DID YOU KNOW?: We have been inundated with summer Olympic coverage for the last two weeks. This weekend wraps up coverage and as I had my musical library on shuffle the other day, two songs popped up that compared this life to running a race. Even Paul, stated that when we get to the end of this life we will have run the race and kept the faith. Link in the comments section any Southern Gospel song you are aware of that compares this life to a race or some other sporting event.
It was announced that late Monday evening, Carroll McGruder passed from this life in to the next. After a hard-fought battle with cancer, Carroll entered in to Heaven. Carroll was founding member of the family group, the McGruders.
The group burst on the scene in the late 1980’s and found a decade of success with several huge live recordings; most notably Come Fly. That 1990 recording remains one of the greatest live albums in the history of the genre, defining an era in the Southern Gospel industry I labeled, ‘high energy’.
For current listeners that were not around to experience the McGruders, Carroll’s songs have remained strong including a #1 hit for Triumphant Quartet several years ago; “Saved By Grace”. And for others not familiar with the McGruders, you are certainly familiar with the catalog of hit songs Carroll has written. They include:
“I Lean On You Lord” – this was Carroll’s first composition to reach #1 in the Singing News chart. The Florida Boys took the song to #1.
“I’m Going Home With Jesus” – Undoubtedly the most popular McGruders song. Was the McGruders only career #1 song on the Singing News chart, which happened in 1990. Most recently this song has been a concert show stopper for the Nelons.
“Thanks” – Speaking of the Nelons, their huge hit from 1988 was a Carroll McGruder composition.
“I’ve Just Started Living” – I’m sure everyone remembers this monster song from the Cathedrals.
“We Have A Savior” – In addition to Triumphant’s success with “Saved By Grace”, the Bowling Family had a huge hit several years ago with “We Have A Savior”.
Now that Carroll has received his ultimate reward, we are fortunate enough to have his body of work to continue to lift us up on the not so good days and feel like shouting down the walls on the good. No greater words than those from Carroll himself;
…”When I reach that city, the gates swing open wide. I’m gonna sing redemption’s story of how he brought me from the other Side”…
One of the regular features of Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row is the definitive Southern Gospel collection. I take a look at what I feel to be the (20) best albums released in Southern Gospel for the year selected. This edition takes a look at the year 1991. Out of a list of (64) albums, I narrowed it down to twenty.
Gold City was dominating the Singing News Fan Awards, in 1991, winning favorite group and sweeping all the male vocal categories. Gold City also picked up album of the year for the 1990 release, Windows Of Home. New quartet, Perfect Heart, came out of the gate winning song of the year for “Somebody Touched The Lord” while also picking up horizon group of the year.
The 1991 Dove Awards saw the Talleys winning Southern Gospel recorded song for “He Is Here”, while the Cathedrals won Southern Gospel album for Climbing Higher And Higher. The Gaither Vocal Band nabbed the Grammy in 1991 for best Southern Gospel album (Homecoming).
Here are the (20) best albums released in Southern Gospel music for the year 1991:
Homecoming – Gaither Vocal Band (StarSong)
Heavenly Sunrise – Hoppers (Sonlite)
The Best Of Times – Cathedrals (Homeland)
Wish You Were Here – Kingsmen (RiverSong)
Unmistakably – McGruders (Sonlite)
Answer The Call – Gold City (RiverSong)
Carolina Live – Greenes (ACA)
On A Journey – Greater Vision (Benson)
Going Back – Freemans (Calvary)
Once In A Lifetime – Bishops (MorningStar)
Looking For The Wounded – Perfect Heart (Mark Five)
Uncommon Love – Heirloom (Benson)
Live In Springfield Missouri – Heaven Bound (RiverSong)
Shoulder To Shoulder – Mid South Boys (Word)
A New Generation – Nelons (Canaan)
Heavenly Rain, Showers Of Blessing – Perry Sisters (MorningStar)
Karen Peck & New River – Karen Peck & New River (Pinnacle)
20th Anniversary – Isaacs (MorningStar)
Roll Away The Stone – Wendy Bagwell & Sunliters (Canaan)
Against The Odds – Mullins (Pinnacle)
Listen to a mash-up of music from the best albums of 1991. Enjoy!
This week I wanted to offer another definitive Southern Gospel collection feature. The year is 1992 and I poured through 76 album releases to come up with the 20 albums that were the best released that year.
Gold City was dominating the Singing News fan awards winning group of the year along with nearly all male vocal categories. The Kingsmen won album and song of the year for Wish You Were Here. The horizon group in 1992 was the Mullins.
Homecoming from the Gaither Vocal Band won the Dove award for Southern Gospel album of the year as Bruce Carroll picked up Southern Gospel album at the Grammy awards for Sometimes Miracles Hide.
The twenty definitive albums released in Southern Gospel music in 1992 are as follows:
Pillars Of Faith – Gold City (RiverSong)
Mention My Name – Hoppers (Sonlite)
One More Hallelujah – Hinsons (Calvary)
First Class – Wilburns (MorningStar)
One Step Forward – Mullins (Canaan)
It’s Just Like Heaven – Greater Vision (RiverSong)
Restoration – Karen Peck & New River (Pinnacle)
Extraordinary – Kingdom Heirs (Sonlite)
Live In Atlanta – Isaacs (MorningStar)
Revival – Statesmen (Canaan)
Safe In Christ – Greenes (ACA)
On Stage – Singing Americans (Dawn)
Once Was Enough – Freemans (Calvary)
Master Of The Wind – JD Sumner & Stamps (RiverSong)
No 2 Ways About It – Bishops (MorningStar)
In Concert – Anchormen (Mark Five)
Until He Comes – Ruppes (Summit)
Livin Forever – Heaven Bound (Benson)
Livin’ The Good Life – McGruders (Sonlite)
Rodeo Preacher – White River (Homeland)
Listen to a mash-up of music from the twenty best albums of 1992. Enjoy!
