Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.
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Mark Trammell Quartet and The Whisnants To Release Christmas Project

October 10, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Mark Trammell Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Whisnants

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It’s quickly approaching the time of year when many artists decide to release Christmas-themed projects. This year, it’s a team effort between the Mark Trammell Quartet and The Whisnants:

(Morganton, NC) October 10, 2014 – United Independent Artists (UIA), for the first time releases a Christmas CD combining the family harmony of the Whisnants with the traditional sounds of the Mark Trammell Quartet in a twelve track project titled “Home For Christmas.”  The CD’s official release date is November 3, 2014 and will be available for purchase on both group websites www.whisnants.com and www.marktrammellministries.com.

Home 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.  “We decided to do this CD together,” Mark Trammell explains, “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 adds, “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.”

Pre-sales for this project will begin on October 10th, and can be found on both artists websites (links found above).  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 3st, those wishing to join are encouraged to do so now.

United Independent Artists (UIA) began in 1997 with Jeff and Susan Whisnant at the helm and consists of artists who record independently from recording labels.  Artists such as Greater Vision, The Mark Trammell Quartet, Booth Brothers, Taylors and others use UIA in radio promotions.  UIA is behind #1 songs such as Greater Vision’s “Preacher Tell Me Like It Is,” Booth Brothers “Look For Me At Jesus Feet,” Mark Trammell Quartet’s “I Want To Know” and other successful songs in the industry.     www.uiamusic.com

It is worth noting that this will be the first MTQ release to feature Randy Byrd on bass vocals.

Dixie Melody Boys Hire Doug Pittman

October 06, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Dixie Melody Boys, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

After the departure of Matt Felts to the Lesters, the Dixie Melody Boys began searching for a new tenor. That search came to a close when the group debuted their new singer at NQC. Here’s the press release from their email newsletter discussing the move:

Greetings friends! Fall is upon us and just as the autumn winds bring about changing leaves, so too have the winds of change swept through the Dixie Melody Boys. Following an extensive national search, Ed O’ Neal is pleased to introduce Doug Pittman as the new tenor vocalist for the Dixie Melody Boys. Doug made his debut with the group at the National Quartet Convention in Pigeon Forge, TN and wowed the audience with a rendition of the classic, “Little Is Much.” Following a thunderous standing ovation, Doug and the “Boys” brought the house down with “When I Cross To The Other Side Of Jordan.” If you missed the NQC, you can catch these performances on our Facebook page courtesy of some dear friends in the audience.

Doug Pittman is 28 years old and originally from the small town of Eastman, GA. He garnered several awards in the classical world during his high school and college years, including First Prize in the 2008 National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Vocal Competition. Doug has performed both nationally and internationally, including a United Kingdom tour in 2007 and his Carnegie Hall debut in 2010. He only began singing Southern Gospel in recent years, however his roots are deeply tied to it. Doug grew up hearing Southern Gospel every weekend following his father, a drummer for several regional groups, in the early ’90s. While pursuing a degree in music at Brewton-Parker College, Doug formed a Gospel group with a few of his friends. He has sung with that group, Omega Quartet, since it’s inception in 2008 and was the remaining original member.

Ed O’ Neal states, “We auditioned several tremendous singers over the last few weeks, even took a few out on the road with us. I had never met Doug, but the first song he sang during sound check gave me chill bumps all up and down my arms. When we sang that night, it was as if we had all been performing together for twenty years. He’s a fine young man, loves the Lord, and can SING! I knew by the end of the trip I had found my man. Josh Garner is a pro and Aaron Dishman just thrills me with how he has matured as a singer and a performer in such a short time. Add Doug to that mix and I believe this is one of the strongest line-ups I’ve ever had with the Dixie Melody Boys.”

Be sure to keep a watch on our schedule at www.dixiemelodyboys.com or catch us on Facebook so you can come out and meet Doug and all the Dixie Melody Boys at a concert near you.

Here’s a video from Doug’s debut performance:

I’ve been impressed with Doug’s voice since the first time I heard it back when Omega was a college group. They sang a song called “You Are Holy,” and though Doug was using a completely different style and tone to his voice back then, I knew there was potential. A few years passed and I had basically forgotten about Omega until a trio by the same name got on the main stage at NQC 2011 as a featured artist from the showcases. That intrigued me, and then I was blown away by the tenor’s performance on a song called “I’m Coming Again.” As it turned out, it was the same group, and that was the same tenor. Doug’s sound fits the musical direction that the group has taken in their recent work, and just by watching him interact with the guys at the booth, I can tell he fits on a personal level, as well.

