A Day of Changes

Today has certainly not been without its share of news, and in fact marks a surprising end of a couple of eras. 

Several years ago, Bill Gaither made waves by forming an all star version of the GVB when Guy Penrod and Marshall Hall departed by convincing Mark Lowry, David Phelps, and Michael English to return and join with Wes Hampton and Bill. Today, the last of those all star returnees left when David Phelps announced his departure effective April 1. Taking his place is Reggie Smith, who has been around the GVB for quite a few years now and is a fine tenor in his own right. 

The most surprising change today doesn’t originate in Alexandria, Indiana, but rather in Bryson City, NC. The Inspirations have announced that Martin Cook, long time owner, manager, and pianist of the group, has resigned all of those responsibilities and that long time and beloved tenor, Archie Watkins, has returned to manage the group. This weekend, Watkins announced, the current members of the group will be joined by several past members. Cook’s departure is most certainly the end of an era in SG,as he has been a fixture since day one of the group’s history. 

Both of these groups certainly will bear watching in the weeks and months to come, as especially with The Inspirations the changes are probably not over. 

Meet The New Gaither Vocal Band

As had been speculated recently, Todd Suttles has been announced as the newest member of the GVB. Adam Crabb was announced a while back, and speculation about the last spot had swirled around several names. Like he has done several times before, Gaither had found a relative unknown in Suttles.I will be waiting to hear the new group and what Crabb and Suttles will bring to the table.

Oh, and yes I am still around!

Essential Christmas Music: SG and Non-SG

Yes it’s been forever, but I have been in the Christmas spirit and still swamped at a new job.  I’m thankful for both of those things, but blogging time has still been slim.  I don’t want to go without posting SOMETHING for you for Christmas, so I decided I’d join the crowd and post my essential Christmas music.  Here’s a list of essential SG albums, and essential non-SG Christmas albums, trying hard to balance classics with “hidden gems” in both lists.

5 Essential SG Christmas Albums:

5. Ball Brothers – Christmas
4. Martins – Light Of The World
3. Gaither Vocal Band – Still The Greatest Story Ever Told
2. Gold City – Voices Of Christmas
1. Cathedrals – A Cathedral Christmas, Acappella

5 Essential Non SG Christmas Albums

5. Take 6 – He Is Christmas
4. Imperials – Christmas With The Imperials
3. Michael Buble – Christmas
2. 4Him – Season Of Love
1. Carpenters – Christmas Collection

Whatever your taste, I hope you’ve enjoyed the Christmas Season, and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!  I have a special Christmas post in the queue for tomorrow that I hope you will all enjoy.

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE BURKE FAMILY!!!!!

Michael English Leaves Gaither Vocal Band

Gaither Music just issued a press release dealing with GVB personnel changes.  As reported earlier, Mark Lowry’s exit at the end of the year was confirmed, but the release contained the surprising news that Michael English was leaving the GVB as well.  According to the release, English has already performed his last concert with the Vocal Band.  This news leaves the GVB with 3 members, David Phelps, Wes Hampton, and Bill Gaither.  No word yet on replacements, but you know the position of lead singer in the GVB will be a highly sought position, so there will be no limits on the quality of person that is chosen.  Obviously many Gaither fans will clamor for the return of Guy Penrod, and while that certainly would make for a smooth transition, I’ll be interested to see if Gaither and company find another relative “unknown” that will knock us off our collective feet.  Here is the text of the press release:

Nearly five years ago, when Bill Gaither created an all-star version of the Gaither Vocal Band, the returning GVB members were managing solo careers and added the Gaither Vocal Band’s tour dates, video tapings and recordings to their existing schedules.  Now, after trying to manage both solo careers and Gaither Vocal Band responsibilities, Mark Lowry and Michael English are ready for a new season of life that is not so demanding.

 

“When I rejoined the Gaither Vocal Band in 2009, I figured it wouldn’t be a long-term commitment since Bill was over 70 years old,” Mark says, adding, “That was nearly five years ago and Bill’s bucket list is wearing me out!  But the Vocal Band is a family.  We come and we go, but we never REALLY leave.  I could pop up anywhere at any time!”

 

Mark Lowry will fulfill his Gaither Vocal Band concert commitments through the end of 2013. Michael English has already concluded his last regular Gaither Vocal Band concert as the lead singer, but we look forward to having him join us for Gaither Fest in Myrtle Beach and other future events. We have confirmed Mark Lowry for the 2014 Caribbean Cruise and Family Fest 2014.  Besides those two events, if you want to hear the Gaither Vocal Band with Mark Lowry singing baritone, the concerts remaining in 2013 will be your last opportunity! Check www.gaither.com for upcoming tour dates and ticket information.  Check Michael’s website,www.michaelenglishmusic.com, for solo concerts in a city near you.  And check for Mark Lowry’s solo dates at www.marklowry.com.

 

Bill Gaither states, “I am grateful that we have had five bonus years with these incredibly talented artists. Thank you, thank you to Michael and Mark.  For those of you who have followed the Vocal Band for the past 25 years, you know that I have worked with some of the most talented male vocalists in our field, and I promise you we are not going to let that standard down in this transition. I am sad to see Michael and Mark leaving, yet I am so excited about the new possibilities we are considering.  So stay tuned for an exciting voyage in 2014!  We will update you when we have made final decisions.”

