The voting rounds have now begun for the 1st annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors. I released the nominees last week. Now it is up to you (the reader) to decide the victor in each category. Today we start with best alto and baritone vocalist of 2014. All readers of this blog can vote and the polls will be open for one week. Nominees will be listed along with a music mash-up for each category that showcases why the specific nominees were chosen to represent 2014.
- Becky Bowman (Isaacs)
- Kelly Nelon Clark (Nelons)
- Sheryl Faris (McKameys)
- Libbi Stuffle (Perrys)
- Suzanne Taylor (Taylors)
- Doug Anderson (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound)
- Aaron Dishman (Dixie Melody Boys)
- Mike Rogers (Brian Free & Assurance)
- Mark Trammell (Mark Trammell Quartet)
- Brian Walker (Perrys)
The Tuesday edition of the 2014 National Quartet Convention is now in the record books. Tonight started rather slow but really picked it up to provide some really strong moments at the end. What was the best and worst of the night? Lets find out.
- The Nelons absolutely knocked it out of the park. Their set was so far ahead of everything else that was presented tonight. I didn’t realize Autumn was such a strong vocalist. Her and Amber on the same stage! What a powerhouse vocal duo that will be. Thanks to the organizers for switching theirs and the Collingsworth Family sets to allow for what Kim Collingsworth provided to close the night.
- It seemed to be a family kind of night in terms of stand outs. The Sneed Family opened it up singing with a live band and providing classic 1970’s/1980’s material.
- I still call the Taylors the Downings of this generation. Their progressive Southern Gospel arrangements stand out. I just wish the group would open up more on stage.
- The Browders brought listening audiences their own brand of Southern Gospel music with a country Gospel flair. I really enjoy the group’s latest radio single; “Listening For The Shout”. That song could have used an encore.
- It was nice to see the Crist Family get a worthy send off by the NQC crowd. Thanks for ten years.
- Of the few quartets on the program tonight, I thought the Down East Boys provided the best quartet set. “I Want To Be Just Like My Lord” and “Holy All Over Again” were both outstanding.
- No matter how many times the song has been sung, Michael Booth can still bring a house down with his performance of “Look For Me At Jesus Feet”. Something can be said of performances with just vocal and piano. Powerhouse performance!
- Like last night, the program moved along with little talking (sans Dennis Swansburg). For the second night in a row I believe the program actually ended ahead of schedule. Kudos to the production team.
- Speaking of Dennis Swansburg; when is the man going to come up with new material. Isn’t it the job of a comedian to stay fresh with new material. When you tell the same recycled jokes for the 40th time, they tend to lose effectiveness.
- The Inspirations walk down memory lane wasn’t so memorable. I would have rather heard a couple of the classic songs in full then several short clips.
- Gold City is just not the same without the bass voice of Tim Riley. Here is praying for a speedy recovery.
**Now to crown the best of the night:
Best single song performances (in order of appearance): (1) “He Will Calm The Troubled Waters” – Sneed Family (2) “Holy All Over Again” – Down East Boys (3) “Empty Me Lord” – Primitives (4) “Measure Of Grace” – Taylors (5) “Listening For The Shout” – Browders (6) “My Heart Knows” – Crist Family (7) “Look For Me At Jesus Feet” – Booth Brothers (8) “How Great Thou Art” – Nelons (**Favorite song performance of the evening)
Best Set of the Night: Hands down; the Nelons!
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!
The dogs days of summer have approached as August rolls in. As I start every new month, it is time to look at the most played Southern Gospel radio songs in my iPod over the preceding month. The Primitive Quartet has the top spot for August as Triumphant Quartet and the Nelons each have a revised classic song cover. The top five is rounded out by Legacy Five and Brian Free & Assurance. Enjoy!
Music Scribe has been announcing our choices for the best of 2013. We thought it would be nice to get to know those individuals a little better. Today we open up our interview chair for a new conversations feature with our choice for female vocalist of 2013, Amber Thompson.
Amber has been performing full-time with Nelons since the age of 13. In the interview I asked Amber her thoughts on her family’s legacy, her upcoming solo album and a question about the real celebrity in the family.
