Concert Alert: The Sammons Family & Justified Quartet

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I usually don’t use the blog for my own promotions, but I wanted to let all of you know in the Detroit area about an upcoming concert. I sing with my wife and her parents, The Sammons Family. I have been promoting concerts in the metropolitan Detroit area for over 16 years. This year, we have been having many of our own talented groups from right here in Michigan join us for a concert. On Saturday June 6th, we will be joined by the Justified Quartet. I’ve written about the guys here on Fuson’s Findings and I truly believe they are one of the finest quartets around today.

The concert will take place at the First Baptist Church of Garden City, Michigan at 6:00 PM, with doors opening to the public one hour prior. Admission to the concert is FREE, but a Love Offering will be received to help pay the expenses for the evening. I would love for you attend and if you do so, let me know that you read about it here on the blog. Here’s a couple videos for to check out both of Justified and our group. God Bless You and Thank You for your support of Southern Gospel Music!

 

The Old Paths Announce Future Plans

46091_10151529035691608_249788921_nTim Rackley and Douglas Roark of The Old Paths announced today that the group will cease touring at the of 2015. The group will honor all dates currently on their calendar as, with their final service will December 6th. According to a statement released by the group this afternoon, “For more than twelve years, The Old Paths have traveled not only across the United States, but also the world. It has been their privilege to share the good news of Jesus through Southern Gospel music. While the blessings that the quartet has received have been numerous, this group has faced many challenges in the last year—primarily family obligations and health issues. Many are aware of the sudden, life-threatening condition that was discovered with Tim Rackley’s daughter which required an immediate kidney transplant. Group owners Tim Rackley and Douglas Roark have decided that it is in the best interest of their families for their focus to be on home.

Rackley goes on to state, “Those that truly know us know our hearts. When we started The Old Paths, we never dreamed that our desire to simply sing in small churches would evolve in to what our ministry has become. We sincerely hope that we have blessed others as much as we have been blessed. We will miss traveling and singing but we feel like it is time for our families to take priority.”

Roark went on to add, “Decisions like these are probably the hardest for a group owner(s), and it is not a decision to taken lightly, “but once we stepped back and looked at the big picture, the decision was obvious.”

I am truly saddened by this announcement. Without reservation, I can say that I am a huge fan of this group. As I have stated previously, I believe the recordings they have released in the last 5 years, starting with 2012’s Right Now all the way through their current release, 2015’s Stay, the group’s sound has progressed, but has not veered away from the formula that made them successful. Songs like, “Battle Stand”, “God’s Great”, “Long Live The King” and “Love Them To Jesus” have topped the radio charts and helped endear The Old Paths to many Gospel Music lovers. The group has made a wonderful impression on the industry, it’s just a shame that it is coming to an end so soon.

I sincerely hope to see bass vocalist Daniel Ashmore continue in the future. He is one of the finest young bass singers on the road today, and his growth as a vocalist has been on display with every project. It is also a shame that tenor Jeremy Peace’s departure took place before the group could formally disband. Peace was a huge part of the group’s sound, it’s hard to think of another tenor singer filling that spot. I wish nothing but the best for Tim Rackley, Douglas Roark, and Daniel Ashmore. Make sure you check the group’s schedule and go see them soon.

 

 

 

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.

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. 

A Tribute To Lari Goss

10410722_10153014000303624_4065314481083775211_n Lari Goss, one of the most influential creative minds in the history of Gospel Music, passed away on Saturday, January 10th 2015. He was 69, passing just short of his 70th birthday. Today, Thursday January 15th, his funeral will be held in Nashville. I have always been an admirer of Lari’s work and it has only grown in time. I wanted to take an opportunity to remember this wonderful gentleman and honor him for all of his contributions to Gospel Music over 50 plus years. He began his musical journey with his family, singing with his brothers James and Roni. The Goss Brothers started off initially as a quartet, but found they’re niche as a trio. They were one of the most innovative groups to come along in the 1960’s, with vocal & musical arrangements light years ahead of their contemporaries.

 

 

The Brothers also held many distinctions, many would change the industry for years, like when they 543718_231858750258582_1957652235_nwere the first artist to perform with a soundtrack. The Goss Brothers were not only great singers, but fabulous musicians as well. With Lari on piano, Roni on bass, and James on guitar, the brothers cut their teeth in the Lefevres recording studio in Atlanta, as well as Don Baldwin’s Hymntone label in Pennsylvania, working on hundreds of recordings for both national and regional artists. However, in 1980 The Goss Brothers musical journey took a detour, due to James tragic death in an airplane crash.

