Catching Up

I was out of town on business last week, so there were a few things that came out then and in the time since that I wanted to mention:

  • Jeff Steele is recovering from a serious fall and possible stroke. Be in prayer for Jeff and his family.
  • Gordon Mote is leaving the Gaither Tour as tour pianist.  The GVB is currently seeking a new pianist.  Mote had the unenviable position of following the late Anthony Burger, who was larger than life as a pianist.  Mote did so by carving his own niche and he will be missed on the tour, though he will be appearing on Gaither special events.
  • I’m working on new reviews for the Nelons, Mercy’s Well, and the Dills, so be watching for those coming soon.
  • There’s a video making rounds of the Kingsmen with Chris Jenkins singing “The Judgement.”  It’s a very promising sound…
  • I’d appreciate your prayers tomorrow, May 30, as my wife heads in for surgery to remove about half of her thyroid.  I’ll be out of pocket for the next 2 days at least, as the surgery requires at least an overnight stay in the hospital.  If all goes well, we should be home on Thursday, but she has a recovery period of 2-3 weeks, during which time I will have to be Mr. Mom.  Prayers for my sanity will be much appreciated!  :-)

Kingsmen Name New Tenor

The Kingsmen have named their new tenor to replace the departed Harold Reed: Chris Jenkins, formerly of the Vintage Quartet.  Jenkins has been filling in with the group for the past several weeks, after previous fill-in Ernie Phillips came back off the road.  Here is the text of the press release:

The Kingsmen are pleased to announce the addition of Chris Jenkins as their new tenor vocalist.Chris, 25, has been singing in various ministries and groups since his teenage years. Most recently he was the tenor vocalist for The Vintage Quartet, joining that group in 2010. Prior to joining The Kingsmen, Chris worked as a loan officer and banking manager for the last six years.”I am so thankful that God has allowed me to do what I have always loved to do,” says Chris. “I could not be more excited about joining a group with such a legacy and rich history as The Kingsmen.  I have been a fan of The Kingsmen since I was very young. I look forward to seeing what the future holds with this great quartet, especially this line-up of individuals as they are top-notch vocalists. It is a real honor to follow in the footsteps of some of my heroes who have passed through the ranks of The Kingsmen.”Chris will begin touring with the group immediately. In fact he has been filling in for them in recent weeks. Chris, his wife Kimberly, and two children make their home right outside of Greensboro, in the piedmont area of North Carolina.

I will admit to not being familiar with Jenkins, but the input from other bloggers has been very positive.  I’m looking forward to hearing him with the group!  Congratulations to both Chris Jenkins and the Kingsmen!

SG Quartets: Walking In Memphis

As was announced on Daniel Mount’s blog today, plans are moving along for an all male quartet event called the “J.D. Sumner Quartet Show” in Memphis, TN to be held June 19-22, 2013.  This is the brainchild of several quartet leaders and concert promoters, and is being held in conjunction with the 15 year anniversary of Sumner’s death, in the city where he and James Blackwood started the National Quartet Convention in 1957.  James’ son Jimmy is one of the organizers of this event, along with Stewart Varnado of the Dixie Echoes.

I was just in the auditorium of the Cook Convention Center, known as the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, for a business meeting a couple of weeks ago and it’s a beautiful facility that seats about 2,100 people, give or take.  There is also an exhibit hall attached to the facility that should rival Freedom Hall’s in Louisville.  The facility sits on the north side of Downtown Memphis with entrances on both Main St., and Front St. overlooking the Mississippi River.

The event has a website here, and a Facebook page here.  The initial lineup of groups already committed is extremely strong, with names like Brian Free and Assurance, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, Gold City, The Kingsmen, The Dixie Echoes, and Triumphant Quartet, among others.  Also, there are plans underway to add more “up and coming” type quartets to the lineup as well.

If you can’t tell, I’m very excited about the possibilities of this event coming to my hometown, and I’ll see you all there!

2012: A Look Ahead To The Year In SG

First let me say that I hope you all had a very happy New Year’s celebration.  As we begin 2012, let’s take a look ahead at what is awaiting us in the SG world in this new year.

Several groups are making a fresh start in 2012.  The Kingsmen, The Lefevre Quartet, and Soul’d Out Quartet all experience personnel changes over the past couple weeks.  The Kingsmen have a new lead singer in Bob Sellers, and are currently without a tenor, so their sound will undoubtedly change a great deal this year.  The Lefevre Quartet added Harold Reed to the tenor slot, after just recently adding Jordan Lefevre to the lead slot of their group, so it will be interesting to watch and see how this affects the group this year.  It could become quite a catalyst for them.  Soul’d Out is also poised to make waves with the addition of Bryan Hutson as baritone vocalist.  Hutson brings a top notch voice to a quartet that had been quietly making strides, and as recently as yesterday made news as a new Crossroads artist.

Ernie Haase and Signature Sound are due to release a new CD next month called Here We Are Again.  There have been discussions surrounding the group over the past few months regarding their regression of sorts to a retro-music themed group, so this new studio album is garnering anticipation to see if the group becomes trendsetters again as they were with projects like Dream On.

Gold City finally released Somebody’s Coming late last year.  While reviews have been glowing thus far, a lot of eyes will be on the group to see if they finally can achieve some stability and build on what is most assuredly a good foundation with the latest recording.  I’m anxious to see what they come up with next, and am very anxious for a stable lineup and a studio album with songs selected for said lineup.  There is a world of potential still remaining for the group.

