2017 Song Of The Year??

I’m back!  One week ago Singing News announced the top ten list for the 2017 edition of the fan awards.  The only category I follow each year is song of the year.

This year’s nominees included:

  1. “Calling” – Karen Peck & New River (#1)
  2. “He Does” – Greater Vision (#3)
  3. “I Love You This Much” – Whisnants (#3)
  4. “If We Ever Gotta Look” – Hoppers (#7)**
  5. “It’s What He’s Done” – Wilburn & Wilburn (#1)**
  6. “Living In The Promised Land” – Triumphant Qt (#3)
  7. “My Father’s House” – Nelons (#7)**
  8. “Never Forsaken” – Tribute Qt (#1)**
  9. “Somebody’s Miracle” – Brian Free & Assurance (#4)
  10. “Still” – Legacy Five (#4)**

As is the case every year, Daywind Records dominated the song category claiming 8 of the 10 nominees.  Above I highlighted the peak spots on the chart as of the announcement.  The ** signifies the five songs deserving of making it to the final round.

Two songs deserving of a top ten spot were, “Home” by Jason Crabb and “He Welcomes The Beggar” by 11th Hour.  What songs did you feel were overlooked this year?


Best Of 2016: #4

debI trust everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday in time spent with family and friends.  Before we begin the new year, we have to close out the old.  Today, we take a look at the album and recorded song ranked 4th among the best of 2016 in Southern Gospel music.

The Down East Boys have always seemed to carry the moniker of most underrated.  No matter how great the quartet music they release, Southern Gospel listeners tend to gravitate to other quartets.

That needs to stop because the Down East Boys has the best Southern Gospel quartet album released in 2016; Ransomed.

Top (5) Best Songs From The Album:  (1) “One Way, One Name, One Door”, (2) “The Song Of The Ransomed”, (3) “I Still Remember”, (4) “That Wonderful Land” and (5) “Now A Witness Am I”.

l5Legacy Five already landed in the annual countdown when their 2016 album release, In The Hands Of A Carpenter, ranked 10th.  Readers of this blog also chose “In The Hands Of A Carpenter” as best recorded song in the 3rd annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors.

“In The Hands Of A Carpenter” also finds a home in my annual countdown, as it ranks 4th among the best recorded Southern Gospel songs of the year.

Lee Black and Jerry Salley penned this masterpiece, sung by Legacy Five pianist, Trey Ivey.

Best Of 2016: #10

l5It is time to unveil the ten best Southern Gospel albums and recorded songs of 2016.  Did your favorite make the cut?  Quartet lovers should be happy with the number of quartet recordings that made the top ten this year.

One such album is the recording ranked 10th among the best of 2016.  Legacy Five may have released their best post Roger Bennett era recording in 2016 with, In The Hands Of A Carpenter.  Anchored by the title track, which readers chose as best recorded song of 2016 in the 3rd annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors, is one huge reason it found a home in the top ten.

One other major strength was song selection.  This was also the first Legacy Five album to feature new tenor Josh Feemster.

The (5) Best Songs From The Album:  (1) “In The Hands Of A Carpenter”, (2) “I Trust The Cross”, (3) “Still”, (4) “Grace Will Find You” and (5) “Lost In God’s Grace”.

nelons-300x300Early on in the countdown for Southern Gospel’s best recorded song, there were two that were written over twenty years ago.  The top ten kicks off with a song written nearly thirty years ago.

The Nelons went the unconventional route and released two new albums this year.  Track #3 on the album, Stronger Together, ranks 10th among the best recorded Southern Gospel songs of 2016.

“Family Chain”, penned by Joe Isaacs, allowed Autumn to step front and center to show Southern Gospel listeners she is just as talented a vocalist as the rest in the family.

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**.

VOTE: Best Of 2016: Recorded Song/Songwriter

3rdannualThe final poll in the 3rd annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors is here.  What was the best recorded song and songwriter of 2016?  You get one vote per day.  Poll closes 12/07/16.  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.

In The Hands Of A Carpenter: Legacy Five

legacyfive2016carpenterGRADE:  B+

  • Album – In The Hands Of A Carpenter
  • Artist – Legacy Five
  • Label – Daywind Records
  • Style – Traditional, Progressive
  • Release Date – 11/11/16
  • Available For Digital Download? – YES


Today we take a look at the new album from Legacy Five; In The Hands Of A Carpenter.  The album hit retail on Friday November 11th, 2016.

January will mark 17 years for Legacy Five in providing listeners a mix of traditional and progressive Southern Gospel music.

