RIP Lorenzen Wright: 1975-2010

Longtime readers will know that I am a huge sports nut, especially of my local Memphis teams, the Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA, and my alma mater, the University of Memphis.  The Memphis community suffered a tragedy yesterday when the body of Lorenzen Wright, who had been missing for over a week, was discovered.  “Ren”, as he was affectionately known, was about 2 years older than me, and he was a standout high school basketball player here in Memphis before attending Memphis State, as it was known at the time.  I remember his college days well, he wore #55 and played two years with the Tigers before entering the NBA draft after his sophomore year.  He was a lottery pick by the LA Clippers, played afterwards with the Atlanta Hawks, and then in 2001 was traded to his hometown Memphis Grizzlies, in their first year here.  Lorenzen actually modeled the jersey (#42) that was revealed before the start of the season.  He played for the Grizzlies until 2006, when he was traded again.

I wish I could find the digital version, but I’ve got a picture at my office of my first Grizzlies game that I attended, it’s an action shot, right after a free throw, and there is Lorenzen boxing out his man preparing to grab a rebound.  Wright played at all levels with a level of desire and determination that couldn’t be matched, and gave back immensely to his community.  He still had a home here, and frequently communicated with and visited his 6 kids.  He also lost an infant daughter to SIDS back in 2003, while playing with the Grizzlies, and it was touching to see how the entire community rallied around Ren and his family.

Rest in Peace, Lorenzen Wright.  Thoughts and prayers go out to his family in their time of grief.

New Blogger: Steve Eaton

Those of you readers who frequent SG message board sites will know the username Seaton.  Steve has now thrown his hat into the blogging ring.  His first couple of posts are very promising, and he already has the sharpest looking blog around.  You can find his thoughts here.  Welcome to blogging, Steve!

Great American Gospel

Daystar has had a new show the past couple weeks or so following their Gospel Music Showcase with Tammy Underwood. It’s called Great American Gospel, and is hosted by Ed O’Neal. It’s a very well produced show, and O’Neal does a pretty good job as the host. He has the charm and outgoing personality that pulls such a task off fairly well. As far as talent goes, I’ve seen the now defunct Blackwood Quartet with Ron Blackwood, the Dixie Melody Boys, and the Dixie Echoes, among others. Does anyone know about this show? Where and when is it taped? It’s at least fairly recent, as the copyright date is 2010, but Pat Barker was with the Dixie Echoes, so the performances are at least several months old by now. It really is a well done show, I’ve enjoyed watching it, so whoever is responsible, keep up the good work, and hopefully some of the more upper-tier groups will participate.

The Modern Day Larnelle and Sandi

We were watching Gaither’s “Classic Gospel” PBS special last Saturday night, and one of the featured performances was Natalie Grant singing “I Am Not Alone” from 2002, I believe. I really don’t listen to much CCM, especially since the days of vocal group prominence like 4Him, Point of Grace, FFH, and Avalon seem to be dwindling. So I had heard of Natalie, and heard a few songs when I’ve listened to K-LOVE on occasion, but I wasn’t all that familiar with her. That being said, I was impressed with her performance. She has a huge, powerful voice with great range.

I turned to my wife and said, “You know, she would sound incredible doing a duet with David Phelps.” I don’t know, maybe they’ve even done one before, but I can’t help but think that those two would give Larnelle Harris and Sandi Patty a run for their money…

Lauren Talley Offering Free Download

Lauren Talley recently released her fourth solo project, entitled Songs In The Night.  Her current, and freshly released, single from the CD is “In Christ Alone.”  You can download the song for free here.  This is only available for a limited time, so you have to download it by the end of the day on Monday, July 26. THIS PROMOTION HAS ENDED.

Additionally, there is a live video performance of this song available on Lauren’s website here.  By signing up for her newsletter, you can also receive a free download of the title track to her new project.  It’s a very solid CD, and is on my list of projects waiting for me to review.

It’s good to see more artists doing this as a way to create interest in their work.

Doug Oldham Passes Away

Mark Lowry is reporting on his Twitter page that Doug Oldham has passed away.  Prayers and sympathy to his family as the SG world mourns the passing of another legend.

Two SG Legends In Need Of Prayer

Daniel Mount has the scoop on both of these.  George Amon Webster, formerly of the Cathedrals and now with the Toney Brothers, fell down some stairs and has a crushed elbow that is requiring surgery.  Also, Doug Oldham also fell recently and is requiring surgery for a broken back.  In his case, the surgery is particularly risky due to Oldham’s advanced age and health.  For those unfamiliar with Doug Oldham, he is a soloist who spent a lot of time and recordings alongside the Speer Family, and he was also the first person to record the Gaither classic, “He Touched Me.”

