Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.
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Archive for the ‘Dixie Melody Boys’

Dixie Melody Boys Hire Doug Pittman

October 06, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Dixie Melody Boys, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

After the departure of Matt Felts to the Lesters, the Dixie Melody Boys began searching for a new tenor. That search came to a close when the group debuted their new singer at NQC. Here’s the press release from their email newsletter discussing the move:

Greetings friends! Fall is upon us and just as the autumn winds bring about changing leaves, so too have the winds of change swept through the Dixie Melody Boys. Following an extensive national search, Ed O’ Neal is pleased to introduce Doug Pittman as the new tenor vocalist for the Dixie Melody Boys. Doug made his debut with the group at the National Quartet Convention in Pigeon Forge, TN and wowed the audience with a rendition of the classic, “Little Is Much.” Following a thunderous standing ovation, Doug and the “Boys” brought the house down with “When I Cross To The Other Side Of Jordan.” If you missed the NQC, you can catch these performances on our Facebook page courtesy of some dear friends in the audience.

Doug Pittman is 28 years old and originally from the small town of Eastman, GA. He garnered several awards in the classical world during his high school and college years, including First Prize in the 2008 National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Vocal Competition. Doug has performed both nationally and internationally, including a United Kingdom tour in 2007 and his Carnegie Hall debut in 2010. He only began singing Southern Gospel in recent years, however his roots are deeply tied to it. Doug grew up hearing Southern Gospel every weekend following his father, a drummer for several regional groups, in the early ’90s. While pursuing a degree in music at Brewton-Parker College, Doug formed a Gospel group with a few of his friends. He has sung with that group, Omega Quartet, since it’s inception in 2008 and was the remaining original member.

Ed O’ Neal states, “We auditioned several tremendous singers over the last few weeks, even took a few out on the road with us. I had never met Doug, but the first song he sang during sound check gave me chill bumps all up and down my arms. When we sang that night, it was as if we had all been performing together for twenty years. He’s a fine young man, loves the Lord, and can SING! I knew by the end of the trip I had found my man. Josh Garner is a pro and Aaron Dishman just thrills me with how he has matured as a singer and a performer in such a short time. Add Doug to that mix and I believe this is one of the strongest line-ups I’ve ever had with the Dixie Melody Boys.”

Be sure to keep a watch on our schedule at www.dixiemelodyboys.com or catch us on Facebook so you can come out and meet Doug and all the Dixie Melody Boys at a concert near you.

Here’s a video from Doug’s debut performance:

I’ve been impressed with Doug’s voice since the first time I heard it back when Omega was a college group. They sang a song called “You Are Holy,” and though Doug was using a completely different style and tone to his voice back then, I knew there was potential. A few years passed and I had basically forgotten about Omega until a trio by the same name got on the main stage at NQC 2011 as a featured artist from the showcases. That intrigued me, and then I was blown away by the tenor’s performance on a song called “I’m Coming Again.” As it turned out, it was the same group, and that was the same tenor. Doug’s sound fits the musical direction that the group has taken in their recent work, and just by watching him interact with the guys at the booth, I can tell he fits on a personal level, as well.

As a bonus, here’s the 2011 performance I mentioned:

Matt Felts Steps Down From Dixie Melody Boys

August 22, 2014 By: Aaron Category: Dixie Melody Boys, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

In both a Facebook status and press release today, tenor Matt Felts announced his decision to step away from the tenor position at the “Ed O’Neal University” after four years:

In a statement today, Matt Felts, tenor for the Dixie Melody Boys, has announced that he will be leaving the group at the end of August.

“I want to thank the friends and fans of the group for the way they have embraced me. It has been a huge honor to sing with Ed O’Neal and the Dixie Melody Boys for over four years. Being a member of the Ed O’Neal University has been a blessing to not just me, but my family. Ed has taught me so much and gave me such an incredible opportunity. Saying ‘thank you’ will never be enough to repay Ed. The last four years have been a great season for the group, but I am very blessed to be a part of the current lineup. I think it’s been a special lineup for the group. Thanks to Aaron Dishman and Josh Garner for the last year, as well as Rayburn Lane for keeping me safe on the roads. Some may say I am graduating, but I’ve learned that you never truly leave the Dixie Melody Boys. It’s a family that you’re always a part of. I will be announcing future plans soon, but for now, I just wanted to thank Ed for an incredible journey.”

