The 2015 National Quartet Convention has come to a close. The NQC closed on a high note. I stayed awake the entire night and heard some strong performances. Lets close out NQC 2015 with some final hits and misses. I also want to thank all my readers who came to read my recaps for the week. You’re the only reason I keep this blog running.
- I was thoroughly impressed with 11th Hour’s set tonight. They had perfect song selection with four of their hits along with a performance of “He Will Row You Over The Tide” with just piano. Loved it!
- Libbi absolutely owned the Joel Hemphill classic, “I Claim The Blood”. This was a signature song for LaBreeska Hemphill 30 years ago. Glad the Perrys performed this song tonight.
- The night started strong with the Nelons. I never tire of hearing Kelly and the group perform “O For A Thousand Tongues”; one of Southern Gospel’s all time greatest songs.
- “I Am Blessed” was a great set opener for Karen Peck & New River. I just wish the rest of their set, with the exception of “We Shall Wear A Robe And Crown”, had that same intensity.
- I am really enjoying Triumphant Quartet’s latest single, “Living In Harmony”. It has found a permanent home in my current set of musical playlists.
- I have been impressed with the Jim Brady Trio this week. They closed out their week’s worth of performances with a power house performance of “No Wonder They Call Him Savior”.
- I wish every night of NQC was set up like Saturday night. The program moved from one artist to the next, nothing but music. The only down time was for artists to get ready. No one on the stage talking about their latest book for sale and no silly video on the screens.
- I enjoyed the ‘this is my story, this is my song’ intros they used several times this week.
- Whoever was responsible for setting the performance schedule tonight messed up when they placed Southern Raised last on the program (before the finale). With the absence of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and the Isaacs this year, Southern Raised filled that bluegrass void. They turned in a strong performance but their placement on the evening was all wrong. They needed an earlier stage time. Karen Peck & New River closing their set with “We Shall Wear A Robe And Crown” would have flowed nicely in to the #1 hits finale.
- I don’t understand the time given to Ernie Haase & Signature Sound for their two sets this week. Each set gave the group the chance to perform three songs with hardly any talking to take up time. What??
- As is the case every year, the end of the week gives us recycled songs already heard earlier in the week.
**Now to crown the best of the night:
Best single song performances (in order of appearance): (1) “O For A Thousand Tongues” – Nelons (2) “No Wonder They Call Him The Savior” – Jim Brady Trio (3) “In My Robe Of White” – Gold City (4) “I’ll Know I’m Home” – Kingdom Heirs (5) “Jesus Is In The House” – 11th Hour (6) “He Will Row You Over The Tide” – 11th Hour (**Favorite song performance of the evening) (7) “I Claim The Blood” – Perrys (8) “We Are The Church” – LeFevre Quartet (9) “Not Afraid To Trust Him” – Whisnants (10) “Living In Harmony” – Triumphant Quartet (11) “I Am Blessed” – Karen Peck and New River
Best Set of the Night: As pleased as I was with the entire evening, I will have to give best set to 11th Hour.
- How good is it to see Pat Barker on the stage again? I didn’t realize he was doing the Cathedral reunion concerts. The closing performance of “We Shall See Jesus” was stellar!
- The Perrys performed a new song tonight that has future hit written all over it; “Keep On”. Their set seemed fairly short overall, with only three songs.
- One of the best family groups touring right now has got to be the Nelons. Their harmony is phenomenal and I have already said it many times, but Amber Thompson is the best there is!
- Thank you Mark Bishop for one of the most quirky, awkwardly awesome sets of music I have ever seen performed on the NQC stage. Performing with his daughters and other band members, known as Forget The Sea, the style presented was reminiscent of folk/rock group, Of Monsters And Men. I look forward to listening to the album when it releases in January.
- I never tire of hearing Brian Lester perform, “He Didn’t Throw The Clay Away”. The Lesters heritage is the longest in Southern Gospel music.
- Another Southern Gospel legend, Ray Dean Reese of the Kingsmen is still hitting those low notes for the group. Working on 50 years performing with the same group. Awesome.
- After a fast paced, muddled start to their set, the Inspirations closed with a nice acappella version of Squire Parsons classic, “Beulah Land”.
- Overall, the program once again moved along with very little down time in between artists.
- “The Love Of God” has already been performed by three different groups this week and it is only night three.
- One of the many things the audience receives when watching/listening via webcast is every poorly sung note. The amount of singers who were off pitch, flat and just had a train wreck of a long drawn out song ending were too many to count. But, live performances are not supposed to be vocally perfect.