Sit back, relax and enjoy our conversation with Amber Thompson.
Eaton: You come from a great legacy in Southern Gospel music with your grandfather (Rex) and mother (Kelly). What are your thoughts on the Nelons legacy in Southern Gospel music and now your part in that legacy?
Thompson: “I’ve always been proud of my family’s legacy. My grandfather paved a way so that it would be easier for my mother and eventually myself one day. I am so thankful that God allowed me to be born into a family that was not just talented but a godly family as well. I’m also thankful that He allowed me to be able to share the talent with them so that I could be a part of it.”
Eaton: Is singing something you always wanted to do? How long did you have to hound mom before she let you take the stage with the group on a full-time basis?
Thompson: “I’ve always wanted to sing. I actually don’t ever remember a time when I didn’t want to sing. When I was little I used to set up my dolls and sing to them on the bus while my family was singing on stage. I actually filled in for the Nelons when our soprano singer came off of the road to get married. My mom felt like it fit because we were a family and we found out my range was actually the range of a soprano. So God had a plan the whole time.”
Eaton: You may not realize how much of a role model you are to young girls and even young people in general regarding Gospel music. Do you ever think about that?
Thompson: “I think about that all the time. It’s what motivates me to be the best that I can be to know that young girls or teenagers are watching me and learning from me. I know how blessed I was to have such great role models and because of the example they set for me it helped me become who I am today. So I strive to do the best I can not only for them but to please God as well.”
Eaton: Your family has been a part of many large Southern Gospel events (including Gaither events). What has been your all-time favorite place to sing?
Thompson: “That’s a tough one. I’ve enjoyed and seen so much. I think definitely the Gaither Homecoming Concerts would rank to the top of my list. That was always a dream for me that I wasn’t sure would ever happen. But when God allowed us to be a part of it I was thrilled. I love Bill and Gloria so much and they never cease to teach me something new each time I’m around them. They are like family to us and to be able to be on that stage with them because of who they are is an honor and a privilege. I would also say that anywhere outside the U.S. has been pretty cool too. I’ve been to Scotland, Ireland, London, Sweden, Guatemala, Mexico, etc. but probably my favorite was Paris. That was another dream of mine. To see the Eiffel Tower in real life is surreal. So cool.”
Eaton: Southern Gospel fans can be an interesting bunch. What is the most unusual/funniest thing said to you at the product table by a fan?
Thompson: “Well I had a lady come up to me and ask me, “Do you know who I am?” and i couldn’t recall her name so I said “I’m not good with names but I know who you are” and smiled. She then replied “Ok, well then how do you know me?” I could feel my face get red and panicked and I replied, “Well refresh my memory, I see so many people a day” and she said “Well I gave you a very important gift that you still have”. Now I was in trouble because I just could not remember. So finally I told her, “I’m sorry I just don’t remember”. She laughed and said “When you were born I made you a blanket and gave it to you as a gift”. We both just laughed and I said “Well no wonder I don’t remember!”
Eaton: The Nelons are working on 40 years in Southern Gospel music. Do you have an all-time favorite Nelons song? Does the group still stage the song?
Thompson: “There are so many Nelon songs that are so good. It’s hard to pick just one. But if I had to pick it would be “Oh For A Thousand Tongues”. Not a night goes by where we don’t sing that song. What an incredible lyric.”
Eaton: Is there a particular song in the group’s current set that you would be happy to stop singing, because you’ve grown tired of performing it?
Thompson: “Oh Yes! “Walk Right Out Of This Valley”! If you know my grandfather and are a fan of The Nelons, then you know why this song is not a favorite of any soprano of the Nelons. They make you sing it 4x and each time speeding up the tempo until you eventually sound like a chipmunk. I still sing it and I am very close to deleting the file, hahaha.”
Eaton: I understand you are working on a new solo recording. Can you tell us a little bit about the recording and when listeners can expect it at retail?
Thompson: “I am so excited! I just signed with Daywind Music Group to do a brand new solo project that should release in the Summer of 2014. I wasn’t sure about doing one and my family kept telling me to do it and they would help me get everything together. So here we are! We are in the process now of writing and picking songs still and then once that’s done we will go forward with everything else. I can’t wait to get it done and out for everyone to hear.”
