Randy Byrd Joins Lefevre Quartet

I hope all of you readers had a wonderful New Year’s celebration with family and friends!

Randy Byrd announced this morning via Facebook that he has departed The Anchormen and joined the Lefevre Quartet as their bass vocalist.  This is a change that allows Randy to relocate back to TN to be closer to his family.  Byrd is an outstanding vocalist, and will be a credit to Mike Lefevre and the rest of the Lefevre Quartet.  Here’s the money quote from Randy:

I’ve prayed for God to guide me and after much prayer and talking with Tim Bullins, I made the decision to move back to TN. I still wanted to sing but be able to live near my kids so I also prayed for a group that allowed me to do that. The Lefevre Qt has graciously gave me a job and I’m excited for our future.

Best wishes to the Anchormen as they now begin searching for a new bass singer, and to Randy Byrd and the Lefevre Quartet.

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.

Gospel Singing Caravan Makes Its Return

One of the highlights of the 100 Years of SG Celebration at NQC was the appearance of the new Gospel Singing Caravan featuring the Lefevre Quartet, the Chuck Wagon Gang, and the Blackwood Brothers.  It seems the Caravan is destined to be more than just a one-time shot for the showcase.  The new Gospel Singing Caravan is going to be doing a limited tour starting in Spring 2011.  There is a website for the troupe here. (hat tip, Diana)  The site also mentions that the groups have begun working on a studio album to be released through Daywind Records.  Be on the lookout for this tour, it should be quite a concert experience!

From The World Of Twitter

Sorry for my lack of blogging lately, but things have gotten a bit busy in the real world here recently.  I thought I’d give you all some quick hits from Twitter and Facebook…

  • The Perrys are in the studio cutting vocals for their newest project.
  • Tracking has begun at Crossroads for a new Talley Trio CD.
  • Wes Hampton is continuing work on his solo CD, and has just recorded a choir for one of the cuts.
  • The Lefevre Quartet is recording a live DVD here in the Memphis area on Sunday night.

Hopefully we can return to our regulary scheduled blogging soon, including a review of the Gus Gaches version of Legacy Five’s Just Stand.

Lefevre Quartet Returns, Signs With Beckie Simmons Agency

The Priority experiment has ended.  According to this press release, Mike Lefevre has reclaimed the name Lefevre Quartet for his group, and additionally, the group has signed on with Beckie Simmons, which is not a surprising move, with Mike’s long tenure with Gold City, and the group’s history with Beckie Simmons.  The name change comes with the blessing of the Lefevre family, with this from Meurice Lefevre:

Mylon and I are absolutely and completely supportive of Mike and his group and the work they are doing for our Lord and Saviour.

Glad to see the name get changed back to the Lefevre Quartet, I never could get used to calling them Priority.

Priority’s Website and Live DVD Preview

The story went around a while back about the Lefevre Quartet changing their name to Priority.  However, I haven’t seen their website mentioned, and it has been released and is very sharp.  It’s prioritymusic.net, and on the front page they have a link to a preview of their new concert DVD.  The preview is their version of “The Cloud He’s Coming Back On”, and though the song has been rerecorded by several groups recently, this version may top them all.  I love the numerous key changes at what are seemingly random times, it seems to add some spice to the arrangement that I’ve not heard in the others.  The group sounds great, Gus Gaches in particular really has a nice tone quality to his voice.  He may not have the ultra highs in his range, but he has one of the most pleasing tenor voices you’ll hear.  It’s definitely worth checking out.

Lefevre Quartet Becomes Priority

The press release went out last week that the Lefevre Quartet was changing their name to Priority, due to the passing of Eva Mae Lefevre and out of respect for the family name.  While I definitely respect the family’s wishes, and if that is the way they want to pay tribute to the matriarch of the family, that’s certainly a fitting tribute, but I have to think it puts Priority in a bit of a bind.  The group was starting to really hit its stride with their debut Canaan release, and now they have to almost start over in establishing their identity.  Actually, I think the official group name was still the Mike Lefevre Quartet, as that is what is on the cover of Nothin’ But Good, and Mike’s recognizable name from his Gold City and Assurance days provided them with some credibility up front.  Now, they’ll have to establish that credibility as Priority.    This will certainly be a challenge, but one that can be met, as these guys are good no matter what you call them.  Best wishes to Priority as they move forward.  In case you haven’t seen it, I’ll copy the PR text below.

In a bold move, the LeFevre Quartet announced their decision to retire the family name with the recent passing of matriarch Eva Mae LeFevre. The group will be known as “Priority”.

A partnership, forged barely four years ago, established a sound and set in motion a number of unprecedented milestones. Within months of forming, fans voted them Horizon Group of the Year at the 2006 Singing News Fan Awards because of what they heard and saw in them. The following year came Breakthrough Artist of the Year Award. Next came television appearances on Dr. Charles Stanley’s popular In Touch program, a 2009 Dove Award nomination and recordings along the way that simply raised the bar for an entire genre.

