some readers were surprised I nominated Wes Hampton in the lead vocalist category.  What readers weren’t surprised about is voting Wes best lead vocalist of 2016.

7b88178c541234803097428504576_34b02f93fe1-4-2Vocalist – Soprano

**Amber Thompson (Nelons)

This is the 3rd annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors and this is the third win for Amber Thompson as best soprano vocalist.

rileyVocalist – Tenor

**Riley Harrison Clark (Tribute Quartet)

I believe 2016 is the best year yet for the Tribute Quartet.  It showed in the way readers voted this year.  Riley Harrison Clark grabs his first win as Southern Gospel’s best tenor vocalist.

**Thanks to all the readers who came by during the voting, making for the most participated annual honors yet.  I’ve got a smart bunch of readers because I think your choices definitely represent the best of 2016**.

Best Of 2016: #14

perry-sistersHappy Friday!  The album ranked 14th among the best Southern Gospel releases of 2016 is the Perry Sisters, Lineage.  For those long time Southern Gospel listeners who thought the group had long since retired, they’re back.

Yesterday, the stand out song from the recording, “No Stranger To The Pain” landed at #15 among the best recorded songs of the year.

The trio gave listeners a 16 song collection of newer songs and Perry Sister classics.  “In The Ark Of Safety and “Build My Home” were two cases where the remakes were better than the original.

The (5) Best Songs From The Album:  (1) “No Stranger To The Pain”, (2) “In The Ark Of Safety”, (3) “Heaven Holds All To Me”, (4) “Build My Home” and (5) “The Writing’s On The Wall”.

erwinsThe Erwins already found a home in the annual countdown with their 2016 album release, Only Faith Can See (#17).

Caleb Bumgardner and Jeffrey Bumgardner combined to write the song ranked 14th among the best recorded Southern Gospel songs of 2016.

Track #4 on Only Faith Can See is “Chasing After You”.

Best Of 2016: #17

erwinsOne of the fastest rising groups in Southern Gospel music is Texas-based family group, the Erwins.  Siblings Keith, Kody, Kris and Katie have endeared themselves to the broader Southern Gospel listening audience.

Two years ago, this young group also caught the eye of Stow Town Records, where they were signed on as an artist.  The Erwins sophomore recording with Stow Town, Only Faith Can See, ranks 17th among the best albums of 2016.

Wayne Haun took the lead on producing duties, giving the Erwins a more progressive style than the group’s previous recording.

The (5) Best Songs From The Album:  (1) “Chasing After You”, (2) “Holding On To Me”, (3) “Up And Out Of The Valley”, (4) “Only Faith Can See” and (5) “I Can Through Christ”.

livingstonsNew to listeners in 2016, the Livingstons returned to the Southern Gospel scene with the release of Unexpected Journey.  The group had two successful recordings in the late 1990’s.

Track #4 from Unexpected Journey, “Grace” ranks 17th among the best recorded songs in Southern Gospel music for 2016.  The topic of God’s grace has been conveyed thousands of times during the history of Southern Gospel music.

I enjoyed how songwriter and group member Brittany Potter painted a picture in “Grace”.

VOTE: Best Of 2016: Mixed Group/Quartet

3rdannualIf you’re like me, you are avoiding the craziness that is known as black Friday.  So why not enjoy some voting for the best of 2016.  Who were the top mixed group and quartet of 2016?  You get one vote per day.  Poll closes 12/02/16.  Click the link on each nominee to see an audio/video of the nominees.

VOTE: Best Of 2016: Bass/Tenor

3rdannualWho were the top bass and tenor vocalists in Southern Gospel music for 2016?  You get one vote per day.  Poll closes 11/28/16.  Click the link on each nominee to see an audio/video of the nominees.