Matt joined the Dixie Melody Boys in 2010 and has been a mainstay for the group, having been a part of many awards, including the 2012 and 2013 Favorite Quartet, and was named the 2013 Favorite Tenor in the Southern Gospel Fan Awards.

There have been very few groups that have seen a turnaround in quality and direction like the Dixie Melody Boys have in the past few years, and that is due in large part to what Felts brought to the table. Yes, he sang the tenor part and sang it well, but his marketing background paid dividends in the quality of the group’s presence in the genre and the presentation of their music. I saw them in concert a couple of weeks ago, and that opinion was confirmed. Losing him is a huge blow, but the work that he has put in to building up the group, combined with the other singers that are present, will make the transition to a new lineup smoother. I look forward to seeing what happens next for both parties.

In tribute to Matt’s time with the group, here’s one of the songs I will always associate with him and his tenure with the group:

CD Review: Dixie Melody Boys – Have You Heard

October 04, 2013 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Dixie Melody Boys, SG Music

Rating: 5 stars

Producers: David Staton & Dirk Johnson
Label: Song Garden Music Group
Website: www.dixiemelodyboys.com

Song titles: Praise The Lord Hallelujah Amen; What I Lost In The Flood; Roll Back; When I Called His Name; God’s Gonna Give You A Testimony; Valley of Tears; Muddy Water; What Remains Of Me; Rhythm of Heaven; Death Has Died; That Story Is Mine; Haven Called Heaven

When it comes to comeback stories in Southern Gospel music, one can certainly point to the Dixie Melody Boys as a prime example. Just a couple of years ago, almost anyone who followed the music may have told you that the group was one with a rich heritage in this genre, but was heading off into the sunset of their careers. It looked like the Ed O’Neal University was probably going to close its doors for good.

Then came the group’s 50th Anniversary. A change in personnel and the release of a celebratory project fittingly entitled The Call Is Still The Same kicked off the biggest turnaround for a group’s direction in recent memory. The quartet hasn’t stopped since then, and this latest CD finds them at an interesting point in their history.

Since the last album, the group has seen baritone Steven Cooper step down from his vocal role due to voice problems and take a seat behind the soundboard, with an occasional bass guitar appearance. Filling his role, as well as playing piano on select songs, is Aaron Dishman, a fresh face to most fans. Lead singer Donald Morris came off the road and Mike Rogers stepped in. He had all but completed his contribution to this project when he left to join Brian Free & Assurance, and Florida Boys alum Josh Garner was eventually picked as the new lead. With so many changes in the lineup, this project has the daunting task of continuing the group’s positive trajectory, while also establishing an almost brand-new vocal sound.

The Dixie Melody Boys tread new musical ground here as far as their catalog is concerned. Songs like “What I Lost In The Flood,” “God’s Gonna Give You A Testimony,” and “Rhythm of Heaven” are progressive enough to set themselves apart from other things the group has done, while still falling solidly in the quartet tradition they have established. There is still plenty of straight-up traditional fare here, such as the country-flavored “When I Called His Name,” the fast-paced “That Story Is Mine,” and the Rodney Griffin and Joseph Habedank ballad “Valley of Tears,” which features newcomer Dishman.

Did you ever think that the Dixie Melody Boys would cover a big, orchestrated Cathedrals ballad? Take a listen to their revival of the underrated “Death Has Died.” Another pleasant surprise is Ed O’Neal’s solo feature. His work on “What Remains Of Me” makes the song a prime choice for a radio single.

The Dixie Melody Boys have produced a collection of music that is another solid step in the right direction, proving that they have become a viable quartet once again, and that is why Have You Heard receives 5 stars.

