Jeremy Peace Departs The Old Paths

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The Old Paths L-R Jeremy Peace, Tim Rackley, Daniel Ashmore, Douglas Roark

In an announcement that I never expected to write, Jeremy Peace, tenor vocalist for The Old Paths, has announced that he is leaving the group to form a new ministry with his family. The group has not posted a Press Release yet, Jeremy made the announcement on his personal Facebook page. Peace shared, “Over the past several years, after accepting the calling on my life to preach the Gospel, I’ve wrestled within myself to step out on my own, following the Lord in the direction he would have me go. Through that period of time, I’ve said no, I’ve tried to reject the notion that the Holy Spirit was leading me into evangelistic ministry, and all but ran from any open doors the Lord would open for me. I’ve lived in my “comfort zone” for so long that I was content where I was at. But within the last few months, the Lord has revealed Himself in such mighty ways; answering prayers for our family and opening doors that we had no choice but to walk through. As we sat back and watched the Lord worked within our family, it became apparent that He was waiting on me to take the first step of faith, in obedience to his Word, so that He could use me and my family in ministry together. We live in a world of chaos and despair. Everyone searching to fill the empty void inside them that only the Holy Spirit can fill. While we as Christians send a majority of our missionaries overseas to other nations, our country is crumbling to ruins. Jennifer and I feel its time to follow the Lord, step out on faith and become missionaries to our great nation! Our heart is to lead the lost to a loving Savior, and disciple them in truth and biblical teachings. To go into churches; preaching, and singing to hurting people who need the message of hope that Jesus will never leave them nor forsake them.

Peace went on to state, “So, as I transition from being a quartet man, spending the last 8 years on the road with one of the top quartets in the nation, it is with a humbled heart that I announce a new ministry: Peace Ministries; preaching, singing, missionary and evangelistic work throughout the United States. We will also be putting together couple’s, men, women and teen retreats, sharing our testimonies; individually and together, of how the Lord has delivered us and worked through us, and how he can do the same for others!”

Peace has been a favorite of Gospel Music lovers since joining The Kingsmen back in 2004. In 2007, Jeremy left the group to join The Old Paths and for the last 8 years has been a part of this great group’s rise to the top of the industry. Their last 4 projects (Right Now, These Truths, Decade, Stay) are the finest string of recordings any group in the history of our music have ever released. Although I hate to see Jeremy leave my favorite group, I wish him and his family all the best. Please keep the Peace Family & The Old Paths in your prayers during this time of transition.

Behind The Music with Shane Dunlap

Today’s installment of Behind The Music is one that I’m really excited about. One of my favorite groups was N’Harmony, I had a copy of their Out Of The Blue project that I absolutely wore out. That was where I discovered the voice of their lead singer, Shane Dunlap. Shane has one of the most identifiable voices of any singer in Gospel Music: when you hear his voice, you know its Shane.

1477868_931375520239837_5838845141749792776_nShane left N’Harmony in 2002 to become the lead singer of a new quartet that was forming at the time, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound. Many will also remember Shane from his time in The Trio with Kirk Talley & Anthony Burger.  Shane has recently recorded a brand new solo project, entitled Love So Amazing. Recently, Shane took a few moments to discuss his new project with me.

Brian Fuson (BF): So for many people who may have been wondering what you’ve been up to, tell us what you’ve been doing since you stopped traveling?

Shane Dunlap (SD): I came off the road about 10 years ago in order to spend more time with my family. Though I stepped away from a prominent career, I am so glad that I made that decision. Being able to be “a dad” was so important to me and the development of my young family. Since then, God has blessed me to become an ordained worship Pastor. I now lead worship at one of the fastest growing churches in the nation, Lee Park Church in Monroe, NC.

BF: What made you want to return to the studio?

SD: The truth is, I really never left the studio. I have been doing studio work and recording on and off for the past 10 years. However, I really felt it was time to get back out there on a national level. The model was for me to represent the church as an “artist in residence” of sorts. That allows me to have the best of both worlds, a home church base, and the opportunity to travel and do dates.