As a bonus, here’s the 2011 performance I mentioned:

And the new Booth Brother is….

September 19, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Booth Brothers, Jim Brady Trio, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

… announced in this video, along with the third member of the Jim Brady Trio:

Both of these announcements carry some star power within Southern Gospel. Tim Parton is known from his years with several groups, including Gold City and, most recently, Legacy Five. Paul Lancaster has been a part of the Martins, the Greenes, and Palmetto State, among others. Both groups are getting quality vocalists, and I’m very excited to see both of them on the road again. Parton will add to the Jim Brady Trio as a pianist and arranger, in addition to his vocal duties. With the Booth Brothers, the vocal transition will be a smooth one, as Lancaster is a great blending vocalist that won’t sharply redefine the sound that the trio has cultivated over the years.

Now, hopefully we’ll get a better glimpse of the sound after the helium wears off. :)

Aaron McCune sings with the Oak Ridge Boys

September 08, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Oak Ridge Boys, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

It’s always cool to see a singer from our genre in the national spotlight, and that happened again this past weekend. Richard Sterban, longtime bass singer for the Oak Ridge Boys, took the weekend off as his family mourns the passing of his mother. The group had the choice to go as a trio or call on a bass singer, so they tapped Palmetto State Quartet/Gold City alum Aaron McCune. Here he is singing one of my favorite Oak Ridge Boys hits:

Many have asked how the group even knew about McCune. Here’s a probable answer:

CD Review: Adoration Quartet – What A Change

September 01, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Adoration Quartet, CD Reviews, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 4 starswhatachangecd

Producer: Wesley Pritchard
Label: 
Independent Release
Website: www.adorationquartet.com

Song titles: Drink From Him; His Tomb Is Empty Now; Just One Hope; I Enter In; Coming Out of the Tomb; Jesus Really Cares; What Ever You Need; I’ve Been Revived; Stepping Out; Peace Through The Blood

Adoration Quartet is a “new yet not new” group that has just re-emerged on the Southern Gospel scene. The group was around a few years ago with current bass Chris Serlick, but their claim to attention seemed to stem from the fact that the group had two alumni from one of the Anchormen’s best eras: tenor Brian Routh and baritone Terry Carter. The group disbanded a few years ago, but recently with Serlick in the bass slot, Declaration’s former tenor Joshua Horrell and pianist Dustin Leming in the tenor and baritone positons, respectively, and Anchormen alum Corey Wilson singing the lead. The quartet wasted no time in putting out new music, which is important for any group looking to get a running start.

While listening to this project, my mind kept recalling the days when Brian Routh or Steve Ladd and Jeff Chapman were part of the Anchormen. The voices and tracks possess the same dynamics found with that era of the group: soaring tenor, rumbling bass, solid voices in the middle, uptempo songs that made good use of those vocals, and powerful slower songs as well. Normally, such a strong comparison would not necessarily be a good thing, especially when trying to make a unique name for yourself with a first release, but since time has seen a shift from that style (the recent Anchormen releases, while great, have progressed from that), there is a niche to be filled, and this group does it well. This is evident on the first radio single,”Coming Out of the Tomb (Stepping Into The Light),” which does a fine job of defining the group’s sound and should do well on radio. “Peace Through The Blood” covers the ballad part of the equation with a strong performance from tenor Horrell. Other highlights include “I Enter In” (which was first recorded with the original iteration of Adoration) and “His Tomb Is Empty Now.” You can hear clips of all of these and more on the group’s website.

As introductory releases ago, Adoration has put a lot of work into making this a quality project, and it shows. The voices fit together well already (though it probably helps that three of the four sang together previously). Horrell shows that he has the potential to be of the genre’s best upcoming tenors. Corey Wilson hasn’t lost a thing in the lead department since he left the road. Serlick lends a solid, smooth low part, and Dustin Leming has a solid, blending baritone voice. Sure, I would have liked to hear brass and strings that weren’t “canned,” but that’s a minor nitpick since they don’t distract much from the rest of the music, and that problem can be remedied with the right budget. Given the right touring schedule and promotion, I look for Adoration Quartet to be around for a good while, as this introduction is a solid representation of what they can do. What A Change receives 4 stars.