Omega Welcomes Kevin Harry

August 29, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Dixie Melody Boys, Omega, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

DSC03011Some of you may remember Omega from the past couple of years at NQC. The group has secured spots on mainstage as showcase winners, performing before the evening concerts. Longtime member Dustin Simmons recently departed the trio, and they have announced a name that may ring a bell with some: Kevin Harry.

Dahlonega, GA – OMEGA is excited to announce Kevin Harry as their new lead vocalist.

The group began searching for the right fit after the recent announcement of departure from Dustin Simmons. The group will miss Dustin not only as a singer, but as a friend. We know that Dustin is following God’s will for himself and his wife Morgan. We wish him great success.

OMEGA says there was one singer that stuck out in their minds, after he had joined them on the road for a few months last year. “We were excited when the call came from Kevin”, states group manager Doug Pittman. “Kevin has one of the best voices in gospel music today. We are very excited to have him on board. He has a tremendous voice that we are sure will bless people, along with his great spirit.”

Kevin has recently been seen filling in for the Dixie Melody Boys while Josh Garner honored previous commitments before joining the group. Ed O’Neal stated “We needed someone that could jump in and not miss a beat. Kevin did a fantastic job. He impressed not only us, but fans everywhere when he was singing with us. He is a first class singer and will be a great addition to OMEGA”. Kevin will make his debut with the group in mid September.

OMEGA is entering the studio in the next couple of weeks with hopes of releasing both a Christmas CD as well as a new radio Project. To stay updated on everything OMEGA go to www.omegaministries3.com

Check out this post from the announcement of Josh Garner’s DMB hire to see Kevin in action with that group.

Omega has turned some heads with their NQC appearances, and adding a name with some recognition will certainly benefit them. I’m looking forward to hearing good things from them going forward.

Dixie Melody Boys Hire Josh Garner

August 05, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Dixie Melody Boys, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

Editor’s Note: This was supposed to go up earlier, but Verizon’s Internet service for my area experienced another hiccup of about an hour.

After a few weeks of uncertainty, questions were answered today as the Dixie Melody Boys announced that their lead singer search is over:

The Dixie Melody Boys are excited to announce one of Gospel music’s best lead singers, Josh Garner, as their new member. The group began their search over two months ago when Mike Rogers resigned and had them listening to over 400 demos and auditioning numerous men. “This has been different than most of the times I have hired someone to fill a position. We heard so many great singers and we even thought we had found the right man a few times but it just wasn‘t the right fit.” said Ed O’Neal. “I have always loved Josh’s voice. I have even tried to hire him a few times in the past but the timing was never right. I am thrilled to have him join us.” added Ed.

The fans of Gospel music will remember Josh as the last lead singer for the Florida Boys as well as from the Gaither Homecoming Series. For the last five years he has been with Freedom, a trio that he founded with John Rulapaugh. Josh has been nominated numerous times as Favorite Lead Singer and is widely acknowledged as one of Gospel music’s all-time great lead singers. “Josh called me and offered to help us by filling in until we could find someone. It made looking for someone easy knowing he was on stage with us until we found the right person. His first night with us felt as if we had been singing together for years. Over the next few weeks both he and the group knew the right guy for the job was already there. Josh is a great addition to our team. I know the fans will be excited about seeing him with us.” stated Matt Felts.

The Dixie Melody Boys have already been in the studio with Josh and will release the new album soon. The project comes off the success of their fiftieth anniversary album, The Call Is Still The Same, and promises to be a hit. Josh will join the group mid August and will appear with them for the first time at NQC on Tuesday and Wednesday night. To check the Dixie Melody Boys schedule go to www.dixiemelodyboys.com

(more…)

Dixie Melody Boys Welcome New Baritone/Pianist

May 23, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Dixie Melody Boys, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

AARONOn the heels of yesterday’s announcement that lead singer Mike Rogers had left the group to be the new Brian Free & Assurance baritone, the group closes the door on another transition:

