Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.

Archive for June, 2009

News Roundup

June 30, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Brian Free And Assurance, Legacy Five, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

Hey, everybody! Great to be back in the blogosphere after a nice break. Let’s look at a rundown of things I missed:

1. Brian Free & Assurance Hires New Baritone – The second in a string of personnel changes to be completed, BF&A hired Randy Crawford (h/t, Singing News) to fill the position left by Derrick Selph.
You may remember Randy from his days with The Kingsmen/Carolina Boys, and most recently, The Toney Brothers. He also had an earlier stint with BF&A in the 90s as lead singer, singing hits such as “Who Is This King” and “What A Difference A Day Makes.” It has been observed that such a hiring is similar to what The Kingsmen did with Bryan Hutson. It will be very interesting to hear how the group’s harmony rounds out now, with a lead singer as baritone, a tenor as lead, and a sky-high singer singing tenor!
2. Frank Seamans Rumors Settled – There have been rumors flying for some time now that Frank Seamans was leaving Legacy Five. Thanks to L5girl-N-TX over at SN Forums, the truth to the situation is finally out:

“…Ok, I got to talk to Frank Friday night. I just told him that I’d heard some rumors going around about him leaving the group and I wanted to hear from him if he was.

He said that in several weeks Frank Jr is going to have to be in the hospital for a month. He said that him staying depends on how Frank Jr is after that. He said if he is gets good results and he’s doing alright he’ll stay, but if something happens his son needs to be his #1 priority. As much as I don’t want him to leave, I completely understand. He told me that he just felt like he had to be honest with Scott about it, because if something happened with his son and he was still with the group he didn’t want to have be in the position where L5 needed him and he also needed to be with Frank Jr. He said that they had checked in to some possibilities of either a temporary or replacement tenor.

So as of right now he’s not leaving. They just have to keep in mind the possibility of needing another tenor. He said they’re just praying and waiting on what God leads them to do. But he did tell me that unless something happens where he has to leave or unless God leads him to do something else, he would NEVER leave! He said he loves what he does and really believes this is what God has lead him to do.

He just asked that we please pray for his son. And we all REALLY need to keep Frank and Frank Jr in our prayers regularly. I know I’m definitely gonna be spending alot more time on my knees on their behalf. The whole family needs to be in our prayers. I know it’s got to be trying on Frank’s faith and not always easy to put up a strong front.

I just want him to know that we love him and are praying for him. I’m really believing God will work a miracle for him…”

Speaking of Legacy Five, they have several new projects coming out in the next couple of months, one being their next Daywind release. It is entitled Just Stand, and is being produced by Lari Goss. That said, it should be one of the best projects they’ve ever done.

They are also coming out with a new DVD called Legacy Five: Live At Oak Tree which will be studio footage capturing songs from their Decades project. Another project, entitled Jubilee, is a joint effort between L5, Greater Vision, and The Booth Brothers, and it will feature the three groups singing SG classics.


June 20, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Vacation/Going Away Notice

I’ll be on vacation all of next week, so I probably won’t be updating the blog in that time. Hopefully nothing big will happen while I’m gone! See y’all when I get back!

Gold City Announces New Tenor

June 16, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

There’s been much speculation and guesswork lately in the SG world as to who would succeed Steve Ladd’s position in Gold City, and today, that question was answered in a press release at SGN:

Gadsden, AL – Gold City announced today that their new tenor will be Chris Cooper. Chris, a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., has been involved in Gospel Music for the past 12 years, singing with numerous groups.

“I’ve been praying for a change in my life,” stated Chris. “I had given no thought of going back on the road — little did I know that my dream job was on the way! I am extremely excited about this opportunity.”

Chris and his wife, Kristin, have been married for four years. They have two children, Kylie, 3, and Kaden, 2.

“We had a lot of great singers apply for this job,” said group manager Daniel Riley. “It was a really tough decision but in the end I felt like Chris was best equipped vocally, and after much prayer, it was clear that he was the man for this position. He has a very unique voice and I believe people will like the sound.”

Chris’ first date with Gold City will be July 1st at Tusculum Hills Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee.

I have to admit, when the Dan Keeton Quartet recently disbanded, I thought Dan was headed to GC. (Now, I think he’d fit in with the Mark Trammell Trio. Just a thought.)

