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: Alto/Soprano

3rdannualWho were the top female vocalists in Southern Gospel music for 2016?  Today, you can vote for alto and soprano vocalist.

You get one vote per day.  Poll closes 11/24/16.  Click the link on each nominee to see an audio/video of the nominees.

3rd Annual Southern Gospel Views From The Back Row Honors: And The Nominees Are…..

3rdannualI went through all the Southern Gospel album’s released in 2016 and scoured through the radio single charts (January to December) to determine what I considered to be the five nominees to best represent each of the 16 categories in the 3rd annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors.


Recorded Song of the Year (song recorded on a 2016 album, did not have to be a radio single)

  1. “If We Ever Gotta Look” – Phil Cross, Tery Wilkins; recorded by the Hoppers (Life Is Good)
  2. “In The Hands Of A Carpenter” – Lee Black, Jerry Salley; recorded by Legacy Five (In The Hands Of A Carpenter)
  3. “One Name, One Way, One Door” – Roger Duncan; recorded by the Down East Boys (Ransomed)
  4. “Rocks” – Becky Bowman, Jimmy Yeary, Sonya Isaacs Yeary; recorded by the Isaacs (Nature’s Symphony In 432)
  5. “When The Prodigal Comes Home” – Lee Black; recorded by the Tribute Quartet (Here For You)

Single of the Year (had to be on the radio singles chart from January to December 2016)

  1. “Amazing God” – Lee Black, Janice Crow, Sue C Smith; recorded by the Triumphant Quartet (Living In Harmony)
  2. “Home” – Gerald Crabb; recorded by Jason Crabb (Whatever The Road)
  3. “I Know” – Ila Knight; recorded by the Kingsmen (Battle Cry)
  4. “I Was There” – Monty Criswell, Timothy Menzies; recorded by the Bowling Family (Moments Like These)
  5. “Jesus, The One” – Paula Stefanovich; recorded by the Hoppers (Life Is Good)

Song Cover of the Year (a previously recorded song covered on a 2016 album release)

  1. “Family Chain” – Nelons (Stronger Together); Joe Isaacs
  2. “He’s Making A Way” – Pruitt Family (So Much Sweeter); John Darin Rowsey
  3. “Jesus Never Fails” – Cana’s Voice (This Changes Everything); Gary Driskell
  4. “The Prodigal Son” – Second Half Quartet (Refreshing); Lavon Cantrell
  5. “When He Set Me Free” – Gaither Vocal Band (Better Together); Gary McSpadden


  1. Lee Black
  2. Jeffrey Bumgardner
  3. Phil Cross
  4. Rebecca Peck
  5. Kenna Turner West

Album of the Year (had to be a 2016 release)

  1. Here For You – Tribute Quartet (Daywind Records)
  2. Life Is Good – Hoppers (Daywind Records)
  3. Nature’s Symphony In 432 – Isaacs (House Of Isaacs)
  4. Ransomed – Down East Boys (Sonlite Records)
  5. What A Moment – 11th Hour (Sonlite Records)

Album Cover Design (best album artwork/cover design from a 2016 release)

  1. The Favorite Hymns Of Fanny Crosby – Ernie Haase and Signature Sound
  2. Here For You – Tribute Quartet
  3. Nature’s Symphony In 432 – Isaacs
  4. Somewhere I’m Going – High Road
  5. What A Moment – 11th Hour

Artist – Breakthrough (New)

  1. Cana’s Voice
  2. Guardians
  3. High Road
  4. Pruitt Family
  5. Rambo McGuire

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

  1. 11th Hour
  2. Greater Vision
  3. Jim Brady Trio
  4. Talleys
  5. Taylors

Artist – Mixed Group (at least 4 vocalists)

  1. Erwins
  2. Hoppers
  3. Isaacs
  4. Mylon Hayes Family
  5. Nelons

Artist – Quartet

  1. Ball Brothers
  2. Down East Boys
  3. Ernie Haase and Signature Sound
  4. Mark Trammell Quartet
  5. Tribute Quartet

Vocalist – Alto

  1. Rebecca Bowman (Isaacs)
  2. Kelly Nelon Clark (Nelons)
  3. Sheri Easter (Jeff and Sheri Easter)
  4. Wendy Hayes (Mylon Hayes Family)
  5. Connie Hopper (Hoppers)

Vocalist – Baritone

  1. Dustin Doyle (Signature Sound)
  2. Kris Erwin (Erwins)
  3. Mike LeFevre (LeFevres)
  4. Daryl Paschal (Down East Boys)
  5. Mark Trammell (Mark Trammell Quartet)

Vocalist – Bass

  1. Randy Byrd (Mark Trammell Quartet)
  2. Kody Erwin (Erwins)
  3. Matt Fouch (Legacy Five)
  4. Paul Harkey (Signature Sound)
  5. Todd Suttles (Gaither Vocal Band)

