NQC 2017: Saturday Night Recap

The 2017 edition of the National Quartet Convention has wrapped.  The final night brought some good memories.  Here are the hits and misses.

  • The reunion segments were all noteworthy this evening.  Great to see both Tim Riley and Jay Parrack during the Gold City reunion.
  • The Perrys line-up of 30 years ago started their reunion segment.  I remember seeing the group for the first time during this era.
  • The Nelons segment honoring Rex Nelon was also strong.  Going through many of the group’s early signature songs was awesome!
  • Outside the reunion segments, the Isaacs had a strong set.  Everything from the Hebrew song to the rousing “He Ain’t Never Done Me Nothing But Good”.
  • The Kingdom Heirs proved at the end of the night that you don’t need tracks.  It would be nice to hear more of that in Southern Gospel music.

  • Since it was the end of the week, listeners were treated to a bunch of recycled songs that had already been performed during the week.
  • I don’t know if anyone else did, but there were webcast issues all evening.  it would freeze, then crash and freeze again and I guarantee you it wasn’t my internet connection.
  • You think they would have chosen a closing song that all the artists on stage, knew.

 

**Now to crown the best of the night:

Best single song performances (in order of appearance):  (1) “I’d Rather Have Jesus” – Blackwood Brothers  (2) “I’m Not Giving Up” – Gold City  (3) “When The Prodigal Comes Home” – Tribute Quartet  (4) “We Shall Reign” – Perrys  (5) “Never No Never” – Joseph Habedank  (6) “He Is Mine And I Am His” – Hoppers  (7) “I Have A Father Who Can” – Isaacs  (8) “I Love You More” – Isaacs  (9) “Come Morning” – Nelons  (10) “Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down” – Nelons  (11) “Give Me Jesus” – Ernie Haase and Signature Sound  (12) “I Know He Heard My Prayer” – Kingdom Heirs (*Best Individual Performance of the Night)  (13) “Jesus The One” – Hoppers

Best Set of the Night:  The Isaacs

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The Last Big Thing: Kingdom Heirs

GRADE:  B+

  • Album:  The Last Big Thing
  • Artist:  Kingdom Heirs
  • Label:  Sonlite
  • Style:  Traditional, Country
  • Release Date:  09/29/17
  • Digital Download:  Yes (Apple Music)
  • Running Time:  40 Minutes

SYNOPSIS:

This week we take a look at the new album from the Kingdom Heirs, The Last Big Thing.

The Kingdom Heirs have been busy in 2017.  The Last Big Thing will mark the third album from the quartet this year.  Carolina Live was released in January while Something Good was provided to listeners in February.

The Kingdom Heirs/Dianne Wilkinson combo continues on The Last Big Thing as she contributed to six of the eleven new songs on the recording.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The biggest move for the Kingdom Heirs was adding Loren Harris as baritone vocalist.  His seasoned, powerful baritone vocal adds so much to the group’s sound.
  • Loren proves that by getting the feature on the album’s stand out track, “Telling The Story”.  This mid-tempo, Kyla Rowland, song has an Appalachian feel that would fit right at home on a McKameys album.  Great song!
  • The Last Big Thing, while traditional Southern Gospel quartet music, also has some country flavored songs that provide variety for the listener.  The best of this style is the Jerry Martin feature, “Just Another Mile”.  Thank you Dianne Wilkinson for this song!  It is a throw back to the sounds of ’70s Southern Gospel.  The song is also credited as Dianne’s 1,000th song!!
  • Each vocal member of the group is allowed the spotlight.  Jeff is given three features on The Last Big Thing.  The best is the catchy, up-tempo, “Victory”.  This song needs to go to radio.
  • Arthur’s stand out performance is one you would expect to hear from him on a Kingdom Heirs album; a traditional Southern Gospel ballad.  “Heaven Was Counting To Three” is one you will definitely want to give a listen.
  • Arthur also gets the feature on the traditional Kingdom Heirs up-tempo song, the album’s opening track; “Plenty Of Singing”.
  • The album’s closing song, which is also an Arthur feature, has an opening musical score that you would expect to hear on a classic Christmas standard.  “I’ll Trust You With Tomorrow” is a nice mellow close to the album.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Telling The Story”, “Just Another Mile”, “Victory”, “Heaven Was Counting To Three”, “Plenty Of Singing”, “I’ll Trust You With Tomorrow” and “The Last Big Thing”.
CRITIQUE:
  • There has not been one Southern Gospel album release this year that has absolutely blown me away.  An album starts with some really great material and then hits a road bump with several mediocre songs.
  • There are a couple of up-tempo ditties in the middle of the album that doesn’t stand up to the rest of the album.
  • I’m not too keen on the album art.  As far as Southern Gospel music is concerned, I always prefer album art that has the group pictured on the cover.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “I Wanna Do More” and “Heroes Of Faith”.