Mark Lowry Departs Gaither Vocal Band

Yes, I know, I’ve been gone far too long.  Life has kept me away….a new job, 3rd grade homework (why don’t I remember doing this much homework in 3rd grade?), and life with kids who are growing up far too quickly has kept me away.  And yes, I still owe you guys a review of the latest Old Paths CD, I’ll get to it.  THIS news, however, is enough to bring me back.  As was speculated on Daniel Mount’s blog late last week, Mark Lowry announced via Facebook this morning that he is indeed leaving the Gaither Vocal Band at the end of the year.  Lowry cites the need to slow down and a desire to focus more on his solo career as his reasons for leaving.  He will still appear at some of the larger Gaither events, like the cruise and FamilyFest, and will finish out the year with the GVB, but will be embarking on a solo tour with the Martins after the first of the year.

This is interesting.  The five man, all-star GVB has been the talk of the SG world since its inception.  Also, Lowry was the true baritone vocalist in the harmony.  It will be interesting to see how the voices stack now back at a more traditional 4 part lineup.  My gut feeling is that Hampton and Phelps will alternate on the tenor and lead parts more frequently, and that English will assume more baritone duties, with David or Wes stepping to the baritone part when English is featured on lead.

Best wishes to Mark, and to the GVB as they enter their new phases.

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!

NQC ’10: Wrap Up

I was able to listen for quite a while Friday night on enLighten.  Here are more thoughts, summaries, etc.:

  • Janet Paschal’s female quartet was quite the talk of the Twitter/Facebook/Blogs.  If not hitting the road, those four ladies should definitely consider doing a CD together.
  • EHSS did their whole set previewing their Cathedrals Tribute project and it was very solid.  “We Shall See Jesus” was great.
  • The GVB was also very well received.
  • The 100 Years Showcase on Saturday was the big event, and will be released on DVD by Daywind.
  • Gold City was the star of the show, and did 3 full songs: “When I Get Carried Away”, “I Think I’ll Read It Again”, and “Midnight Cry.”
  • The Singing Americans were next up in terms of popularity.  Michael English still isn’t totally recovered from neck surgery, he had said Friday night his voice was about 50%, so Clayton Inman joined in on the reunion.
  • The Nelons reunion set was also very strong, with Katy Peach and Karen Peck Gooch especially “stealing the show.”

What are your memorable moments from the convention this year?  Who really stands out to you as the noteworthy artists from this year’s NQC that should see a nice bump in popularity?  Who impressed you?

NQC ’10: Wednesday Recap

There still wasn’t too much chatter, though several blogs have decent roundups available.

  • Several artists attended the GVB/EHSS showcase (Daniel Riley, Libbi Stuffle, et al) and all said the showcase was spectacular.  Other bloggers and attendees weren’t quite as impressed.
  • I discovered that enLighten is broadcasting from the NQC live in the evenings, interspersing mainstage performances with interviews.  I heard the Inspirations set, and as others mentioned, the acappella song they sang was particularly good.  They have a much different vocal sound with Campbell, Ragan, and Hosterman.  Solid all the way around.
  • Liberty Quartet had a full set tonight instead of the one song appearance that they made a couple years ago.  Keith Waggoner’s feature song was noted as particularly good.
  • Jeff and Sheri had a notable set as well.  In addition to Morgan, Madison Easter joined in on some harmony vocals as well tonight, which one twitter comment said was a throwback to their sound with Rabbit.
  • Another show of solidarity tonight between Scott Fowler and Josh Cobb.  I’m glad to see this, as it really makes both guys look good.  Cobb and Fowler shared an embrace at center stage after their groups had been part of a larger singalong of “Boundless Love”, where more than one person praised Cobb’s vocals.
  • Buzz of the Night Award:  Speaking of Gold City, they debuted two songs off their soon to be released mainline CD.  One was an unnnamed cover of an old Dixie Hummingbird tune, “It Won’t Be Long”, and the other was Josh Cobb singing “I Stand Redeemed.”  Both went over extremely well, with “Redeemed” drawing the crowd to its feet.

YouTube Clip #36 – GVB with Gene McDonald

It seems when there is an upcoming personnel change in the Gaither Vocal Band, numerous people suggest that Bill should hire a “real bass singer” to fill his spot.  For those that want to hear what that might sound like, here is your chance.

The Top 10 Songs Of 2009

I did this last year as well, but since I’ll be out of pocket next week visiting family in Florida, I thought I’d go ahead and do this now.  This is a list of the top 10 songs that I have personally heard/reviewed (some with reviews upcoming) that were released in 2009.  This is NOT a reflection of chart action, but these are the 10 songs that really blew me away when I heard them.  I have probably 10-15 more that could be listed here, but at some point I just have to come up with 10 and go with it.  So without further adieu, here are the top 10 songs of the year:

  1. “Almost Morning” – The Perrys
  2. “Die Another Day” – Brian Free & Assurance
  3. “Fear Not Tomorrow” – The Collingsworth Family
  4. “There Is No Other Name” – The Crist Family
  5. “You Must Have Met Him” – Brian Free & Assurance
  6. “Everyday” – Triumphant Quartet
  7. “If You Knew Him” – The Perrys
  8. “It’s About The Cross” – The Ball Brothers
  9. “God Saw A Cross” – The Kingsmen
  10. “Worthy The Lamb” – Gaither Vocal Band
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