Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.
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Archive for April, 2010

The Perrys @ The Dove Awards – "If You Knew Him"

April 26, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Dove Awards 2010, SG Artists, SG Music, The Perrys

Check out this video of the group singing one of their more popular songs at the 2010 Dove Awards. Although it’s an abbreviated version, it’s worth watching because of the totally live track.

Shannon Smith Joins Three Bridges

April 26, 2010 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, Three Bridges

In a press release at AbsolutelyGospel.com last week, it was announced that former Imperials lead singer Shannon Smith will be coming on board with Three Bridges.

Though I am unfamiliar with most of Three Bridges’ music, I know enough to know that having Shannon will be a huge asset to their sound. It will be good hearing him again after his time with The Imperials, and I’m looking forward to hearing how his voice adds a new dynamic to the trio.

Jeremy Bell Engaged

April 24, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Special Announcements

This post is a special shout-out to my co-writer for this blog, Jeremy Bell. He just posted on Facebook that he is now engaged! Be sure to stop by and congratulate him on this joyous occasion.
Congratulations to Jeremy and Natalie as they begin this journey together!

Chris Allman’s Return To Greater Vision

April 24, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Greater Vision, SG Artists, SG Music

I haven’t had much time to blog lately, but I did come across these Youtube clips of Allman’s first night back in the tenor position with Greater Vision. I understand that “Hallelujah Square” was an impromptu performance, but it’s still incredible. The blend is certainly still there, even after fifteen or so years. I was especially curious to hear how songs from the Jason Waldroup era would sound, and the concert opener, “He’d Still Been Good,” sounds fantastic with Allman on the higher end. This “new-old” Greater Vision is a group to watch, especially when they start getting new material.


“Hallelujah Square”


“Better Hurry Up”


“He’d Still Been God”

Phillip Hughes Departing The Kingsmen

April 12, 2010 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Kingsmen

A status post on Mickey Bell’s Facebook says that Phillip Hughes, lead singer for The Kingsmen, is leaving the group. Says the press release at the Singing News website:

Asheville, NC – Ray Reese, owner/manager of the Kingsmen Quartet, has announced that Phillip Hughes will be resigning his position once a replacement has been found. Phillip has been with the Kingsmen Quartet for over six years. Phillip will be pursuing other business interests that will allow him to spend more time at home.

Traveling full time in Southern Gospel music is never easy when it involves leaving your family behind to minister over 200 dates per year. With two boys, the oldest approaching his teenage years, Phillip feels that more time at home is imperative. More details on Phillip’s future plans will be forthcoming.

The Kingsmen will be searching for a replacement to fill the vacancy. Click Here for more information on how to contact the Kingsmen Quartet.

While Hughes was a different style of lead singer than that which the quartet has had over the years, he developed into the role very nicely in his tenure with the group, and the group has had the best sound recently that it has had in years. Best of luck to Phillip in his new endeavors, and it will be interesting to see who The Kingsmen hire to fill the spot. My guess is that it will be a young, up-and-coming vocalist that will inject some more young blood into the group, as their past couple of hires have been pretty young.

Video Find Of The Day: Gold City – Preach The Word

April 10, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, SG Artists, SG Music

This video posted on Facebook was taken at a Gold City concert last night, and features the group tackling one of their best-known songs from the Steve Ladd/Aaron McCune era, “Preach The Word.” Tenor Josh Cobb does a great job on this ballad, and this is one of the first instances I have heard of this lineup taking on this song. Take a listen!

Update: Here is a better quality one that DinanaSN posted from a different concert:

Greater Vision Welcomes Chris Allman As Tenor

April 07, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Greater Vision, SG Artists, SG History, SG Industry News, SG Music

From a press release from the group:

Morristown, TN – Chris Allman has been anounced as the new tenor for Greater Vision. Many people will remember Chris as the trio’s original tenor, joining the group in December of 1990, and remaining until the end of 1995. “I can’t tell you how excited we are that Chris has chosen to come back on the road. I’ve always said he’s one of the greatest tenors I’ve ever heard, and his passion to share the Gospel is absolutely contagious,” Gerald Wolfe said.

Chris is very excited to be coming back to Greater Vision, as well. “To say that I am thrilled about the opportunity to travel and minister with Gerald and Rodney again would be an understatement. Over the past twenty years, my family and I have sincerely sought God in regards to His perfect will for us and, at times, this is a path that seems to be indefinable. I am very careful when it comes to mentioning the Lord synonymously with a decision I am making but I am sure that this is a door that He has opened to us. While returning to the ministry of Greater Vision finds us excited it also serves as a bittersweet experience regarding our departure from the church we’ve served over the past seven years. As you pray for the future of this great ministry of music please also take the time to pray for The Church @ Burlington. The days ahead will find the leadership there making very important decisions, but as their ears are tuned toward Heaven, I’m sure the way will be made clear for them.” Chris said.