Please pray for both of these men and their families as they recover from their injuries.

Review: Legacy Five – Just Stand

This project is interesting in that there are two versions available.  It was originally released with Frank Seamans late last year, and then when Frank left the group, Gus Gaches re-recorded the tenor vocals and the project was re-released with Gus, keeping the existing vocals by Scott Fowler, Scott Howard, Glenn Dustin, and Tim Parton.  Gus told me he was given the masters to the project, and he recorded his vocals at his home studio over a period of several weeks between traveling dates.  Lari Goss produced the album for Legacy 5.  The only copy I have is the Gus version.

Tracks:

  1. Newborn Feeling – This is an upbeat, jazzy rendition of the old classic.  It’s very reminiscent of the arrangement that Goss did back in the 90s for Friends IV.  It’s a great arrangement, and the chorus puts the melody in the tenor line, so the difference in sound between Gus and Frank is quickly obvious.  Frank had sharper, more forceful tones, while Gus has a more rounded, smoother sound.  This is a great album opener.  9/10
  2. Great Is Thy Faithfulness – This hymn, one of my favorites, and is given the epic Lari Goss ballad treatment.  They actually start with the chorus full force then ratchet down to a trio of Glenn Dustin, Scott Howard, and Scott Fowler for the first verse.  The melody actually moves in and out between the two Scotts.  The key changes and Gus sings the second verse solo, and he absolutely drills it while showing some nice upper range.  His smoother tones don’t indicate a lack of power in his voice, and that is easily illustrated here.  The chorus is reprised once with the full quartet, then again with the two Scotts taking the first two lines as solos, then the key changes again.  They build to a false tag, another key change and then use a couple of solo lines from Scott Fowler and Gus Gaches before tagging the song.  It’s a HUGE arrangement, and is absolutely incredible.  A highlight of the album.  10/10
  3. One Thing God Can’t Do – This song is a total departure from the previous cut.  This is an acoustic driven mid-tempo ballad style song that features Tim Parton.  While Tim may not have the most polished voice that you’ve ever heard, his voice carries a genuineness and raw emotional quality that makes him a very effective communicator.  It’s a great lyric by Kelly Goolsby and Kristopher Horton that is given a beautiful treatment.  8.5/10
  4. Just Stand – Written by Doran Ritchey, this song was originally recorded a couple of years ago by the Liberty Quartet.  Legacy Five gives it a bit fuller arrangement that is brass and guitar driven.  It’s a mid to up tempo song that features some great bass singing from Glenn Dustin with the quartet providing backing vocals on the chorus.  This song seems to have been written for Dustin, he really carries it well and it comes through on the recording that he’s having a blast with it.  After the second chorus there’s an instrumental break, then the melody and countermelody are reversed between Dustin and the rest of the quartet, and Glenn smacks a really nice low note before the key changes, the parts revert back to the original sequencing and the song builds to the tag.  Great cut.  9.5/10
  5. Faithful To The Cross – Another big ballad  that starts softly and gradually builds through the song.    Kenna Turner West and Lee Black contributed this song, and it’s an incredibly strong lyric that points to the Cross and call of Christ being the most important thing in our lives.  Scott Fowler sings the first verse, then Gus Gaches takes the melody on the chorus.  Fowler again takes the lead on the second chorus, and it’s an interesting dynamic between his voice on the verses and Gaches’ on the chorus, and it works very well.  Fowler sells the verses very well, and Gaches nails the chorus.   There’s a really powerful bridge that features Gaches singing some solo lines, changing keys and repeating the chorus leading to a great tag.  The harmony is gorgeous and the arrangement builds at just the right pace.  This may be my favorite song on the disc.  10/10
  6. Above All Circumstances – This is a flowing mid tempo number that features Scott Howard.  I’ve long though that Howard reminded me a bit of Mark Trammell both in vocal sound and approach when Trammell is staying in the baritone range.  Stephanie McKenna and Debbie Ponceti contributed this song, and it’s a great message that is performed very well by Howard and the rest of the group.  There’s not anything really flashy here, but it’s a very solid song.  8/10
  7. When They Found Nothing – This is another “epic” style ballad written by Marty Funderburk, Beverly Lowry, James Isaac Elliot and Melissa R. Bishop.  There is at least one powerful YouTube of the group with Gaches singing this song, with Fowler reading some scripture during the extended introduction.  Fowler sings the first verse solo, and it includes an unexpected and non-traditional key change leading into the chorus with Gus taking the melody.  This is a GREAT song with an incredibly powerful message and arrangement.  After the chorus, Gus leads the group into a powerful bridge that changes the key again, and not to an expected key again.  It’s a very interesting arrangement with some unexpected twists in the chord progression.  Another one of my favorites on the disc.  10/10
  8. My Soul Is Firmly Anchored – This uptempo song was written by Woody Wright, and was also recorded by Paid In Full on their latest disc.  Where Paid In Full uses a slower, more driving country sound, Legacy Five speeds the song up and gives it more of a convention style feel.  There’s some nice background harmonies behind Scott Fowler on the first verse.  After a chorus, Scott Howard and Gus Gaches split the second verse with some nice harmony behind Gaches when he takes the lead.  This is a great toe-tapper, and is sure to be a big hit in concert.  There’s a nice false ending leading to a true convention chorus with all 4 parts splitting into different directions and coming back together for the tag.  9.5/10
  9. Statement Of Faith – Clocking in at over 7 minutes, this ballad from Wes Tuttle features Legacy Five, the Booth Brothers, Greater Vision, and the Hoppers.  It’s an interesting idea to include this song, as it seems to be almost a “state of the ministry” address from these artists.  The verses are split between various singers as solo lines, but there are so many I am not even going to try and hazard a guess as to who is doing what.  Lyrically this is a strong statement about the basic tenets of the Christian faith.  I can’t help but be reminded of Michael Booth’s comments about wanting to find songs that were more doctrinally focused for their Declaration project, which includes this song, but with the verses rerecorded by the Booth Brothers themselves.  This may not get much radio play due to its length, but it’s a very important song as a “creed” for each of the participating groups.  9/10
  10. Thankful For The Change – This is a nice uptempo from Mark Chadwick, Landy Gardner, and Michael D. Popham that provides a nice change of pace from the previous song.  It moves along at a nice clip with some nice chord progressions in the song.  It’s got just a hint of a jazzy feel with some brass backing.  Again there’s not a lot flashy here, but it’s just a solid, enjoyable song.  8.5/10
  11. ‘Til We Meet Again – Elizabeth Goodine and Lacy Schwien contribute this pretty song that serves as a great album closer.  Scott Howard, Scott Fowler and Gus Gaches share solo lines on the first verse.  The chorus features some softer, pretty harmony from the quartet.  Gus takes the second verse solo, and delivers a great performance.  It’s somewhat similar to his feature on the Lefevre Quartet’s Nothing But Good CD, “You’re Never Too Far Away”, which is still one of my favorite songs that he sings.  The song builds throughout the bridge to a higher level of intensity, only to come back down to a soft tag with some nice harmony.  It’s a great close to the disc.  8.5/10

