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: #11

wisecarversToday marks the halfway point in this years annual countdown of the best Southern Gospel albums and recorded songs.  Tennessee based family group, the Wisecarvers tops the first half of the countdown.

The album, Armor, released in December 2015 and ranks 11th among the best of 2016.  Since last year’s countdown had already begun at that point, I included it in album releases for 2016.  It happened to be my first album review of the year.

The Wisecarvers offer listeners a nice mix of progressive Southern Gospel and country musical styles.  They are also beginning to catch a wider listening audience as their latest radio single will become the group’s first top ten hit on the Southern Gospel radio singles chart.

The (5) Best Songs From The Album:  (1) “Just To Save Me”, (2) “At Any Cost”, (3) “Don’t You Think You Ought To Worship Me”, (4) “Somebody Here” and (5) “Shine Me Up Some Armor”.

mark-trammell-quartetThe Mark Trammell Quartet already found a home in the annual countdown when their 2016 album release, Full Sail, landed at #19.

The song that stood out above the rest on the album to rank 11th among the best recorded Southern Gospel songs of the year is the Dave Crawford/Roy Lee Johnson penned, “More Than You’ll Ever Know”.

The quartet is usually known for their big orchestrated power ballads, but “More Than You’ll Ever Know” has a simplistic arrangement with subtle instrumentation that shows listeners that newest tenor vocalist, Blake Buffin, is no joke.

Best Of 2016: #19

mtqThe Mark Trammell Quartet land at #19 on the annual list of Southern Gospel’s best albums with their 2016 release, Full Sail.  This was the first quartet album to feature newest members Blake Buffin (tenor) and Randy Byrd (bass).

Listeners have come to expect traditional Southern Gospel quartet music from the group and that is exactly what you will get with Full Sail.

The quartet also work in their obligatory ‘high church’ ballad that has become a staple of the group going back to their trio days.

The (5) Best Songs From The Album:  (1) “More Than You’ll Ever Know”, (2) “Already In Canaan Land”, (3) “All The Way Home”, (4) “Go Show John” and (5) “Treasures In Heaven”.

pruittThe Pruitt Family landed in the annual countdown yesterday when their 2016 release, So Much Sweeter ranked 20th among Southern Gospel’s best albums of the year.

Track #9 from that recording, “Love At First Sight”, is the song ranked 19th among the best recorded songs in Southern Gospel music for 2016.

Just like yesterday’s song (#20), “Love At First Sight” was penned some twenty years ago by John Darin Rowsey.

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.

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.

Full Sail: Mark Trammell Quartet

mtq2016fullsailGRADE:  B

  • Album – Full Sail
  • Artist – Mark Trammell Quartet
  • Label – Crimson Road Productions
  • Style – Traditional
  • Release Date – 09/30/16
  • Available For Digital Download? – No

SYNOPSIS:

Today we take a look at the latest album from the Mark Trammell Quartet; Full Sail.  The group released the recording the week of the 2016 National Quartet Convention.

This is the first album of new music from the quartet since 2014’s Your Walk Talks.  Traditional Southern Gospel quartet music is what listeners will receive from Full Sail.

The 2016 edition of the group is composed of Blake Buffin (tenor), Nick Trammell (lead), Mark Trammell (baritone) and Randy Byrd (bass).

