Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.
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Archive for December, 2009

Ryan Seaton Leaves Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, New Lead Announced

December 28, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, Karen Peck and New River, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

In a blog post from Ernie Haase today, it was announced that long-time lead Ryan Seaton was leaving the group, but also announced that a familiar face in Southern Gospel music would fill the spot:

Dear Friends,

It is with sadness and regret that I announce the departure of Ernie Haase & Signature Sound lead singer, Ryan Seaton.

I thank him from the bottom of my heart for all his contributions. We wish Ryan the very best in his personal and professional pursuits, wherever they may lead him.

While one part of my heart is very heavy, the other half is uplifted by the news that Devin McGlamery, from southern gospel’s Grammy-nominated Karen Peck & New River, is joining EHSS as new lead singer! Devin has been lead/tenor for KPNR for the last five years, following a five-year career with the Dixie Melody Boys.

Devin’s debut with us will be on January 15, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio, at our “Dream On” concert featuring The Collingsworth Family – our first performance after Christmas break. We’re really thrilled to be headlining our own show throughout next year.

“To say I’m excited is an understatement,” said Devin. “Ernie and I have been great friends for years. I’ve always had a lot of admiration for him as a singer and as a person, and he has always encouraged me. Words cannot express how wonderful I feel about this opportunity for my career and my family.”

A native of Valdosta, Georgia, Devin is 27 and lives in Kinston, North Carolina, with his wife Karen Ham McGlamery and their children, Karlyn and Preston.

“I want to thank Karen Peck so much for everything over the last five years,” said Devin. “She let southern gospel music get to know the real me, and she let me be who I am. For that and many things, I will always be grateful. I’m really looking forward to the next part of my calling and my journey with Ernie and the group.”

I thank God for the opportunity to work with Devin and am grateful to Karen and Susan Peck for their graciousness. Please join me in giving a warm Signature Sound welcome to Devin, and keep Ryan and his dear family in your prayers!

As always, your support and understanding is SO valued and appreciated.

Ernie

Seaton was one of those singers that developed into a better vocalist over his tenure with a group (see Steve Ladd with Gold City). When he started out, he was quiet and content to just blend in the background. He developed confidence over time, though, and he became one of the better leads in the industry today. Here’s hoping the future finds him with another top-tier quartet.

As far as picking Devin McGlamery as the new lead, I say it’s a great fit. Devin’s vocal ability impressed me with KP&NR, although he was never really featured out front all that much. With EH&SS, he will be able to showcase those vocals better, and he definitely has the “modern” image that the group possesses. The change has come at an opportune time, too; since the group is doing a solo tour all of next year, it will be easier for fans who aren’t already familiar with Devin to acquaint themselves.

I’m definitely looking forward to hearing how this new lineup will sound. Prayers and best of luck to Ryan Seaton as well.

Gold City Announces Big Changes

December 22, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, Josh Cobb, Roy Webb, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, Tim Riley

In a press release from Gold City today, they’ve announced several changes in their lineup:

1. Josh Cobb Is Gold City’s New Tenor – When Steve Ladd left Gold City earlier this year, Josh’s name came up among the list of people that I would have liked to see take the position. It’s nice to see that became a reality with this latest development.

This hire is a good one on two counts: Cobb definitely has the range to handle both new and old Gold City material, and it brings back a vocalist that has been on many people’s “Where Are They Now?” list for years. I liked Josh’s voice when he was with Legacy Five, and it’s developed since that time into a better sound. Here’s a recent video of him singing in a duet of the Larnelle Harris/Sandi Patty song, “I’ve Just Seen Jesus.”

2. Roy Webb Joins As New Piano Player – When he played with them at this past NQC, I said to myself, “If they can somehow convince him to come on the road with them, they’d be solid on the piano position.” Gold City has done just that, even allowing him the freedom to continue his successful solo ministry. Webb will be an asset to the group both in his piano playing and his stage presence, especially if they let him inject some of his humor into their concerts. Here’s a video of him playing with the group on Gold City’s first performance at NQC 2009, which is the perfect segue into the third change:

3. Tim Riley Is Staying On Full-Time With Gold City – Fans have been clamoring for Tim’s full-time return to the group ever since they saw him with them at NQC. On the song above, not one word was spoken when Gold City took the stage for the first time that week, but when Tim stepped on, the place erupted. His singing had just gotten better with time as well, and he cemented the bass part just like he did when he was on the road before. GC definitely had the buzz factor throughout the industry with Tim filling in, and now that buzz will undoubtedly be renewed with this announcement.