Eaton: Your family’s dog (Sam) has become quite the celebrity. Whose initial idea was it to begin making videos with your vocal work (and your voice bringing Sam to life)?
Thompson: “My family is crazy. We are who we are no matter where we are haha. Sam has a personality all on his own. My mom and I share the same sense of humor so we would start telling each other what we thought Sam would say if he could say it. So that turned into me making this cute but sarcastic little voice and making everyone laugh. Which eventually turned into filming it so we could share it with everyone else and he became a hit. We couldn’t believe our dog became famous.”
Eaton: In closing, let our readers know a little about the Amber Thompson outside of Southern Gospel music?
Thompson: “Well most of you know I just recently got engaged to my fiancé John Risk. We met in college and dated for almost 4 years. We are getting married in June and could not be any happier or excited. I also just filmed a TV show for TLC called “Say Yes To The Dress”. It will air some time after the wedding. So be watching. I also just graduated from Bethany Divinity College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Counseling for Marriage and Family. I really wanted to work with kids who have been treated bad or are in broken homes and need help. I love kids and they really do have my heart so God allowed me to go to school so that I could use this on the road or at home. God has truly blessed me and especially this year. I’m overwhelmed and undeserving of his grace and love but I’m thankful that He cares about me and chooses to bless me.”
I want to thank Amber for stopping by for our conversations feature. I believe our staff choosing Amber as best female vocalist of 2013 is the first in many honors that will come her way in the years to come. Here is a YouTube clip (published by SouthernGospelVideos.com) of Amber and the Nelons performing “I Stand Amazed”. Enjoy!
The Holiday season is fast approaching as we turn the page to start November. To kick off another month, it is time to take a look at the five most played radio songs on my iPod over the preceding month. The Browders have another huge #1 hit, as other country flavored tunes from the LeBeaus, Johnson Edition and Wilburn & Wilburn find a place in the top five. A power house cover of a Lanny Wolfe classic by the Nelons round out the list. Enjoy!
The penultimate night of the 2013 National Quartet Convention is now in the record books. It was a full day that started with the Gaither sing-a-long this morning. Here are the nights hits and misses.
- The Gaither sing-a-long highlights (in order of appearance) were: “There Is A Fountain” (David Phelps), “Heaven’s Jubilee” (Keith Oxendine), “What A Lovely Name” (Libbi Stuffle), “I Call Him Lord” (Becky Bowman, Mark Lowry, Charlotte Ritchie) and “Glorious Freedom (GVB).
- The Gaither Vocal Band really saved the best for last when they closed the program with “It Is Finished”. It was a fitting end because nothing could have followed that performance.
- It was good to see Taranda Greene singing with the Hoppers tonight. “The Love Of God” with Dean, Kim, Taranda and Mike with just piano was amazing!
- Thank you Bill Gaither for giving Canton Junction two songs. Too bad a limited tour schedule will keep this group from reaching a larger Southern Gospel concert audience.
- I enjoyed seeing Karen Peck Gooch and Kelly Nelon singing “We Shall Wear A Robe And Crown” together. Also each group’s individual sets were very good.
- The showcase artists that performed tonight were some of the best of the week. Early on, Freedom Quartet sang “Somebody Touched The Lord” while the Browders pulled out another future #1 late in the evening with “He Is Alive”. But the showcase artist performance that stood out to me was the Wilbanks and their fantastic performance of the 23rd Psalm. Unlike anything I have ever heard!
- As with most Friday nights at NQC, the program ran over.
- The free night interview cut-ins, cut out some of what was happening including the Penny Loafers and the opening to Karen Peck & New River’s set.
- I believe this was the first time in the ten years since they started staging it that the Hoppers didn’t perform “Jerusalem” at NQC.
- Performances that seemed to fall flat (at least from viewing it via webcam), in order of appearance are as follows: Dennis Family (“I’ve Got Joy”) and Rick Webb Family (“Joy To The World”).
