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

Archive for the ‘Greater Vision’

Big News From IMC Concerts

April 15, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, Greater Vision, Legacy Five, Mark Trammell Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a steady buzz building on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter of a “big announcement” coming today from IMC Concerts. The announcement hits at 9:00 PM EST, but for now, the floor is open for guesses as to what the news entails.

My guess (and what seems to be a consensus among the posts I’ve seen) is that this is a Cathedrals Reunion event, and possibly even a full tour. The evidence is this: the groups that have been posting and hinting at the announcement include Legacy Five, Greater Vision, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, and the Mark Trammell Quartet, at least (there may be more that I’ve missed). The common thread among all of those groups is that they each contain one former member of The Cathedrals.

For years, Legacy Five, Greater Vision, Mark Trammell Trio/Quartet, and Danny Funderburk have done select concerts under the name of “Remembering The Music,” which were Cathedrals tribute events, just without the group name. I remember attending one several years ago in Winston-Salem, NC that was entitled “Remembering The Cathedrals,” but the name changed shortly thereafter. I would guess that, with the addition of Ernie Haase’s group to the usual lineup, the Cathedrals name could be used again for these events, but I’m not privy to how that all works (who actually owns the name or has permission to use it, among other things). No word so far on whether other Cathedrals alumni will be a part of the event/tour, but it will be interesting to find out if the general guess is correct.

There are some silhouette pictures of the photo shoot on Facebook here and here.

Check back here around 9:00 for the official announcement, and feel free to leave your guesses in the comments section!

Update: In light of the tragedy in Boston, the announcement has been postponed until tomorrow at 9:00 PM Eastern.

CD Review: Greater Vision – The Only Way

October 08, 2011 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Greater Vision, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 4 stars

Producer: Gerald Wolfe
Label: Daywind Records
Website: www.greatervisionmusic.com

Song titles: He Didn’t When He Could’ve Passed By; Safe Within His Hand; No Longer Chained; I Know A Man Who Can; He’s The Only Way; Like I Wish I’d Lived; But God; We Still Have To Pray; Eternity’s About To Begin; Heaven Can’t Be Far Away; Another Child’s Coming Home

Buy Project Here

Since the release of Not Alone in 2008, the group has undergone a period of transition that saw the return of the trio’s original tenor, Chris Allman. Though Allman’s voice has been heard on the Jubilee 2 project, Welcome Back (a collection of studio re-recordings of recent Greater Vision songs), and a spectacular independent Christmas release, this is his first “true” mainline release since his return to the road. This is also the first mainline project in a number of years without Lari Goss producing; that task went to lead singer Gerald Wolfe this time around.

Unless you have been living under a rock since around April 2010, you’ve heard the buzz that Chris Allman has generated (and continues to generate) with his vocals, that have only improved with time. Those are a highlight reel all throughout The Only Way, with tenor features ranging from the prayerful “Like I Wish I’d Lived,” to the upbeat “Eternity’s About To Begin,” to the Kirk Talley signature that has gone over very well for Allman in concert settings, “I Know A Man Who Can.” Though the latter is usually done with just piano and bass guitar accompaniment when sung live, the studio version is no less spectacular. He also closes the CD with a song from his own pen that could go very far for him in terms of garnering attention for his songwriting skills, “Another Child’s Coming Home.”

Allman and Rodney Griffin got the lion’s share of songwriting done on this project; Griffin has four songs (one of which he co-wrote with Twila LaBar, “But God”), Allman has three, and the two co-wrote one. “He Didn’t When He Could’ve Passed By” could be a good radio single, and I predict that “No Longer Chained” will become another “Rodney Griffin signature” song. Gerald Wolfe revives “But God,” a tune that the late Roger Bennett of Legacy Five sang on his final project, Live In Music City, and though the delivery is different between the two, Wolfe’s emotion shows throughout and makes it an equally well-done rendition. While I prefer the original recording of “Heaven Can’t Be Far Away” (as recorded by the original Greater Vision), it is a nice inclusion here, though it could have been left off without a real gap in the music.

Greater Vision’s sound with Allman’s return is solid, and this project affirms that very well. Another thing this project accomplishes is giving a taste of what the production value will be when Lari Goss can no longer sit in the producer’s chair; Wolfe did a fine job with it on this effort. The Only Way receives a solid 4 stars.


CD Review: Greater Vision – Everything Christmas

December 24, 2010 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Greater Vision, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 5 stars

Producers: Lari Goss and Gerald Wolfe
Label: Greater Vision Music
Website: www.greatervisionmusic.com

Buy Here

Track list: Everything Christmas (Overture); God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; Do You Hear What I Hear?; A Cradle In Bethlehem; It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year; O Holy Night; Sleigh Ride; I Heard The Bells; Grace Has A Face; There’s No Place Like Home For The Holidays/I’ll Be Home For Christmas

I’m a pretty hard sell on Christmas music.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not the type that rages against the fact that we are bombarded with the stuff on the radio starting shortly after Thanksgiving and lasting till what seems like an eternity when Christmas rolls around. I will say, however, that I get bored with it really easily. After all, when all of your major radio stations in your car are blaring it, you tend to just go on autopilot and tune it out.