BF: You’ve worked with some great producers, such as Lari Goss, Garry Jones and others. What inspired you to work with Ricky Free and what was something you enjoyed most about working Ricky that stands out from other producers.

SD: I have known Ricky for a long time. I have always admired him as a musician, and have continued to follow him and stay in contact through the years. I love his passion for excellence. Ricky will eventually go down as one of the best of all time. Mark that down!

BF: How long did it take you to select the songs for this project, and did you notice a recurring theme in the songs you selected?

SD: I am a songwriter myself, but as I was selecting songs I wanted “the best” songs. Not just a song that I wrote. I probably listened to 150 songs from some great writers. I reached out to some of my songwriter friends and asked them for their help. Their support for me was humbling. I just wanted to cut songs that ministered to me. I know if it touches me, then I can easily portray the message to people.

BF: N’Harmony was always so versatile musically, and you’ve continued with that versatility on this project. How would you describe this project compared to your previous work?

SD: I wanted to continue that trend with this recording. We were always on the edge a little. I have a philosophy… Good music is good music, and people don’t care what style it is, as long as it is done with class and excellence. It’s always been my motto. Yes, some may not like a certain style and that is understandable, but if it’s done well, most of the time, most people can appreciate it.

BF: The first single from this project “Heaven In Your Heart” is a great song, that also features Sonya Issacs Yeary. How did that collaboration come about?

SD: I Heard the demo and loved the song. It was actually my favorite before we cut the tracks. After we cut the track to it, I felt that she would be perfect for the song. Having known her for many years, I asked if she would want to do it with me and she didn’t hesitate. Needless to say, she killed it… I told her ” ” I can really feel the heart in that song”… She is just one example of a true friend. I have had many of them give me so much encouragement through this process. Some who I haven’t spoken to in years, but they have still been there when I needed them. I am thankful for Sonya and people like her.

BF: What is the impression that you want people to have when they hear this project?
SD: No impression really. At least not an impression of me. I just want the message of Jesus to shine through. He has been so good to me, and I just want people to know how much he loves us.

I want to thank Shane and his assistant, Ashea Griffin, for their time. Love So Amazing  is now available on iTunes, you can also order your copy today by visit Shane’s website here.  Be on the lookout for a CD Review of the project that will be posting later this week. I hope you enjoyed this edition of Behind The Music.

CD Review: “Battle Cry” by The Kingsmen

I’ve been wanting to review this one for a while but haven’t had the time, so I hope you all will forgive me for showing up late to the party. But with my semester being over and having a full week break, I now have time to blog a little bit. The subject of today’s CD Review is one that’s been getting a lot of great buzz, Battle Cry by The Kingsmen. 

513wZ5ueZdL._SL500_AA280_Battle Cry marks the first mainline project by the group to feature both Chris Jenkins (tenor) and Bob Sellers (lead), although the lineup has been together since 2012, along with baritone Randy Crawford and longtime bass vocalist and Hall of Famer, Ray Dean Reese. The project kicks off with the title track, Battle Cry, that features Crawford. The song opens a cappella before the music kicks in. I’ve Never Seen The Righteous Forsaken is the first song to feature Jenkins, and he tears up this Rebecca Peck tune. Jenkins is one of the finest tenor singers to come along in the industry in recent years and on a personal note, I believe he’s the finest Kingsmen tenor since Jeremy Peace. He Took Away My Burden is the third cut, and a great quartet song that features Sellers & Jenkins on step out lines on the chorus. The song also gives Ray his first feature on the second verse.

