VOTING: Southern Gospel March Madness – Round 1a

The voting rounds have now begun for the 2016 Southern Gospel music March madness competition.  Let’s make this fun.  Here are the rules to voting.

  • All readers of the blog can vote.
  • I have set it up to where each person is allowed one vote per day.
  • This poll will close on Monday (03/21/16).

2nd Annual Southern Gospel Views From The Back Row Honors – And The Winners Are…

INVITATIONYou, as readers of this blog, decided who you thought represented the best of 2015.  Over the course of the last several weeks you voted in polls that represented 20 different categories (also chosen by you).  If you looked back through after the polls closed, you already know the winners, but I thought I would wrap up this year’s honors by listing the winners in each category.  Thanks for participating and continuing to come by on a daily basis to let me know you want me to continue this blog.

AND THE WINNERS ARE:

KPNRRecorded Song of the Year (song recorded on a 2015 release, did not have to be a radio single)

  1. “Pray Now” – Dave Clark/Michael Farren/Karen Peck; recorded by Karen Peck & New River (Pray Now)

*I’m not surprised Karen Peck and New River were given the highest honor of best recorded song of 2015.  “Pray Now” was hands down, the song that best represented 2015 in Southern Gospel music.  If I was hand picking the winners, my choice would have also been “Pray Now”.

Album of the Year (had to be a 2015 release)

  1. A New Look – Kingdom Heirs (Sonlite Records)

*Pray Now by Karen Peck and New River was leading early, looking like they would go two for two.  But the Kingdom Heirs, ultimately edged out a win for album of the year for A New Look.  My choice would have gone to Pray Now, but all five contenders in this category were worthy of the win.

Radio Single of the Year (had to be a chart hit from January to December 2015)

  1. “Battle Cry” – Lee Black/Joel Lindsey/Sue C Smith; recorded by the Kingsmen (Battle Cry)

*This was the closest vote tally of any category in the honors.  The Kingsmen and Gaither Vocal Band (“Sometimes It Takes A Mountain”) were swapping the lead throughout but the Kingsmen were honored for their hit single, “Battle Cry”; the best single of 2015.

kingheirscov2d (250x250)Song Cover of the Year (a previously recorded song covered on a 2015 album release)

  1. “Greatest Of All Miracles” – Jim Brady Trio (A New Chapter); Squire Parsons

*This was no surprise.  Ultimately one of the best cover songs in Southern Gospel music; beating the original recording by Gold City.

Album Cover Design (best album artwork/cover design from a 2015 release)

  1. Just Sing – Amber Nelon Thompson

*The Nelons had another good year, tallying four wins in this years honors.  The first is  Amber Nelon Thompson’s solo recording, Just Sing, picking up best album cover design.

Songwriter

  1. Kenna Turner West

*It is finally great to see non-performing/touring songwriters getting the recognition they deserve.  It is also nice that the general Southern Gospel listening audience is also beginning to recognize these names.  All five nominees in the songwriter category this year were non-performing/touring songwriters.  Kenna Turner West is one of the best and she was given this year’s honor as best songwriter.

ANT (250x250)Songwriting Collaboration Team

  1. Sheri Easter/Don Poythress/Kenna Turner West

*Kenna Turner West would grab two wins as she was also part of the best songwriting collaboration team of 2015.  Along with Sheri Easter and Don Poythress, they penned one of the best recorded songs of the year; “Jesus Loves You”.  The song was recorded by Jeff and Sheri Easter.

Artist – Quartet

  1. Triumphant

*Fan favorites tended to dominate the artist categories.  Triumphant grabbed best quartet of the year.  My hand-picked choice would have gone to Ernie Haase & Signature Sound.

Artist – Mixed Group (at least 4 vocalists)

  1. Collingsworth Family

*Another fan favorite, the Collingsworth Family picked up the honor for best mixed group.  My choice would have gone to the Erwins.

jimbradyrelease (250x250)Artist – Duo/Trio (no more than 3 vocalists)

  1. Greater Vision

*One can’t argue the contributions Greater Vision made to Southern Gospel this year with the release of As We Speak.  For me, one artist would have slightly edged out Greater Vision; Karen Peck and New River.

Artist – Breakthrough (New)

  1. Jim Brady Trio

*A strong debut album (A New Chapter) along with a strong debut radio single (“Steppin’ Out In Faith”) and immediate name recognition made for a fairly easy choice for most voters.

Artist – Underrated (overlooked by majority of listeners)

  1. LeFevre Quartet

*While the Dunaways attempted to provide some competition, the LeFevre Quartet would pick up the honor for most underrated artist of 2015.  Even though, the new album (Home) has been pushed back, the success of the first single, “He Left No Stone Unturned” was enough for this win.

Triumphant (250x250)Vocalist – Tenor

  1. Chris Allman (Greater Vision)

*Greater Vision would grab a second win as Chris Allman picked up tenor vocalist.

Vocalist – Lead

  1. Arthur Rice (Kingdom Heirs)

*Arthur Rice being snubbed from other fan voted award shows has given him two wins in a row for the Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors.

Vocalist – Baritone

  1. Scott Inman (Triumphant)

*Triumphant would also grab a second win with Scott Inman garnering baritone vocalist.

Greater-Vision-2 (250x250)Vocalist – Bass

  1. Eric Bennett (Triumphant)

*Actually, go ahead and make that three wins for Triumphant as Eric Bennett was chosen as best bass vocalist for 2015.

