Southern Gospel Clones

In the case of today’s post, a clone is an artist that duplicates, imitates or closely resembles another artist in appearance, performance or style.

Today’s post is not meant to be a bad thing (as in the myriad of carbon copy artists in the industry), but one that will take a Southern Gospel artist from the past and match them to an artist of today that best resembles/carries on the sound of the great artist of the past.  I will continue this feature with several more posts.

  • Downings match is the Taylors
  • Florida Boys match is Freedom Quartet
  • Happy Goodmans match is the Perrys
  • Hinsons match is the Hinson Family
  • Mid South Boys match is Akins
  • Oak Ridge Boys match is Triumphant

So with the artists in today’s grouping, do you agree with my choices or do you feel other artists match closer to the great artists of the past?


Song Hall Of Fame: “King Jesus”

Hall of Fame (350x202)It is time to honor another of Southern Gospel’s greatest compositions by placing it into the Southern Gospel song hall of fame.

Today’s inductee goes back to 1973; “King Jesus”.  A slew of artists recorded the song during this time but it was one rendition that became the most popular.  That rendition was from the Oak Ridge Boys.

The song was found on the group’s 1973 album, Street Gospel.  A year later (1974) the Oak Ridge Boys would record a live version of “King Jesus” on Gospel Gold.

Maurice Delamont is honored by writing this Southern Gospel classic.

Least Remarkable Song Series – #6

oaks1969thanksmaxThis week, ranked 6th among the least remarkable songs recorded in the history of Southern Gospel music is a song titled, “Mama’s Hungry Eyes”.

Country music legend Merle Haggard penned this country tune that went to #1 on Billboard’s country singles chart in 1969.  It was the first single from his 1968 recording, A Portrait Of Merle Haggard and became one of the biggest songs of his career.

While a great country record, it didn’t quite translate to the Gospel music audience when recorded by the Oak Ridge Boys on their 1969 recording, Thanks.  The first time I heard the song, I thought it was about a women who left her family because her husband wasn’t providing her luxuries in life.  I know, Merle’s story behind the song doesn’t translate to my initial reaction.

The only other Gospel quartet to record this song was the Blue Ridge Quartet in 1970.

VOTE: Hall Of Fame (Individual) and Vocal Collaboration

INVITATIONToday begins voting for the 2nd annual Southern Gospel Views from the Back Row honors.  Today, you vote for vocal collaboration and hall of fame (individual).  Polls will be open for one week.  I am also allowing one vote per person per day.  So come back each day for a week and vote for who you consider to be the best of 2015.  Click the link on each nominee to see an audio/video of the nominees.

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

  1. “Another Time, Another Place” – Gary Driskell; recorded by Amber Nelon Thompson (Just Sing); joined by Michael English
  2. “Heaven In Your Heart” – Joseph Habedank/Marcia Henry/Matt Price; recorded by Shane Dunlap (Love So Amazing); joined by Sonya Isaacs
  3. Sweet Jesus” – Merle Haggard/Kenny Vernon; recorded by the Oak Ridge Boys (Rock Of Ages: Hymns And Gospel Favorites); joined by Merle Haggard
  4. “Time Has Made A Change” – Harkins Fry; recorded by the Perrys (Sing); joined by Kelly Nelon Clark/Karen Peck Gooch
  5. “Without Your Love” – Jason Clark/Joel Lindsey; recoded by Amber Nelon Thompson (Just Sing); joined by Joseph Habedank

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

  1. Sheri Easter (Artist/Songwriter)
  2. William Lee Golden (Artist)
  3. Karen Peck Gooch (Artist/Songwriter)
  4. Dianne Wilkinson (Songwriter)
  5. Gerald Wolfe (Artist)

Top Ten Back Then

5Mag (175x175)In this week’s top ten back then selection, we travel back 41 years to October 1974.  The song that came in at #5 on the Singing News top 40 chart for the month was the Oak Ridge Boys; “What A Time We Will Have Over There”.

The song, penned by Richard and Vivian Reid was found on the group’s first album (self titled) for Columbia Records, released in 1974.  This was also the first album to feature Joe Bonsall on the tenor.

1974 (175x140)This was the highest the song would reach on the top 40 chart.  This also happened to be the first Oak Ridge Boys album to feature the four vocalists still traveling with the group today; Joe Bonsall, Duane Allen, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban.

Here is a YouTube clip of the song that landed at #5 in October 1974; the Oak Ridge Boys, “What A Time We Will Have Over There”.

*Video Credit (DJ Wagner)

Ten On Ten (Redux) – Oak Ridge Boys

orb1974hymnsmaxThis week the ten on ten (redux) will re-visit the Oak Ridge Boys. On January 24th, 2012, I presented the original ten on ten feature for the Oak Ridge Boys highlighting the group’s ten best albums.  Since that time the group has released Back Home Again (2012) and Rock Of Ages: Hymns & Gospel Favorites (2015).  Neither album changed the original top ten list.  This redux feature will shine the spotlight on the three lowest ranking albums of the group’s career.  First, the original list highlighting the group’s ten best recordings.