Chris will sound just as good with Gold City, though. You may remember him from N’Harmony, Safe Harbor or from when he filled in on tenor for Legacy Five when they were searching for a replacement for Tony Jarman. For those unfamiliar, here’s a clip of him with the group he just left, The Melodyaires.

And here’s another of that group singing a Gold City song, “That Little Baby”.

(Both Youtube clips are much better sounding in HQ.)

Update: Nate over at Burke’s Brainwork has another good clip of Chris.

The Mike LeFevre Quartet Retires Name

June 16, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Eva Mae LeFevre, Priority, SG Artists, SG History, SG Industry News, SG Legends, SG Music, The Mike LeFevre Quartet

From the press release on SGN:

Atlanta, GA, June 16, 2009 — In a bold move, the LeFevre Quartet announced their decision to retire the family name with the recent passing of matriarch Eva Mae LeFevre. The group will be known as “Priority”.

A partnership, forged barely four years ago, established a sound and set in motion a number of unprecedented milestones. Within months of forming, fans voted them Horizon Group of the Year at the 2006 Singing News Fan Awards because of what they heard and saw in them. The following year came Breakthrough Artist of the Year Award. Next came television appearances on Dr. Charles Stanley’s popular In Touch program, a 2009 Dove Award nomination and recordings along the way that simply raised the bar for an entire genre.

This move comes in response to a request by some LeFevre family members to discontinue the name when Eva Mae was no longer able to travel. In a statement, Priority (Stacy Bragg, Gus Gaches, Mike LeFevre, and David Staton) said:

“We were able to honor a name that had such an influence on gospel music in America. On nearly every recording we’ve done, we re-recorded a classic LeFevre tune as a sort of tribute.”

Recognizing that now is the time for them to impact this generation of gospel music fans and the twenty-first century church, the group hopes to solidly establish their identity as “Priority”. The name is a reflection of who they are, what they’re about, why they do what they do, where they’re headed, and how they’ve gotten this far.

“Life is about relationships and priorities. God has blessed so much, and certainly not because we’ve done anything to deserve or earn His favor. So we want our relationships to take priority—with Him, our families, our churches, and each other.”

There are no personnel changes and no changes in musical style, just a new name. The group will still travel with a live band consisting of Jordan LeFevre and Trey Ivey. Audiences will continue to hear the trademark harmony and talented musicians.

In light of the recent passing of Eva Mae LeFevre, this is a very classy move. It honors the memory of one of Southern Gospel Music’s finest ladies, while still allowing the group to establish their own identity.

The group has already shown us they are capable of awesome things, producing one of 2008’s best projects with Nothin’ But Good. I am certainly looking forward to hearing more from Priority.

Thoughts On GVB Recording Session: 6-25-09

June 15, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Gaither Vocal Band, SG Artists, SG Music

The GVB were in the studio today creating the tracks for their upcoming project of all-new material. (Not the Reunited project of ballads.) Here’s a glimpse into the songs that were heard in today’s session:

1. I’m Gonna Love Like I’m Leaving – This track was written by Benjy Gaither and sounds like the more upbeat stuff from their I Do Believe or God Is Good projects. On multiple listens, the structure on the verses kind of sounds like that of the chorus of “I Shall Wear A Crown” from the Testify album. Good way to open up.

They spent a good two hours on the first song alone, with a lunch break in between. Then, they came back, finished up on the first song, and then went to work on a second one:

2. Keep Your Arms Wide Open – They played the demo for this song recorded by the writer, but my guess is it will be a Michael English feature. Its style sounds like they can turn him loose on it to put some “soul” in.

And then it came to an abrupt end. It was an interesting five-hour look into the recording process. Hopefully Mark will give us more feeds, when they go back in to do vocals especially.

Take a look at my tweets on the session in the “Swain’s Tweets” section of the blog!

Something To Watch: GVB In The Studio

June 15, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Gaither Vocal Band, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

Mark Lowry sent out an email last week saying that today, June 15th, he would be setting up a webcam so we could watch the GVB in the recording process. I think it’s the all-new one and not the ballads project, but either way, it should be interesting to watch.

The stream is already started at the time of this writing, so come on down! I’ll be Twittering on it occasionally, so you can find me here and follow the tweets! =)

Derrick Selph Leaves Brian Free & Assurance

June 09, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Brian Free And Assurance, NQC Turnover Season 2009, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

In another out-of-left-field personnel change, Brian Free announced today that baritone Derrick Selph is leaving Assurance to be an electrician.