The 2016 edition of the group is composed of Josh Feemster (tenor), Scott Fowler (lead), Scott Howard (baritone), Matt Fouch (bass) and Trey Ivey (pianist).


  • Lee Black is one of the best songwriters in Southern Gospel music right now.  He contributed to four of the songs on In The Hands Of A Carpenter, including the title track.
  • Speaking of the title track, “In The Hands Of A Carpenter” is the best song on the album.  Pianist Trey Ivey is featured on this country flavored song that is one of the best recorded songs of 2016.  A must listen!
  • Scott Fowler has the feature on the first single from the album, “Still”.  Another Lee Black co-write that should do well for the group in regards to chart success.
  • Fowler also has the feature on the Wayne Haun/Joel Lindsey penned, “I Trust The Cross”.  Southern Gospel music will never stop writing songs about the cross!
  • The other Scott, Howard, always tends to have a slower reflective type song on Legacy Five albums.  That doesn’t change with this latest effort in the song, “Lost In God’s Grace”.
  • Newest tenor vocalist, Josh Feemster, is allowed to show off a bit on the up-tempo, “Soul Pilot”.  Another Lee Black co-write that will have you hitting repeat.
  • I can’t leave this review without mentioning the final Lee Black co-write, “Grace Will Find You”.  Scott Fowler interprets this ballad that allows the listener to immediately connect to the message conveyed in the song.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “In The Hands Of A Carpenter”, “Still”, “I Trust The Cross”, “Grace Will Find You”, “Lost In God’s Grace”, “Soul Pilot” and “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross”.
  • Bass vocalist Matt Fouch is left with one feature that really doesn’t showcase his talent.  Can we get at least one more feature on future albums.
  • The album could have used at least one more up-tempo song to counter some of the somber ballads found on the recording.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Who Knew” and “What All The Shoutin’s About”.


I thoroughly enjoyed this newest effort from Legacy Five.  I will make a bold statement and say that In The Hands Of A Carpenter may be the best Legacy Five album in the post Roger Bennett era.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “Deep In My Heart”/Ensemble – Scott Inman  2. “In The Hands Of A Carpenter“/Trey – Lee Black, Jerry Salley  3. “I Trust The Cross“/Scott – Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey  4. “What All The Shoutin’s About”/Josh – Rebecca Peck, Dianne Wilkinson  5. “Still”/Scott – Lee Black, Joel Lindsey  6. “Who Knew”/Matt – Janice Crow  7. “Soul Pilot”/Josh – Lee Black, Jason Cox  8. “Lost In God’s Grace“/Scott H – Rebecca Peck, Jerry Salley  9. “Grace Will Find You”/Scott – Lee Black, Kenna West, Tony Wood  10. “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross”/Ensemble – Traditional

NQC 2016: Wednesday Night Recap

l5NQC 2016 is now half way through.  How did Wednesday evening’s performances stack up?  Lets find out.

  • Congrats on Connie Hopper winning another alto award this afternoon.  This blogger considers Connie the best Southern Gospel artist to ever grace a Southern Gospel stage.
  • It was nice for McCray Dove to pay homage to Ed O’Neal by joining the Dixie Melody Boys on stage to begin the night.
  • Was glad to see Goodman Revival given some time after winning horizon group.
  • Legacy Five was about as solid as I’ve seen them.  See how much more enjoyable your performance can be when you don’t infuse your political views.
  • Tribute Quartet decided to showcase some of the best material from their new album.  Absolutely enjoyed “God Of The Storm”.

  • We are at that point in the week where artists start to recycle their set.  For individuals that watch the entire week, you are only left bored.
  • Has Ivan Parker thought about retirement?
  • Lost the web cam feed during a segment of the Talleys set tonight.
  • Why did the convention board think it was a good idea putting the Browns last on the program after several artists did that 68 minute segment.  The last thing I wanted to hear after that was barnyard noises.


**Now to crown the best of the night:

Best single song performances (in order of appearance):  (1) “I Hold A Clear Title” – Goodman Revival  (2) “It’s Almost Over” – Mark Trammell Quartet  (3) “Pray Now” – Karen Peck & New River  (4) “If I Shout” – Jason Crabb  (5) “Worry Ends Where Faith Begins” – Whisnants  (6) “God Of The Storm” – Tribute Quartet (**Favorite song performance of the evening)  (7) “It’s What He’s Done” – Wilburn & Wilburn  (8) “He Made A Change” – Legacy Five  (9) “Jesus, The One” – Hoppers

Best Set of the Night:  A full set of solid music and no commentary gives Legacy Five the set of the night.