WRAP UP:

The Kingdom Heirs have been giving Southern Gospel listeners traditional Southern Gospel quartet music now for over thirty years.  While The Last Big Thing is not as strong as the group’s previous effort, A New Look; it is the best quartet album of 2017, thus far.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “Plenty Of Singing”/Ensemble; Arthur – Dianne Wilkinson, Daryl Williams  2. “Victory“/Jeff – Rebecca J Peck, Dianne Wilkinson  3. “Telling The Story“/Ensemble; Loren  – Kyla Rowland, Jessica Thomas  4. “The Last Big Thing”/Arthur – Rebecca J Peck, Dianne Wilkinson  5. “Heroes Of Faith”/Jerry – Gerald Crabb  6. “I Wanna Do More”/Jeff – Dennis Murphy  7. “Heaven Was Counting To Three”/Arthur – Jim Brady, Rodney Griffin  8. “Heaven Just Got Sweeter For You”/Jeff – Jerry Salley, Dianne Wilkinson  9. “Just Another Mile”/Jerry – Dianne Wilkinson  10. “Live It Up”/Ensemble; Loren – Jerry Salley, Aaron Wilburn  11. “I’ll Trust You With Tomorrow”/Arthur – Dianne Wilkinson

Best Of The Last Decade (2007-2016)

True To The Call (2007) – Kingdom Heirs (Sonlite): “Since Jesus Moved In“; “The Rock’s Between The Hard Place And You“; “True To The Call“; “I Am The Way“; “I Want You To Know“; “Jesus Made A Believe Out Of Me“; “Looking Out For You“; “Praying Your Troubles Away“; “Lord Your Word Is Still True“; “What We Needed“; “I Sing Because“.

Church In The Kitchen (2014) – Dunaways (Custom): “Again And Again“; “Where Grace Lives“; “Church In The Kitchen“; “Mercy Built A Bridge“; “Reassure Me“; “Let Go Of This World (Get Wrapped Up In God)“; “Better Than My Best Day“; “Muddy Mississippi“; “Somewhere Around The Throne“; “Your Prayers Were Pulling Me Through“; “When My Tears Wash The Scars“; “His Word Is Written In Stone“; “Never Gonna Give Up On You“.

Pray Now (2015) – Karen Peck and New River (Daywind): “Calling“; “Pray Now“; “Hallelujah For The Cross“; “Love With All Your Heart“; “Blessed“; “I’m Not Letting Go“; “I Choose Christ“; “Peace That Covers All The Pain“; “Redemption’s Holy Lamb“; “Lord Send Your Angels“; “A Life That’s Good“.

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

And New Artist Of The Year Goes To…

If you have been a reader of this blog for any length of time, you are probably aware there are times I will start what seems to be a feature and then never continue.  A direct result of too many ideas always floating around in my brain.

In April of 2016, I had a POST where I decided to go back through Southern Gospel awards history to determine how many new artist of the year award winners went on to have lengthy careers.  I wanted to use both early Dove Award and Singing News Fan Award winners in this feature.  The post only featured early Dove Award winners.  I thought I would finally pick up this feature and continue with Singing News fan award winners for horizon group.