Vocalist – Lead

  1. Jim Brady (Jim Brady Trio)
  2. Grant Gibson (11th Hour)
  3. Wes Hampton (Gaither Vocal Band)
  4. Jordan LeFevre (LeFevres)
  5. Arthur Rice (Kingdom Heirs)

Vocalist – Soprano

  1. Amber Eppinette (11th Hour)
  2. Taranda Beene (Cana’s Voice)
  3. Kim Hopper (Hoppers)
  4. Amber Thompson (Nelons)
  5. Sonya Isaacs Yeary (Isaacs)

Vocalist – Tenor

  1. Andrew Ball (Ball Brothers)
  2. Riley Harrison Clark (Tribute Quartet)
  3. Jeremy Peace (LeFevres)
  4. David Phelps (Gaither Vocal Band)
  5. David Sutton (Triumphant)

So does this represent the best of 2016?  Were there any snubs you felt should be a nominee? The voting rounds will begin Thursday (11/17/16).

Southern Gospel Tidbits

DID YOU KNOW?:  The Nelons recorded a song on their 2016 recording, Stronger Together, titled “You Can’t Make Old Friends”. Kelly Nelon Clark was joined by Karen Peck Gooch on the song for a poignant duet about lifelong friends.  They performed the song at NQC back in September.

Did you know, the song was originally recorded by mainstream country artists Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton in 2013.  The song was penned by Ryan King, Don Schlitz and Caitlyn Smith.

*Video Credit (warnermusicnashville)

NQC 2016: Thursday Night Recap

11278Thursday night of the NQC is over.  The music was very good tonight, but the night nearly ruined by the biggest miss of the entire week.

  • It was like a hit parade tonight.  Many artists decided to do entire sets of some of their biggest hits.
  • Gold City had an entire set of classic Gold City songs.  The Perrys decided to use all hit singles in their set. Add Jeff & Sheri Easter to that list.  A ton of great music.
  • Josh Townsend, pianist for LeFevre Quartet, was styling tonight in that jacket and he also pulled off an awesome piano solo.
  • Congrats to Ronny Hinson for finally being inducted in to the Southern Gospel hall of fame.  Long overdue.
  • The back to back sets of Ernie Haase & Signature Sound and the Nelons provided some awesome music.  Karen Peck joining Kelly Nelon on “You Can’t Make Old Friends” was a special moment.
  • I’ve always loved Squire Parsons composition, “King Of Eternity”.  The Kingdom Heirs (trio) did a fantastic job on that particular number tonight.
  • The Taylors capped off a great night of music with a solid three song set.

  • There is only one miss tonight, but it is the biggest of the week.  Why do individuals feel the need to spew their political views?  A certain preacher had to hock a new book to tell us how horrible America is and tell us that we have to vote for a certain candidate who for the last year has also been telling crowds how horrible America is.  Putting your trust in an individual that will ultimately go down as the worst presidential candidate in the history of this nation is not something you should be proclaiming to large crowds of people.  When are individuals like this going to realize not everyone thinks the way they do.  Everyone (yes even evangelicals) will not vote the same way.  That is what it means to be American.  We are free to differ on issues but in no way is it ok for anyone (especially in his position) to tell another how to vote and by not voting the way they say is wrong/bad and somehow the nation is doomed.  If you want to live in that kind of country, go to Russia.


**Now to crown the best of the night:

Best single song performances (in order of appearance):  (1) “I’m Getting Ready To Leave This World” – LeFevre Quartet  (2) “Praise His Name” – Jeff & Sheri Easter  (3) “There Rose A Lamb” – Gold City  (4) “Keep On” – Perrys  (5) “Redeemed” – Ernie Haase & Signature Sound  (6) “I Think I’ll Read It Again” – Nelons  (7) “A Moment Of Grace” – Booth Brothers  (8) “King Of Eternity” – Kingdom Heirs (**Favorite song performance of the evening)  (9) “He Won’t Fail You” – Taylors

Best Set of the Night:  There were several contenders tonight but I had to give it to the group that was high energy from start to finish; Ernie Haase and Signature Sound.

SWOT Analysis: Nelons

nelonsWorking in the business world, the SWOT analysis is used to determine the strengths and weaknesses of an organization while also looking at opportunities and threats the organization could face.

This week’s SWOT analysis will take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of one of Southern Gospel’s biggest mixed groups; the Nelons.


  • The vocal strength of the group make them one of the best in the industry.
  • Amber Nelon Thompson is one reason for the vocal strength.  It is hard to find a female vocalist in the industry as strong as her.
  • Song selection has also been key to the Nelons resurgence among Southern Gospel listeners.
  • The Nelon legacy, started by Rex Nelon, is a huge strength.  The group’s contribution to Southern Gospel music since 1977 is unmeasured.


