NQC Final Round Ballot

Here are my votes for the final round, with necessary changes listed.  I had a hard time choosing a soprano last round, so I switched votes on that category so that I have voted for each of my choices once.  I know the results don’t work that way, but it eases my troubled mind.  I honestly couldn’t just choose one or the other, I think both are deserving. :)

  • Bass – Tim Riley
  • Baritone – Mark Trammell
  • Lead – Joseph Habedank (Bill Shivers not in the list)
  • Tenor – Brian Free (Gus Gaches not in the list)
  • Soprano – Brooklyn Collingsworth Blair
  • Alto – Libbi Stuffle (Courtney C. Metz not in the list)
  • Soloist – TaRanda Greene (Steve Ladd not in the list)
  • Male Group – Booth Brothers (Gold City not in the list)
  • Mixed Group – Collingsworth Family
  • Musician – Jeff Stice
  • Album – Let It Be Known, Booth Brothers
  • Song – “Blue Skies Coming”, Perrys (“On The Banks… not in the list)

There you have it!  Mileage may vary….

“Super High Tenors”: The End Of An Era?

Daniel Mount has an interesting post today that asks the question “Has the era of the super high tenor in SG ended?”  He gives a brief summary of three “eras” of tenor singing philosophy: the early classical trained era (think Bobby Clark, Sherill Nielson, Denver Crumpler, Bill Shaw), the super high era (Ernie Phillips, Brian Free, Jay Parrack are his examples) and the current power, belting style tenor (Danny Funderburk, Ernie Haase, Harold Reed).

It is striking to see the lack of the “super high” tenors today, especially among the younger generation of tenor singers.  I agree with Daniel’s assertion that the super high tenor era has ended, and I’ll go as far to pinpoint when.  Two things occurred that marked the end of this era:

  1. Jay Parrack’s departure from Gold City
  2. Jerry Martin’s departure from the Kingsmen

Parrack and Martin will go down as the last, and arguably the best, of the dominant super high tenors.  Parrack has all but disappeared from SG completely, having served as a minister of music since his Gold City days and only making intermittent appearances since then.  His replacement, Steve Ladd, started out emulating Parrack’s style to an extent, but it wasn’t long before he started employing more of a power style, and less of the ultra high notes.  Subsequent Gold City tenors have followed that same style, notably Josh Cobb and Brent Mitchell.

Martin left the Kingsmen and joined the Dove Brothers, whose songs were keyed much lower than the Kingsmen.  While the jury is still somewhat out on if he returns to that style to a great extent with the Kingdom Heirs, his first CD with them did not feature any “super high” notes from him, and while he will still do it occasionally in concert (a la the second verse of “Look For Me At Jesus’ Feet), as Daniel posits, Jerry has been moving toward the power, belting style of tenor singing.

One thing that doesn’t come out in Daniel’s post is that while there have been more prevalent styles of tenor singing, all 3 of these approaches have always seemed to exist in SG music.  Willie Wynn was an ultra high tenor all through his tenure with the Oak Ridge Boys, Lew Garrison was the same with the Prophets.  Bill Baize was a power tenor back in the early to mid 70s with the Stamps.  Today, John Rulapaugh can be considered a throwback to the classically trained sound.  You can tend to find tenors to fit all three categories in any era.  I’d also posit that Wynn was the primary catalyst for the move toward the ultra high tenor sound, long before Ernie Phillips.  A listen to either of the “live” versions of the Oak Ridge Boys singing “Jesus Is Coming Soon” is more than enough to cement his place.  Johnny Parrack also was heavily responsible for the switch, especially due to the huge popularity of the Kingsmen’s “Big and Live” project.

What do you think?  Has this era ended?  Are you glad to see it go, or will you miss the thrill of seeing how far up the tenors can go?  Can you think of any new “super high” tenors in SG today?

Brian Free’s Mom Passes Away

Brian Free posted the following on the BFA Facebook page.  Please be in prayer for the Free family as this follows so closely on the heels of his Dad’s passing back in the fall.

At 9:45 pm est. time tonight, my precious Mom went home to be with Jesus.  She’s up in heaven with my Dad.  She took her last breath with a smile on her face.  She must have seen the face of Jesus as he welcomed her home.  Thank you all for your prayers and posts.  Keep my family in your prayers.  Brian

Prayer Requested For Brian Free’s Mother

According to Brian Free and Assurance’s Facebook page, Brian’s mother suffered a massive stroke over the weekend.  At last report she was not conscious and her brain was still experiencing some swelling.  As you may remember, Brian lost his dad back in the fall.  Please be in prayer for Brian’s mom and the entire Free family.

Prayer For Brian Free

A while back, a prayer request went out for Brian Free’s father, who was injured in a fall.  Brian’s dad has continued to have his health deteriorate.  Brian just posted the following update on the group’s Facebook page:

They are moving my Dad to Hospice today.  His condition has worsened.  Only a few days left now till he sees Jesus.  It’s gonna be hard to let him go though.  I’ve learned so much from him in my life.  Please pray for my family in the coming days.

Keep Brian, his dad, and the rest of his family in your prayers in the coming days and weeks.

Gold City Reunion at NQC

Brian Free just posted on the BFA Facebook page that he, Ivan Parker, Mike Lefevre, Tim Riley, and Garry Jones will be doing two songs as a Gold City reunion at noon on the Saturday of NQC.  GREAT news!  Here’s to hope that a full fledged reunion (and DVD/CD recording) will be in the works!

YouTube Clip #26 – Gold City 1992

I came across this great clip today of Gold City from 1992.  This is the fine line up that recorded “Pillars of Faith and Acapella Gold.”  From left to right you have Brian Free on tenor, Ivan Parker on lead, Steve Lacey on baritone, and Tim Riley on bass.  Band members are Garry Jones on the keys, Mark Fain on bass guitar, and Doug Riley on the drums.

The first song, featuring Steve Lacey, is off the Pillars of Faith project.  The following song was recorded on a live project before Ivan Parker and way before Steve Lacey were in the group so it was neat to hear this combination of guys singing it.

GMC’s New Show: Four

In a press release from the NQC, Gospel Music Channel’s new show “Four”, hosted by Brian Free, premieres next Wednesday, Feb. 25 and features performances by four groups culled from footage of NQC ’08.  This will be a weekly show on Wednesday nights at 10:00 PM Eastern.  I hate that GMC is not available on Dish, I’ve enjoyed watching the NQC performances on INSP’s Gospel Music Southern Style, and will miss seeing the 2008 performances.  However, this new show seems to be creating some nice hype, and I think Free is an excellent choice for a host.  Here’s hoping the show does amazingly well.  Maybe Dish will add GMC sometime soon.

Hidden Gems: Brian Free & Assurance – “Find Time”

Now this may be the most obscure hidden gem I’ve posted yet.  This song comes off the Brian Free & Assurance Requests project, which was a table project recorded by the original trio lineup of Free, Kevin Price, and Mike Lefevre.  This song features Price on all but the last line of each verse (those are sung by Brian), and features some incredibly smooth vocals from the trio on the chorus.  This is a very strong song lyrically that will challenge you to keep up with your quiet time with God.  This song is very progressive, almost more of a MOR or AC style song, but that was what this particular combination of singers did the best.  This is a great song on an obscure table project, the very definition of a “hidden gem”.  If you’re fortunate enough to have a copy of this project, pull it out and spin this song up again, it’s a great one!

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