Rodney Griffin said, “We feel very blessed to have the opportunity to travel with Chris again. We’ve kept our friendships strong over the last fifteen years, while he’s been involved in another ministry, so having him back on the bus brings us full circle.”

Several close friends have already expressed their excitement as well, including Scott Fowler, of Legacy Five, who said “I am very excited that Chris is coming back! He is one of my all-time favorite tenors, and I always loved hearing him sing with Greater Vision”. Michael Booth, of the Booth Brothers also commented, “I’m so happy about this! Chris Allman is a man of God who has proven his commitment to the Gospel through the years. Now he returns to Greater Vision, and they will, no doubt, produce music that will raise the standard of how the Gospel should be presented in the form of music. “.

“We are always amazed at how good God is to us, and for Him to allow Chris, Rodney, and me to travel together again is just another example of the Lord blessing us more than we deserve. We are so blessed!” Gerald said.

Chris said, “I am looking forward to seeing many of your familiar faces once again and, along with Gerald and Rodney, thank you for your continued support of this ministry. We believe that our best days are ahead of us!”

Chris Allman’s first concert with Greater Vision will be on Wednesday April 21 in Myrtle Beach, SC.

For more information, visit greatervisionmusic.com .

This is quite an announcement; Chris has always been one of my favorite tenors, and his era with Greater Vision gave it one of the greatest sounds it has had. Jacob Kitson’s vocal style is very reminiscent to that of Allman’s, so Allman coming back on the road will continue that stellar sound.

Here are several clips of Chris’ tenure with the group:

Master Builder
I’m Too Near Home
When The Home Gates Swing Open
Take Him At His Word
Who Moved
Blessed Assurance
I Could Never Praise Him Enough

And finally, the most recent clip of him: an acoustic clip of “God On The Mountain” in early 2009.

Blackwood Brothers Add Pianist

April 06, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Blackwood Brothers, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

A visit to the Singing News website brought this press release to my attention:

Memphis, TN – Jimmy Blackwood and the Blackwood Brothers Quartet are happy to announce the addition of pianist, Mike Hammontree, of Jacksonville, Florida. Mike began playing piano at the age of four, and at six years old was accepted in the Jacksonville University Conservatory of Music.
For the last fifteen years he has been the minister of music at Southside Assembly of God in Jacksonville, and recently resigned to fulfill the plans he felt God had for his life.
Jimmy said, “We heard about Mike and invited him to play for us at Bill Bailey’s Winter Quartet Convention in February, and again for several Florida concerts in March. We were the first quartet he ever played for and it seemed like a perfect match from the start.”
Mike’s wife, Dana and their sons Chad and Chase said, “This has always been a dream of Mike’s and now has become reality.” Mike says, “I’ve always been a Blackwood.”
For more information, visit www.blackwoodbrothers.com/index.html.

When Brad White left the group last year, they lost both a baritone vocalist and pianist. While White only played piano on certain songs, it still recalled the “old days” of the Blackwood Brothers, when they traveled with a pianist backing up the vocals. With this hire, they will have a full-time pianist with them, and more opportunity to do piano-and-voices moments in their concerts.

CD Review: Mercy’s Well – Songbook: Where Hymns & Harmony Live

April 05, 2010 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Mercy's Well, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

Rating: 4 stars

Producer: Donna Beauvais
Label: Independent Release
Website: www.mercyswell.com

Song list: “He Will Surely Make It All Right,” “God Put A Rainbow In The Cloud,” “Jesus Love Has Made A Change,” “Sin’s Dark Sea” (with guest bass vocalist Gene McDonald), “Leave Your Sorrows And Come Along,” “The Unseen Hand,” “Life Will Be Sweeter with Sweeter As The Days Go By,” “I’m A Goin'” (with guest bass vocalist Paul Harkey), “He Bought My Soul,” “He Was A Preachin’ Man” (with guest bass vocalist Gene McDonald), “While Endless Ages Roll,” and “When They Ring The Bells Of Heaven with Everybody Will Be Happy Over There.”

Mercy’s Well is a trio that is steadily gaining a presence in Southern Gospel music. Their latest mainline project, Skywriting, had a couple singles with good radio chart activity. Though that project was on the Progressive side of the spectrum, Songbook is the third installment in a series of hymns & classics projects that the group has recorded.

The trio opts for a stripped-down sound for this collection of songs, with David Huntsinger and Gordon Mote playing piano (and organ, on some songs), and Gary Lunn playing bass guitar on some tracks. Though the songs are familiar, Mercy’s Well does a commendable job of breathing new life into them, with some unique chords and arrangements thrown in throughout. The group also achieves a nice quartet sound with the help of guest bass singers Gene McDonald (“Sin’s Dark Sea” and “He Was A Preachin’ Man”) and Paul Harkey (“I’m A Goin'”).

Bottom line: Fans of projects that take old songs and make them over like new will find plenty to love with Songbook: Where Hymns & Harmony Live.