Next up is the projects first single, Oh Yes I Am, which features Jenkins. He absolutely tears up this song, its classic Kingsmen all the way and exactly what you expect for these guys. It’s been a favorite among fans as well, as it topped the Singing News Radio charts. Cross Of Grace is a ballad that closes out the first half of the project, and gives Sellers his first feature. Beautiful City kicks off the second half of the cd, and is a great fast quartet song that features Ray on the second verse. I Know is vintage Kingsmen; written by the great Ila Knight.  Ray sings the first verse and Sellers sings the second. The guys do a key change on the chorus and Jenkins takes over and takes it home. This is a song I can imagine the 70’s era group singing, I can almost hear Squire or Hamill singing the second verse of this song.

It Should Have Rained is another ballad, this time giving Crawford his first feature. It starts out with just piano on the first verse and chorus, with band and orchestration kicking in on the second verse. Faith continues the slower pace, with Sellers on the verses and Jenkins taking over on the chorus. Picking up the pace is Come and Dine  a new song written by Dianne Wilkinson. Its a hand clapping, foot stomping tune that get up and goes. The project comes to a close with a song written by Crawford that feature him as well, Here I Stand Amazed. 

CONCLUSION

Whenever a project receives a lot of hype, its natural to assume it will not be as good as advertised. But Battle Cry is the exception, this cd is the best project the Kingsmen have recorded in the last 20 years. I will even say its the best Kingsmen recording since Singing In The Sun in 1992. Their blend is the best it has been in years; Jenkins, Sellers, and Crawford along with Reese give the group a sound that is true to the Kingsmen’s legacy but also completely all their own. The song selection, lyrical content, and vocal performances were the best I have heard in a Kingsmen project in years. Battle Cry, hands down, was the best quartet project released in 2014, hands. If you don’t have it, you better get it!

Rating: 5 Stars

Review copy not provided. 

Video of The Week: “Somebody Prays” by The Guardians

My pick for video of the week is a concept video by The Guardians for their latest single, “Somebody Prays“. The group, made up of lead singer John Darin Rowsey, baritone Neil Uhrig, and tenor Dean Hickman, have really got a hit on their hands with this song. Be on the lookout for a cd review coming up soon, until then Enjoy!

Kingdom Heirs Announce New Baritone Vocalist

The Kingdom Heirs have announced that Brian Alvey will be the groups new baritone. Alvey will begin his duties with the group immediately. The group has spent the last 3 weekends with three different men auditioning for the baritone position, Bryan Walker (Perrys), Loren Harris (Wilburns, Perrys), and Alvey.

a2cf05bf-fb39-4f4e-a26a-7cc55f4c34d9In a press release today, group owner/bass guitarist Kreis French stated, A lot of prayer and consideration went into our decision and we are thrilled to welcome Brian and his family, into our family.”  

French continued to say, “During our time on the road this winter, we had the privilege to audition close to 60 men who traveled many miles for this chance and we thank each of you so much. We feel that God has led us to the man He wants for us.” 

 To say I am skeptical of how good of a fit Alvey will be is an understatement. While there is no doubt that he is a talented singer, he is not known for his longevity. His longest tenure with one group is the 3 years he spent with Tribute Quartet from 2008-2011. He also spent a year with singing with his wife, Lauren Talley, and her family The Talleys. Alvey was last seen traveling in a short stint with The Skyline Boys. The Kingdom Heirs are one of the foremost quartets in Southern Gospel, and one of the main reasons why is because of the members longevity. The baritone position is so vital in a quartet because it is the glue that holds the blend together. The Kingdom Heirs cannot afford turnover in this position and it would be sad to see the baritone in this group become slot a revolving door. It is my sincere hope that history will not repeat itself with Alvey.

The group, who are celebrating their 30th Anniversary this year, is currently working on a brand new recording which is slated to release in October on the Crossroads label. Until then, the only way to hear Alvey with The Kingdom Heirs will be at Dollywood. We wish both Brian & the group nothing but the best.

Feel free to Chime in with your thoughts in our Comments section. 

