Jay Parrack is one of the most beloved artists to ever come along in Gospel Music. He spent a decade (1994-2004) as the tenor with Gold City, and was a member of the groups most popular lineup (Parrack, Wilburn, Trammell, Riley). During his time with the group, Jay was the featured voice of such hits as God’s Building A Church, In Time, On Time, Every Time, Hide Me Behind The Cross, Are You Ready, and many other fan favorites.
In 2004, Jay left GC and has spent alot of time as a music minister at home in Alabama. Recently, Jay has begun singing in a trio called Vocal Event, based out of Gadsden, AL. The group is comprised of Parrack at Tenor, Anthony “Bubba” Hallman on Lead, and Darren Morton on Baritone. They have just released a recording entitled, “Simply Southern”, that is now available on iTunes. The recording is a collection of Southern Gospel standards, that you will be sure to enjoy.
If you’re a Jay Parrack fan, you will definitely want to download this album! To find out more about Jay & Vocal Event, you can find them on Facebook. You can also download Strictly Southern on iTunes by clicking here. Here’s a video of the guys singing a song on the project, featuring Jay.
Good news for Gold City fans, bass singer Tim Riley shared in an interview with radio station KWFC out of Springfield, MO that the group has hired Robert Fulton. Fulton has served as a replacement/fill in vocalist for Dan Keeton for a little over a month. A Gallipolis, Ohio native, Fulton is best known for a short stint with the Palmetto State Quartet a few years ago.
Gold City has found some consistency in the last 2 years, since the addition of Keeton & lead singer Jerry Pelfrey. I look forward to hearing the group soon, and seeing what the future holds for the group. Here’s a video of the group in action with Fulton on tenor, from a concert in Oklahoma last month.
The Gospel Harmony Boys have announced that Jamie Caldwell has joined the group as their new baritone vocalist. Caldwell, a native West Virginian, is best known for his years with the Dixie Melody Boys & Weatherfords. The group has issued the following press release.
“The Gospel Harmony Boys are pleased to announce that Dr. Jamie Caldwell has become part of our 60 year old ministry. Jamie came on board April 1st to sing baritone and to be used of God in whatever manner He leads. Jamie is an extraordinary talent who has dedicated himself to His Lord, His music and His ministry. Mountaineers by birth, Jamie and his beautiful wife Deana have recently returned to West Virginia, from Dallas, Texas where he served on staff at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary as the Director of Recruitment and Minister of Worship.
Jamie is a lifelong musician and song writer whose desire is to follow Jesus and serve the church as he continues to develop his craft. His music has carried him all over the world and onto numerous well known stages like Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry and live performances on the BBC in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His path has led him to serve with Gospel Music legends like Ed O’Neal and the Dixie Melody Boys as well as one of our very favorites, Lily Fern & The Weatherfords. Jamie’s recognitions are many, but being the recipient of a Platinum Album Award from the Recording Industry Association of America rests among his favorites.
In addition to his extraordinary experiences in the music industry, Jamie has also experienced God’s call to the pastorate having served churches in Ohio, Indiana, Virginia and West Virginia for over 25 years. His experiences include First Baptist in Newark, OH and early in his career, he traveled with noted evangelist B.R. Lakin.
In his personal life, Jamie is a collector of hobbies and motorized toys, but his passion is reserved for his family – especially his grandkids.
We are excited that Jamie and Deana have returned to their home in West Virginia and we are delighted that God’s timing has brought his talent and testimony to the ministry that is The Gospel Harmony Boys.”
I am intrigued to hear how Caldwell will blend with the group, he was a powerful lead with the DMB, having the tall task of replacing McCray Dove when he left the group. For those of you who may not have heard Jamie, heres a clip of him taken from a Gaither video. If the Gospel Harmony Boys are in your area, make sure you go hear this great group. Check out their website here.
I was sitting around thinking today, who would Southern Gospel fans rank as the top 10 groups in their Respective fields. So with that. I have decided to open up a new forum with this post, The People’s Choice, to get your picks of the Top 10 Quartets in Gospel Music today. In the future we will be posting more categories for you to rank your favorites. So listed below are my picks, for the Top 10 Quartet’s in Gospel Music Today. I’m sure this will inspire some nice healthy debate, and I look forward to hearing your opinions.
Here is my Top 10
1. Mark Trammell Quartet
2. Kingdom Heirs
3. Triumphant Quartet
4. Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
5. Brian Free & Assurance
6. Legacy Five
7. Gold City
8. Soul’d Out Quartet
9. The Inspirations
10. The Kingsmen
Please post your top 10 picks in the comment section below. Next Monday, April 1st, I will post the results of our survey, and reveal the People’s Choice for the Top 10 Quartets in Southern Gospel Music. I look forward to reading your comments, and unveiling the selections next week!