Needless to say, this lineup of Gold City has the potential to be named among the more famous lineups the group has had. Best wishes to Josh, Roy, and all of Gold City as they enter this new chapter in their lives.

By The Way: Kyle Boreing has posted a message from Josh Cobb’s wife in reference to the infamous comments Josh supposedly made on a Myspace account several years ago. I would encourage everyone to read it.

Update: This video was shot in the morning service yesterday of Josh singing a medley of Christmas songs. This shows that he has an incredible range, and I don’t know of too many tenors that are willing to hit some of those high notes in the morning. This also confirms the fact that Josh is going to be a different type of tenor than Gold City is used to. Steve Ladd was a “power tenor” of sorts in his time with them, and Josh will definitely continue that trend.

CD Review: The Ball Brothers – Breakthrough

December 19, 2009 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, SG Artists, SG Music, The Ball Brothers

Rating: 5 stars

Producers: Darren Rust & Jason Webb
Label: Song Garden Music Group
Website: www.theballbrothers.com

Buy This Project

The Ball Brothers is a group who has steadily gained popularity over the past few years. They first got attention when they were featured on Ernie Haase & Signature Sound’s Get Away Jordan DVD. They have since recorded several projects and expanded to four members by bringing in another brother to sing.

This latest outing features several original songs, as well as some older ones that have been given a fresh spin. For example, take “Everyday, Every Hour,” which has been recorded by the Gaither Vocal Band and The Cathedrals (the latter version being a recent conversation piece at Averyfineline.) The version that the Ball Brothers do here separates itself from others by adopting a jazzy sound, and it does well at standing on its own two feet. Other notable covers include “I Wouldn’t Miss Heaven” (an old Singing Americans song) and “Keep Me On The Wheel,” a Gold City song that gets a Take 6-esque treatment. The group also covers some more Contemporary fare with “Tell It Like It Is” and “Sometimes He Calms The Storm.”

The original songs here are great, too. “It’s About The Cross” show that the group is as adept at a slow, beautiful song as they are at a driving, faster one. “Forgiven” gives the group a more country style. “He Did What I Couldn’t Do” is definitely on the Progressive side of the spectrum, and is one of my favorites from the project. The album closes with another slower one with “I’ll Do Anything.”

Bottom line: The Ball Brothers is a great group that shows great promise. I see nothing wrong with giving this project a 5-star rating; the original songs found here are stellar, and the covers breathe new life into old songs.

Chris Cooper Departs Gold City

December 15, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

It’s been traveling by word of mouth for the past couple of days, but Daniel Riley confirmed today that tenor Chris Cooper is no longer singing with Gold City. Tomorrow would have marked the sixth-month mark since it was announced that he had been hired. An official press release, along with the announcement of a new tenor, will be made in the next few days.

This announcement is one that I admit I saw coming. Before I state my thoughts, let me say that they are in no way, shape, or form, a slam to Chris. He’s a great tenor singer. I started getting concerned for him near the end of this year’s NQC, though. Some nights, he was ON, and it almost sounded like Jay Parrack up there. However, on other nights, he sounded like he was struggling to sing the part. As I’ve heard people put it, it was “hit and miss.” I’ve noticed it on various online videos as well.

It’s no secret that Gold City’s tenor part is one of the most demanding in the business, and as good a tenor as Cooper is, he doesn’t have the range to do it. I’d love to see him with another top group, albeit one with a less stratospherical tenor part. A group like Legacy Five (whom Chris auditioned with a few years ago) comes to mind. The tenor that they feature on their songs isn’t incredibly high, but still requires quite a bit of power to sing. That’s the kind of group Cooper would do well in; he’s got a powerful tenor voice that isn’t designed to sing in the clouds every night.

I wish Chris well on wherever he lands next, hopefully with another good group. I’ll post thoughts on the new tenor as that info becomes available.

Dove Brothers Update

December 14, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Kingdom Heirs, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Dove Brothers

In a press release issued today at SoGospelNews.com, the Dove Brothers announced that Jerry Kelso is leaving the group and that Adam Harman will be filling the piano bench. Harman was with the Kingdom Heirs for several years, and is probably one of the most underrated pianists in SG music.

