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

Archive for January, 2011

Legacy Five Names New Pianist

January 31, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Legacy Five, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

After the announcement of Tim Parton’s imminent departure from the group a couple of weeks ago, much speculation arose around the SG Internet circles as to who would fill the spot. An official release from the group today put all that to rest, and the new pianist was one that, at least in the discussions I was involved in, had not come up:

Legacy Five is pleased to announce that 21 year old Trey Ivey will be joining Legacy Five as their new pianist. Trey is from Cleveland, Georgia but will soon make Nashville, Tennessee his new home.

Trey played the piano for The Mike Lefevre Quartet from November 2006 until March 2010 and most recently was the pianist for The Old Paths. Scott Fowler of Legacy Five states, “I first heard Trey a couple of years ago at the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. I remember thinking then that this young man was a great player and would do nothing but get better. I made a mental note to myself to keep an eye on Trey. When Tim Parton announced he would be leaving, I knew I needed to make contact with Trey. All of the Legacy Five guys are excited to have Trey a part of our team.”

Trey states, “I am so thankful that God allows me to do what I love to do. I am very excited about joining Legacy Five and look forward to seeing what the future holds. It is a real honor to follow in the footsteps of two of my heroes, Roger and Tim.

Trey will begin Traveling with Legacy Five on February 12, but will not officially assume the role of pianist until Tim’s departure on February 28.

What is interesting to note about this hire is that it is the second hire in a row of a LeFevre Quartet alumnus to the group, the first being tenor Gus Gaches. While Ivey was with the Old Paths prior to this, he came into some prominence with Mike LeFevre’s group, even appearing as their pianist on mainstage a few times. I remember being impressed with his stylings from the first time I heard him, and Scott Fowler has done well to bank on a young, up-and-coming talent like Trey Ivey.

For a preview of Ivey’s playing, here are a couple of clips, both of him accompanying a group and some of his solo work:





Tim Duncan Departs Signature Sound; Ian Owens Named As New Bass

January 18, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

By now, it has made the rounds in the Southern Gospel blog: Tim Duncan has left Ernie Haase & Signature Sound after eight years as their bass singer. The press release at Singing News reads:

NASHVILLE, TN (January 17, 2011) – Tim Duncan, bass vocalist of Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, is stepping down after eight years with the quartet.

Tim states: “After 8 years of service to Ernie Haase & Signature Sound I have been feeling in my heart that my time has come to an end. I’m sad on one hand yet excited on the other hand. Ernie & the boys are like brothers and always will be. I covet your prayers.”

Ernie Haase states: “I realize changes are inevitable, it always brings a challenge as well as new opportunity. We will always be grateful for Tim’s contribution to the group over these past years. We love Tim and wish him and his family great success.”

Ian Owens will replace Tim Duncan. His first date with the group will be January 21 in Portland OR.

Thankfully, this doesn’t seem to be a situation where the speculation can turn ugly as to what happened to cause the change; the press release features statements from both parties that indicate there is no bad blood. As Haase stated, change is inevitable. Tim Duncan became one of my personal favorite basses in his time with the group, and his sound improved during that tenure. His contributions to the group’s sound leave some big shoes to fill.

That brings me to Ian Owens. You may remember him from his time with the Cumberland Quartet, but most will remember him as the young man who stepped in when Armond Morales, longtime bass singer for The Imperials retired. Indeed, Owens possesses a voice that has the smooth tones of Armond’s, but with a deeper, lower range. It is interesting to note that, in an interview hosted on Daniel Mount’s blog, Ernie Haase was asked to put together a “quartet of tomorrow.” Owens got the bass spot in that group. Owens’ sound differs enough from Duncan’s that it will be intriguing to hear how the group’s sound as a whole changes.

For a preview of Ian Owen’s voice, here’s the Imperials singing “Arise, My Love.”

Gold City with Chris West

January 17, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, SG Artists, SG History, SG Music

When I went to Youtube this morning to search for something, I got a pleasant surprise in my subscription bar; a video entitled “GOLD CITY’S NEW BASS SINGER 1-16-2011” (caps not mine.)

I had heard rumors that Chris West, former Mercy’s Mark bass singer and current sound man for Gold City, was being called up to sing several songs every night with the group, but this video was the first true evidence I had seen of it. It starts off with Tim Riley (who sounds like he’s channeling JD Sumner in this clip!) talking about Chris and their friendship, and then bringing him on stage as “After A While” begins playing. He then steps off to one of the wings and West proceeds to nail the song with a bass voice that has all the depth and power to it that Riley has now.

This video, I think, is solid proof that Riley is prepping West to take his place after his eventual second retirement. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it on this blog or not, but I have a feeling that is the most prudent method. With Bill Lawrence, and even Aaron McCune, it was almost a case of Tim up and retired, hired another bass singer, and rode off into the sunset. The problem with that is this: fans of Gold City immediately think of Riley and his singing when Gold City is mentioned. All of a sudden, they’re left with a new bass to get used to. That didn’t go over too well, and neither Lawrence nor McCune, unfortunately, were ever really accepted as “Gold City’s bass” by many of its fans.