Last but not least, will this be the year that someone FINALLY covers the song “Lucas McGraw”???  :-)

Harold Reed Departs Kingsmen, Joins LeFevre Quartet

News has broken this morning that Harold Reed has departed the Kingsmen and is joining the LeFevre Quartet. This is the second tough loss for the Kingsmen in about as many weeks, as Bryan Hutson recently announced his departure as well. Harold will make an immediate impact on the LeFevre Quartet, bringing a top notch sound to their tenor slot. I will be very interested in hearing their new sound. The Kingsmen are asking for auditions, if you are interested email ray@kingsmenquartet.com or brandon@kingsmenquartet.com. Best wishes to Harold, the Kingsmen, and the LeFevre Quartet in their transition periods.

Bob Sellers Announced As New Kingsmen Lead

The Kingsmen have just sent out a press release naming Bob Sellers as their new lead singer.  As I understand it, Bob has been filling in with them recently while Randy Crawford has been dealing with his heart issues, so that should lead to a fairly smooth transition.  Here is the text of the press release:

The Kingsmen are pleased to welcome Bob Sellers to the quartet, filling the vacancy created by the departure of Bryan Hutson. “I am so excited to become a member of the legendary Kingsmen Quartet family,” says Bob. “I’m thankful for this opportunity that Ray and Brandon Reese have given me, and I look forward to meeting every single Kingsmen fan.

“The first song I recall singing with my mom and sister in our little country church was ‘A Place Where The Hungry Are Fed,’ so it is a dream come true to now stand on stage with the group that introduced that song and so many other great songs to Gospel music. I will work with all that is within me to continue the proud tradition that is The Kingsmen Quartet and, most importantly, to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ in song effectively. I cannot wait to see what God has in store!

Bob’s first concert will be in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada on December 31, 2011.

Be sure to go check out the Kingsmen when they are near you and welcome Bob to the group.  Congratulations to Bob and the Kingsmen.

Bryan Hutson Departs Kingsmen, Joins Soul’d Out

Bryan Hutson has announced his departure from the Kingsmen, and will be joining Soul’d Out Quartet.  Here is an open letter from Bryan:

I want to thank the many friends that I have made while being involved in Gospel Music as well as Worship Ministry. You have embraced me since I began singing with my brother in “The New Generation” in 1985. I started traveling fulltime with “The Heartland Quartet” in 1993. Your continued support, love and encouragement through both my tenures with “The Kingsmen” is deeply appreciated. In early November, I decided to follow God’s leading and give my resignation with “The Kingsmen.”

January of 2012 will mark a new chapter in my gospel music career. I will be joining one of America’s best new groups, “Soul’d Out Quartet”. In fact, the group was awarded “Horizon Group of The Year” (Favorite New Group) in the Singing News Magazine Fan Awards in 2010. Matt Rankin (lead), Dusty Barrett (tenor), Matt Fouch (bass) and Michael Howard (piano) make up “Soul’d Out Quartet”. I will share lead vocalist duties with Matt Rankin. SOQT is a solid quartet who sings straight ahead Southern Gospel Music with a progressive sound. I’m very excited to see what God has in store for our future! Over the past several years, I have developed a friendship with members of the group. I believe the men of “Soul’d Out” are men of integrity and have a heart for ministry that mirrors my own passion. I know my friends and family will love the music and ministry of “Soul’d Out” as much as I do.
My wife, Yvonne, and I have been seeking God and wise counsel about this decision and feel that this is a door God has opened. The tour schedule for “Soul’d Out” is a better fit for me as a husband and father. This opportunity will also allow us to reach our long term goals as a family.

I joined my all time favorite group “The Kingsmen” in 1996 under the late Eldridge and Greg Fox. The 5 years that I spent learning from the Fox’s, the late Jim Hamill and Ray Reese were some of the best years of my life. Upon returning for my second run with “The Kingsmen” in 2007, we have seen lives changed through our music. I want to thank Ray and Brandon Reese and “The Kingsmen” for allowing me to be a part of the continuing Kingsmen legacy.

I would like to ask for your continued support, encouragement and prayers for my family and both groups. I am looking forward to seeing each of you at upcoming “Soul’d Out Quartet” concerts. Please check our website for upcoming performances www.souldoutquartet.com .

In His Will,
Bryan

Brandon Reese of the Kingsmen has sent out this press release as well:

Bryan Hutson will be leaving the Kingsmen this December and will be joining Soul’d Out Quartet.

Brandon Reese states, “In November Bryan came to me and stated that he felt it was time to make a change in his professional career. He also told me that he had been seeking God’s will in an opportunity to stay home more with his family. I commended him for letting the Lord lead in his life. The door opened for Bryan to join Matt Rankin and the rest of Soul’d Out (who are based out of Columbus, OH) and as many of you know is only an hour or 2 from where Bryan grew up in Batesville, IN. Bryan stated to me that joining Soul’d Out is perfect for the long term goals of his family and until then will maintain his residence in Asheville, NC with his wife Yvonne and four children Alexa, Jake, Bailey and Jordan. I, along with the other Kingsmen members, wish to thank Bryan for his two tenures here and his continuing friendship.”

While I hate to see Bryan leave the Kingsmen, as I’ve always loved him in the lead singer position with the group, Soul’d Out is one of the top up and coming quartets in Southern Gospel today.  The arrival of a vocalist with the talent and reputation of Hutson may be just what  sends them over the top into the upper tier of quartets.  Prayers and best wishes to Bryan, Soul’d Out, and the Kingsmen as they begin the search for a new lead singer.

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