**Now to crown the best of the night:
Best single song performances (in order of appearance): (1) “Keep On” – Perrys (2) “Loving The Lamb” – Mark Trammell Quartet (3) “Then Came The Morning” – Nelons (4) “He Didn’t Throw The Clay Away” – Lesters (5) “Baptize Me” – Mark Bishop & Forget The Sea (6) “As We Speak” – Greater Vision (7) “I’ve Never Seen The Righteous Forsaken” – Kingsmen (8) “It Matters To The Master” – Collingsworth Family (9) “We Shall See Jesus” – Cathedral Reunion (**Favorite song performance of the evening)
Best Set of the Night: Like last night, another strong closing. Best set goes to the Cathedral Reunion segment.
This week the ten on ten (redux) will re-visit the Nelons. On September 19th, 2011 I presented the original ten on ten feature for the Nelons highlighting the group’s ten best albums. Since that time, the Nelons released Come On Home (2012), An Evening In December (2012) and Hymns: The A Cappella Sessions (2014). While one of the albums got close, none of the three changed the original top ten list. This redux feature will now shine the spotlight on the three lowest ranking albums of the group’s career thus far. First, the original list highlighting the Nelons ten best recordings.
- Get Ready (1988)
- Thanks (1987)
- We Shall Behold The King (1983)
- Let The Redeemed Say So (1989)
- Live (1978)
- United For Christ (2002)
- In One Accord (1985)
- Expressions Of Love (1980)
- The Sun’s Coming Up (1977)
- A New Generation (1991)
The lowest ranked albums in the Nelons discography are as follows:
- We’ve Got To Praise Him (1997)
- You Are God (2008)
- I’ve Never Been This Homesick Before (1978)
***One disclaimer in ranking an artists best albums to come up with albums at the bottom of the list. I do not include all the budget recordings an artist may have recorded during their career***
Kicking off February as I do each month, providing readers the five most played Southern Gospel radio songs in my musical playlists the preceding month. The Gaither Vocal Band tops the list in February, while the Wisecarvers, Jeff & Sheri Easter, Akins and the Nelons round out the top five. Enjoy!
*Video Credit (Various Artists – Topic)
*Video Credit (Various Artists – Topic)
*Video Credit (Allen Edwards)
*Video Credit (TheAkinsVideos)
*Video Credit (TheNelonsFan)
On this final day of 2014, I want to quickly wrap up the year that was in Southern Gospel music. Since we just ended our countdown, I always get asked every year what album just missed making the top 20 and also what album was your lowest ranked of all the albums listened to. I will reveal both now.
- (21) Drive – Doug Anderson
- (22) Welcome Home – Joseph Habedank
- (23) Forever: 80th Anniversary Recording – Blackwood Brothers
- (24) Hymns: The A Cappella Sessions – Nelons
- (25) This Is What It’s All About – Mark Bishop
- God’s Word Will Stand – Inspirations; with the exception of two songs (“Faithful Friend” and “It’s Not Long Until Forever”) this may be the weakest Inspirations album in their entire 50 year discography. If I would have reviewed this album it would have gotten a ‘D’ on my grading scale.
I want to honor all those Southern Gospel has lost in 2014:
- Roy Bray (Southmen Quartet)
- Richard Carper (Southern Gospel music promoter)
- Bobby Clark (Cathedrals)
- Colbert Croft (Songwriter)
- Norman Holland (Southern Gospel music executive)
- Bob Johnson (Speers)
- Charles Johnson (Charles Johnson & Revivers)
- Don Light (Talent Agent)
- Mary Tom Speer Reid (Speers)
- Jack Smith (Happy Goodmans)
- Ed Sprouse (Blue Ridge Quartet)
- Clark Thompson (Rangers Trio)
- Eddie Wallace (Sunshine Boys)
- Norman Wilson (Primitive Quartet)
TOP PLAYED SONGS:
Each month I present readers the Fab Five feature that ranks the most played Southern Gospel radio songs in my iPod/music playlists over the preceding month. Here are the ten most played songs for the entire year 2014.