The same goes for Southern Gospel Christmas music. Every year, you’ll have at least a couple groups come out with a brand-new Christmas project, and most of them fail to stand out. In fact, they are downright lackluster. Needless to say, I was kind of wary about this particular project for that reason, but when I saw Lari Goss’ name in the credits, I knew that it couldn’t be that bad.

I’m glad to say my instinct was correct; the long-time team of Goss & Greater Vision have churned out a Christmas album that features classy arrangements of both Christmas classics and more recent songs. Most of the songs incorporate background vocals by the Voices of Lee, which further enhances the big sound of the album. The full-orchestra sound that Goss is famous for incorporating is in full swing here, even kicking off the project with an overture of music that includes “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year,” “Unspeakable Joy,” “Joy To The World,” “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” “Hark The Herald Angels Sing,” “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” “The First Noel,” “Gloria In Excelsis Deo,” and “Angels From The Realms of Glory.”

The first vocal performance of the project comes in the form of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” which features an arrangement not unlike the one The Cathedrals did on 1985’s A Cathedral Christmas A Cappella, although this one does have instrumentation. The trio takes a quartet arrangement and very ably makes it their own. The return of Chris Allman on tenor is made very prominent throughout the piece, and really kicks up on the last two verses. Speaking of Allman, if one has been under a rock for the past year, he need only listen to this project to hear that he has not lost a thing over the years; his feature on last verse of “Do You Hear What I Hear” is absolutely stellar. I can honestly say I did not expect that from a Greater Vision tenor, as they usually do not venture into that territory of high notes, but Allman handles it with aplomb.

Other highlights include Rodney Griffin’s take on a soft ballad with “A Cradle In Bethlehem” and Gerald Wolfe’s signature performance of “O Holy Night,” but really, there’s not a bad track on the project. Christmas projects usually have one or two “sleeper” songs, but I was pleasantly surprised with every single one here.

Bottom line: If you’re tired of the same boring Christmas music every year, let Everything Christmas rescue you from that. This project gets 5 stars.


June 28, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Danny Funderburk, Gaither Vocal Band, Gold City, Greater Vision, Legacy Five, Mark Trammell Quartet, NQC, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Kingsmen

It seems that when I went on vacation, the Southern Gospel world decided to go on overtime with newsworthy items. Here’s some of the things I missed out on:

1. Check out Daniel Mount’s short interview with Gold City tenor Josh Cobb. In it, Cobb mentions two of his features on the upcoming mainline release from the group. The first is the song that he is probably most recognized for from his Legacy Five days, “I Stand Redeemed,” which he mentions Gordon Mote has arranged this time around. The second is a Michael English song from the early 90s, “Heaven.” With a singer well-known for performing the song producing the project, it will be interesting to see just what he brings out of Cobb for that particular track.

2. The master schedule for NQC 2010 has been posted. A quick perusal shows that up-and-coming groups like Liberty Quartet and The Ball Brothers have finally made it to mainstage, and there is a showcase highlighting young artists called “Legends of Tomorrow” that has a Wednesday afternoon slot. That will be worth going to, especially if it is like the “Torch” video that was released a couple years back.

3. Speaking of legends of tomorrow, check out this clip of a recent Remember The Music concert: A quartet comprised of tenor Danny Funderburk, lead Scott Fowler, baritone Mark Trammell, and bass Pat Barker sing “Movin’ Up To Gloryland,” and this is the first time I’ve seen an instance where Glenn Dustin didn’t take the bass on the song.

At a Mark Trammell Quartet concert I attended a couple of weeks ago, I was talking to Joel Wood and Dustin Sweatman beforehand, and both of them mentioned how, since Barker had joined the group and gotten his own mic, he had adopted a George Younce style of bass singing that showed a lower range he didn’t get to display often with the Dixie Echoes’ two-mic style. I certainly noticed it during that concert, but this clip is by far the greatest evidence of that fact. Whether intentionally or not, young Barker’s tones and placement are very reminiscent of those of Younce’s, especially here. This well-rounded bass will only improve with age.

4. My friend Andrew Graham attended a recent Kingsmen concert, and got several videos. You can view the four that he posted at his Youtube channel, but the one that perhaps best highlights the impact that Randy Crawford is having on their sound is this clip of a song originally led by Phillip Hughes, “Mountain of Grace.”