The Dixie Melody Boys have announced the addition of Aaron Dishman to the legendary group as their new baritone and piano player. The group announced last month that Steven Cooper would be stepping down due to vocal issues but will stay on as their bass guitar player. “Aaron had filled with us in a few years ago at piano. We fell in love with his spirit. When this came open, we knew he would be a great fit.” Said Ed O’Neal. Aaron Dishman is 26 and lives in Mississippi with his wife Erica. “We are excited to have Aaron join us. When he came to audition and sat down at the piano to sing us a song, you could feel God’s spirit. He will add so much to our concerts and I know the fans will love him. ” stated Matt Felts. Aaron will join the group in time to appear at the Memphis Quartet Show in June.
     The Dixie Melody Boys were voted favorite Male Quartet for the second year in a row at last month’s Southern Gospel Music Fan Awards. They are currently accepting applications for the lead singer position. They will be back in the studio with Aaron and the soon coming lead singer to finish their sophomore album with Song Garden Music Group.
Leave it to Ed O’Neal to bring new talent to the forefront of Southern Gospel music. I hadn’t heard of Aaron before now, so I took to Youtube in search of a sneak peek of what’s to come. Not only did I find some samples of his singing, but also of him at the piano bench. The first is a cover of “Hello Mama,” and the second is a fun clip of “Just A Little Talk With Jesus” with some family members:
These clips alone make me excited for the future sound of the Dixie Melody Boys once they hire a new lead singer.
Update: Regarding the search for a lead singer for the group, here’s an open letter from tenor and publicist Matt Felts:
 
           As many of you read last week, Mike Rogers resigned as our lead and will join Brian Free and Assurance in June. We will miss Mike. He has been a blessing to us and we know he has a bright future wherever God leads him in the future. We have begun to search for a new member of our team. This is truly an exciting time for our group. Over the last two years, we have been blessed to see the Dixie Melody Boys rise back up to the top of Gospel music. We are currently in the studio working on a new project that is sure to be a milestone recording for us. This album will be finished released shortly after the addition of a new lead singer. Last week, we announced that we have hired Aaron Dishman as our new baritone and piano player. With Steven Cooper moving to bass guitar, we know the fans will love seeing us add live music back to our program.
           Ed O’Neal has set the standard in Gospel music for having the very best talent in his group through the years. We plan to keep that tradition alive for many years to come. Working for a true legend like Ed is a special opportunity. We are currently seeking the very best person available for this position. Our producer and Executive VP of Song Garden Music Group David Staton had this to say. “This is a rare opportunity for a singer. The Dixie Melody Boys are iconic and the next lead singer has a chance to become part of something special. This next album will allow them to make their mark on Gospel music as a great vocalist. The Dixie Melody Boys are set to be the group to watch over the next decade.”
          For the last two years in a row we have been voted Favorite Male Quartet by the fans through the Southern Gospel Fan Awards. “Jesus In My Boat” and The Call Is Still The Same” were voted in the Top 5 for Song Of The Year honors and both climbed high up the national charts. Currently, “I’Ve Got Family There” is quickly becoming a huge hit for us. With all that God has done over the last few years, we know that the future is even brighter. We have numerous things planned and anticipate plugging the right person in as part of our family. We will be accepting applications at dixiemelodyboys@yahoo.com. We look forward to hearing some great singers. We covet your prayers through this process and your support for the group. God bless,
Matt

Mike Rogers Departs Dixie Melody Boys, Joins Brian Free & Assurance

May 22, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Brian Free And Assurance, Dixie Melody Boys, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

971766_10151564029864039_142470391_nThe Dixie Melody Boys announced on their Facebook page tonight that lead singer Mike Rogers had left the group after a ten-month run, and also sent out this press release:

The Dixie Melody Boys have announced that their lead singer Mike Rogers has resigned. Mike has been with the group for the last ten months. “We wish Mike and his family the best.” said Ed O’Neal. The group will begin looking for a replacement shortly. “Change can be hard but also exciting. History has proven that every time a singer has left, God has brought us another great addition to the Dixie Melody Boys. We know God has someone coming that will be the right fit for years to come.” added Matt Felts. The Dixie Melody Boys are taking demos at dixiemelodyboys@yahoo.com.

