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

Archive for September, 2010

Winners of the 2010 Singing News Fan Awards

September 30, 2010 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, Singing News Fan Awards

  • Favorite Musician- Jeff Stice- Triumphant Quartet
  • Horizon Individual- Morgan Easter- Jeff and Sheri Easter
  • Tenor- Michael Booth- The Booth Brothers
  • Soprano- Kim Hopper- The Hoppers- Kim’s daughter Karlye accepted the award and dedicated it to Tony Greene, making for one of the night’s more emotional moments.
  • Young Artist- Brooklyn Collingsworth
  • Baritone- Jim Brady- Booth Brothers
  • Horizon Group- Soul’d Out Quartet
  • Favorite Male Artist- Ivan Parker
  • Favorite Bass Singer- Eric Bennett- Triumphant Quartet
  • Favorite Lead Singer- Ronnie Booth
  • Favorite Alto- Libbi Stuffle
  • Favorite Mixed Group- The Hoppers
  • Favorite Female Singer- Kim Hopper
  • Favorite Male Quartet- Triumphant Quartet
  • Marvin Norcross/Templeton Award- Primitive Quartet
  • Favorite Soloist-Ivan Parker
  • Favorite Trio- The Booth Brothers- also dedicated to The Greenes.
  • Songwriter Of The Year- Rodney Griffin
  • Favorite Album- Jubilee- Legacy Five, Greater Vision,The Booth Brothers
  • Favorite Song- If You Knew Him- The Perrys
  • Favorite Artist- The Booth Brothers

There’s really nothing to complain about in this year’s awards; everyone who won something deserved the win, IMHO. Here’s hoping that we see the Awards back at NQC next year, though.

Tony Greene Passes Away

September 28, 2010 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Greenes, Uncategorized

After several early reports of his passing that were in error earlier today (he was taken off the ventilator but breathing on his own), Tony Greene passed away today at 4:25 PM. From the Singing News:

Anthony Elden Greene, known to most Southern Gospel music fans as “Tony,” passed away today, September 28th just before 4:30pm Eastern Time at the age of 41. Tony had been in Carolina Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., since September 21 due to several health complications.

Tony is survived by wife, TaRanda, and their children, Isabella (age 6) and Jocelyn (age 2). He is also survived by his brother Tim, sister Kim Greene Hopper, and his mother, Carolyn Greene, and several nieces.

The son of (the late) Everette and Carolyn Greene, Tony was born in Boone, N.C., on October 17, 1968, the youngest of three children. By the early 1980s, Tony and his siblings were singing Southern Gospel music professionally as The Greenes, garnering several No. 1 songs and appearing on the nation’s leading concerts.

In addition to being noted as a gifted lead vocalist, Tony has also been included in the list of leading concert promoters of Southern Gospel music. Throughout the years, Tony’s promotions encompassed dozens of states, while providing Christian music in not only churches and auditoriums, but also aboard cruises, bus tours and more. He was also a key factor of the success of the long-running Gospel Singing Jubilee multi-day concert held in Boone, N.C., for almost 30 years.

Tony married the former TaRanda Kiser on February 13, 2001. Together, they continued the ministry of the Greenes, while also being involved in several other ventures that include work with Abraham Productions (concert promotions featuring the Singing In The Sun in Myrtle Beach, S.C., the Gatlinburg Gathering in Gatlinburg, Tenn., and other locations), and the Good Shepherd Funeral Home in Indian Trail, North Carolina.

On August 25, 2009, Tony underwent a successful kidney transplant, with TaRanda providing the donor kidney. He returned to traveling within a month and though he encountered some minor health difficulties, he continued with the Greenes until additional health issues forced his hospitalization on September 21, 2010.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

In tribute to Tony, here are the Greenes at NQC 2009 singing one of their best-known songs, “Hold On,” soon after Tony’s kidney transplant. Please pray for the family during this difficult time.


NQC 2010 CD Review List

September 25, 2010 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, NQC, SG Artists, SG Music

As was the case last year, I came home from this year’s National Quartet Convention with a lengthy list of projects up for review. Here’s the lineup. This is not necessarily the order in which they will be reviewed; some I may try to review around the holidays or other events like the street release date, as will be the case with Ernie Haase & Signature Sound’s A Tribute to The Cathedral Quartet and Gold City’s Somebody’s Coming (once the pre-order comes in.)