Lari continued his work as a producer, becoming one of the most illustrious producers and arrangers in the gospel music. Chances are if you look at the credits of any recording in the 80s and 90s, Lari was either the producer or the arranger. Among the groups Lari produced that would be most notable are The Cathedrals, Singing Americans, Hemphills, Hoppers, The Sound, Masters V, Friends IV and so many others.  Lari also changed the game and the way that artists thought about arranging, most evidently shown in the Nelons “Oh For A Thousand Tongues”. and The Cathedrals “For What Earthly Reason”. Because of Goss’ ability as arranger, he took Gospel Music to another level. As a musician, his sound was so identifiable. Not just his piano playing, but his orchestrations.

Lari was not also just a great arranger, but his accomplishment’s as a songwriter should also be noted. Many of the songs that the Goss Brothers recorded were written by Lari, one of the most notable being “Shout Brother Shout”. But he also wrote such wonderful songs as “How Green Is Your Valley”, “For Thy Will I Pray”, Leading To Calvary“, and many other great songs. However, one of Lari’s most popular compositions was recorded by the Speers in the 70’s, “Cornerstone“.

10885125_10153017641498624_4063390550294998162_nLari has not just been a great contributor to Southern Gospel, but to the body of Christ overall. His numerous choral arrangements that he has put together over the years have been used by church choirs & ensembles across the country. He won numerous Dove Awards, and Grammy’s for his work throughout the years. He even worked with such secular artists such as Glen Campbell, Ray Price, and B.J. Thomas. Lari was also inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2009.

In recent years, Lari continued to work even through illness, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. Some of his most acclaimed work came with artists such as the Booth Brothers, Greater Vision, Legacy Five, Mark Trammell Quartet, The Whisnants, and most recently The Guardians and Jim Brady Trio. Although he has tutored many producers and his style has often been imitated by others, it will never be duplicated. It is not an overstatement to say that will never be another Lari Goss.

10930525_10153017707428624_5896707746408889295_nNow I’m not worshipping Lari, he was a human being just like the rest of us. But Lari was special, and his death is the end of an era. Lari was our last link from the legends of yesterday; there are not many men who can say that they stood in the same control room as J.D., James, Jake, Hovie, George, Glen, Rusty, Rex, Ben and Brock, up to today’s artists. I would say there is no one who has done more to mold and fashion Gospel Music as much as Lari Goss. One of my greatest regrets is that I never got to meet Lari and explain to him how much he impacted my life. But one day I will tell him face-to-face, and I can’t help but feeling now that he knows.

For all his success, Goss had a humility about himself. When a friend complimented him on all the awards in his home, he said, “All this means nothing if my music does not win people to Jesus, or draw them closer to Him“. There is no doubt in my mind that God has used this man so mightily because of that humility and passion that his music be used to the glory of God.

Lari’s music will live on, whenever choirs singing the music he arranged, or people listen to Pillars of Faith by Gold City or the Cathedrals Symphony of Praise and hear the majestic arrangements of that album or the countless others he produced and or arranged. He will live within the grooves of the records and within that great music as long as it is listened to. Lari, I never met you but your music was the soundtrack to my life. Thank You and God Bless You for your contributions that have blessed the body of Christ. Rest well.

To Lari’s wife Carolyn and their children, and his brother Roni, I offer my condolences and my prayers that the Holy Spirit will hold all of you so close in these days. Thank You all for taking the time to read this tribute to a hero of mine.

 

Steve French Of The Kingdom Heirs Retires

Steve-French

STORY UPDATED AT 12/2/14 10:30 PM

Steve French of The Kingdom Heirs issued a statement today, announcing his retirement from the group he has spent over 30 years with. French issued the following statement, “After being in full time Southern Gospel music for 30 years, I feel it’s time for me to close this chapter of my life, and begin the next chapter to see what God has in store. Gospel Music has taken me places I would have otherwise not been able to go, and meet the wonderful people I’ve met over the years. It’s been an incredible journey and the Lord has really blessed me. I’d always dreamed of retiring at 55, and guess what.. I turned 55 in September! If it’s one thing I’ve learned through all of this, it’s that God will give you the desires of your heart – maybe not in the way you pictured it, but He will give them to you in the way that He sees fit. Thank you all for your support, and please continue to support the guys now more than ever. The Father is doing a great work in them, and I have a feeling it’s about to get even better! As for me, I plan to travel, and maybe look into building a new home somewhere out west. You never know what the next 55 will hold! Ah, the joys of retirement!