Daniel Mount is calling this recent rash of changes the “NQC Turnover season,” and I’d say it’s the biggest one I’ve seen since I’ve been a fan of SG music. Right now, we’re looking at two groups that are without a tenor (Gold City and Mark Trammell Trio), a group that has disbanded (Dan Keeton Quartet), and now a group without a baritone (Brian Free & Assurance); all of these changes were pretty unexpected. No word yet on any replacements.

If the recent statements on the latest Averyfineline open thread hold any water, there are a lot more coming, including one that will leave a major group without all except the owner/manager. Stay tuned…

Update: Here’s the press release:

We are saddened to announce that Derrick Selph will be coming off the road. He will be going to school to pursue a career as an electrician. Derrick has been a wonderful part of this ministry for over six years. He will greatly missed. We love and care for Derrick and his wife, Jennifer, very much and we wish the very BEST for them in the future.
Derrick will be with the group until Sunday, July 5. His last night will be a sad one for us.
As of the time of this press release, the replacement has not been chosen yet. We know that God has the right person out there. We will keep you updated on the new person.
God bless you while you continue to support our ministry.

Eric Phillips Leaves Mark Trammell Trio

June 04, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Mark Trammell Trio, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

From the Mark Trammell Trio website:

It is with bittersweet emotion that we announce the soon departure of our award winning tenor Eric Phillips. Eric has served this ministry with integrity and honor since our very beginning seven years ago. Bitter, because I view him as a second son and cherish the bond and relationship God has allow us to have for these years. Sweet, because we firmly believe that God has a plan for all of us as we move forward to the next phase of our lives.

Eric has been praying with careful consideration about this move for a number of months and feels confident that his return to Law Enforcement is what is best for he and his family. Please join us in praying for God’s perfect will for both Eric and this ministry. His departure will take place sometime mid to late summer depending on our finding a suitable replacement and his reinstatement to active duty as a police officer. As Eric stated to me, “I have two passions. One is singing, and the other is Law Enforcement. I have enjoyed my days with MTT and have enjoyed the love of gospel music fans around the world. But I am convinced this is the right timing for this change.”

Anyone interested in auditioning for the tenor position should send a brief resume along with a sample tape or CD to Mark Trammell Trio/audition/PO Box 588/Gadsden, AL/35902. We will in turn listen and then contact those we feel to be the individuals most likely to fit our style, etc. Auditions will begin just after Father’s Day as the group will be on an eight day tour and then vacation immediately following.

If you wish to send cards of encouragement to Eric, Lauren, Carley, and Blake, send them to Eric Phillips / c/o Mark Trammell Trio/PO Box 588/Gadsden, AL 35902.

I smile when reminded that the only thing that doesn’t change is Jesus. In order for us to grow as Christians, change must take place. We wish Eric and his family God’s speed in the days ahead.

In HIS service,
Mark Trammell

It was great to hear Eric grow and improve during his time with the group, and I know that the next tenor they hire will continue the great sound. Prayers and good luck to both Eric and the group.

Dan Keeton Quartet Disbands

June 01, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Dan Keeton Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

From the latest newsletter from Dan Keeton:

Hey everyone,


The last year and a half has been a roller coaster ride for me. I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams. If you manage a group than you know very well the ups and downs of this Gospel Music.

The times are changing. I have had more requests to minister and give my testimony than to do concerts with a quartet. And as much as I love having a quartet, God’s will is far more important to me. I have waited and prayed that my wants and desires are what God wants for me. But as you well know, he laughs at our plans!

This week is a prayerful time for me. I am praying that God will open the doors he wants open and closes the doors he wants closed. So, consider this a request for your prayers. All of you are my closest friends. We’ve been through so much the last year and a half, I feel like I can trust you, that you will want God’s will as well.

So, that being said, as of Monday June 1st, 2009, I have disbanded The Dan Keeton Quartet. All upcoming dates will offer something fresh and new, I promise! The future holds new and exciting things for Nancy and I. The next few emails will let you in on all of it! Stay Tuned!

I love you all, Your comments and opinions are appreciated!


Dan Keeton

Please be in prayer for Dan at this time in his life. We have not heard the last of him, I’m sure!