Best Of 2017: #17/#18

REASON FOR RANKING:  There has not been a time since doing these annual countdowns that a new Gaither Vocal Band album has not been regarded as one of the year’s 20 best.  We Have This Moment had enough strong moments to counter the weaker ones and find a home in the annual countdown.

FIVE BEST SONGS FROM THE ALBUM:  (1) “Hallelujah Band”; (2) “Livin’ In The Rhythm Of Grace”; (3) “Manna From Heaven”; (4) “Man Of Sorrows”; (5) “We Are The Sands, We Are The Stars”.

REASON FOR RANKINGTower Of Song was anchored by one of the strongest songs in the Freeman’s recording career, “It Still Takes The Blood”.  The album is filled with some strong traditional country moments.

FIVE BEST SONGS FROM THE ALBUM:  (1) “It Still Takes The Blood”; (2) “When He Loves Me Most”; (3) “Wide River To Cross”; (4) “God Of The Storm”; (5) “One Foot On The Water”.


VOTE: Best Of 2017: Mixed Group/Quartet/Album Cover Design

Today, starts the voting for best mixed group, quartet and album cover design.

You get one vote per day.  Poll closes 12/05/17.  Click the link on each nominee to see an audio/video of the nominees.

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.

We Have This Moment: Gaither Vocal Band


  • Album:  We Have This Moment
  • Artist:  Gaither Vocal Band
  • Label:  Spring House Productions
  • Style:  Progressive, Inspirational
  • Release Date:  10/13/17
  • Digital Download:  Yes (Apple Music)
  • Running Time:  50 Minutes


Today we take a look at the new album from the Gaither Vocal Band, We Have This Moment.

The Vocal Band has seen their fair share of personnel shifts the last couple of years.  The vocal line-up on We Have This Moment includes Wes Hampton (tenor), Adam Crabb (lead/baritone), Reggie Smith (baritone/lead), Todd Suttles (bass/baritone) and Bill Gaither (baritone/harmony vocals).

We Have This Moment gives current listeners a taste of the Vocal Band style in the mid/late 1980’s.  The group’s progressive Southern Gospel sounds are combined with the inspirational sounds of the mid ’80’s group to create this newest recording.


  • The album kicks off on a strong note with the fun, up-tempo, “Hallelujah Band”.  The song was chosen as the first radio single from the album and it is definitely the best choice.
  • Another fun song, “Manna From Heaven”, has a 40’s flair.  Todd Suttles gets to show off a bit on a song that would translate well to the concert stage.
  • Wes goes into falsetto mode on his stand out feature, “Livin’ In The Rhythm Of Grace”.  This inspirational country-style tune is one that could find a home on Southern Gospel radio.
  • Adam is featured on the modern country, praise/worship style song, penned by father Gerald Crabb; “You Amaze Me”.  Adam originally recorded this song with his own group, Crabb Revival.
  • Big production style songs are evident on We Have This Moment.  Songs like “Hymn Of Praise” and “Man Of Sorrows” will please your palate, if you enjoy this style of song.
  • Todd and Adam trade verses on the Bill and Gloria classic, “I’ll Worship Only At The Feet Of Jesus”.
  • Kudos to Gordon Mote for co-producing We Have This Moment with Bill Gaither.  Captured the excitement of a live Gaither Vocal Band experience on a studio recording.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Hallelujah Band”, “Manna From Heaven”, “Livin’ In The Rhythm Of Grace”, “Man Of Sorrows”, “You Amaze Me”, “Hymn Of Praise”, “We Are The Sands We Are The Stars” and “I’ll Worship Only At The Feet Of Jesus”.
  • Another version of “Chain Breaker”.  See the Freemans review from earlier in the week.
  • The Gaither Vocal Band go all praise/worship on the Chris Tomlin cover, “Jesus Messiah”.  No thank you.
  • “We Are All God’s Children” also crosses too far on the inspirational spectrum to be enjoyable.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Jesus Messiah” and “We Are All God’s Children”.


The Gaither Vocal Band has consistently been the highest selling artist in Southern Gospel music, with each album release.  I have no doubt We Have This Moment will also sell a ton of records for the group.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “Hallelujah Band”/Ensemble – Becca Mizell, Sam Mizell  2. “Man Of Sorrows“/Reggie; Ensemble – Phillip Bliss  3. “Livin’ In The Rhythm Of Grace“/Wes – William J Gaither, Larry Gatlin  4. “I’ll Worship Only At The Feet Of Jesus”/Todd; Adam; Reggie – Gloria Gaither, William J Gaither, JD Miller  5. “Chain Breaker”/Adam – Mia Fieldes, Jonathan Smith, Zach Williams  6. “Manna From Heaven”/Todd; Ensemble – Chip Davis, William J Gaither, Dony McGuire, Reba Rambo McGuire  7. “We Are The Sands, We Are The Stars”/Todd – Gloria Gaither, Dony McGuire, Reba Rambo McGuire  8. “We Are All God’s Children”/Ensemble – Benjy Gaither, Todd Suttles, Sarah Beth Terry  9. “Jesus Messiah”/Wes; Adam – Daniel Carson, Ed Cash, Jesse Reeves, Chris Tomlin  10. “You Amaze Me”/Adam – Gerald Crabb  11. “We Have This Moment Today”/Bill – Gloria Gaither, William J Gaither  12. “Hymn Of Praise”/Wes; Reggie – Gloria Gaither, William J Gaither, Gordon Mote

The Southern Gospel Notebook: August 1983

Sorry for my absence, but the busyness of life keeps you from your hobbies at times.  So, today I thought I would offer another page from my Southern Gospel notebook.  As a kid, into my teen years, I wrote down my twenty favorite songs every month.

I started this in July 1982 and continued until December 1994.  Today’s post took my notebook entry from August 1983.  These were my twenty favorite songs.  Enjoy!

**Music is on the sidebar as a playlist**

The Southern Gospel Notebook: July 1984

Before I left for vacation, I posted about several notebooks I found while cleaning the garage.  As a kid, into my teen years, I wrote down my twenty favorite songs every month.

I started this in July 1982 and continued until December 1994.  The response was overwhelming to my first post and therefore it will continue.

Today’s post took my notebook entry from July 1984.  These were my twenty favorite songs.  Enjoy!

**Music is on the sidebar as a playlist**

Summer Vacation And A Found Notebook

This post will be the last until Monday July 17th, as this boy heads out on summer vacation.

As I was doing some cleaning this past week I came across a box in the garage with several notebooks I hadn’t seen in years.  When I was a kid, I used to pull out all my favorite record albums and play my favorite songs, acting like Mr DJ.

In July 1982, I started writing down my 20 favorite songs every month.  I kept up with this every month through December 1994.  It brought back memories when I was a youngster and showed me just how much Southern Gospel music impacted my life as a young boy, into my teen years.

So, I thought as I am away on vacation I would share with you what those 20 favorite songs were that I wrote down in July 1982.  The music is found on the sidebar of the website.  Now that I found these notebooks, expect more of these personal features going forward.

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


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”.


**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)


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**.