Singing News awarded the first horizon group in 1988.  Interesting enough, the Dixie Melody Boys won.  After a lengthy career leading up to 1988, the Dixie Melody Boys diverted to Christian country music in the mid 80s and eventually became the DMB Band.  Fans reacted when Ed put the traditional quartet back together and awarded him with horizon group in ’88.

Another quartet, which is now a staple among Southern Gospel listeners, the Kingdom Heirs, were handed horizon group in ’89.  Rick Strickland (tenor), David McGill (lead), Steve French (baritone) and Bob Caldwell (bass) was the vocal line-up at this time.

We’ll close today’s segment with yet another quartet win for horizon group.  1990 saw the award go to the Down East Boys.  After a string of strong recordings in the late 80’s, this win was no surprise.  Speaking of lengthy careers, all three award winners highlighted are still touring today!

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

2017Everything that needs to be said of Southern Gospel music in 2016 is said.  Lets take one last look at the year that was and look ahead to 2017.

Some Stats:

NelonsTop Five Read Posts of 2016

  1. In Honor:  Steve French
  2. VOTING: Greatest Songwriter: Championship Round
  3. Is It Time For Acceptance In Southern Gospel Music?
  4. Stronger Together:  Nelons
  5. NQC 2016:  Thursday Night Recap

**The greatest songwriter search/series was the biggest blog feature of 2016.  In the end, Dottie Rambo claimed the title.  Album reviews and NQC recaps continued to be some of the most read features.

vocalevent2015whispers150Ten Most Played Southern Gospel Songs of 2016

  1. “I Have Decided” – Jay Parrack & Vocal Event
  2. “One Way, One Name, One Door” – Down East Boys
  3. “Small Town Someone (Lunch)” – Jeff & Sheri Easter
  4. “I Know” – Kingsmen
  5. “Jesus, The One” – Hoppers
  6. “Reassure Me” – Dunaways
  7. “He Won’t Leave You There” – Jason Crabb
  8. “Just To Save Me” – Wisecarvers
  9. “Just Can’t Make It By Myself” – Nelons
  10. “Jesus Never Fails” – Cana’s Voice

**I present the fab five feature at the start of every month to let you know the 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.

rambos1972 (199x200)In Honor of those who passed in 2016

  1. Norman Almand (Artist-Rebels Quartet)
  2. Earl Brewer (Artist-Harvesters Quartet)
  3. Miles Cooper (Artist-Pine Ridge Boys)
  4. Ralph Dean (Concert Promoter)
  5. Boyce Flener (Artist-Crossmen Quartet)
  6. Steve French (Artist-Kingdom Heirs)
  7. Joe Moscheo (Artist-Imperials/Prophets Quartet)
  8. Buck Rambo (Artist-Rambos)
  9. Tina Sadler-Stark (Songwriter)
  10. Gail Shelby (Artist-Eternal Vision)
  11. Ira Smith (Artist-Dixie Echoes)
  12. Scott Spangler (Artist-Naomi & Segos)
  13. Jerry Lee Starnes (Artist-Truthseekers Quartet)
  14. D. John Stolzfus (Concert Promoter)
  15. Carl Whitman (Artist-Trav’lers Quartet)

Looking ahead to features you will find in 2017

  • 4th Annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row Honors
  • Album Reviews
  • Annual Countdown of Southern Gospel’s Best Albums/Recorded Songs
  • Commentary Series: The Evangelical church and Southern Gospel’s future
  • Most Overrated Southern Gospel Artist Series
  • Musical Playlists:  Track of the Week
  • Southern Gospel Tidbits Feature
  • And Much, Much More….

**I want to thank everyone who stopped by the blog in 2016.  This year had to most views/site visitors of any year I have been doing the blog.  I will continue as long as you continue to stop by.

VOTE: Best Of 2016: Baritone/Lead

3rdannualWho were the top baritone and lead vocalists in Southern Gospel music for 2016?  You get one vote per day.  Poll closes 11/25/16.  Click the link on each nominee to see an audio/video of the nominees.