Now, before I go any further, let me say that none of that was meant as an offense to either of those singers. They are both fine basses and I enjoyed both of them with Gold City, but I just observed over those time periods what the general response was from the fan base.

The beauty of this method of transition is this: it is already known that Tim is coming off the road again eventually. Bringing Chris up on stage every night and introducing him saying that he has been working with him gives fans a concrete image of Tim giving this young man the thumbs-up as his replacement, which is something that did not happen with the other two. If fans can physically see the passing of the torch, they will more readily accept him. It also helps that West sounds like a young Riley, anyway.

And so, dear readers, here’s a preview of the next generation of Gold City:

Catch Up

January 14, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Legacy Five, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, Tribute Quartet

After a relatively quiet past several days, some news items have hit that I took note of, but could not cover in the flurry of midterms:

1. First and foremost, I wish to send my condolences to the family of Susan Unthank. Unthank passed away on January 5 after a long battle with various health problems. A memorial service has been rescheduled for January 24 after inclement whether cancelled the first one. In all of my dealings with her, be it over the Internet or in the one time I met her in person at NQC a couple of years back, she was always very gracious and nice to talk to. Say what you will about Absolutely Gospel (SoGospelNews), but there is no denying the impact that she and her husband had when they founded that site. Susan Unthank, you will be missed.

2. Dennis Dugger leaves Tribute Quartet, Anthony Davis Steps In – In a somewhat shocking news item today, the group announced that founding member and the only bass the group has had to date has left the group on good terms. Gary Casto has once again made a hire that has the distinction of being one of the youngest singers in the business; Davis is 28 years old. Various sources have said this is the same Anthony Davis that sang bass for Firm Foundation Quartet, and a quick Youtube search yields clips such as these:

At first blush, Davis has a tone that is similar to Dugger’s, while having a distinctive sound of his own. At his young age, he has plenty of time to mature and refine his voice, and Gary Casto does a great job of that with his vocalists; just look at Riley Clark!

I would guess that Davis will be on the upcoming mainline release, so I am interested to hear him on brand-new Tribute material, and hopefully someone will have Youtube footage soon of him on current Tribute songs.

3. It was also announced today that Tim Parton has left the pianist position in Legacy Five. Parton will be taking a position with the 3ABN television network. Like Dugger, he also leaves his respective group on good terms. It will be interesting to see who L5 gets to take the spot; Parton was basically hand-picked by Roger Bennett before his death in 2007, and has been with the group since taking the position full-time after filling in for several months. My mind is drawing a blank as to what “known names” could be tapped for the job, but I wouldn’t mind seeing them pick up an “undiscovered” talent.

New Year’s Roundup

January 04, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Blackwood Quartet, Gold City, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, Statement of Faith, The Down East Boys

Though I’m a few days late, welcome to 2011, everybody!

I haven’t found the time to update the blog in the past couple of days, so here’s a roundup of what I missed:

1. Tony Jarman joins the Down East Boys – Daniel Mount has the scoop: the former Poet Voices, Legacy Five, and Old Time Gospel Hour Quartet tenor has joined the quartet after the end of Jason Runnels’ eight-year run. Jarman starts on January 13. I’ve thought for quite some time that the Down East Boys are one of the most underrated quartets out there, and this newest addition to the group may be what they need to produce some music that will give them some well-deserved attention.

Nate Pritchard has posted a video on Burke’s Brainwork of one of Tony’s big songs of his L5 days, but I’ll post one of my personal favorites: this performance of “Little Is Much” is taken from the Live At The Palace video that L5 did with Greater Vision, and features Jarman out front with piano as the only instrumentation, leaving that clear tenor to deliver the song unmarred by an overly loud track.

2. David Mann joins Statement of Faith – Right on the heels of the news of the trio’s former baritone heading to The Inspirations, they have announced that Mann will join his brothers-in-law. Mann comes from a stint of a few years with the Blackwood Quartet, and I have always been impressed with his voice. His talent, combined with those of Jacob and Joe Kitson, will make for a great trio in Statement of Faith. Their debut project already impressed me; their next should be even better.

Here’s a clip of him singing baritone for the Blackwood Quartet. The lineup at the time this clip is tenor Dale Evans, lead Mark Blackwood, baritone David Mann, and bass Chris West.

3. There are clips floating around of Craig West’s debut as Gold City’s lead singer. I won’t post them all, but here’s one of a Gold City standard: Midnight Cry. Craig’s voice possess the soul-tinged vocals of Michael English, while having the power of ¬†Josh Feemster or early Ivan Parker. If this clip doesn’t convince you that West fits the group like a glove, I don’t know what will.