  1. Performance (1971)
  2. Light (1972)
  3. Sky High (1975)
  4. From The Heart (2001)
  5. Jesus Christ, What A Man (1971)
  6. You’ll Never Walk Alone (1961)
  7. International (1970)
  8. The Solid Gospel Sound Of (1965)
  9. It’s Happening (1969)
  10. I Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now (1964)

The lowest ranked albums in the Oak Ridge Boys discography are as follows:

  1. Hymns (1974)
  2. The Boys Are Back (2009)
  3. He Whispers Sweet Peace To Me (1962)

Rock Of Ages: Hymns And Gospel Favorites – Oak Ridge Boys

OaksGRADE:  B-

  • Album – Rock Of Ages: Hymns And Gospel Favorites
  • Artist – Oak Ridge Boys
  • Label – Gaither Gospel
  • Style – Country
  • Release Date – 05/26/15
  • Available For Digital Download? – Yes (Apple Music/Spotify)


Joe Bonsall (tenor), 42 years; Duane Allen (lead), 50 years; William Lee Golden (baritone), 42 years; Richard Sterban (bass), 43 years.  You can see how long these four gentlemen have been performing together and have been members of the Oak Ridge Boys.  Unmatched by any other quartet in Gospel music.

2015 finds the release of Rock Of Ages: Hymns And Gospel Favorites; a fifteen song, all Gospel collection of song covers.  The only reason the album received the rating it did is because the songs included have been heard a hundred times before.

The group uses their country-style, mastered over the last 35 years to create an enjoyable listen.


  • The top musical moment for me is the group’s duet with Merle Haggard on “Sweet Jesus”.  This song was a co-write of Merle with Kenny Vernon.  This is one of two not so familiar tunes that listeners may not know.  Duane tackles the first verse while Merle takes the second.  A must listen!
  • William Lee Golden is one of those vocalists I could never tire of listening.  The way he conveys a song to the audience has always been one of his biggest strengths as a performer.  Even though “Angel Band” has been recorded more times than one can count, William Lee seems to add that special touch that makes the song that much more enjoyable.
  • William Lee also shines on the Southern Gospel quartet classic, “Time Has Made A Change In Me”.
  • Richard has several features, but none better than on the second verse of “Rock Of Ages”.  His bass voice remains strong and can still take a lead on a song without the listener needing to figure out what he’s singing.
  • Duane turns in a strong performance on the classic, “Hold To God’s Unchanging Hand”.  This song was chosen as the first radio single from the album.  Duane gets some help from the Isaacs on the albums closing number; “Peace Within”.  A newer song that needs a listen.
  • I can’t leave Joe out of the mix.  He really out does himself on the seldom heard Charles Wesley song, “Father I Stretch My Hands To Thee”.  I couldn’t even tell you the last time I heard this song recorded.  A great find and choice to record.
  • Strongest songs included in order:  “Sweet Jesus”, “Father I Stretch My Hands To Thee”, “Angel Band”, “Peace Within”, “Rock Of Ages”, “Hold To God’s Unchanging Hand”, “Time Has Made A Change In Me” and “Just A Little Talk With Jesus”.
  • There are several songs on Rock Of Ages that have been so over recorded, the group can’t add anything fresh to the arrangement.  They include “Blessed Assurance”, “In The Garden” and “There Is Power In The Blood”.
  • Weakest songs included in order:  “Blessed Assurance”, “In The Garden” and “There Is Power In The Blood”.


It is great to hear a group that has been performing together for 42 years still recording great music.  I don’t want to let my rating scare you away from giving this album a listen.  Even though the majority of the songs on Rock Of Ages have been recorded more times than they probably should be, the Oak Ridge Boys give each one their musical touch.

SONG/Featured Vocalist – Songwriter:  1. “In The Sweet By And By”/Ensemble – Sanford Bennett, Joseph Webster  2. “Rock Of Ages“/Ensemble; Richard – Thomas Hastings, Augustus Toplady  3. “Sweet Jesus”/Duane w/Merle Haggard – Merle Haggard, Kenny Vernon  4. “Angel Band”/William – Jefferson Hascall  5. “There Is Power In The Blood”/Ensemble; Duane – Lewis Jones  6. “In The Garden”/Ensemble; Richard – C Austin Miles  7. “Hold To God’s Unchanging Hand”/Duane – Franklin Eiland, Jennie Wilson  8. “I Love To Tell The Story”/Joe – William Fischer, A Katherine Hankey  9. “Life’s Railway To Heaven”/Ensemble – ME Abbey, Charles Tillman  10. “Time Has Made A Change In Me”/William – Harkin Frye  11. “Blessed Assurance”/Ensemble; Richard – Fanny Crosby, Phoebe Knapp  12. “Father, I Stretch My Hands To Thee”/Joe – Charles Wesley  13. “Farther Along”/Duane – JR Baxter Jr, WB Stevens  14. “Just A Little Talk With Jesus”/Ensemble – Cleavant Derricks  15. “Peace Within”/Duane w/the Isaacs – Dickey Lee, Allen Reynolds, Susan Taylor