1. Three Bridges – Refined
2. The PerrysBlue Skies
3. Triumphant Quartet – Love Came Calling
4. Brian Free & Assurance – Never Walk Alone
5. Ernie Haase & Signature Sound – A Tribute to The Cathedral Quartet
6. The Greenes – Hallelujah
7. Legacy FiveGive The World A Smile
8. Gold City – Somebody’s Coming
9. Tribute Quartet – Hit Replay
10. The LeFevre Quartet Encore
11. Gold City – A Collection of Favorites, Vol. 1
12. Booth Brothers, Greater Vision, & Legacy Five – Jubilee Two
13. The Inspirations – On The Sunrise Side
14. The Dixie Echoes – Golden Celebration
15. Mark Trammell Quartet – Testimony
16. Crystal River – Start A Revival
17. Greater Vision – Welcome Back
18. Greater Vision – Everything Christmas
19. Statement of Faith – Statement of Faith

Gold City Announces New Pianist

September 20, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Perrys

Via the Singing News, Gold City has announced that Bryan Elliott is taking the piano bench:

During the week of the National Quartet Convention, Gold City announced that Bryan Elliott has been named as the new pianist for the quartet. Bryan has a long history in Southern Gospel music, with tenures with the Anchormen, the Palmetto State Quartet and most recently, the Perrys.

“Bryan is a fine young man,” says Tracy Stuffle of the Perrys. “We have enjoyed having him as a part of our group and all of us in the Perrys sincerely wish him the absolute best as he joins Gold City. He will always be a member of our family and this group.”

“We’ve known Bryan for many years,” adds Gold City’s Daniel Riley, “so this is more than bringing a pianist on board – we’re adding a long-time friend. Bryan will be with us as we head out for this weekend.”

I had heard about this change near the end of NQC week; glad to see that the rumors did indeed pan out.

Hiring Elliott was a smart move on the part of Gold City; he’s a young guy with the stage presence to fit the group’s current image, but also has a piano style that will fit their sound. The fact that, as Daniel stated, they are adding a “long-time friend” will help the transition go smoothly as well.

Thoughts on NQC 2010: Saturday Night

September 19, 2010 By: Aaron Category: NQC, SG Artists, SG Music

1. This NQC has brought some surprising lesser-known groups to my attention. DBM has already mentioned them, but the Penny Loafers got a one-song feature early tonight on mainstage, and did some pretty cool stuff in an a capella arrangement of “Goodbye World Goodbye.” I would describe the sound as Take 6 meets barbershop meets Southern Gospel quartet. Color me impressed.

2. Triumphant started off their set with an acoustic feel, opting for piano-only accompaniment on “Somebody Died For Me” and “Don’t Let The Sandals Fool Ya.” My hat is always off to groups that still sound good without tracks. Although a track did kick in later for “He Is,” the good sound continued.

3. Biggest response for any one singer tonight (or possibly the whole week) goes to Trent Adams of the Dixie Echoes. The crowd roared after every verse of his solo feature, “Child Of The King.” His is a voice that is smooth and deep, and he never strays out of his comfort zone. The crowd response would have been the same even if Randy Shelnut hadn’t mentioned beforehand that Adams is only nineteen years old.

Thoughts on NQC 2010: Friday Night

September 18, 2010 By: Aaron Category: NQC, SG Artists, SG Music

1. Cut it out with the picture-taking already! I hate to start out my report with a grievance, but honestly, it needs to be addressed. I was sitting at about the second row back at the Gaither Sing-A-Long this afternoon, and there were several times that people came up to take pictures and just stood there for five minutes. They took maybe three pictures. Total. I would have asked them to move, but the nice gentleman across the aisle beat me to the punch.

C’mon folks! I’m not against taking pictures, but at least kneel or position yourself to where you’re not blocking the view of others trying to enjoy the show. Or, if it’s necessary to stand and take the picture, take it and go. DO NOT stand there for five minutes, take one picture, and continue standing there. LEAVE! Nobody can see past you. What makes it worse is when you do it multiple times a set. Just sit down and watch!

2. Most memorable moment goes to Ernie Haase & Signature Sound tonight. On the final chorus of “We Shall See Jesus” and an encore of “Boundless Love,” Ernie brought up Scott Fowler, Gerald Wolfe, Mark Trammell, and Danny Funderburk. This mini-Cathedrals reunion made the whole “tribute” atmosphere of Signature Sound’s set come full-circle.

3. Who is the Todd Allen Family, and why have we not heard of them sooner? Though their NQC-themed parody of “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” was as cheesy as they come, the harmony was delightful. More, please!

4. I noticed something interesting today in both the Gaither afternoon event and the GVB’s set tonight. Both times, on the final song, Bill brought up Gene McDonald to sing with the Vocal Band, giving him his mic and not singing while McDonald was doing so. Could this be a glimpse into the future? We shall see; it’s conceivable that Bill could semi-retire and still travel with the Homecoming Tour, and even sing the occasional song, but hire McDonald as the new GVB bass. Oh, what could be…

Thoughts on NQC 2010: Thursday Night

September 17, 2010 By: Aaron Category: NQC, SG Artists, SG Music

1. Why haven’t the Ball Brothers been on mainstage before? They had a very strong set tonight, in terms of both vocal performance and song selection. A young group like this that can hold their own with any of the top-tier ones always impresses me, and they were one of the highlights of the night.