My prediction of the group hiring Andrew Ishee was wrong, but this is a great hire as well. Harman’s style will fit the group well, especially in the modern country sound they’ve adopted on their recent projects. When I thought of Ishee, I was thinking of their “Didn’t It Rain” material mostly, but Harman’s playing will supplement that well, too.

Best of luck to Jerry Kelso, and welcome aboard, Adam Harman!

CD Review: The Anchormen – Always A Road

December 14, 2009 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, SG Artists, SG Music, The Anchormen

Rating: 4 stars

Producer: Donna Beauvais
Label: Anchormen Music Group
Website: www.theanchormen.com

Buy This Project

The Anchormen is a name that Southern Gospel fans should be very familiar with. Through the years, this quartet has turned out great music and had one great lineup after another. Anchormen alumni include several recognizable names in the industry, names like Jeff Chapman, Steve Ladd, Tony Jarman, David Hester, Bryan Elliot, and Aaron McCune, among others. In recent years, however, it seems the group has struggled to keep a lineup together and the Anchormen name has somewhat faded into the background. The obvious question here is this: Is this lineup of The Anchormen any different?

This project seeks to answer that question with a resounding “Yes!” Today’s lineup of tenor Karl Rice, lead Keith Casstevens, baritone Michael Bartlett, and bass Paul Harkey is arguably the best one they’ve had in recent years.

The album itself is a collection of songs that give the listener an Anchormen lineup that sets itself apart from the others; the sound is “today,” while still very much the quartet sound fans love. The opening track demonstrates the change in the group’s sound with a Progressive tune, and the rest of the song is a mix of country-flavored tracks and a few powerful slower songs. Bass singer Paul Harkey in particular shines on the project, recalling the sound of the great basses the group has had through the years. He has a nice wide range as well, getting into “Tim Riley territory” (h/t, DBM) on songs like “Everything But Time,” but then displaying a smooth and surprising upper range on “The Letter.”

Bottom line: if The Anchormen can keep this lineup for a while, they will start garnering some well-deserved attention from the industry.

Jerry Kelso Leaving Dove Brothers

December 13, 2009 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Dove Brothers

Via SouthernGospelForums.com, poster RobertYork said this in the Dove Brothers news forum:

Dove Brothers announced tonight that this was Jerry Kelso’s last week. We talked with Jerry and he is moving to Nashville. They have a replacement for Jerry. He will be joining them after the break. He has played for a couple of well known Southern Gospel Groups and I’m sure he will fit in well with them as he is a GREAT piano player. I’m sure McRae will be making the announcement very soon.

Running through a mental list of piano players that I can envision with the Dove Brothers, Andrew Ishee definitely comes to mind. He has played for a couple of well-known groups, and he has both the ability and stage energy that Kelso possessed. He’s currently off the road, but if he was going to come back, this quartet is definitely the one he would fit with.

An official announcement will be made in the next few days, so it will be interesting to see who the choice is.

What Did I Miss?

December 02, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Blackwood Brothers, Blogging Community, Gold City, SG Artists, SG Industry News

Folks, let me say this; having a life isn’t fun!

All kidding aside, I’ve been busy, busy, busy with stuff outside of this blog and haven’t had much of a chance to sit down and write a thing! Here’s some things I’ve missed:

1. GoldCityTribute.com has been launched by fellow blogger Brandon Coomer. Like the Cathedrals Tribute site run by Daniel Mount, this site is a great place to find all things related to the history of a particular group. The information is well-researched and written, so go take a look!

2. Blackwood Brothers Announce New Baritone Singer In a press release at the Singing News website today:

Memphis, TN – The Blackwood Brothers Quartet are excited to announce the addition of a new member. Jimmy’s younger brother, Billy, has joined the group, filling the baritone spot. Billy played drums with the group back in the seventies, but has pursued a solo ministry career since that time. Billy plays drums on the new record and has also helped with vocal arrangements.
This is a new day for the Blackwood Brothers, the beginning of a new era of gospel music ministry, continuing the tradition and taking it to new levels.
We would like to thank Brad White for his years of service with the group and pray God’s blessing on his solo ministry.

It’s nice to see Jimmy bringing another Blackwood back into the long roster of Blackwood Brothers members. It’s a smart move in two ways: longtime fans will already be familiar with Billy, and the fact that he has already been involved in the new project will help to fit him in seamlessly. This Blackwood group has a very solid sound, and it will be great to hear them sing new material on the new project.