- “How Will You Plead” – 11th Hour
- “Falling” – Amber Nelon Thompson
- “Empty Me Lord” – Primitive Quartet
- “Meanwhile Back At The Cross” – Gordon Mote
- “Not Afraid To Trust Him” – Whisnants
- “I’ll Take You Home” – Hoppers
- “When Justice Called, Mercy Answered” – Erwins
- “I’ll Know I’m Home” – Kingdom Heirs
- “The Blood And Its Power” – Perrys
- “The Sun’s Coming Up” – Nelons
MOST VIEWED POSTS:
- In Honor: Norman Wilson
- The Southern Gospel Story Of My Life (1982)
- 2014 NQC – Saturday Night Recap
- Sometimes It Takes A Mountain – Gaither Vocal Band
- 2014 NQC – Thursday Night Recap
Looking ahead to 2015, I plan to get back to some of the most popular features of the site (Smack Down; Southern Gospel Story Of My Life; Ten On Ten – Revisited). I will continue to provide readers with album reviews, NQC recaps and my annual countdown. I also plan to start a new ‘hard hitting’ commentary that will address issues within Southern Gospel music industry. Look forward to having you along for the ride.
The 1st annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors is now in the record books. I initially chose the five nominees in each category that I thought best represented Southern Gospel music in 2014. I then let you, the reader, decide on the best of the year. Here were your decisions and a brief statement of each category.
I want to thank everyone who participated in the voting rounds. While I am not a huge fan of ‘fan’ voted popularity award shows, I do enjoy an awards program that honors the best in a specific musical genre for a given year.
Recorded Song of the Year (song recorded on a 2014 release, did not have to be a radio single)
- “Say Amen” – Jason Cox/Michael Farren/Kenna Turner West; recorded by Brian Free & Assurance (Unashamed)
I am not surprised at the reader’s decision here. “Say Amen” was one of the biggest recorded songs of the year and this would not be the only win for this particular song. If I was asked to choose the winner of the five nominees, my choice would have been “Falling” by Amber Nelon Thompson. I have not heard a more exquisite song in Southern Gospel music.
Album of the Year (had to be a 2014 release)
- Your Walk Talks – Mark Trammell Quartet (Crimson Road Records)
Quartets will always dominate when stacked up against other artists, such was the case with Your Walk Talks winning album of the year. No doubt this was Mark Trammell Quartet’s best album release to date. My choice would have been Church In The Kitchen by the Dunaways.
Radio Single of the Year (had to be a chart hit from January 2014 to current)
- “Long Live The King” – Chris Binion/Dianne Wilkinson; recorded by Old Paths (These Truths)
The readers gave the Old Paths a couple of wins in 2014 including radio single of the year. You and I were on the same page with this category as “Long Live The King” was also my choice.
Song Cover of the Year (a previously recorded song covered on a 2014 album release)
- “When He Calls, I’ll Fly Away” – Talleys (The Test Of Time); Vep Ellis
If the readers were not choosing traditional quartet options, you were going for traditional quartet songs. The Talleys cover of “When He Call, I’ll Fly Away” dominated the song cover of the year category. Good choice, but I would have given the honor to Master’s Voice for their cover of “The Saving Kind”.
- “Say Amen” – Brian Free & Assurance
“Say Amen” picked up a second win with short form (concept) video of the year. The popularity of the song definitely carried over to the video win. I particularly loved the mainstream country treatment given to the Freemans video for “Where I’ve Been”. That would have been my choice.
- Dianne Wilkinson
No one can argue the choice for songwriter of the year. I was glad to see Kenna Turner West rising among the ranks of well deserved songwriters and see her finished second to Dianne.
- Jason Cox/Michael Farrren/Kenna Turner West
Give “Say Amen” its third win for the year as the songwriting collaboration team of Jason Cox, Michael Farren and Kenna Turner West win the songwriting collab of the year. Just like my recorded song choice, I would have chosen Gina Boe, Ronnie Freeman and Tony Wood the win for collaborating on “Falling”.
- Old Paths
Even though “Say Amen” dominated and gave Brian Free & Assurance (3) wins, the Old Paths would win the quartet prize. This gave the Old Paths two wins for the year. Good to see this quartet finally getting recognition. Old Paths would have also been my choice for 2014.
Mixed Group (at least 4 vocalists)
The Nelons moving to a four vocal configuration allowed them to pull off a win for mixed group of the year. The music this group has given Southern Gospel listening audiences the last several years makes this a well deserved honor. The Nelons were my choice as well.
Duo/Trio (no more than 3 vocalists)
- Greater Vision
When the Booth Brothers are not a contender for trio, you are guaranteed that Greater Vision will be there to claim the prize. Greater Vision did have a great year with the success of radio songs from their For All He’s Done album. If I was looking at just 2014, I would have given the prize to 11th Hour.
- Taranda Greene
Stronger will end up being one of the top album releases of 2014. Taranda has already proven she is one of the top female voices in any genre of music. Well deserved win; my choice as well.