Matt Felts to Lesters, Tony Jarman to Depart the Down East Boys

August 26, 2014 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Down East Boys, The Lesters

There were a couple of group changes announced today, the first being the completion of Matt Felts’ transition from the Dixie Melody Boys:

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT……….THE LESTERS WISH TO ANNOUNCE THAT “MATT FELTS” WILL BE JOINING OUR MUSIC MINISTRY! 


Matt and his family reside just outside of Nashville, TN, but he is originally from St. Louis, MO. He was actually raised not too far from where we live in South City St. Louis. His wife’s name is Jennifer, and they are Blessed with a beautiful daughter whose name is Abbey and is 5~years old. Matt is a Graduate of Missouri University in Columbia, MO, with a degree in marketing, and he’ll be the first to tell you his desire is to “Serve the Lord” through singing gospel music and will use everything he has learned to get the message of Jesus Christ out to the world! He has traveled with several different gospel groups in his young life, including just finishing a nearly 5 year stay with the legendary Ed O’Neal & The Dixie Melody Boys. We are grateful to the Lord for sending Matt our way and we’re looking forward to what God has in store for this ministry as we continue our journey for Him. Matt will join us beginning the week of September 8th, so be watching our Tour Schedule and come join The Lesters in concert; get to know Matt, and welcome him to the family.

Message from Matt:

“Growing up in St.Louis, our home was filled with the sounds of great Gospel groups like the Cathedrals and the Happy Goodmans but one group stood out to us above the rest , the Lesters. One of the first songs I ever sang in my local church was “He didn’t throw the clay away”. I never dreamed I would have the honor to sing that song with them on stage. I’m thrilled to be apart of such a rich legacy of ministry and great music. Brian, Jon and all of the Lester family have already made my family feel so welcome. Joining the Lesters is truly like coming home. I look forward to getting to know all of their friends and fans very soon.”

Here’s a video announcement from Matt:

 

The second announcement comes from the Down East Boys, as their tenor for the last several years is also leaving:

Reidsville, NC – Ricky Carden of The Down East Boys has announced that tenor vocalist, Tony Jarman, will be leaving The Down East Boys to pursue other ministry opportunities. Tony has been with the Down East Boys since January 2011. Prior to joining The Down East Boys, Tony sang with Poet Voices, The Old Gospel Hour Quartet, and Legacy Five.

“Tony has been a great asset to The Down East Boys and we will surely miss his presence on stage”, comments Carden. “Daryl, Joe, and I wish Tony nothing but the absolute best in his future endeavors.”

The Down East Boys are currently accepting demos to fill the tenor position. Information on how to submit a demo can be found on the Singing News Jobs Board.

In tribute, here’s a song that became a Tony Jarman signature during his time with the quartet:

Jim Brady To Depart The Booth Brothers

August 24, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Booth Brothers, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

It’s not often that you see a “video press release,” but the Booth Brothers announced today that after 12 years, Jim Brady is leaving the group to pursue a new ministry opportunity along with his wife, Melissa. Jim will remain with the group through the end of the year and Jubilee tour. Be sure to watch the whole video:

Matt Felts Steps Down From Dixie Melody Boys

August 22, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Dixie Melody Boys, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

In both a Facebook status and press release today, tenor Matt Felts announced his decision to step away from the tenor position at the “Ed O’Neal University” after four years:

In a statement today, Matt Felts, tenor for the Dixie Melody Boys, has announced that he will be leaving the group at the end of August.

“I want to thank the friends and fans of the group for the way they have embraced me. It has been a huge honor to sing with Ed O’Neal and the Dixie Melody Boys for over four years. Being a member of the Ed O’Neal University has been a blessing to not just me, but my family. Ed has taught me so much and gave me such an incredible opportunity. Saying ‘thank you’ will never be enough to repay Ed. The last four years have been a great season for the group, but I am very blessed to be a part of the current lineup. I think it’s been a special lineup for the group. Thanks to Aaron Dishman and Josh Garner for the last year, as well as Rayburn Lane for keeping me safe on the roads. Some may say I am graduating, but I’ve learned that you never truly leave the Dixie Melody Boys. It’s a family that you’re always a part of. I will be announcing future plans soon, but for now, I just wanted to thank Ed for an incredible journey.”

Matt joined the Dixie Melody Boys in 2010 and has been a mainstay for the group, having been a part of many awards, including the 2012 and 2013 Favorite Quartet, and was named the 2013 Favorite Tenor in the Southern Gospel Fan Awards.

