News and Notes For 8/13/2013

Yes, I’m still here, though life is insanely busy these days with an 8 year old starting soccer next week and a 6 year old that has started competitive cheerleading.  🙂  There have been several stories that have made the rounds lately that I really shouldn’t, and cannot, ignore.

  • Tracy Stuffle is back in ICU.  He has several challenges ahead of him, not the least of which is a so-far completely drug-resistant infection.  None of the antibiotics they have tried have worked.  There is an infectious disease doctor coming in to advise on how to treat further.  The infection has greatly reduced Tracy’s kidney function as well.  PLEASE be in fervent prayer for Tracy, Libbi, and Jared Stuffle, and for the rest of the Perrys.  Libbi has shown incredible strength throughout this entire ordeal, pray that God will continute to grant her that strength.
  • Josh Garner has departed Freedom and joined the Dixie Melody Boys as their new lead singer.  Garner has an incredible lead voice, and gives the DMB what is sure to be a fantastic vocal lineup.  I’ll be interested in hearing their first CD together, as it should be very, very good.  John Rulapaugh has every intention of keeping Freedom going, though as has been the case until now, on a very limited travel schedule.  Pray for John as he searches for a new lead singer.
  • Burman Porter announced last night that he was leaving the Dove Brothers due to health issues (hat tip, DJM).  Burman indicated that McCray has a replacement lined up already, so be watching for that announcement soon.

I’ve got several things coming up for the blog, including a review of the latest CD from the Old Paths, These Truths and I’ll revisit those Blackwood Brothers 78s I told you about a couple of months ago with a Classics Corner post. Finding blogging time has become challenging, but maybe the posts will be worth the wait!

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Joseph Habedank Leaves The Perrys

In what is surely shocking news to many, The Perrys have announced Joseph Habedank’s departure from the group after 10 years as lead vocalist.  This from Joseph:

Dear Friends,

After 10 years of having the great privilege to serve with the Perrys, I have decided to step down as Lead Singer at this time. Libbi and I talked earlier this week, and while I would never want to abandon her in such a great time of need, sometimes The Lord has other plans. There aren’t enough words for me to express how truly grateful I am for both Tracy and Libbi giving me the opportunity that they have. They are like parents to me and I love them dearly. I will miss them.

To the Gospel Music community, thank you all for loving and accepting me over the years. I never dreamed that The Lord would allow me to feel so loved by the fans of Gospel Music. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

As for my future, only The Lord knows what He has in store. I am confident of this one thing tho; I am absolutely nothing without Him and I only want His perfect will for my life. My wife, Lindsay, and I both covet your prayers in this time of transition. We love you all.

With a grateful heart,
Joseph Habedank

This from Libbi:

While it saddens me that Joseph is leaving, we definitely respect his and Lindsay’s need to reevaluate their lives and future. He has been like a son to me and Tracy. Although he is leaving our group, we will always consider him part of our family.

As for the Perry’s, we will continue on. It is my plan to be back on the road as soon and as much as possible. I don’t have all the answers right now, but God is in control. Thank you for your love and prayers for me, Tracy, Jared, Bryan, and Leah; and your continued support of the group.

In His Grip,
Libbi

This is a huge blow to The Perrys, as Habedank has really anchored their sound for the last several years since moving from the baritone spot to the lead spot.  His vocal interaction with baritone Bryan Walker was magnificent, and really gave the group an extra oomph to their live sound and arrangements.  Additionally, Joseph had been contributing some very strong songs as writer. An interesting possibility would be for Leah Page to remain with the group when Libbi returns and the group to reorganize with Bryan, Libbi, and Leah (and Tracy upon his recovery, prayerfully!).  It could make for some powerful sounds.

Prayers to Joseph and Lindsay as they seek God’s will and direction in their life, and for The Perrys as they look to make some major changes with a new lead vocalist.  Joseph, you will be missed!

