Forgotten Albums: Kingdom Heirs – Forever Gold

The Kingdom Heirs have released numerous strong albums over their long career, especially since Arthur Rice joined up with the group in the mid to late 90s.  Albums like Anchored, The Journey Home, and True To The Call have found their place in the genre.  Forever Gold, however, seems to be largely forgotten.  It’s a shame, as this is a great album. It was the first mainline album to feature David Sutton as tenor, and the only mainline release to feature former Gold City member Steve Lacey as lead. Baritone Steve French and bass Eric Bennett round out the vocal lineup on the album.

The album starts of with a jazzy tinged song called “Makin’ A New Start”, that is a decidedly Gold City-esque tune that lets Steve Lacey and David Sutton step out a bit.  I’ve always been a huge Lacey fan, both with Gold City and the Kingdom Heirs.  He had an incredibly smooth voice that I miss hearing in SG.  There’s a very solid rendition of “Lord Do It Again” that again begs a GC comparison, as both quartets recorded this song at about the same time.  David Sutton does a great job on the lead on the chorus, and Eric Bennett, who had only been with the Kingdom Heirs for a couple years, was already displaying his adeptness at bass leads.  Lacey shines on a big ballad called “Let Freedom Ring.”  “Supernatural Man Who Can” is a bit of a gimmicky type lyric, but it’s solid enough.  One of the big highlights is the shimmering acappella “When Jesus Breaks The Morning.”  The harmonies are fantastic, as is the arrangement.  This was probably the smoothest blend the Kingdom Heirs have ever had.

The huge hit on this album was the Squire Parsons penned “I Go To The Rock Of Ages”.  The Hoppers also recorded a popular version of this song, but this one is my favorite.  It’s become a bit of a minor classic as many regional groups started singing the song.  In fact, a certain blogger may have played and sung this with his family a time or two, you never can tell.  🙂 “He Had To Hold To Calvary” is another highlight of the recording, thought it is a bit long at 6:01, David Sutton’s vocal holds you captive the entire time.  Sutton has always been fantastic at tenor ballads, and this is one of the earliest examples.  It’s a terrific song, and a riveting performance by the group.  There’s a laid back version of “Love Will Roll The Clouds Away”, or at least it’s laid back compared to the Kingsmen’s versions of the song.  The recording ends with an acoustic flavored version of the CCM hit by Phillips, Craig, and Dean “I Want To Be Just Like You.”  Steve French does a great job with a touching lyric.  This song has much more meaning to me since I became a father, and with Father’s Day approaching, it would be a good song to listen to again.

This particular lineup of the Kingdom Heirs was fairly short lived, lasting about a year or so.  Arthur Rice succeeded Steve Lacey as the lead singer for the group, and the rest, as they say, is history.  BUT, to this blogger anyways, this recording still stands up as one of the best albums in the group’s catalog.  Pull it out and listen again, and prepare to be impressed.  This is another album that will make you say “I forgot how good this album is!”

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Concert Review: Triumphant Quartet

My church recently hosted a concert by Triumphant Quartet.  Attendance was fairly strong, especially for the Thursday night after Thanksgiving.  I would place the crowd somewhere between 250-300.  With the timing of the concert being the beginning of the Christmas season, the guys took the opportunity to “practice” quite a bit of their Christmas material on us with several exclusively Christmas concerts coming up.  The entire first half, save the last song before intermission was Christmas themed music.

Set List:

  • Hallelujah
  • Medley: Hark The Herald Angels Sing/O Little Town of Bethlehem/Children Go Where I Send Thee/Do You Hear What I Hear/Go Tell It On The Mountain/Joy To The World
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (acappella)
  • Jesus, Oh What A Wonderful Child
  • Jesus Is Lord For All Time
  • Jesus Is Born Today
  • Angels We Have Heard On High ( piano instrumental)
  • Deck The Halls ( piano instrumental)
  • Tennessee Christmas (piano and harmonica)
  • It Is Well

Intermission

  • Saved By Grace
  • Love Came Calling
  • Mary Did You Know?
  • The Old White Flag
  • The Great I Am Still Is
  • How Great Thou Art
  • Almost Home

Triumphant is currently celebrating their 10th anniversary as a group, and they are a bit of a rarity in SG in that they have had no personnel changes in the 10 years of the group’s existence.  Their opening song, “Hallelujah”, was a great choice to start the concert as it got things started off with a great intensity.  The medley that followed was fantastic, and the crowd really seemed to enjoy the fast, energetic arrangement of “Children Go Where I Send Thee”, and the ending of “Joy To The World” was great.  The group’s rendition of the Cathedrals’ classic acappella arrangement of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” was absolutely note perfect and highlighted the incredible blend of the four voices.  David Sutton can really carry a tenor ballad, and he did an outstanding job on one called “Jesus Is Lord For All Time.”  He has one of the most expressive tenor voices in the genre, and I enjoy the fullness of his tones.  I’ve always liked the song “Jesus Is Born Today”, which was originally recorded by the Oak Ridge Boys on their 1982 album, Christmas, and Triumphant did a great job bringing it back.  As with their recent cover of the Oaks’ “Everyday”, Triumphant really does well bringing back classic songs from the Oak Ridge Boys, that style really is the strength of Triumphant.  Jeff Stice played his fantastic arrangement of “Angels We Have Heard On High” that he recorded with Perfect Heart on their CD Live At The Forum.  He then shared that he had a request from his mom to record a piano Christmas CD that had no other instrumental backing, just Jeff and his piano.  He played a thrilling arrangement of “Deck The Halls” from that CD before David Sutton joined him on stage for a piano/harmonica duet on “Tennessee Christmas.”  The one non-Christmas song of the first half, “It Is Well”, left the crowd on their feet as they left for intermission.