A short time later, Brian Free & Assurance made this announcement on their Facebook page:

Brian Free & Assurance Announce New Baritone

Douglasville, GA – May 22, 2013 Brian Free announced today a decision has been made in filling the baritone position. Joining the BFA family will be Mike Rogers of Kinston, NC who fans will recognize from his recent position as lead singer for the Dixie Melody Boys. Mike will join the group on June 20th at the Memphis Quartet Show.

Twenty-four year old Mike shares, “The warmth and humility from Brian and the guys when I auditioned made me feel this was truly a God-thing, and confirmed for me that I wanted to be a part of their ministry. BFA is very family-oriented, which means a lot to me. Ministry is important, but after God, family is top priority. Quartet music doesn’t get any better than BFA. They are top notch, and I am honored to join them.”

Brian states, “When I received the audition info for Mike I was very impressed with his vocal ability and the gift to deliver a song. After spending some time with him, his wife Bekki and daughter Coraline at my home, I knew he was the one God had sent to be a member of our family. I love his heart and the love he has for people. He will be a wonderful addition to BFA.

Having over 300 people apply for the job, it was a hard decision due to all the talent I heard. I want to thank each person who took their time and effort to apply for the position. I am truly honored that so many wanted to be a part of our ministry. I know God has a place and time for you to use your talent for him.”

Brian Free & Assurance’s first single I Want To Be That Man off their current project, Nothing But Love, went to number one the month of February on the Singing News Charts. Their follow up single, Calvary’s Cry has quickly climbed the charts and currently holds number six for the month of May.

To keep up to date with Brian Free & Assurance visit their website at: http://www.brianfreeandassurance.com/

While BFA got a singer that certainly fits their style and sound, I hate to see it come at such a blow to the Dixie Melody Boys, as he really added a lot to their sound and stage presence. However, I am sure that the DMB’s upward trajectory will continue with the hire of a new singer.

Dixie Melody Boys Announce Change

March 23, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Dixie Melody Boys, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

In a departure from normal “change” announcements, the Dixie Melody Boys have announced that Steven Cooper has stepped down from the Dixie Melody Boys as baritone singer… but not as a member:

“We are sad to announce that Steven Cooper will be stepping down from the baritone position with the Dixie Melody Boys. As some know, he has been experiencing vocal issues for the last several years. He has been to numerous vocal specialists and they have advised him to go on an extended vocal rest. Steven recently celebrated his fifth anniversary with the group. He has been a valuable asset to us and will continue to be so.” said Ed O’Neal. Steven will remain a member of the Dixie Melody Boys. He will help the group off stage and will also begin playing bass guitar for the group in the near future.

“I want to thank everyone for their concern and understanding over the last year. It has been difficult time having to go through this as a singer. I hope that someday my voice will return and I will be able to sing again. I ask that you will keep me in your prayers as I trust God for a healing. I also want to thank Ed, Matt and Mike for their support in this change and for allowing me to remain a member of the group.” said Steven Cooper.

I have enjoyed Steven’s vocal contributions to the group since the beginning of his tenure. My listening to the music they were putting out when he first joined was admittedly spotty, but I appreciated the fact that was a solid “blending” baritone that could sing a strong feature when needed. I trust that God will heal his voice, and am glad that he is remaining a part of the Dixie Melody Boys.

Now we come to the part that makes this change announcement different from the norm. You may have noticed that it said Steven would soon begin playing bass guitar for the group. It seems that the Dixie Melody Boys have been bitten by the “live band bug” that’s been going around recently, because the plans are in place to bring back live music to the DMB concerts:

The opening has brought an exciting change for the group. “We are currently looking for a new baritone that can also play piano. The Dixie Melody Boys have a rich legacy that included a live band for years. Our lead singer Mike Rogers is one of the best guitar players in Gospel music. With Mike, Steven on bass and the new member on piano, we are excited to add the live band back to our performances. Sometimes through tough situations God can bring new seasons of blessings.” said Matt Felts.

