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!

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Shannon Childress Passes Away

Shannon Childress, former pianist for the Hoppers, passed away yesterday after a lengthy battle with cancer.  Childress was an integral part of the Hoppers rise to prominence in the 80s and 90s.  He not only served as the group’s pianist, but also wrote several popular tunes for the group, such as “Anchor To The Power Of The Cross” and “Milk And Honey” and occasionally provided bass vocals as well.  Prayers and condolences to the Childress family in their time of loss.  The Singing News story can be found here.

Singing News Curse 2010

One of the common jokes about SG is that we have our own version of the NFL’s “Madden Curse”, the “Singing News Curse.”  With just one cover left for the year, let’s review the status of the curse for the year, shall we?

  • January: Dixie Echoes (Pat Barker departs)
  • February: Crist Family (no changes)
  • March: Brian Free & Assurance (Randy Crawford departs)
  • April: Greater Vision (Jacob Kitson departs)
  • May: Hoppers (no changes)
  • June: McKameys (no changes)
  • July: Mark Trammell Quartet (no changes)
  • August: Gold City (Roy Webb, Josh Cobb depart)
  • September: Blackwood Brothers (no changes)
  • October: Kingdom Heirs (Billy Hodges departs)
  • November: Booth Brothers (no changes)
  • December: ????

Unless my math skills have dulled over the years, that’s 5 out of 11.  It’s interesting to note of the groups that haven’t had changes, 3 are primarily family based groups, which tend to experience less turnover by nature, and one has been in existence less than a year (Mark Trammell Quartet).  That leaves us with two established non-family groups that have been stable since their cover appearance, and 5 that have experienced changes.  I’d say the curse is still alive and well!

NOTE:  This post is solely intended to be read in a good-natured, tongue-in-cheek manner.  If you have not read it as such, please check the batteries in your sarcasm meter.  🙂

Album Amnesia – Why??

In yesterday’s post I suggested that there are albums that are so influential that we tend to forget any previous recordings by a group.  Gold City’s Pillars Of Faith, the Cathedrals’ Something Special, the Kingsmen’s Chattanooga Live are great examples of this phenomenon.  The follow-up question in my mind is this:  Why?  What is it about these albums that produce this effect?

I was discussing this via email with Daniel Mount yesterday and he made the statement that he feels it is because these albums redefine the artist.  I agreed with him, and after further reflection I still do.  The album doesn’t even necessarily have to be the “best” or “capstone” album of the group’s career, though I feel this is certainly the case with Pillars. However, as far as album quality goes, I think Symphony of Praise by the Cats outshines Something Special, and Live Naturally may be an even better Kingsmen album.  However, these “amnesia albums” mark a milestone in an artist’s career.  It designates a place where everything changed.  Daniel’s post today is carrying a tangent from my initial post yesterday, and in his comments Brady is submitting the Hoppers’ On These Grounds project as an “amnesia album.”  Here’s the money quote in his justification:

…the most important single off that recording, “Here I Am,” the group’s first number one song and the first single with Kim Hopper on it. She redefined that group with one single, in my opinion, and they’ve never looked back. While that album was more of a transitional recording and certainly not of the classic caliber that the aforementioned Cathedrals projects became, it established the beginning of Kim’s career with them and the beginning of their stronghold at the top of the family/mixed group genre.

This is exactly what I’m getting at with these posts.  These projects represent a momentous point in a group’s career where individual songs that predate those albums may survive and still thrive, but the body of previously recorded work as a whole will suffer when such a definitive statement is made by the artist.  Do you agree?

Mansion Releases Sing Out America DVDs

In the early 80s, Bill Traylor had a TV show called “Sing Out America!” (thanks Kyle!).  Last night after running some errands down around the mall, I told my wife I’d like to head over to Lifeway and just look around a while.  I must say that while their selection of SG CDs was decent, but fairly picked over, they did have a pretty nice selection of SG DVDs.  There were a couple of Crabb Family DVDs, Brian Free & Assurance’s latest DVD (with the songs from Real Faith), and several other non-Gaither DVDs.  As I was looking through, I came across several DVDs that were labeled “Sing Out America” from Mansion Entertainment.  Volume 5 was labeled “Gold City Quartet.”

