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 ‘Freedom’

Mid-Week Roundup 10/30/2013

October 30, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Freedom, Legacy Five, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

Several news items have popped up in the past few days. Here’s a rundown:

  1. Legacy Five has started a Kickstarter campaign for their upcoming release. With the incentive of various rewards for different amounts of donations, fans can get involved in helping to fund this project. Visit the link for a summary of what the group is doing and the different rewards.

    One thing you can say Southern Gospel music is that even the “top groups” are some of the most accessible artists out there. In how many other genres can you regularly meet the artist at the product table? In a way, something like Kickstarter is perfect for this genre, because it’s a way for the fan to become involved in what the artist is doing with their music, which in turn brings a new sense of that accessibility.

  2. Some have asked where former Dixie Melody Boys lead Donald Morris ended up after leaving the group. Morris and his wife have just joined a family group by the name of the Hoggle Family, and are currently working on a mainline release through AK Music. You may remember that Morris had several songs that he had written cut on the DMB’s The Call Is Still The Same project. He has not stopped writing; all ten songs on the Hoggle Family project are from him.
  3. Freedom Quartet made a splash at last NQC with a lineup of several fan favorites and a new face to most. John Rulapaugh, Dale Shipley, Preston Garner, and Burman Porter are getting ready to release their first project as Freedom Quartet, and you can hear three songs from that project in the player at the bottom of their website: “Somebody Touched The Lord,” “I Believe He’s Coming Back,” and “On A Journey.”

Clips from NQC 2013

September 16, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Freedom, Mark209, NQC, Omega, SG Artists, SG Music, The Skyline Boys

As promised, here are a few videos of some performances at NQC 2013. We’ll start with the “debut” of Freedom Quartet:

Next up is the Skyline Boys, with completely new top parts with the return of Jodi Hosterman at tenor and the newly hired Brian Alvey at lead:

Here’s a trio called Omega from GA. They have been on main stage as showcase winners in the past couple of years. New lead singer Kevin Harry filled in for the Dixie Melody Boys before Josh Garner joined. From what I can gather, this was the lineup’s first time on stage.

Finally, up-and-coming group Mark209 sang a Christmas song a regional showcase:

Freedom Trio Becomes Freedom Quartet

September 05, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Freedom, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

Freedom QuartetIt seems that the NQC season of changes has recently kicked off, with several changes taking place over the past couple of weeks. This one in particular is the one that many were keeping an eye on; since the departure of group co-founder and lead singer Josh Garner for the Dixie Melody Boys, many were wondering where John Rulapaugh would take the group next. I think it’s safe to say that the group bounced back from the shakeup:

Nashville, TN (September 5, 2013) – John Rulapaugh, founder of a group known for its dynamic energy and prowess, Freedom, raises the bar even higher, as he introduces Freedom Quartet.

The quartet’s new line up is the “creme dela creme” of Gospel music.

The new lead singer has an array of accolades and accomplishments and is best known for his days with the group, Perfect Heart.  He is Dale Shipley.  Read more about him at daleshipley.com.

Filling the baritone position for the group is Preston Garner.  Garner is not only a notable vocalist with a vast array of experience. He is also a music minister and worship pastor and has a very clear understanding of leading an audience to the throne of God.

Taking the bass position is one of the most talented bass singers to grace a Gospel music stage.  He is none other than Burman Porter.

Along with the solid and seamless tenor singing of Rulapaugh, this combination is poised to be one of the most cutting edge and impacting Gospel music ministries of the decade.

“The departure of my friend Josh Garner from Freedom’s lineup left a great void, one that could not easily be filled,” shares Rulapaugh.  He continues, “Since the inception of Freedom, it was always our desire to have a great quartet. There have been several opportunities to make that move, but the timing was never right. Over the past few weeks the Lord has really made His plans evident in our lives and we are thrilled with the new starting place He has set for us. I couldn’t be more happy than with the addition of my old friend, Burman Porter, to the lineup of Freedom. Many will remember that Burman and I worked together on two previous occasions; First with The Dove Brothers Quartet and, then, with Palmetto State Quartet. There’s so much to tell about how this decision and direction unfolded…and not nearly enough space here to tell it all. Over the coming days and weeks I will share the details of how this all came to be. If you’re interested in the “back story,” visit and join our website.  You can sign up for free and receive all the latest news from the group.”

The group is partnered with a premiere booking agency, Mountain Top Talent (one entity of the multi-faceted Michael Davis & Associates).  Mountain Top will be heading up their scheduling.

Michael Davis expresses, “John Rulapaugh has done it again by assembling one of the strongest personnel lineups to come along in quite sometime.  The move from trio to quartet will be well received by John’s fan base.  I am very excited about the future of the Freedom Quartet.”

The quartet is looking forward to getting into the studio soon for their first full recording together.

To meet and follow the exciting happenings of this outstanding quartet, visit their brand new website, coming soon, at www.freedomquartet.com.

You can find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/freedomquartet and follow them on Twitter at twitter.com/freedomquartet.

To learn more about all of the artists who call the Dominion Agency home, visit mountaintoptalent.com and michaeldavisandassociates.com. To schedule the Freedom Quartet and other wonderful artists with Michael Davis And Associates, call 828-454-5900 or email michael@michaeldavisandassociates.com.

Each iteration of the group Freedom has been a stellar assembly of talent, and this is no exception. What SG quartet fan hasn’t wanted to hear Dale Shipley in that setting again, or Burman Porter and John Rulapaugh filling the “bookends” of a group again? As far as Preston Garner, here are a couple of clips of him singing baritone with The Supernals in 1997, a group which included SG songwriter Ray Scarborough (“He’s My Song”). Garner is the featured singer on both songs.

safe to assume that this lineup of Freedom will be appearing at NQC. With this lineup overhaul, Harold Reed joining the Diplomats, and the Skyline Boys seeing tenor Jodi Hosterman’s return and Brian Alvey’s debut at the lead position, NQC 2013 is shaping up to have several groups to watch with particular interest. As a matter of fact, Freedom and the Skyline Boys will be appearing on the same side showcase on Friday afternoon. It’s during the NQC Music Awards, but I think this has convinced me to leave that early.

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?

Youtube Spotlight: Freedom

June 25, 2012 By: Aaron Category: Concert Reviews, Freedom, SG Artists, SG Music, Youtube

This past Friday night, I headed over to Wirtz, VA to hear Freedom sing at Halesford Baptist Church. The church hosts several concerts each year, and I’ve never been disappointed with the quality of the groups that are brought in. This concert was no exception. This relatively new trio features tenor John Rulapaugh, lead Josh Garner, and baritone Tyler Vestal. Here are some videos that I took during the concert:

 

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