5. I noticed that Wes Hampton posted the track list and features for the upcoming Gaither Vocal Band project, Greatly Blessed, on his blog. Interestingly enough, ChristianBook.com also has a preview of five songs from the new project here. The first three songs were already featured on the latest GVB videos (although, the studio versions have added instrumentation), but about halfway through the preview comes two new songs. Check out the heavily orchestrated Crabb Family cover, “Please Forgive Me,” featuring Michael English. The vocal lead-in is stunning, and the entire arrangement sounds like it will be stellar.
Update: Looks like a preview for the entire project is up here.

6. As a last-minute addition to this roundup, Greater Vision just posted a sneak preview of their upcoming project at their Facebook page. It’s a re-recorded version of “You Were Faithful Yesterday” from their 2009 project, Not Alone, released with Jacob Kitson. The difference is almost indiscernible until the second verse when Chris Allman takes a solo. This says good things about both Kitson and Allman; Kitson’s vocal style is close to that of the stellar Allman’s, and Allman’s ability to seamlessly blend after so many years is impeccable.

Chris Allman’s Return To Greater Vision

April 24, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Greater Vision, SG Artists, SG Music

I haven’t had much time to blog lately, but I did come across these Youtube clips of Allman’s first night back in the tenor position with Greater Vision. I understand that “Hallelujah Square” was an impromptu performance, but it’s still incredible. The blend is certainly still there, even after fifteen or so years. I was especially curious to hear how songs from the Jason Waldroup era would sound, and the concert opener, “He’d Still Been Good,” sounds fantastic with Allman on the higher end. This “new-old” Greater Vision is a group to watch, especially when they start getting new material.

“Hallelujah Square”

“Better Hurry Up”

“He’d Still Been God”

Greater Vision Welcomes Chris Allman As Tenor

April 07, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Greater Vision, SG Artists, SG History, SG Industry News, SG Music

From a press release from the group:

Morristown, TN – Chris Allman has been anounced as the new tenor for Greater Vision. Many people will remember Chris as the trio’s original tenor, joining the group in December of 1990, and remaining until the end of 1995. “I can’t tell you how excited we are that Chris has chosen to come back on the road. I’ve always said he’s one of the greatest tenors I’ve ever heard, and his passion to share the Gospel is absolutely contagious,” Gerald Wolfe said.

Chris is very excited to be coming back to Greater Vision, as well. “To say that I am thrilled about the opportunity to travel and minister with Gerald and Rodney again would be an understatement. Over the past twenty years, my family and I have sincerely sought God in regards to His perfect will for us and, at times, this is a path that seems to be indefinable. I am very careful when it comes to mentioning the Lord synonymously with a decision I am making but I am sure that this is a door that He has opened to us. While returning to the ministry of Greater Vision finds us excited it also serves as a bittersweet experience regarding our departure from the church we’ve served over the past seven years. As you pray for the future of this great ministry of music please also take the time to pray for The Church @ Burlington. The days ahead will find the leadership there making very important decisions, but as their ears are tuned toward Heaven, I’m sure the way will be made clear for them.” Chris said.

Rodney Griffin said, “We feel very blessed to have the opportunity to travel with Chris again. We’ve kept our friendships strong over the last fifteen years, while he’s been involved in another ministry, so having him back on the bus brings us full circle.”

Several close friends have already expressed their excitement as well, including Scott Fowler, of Legacy Five, who said “I am very excited that Chris is coming back! He is one of my all-time favorite tenors, and I always loved hearing him sing with Greater Vision”. Michael Booth, of the Booth Brothers also commented, “I’m so happy about this! Chris Allman is a man of God who has proven his commitment to the Gospel through the years. Now he returns to Greater Vision, and they will, no doubt, produce music that will raise the standard of how the Gospel should be presented in the form of music. “.

“We are always amazed at how good God is to us, and for Him to allow Chris, Rodney, and me to travel together again is just another example of the Lord blessing us more than we deserve. We are so blessed!” Gerald said.

Chris said, “I am looking forward to seeing many of your familiar faces once again and, along with Gerald and Rodney, thank you for your continued support of this ministry. We believe that our best days are ahead of us!”

Chris Allman’s first concert with Greater Vision will be on Wednesday April 21 in Myrtle Beach, SC.

For more information, visit greatervisionmusic.com .

This is quite an announcement; Chris has always been one of my favorite tenors, and his era with Greater Vision gave it one of the greatest sounds it has had. Jacob Kitson’s vocal style is very reminiscent to that of Allman’s, so Allman coming back on the road will continue that stellar sound.

Here are several clips of Chris’ tenure with the group:

Master Builder
I’m Too Near Home
When The Home Gates Swing Open
Take Him At His Word
Who Moved
Blessed Assurance
I Could Never Praise Him Enough

And finally, the most recent clip of him: an acoustic clip of “God On The Mountain” in early 2009.