Now part 2 of our retro spotlight on the year 1996. Enjoy!
Brian Free & Assurance started hitting their stride as a quartet releasing 4 God So Loved in 1996. The title track has become a classic song for the group. Another hit song from that recording was the song “Jesus Came Out Alive”.
The Booth Brothers were just getting their recording career started 15 years ago. One of the first albums to come out by the group was the 1996 effort Praise God Anyhow. Neil Enloe, of Couriers fame, wrote a song that I enjoyed during this time period titled “Go Ahead And Shout”.
Another group getting their recording career started was the Crabb Family. This family would go on to be one of the biggest family group’s in Southern Gospel history. Their 1996 recording Still Holdin’ On garnered the group their first 3 top ten hits. One of those being the title track “Still Holdin’ On”.
Gold City began their return to greatness among Southern Gospel quartets with the line up of Parrack, Wilburn, Trammell and Riley. The 1996 recording Preparing The Way was the first for this particular line-up. One of the biggest songs from that recording was “He’s Still On The Throne”.
Greater Vision was celebrating their 5th anniversary as a group by the time 1996 rolled around. In addition to their major label release, the group also released The Church Hymnal Series – Volume One. This popular series would generate three additional volumes. Listen to the classic “Heaven’s Jubilee”.
The McGruders were nearing the end of their successful run by the time 1996 rolled around. The group had recording success from about 1989 to 1994 releasing one of Southern Gospel’s all time best live recordings in 1990; Come Fly. In 1996 the group released their last live album/video titled Plugged In Live. Listen to “The Finish Line”.
In an era where live albums were still being released, the Perrys Center Stage Live also came out in 1996. The Perrys were still traveling as a mixed quartet during this time period with both the alto and soprano female vocal parts. Mike Bowling was also traveling with the group at this time. “Power In Prayer” featured Libbi and was one of the strongest songs on the recording.
To close out our look at 1996 is the Steeles. A family group that hit the scene in 1994 with instant radio success. That radio success eventually translated to concert success. The 1996 album We Want America Back became a landmark recording for the group. It went on to win the Singing News fan award for album of the year in 1997. Listen to “Nothing To Lose”.
As I was looking at new things to present in 2011, this retro idea came to mind after talking with an individual. The individual mentioned that they would like me to present my Southern Gospel music collection. After thinking about it, I thought the best way to share it with everyone is present periodic posts by spotlighting a specific year and provide some music clips from albums released in that year. So my first retro spotlight shines the light on the year 1986. While I can’t present music from every album I own released in that year I did pull out a few from my collection.
The Bishops were just starting to make a mark in Southern Gospel music. They had two recordings prior to 1986, but in 1986 the group released the album, Can’t Stop Now. The song clip included was one of the first songs I remember hearing on the radio from this group, “Battle Scarred Soldier”.
The Cathedrals were riding high during this time period after several successful recordings leading up to 1986. Along with Master Builder, The Cathedrals also released Travelin’ Live in 1986. The clip I chose from this recording was “Homeland.”
The Freemans were recording for Calvary Records at this time period, the same label for the Hinsons. “Always” became the first top 5 song for the Freemans off of the recording Solid. The clip I chose was one of my favorite songs from the group during this time period, “God Is Still On The Throne.”
One of my all time favorite Gold City recordings was Double Take, Live In Charleston South Carolina. The album released in 1986 and featured a song that would go on to be a Gold City classic, “When I Get Carried Away.” The song clip I chose from the recording is “Loose Him And Let Him Go.”
Every five or so years there is that male trio that makes a name for themselves (Bishops, Greater Vision, Booth Brothers). During this time period it was Heaven Bound. Revived was the album released for the group in 1986. The song clip featured is “Sweet Is Thy Spirit”.
As a kid in the ’80s, my favorite group to see in concert was the Kingsmen. 1986 saw the release of Stand Up At Opryland USA. The Kingsmen were masters of the live recording during this time period. “Stand Up”, which was a re-write of a country song was a huge concert song. I featured “I Sing Because” as the clip. Listen for a young Arthur Rice take the lead on this tune.
It was around this time frame that I first became introduced to the music of the McGruders. Before being picked up by Sonlite Records, the McGruders had an album out in 1986 titled I’ve Got To Praise Jesus. This recording featured several songs written by Carroll McGruder that would go on to be huge hits for other groups, “I Lean On You Lord” and “Thanks”. The clip I featured was the title cut, “I’ve Got To Praise Jesus.”
One of the biggest songs to come out of albums released in 1986 would probably be the Talleys, “Triumphantly The Church Will Rise.” Found on their recording, United, this song became an anthem for the group and it was a show stopper when presented live.
Let me know what you think. Is there a specific year you would like me to highlight in a future retro spotlight? You can let me know in the comments.