Thoughts On The Tracy Stuffle Benefit

I watched the large majority of the benefit concert for Tracy and Libbi Stuffle online last night. What a tremendous outpouring of love and support by our fellow SG artists. I thought Jason Crabb and Joseph Habedank did marvelous jobs hosting the concert, and there were a lot of highlights. Former Palmetto State tenor Robert Fulton was singing with Gold City, and they sounded pretty solid.

There was quite a unique lineup of The Hoppers last night as well. Kim is very ill with sinus problems, and may even be facing surgery, sloshed and Dean were at home. Taranda Greene filled in for Kim, and Jason and Joseph alternated filling in Dean’s part. “I’ve Come Too Far” was fantastic, Connie and Taranda both nailed their parts of the song, and on the encore, Tim Riley supplied some incredible bass vocals.

The Booth Brothers did their two songs with only piano accompaniment from Nick Bruno, and it showcased their amazing blend and harmonies. The Collingsworth Family did an exquisite version of “Fear Not Tomorrow”, with Olivia joining what was a trio of her mom and sisters. I’ll disagree with my esteemed colleague Daniel Mount, as to my ears it sounded like Olivia was doubling Courtney, not Brooklyn. Mark Lowry was hilarious, and Paul Harkey was impressive with EHSS. The Oak Ridge Boys also sang with only piano accompaniment as well, and they were very genuine in their love and support for Tracy and Libbi.

More important and significant than all of this, though, came with The Perrys set, and the surprise appearance by Libbi, who sang a heart wrenching performance of “ThroughThe Night.”. After the set, Dr. Phil Hoskins took the stage and had a time of anointing and prayer for Libbi and Tracy. Seeing all of the artists in attendance gathered at the altar with their arms outstretched toward Libbi in prayer was the single most powerful moment I’ve witnessed at a concert. After several minutes of prayer, Libbi began singing “‘Tis So Sweet” from the midst of the group, and the rest of the artists and congregation joined in singing acappella. It was an incredibly sweet moment.

I have no idea how much money was raised last night, but judging from the crowd it had to have been a significant amount. Even,ore important though, 25 or so people rededicated their livestock Christ, and 8 or 9 were saved when Dr. Hoskins gave an altar call. This is what Southern Gospel is all about, and it made me proud to be even peripherally involved with this industry. All in all, a great night, and I was thankful to be able to watch the online stream.

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Tracy Stuffle Benefit Concert Tonight

Tonight is the night of the huge Tracy Stuffle Benefit Concert at Christ Church just outside of Nashville, TN.  If you’re within driving distance of Nashville, I definitely urge you to attend if at all possible.  We’ve even got a contingent from my church taking our church van and driving over for it. (Not me, can’t swing doing that on a school night.)  If you want more information, the website is here.

It is also interesting to note that Solid Gospel will be broadcasting the event live on radio, and you can watch it online here.

The lineup for this concert is nothing short of amazing, so don’t miss it, and it is for a very worthy cause.  Keep up with Tracy’s condition at his CaringBridge page here.

Concert Review: The Perrys

Thursday night, February 21, my church hosted The Perrys in concert. The weather was absolutely horrible, with rain showers and temperatures in the upper 30s, and the weather had a definite impact on the crowd, as probably 100-150 showed up for the concert. The folks who did show up, however, were treated to a fantastic night of Southern Gospel Music. As most of you know, Leah Page is currently filling in the alto spot for Libbi alongside lead singer Joseph Habedank and baritone Bryan Walker. Leah is 19 years old and is from Florida, and was hand picked by Libbi to be her replacement while she is out with Tracy.

