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

Two Arrivals & One Departure

October 30, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, Kingdom Heirs, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Dixie Melody Boys

It’s been a week for lineup changes in Southern Gospel, and yesterday brought the announcement of two additions to groups, and also one group that is searching for a tenor.

1. Brent Mitchell Joins Gold City – The blogs and forums were buzzing earlier this week when it was announced that Josh Cobb was out as Gold City’s tenor, and that the new one would be debuting that night. As it turns out, it is former Mercy’s Mark and N’Harmony tenor, Brent Mitchell:

Gold City has announced that Brent Mitchell has joined the quartet as tenor vocalist, filling the vacancy created by the departure of Josh Cobb.

“No one dislikes change more than I do,” says Gold City’s Daniel Riley. “But that doesn’t change the fact that changes do happen. Often times, people don’t always understand the reason behind the changes—we don’t always understand it ourselves, as change can come quickly for any of a huge number of reasons.

“Josh Cobb is an incredibly talented person and we’ve enjoyed our time with him. We wish him the very best in his future endeavors.

“Brent will officially start his role with Gold City November 11,” continues Riley. “Many Southern Gospel fans will remember Brent from his tenure with Mercy’s Mark. He possesses a very distinct tenor voice, and we’re very excited to welcome him to our group.”

Brent, his wife, Heather, and their 7-year old daughter, Ivy, live in Moulton, Ala., and he’s excited about joining the legendary quartet. “I grew up listening to this music,” says Brent. “It has always been a dream of mine to be part of a legacy like Gold City. I am excited to have an opportunity once again to sing the best music in the world.” (Singing News)

If there is one thing that Gold City needs to keep their legacy strong, it’s a distinctive, solid tenor with a strong stage presence. Josh Cobb brought those factors to the table, and Brent does as well. I enjoyed hearing him with Mercy’s Mark and N’Harmony, and I think he will do just fine with Gold City.

For those wondering how he’ll sound on a Gold City classic, check this out. I’d also like to see him bring his take of this Cathedrals song with him to GC.

2. Matt Felts Joins Dixie Melody Boys – In another move that completes the transition from one tenor to the next, Matt Felts has joined the Dixie Melody Boys to fill the spot left by the departure of Jonathan Price for the Dove Brothers:

Ed O’Neal of the Dixie Melody Boys has announced that the quartet has selected Matt Felts as the new tenor vocalist for the legendary quartet. “We’re excited about Matt joining our group, and he will be coming on board November 5.”

Matt is no stranger to the world of Southern Gospel music and his résumé includes tours with such groups as Perfect Heart, the Skyline Boys and the Monument Quartet. (Singing News)

This hire is a departure for the DMB in two ways: Felts is a power tenor unlike any that they’ve had in quite a while, and, Daniel Mount noted, he is a relatively well-known singer in Southern Gospel, whereas Ed O’Neal is usually known for hiring “unknowns.”

If Ed can keep this lineup around a while, it could go down as one of the best lineups that the DMB has had in quite a while. To introduce him to those unfamiliar with his work, see this clip of Matt being featured on “Hide Thou Me” with Monument Quartet.

3. Billy Hodges Resigns From The Kingdom Heirs – Late last night, word got out that Billy Hodges is leaving the group due to vocal trouble. A replacement is yet to be named, but in the meantime, this news item demonstrates that the Kingdom Heirs must be going to the “Ben Harris School of How To Handle Press Releases Concerning Change.”

“It’s been nearly six years since I began my career singing with the Kingdom Heirs at Dollywood. So it’s with mixed emotions that I announce my resignation from the group. As some of you may know, I began having vocal issues back in the summer of this year. I visited Dr. Cleveland, the Voice Center at Vanderbilt’s top expert on vocal issues. They found a lesion on my left vocal cord. After the visit I continued my vocal exercises and instructions that were given to me by Dr. Cleveland. However, the damage had already been done. On Wednesday October 27th after much prayer and consultation with Steve French we both decided that my time with the Kingdom Heirs has come to an end. Through tears we announced to the rest of the group that I would be leaving and my last date would be January 17, 2011.”

Steve French says “It’s been a real pleasure having Billy, Selena, and Adison Jo as part of the Kingdom Heirs family. All of the guys prayed and hoped that Billy’s voice would clear up and he would be able to stay for many more years. Unfortunately it didn’t work out as we had planned. Billy and I both agree that it’s time and we wish him and his family the best in all of their endeavors. He will always be a Kingdom Heir in our hearts and he will be greatly missed.” Search for a new tenor will start immediately.

Billy states, “We had originally planned to make this decision after the first of the year but God led us to this time. I can’t stress enough how supportive the Kingdom Heirs have been to me and my family. Steve has been very understanding through all of my struggles. Other groups might have just fired me but Steve knew my family commitments and has promised to give me two and half months to find other employment. It’s my intent to continue to work for the Dollywood Company.”

“I want to say a honest and heartfelt thank you to all the fans and friends I’ve made while being with the Kingdom Heirs. I will miss all of you greatly.”

You can email Billy at billy@pathwayschurch.cc or billy@kingdomheirs.com (Singing News)

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