The Dixie Melody Boys will be excepting demos for the baritone/ piano position. Interested people can send them to dixiemelodyboys@yahoo.com.

While I hate that it took a tough circumstance to bring this change about, I am excited that it’s being turned around this way. The Dixie Melody Boys have been on an upward climb over the past couple of years, with a sound and new material that is making them a viable group again. A move that brings back live musicians for them will continue that trend. Their live band set at NQC last year was among the most exciting of the week, and I’m looking forward to hearing that sound in some capacity on a regular basis again.

In tribute to Steven’s contributions to the group thus far, here are a couple of videos. The first is from a couple of years ago and features him prominently. The second, while not a baritone solo, highlights his enthusiastic stage presence. Be sure to watch the whole thing!


News Roundup 1-7-13

January 07, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Dixie Melody Boys, Jordan's Bridge, SG Artists, SG Music, Talley Trio

1. After coming off the road from the Dove Brothers, pianist Joe Lane has teamed up with tenor Phil Barker to form a new trio. Fans may remember Barker from his Singing Americans days. The group’s name is Jordan’s Bridge, and it is comprised of tenor Barker, lead Rick Sheets, baritone/bass player Jamey Lane (Joe’s brother), and pianist Joe Lane.

I wasn’t all that familiar with Joe Lane’s piano work before hearing him with the Dove Brothers at NQC 2011, but after that, I made sure to go back and listen to everything I could. I was sad to see him leave the road, but am glad to see him return and bring a great tenor like Phil Barker with him. Barker still sounds as good as ever today, and the group as a whole already sounds like a cohesive unit.

Here’s a clip of their debut concert, featuring Phil Barker on an encore of “Glory Road:”

2. Brian Alvey, husband to Lauren Talley Alvey and member of The Talleys, is coming off the road. In Lauren’s words from the group’s newsletter:

My husband, Brian Alvey, has been attending college this past fall and is now going to be working full-time in the financial industry with Western and Southern Life providing insurance, investment and annuities services. We will miss him singing with us but we are excited about the new opportunity God has given him. He remains very supportive of his wife’s ministry, which I’m thankful for! Brian still writes music and records, so you will still enjoy his talents from time to time. Our latest single, “Make Way For the Master,” is one of Brian’s compositions and features him.If you haven’t heard it yet….just get ready, because it’s one of the greatest songs we’ve ever recorded.

No argument from me on their assessment of “Make Way For The Master,” and I hope that Brian will still occasionally contribute to the Talleys’ body of work.

3. It has been a personal thrill to watch the Dixie Melody Boys become a re-energized, renewed quartet. That trend continues, as this press release acknowledges, with numerous nominations in the Christian Voice Magazine awards:

With the announcement of the 2013 Southern Gospel Music Fan Awards Top Ten nominations yesterday by the Christian Voice Magazine, the Dixie Melody Boys showed that the groups recent rise back to the top of Southern Gospel continues to find new heights. The legendary group received eleven Top Ten nominations, the most the group has ever received in one year. In 2012, the Dixie Melody Boys received seven nominations and went on to win Favorite Male Quartet and Favorite Bass Singer. The group is again nominated for Favorite Male Quartet. Hall Of Fame member Ed O’Neal continues to be favorite to fans after fifty years with the group and was nominated again as favorite Bass Singer as well as the Living Legend Award. Tenor Matt Felts appears for the second year in a row in the Favorite Tenor category, solidifying his place as one of Gospel’s brightest young talents. The groups baritone, Steven Cooper makes his debut appearance, nominated for Favorite Baritone. Mike Rogers joined the group as their new lead singer earlier in 2012. He has made an instant impact and the fans have embraced him. Mike has been nominated for Favorite Lead Singer and Excelling Young Individual.