The subject of today’s classic album review is from a lineup that I was to my shame, unaware of until a few months ago.Whenever I thought of The Sound from Houston, Texas, the name that first came to mind for me & many others is
Scott Fowler (Cathedrals & Legacy Five). Mike Presnell (best known for his days with Perfect Heart) was the groups bass singer at that time, and later members also included included former L5 tenor, Frank Seamans. But what many, including me, did not know is that long before the days of Fowler & Presnell, there were 2 other well known & accomplished singers that helped establish the group.
Those two men were Pat Hoffmaster, former tenor for the legendary Blackwood Brothers Quartet on lead, and Rick Strickland on tenor, who was fresh from his tenure with the Singing Americans, and would later sing with the Kingdom Heirs & J.D. Sumner & The Stamps. The rest of the group was rounded out by Sean Riley on baritone, Jess Farmer on bass, and David Foster on piano, who also was their arranger. “The World Needs To Hear” was their first project, and was produced by the master maestro himself, the one & only Lari Goss.
A little history on the group reveals some interesting changes. When recording started on “The World Needs To Hear”, the lineup was Hoffmaster singing tenor, Kent Morrison on lead, with Foster supplying some baritone, and Farmer on bass. This lineup recorded 2 songs, before Riley would take over the baritone, and Strickland joined as the groups tenor, allowing Hoffmaster to sing lead.
The album starts with a great, uptempo quartet number “Blessed Shall You Be”. Hoffmaster carries the lead through the verses and first chorus, then Strickland takes over on the second chorus to the songs end. The group establishes a great, high harmony & tight vocals right off the bat, a preview of things to come throughout the album. The next cut ”I Gave Up”, features Hoffmaster on the lead. Even though this is a totally 80′s song, it has a great jazzy feel, and Hoffmaster just kills it. The most recognizable song that this group recorded is the third song, “Here Comes The Bride”. Hoffmaster sings the first verse, Strickland the second, then each member sings a line of the third verse. The song ends with a powerful high ending, that is nothing short of breath taking. Both Hoffmaster & Strickland had such incredible ranges, producing the sky high lead & tree top tenor vocals, reminiscent of the Prophets (similar to that of Jay Berry or Roy McNeil & “Big Lew” Garrison”)
Next up is “I Got An Old Time Religion”. My first exposure to this song was through Perfect Heart, who recorded it on their 1992 release, “Looking For The Wounded” The Sound’s arrangement differs mainly, because of a great ragtime intro. This was one of the first songs recorded and features Kent Morrison on lead vocals, whp does a great job. Closing out Side 1 is “Bought By The King”. This song is nothing short of Awesome, with Farmer singing the first section of both verses, with Riley taking the second half of the 1st verse & Hoffmaster doing the same on the 2nd verse, and he knocks it out of the park. The ending of the song is absolutely powerful, with Strickland taking up the key change and intensity. The Kingdom Heirs would record this (with Strickland on tenor) on their “Live At Dollywood” project, but their arrangement doesn’t come close to the brilliance of this recording.
Side 2 begins with “I’m Gonna Be Ready”, a great uptempo features bass vocalist Farmer on the verses. Farmer does a nice job on the verses, and the group kills it on the chorus. Next up is, “Mender Of Broken Wings”. This was the other song recorded with Kent Morrison on lead, and a highlight of the recording featuring Hoffmaster. This song has been a favorite of mine for years (a regional group here in Michigan that I loved called Crimson sang this song and did a fantastic job). At the time of its recording, Hoffmaster’s cancer was in remission, so this song was very special to him. He sings this song with such feeling, and turns in an absolutely outstanding performance. If you’re a fan of Pat Hoffmaster or fantastic quartet singing, you must hear this song!
Following such a huge song is the toe tapping, quartet song, “We Shall Reign”. The group sings the first verse and chorus, with nice step out parts for Strickland & Hoffmaster. Next up is another great moving song, “Hill Of Hope”, featuring Riley on the verses, that talks about how Calvary offers hope for the lost & undone soul without Christ. There’s a key change and some great harmony on the tag. The recording closes with the lone Rick Strickland feature, “Let’s Cross Over To Jesus’ Side”. Strickland sings the verses with great feeling, and the group provides some great harmony on the chorus. Its a great song to close out the recording and extremely well done by the group.
I had read that some fans considered this album to be on the same level as The Singing Americans iconic “Black And White”. While that is a big statement to make, “The World Needs To Hear” was a fantastic album with great song selection, outstanding vocals and fabulous production. As for this lineup of The Sound, they didn’t last much longer. Hoffmaster, Strickland, and Foster would move to Nashville and continue as a trio called Exodus, with Steve Hurst (the vocal coach) on baritone. They released a Christmas EP, Cherish that is quite fantastic itself. Sadly, Hoffmaster would pass away in 1988. Although they were together briefly, “The World Needs To Hear” is an album that should be in the library of any true fan of Gospel Music.