Set List:

  • Blue Skies Coming
  • This Old Sinner Testifies
  • I Got A Hold Of God This Morning
  • Call to Libbi
  • Through The Night
  • Great Is Thy Faithfulness
  • Royal Descendant
  • One Of These Mornings
  • Did I Mention
  • If You Knew Him

Intermission

  • He Is Good To Me
  • The Blood And Its Power
  • Almost Morning
  • When He Spoke
  • I Wish I Could Have Been There

Though the crowd was small, The Perrys sang their hearts out with just as much energy and effort as if the auditorium had been full. That effort was not lost on those in attendance, as there were many times during the evening that the crowd hit its feet. “Blue Skies Coming” is a great concert opener, and the performance was energetic and spot on. I was surprised to hear them start into “This Old Sinner” with Tracy having the second verse as a solo, but Bryan Walker took the verse and made it his own. Bryan has really found his niche with The Perrys. The group’s latest radio single is “I Got A Hold Of God This Morning”, and they sang the fire out of it! They paused the concert at this point, and Bryan placed a call to Libbi from the stage then held his mic up to the speaker on his phone. Libbi was able to give us an update on Tracy’s condition, and expressed her gratitude for everyone’s thoughts, prayers, love, and concern for she and Tracy. She also expressed her gratefulness for the support of Joseph, Bryan, Leah, and Jared as they were out fulfilling dates. After the call ended, Joseph called Leah Page up to sing a fantastic ballad that serves as the title track to the group’s latest CD, “Through The Night.” Let me let you readers in on a little secret that is starting to get out…this young lady is a fantastic singer! It is very evident why Libbi picked her to be her replacement, and Leah did a terrific job on this song. After Bryan wowed the audience with his acappella rendition of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”, the group dusted off one of The Perrys early hits and sang a tremendous version of “Royal Descendant.” This song gives Bryan Walker a chance to show off his range, as his harmony part is stacked above Joseph Habedank’s melody, with Leah soaring on the top harmony part. Another surprise call was “Did I Mention”, but once again Leah proved to be up to the task. She took one of Libbi’s sugar sticks and didn’t try to copy Libbi, but performed this gem of a song with the respect and quality of a seasoned professional. The first half of the concert ended with the audience on their feet by the tag of “If You Knew Him.”

The second half started with a couple of songs off of the latest CD, “He Is Good To Me” and “The Blood And Its Power” before Joseph sang what I consider to be his finest song, both as writer and performer, in “Almost Morning.” I’ve always loved this song, and it is custom made for Joseph’s voice. He always nails this song, and this night was no exception. The new version “When He Spoke” followed behind. I have to admit I’m torn. While the new arrangement is very good, and it was sung extremely well by the trio on this night, I can’t help but remember the power that Nicole Watts (now Jenkins) put behind her performance. Regardless of which version is better, this is a powerful song that has a message that deserves to continue to be heard, and I’m glad that the group has brought it back. The concert concluded with “I Wish I Could Have Been There”, and the group called up a young lady from the audience to sing it with them. They left the crowd on their feet clapping along.

Yes, it is different seeing The Perrys without Tracy or Libbi, and yes, they are sorely missed. However, please don’t let that dissuade you from attending a concert by the group. While he will be the first to admit he is not used to the role, Joseph Habedank does a solid job stepping in as emcee in Tracy’s absence. He and Bryan are working extremely hard, and the effort shows in the fact that the group really hasn’t missed a beat. In some ways, the trio of Leah, Joseph, and Bryan breathe new life into the songs, giving The Perrys’ standards a new, fresh sound. I’ve seen reports of promoters backing out from booking The Perrys while Libbi is off the road with Tracy, and those promoters are making a huge mistake. While no one can replace legends like the Stuffles, Leah is more than holding her own with the group. After the concert was over, my dad and I were talking and agreed this could very well be Leah Page’s breakout in the Southern Gospel field. She has a strong, clear voice and a style that is a bit more mainstream from Libbi’s, but similar enough that she fits the material very well. Joseph and Bryan have really developed quite a vocal rapport with the middle parts of the group’s harmony, and honestly, the three of them would make for an incredible trio in their own right. Just seeing Jared Stuffle walk into the building and take care of his typical responsibilities with the merchandise and sound is quite a statement to the strength of his character. I honestly don’t know if I could do the same in his situation. Jared, we’re all praying for you and your parents. Joseph Habedank also shared the new of the Tracy Stuffle Benefit Concert that is to be held on Tuesday, March 19 at Christ Church in Nashville. If any of you are in driving distance of Nashville, please plan to attend this benefit for Tracy. All proceeds are going to help with his medical expenses. You can find more info at http://www.tracystufflebenefit.com/.

