December 11, 2012 1 Comment
My church recently hosted a concert by Triumphant Quartet. Attendance was fairly strong, especially for the Thursday night after Thanksgiving. I would place the crowd somewhere between 250-300. With the timing of the concert being the beginning of the Christmas season, the guys took the opportunity to “practice” quite a bit of their Christmas material on us with several exclusively Christmas concerts coming up. The entire first half, save the last song before intermission was Christmas themed music.
- Medley: Hark The Herald Angels Sing/O Little Town of Bethlehem/Children Go Where I Send Thee/Do You Hear What I Hear/Go Tell It On The Mountain/Joy To The World
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (acappella)
- Jesus, Oh What A Wonderful Child
- Jesus Is Lord For All Time
- Jesus Is Born Today
- Angels We Have Heard On High ( piano instrumental)
- Deck The Halls ( piano instrumental)
- Tennessee Christmas (piano and harmonica)
- It Is Well
- Saved By Grace
- Love Came Calling
- Mary Did You Know?
- The Old White Flag
- The Great I Am Still Is
- How Great Thou Art
- Almost Home
Triumphant is currently celebrating their 10th anniversary as a group, and they are a bit of a rarity in SG in that they have had no personnel changes in the 10 years of the group’s existence. Their opening song, “Hallelujah”, was a great choice to start the concert as it got things started off with a great intensity. The medley that followed was fantastic, and the crowd really seemed to enjoy the fast, energetic arrangement of “Children Go Where I Send Thee”, and the ending of “Joy To The World” was great. The group’s rendition of the Cathedrals’ classic acappella arrangement of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” was absolutely note perfect and highlighted the incredible blend of the four voices. David Sutton can really carry a tenor ballad, and he did an outstanding job on one called “Jesus Is Lord For All Time.” He has one of the most expressive tenor voices in the genre, and I enjoy the fullness of his tones. I’ve always liked the song “Jesus Is Born Today”, which was originally recorded by the Oak Ridge Boys on their 1982 album, Christmas, and Triumphant did a great job bringing it back. As with their recent cover of the Oaks’ “Everyday”, Triumphant really does well bringing back classic songs from the Oak Ridge Boys, that style really is the strength of Triumphant. Jeff Stice played his fantastic arrangement of “Angels We Have Heard On High” that he recorded with Perfect Heart on their CD Live At The Forum. He then shared that he had a request from his mom to record a piano Christmas CD that had no other instrumental backing, just Jeff and his piano. He played a thrilling arrangement of “Deck The Halls” from that CD before David Sutton joined him on stage for a piano/harmonica duet on “Tennessee Christmas.” The one non-Christmas song of the first half, “It Is Well”, left the crowd on their feet as they left for intermission.
Let me just say that it is quite a daunting task to play a piano solo offertory after hearing 3 instrumentals featuring Jeff Stice, one of the best piano players we’ve ever had in SG. After the intermission, the group absolutely wowed the audience with their two recent #1 songs, “Saved By Grace” and “Love Came Calling.” Both songs are most deserving of their chart topping positions. Triumphant’s version of “Saved By Grace” exceeds the original Florida Boys rendition, in this blogger’s opinion. Eric Bennett may be the best bass singer in Southern Gospel at communicating a lyric and carrying a bass solo, and I’ve long enjoyed his rendition of “Mary, Did You Know?”. Clayton had easily 2/3 of the audience waving white handkerchiefs on “The Old White Flag.” That song has been part of their stage show for a long time now, and it’s amazing to see how the crowd enthusiasm has kept up over the years, and doesn’t seem to show any signs of waning at all. Scotty Inman shared a very moving testimony about the medical challenges that surrounded the birth of his daughter, with a poignant challenge by a friend that he’d spent all this time practicing his faith, and that this trial was a challenge for him to “use it.” That lead into a very powerful performance of “The Great I Am Still Is.” This is still likely the strongest lyric the group has recorded in their 10 years, and it is completely obvious why this song has staying power in their repertoire. Ending with “Almost Home” had them leaving the stage with the crowd once again on their feet.
As I mentioned earlier, Triumphant is celebrating 10 years as a group, and with a stable lineup over that entire time, you can easily understand why the group displays such an incredible sense of unity. From a perfection of their vocal blend, to an uncanny ability to pick material that fits each member like a glove, to the ability to anticipate each other’s stage presence and vocal embellishments in a live performance, Triumphant operates like a well-oiled machine. Eric Bennett is a very capable and comfortable MC who reads the spirit of an audience very well, and is one of the best bass singers in the genre, hands down. Scotty Inman has basically grown up in the group, and not only possesses infallible tones as a baritone vocalist, but he has become a fantastic writer as well. He is easily one of the top young vocalists in Southern Gospel. Clayton Inman has been one of SG’s best lead vocalists for years now, and he completely commands a stage. Young, aspiring lead singers need to spend some time observing Clayton Inman, as there is no better example of what a Southern Gospel lead singer should be. David Sutton has an unmistakeable tenor voice that draws you in immediately. His ability to carry a tenor ballad puts him in the top tier of tenor vocalists in SG, and he has a full, rich tone that is a rare find. I’ve long enjoyed listening to David sing.
Triumphant is riding high in SG right now, having won quartet of the year for several years running now. It’s no surprise with the stability in their lineup that they’ve hit such a stride. Quite simply, they are one of the best we have to offer. If you can catch them during the Christmas season, please go see them, their Christmas material is a great blend of traditional songs with some nice originals as well. If not, catch them the next time they are in your area, you’d look long and hard to find a quartet that puts on a better concert or service.
Photos (courtesy of our church’s Ministry Assistant, Donna Harris):