Erwins fans came out in force and crushed the competition for new artist of the year. Erwins fans know what they were talking about because the Erwins was also my choice for best new artist of 2014.
Most Underrated (based on 2014 releases/hit singles)
- Ball Brothers
The Ball Brothers have been around Southern Gospel music now for nearly a decade and still get very little recognition. Winning most underrated is fitting. The artist I would have chosen fits in to the same mold; the Dunaways.
Cutting Edge (artists who create their own sound/think outside the box)
- Brian Free & Assurance
As you already see, Brian Free & Assurance were the big winners of 2014. Winning cutting edge gave the group their 4th honor. My choice for the year would have gone to Akins.
Concert Performer/Touring Artist (artists selling out venues in 2014)
- Booth Brothers
After the Collingsworth Family led this category for most of the week it was up, the Booth Brothers squeaked out a win in the end, proving they are still at the height of their popularity. If I was hand picking the winners, the Collingsworth Family would have been my choice.
- Kim Collingsworth (Collingsworth Family)
No surprise Kim Collingsworth was honored with pianist of the year. Fans love her. My choice would have been Michael Howard with Soul’d Out Quartet.
- Ben Isaacs (Isaacs) – Bass
Bass playing Ben Isaacs was honored with musician of the year. All five of the nominees were deserving. My choice for 2014 would have been Eli Akin.
- Chris Allman (Greater Vision)
No arguments here. My readers and I were on the same page.
- Arthur Rice (Kingdom Heirs)
After years of nominations in the major ‘fan’ voted award shows, readers of Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row finally give Arthur Rice a lead singer of the year honor. Long overdue. As overdue as it was, my choice of 2014 would have been Tim Rackley (Old Paths) by a small margin.
- Mark Trammell (Mark Trammell Quartet)
Another win that is hard to argue. In this case with a solo album release in 2014 I would have gone with Doug Anderson.
- Jeff Chapman (Kingdom Heirs)
Just like band mate Arthur Rice, Jeff Chapman has never been given the recognition as bass singer. Readers have rectified that in 2014.
- Libbi Stuffle (Perrys)
Libbi Stuffle is always an obvious choice when looking at alto vocalists. Another good year for Libbi on radio with the success of “I Can Trust Him”. While Libbi is always deserving I would have leaned slightly to Kelly Nelon Clark in 2014.
- Amber Thompson (Nelons)
Amber Thompson has continued her winning streaks of late. The readers and I agree on this choice.
- Gerald Wolfe (Greater Vision)
While a little long-winded at times there is no denying Gerald Wolfe will go down as one of Southern Gospel’s greatest emcee’s of all time. To move from humor, to serious, to read a crowd and change a program accordingly. Only the best can do this with precision.
- National Quartet Convention (Pigeon Forge, TN)
Even with the less than stellar reviews of its first year in Pigeon Forge TN, the National Quartet Convention is still the most popular Southern Gospel fan event. This event dominated its competition in this category.
We are close to wrapping up the 1st annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors. Today you get to vote for best quartet and mixed group of 2014. Quartet has to be at least (4) male vocalists while mixed group of the year has to be at least (4) vocalists. YouTube clips of each nominee is included.
1. Brian Free & Assurance (published by Lisa Marie)
2. Kingdom Heirs (published by Gospel Harmony Channel)
3. Mark Trammell Quartet (published by Nathan Shaw)
4. Old Paths (published by epworthconcerts)
5. Ernie Haase & Signature Sound (published by EHSSVEVO)
1. Bowling Family (published by Nick Newman)
2. Browders (also published by Nick Newman)
3. Isaacs (published by Lauren SGBlog)
4. Nelons (published by Marie Beddow)
5. Taylors (published by Diana Brantley)
Today we continue with our voting rounds for the 1st annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors. Things started strong yesterday with alto and baritone vocalist. If you haven’t voted yet, bet sure to do so. Today we take a look at the nominees for the best soprano and lead vocalist of 2014. Voting polls will be open for one week. I have provided a music mash-up of the five nominees in each category that showcases why they were chosen to represent 2014.
- Angie Aldridge (Hoskins Family)
- Kelly Bowling (Bowling Family)
- Amber Eppinette (11th Hour)
- Karen Peck Gooch (Karen Peck & New River)
- Amber Thompson (Nelons)
- Mike Bowling (Bowling Family)
- Devin McGlamery (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound)
- Tim Rackley (Old Paths)
- Arthur Rice (Kingdom Heirs)
- Bill Shivers (Brian Free & Assurance)