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.

 

Declaration Trio To Change Name

Monday, it was announced by Declaration that the group is changing their name,  Unbeknownst to the group when they formed, a rock band already held the trademark to the name. So the group (Kasey Kemp, Jake Sammons, T.J. Evans) is asking Gospel Music fans to help them find their new name. All suggestions can be forwarded to the group by sending an email to Names@DeclarationTrio.com. Once the group receives the nominations from fans, they will hold a vote for fans to select a new name by voting for their favorite among the Top 5 suggestions, selected by the group. Here is the video that was published on Monday, with all the details.

Since their formation over three years ago, Declaration has been a group on the rise. They were nominated by readers of the Singing News Magazine as one of the finalists in the Favorite New Trio category. They have also been featured artists on Paul Heil’s nationally syndicated radio program, The Gospel Greats. I urge you to support these guys as they are one of the finest young trios in the industry today. To find out more about Declaration, visit their Facebook page or website Today.

Mark Trammell Quartet & The Whisnants Release Christmas Recording

Today, The Mark Trammell Quartet and The Whisnants announced via press release their upcoming Christmas recording, “Home For Christmas”. The CD’s official release date is November 3, 2014 and will be available for purchase on both group’s websites.

goldHome For Christmas features twelve songs recorded by the Mark Trammell Quartet and the Whisnants.  Selections on the project include the groups singing together and individually as well as featuring new songs and traditional carols. Mark Trammell states,  “We decided to do this CD together when Jeff Whisnant was looking to record a new Christmas project around the same time I was.  When folks heard we were doing this, they asked if we could put together a Christmas program as well.”  Jeff Whisnant added, “I haven’t been this excited about anything in a long time as I am about the Home For Christmas project.  We are so pleased to collaborate with our friends the Mark Trammell Quartet; we love

and appreciate what these men stand for.”

Presales for this project began today , and can be found on both artists website.  In addition to the pre-release, The Mark Trammell Quartet and the Whisnants are hosting a special online event in celebration of their first recording together.

This event will take place on the official release date, November 3rd, and will feature exclusive information and unique interaction for fans from both artists. The event is open to the public  anyone who can access the internet via computer, smart phone or tablet can join for free.

To receive updates and join this online event, visit www.homeforchristmaslaunchparty.com.  Though the event does not begin until November 3rd, those wishing to join are encouraged to do so now.

It’s great to see two great artist teaming up for a Christmas event, and I’m looking forward to hearing this project. Home For Christmas will be the first recording to feature MTQ bass vocalist Randy Byrd since he joined the group a few months ago. This will be a great project and I’m looking forward to hearing it. To place your order today for this great Christmas cd, visit either The Mark Trammell Quartet or Whisnants website Today.

 

Jim Brady Trio & Booth Brothers Announce New Members

10646818_692603190831844_2342131557777124498_n
The Jim Brady Trio L-R, Tim Parton, Melissa Brady, Jim Brady
10593084_692603204165176_3266947672966313971_n
The New Booth Brothers L-R Ronnie Booth, Paul Lancaster, Michael Booth

Friday afternoon, both The Booth Brothers and Jim Brady Trio announced the newest members of their groups In the most anticipated personnel announcements of 2014.

We’ll start with The Jim Brady Trio, who also announced signing with Daywind Records this week. Tim Parton will be joining the group as the third vocalist. Parton is a name familiar to many Gospel Music fans, he has been a member of many elite groups in Our industry. He was the pianist for the Letters, Speer Family, Mike Speck Trio, Gold City, and most recently Legacy Five, where he was an occasional vocalist as well. Tim has recently spent a majority of time filling in as a vocalist with a Canadian trio, The Freedom Singers.

Taking Brady’s place with the Booth Brothers is Paul Lancaster. Lancaster made his name in the industry during his years with The Mullins. He has also sang with The Nelons, Martins, Greenes and most recently Palmetto State Quartet. The Booth Brothers did post a video press release that is quite hilarious, it will keep you on your toes!

While both men are solid additions to their group, one can only wonder how long wither man will stay. Both Parton and Lancaster’s careers have been marked by an inability to stay in one long. But both men will be great assets to their new group. Parton is not only an incredible musician and great singer, but an outstanding producer as well. Lancaster is the best fit for the Booths vocally, with a range very similar to Jim’s. He’s also a fine soloist in his own right. Here’s hoping that both men have great long tenures and usher in a great new era in their respective groups.

To keep tabs on both The Booth Brothers and The Jim Brady Trio, check out both of their official websites, http://www.boothbrothers,com & http://www.bradyhousemusic.com

Jim Brady to Depart Booth Brothers

Once again, another personnel change has been announced. And this one is truly a shocker. In a video posted on YouTube, The Booth Brothers and Jim Brady have announced that Jim will depart the group at the end of this year. Jim and his wife, Melissa, will be starting a new ministry together. Details will be announced at a later date.

Brady’s departure brings an end to one of the longest tenures currently in Gospel Music. For 12 years, Brady has been the groups baritone and has made a name for himself as not only on the genres most talented singers but most awarded songwriters.

Brady leaves some awfully big shoes to fill, it will be interesting to see who Ronnie and Michael hire to take his place. But let me commend the group for not just doing a press release, but doing a video and showing they’re support for Jim. We will post updates as soon as we know anything.