Album Review: Living In Harmony by Triumphant

There is no doubt that Triumphant is one of Southern Gospel’s most prolific artists. They have become a main stay in the industry, and have been voted by the fans as their Favorite Quartet. Last year saw the group deal with their first personnel change, a remarkable feat when you consider they have been together for 13 years! Even with the departure of group pianist/arranger/producer Jeff Stice, the group has kept the vocal core together. Living In Harmony is the group’s first project to be released without Stice’s touch, and produced by Wayne Haun, who has produced numerous projects for Triumphant (Everyday, Love Came Calling).

Triumphant - Living In HarmonyThe project kicks off with the title cut, Living In Harmony, which is one of two songs on the project written by baritone Scotty Inman. This is one of the most catchy songs to come along in recent years, with a real country flair to it, reminiscent of The Oak Ridge Boys. The pace changes a bit for Jesus Must Have Been Here, which also features Scotty. Scotty has long been one of the finest singers in the industry, but he really takes a step forward on this project. Amazing God is the third cut on the project, and features tenor David Sutton. This song is a bit of a departure from what fans have come to expect from Sutton, with a country sound. Yet it is excellent lyrically and David and the group deliver a great vocal.

Next up is a cut that’s a page out of the history of Southern Gospel. I was excited to find out the guys brought back The Singing Americans Black And White. Both lead singer Clayton Inman and Sutton are SA alumni, and the group brought the song back in grand style, putting their own stamp on the arrangement. It’s one of my favorite cuts on the cd and a is sure to be a real crowd pleaser live. Speaking of Clayton, he steps out for his first feature on the classic When He Reached Down His Hand For Me.

The second half of the project kicks off with Living In The Promised Land, which features Scotty. The song has a driving feel that reminds me a bit of Almost Home. Next up is a light hearted tune, Made For Gold, that features Clayton. Although Clayton does a good job on it, this song was not one of my favorites. I definitely think of this as more of an Ernie Haase & Signature Sound type song. I Belong To Jesus is a great ballad, another song written by Scotty, that features bass singer Eric Bennett. The guys also brought back an old Phillips, Craig & Dean song, A Friend Called Grace, which features Scotty. The project comes to a close with Has There Ever Been, which features Clayton. Although its a good song with a great lyric, the chorus seems a bit too wordy. I would have liked to have heard this song slowed down just a couple clicks.

CONCLUSION

RATING: 4 out 5 Stars

I have read a few reviews already that have hailed this as Triumphant’s best recording to date, even so far as to call this the best project of the year.  While I did enjoy the first half of the cd immensely (title cutJesus Must Have Been Here,  Awesome God, Black And White, and Living In The Promised Land), Made For Gold and Has There Ever Been didn’t make the same impression on me. Another aspect I noticed on this project was a more predominant country sound, which is nothing new when you listen to some of the groups past recordings, but it seems to be more apparent on this project. There’s no doubt that Living In Harmony is a good cd, but I do not believe it is their best work (I believe that to be Love Came Calling). While the group’s many fans are sure to love this project, I personally would like to see Triumphant move away from the country sound and venture back towards a more progressive yet traditional quartet sound.

You can pick up your copy of Living In Harmony at retail and digital outlets everywhere.

Review copy provided. 

Video Of The Week: Acoustic Allegiance with Special Guests

Our pick for video of the week is from one of Southern Gospel’s up and coming trio’s. Allegiance, formerly known as Declaration, is comprised of Jake Sammons (Baritone), Kasey Kemp (lead), and T.J. Evans (tenor). The group has been posting a series of videos on YouTube called “Acoustic Allegiance”, with the group performing some of their favorite songs and taking requests from viewers, via their social media pages.

The latest installment features the guys singing “I’ll Fly Away”, while a couple gentleman you may recognize, Michael Booth of The Booth Brothers and Christian Davis, are trying to get some attention. It’s a fun video to watch, so check it out!

 

To find out more about Allegiance, visit their website here. To see all the installments of “Acoustic Allegiance“, visit the groups YouTube channel here.