My special thanks to David Foster for providing his invaluable insight & help for this article. I hope you’ve enjoyed this Classic Album Review!
A few days ago, I read a wonderful article from singer/songwriter Daryl Williams, whose perspective is one that has been a complaint of many Southern Gospel fans for years, and one that will continue to grow in the age we live in. Why is it difficult for people to music when its released?
Here’s a scenario for you, one I’ve dealt with often, that is not unusual. You see a release date for the new project from your favorite artist advertised in the Singing News or mentioned on a blog. You go to your local Christian bookstore, and you don’t see it in the ever shrinking Southern Gospel music section. You ask the clerk if they can order it, and they tell you its not listed in their catalog, and they question your sanity. Then you try the online route to download the music. You go to iTunes, search the artist, yet the albums not listed. You hop on the artists website, and its not available in their online store for purchase yet. You may go to the website of the artists record company, and there’s no mention of the albums release because the website is not up to date. How does it make you feel?
Of the SG labels that I know of, Crossroads is the only one who comes to mind that you can download the music from directly, and in some cases before the release date. With iTunes & other digital media outlets, we face another issue. For those of us who love to read the album credits, find out the song information (lyrics, writer, musicians), we get nothing. One feature that Williams mentions in his article is the iTunes LP feature, which offers a download of the artwork, lyrics, and other features. And many other albums on iTunes, that are not part of the LP releases, also come with the artwork & liner notes. Crossroads at one time included the artwork with their downloads, but I have not seen them recently.
I personally think SG artists & companies need to spend their energy making sure they are interacting with their fans, and their music is available digitally. Now we know that illegal sharing is an still an issue, and it does hurt the artists when people are sharing music with people outside their household. But, I believe many artists are losing out by not making their music available for digital purchase. In areas that artists may not tour, they are making their music available for their fans, who may have to wait a long period of time before seeing their favorite artist again.
I’m curious to hear your take. What’s your opinion? How long have your waited to get your favorite artists new cd? What steps do you think SG artists & record companies could take to improve their services, and get their music to fans faster?
I don’t know if anyone noticed I was gone, but here I am! I wanted to apologize to all of you for my laziness lately. I have been quite overwhelmed with the stuff of life, but I’m back and at it. Much has been going on in the world of Southern Gospel Music, and at times it was hard to keep up with all the press releases of members resigning positions in their old groups and joining their new groups. But things seem to be settling down now, and I will be posting new articles for your viewing pleasure.
There will be some new album reviews coming, and also I will be returning to writing my articles on My Top 10 Quartets of All Time. I’m very excited to get back at it, and I hope you’ll enjoy the new posts that are coming.
2012 has been the year of the Revolving Bass Singer, as there has been so many personell changes in the genre to keep up lately. One of the most stunning announcements came today, as Ernie Haase sent out a press release announcing Ian Owens will be leaving the group. The following is the news release, in its entirety.
I am starting a new segment called, An Artist You Should Know, and I am happy to be featuring a group, out of my own back yard here in Michigan, with a tremendous history. The Calvarymen hail from Burton, Michigan, and have been singing for over 55 years. The group has had some notable members in its history, including George Amon Webster (Cathedral Quartet) and Tenor Brion Carter (formerly of Palmetto State). The group is currently comprised of Barry Maust at lead, Steve Ratliff at baritone, and James Bruney at tenor, and longtime bass singer Jim Glasco.
The group has released a collection of songs from their past entitled Timeless Favorites, that is one of their finest recordings. At the time of the recording of this project, the guys were a trio, looking for a bass singer (Prior to Glasco rejoining the group). Wanting to record the project as a quartet, they asked their producer, Bob Caldwell, to join them for this project as their “guest” and supply the bass part. Caldwell (A fellow Michigander) is no stranger to Southern Gospel Music. A solid bass, with a smooth tone, he’s spent time with the Kingdom Heirs, Statesmen, Brian Free & Assurance, and Won by One.
The songs featured on this project are He’s So Good To Me, Give Me Jesus, Campmeeting, Excuses, Love Grew Where The Blood Fell, Echoes From The Burning Bush, Reach Out To Jesus, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, I Plead The Blood, With My Eyes Wide Open, and How Rich I Am. The guys sound fantastic, they do a great job on all the songs (My personal favorites are Give Me Jesus, Love Grew, Echoes, I Plead The Blood, With My Eyes Wide Open, and How Rich I Am) and Caldwell sounds as smooth and as low as ever.
If you’d like to find out more about The Calvarymen, visit their website here. If you love smooth quartet singing, or you’re a Bob Caldwell fan, pick up this recording. You will love it!