I bought the DVD for $12.98 and took it home.  There were 10 songs on it, 8 of which were from the short lived Brian Free/Bill Crittendon/Jerry Ritchie/Tim Riley lineup.  The other two were the classic Free/Parker/Lefevre/Riley lineup.  It’s interesting to note that while a full band accompanies both eras, the earlier performances are obviously done live, while the Parker/Lefevre songs (“Cool Drink Of Water” and “After I Bow”!!) are pretty obviously lip-synched to the Double Take recording.  Still, it’s a great video to watch, as it documents the early days of Gold City, as well as being a very rare lineup.

I checked Mansion’s website this morning, and there are 10 volumes.

  • Volume 1: A Classic Collection
  • Volume 2:  The Blackwood Brothers with Guests, The Speer Family, The Dixie Echoes
  • Volume 3: The Speer Family
  • Volume 4: Florida Boys
  • Volume 5: Gold City Quartet
  • Volume 6: Rusty Goodman Family
  • Volume 7: The Hoppers
  • Volume 8: The Hinsons
  • Volume 9: The McKameys
  • Volume 10: Wendy Bagwell and The Sunliters

The video and audio are of pretty good quality, and definitely better than the Gospel Singing Jubilee DVDs I found a while back at Dollar General.  They’re not quite Gaither quality, but they’re definitely worth watching.  Though they aren’t credited as such, The Cathedrals do appear on both Volumes 1 and 2 of the collection.  One minor glitch, at least on the Gold City DVD, is that the song listing on the back of the DVD case is incorrect, and not a complete list.  “After I Bow” was not listed at all, but was instead a VERY pleasant surprise, as it’s one of my all time favorite Gold City songs.

Be watching out for these.  I know Lifeway has them, and you can get them Direct from Mansion’s website.

Hoppers Sign With Mansion Entertainment

According to this post at Daniel Mount’s blog, the Hoppers have signed a recording agreement with Mansion Entertainment.  This follows from the demise of Canaan Records a while back, which was most unfortunate.  Mansion operates two theaters in Branson, and have been making some noise in SG circles, as Bill Traylor is involved with the organization.  Still, I wouldn’t call Mansion a top notch SG label, at least not yet, and it seems interesting to me that two of SG’s big names, the Hoppers and Gold City, are on smaller labels, Mansion and New Haven respectively.  Hopefully this will provide Mansion with some growth, and the Hoppers with some stability in their record label.

Mike Hopper Leads Online Digital Media Tutorial

One of my favorite SG related topics to blog about is SG’s embracing of digital media technologies.  (I’m an IT guy in real life, so big surprise, huh.)  In a case of an artist taking the lead in embracing digital media, Mike Hopper has recorded a tutorial in which he leads customers through downloading music and creating their own custom compilation CD.  This from Canaan’s latest press release:

Canaan Records has released an all inclusive video tutorial featuring how to purchase, download and burn to a CD your favorite Southern Gospel albums and songs.  The demonstration is hosted by Mike Hopper of the legendary Hoppers and examines the ins and outs of the downloading revolution.  Mike also explains how safe and cheap it is to own your favorite personal compilations.  The video tutorial can be found by clicking on www.canaanrecords.com. Fans can also see personal compilations from Connie Hopper, Kelly Bowling and Mike Hopper as well as post their own compilations by visiting http://www.facebook.com/pages/Canaan-Records/25884114199 .

It’s good to see an artist taking a lead role in helping the digital revolution along, and having a well known artist be the instructor for the tutorial will I think give more weight to the average SG fan.  Kudos to both Mike and Canaan for taking this step to help things along.

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