This move comes in response to a request by some LeFevre family members to discontinue the name when Eva Mae was no longer able to travel. In a statement, Priority (Stacy Bragg, Gus Gaches, Mike LeFevre, and David Staton) said:

“We were able to honor a name that had such an influence on gospel music in America. On nearly every recording we’ve done, we re-recorded a classic LeFevre tune as a sort of tribute.”

Recognizing that now is the time for them to impact this generation of gospel music fans and the twenty-first century church, the group hopes to solidly establish their identity as “Priority”. The name is a reflection of who they are, what they’re about, why they do what they do, where they’re headed, and how they’ve gotten this far.

“Life is about relationships and priorities. God has blessed so much, and certainly not because we’ve done anything to deserve or earn His favor. So we want our relationships to take priority—with Him, our families, our churches, and each other.”

There are no personnel changes and no changes in musical style, just a new name.  The group will still travel with a live band consisting of Jordan LeFevre and Trey Ivey.  Audiences will continue to hear the trademark harmony and talented musicians.

Why Southern Gospel’s Future Is In Good Hands

Over the past year or so, I’ve been trying to expand my horizons a bit and listen to some of the newer groups that are “paying their dues” in the SG industry.  A frequent topic of discussion on these blogs is the future of our genre.  Well over the past year or so, I’ve found several groups that reassure me that SGs future is in good hands.  This is not to knock any others, but these four groups especially give me great hope for the future of the music that we all love.

  • The Crist Family – This mixed group just has it right.  Their latest CD, Declaration, is phenomenal.  They’ve got good material, great arrangements, incredible talent, and dedication to their craft that is unparalleled.    No one takes the musical risks that these guys take, and their style is fresh and innovative.  They are the real deal, and should be one of our top mixed groups for years to come.
  • The Ball Brothers – What the Crist Family is to mixed groups, the Ball Brothers are to male quartets.  They have a sound all their own, with incredibly tight harmonies, and a polish to their sound that a lot of groups that have been on the road for much longer don’t.  I’m anxiously awaiting their new disc, Breakthrough, to hear what kind of inventive sounds they come up with this time.  These 4 young men should make an indelible mark on our industry for a long time.
  • The Dills – Another mixed group that has an incredibly smooth blend, and show an amazing amount of versatility.  Their latest CD, Story Of A Lifetime, is a big step forward for them, both in the strength of their material and in their arrangements.  “Holy of Holies” is an absolutely incredible song that could become a sugar stick for them.  They’re young, they’re talented, and they are dedicated to constantly improving their overall sound and presentation.  Shawn Dill is one of the most underrated vocalists in SG today, what a great voice.  They’ll be around for quite a while.
  • Mike Lefevre Quartet – OK, so calling them a new or up and coming group is a bit of a stretch, but they’ve really started picking up since signing with Canaan.  Again, these guys are on the cutting edge of male quartet music.  Stacey Bragg isn’t a subsonic bass, Gus Gaches isn’t a screaming high tenor, but they are flat-out good.  These guys perform some of the smoothest vocals you’ll ever hear, the material on their latest CD, Nothin’ But Good, is incredibly strong, and I rated that CD the top CD of 2008.  These guys are just starting to make their mark on the quartet world, and should become one of the major influences in SG.

There are other great newer groups out there like the Collingsworth Family, the Browns, Tribute, and Brothers Forever, but these four deserve special mention.   At least, they do in my opinion.  So to all four of these groups, keep doing what you are doing, stay the course, and Southern Gospel music should thrive for years to come with these groups taking a greater and greater place on the scene.

Top 10 Songs Of 2008

I’ve taken the opportunity to revisit the albums that I’ve personally heard and/or reviewed this year, and compiled a list of the top 10 songs that were released on albums this year.  This list has NOTHING to do with chart action, or albums recorded in 2007 or earlier, but is solely a list of the 10 best songs I’ve heard on albums this year.  I’d dare say this list makes a pretty decent compilation.

  1. “When God Ran” – Kingsmen
  2. “Glorious” – Mike Lefevre Quartet
  3. “Holy Of Holies” – The Dills
  4. “Hallelujah Praise The Lamb” – Talley Trio
  5. “He Loves Me” – N’Harmony
  6. “Welcome To Heaven” – Triumphant
  7. “I Cast My Bread Upon The Water” – Gold City
  8. “The Blood On My Hands” – Skyline Boys
  9. “I Will Sing Of My Redeemer” – Talley Trio
  10. “Love Like The Sun” – Prophets

It’s hard to narrow down these songs, but these 10 have all stood out to me as songs that have knocked my socks off when I heard them.  I could very easily come up with another 5-6 that are probably just as deserving to be in this list, but this is my personal top 10 at this point in time.

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