French was a key component to the success of The Kingdom Heirs for over 30 years. He has been Kingdom_Heir_daysthe only baritone since the groups formation in 1981. Under his and brother Kreis’ leadership, the group has grown to become one of the premier groups in the Southern Gospel industry. The group also became artists in residence at Dollywood theme park in 1986, where they have sang to untold numbers of people who may have never attended a Gospel concert or traditional church service. Thanks to his leadership/management, The Kingdom Heirs have had phenomenally talented vocalists through the years,  such as Rick Strickland, Clayton Inman, Bob Caldwell, Eric Bennett, Steve Lacey, David Sutton, Arthur Rice, Jeff Chapman, Billy Hodges, and Jerry Martin. 

Though French was never truly recognized for being an outstanding singer, he was featured on some great songs through the years with the group. As one who has listened to the Kingdom Heirs for years, I particularly enjoyed Steve’s features on songs like, “Midnight Oil”, “Enjoy The Lord”, “True To The Call, “As Good As I Can Be”, “Hide and Seek”, “Thank You For Praying”, and most recently “Wasted Years“, from the groups last recording Redeeming The Time. 

shows-ss-kingdomheirs-opener.ashxSo as one who has pretty much been listening to the Kingdom Heirs all my life, I would like to say Thank You, Steve! Your commitment to having a first class quartet has produced on the finest quartets in the history of our genre. We wish you all the best and God’s Blessings in your retirement.

 

EDIT 12/2/14 10:30 PM

The Kingdom Heirs issued a press release stating that Piano player Andy Stringfield. who has been pulling double-duty for the quartet filling in the baritone vocals from his piano, will continue to do so. Regarding the new vocal lineup, bassist and now sole-manager Kreis French has confidence in the group’s current voices. “Andy will continue to sing baritone for the foreseeable future and we all know he’s capable of continuing to do it at a high level.”

The Kingdom Heirs are already in the early stages of their Christmas season at Dollywood – a schedule they intended to complete. “We are in conversations with the team at Dollywood and everyone wants to continue this relationship – for this season and the next,” said Kreis.

Following year’s end at Dollywood, the group will gear up for their annual Winter Tour beginning late January. “As a group, we’ll do what The Kingdom Heirs have always done – and that’s hit the road when Dollywood is closed,” commented Kreis. “The only difference now – is I’m booking all the dates and doing most of the driving.”

With change comes an inevitable season of uncertainty, but The Kingdom Heirs are doing their best to see the road lying just ahead of them.

To see when you can visit with The Kingdom Heirs, be sure to get latest schedule from the quartet or from Dollywood. 2015 Winter Tour dates will be announced and posted to the website as they become available. For booking information, contact Kreis French.

Get involved with the guys online! Like them on Facebook and follow them from their BRAND NEW Twitter account @kingdom_heirs!

 

McCray Dove To Launch Solo Career

Today, McCray Dove announced via a statement on Facebook that he will be starting his solo career on December 31st of this year. The statement goes on to explain that Dove will still travel with a live band, who will also supply backing vocals. Here is the statement in its entirety.

10818299_10204757677409222_9017044201913675864_oMcCray Dove announces the launching of his solo career beginning December 31, 2014. McCray states that he will still be traveling as McCray Dove and The Dove Brothers Band. We will still sing harmony with me as lead vocalist and will continue with the live band. There are a lot of exciting things in the works.
I have enjoyed singing in a quartet. In my 27 years of singing professionally I’ve traveled with some very talented men. There will always be a special place in my heart for quartet singing.
I would like to thank every member that has walked out on the stage with me and helped to further my career. Life changes and so does your heart. I have been debating this move for quite some time. I have songs that I want to write and songs to sing. I want to share what I feel and this is the way I feel I need to do it. I ask that you keep me and the band in your prayers. When we come to your town come be with us!
Go to www.dovebrothersband.com
 for booking information
.”

This sadly brings an end to this chapter of The Dove Brothers Band.  The group started in 1998, and was one of the most exciting groups of the new millennium. The first lineup (tenor John Rulapaugh, McCray on lead, brother Eric on baritone, Burman Porter on bass, and pianist Richard Simmons) captured the hearts of Gospel Music fans across the country with. In 2002, the group was voted as the top Quartet by readers of the Singing News. Even though Rulapaugh, Porter, and Simmons departed, the group never missed a beat hiring Jerry Martin, David Hester, and Andrew Smith. The group had changed directions stylistically in recent years, going towards a more progressive sound, which resulted in 2005’s Anything But Ordinary, Everything But Typical, and 2006’s Never The Same, which is my favorite album the group released and contained their first Number One Song, I Can Pray.

The group started to gravitate towards a country sound, which materialized on 2007’s Life and the following releases. Although I personally was not a fan of the groups recent work, nothing can take away from their accomplishments over the years as one of the top groups in the industry. McCray is one of the great lead singers in our industry and I’m interested to see what his solo career has in store, and I wish him all the best. To keep up with McCray, be sure to visit his website, http://www.dovebrothersband.com.