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • New tenor vocalist Blake Buffin is granted the best performance on Full Sail.  He shows how capable a tenor he is on the subdued, “More Than You’ll Ever Know”.  I like how this song is not over orchestrated, no big bells or whistles; just pure singing with simple accompaniment.
  • The quartet gives listeners a couple really strong traditional Southern Gospel up-tempo songs.  The strongest being the group’s current radio single, “Already In Canaan Land”.  This song is reminiscent of the classic quartet songs of the 1980’s.  Love it!
  • The second is the album’s opening track, “All The Way Home”.  Rebecca Peck and Dianne Wilkinson have been writing some great songs together recently.
  • Speaking of Rebecca Peck, Randy is allowed to show off a bit on this new Peck tune, “Treasures In Heaven”.  This song comes out of the 1960’s quartet playbook.
  • No Mark Trammell recording is complete without a big over orchestrated power ballad.  Listeners get two of those on Full Sail.  The stand out is the Bill and Gloria Gaither classic, “My Faith Still Holds”.
  • Mark also shows off a bit on the Henry Slaughter classic, “God Takes Good Care Of Me”.  I enjoyed this cover.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “More Than You’ll Ever Know”, “Already In Canaan Land”, “All The Way Home”, “Treasures In Heaven”, “God Takes Good Care Of Me”, “My Faith Still Holds” and “Go Show John”.
CRITIQUE:
  • Full Sail is a bit cover heavy having four recognized, over recorded songs.
  • “He Hideth My Soul” is done at such a slow pace it reminds this listener of playing records designed for 45 speed on 33 speed.  Those alive in the 1980’s will get this reference.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “He Hideth My Soul” and “Led Out Of Bondage”.

WRAP UP:

Full Sail is no doubt some of the best traditional Southern Gospel quartet music a listener will get this year.  The four song covers resulted in Full Sail not matching the caliber of the group’s prior effort, Your Walk Talks.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “All The Way Home”/Ensemble – Rebecca J Peck, Dianne Wilkinson  2. “My Faith Still Holds“/Ensemble; Mark – Bill Gaither, Gloria Gaither  3. “Go Show John“/Ensemble; Nick – Rodney Griffin, Dianne Wilkinson  4. “Treasures In Heaven”/Ensemble; Randy – Rebecca J Peck  5. “Already In Canaan Land”/Ensemble; Mark – Rodney Griffin  6. “He Hideth My Soul”/Blake – Traditional  7. “Led Out Of Bondage”/Randy – Robert Prather  8. “More Than You’ll Ever Know“/Blake – Dave Crawford  9. “God Takes Good Care Of Me”/Mark – Henry Slaughter  10. “Redeemer Of My Soul”/Ensemble; Nick; Mark – Rebecca J Peck, Dianne Wilkinson

NQC 2016: Sunday Night Recap

hoppersThe 2016 National Quartet Convention is under way for its third year in Pigeon Forge Tennessee.  Tonight’s opening program included Greater Vision, Hoppers, Jim Brady Trio, Legacy Five and Mark Trammell Quartet.  Each artist got two sets on the program.  Here was the hits and misses of the evening.

  • There were a couple of occasions where the word harmony was used to describe why folks had gathered.  I don’t understand why it has taken Southern Gospel music so long to market itself as harmony driven music.  That is what separates it from most forms of Christian music.
  • Three of the artists were showcasing new music as each have a new album out.  I really enjoyed the new songs from the Hoppers.  Can’t wait to hear the entire album (Life Is Good).
  • Randy Byrd, bass for Mark Trammell Quartet, added some unintended comic relief when he forgot the verse to a new song.  It surely made the song memorable.
  • Didn’t realize Trey Ivey was a vocalist.  He provided Legacy Five’s best moment of the evening on the song, “Hands Of A Carpenter”.
  • Have to give the production team kudos.  Sound and camera work were both strong considering it was the first night. Goods signs for the week ahead.

  • Are there really that many new folks attend every year that artists have to use the same stale jokes told a hundred times before?
  • I thought it odd that Legacy Five would leave the stage while the track (voices and all) for “He Made A Change” was still playing over the speaker system.

 

**Now to crown the best of the night:

Best single song performances (in order of appearance):  (1) “If We Ever Gotta Look” – Hoppers  (2) “I Wish I’d Done More” – Hoppers (**Favorite song performance of the evening)  (3) “Hands Of A Carpenter” – Legacy Five  (4) “All The Way Home” – Mark Trammell Quartet  (5) “When He Saved Me” – Jim Brady Trio  (6) “Jesus, The One” – Hoppers  (7) “Standing On Holy Ground” – Second Half Quartet

Best Set of the Night:  The Hoppers