2. Chris Allman must have found the Fountain of Youth for voices. Honestly, the guy sounds exactly how he did twenty years ago. The best evidence came at the beginning of Greater Vision’s stand tonight. A Youtube clip was played of the group at the 1995 NQC singing “I’m Too Near Home,” and when the lights came up, the group began singing the same song. The difference in Allman’s tenor was literally indiscernible.

3. It’s about time the King’s Heralds got a full set. The group alternated between a capella tunes and songs with tracks, and while their first song with a track was OK, the closer, “Champion of Love” was much better performed. And, of course, the a capella material was stellar.

4. They fixed the piano tonight. The issues they had last night were non-existent tonight, thankfully.


Thoughts on NQC 2010: Wednesday Night

September 16, 2010 By: Aaron Category: NQC, SG Artists, SG Music

After getting in at about 1:00 Wednesday morning, I started my NQC 2010 experience with the Gaither/EHSS showcase, which was well worth making the trip up to Louisville a day early. Some thoughts on the evening concerts:

1. The sound is actually decent this year. Granted, it’s not perfect, by any stretch; some of the showcases and evening performances had some issues, like David Phelps’ rendition of “He’s Alive” hitting a bump with a major sound glitch that almost blasted everybody out of the front door for about two seconds. But at least they’ve finally learned to mix it correctly and TURN THE MICS ON when a singer is holding it up to sing. Let’s hope this is my last mention of the sound this week.

2. Enjoyed the newer faces on mainstage tonight. I don’t believe Liberty Quartet has been on mainstage for an official set before this year (they were on for one song after being voted best artist for the Artist Spotlight showcases a couple years back), and I was impressed with their set. Dailey & Vincent got a great crowd response, and not even just for the fact that they had Christian Davis singing bass; they were darn good in their set.

3. Adding the live band is the best decision the Dove Brothers have made. Their sound as a group seems to be a bit better above the live instrumentation. Also worth noting: David Hester sounded better than I’ve ever heard him.

4. Gold City needs to hire Channing Eleton back. He fit like a glove with them, even on the newer material, and it’s almost like he never left as far as the accompaniment, which especially showed on the piano-only songs. His is a style that stands out on its own without overplaying or playing over the vocalists. That is exactly what a group with this vocal caliber needs.

5. Smart move on Daniel Riley’s part calling “I Stand Redeemed” during Gold City’s set. Nothing will endear a returning singer to the crowd’s heart more than a song that is still being requested ten years later. Bringing out the arrangement that will be featured on Gold City’s upcoming mainline release was a great decision twofold: it promotes their soon-to-be-released material, and it gives Cobb a chance to display how much he has improved as a vocalist over the years. Was the performance perfect? No. But that arrangement was killer, and Cobb showed why that will always be his signature song.

6. Was it just me, or did the higher end of the piano sound really off? It either needs to be tuned or a mic needs to be adjusted, but the sound was just weird, and almost ear-splitting at points on the higher notes. Having it sound that way for multiple pianists tells me the problem is in the instrument, not the players.

NQC 2010

September 14, 2010 By: Aaron Category: NQC

I’m getting everything together and getting ready to head out the door to NQC 2010. I’ll be there tomorrow (Wednesday) through Saturday, and will be giving my thoughts every evening on the mainstage concerts at least. If you see me walking around, feel free to stop and say hello!

Youtube Find: Celebration Quartet Reunion

September 09, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Celebration Quartet, Liberty Quartet, SG Artists, SG History, SG Music, Youtube

Fans that are familiar with the Liberty Quartet will know that when baritone Jordan Cragun first joined the group, he had several ties in the Southern Gospel industry already; his father sang bass in a group called the Celebration Quartet, and Jordan’s aunt, Kim Collingsworth, was pianist for the group. The quartet only released one project, and the vocalists were all called to the pastorate, so they split up. Jordan talks about them here, and says they were “an amazing quartet.”

Recently, they held a reunion concert (minus Kim) in Roanoke, VA, about 45 minutes from my hometown. The baritone for the group, Jeff Keaton, pastors the Parkway House of Prayer there, and the tenor, Mark Dubbeld is the minister of music there. Lead singer Dan Coy is the youth pastor. Ray Cragun, the group’s bass singer, came up from Lousiana, where he pastors a church, for the event. I was unable to attend, but my friend Andrew Graham went and got several video clips of the concert. Keep in mind that the group traveled about twenty years ago, when the guys were in their twenties, and none of them have sung professionally otherwise.