  • It would be nice if the Nelons had a bass vocalist to hearken the listener back to the Rex Nelon days.
  • I wish the group used more Nelon classics in the live concert setting.


  • I hope the Nelons plan something special in 2017 to celebrate their 40 years in Southern Gospel music.  I would love a recording with former members re-recording Nelon classics.
  • The Nelons have capitalized on their tour with Michael English and Jeff Stice.  Continuing that and maybe adding another artist.


  • I believe the immediate threat that could hurt the Nelons is the two girls getting married and leaving the group.
  • As Southern Gospel concert crowds continue to dwindle, this leaves the entire industry at a crossroads of where future revenue will be generated.

***NEXT SWOT ANALYSIS:  Down East Boys***

*Video Credit (

Southern Gospel Tidbits

DID YOU KNOW?:  We are less than a week away from starting September 2016.  September has been an interesting month when it comes to single month #1 songs.  This modern era of chart history has a new #1 song every month.  That wasn’t the case decades ago when some songs would spend many consecutive months at #1.  Here are all the single month #1 songs that happened during the month of September.

  • September 1973 – “He Pilots My Ship” (Happy Goodmans)
  • September 1980 – “Better Hurry Up” (Happy Goodmans)
  • September 1982 – “Antioch Church Choir” (Dixie Melody Boys)
  • September 1984 – “Who Put The Tears” (McKameys)
  • September 1992 – “I’m Glad I Know Who Jesus Is” (Nelons)
  • September 2001 – “That’s Why I Love To Call His Name” (Kingdom Heirs)

Stronger Together: Nelons

NelonsGRADE:  B+

  • Album – Stronger Together
  • Artist – Nelons
  • Label – Daywind Records
  • Style – Traditional, Progressive, Country
  • Release Date – 08/12/16
  • Available For Digital Download? – Yes (Apple Music)


This week we take a look at the second of two new albums from the Nelons; Stronger Together.  Last week you got to read my thoughts on Family Harmony.

Stronger Together is a nice companion piece to Family Harmony.  Each one offers listeners something a little bit different.  I still believe the original six song EP should have stayed intact and one more new album released.

If you want to read my review of the six song EP, you can go HERE.  This review will focus on the six new songs not included in the original EP.


  • The Nelons took the McGruders hit single, “I’m Going Home With Jesus” and turned it into an awesome concert closer for the group.  I believe they found another by going back and recording the Gold City standard, penned by Sandy Knight; “I Think I’ll Read It Again”.  Can’t wait to hear this song performed live!
  • The group closes Stronger Together with an awesome, harmony driven song, “Angels Hover Near You”.  This is a song you would have heard the Nelons record in their 1980’s prime.  A must listen.
  • The group’s latest single on Southern Gospel radio is “My Father’s House”.  This mid-tempo song features Amber and takes on a bit of a country-style.  Some really nice harmony work with Autumn takes the song up a notch.
  • One of the few up-tempo numbers found on Stronger Together is a song penned by Jason and Jerome Olds titled, “Gate Of Heaven”.  A rollicking, fun number that should get a listen.
  • While I said I would only cover the six new songs not found on the original EP, I can’t leave this review without mentioning Autumn’s performance on “Family Chain”.  Hands down, the best song on the recording and one of the best recorded songs of 2016.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Family Chain”, “I Think I’ll Read It Again”, “Angels Hover Near You”, “My Father’s House”, “Then Came The Morning” and “You Can’t Make Old Friends”.
  • While the vocal talent far surpasses most of what you’ll get in Southern Gospel music, the recording of the song, “The Awakening” felt out-of-place.  The song’s style is that of a Broadway musical theater tune.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “The Awakening”.


As already mentioned, Stronger Together is a great companion piece to Family Harmony.  If I were to choose one, I would give a slight edge to Stronger Together.  If the Nelons knew they wanted to release two new albums this year, I believe they would have been better served to not release the six song EP and release these two nine song recordings.  Either way, both Stronger Together and Family Harmony should make my annual countdown of the year’s best albums.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “My Father’s House”/Amber – Jason Cox, Sue C Smith, Kenna Turner West  2. “One Little Word“/Kelly – Constant Change, Jason Clark  3. “Family Chain”/Autumn – Joe Isaacs  4. “Then Came The Morning”/Amber – Chris Christian, Bill Gaither, Gloria Gaither  5. “Gate Of Heaven”/Jason – Jason Clark, Jerome Olds  6. “You Can’t Make Old Friends”/Kelly with Karen Peck – Ryan King, Don Schlitz, Caitlyn Smith  7. “The Awakening”/Ensemble – ??  8. “I Think I’ll Read It Again“/Autumn – Sandy Knight  9. “Angels Hover Near You”/Ensemble – Traditional