There have been very few groups that have seen a turnaround in quality and direction like the Dixie Melody Boys have in the past few years, and that is due in large part to what Felts brought to the table. Yes, he sang the tenor part and sang it well, but his marketing background paid dividends in the quality of the group’s presence in the genre and the presentation of their music. I saw them in concert a couple of weeks ago, and that opinion was confirmed. Losing him is a huge blow, but the work that he has put in to building up the group, combined with the other singers that are present, will make the transition to a new lineup smoother. I look forward to seeing what happens next for both parties.

In tribute to Matt’s time with the group, here’s one of the songs I will always associate with him and his tenure with the group:

Pat Barker Launches Website

July 30, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Pat Barker, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

For the past couple of days, the online community has been buzzing about a “big announcement” that was promised by Pat Barker. Today, that announcement hit:

(Gadsden, AL) July 30, 2014 – Pat Barker announces the launch of his new online community – You Tell Me. Through the “You Tell Me” campaign introduced on his site, individuals will have the opportunity to share how BIG God has been in their life and read how He has shown up in others. There will be artist video testimonials and prayer requests where you can respond in real time to requests made from all over the world.

Most of you were introduced to Pat Barker eight years ago when he joined the legendary Dixie Echoes. Fans from all over discovered his love for gospel music to be contagious. Fans not only loved his ability take a solo and sing it like no other bass singer, but his spirit and personality off the stage. With Pat’s move to the Mark Trammell Quartet, thousands more were introduced to his talent in some of the largest venues across the country including his unforgettable appearance with the Cathedral Family Reunion. When Pat left the road, many wondered if they would ever have the opportunity to see him again involved with the music he loves so much. Do we ever have good news for you. If you thought Pat would start his own group or launch a solo career, you weren’t thinking BIG enough. Today you can join a community of believers from all over the world through Pat’s brand new site http://HOWBIGISGOD2U.COM!

As a member of the community you will also have access to where Pat will be ministering and his latest products. July 30 is the day where You Tell Me and the rest of the world how BIG God is! You can also join Pat live Sunday August 3rd from 3 – 4 o’clock p.m. Central time to ask anything you like. Ask about the new site or find out what’s going on with Pat in the near future. DON’T MISS IT!! More information on Pat Barker and the You Tell Me campaign can be found online at: http://howbigisgod2u.com or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HBIGYouTellMe

This is certainly a unique idea that goes beyond the normal solo career announcement. I look forward to seeing how it progresses as time goes on. Be sure to check it out!

Mark Trammell Quartet Hires Randy Byrd

July 16, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Mark Trammell Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

In a move that is likely not a surprise to anyone who has been observing the group’s concert appearances since Pat Barker’s departure, the Mark Trammell Quartet announced today that they have selected Randy Byrd as their new bass singer. From the group’s blog:

After three months and 36 candidates for the position, Mark Trammell has announced today that Randy Byrd will be the new bass vocalist for the Mark Trammell Quartet.   Mark shares, “We are thrilled with the overwhelming inquiry about this position.  And after much prayer and consideration, the group collectively feels that Randy is the man for this season of our ministry.”

Many of you will remember Randy from his recent years with the prestigious Blackwood Brothers Quartet. He also logged some miles with our friends the Mike Lefevre Quartet and the Songfellows.  Randy relates the following upon receiving confirmation from Mark.

“At 12 years of age, I heard The Cathedrals sing There is a Fountain and I was hooked!! I told my mother that night after hearing George Younce, ‘When I grow up, I want to be a bass singer.’  God has blessed me and allowed me to sing with some of the best in the business.  Three years ago my dream started to fall apart.  Between my flesh and Satan’s attacks it seemed my life was over. I am thankful today that in spite of my faults and failures, God never took His hand off of me.  Everything that Satan robbed from me, God has restored!  I am beyond excited to join The Mark Trammell Quartet! I am living proof that God IS faithful!!  Pat Barker is a dear friend.  I am not and cannot be Pat Barker.  But I can work at being the best version of me that God can use and I gladly accept that challenge.”

Please join us in welcoming this wonderful man to the Mark Trammell Quartet!!!

This is a great pick for the quartet’s next chapter. Randy seems to fit them like a glove both on and off the stage, and there is no doubt that the quality of the music will be maintained with this hire. Here’s a clip from Facebook:

Post by ThOm GilmOre.