The group was also honored by having their recent album receive two nominations, Album Of The Year and Song Of The Year for “The Call Is Still The Same”. That is the second song from the historic 50th Anniversary project to receive Song Of The Year honors, Jesus In My Boat was nominated last year. The Dixie Melody released another historic project this year, Dixie Melody Boys Reunion: 50 Years Of Influence. The DVD recorded live at the National Quartet Convention has been nominated as Video Of The Year. Last but not least, the television show “Great American Gospel” hosted by Ed O’Neal and the Dixie Melody Boys was nominated for Favorite Television Show.

“We are honored to be selected by the fans. The lists include so many incredible people that we love and admire so to be included on this list and this is a blessing. We have several big things to announce in the coming weeks and this is a great start to our new year.” said Matt Felts.

The voting has started for the next phase in the voting process, fans can go to http://christianvoicemagazine.com/sgmtop10vote.html

News Catch-Up (7/24/12)

July 24, 2012 By: Aaron Category: Beyond The Ashes, Dixie Melody Boys, Freedom, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

While I was out of town the past few days, several items of interest came through in the world of SG news:

1. The Dixie Melody Boys have officially announced their new lead singer. Here’s a snippet from the press release:

The Dixie Melody Boys announced a few weeks ago that they would be accepting demo’s for the lead singer position. They also stated that the new member of this legendary group would be introduced on the main stage at this year’s convention. Over the course of three weeks the group received over 300 applications. “It was an overwhelming response. We didn’t expect so many men to apply. It proved to me that there is a lot of talent in Southern Gospel music. As we stated, our plan was to audition several men, take them on the road with us and then announce them in September. Sometimes plans change. “Stated Matt Felts. “As I was going through demo’s a voice begin to sing and I knew we had found our next lead singer. Ed listened to his demo and agreed. The moment we met Mike Rogers and heard him sing with us we knew God had brought us the right fit.” added Matt.

“Mike started with us the next weekend. The fans have already shown us that we made the right choice. We debuted him at the Absolutely Gospel Fan Fest and Frank Arnolds Songfest in Jackson, TN. After the response he received we knew it wouldn’t take long for word to get out online so we altered our plans and decided to move up our announcement. When God moves, you go with it. Mike is a great talent and we are proud to have him.” said Ed O’Neal.

A couple of videos have surfaced of Rogers with the group on Socialcam. The first features him on a DMB Band classic that was recently revived, “Good Ole Boys.”

The other song is “Daystar,” accompanied by Rogers on guitar. This is a very different sound and stage presence than we are used to for the Dixie Melody Boys, but it’s a “good” different, and showcases the unique presence that Rogers brings to the table. You can view it by clicking this link.

2. Beyond The Ashes have announced the departure of their lead singer, Casey Rivers. He is leaving on a good note, opting to spend more time with family as his third child is on the way. Here’s the announcement in Casey’s own words:

“For more than three years now I have been blessed to be one of those three singers that make up what many have come to know as Beyond The Ashes. Saying goodbye to family, and all I’ve grown accustomed to, is not an easy thing, but nevertheless, a new season has come for BTA and for me. I am 100% supportive of my brothers, and I know they are of me, as we all begin this new journey we’re embarking upon. Also, to pacify any wondering minds, I just want to clarify that I am leaving on an incredibly good note. After much prayer and discernment, I decided this was the best decision for me and my growing family. Most of all, I’m confident that it is God’s will for us. Thank you Anthony, Kellan, Dusty, Rob, fans, friends, and most importantly God for the awesome ride! Love you all…”

3. On the “that’s interesting” front, Freedom Trio recently appeared at the Absolutely Gospel Music Fest…. as a quartet. The group, composed of John Rulapaugh, Josh Garner, and Tyler Vestal, brought up two additions for a few songs during the concert: bass singer Randy Byrd (formerly of the Blackwood Brothers) and pianist Stewart Varnado (formerly of the Dixie Echoes). You can view the video on Socialcam.

Byrd has also done a few concert dates outside of this with the group, so one has to wonder… what’s next?