Overall:  9.5 Once again a group has struck gold by working with Lari Goss on an album.  This is easily Legacy Five’s best CD since at least Monuments, and really it even surpasses that album.  Gus told me that it was a bit of a challenge for him, as he had to record his parts on this album on his own, without the interaction that is normally found with the other group members in the studio.  Well Gus, you met and handily defeated that challenge.  This is an album full of strong songs.  Lari Goss and Legacy Five did a masterful job of picking out songs that fit the group, and stretched themselves a bit musically.  While these songs were chosen for Frank Seamans to record, Gus Gaches does a masterful job of making the songs sound like his own.  Scott Fowler does a masterful job carrying the lead, and I’ll admit I wasn’t a huge Scott Howard fan in the earlier days of Legacy Five, but he has proven himself as a great baritone in recent days.  Glenn Dustin is a top-notch bass singer, and Tim Parton has really excelled in the challenge of succeeding Roger Bennett with the group.  There isn’t a weak link in this group.  There’s enough variety on this disc that anyone can find songs that they like.  The arrangements are great, the lyrics are strong, the messages are timely, and it all comes together for a great CD, one that should definitely be added to your collection.  Great job by all who were involved.

New Inspirations CD

When it was announced that Jodi Hosterman was going to be the new tenor for The Inspirations, there was much discussion since his style differed so much from his 2 predecessors.  However, some YouTube videos have shown that Jodi is fitting in nicely with the group.  The Inspirations are staying true to their classic style but with an updated sound.  It was announced yesterday in the email newsletter by Crossroads that the first release featuring Jodi is available through download now or purchase on August 18th.  You can order and also listen to clips here.

From The World Of Twitter

Sorry for my lack of blogging lately, but things have gotten a bit busy in the real world here recently.  I thought I’d give you all some quick hits from Twitter and Facebook…

  • The Perrys are in the studio cutting vocals for their newest project.
  • Tracking has begun at Crossroads for a new Talley Trio CD.
  • Wes Hampton is continuing work on his solo CD, and has just recorded a choir for one of the cuts.
  • The Lefevre Quartet is recording a live DVD here in the Memphis area on Sunday night.

Hopefully we can return to our regulary scheduled blogging soon, including a review of the Gus Gaches version of Legacy Five’s Just Stand.

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