The Underrateds Part 1; Mike Presnell

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 hqdefaultwith 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!




5 thoughts on “The Underrateds Part 1; Mike Presnell

  1. Great idea for a series! I will be looking forward to other entries in this series.

    I agree with you on Mike Presnell. He is a great bass singer and very underated. The bass is my favorite part in a quartet, and I usually prefer smooth bass singers that can sing in an upper range (George Younce is my all time favorite). “Glory Waves” really showcases Mike’s upper range. Two current bass singers that I could hear singing this song (besides the ones you mentioned) would be Pat Barker and Royce Mitchell. I know Pat is not with a group currently, but I can really hear him doing a fantastic job on this song. Royce Mitchell could be another entry in you underated series (probably because Liberty Quartet doesn’t get east of the Mississippi very often), but I really love his voice and can certainly hear him singing “Glory Waves”.

  2. I just happened on Fuson’s Findings recently. I saw the thing about underrated singers and played the clips of Mike Presnell and he sounds really good and I don’t remember hearing him before. It looks to me like he’s one of the underrated basses.

    I decided to add a singer to that list. I’m sure that just about everybody knows somebody who they think is underrated. Then I looked at the comments and I see that Brad already listed Royce Mitchell. I’ve heard most of the biggest names in Southern Gospel and Royce is right up there with them. He’s smooth, good as a soloist, and can rattle the windows of any auditorium I’ve heard him in. I think he’s comfortable where he is and like Brad says, Liberty Quartet stays mostly on the West Coast of the U.S. Royce doesn’t seem to crave attention or call a lot of attention to himself. He’s just good. I’m going a bit out on a limb on the next one because I’ve never seen his name mentioned with any of the great singers. He’s the tenor for Liberty Quartet and his name is Philip Baton. Great stage presence, wonderful smile, and boy can he sing. I just have to add his name to that list. He’s the first one I heard sing “God’s Been Faithful” and I think he’s the best. That’s still my favorite song that Liberty Quartet sings.

  3. I’ve seen Perfect Heart a few times over the years, but have just been enjoying Mike Presnell
    all over again on the “tube”…. loved that man’s humour, and his GREAT voice..

  4. I agree that Mike P is a great bass singer. There is also a couple more that I enjoy. Glen Dustin is one, and Jeremy Lile from Brian Free and Assurance is also a great bass singer, although he is devoting all his time to his family now. Brian Free is an awesome tenor, and the now trio of Brian Free and Assurance is still a very good group, but a bass singer is just “needed” for Gospel singing. Jeremy is hard to replace. We miss him, but understand.

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