Vocalist – Alto

  1. Kelly Nelon Clark (Nelons)

*The Nelons would make a clean sweep of the female vocal spots as Kelly won Alto.

Vocalist – Soprano

  1. Amber Thompson (Nelons)

*And Amber would get her second soprano win in a row.

KTW (250x250)Vocal Collaboration (two artists coming together on a song from a 2015 album release)

  1. “Without Your Love” – Jason Clark/Joel Lindsey; recoded by Amber Nelon Thompson (Just Sing); joined by Joseph Habedank

*Amber Nelon Thompson’s success over the last couple years has been unmatched.  She, alone, made up three of the four Nelon wins.  “Without Your Love”, along with Jospeh Habedank garnered Amber a win for vocal collaboration of the year.

Hall Of Fame – Individual (artist with a 30+ year career in Southern Gospel still producing hits in 2015)

  1. Karen Peck Gooch (Artist/Songwriter)

*Karen Peck Gooch is one of the most known female vocalists in Southern Gospel music.  Her career has now spanned more than thirty years.  As a result, you honored Karen with the hall of fame individual for 2015.

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners.  Thanks for providing the best Southern Gospel had to offer in 2015; at least the readers of this blog think so.

VOTE: Artist – Mixed Group And Duo/Trio

INVITATIONToday you get a chance to choose the best mixed group and duo/trio for 2015.  You get one vote per day and polls will remain open for one week.  Click the link on each nominee to see an audio/video of the nominees.

Artist – Mixed Group (at least 4 vocalists)

  1. Collingsworth Family
  2. Erwins
  3. Mylon Hayes Family
  4. Nelons
  5. Perrys

Artist – Duo/Trio (no more than 3 vocalists)

  1. 11th Hour
  2. Bowling Family
  3. Jeff & Sheri Easter
  4. Greater Vision
  5. Karen Peck & New River

2015 NQC – Saturday Night Recap

11th Hour (300x300)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.

2015 NQC – Tuesday Night Recap

CFRTuesday night of the 2015 National Quartet Convention is now in the record books.  The night overall was mediocre.  But, a few performances broke through the mediocrity to make the hit list.

  • 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.

Ten On Ten (Redux) – Nelons

NelonsThis 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.

  1. Get Ready (1988)
  2. Thanks (1987)
  3. We Shall Behold The King (1983)
  4. Let The Redeemed Say So (1989)
  5. Live (1978)
  6. United For Christ (2002)
  7. nelons2008youaregodmaxIn One Accord (1985)
  8. Expressions Of Love (1980)
  9. The Sun’s Coming Up (1977)
  10. A New Generation (1991)

The lowest ranked albums in the Nelons discography are as follows:

  1. We’ve Got To Praise Him (1997)
  2. You Are God (2008)
  3. 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***

The Fab Five – February 2015

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!

GVB

*Video Credit (Various Artists – Topic)

Wisecarvers

*Video Credit (Various Artists – Topic)

Easters

*Video Credit (Allen Edwards)

Akins

*Video Credit (TheAkinsVideos)

Nelons

*Video Credit (TheNelonsFan)

Final 2014 Wrap Up

douganderson2014drivemaxOn 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.

blackwoodbros2014foreverFirst, the rest of the best; the albums that just missed making the top 20:

  1. (21) Drive – Doug Anderson
  2. (22) Welcome Home – Joseph Habedank
  3. (23) Forever: 80th Anniversary Recording – Blackwood Brothers
  4. (24) Hymns: The A Cappella Sessions – Nelons
  5. (25) This Is What It’s All About – Mark Bishop

InspirationsAnd the album that ranked lowest of all the albums I listened to in 2014 was:

  1. 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.

IN HONOR:

I want to honor all those Southern Gospel has lost in 2014:

  1. Roy Bray (Southmen Quartet)
  2. norman-wilson-passes-awayRichard Carper (Southern Gospel music promoter)
  3. Bobby Clark (Cathedrals)
  4. Colbert Croft (Songwriter)
  5. Norman Holland (Southern Gospel music executive)
  6. Bob Johnson (Speers)
  7. Charles Johnson (Charles Johnson & Revivers)
  8. Don Light (Talent Agent)
  9. Mary Tom Speer Reid (Speers)
  10. Jack Smith (Happy Goodmans)
  11. Ed Sprouse (Blue Ridge Quartet)
  12. Clark Thompson (Rangers Trio)
  13. Eddie Wallace (Sunshine Boys)
  14. 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.

  1. Erwins“How Will You Plead” – 11th Hour
  2. “Falling” – Amber Nelon Thompson
  3. “Empty Me Lord” – Primitive Quartet
  4. “Meanwhile Back At The Cross” – Gordon Mote
  5. “Not Afraid To Trust Him” – Whisnants
  6. “I’ll Take You Home” – Hoppers
  7. When Justice Called, Mercy Answered” – Erwins
  8. “I’ll Know I’m Home” – Kingdom Heirs
  9. “The Blood And Its Power” – Perrys
  10. “The Sun’s Coming Up” – Nelons

MOST VIEWED POSTS:

  1. In Honor: Norman Wilson
  2. The Southern Gospel Story Of My Life (1982)
  3. 2014 NQC – Saturday Night Recap
  4. Sometimes It Takes A Mountain – Gaither Vocal Band
  5. 2014 NQC – Thursday Night Recap

LOOKING AHEAD:

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.