May 7, 2012 Leave a comment
In what is most certainly one of the most shocking departures in SG in quite a while, long time Dixie Echoes pianist Stewart Varnado has announced his departure from the group via his Facebook page (hat tip, DM). Varnado states:
I’d like to thank the Dixie Echoes for allowing me the opportunity to live out my dream for the past 14 years. I joined the group when I was 17 years old. Randy and Scoot Shelnut have became like family to me, and it’s been a blast traveling with some great guys through the years. I realize that when people put out statements saying they want to spend more time at home, it seems to be a cover for unhappiness within the group. That is not the case here. I simply have the desire to come off the road for a while. I wish nothing but the best for the Dixie Echoes, and pray that one day, if it’s God’s will, I can return to Gospel music. I have no future plans at the moment and will be filling in for the group until a replacement has been found. Thanks also to the many friends that I have made while traveling! It has been an honor to get to meet so many fine people. I will still be active behind the scenes promoting the music that I love. Anyone interested in auditioning should contact Randy Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Varnado has become a fixture in the SG community, and especially in the online SG community. His playing is top notch, though that really goes without saying, and we as a genre are losing quite a talent with Stewart leaving the road. His statement regarding promoting seems to mean we will still see and hear more from him, just in a different fashion. Best wishes to you, Stewart, you are a class act. Please be in prayer for both Stewart and the Dixie Echoes as they embark on a search for a new pianist.