Let me just say that it is quite a daunting task to play a piano solo offertory after hearing 3 instrumentals featuring Jeff Stice, one of the best piano players we’ve ever had in SG.  After the intermission, the group absolutely wowed the audience with their two recent #1 songs, “Saved By Grace” and “Love Came Calling.”  Both songs are most deserving of their chart topping positions.  Triumphant’s version of “Saved By Grace” exceeds the original Florida Boys rendition, in this blogger’s opinion.  Eric Bennett may be the best bass singer in Southern Gospel at communicating a lyric and carrying a bass solo, and I’ve long enjoyed his rendition of “Mary, Did You Know?”.  Clayton had easily 2/3 of the audience waving white handkerchiefs on “The Old White Flag.”  That song has been part of their stage show for a long time now, and it’s amazing to see how the crowd enthusiasm has kept up over the years, and doesn’t seem to show any signs of waning at all.  Scotty Inman shared a very moving testimony about the medical challenges that surrounded the birth of his daughter, with a poignant challenge by a friend that he’d spent all this time practicing his faith, and that this trial was a challenge for him to “use it.”  That lead into a very powerful performance of “The Great I Am Still Is.”  This is still likely the strongest lyric the group has recorded in their 10 years, and it is completely obvious why this song has staying power in their repertoire.  Ending with “Almost Home” had them leaving the stage with the crowd once again on their feet.

As I mentioned earlier, Triumphant is celebrating 10 years as a group, and with a stable lineup over that entire time, you can easily understand why the group displays such an incredible sense of unity.  From a perfection of their vocal blend, to an uncanny ability to pick material that fits each member like a glove, to the ability to anticipate each other’s stage presence and vocal embellishments in a live performance, Triumphant operates like a well-oiled machine.  Eric Bennett is a very capable and comfortable MC who reads the spirit of an audience very well, and is one of the best bass singers in the genre, hands down.  Scotty Inman has basically grown up in the group, and not only possesses infallible tones as a baritone vocalist, but he has become a fantastic writer as well.  He is easily one of the top young vocalists in Southern Gospel.  Clayton Inman has been one of SG’s best lead vocalists for years now, and he completely commands a stage.  Young, aspiring lead singers need to spend some time observing Clayton Inman, as there is no better example of what a Southern Gospel lead singer should be.  David Sutton has an unmistakeable tenor voice that draws you in immediately.  His ability to carry a tenor ballad puts him in the top tier of tenor vocalists in SG, and he has a full, rich tone that is a rare find.  I’ve long enjoyed listening to David sing.

Triumphant is riding high in SG right now, having won quartet of the year for several years running now.  It’s no surprise with the stability in their lineup that they’ve hit such a stride.  Quite simply, they are one of the best we have to offer.  If you can catch them during the Christmas season, please go see them, their Christmas material is a great blend of traditional songs with some nice originals as well.  If not, catch them the next time they are in your area, you’d look long and hard to find a quartet that puts on a better concert or service.

Photos (courtesy of our church’s Ministry Assistant, Donna Harris):

Singing News Fan Awards

The Singing News Fan Awards were presented yesterday at Dollywood.  You can watch the ceremony and get a full listing of the awards here.  Not unexpectedly, the Booth Brothers and Triumphant cleaned up, with the Booths taking Favorite Artist and Trio, plus the Tenor, Lead, and Baritone awards.  Triumphant took home Quartet, Album, Song, Bass, and Musician of the Year awards.  There were a couple of pleasant surprises as well.  The Gaither band took home Favorite Band, and the Ball Brothers won Horizon Artist.  Good to see the Ball Brothers get that kind of recognition.  I really feel they are the future of SG music.  Congratulations guys!  Courtney Collingsworth Metz also made Fan Award history yesterday, becoming the first person to win both Horizon Individual and Young Artist awards in the same year.  I can’t think of anyone more deserving, but I guess this means I can’t call her underrated or an “unsung hero” anymore.  Libbi Stuffle once again took home Favorite Alto, and in a mild surprise, the Hoppers took home Mixed Group.  I had somewhat expected the Perrys to take home that award, but the Hoppers really aren’t an upset to win.  Congratulations to all the winners!

Crossroads’ Soundtrack Demos

Nate had tipped me off to this a while back, but neither of us had really checked it out much until yesterday afternoon, but Crossroads’ soundtrack demos can be previewed in their entirety and can even be purchased at their normal price of $0.99 per song.  Most of you are probably thinking, why would I want to download soundtrack demos?  The answer is this:  Most of the demos feature Arthur Rice, and others have vocalists like Lauren Talley, Jodi Hosterman, David Sutton, Jeff Chapman, and Eric Bennett.  Here are some of the most impressive ones I’ve heard so far:

  • God Handled It All” – Features Arthur Rice singing the top 3 parts of the quartet and Jeff Chapman (I’m guessing) singing bass.  Rice absolutely drills the high D that Jay Parrack hits on the end of the song.  Incredibly impressive.
  • Mary Knew” – Jodi Hosterman sings the demo for this Brian Free & Assurance song beautifully.  He needs to cover this song sometime on a proper recording.
  • Are You Ready” – David Sutton does a great job on this Gold City hit.
  • I’m Rich” – Lauren Talley steps up to the plate and does a nice job on this tune.
  • I’ll Tell It Wherever I Go” – Lauren Talley nails this GVB hit song.  It really fits her voice well.
  • Healing” – Eric Bennett and Arthur Rice team up for this Cathedrals song, with Rice again handling the 3 top parts.

Incredibly gifted athletes are sometimes referred to as “freaks of nature”, so to extend that metaphor, Arthur Rice is definitely a “freak of nature.”  And I mean that in the nicest, most complimentary way possible.  There are plenty of other great soundtrack demos on the site, so spend a little time checking them out.

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