The weather was bad, the crowd was unfortunately small, but this configuration of The Perrys walked in, sang their hearts out, and left the church having uplifted the souls that were in attendance, and having presented a clear message of the Gospel through strong lyrics, powerful vocals, and thrilling harmonies. Please don’t miss out on a chance to see the Perrys when they are close by, you will miss a blessing! Thanks to Joseph, Bryan, Jared, and Leah for a wonderful concert!

Photos:

More Prayer Needed For Tracy Stuffle

Tracy Stuffle is still in urgent need of prayer.  Word came at 5:30 this morning that he had a neurological infection and his fever had spiked up to 103.5.  The latest update from Libbi (9:05 AM) is that they have got his fever down to 99.3.  Here is the full update from his CaringBridge site:

Temp is down to 99.3 from 103.5, but they are doing a chest x-ray to check lungs. They seem to think there is bacteria somewhere. But even their highest acting antibiotics have not worked. His vitals are a little higher than has been. But, this could be happening due to the part of brain that controls the body temp being effected from bleed out! Just don’t know right now.

Please continue to lift Tracy, Libbi, and Jared up in prayer.

Update On Tracy Stuffle

Here is the latest update on Tracy from his Caring Bridge page.  There are some positive signs, so please keep praying for him and the rest of the family.  Libbi mentions here she had been some 40 hours without sleep, pray for strength and rest for her.

Ok I forgot that I have not posted any thing since drainage cath was put in. Which I’ve been almost 40 hrs with no sleep. Can’t eat or sleep until I know my Sweet T is out of the woods! Yes, I know I have to take care of myself too, and I am.

Drainage cath was placed into brain to drain off blood from bleed out. The blood in the fluid cavities is draining off! We noticed movement about 30 minutes later. They now have Tracy sedated so all of his pressures can rest. He also needed a mouth inserted trach to open up his air way. Which is a breathing machine, not a vent! They’ve had to strap his left arm down due to him trying to pull tubes out.

As of right now, he is running a temp of 100. Sometimes this common because the brain controls the temp. But, Gonna keep an eye on it to make sure there’s not a infection somewhere.

They should be doing another CT scan Wednesday. I will update if they do.

I am sooooo overwhelmed at the out pouring of love that has been shown Tracy! He would never believe it! He sometimes feels like no one really cared about his part in the group. Well, I can’t wait for him to see all of you alls FB pages! I have set here beside him crying looking at pics, prayer request posting, kind and generous remarks about him!! Trust me I will show him as soon as he’s out of the woods! I don’t even know the correct words to use to express my gratitude and thanks for every prayer that has been lifted on his behalf! I love you all sooooooo much!! Please keep praying for my Sweet T!

UPDATE 1/23/2013 8:45AM

Not a lot of changes through the night other than temp is normal! PTL
They have had to up his blood pressure med. It’s having a hard time staying down where they need it even with added Meds. His nurse said this morning that if the BP goes too high and he has another bleed out, his life as he knew it would be done!

They are being VERY adamant about LESS visitors today and absolutely no talking and stimulation from the few visitors that they will allow today! I have been lectured twice on this in the last 9 or ten hours! They said they took by all the visitors he had yesterday and last night that he was a very loved and thought of person. But, the live is gonna have to wait til he’s out of the woods.
No CT scan will be done today, maybe tomorrow. Still allowing time for blood in the fluid cavities to drain off.  I will update later if any changes are made.

Thanks for all the overwhelming amount of prayers, text messages, phone calls and emails!!!! You will never ever know how much it means to our family!  Also one other thing: the guys Joseph and Bryan will be filling all dates this weekend! Ms Leah Melissa Page will be filling in for me. Leah is a very incredible singer and I requested her to step in to fill my place. I ask that you will continue to support the group during this time. I know if Tracy could speak he would tell you this would be a big support to him and for him. I feel my place is to be here during these crucial days. I beg you to please understand.
I love you all more than you will ever know!

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