I’ve been wanting to start a new series of articles and feature some singers that I call The Underrated’s. By underrated, I mean that these artists are some of the finest to have ever graced a stage, yet for some reason have not received the praise and adulation that many of their contemporaries have. I know that some may disagree with my opinions in this series and thats what this is all based on, my opinion. My first subject is a fine bass singer that has always been a personal favorite, Mike Presnell.
A native of Elizabethton, TN that came to national prominence in the 1990’s, during his tenure with Perfect Heart, Mike was a key component of the group’s sound and along with Jeff Stice remained with the group from their formation to their disbandment. Prior to joining PH, Mike sang with regional groups including the Brotherhood, with future Blackwood Brothers tenor Wayne Little. Mike first got some recognition during his time with The Sound from Houston, TX, along with a young Scott Fowler. Mike recorded two fine projects with The Sound, Back By Popular Demand & Take A Little Time, that are worth finding.
Presnell possessed one of the finest bass voices of his era. His range was incredible, he could sing low with the best of them, but he could also sing up in a high baritone/lead range. One of the best performances that showcased Mike’s range was a song entitled “Glory Waves”, from their 1992 project “Looking For The Wounded”. When I think of bass singers in the industry today, and I’m hard pressed to think of any who could pull this song off. The only names I could really think of would be Burman Porter and Eric Bennett. This performance was taken from the “Command Performance” live video.
Another one of Mike’s most familiar features was a signature song for Perfect Heart, “I Wish It Would Rain“. Set with a 50’s vibe, Mike’s recitation was one of the best parts of the song. Mike was also a favorite among fans not just for his singing, but his humor as well. His stories of growing up in the mountains were often hilarious, but heart warming and a huge staple of Perfect Heart’s concerts. Although this video is with Garry Sheppard, it captures Mike’s humor and more of the group dynamic that took place with the song.
Mike stayed active after the group’s demise, singing with Safe Harbor and a re-formed Perfect Heart. He’s also released a few solo recordings. Though Mike was an incredible singer and a frequent finalist for the Singing News Favorite Bass Fan Award, Mike was active in the industry at the same time as other incredible bass singers, such as JD Sumner, George Younce, Tim Riley, Rex Nelon, and Mike Holcomb. But those who remember his tenure will never forget his great voice and warm personality. If you’re a fan of great quartet singing, and bass singing in particular, do yourself a favor and discover Mike’s work. He truly was one of the best and is still one of the finest bass singers our industry has ever known.
Please share your thoughts below and join in the conversation. Be looking for my next post celebrating more of The Underrateds!