**Now to crown the best of the night:
Best single song performances (in order of appearance): (1) “I’m Glad I’m Saved” – Bowling Family (2) “The Lord Is My Shepherd” – Wilbanks (3) “More Than Wonderful” – Nelons (4) “The Love Of God” – Hoppers (5) “If That Isn’t Love” – Isaacs (6) “On The Banks Of The Promised Land” – Karen Peck & New River (7) “The Son Shines Down On Me” – Canton Junction (8) “That Sounds Like Home To Me” – Gaither Vocal Band (9) “The King Is Coming” – Mark Trammell Quartet (8) “Get Up, Get Ready” – Gold City (8) “He Is Alive” – Browders (9) “I Know A Man Who Can” – Greater Vision (8) “It Is Finished” – Gaither Vocal Band
Best Set of the Night: This was a tough one because there were several strong sets to choose from, but if I was combining their entire set with the closing number I would give it to the Gaither Vocal Band.
The Nelons was built out of the legacy Rex Nelon created as a member of the LeFevres. Rex spent 20 years singing bass with the LeFevres. When Eva Mae decided to come off the road in 1977, Rex Nelon took over the group and changed the name to the Rex Nelon Singers.
That first group was composed of Rex (bass), Kelly (alto), Janet Paschal (soprano) and Rodney Swain (lead). The group found immediate success with their first album, The Sun’s Coming Up. This song still remains a signature song for the group.
The Rex Nelon Singers would pick up their first #1 song in 1980 with “Come Morning”. That same year they recorded a song that would become another signature for the group, “We Shall Wear A Robe And Crown”.
By the time they released their 1985 album, In One Accord, the Rex Nelon Singers was shortened to the Nelons. The music the Nelons created in the 1980’s has left an indelible mark on the music we hear in Southern Gospel music in 2013.
Today’s generation of the Nelons continue with Kelly, daughter Amber and husband Jason.
- The number of times a mixed/family Southern Gospel artist has staged “We Shall Wear A Robe And Crown” over the course of the last thirty years is testament enough of the mark the Nelons influence has left on Southern Gospel.
- The music the Nelons were creating in the 1980’s can/could be seen in the following artists: Beene Family, Bledsoes, Browns, Collingsworth Family, Crist Family, Dills, Johnson Edition, Lesters, LordSong and Taylors.
- The Nelons also saw Dan Clark, Karen Peck Gooch, David Hill, Paul Lancaster, Todd Nelon, Lamar Newton, Katy Peach, Charlotte Ritchie, Amy Roth, Jeff Stice, Jerry Thompson and Stan Whitmire spend time with the group.
- Hit Songs: “All That Matters”, “Bring My Children Home”, “Come Morning”, “Covered By The Blood”, “He Called Me Out”, “He Rolled Back The Stone”, “He’s The Calm Before The Storm”, “Holy Is The Name”, “I Choose The Lord”, “I Want To Be Like My Lord”, “I’ll Just Lay It Down And Leave It”, “I’ll Talk To My Father”, “I’m Glad I Know Who Jesus Is”, “I’m Gonna Keep Walking”, “I’m On My Way”, “I’ve Got A Right”, “Jesus Is Alive And Well”, “Jesus Is Your Ticket To Heaven”, “Leaning Place”, “Let The Redeemed Say So”, “Love Of God For Me”, “Moment I’m Gone”, “More Than Conquerors”, “No More Tears”, “O For A Thousand Tongues”, “Settled At The Cross”, “The Sun’s Coming Up”, “Take Off Those Rags Lazarus”, “Thanks”, “That’s Enough”, “That’s Why I Love To Call His Name”, “There Is A Way”, “There’ s More Where That Came From”, “Waiting On The Word”, “We Shall Overcome”, “We Shall Wear A Robe And Crown”, “We Speak Your Name”, “Wedding Day”, “Well Done My Child”, “What A Change”, “When I Receive My Robe And Crown”, “Where Sin Has Been Pardoned” and “You Ain’t Seen The Last Of Jesus”.
- Best Album: Get Ready (1988)
Here is a YouTube clip, from our MusicScribeBlog channel, of the Nelons performing one of their biggest hits; “O For A Thousand Tongues”. Enjoy