The Inspirations and Greater Vision Experience Change

March 30, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Greater Vision, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Inspirations, The Skyline Boys

In the almost three years that I have been writing this blog, one of the things I have discovered is that if I ever think to myself, “There’s absolutely NOTHING going on in Southern Gospel music!” then I’d better watch out! More often than not, it’s the calm before the storm! I hadn’t had much time to blog lately because of the “real world” bearing down, and after an uneventful few weeks as far as SG is concerned, we return to your regularly scheduled blogging with two lineup changes from two popular groups:

1. Dallas Rogers Leaves Inspirations – Daniel Mount got the scoop earlier this week, and he reports that Dallas is stepping down, and Skyline Boys tenor Jodi Hosterman will take his place. This will make for a sound quite different than any that The Inspirations have had before, because Hosterman is a departure from the Appalachian style of tenor that Archie Watkins and Dallas were. I am looking forward to hearing how this sound gels.

2. Jacob Kitson Departs Greater Vision – This bit of news was announced this morning, with a press release from Gerald Wolfe:

Morristown, TN: Greater Vision has announced the departure of Jacob Kitson from the group. “Jacob has only been with us a short time, but he has made many friends across the country, and we’re certain he will continue to be successfully involved in ministry for many years to come”, Gerald Wolfe said. “Jacob is one of the most talented people I’ve ever traveled with, and we want to do all we can to help him reach his full potential in the work God has called him to”, Gerald continued.

Jacob said, “Being allowed to use my talent for God in such an honored position beside two of the industry’s most respected men has been a thrill, but unexpected turns in the course of the Lord’s master planning sometimes come.”

“Jacob has a great heart for the Lord, and I have the utmost confidence that he will succeed in his future ministry”, Rodney Griffin said.

“Following God’s direction is not always popular, and trusting Him is not always easy, but I am resolute to do just that. I pray that as I embark on this new chapter of God’s will that He continues to work mightily through the dove-tailed ministries of preaching and singing to which He has led me. Furthermore, I can only hope that I have the chance to re-unite with friends far and near for many more years to come. What all the future holds at present is unclear; however, I do know that the Lord has led me to a preaching ministry as well as singing. So with this I plunge back into the world of Local-Church Evangelism. Preaching in Revivals, Churches, and Conferences across the country. I have an immense burden for the youth of our World, they need Jesus, and I desire to show this generation that He loves them beyond measure”, said Kitson.

An announcement concerning Greater Vision’s new tenor will be made next week.

For more information, visit Greater Vision News or Evangelist Jacob Kitson

While neither of these changes were expected, this is one I definitely did not see coming. I enjoyed hearing Jacob in his tenures with both Tribute Quartet and Greater Vision, and he has been a great friend to this blog. I wish him well in his evangelism ministry.

CD Review: The Booth Brothers, Greater Vision, & Legacy Five – Jubilee

November 03, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Booth Brothers, CD Reviews, Greater Vision, Legacy Five, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 4 stars

Producer: Gerald Wolfe
Websites: Booth Brothers, Greater Vision, Legacy Five

Buy This Project

Jubilee is an interesting undertaking, in that it takes three of the most popular groups out there today and brings them together all in one recording. In a situation like this, there’s only two possible outcomes; the sounds of each singer can click and sound very good together, or there could be a clash and the whole thing ends up sounding terrible.

Thankfully, the sounds have a great blend. The opening and closing songs of this project put a spotlight on the very full sound that the groups have together, sounding almost like a men’s choir (hat tip, Nate) The rest of the project features a mix and match of different vocal configurations. Perhaps the most notable one is the eighth track, “Jesus My Wonderful Lord.” The first chorus features the Booth Brothers themselves, but then Legacy Five’s bass singer, Glenn Dustin, gets a solo verse and joins the group for the rest of the song. The blend is incredible, and while the Booth Brothers are one of the best trios out there, their quartet sound is just as good.

Each individual group gets a song featuring only them here as well. The Booth Brothers do a smooth arrangement of “In The Sweet By And By,” Greater Vision’s “He Pilots My Ship” features the powerful vocals of Gerald Wolfe, and Legacy Five’s “Someone Who Cares” doesn’t really catch on till a couple of spins.

Bottom line: The lineup of Jubilee could be this generation’s KingsGold. It is a very strong project that has me hoping to hear more of stuff like this.

JOY FM To Broadcast Live Concerts This Weekend

July 02, 2009 By: Aaron Category: Daniel Britt, Greater Vision, JOY FM, Legacy Five, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Pfeifers

For those of you that, like me, wanted to attend the Freedom Celebration in DC this weekend but were unable to, you’ll be glad to know you can still listen to the concerts. Daniel Britt and Wanda Taylor of JOY FM will be hosting live radio broadcasts of the concerts this weekend. You can tune in on the radio or online at their website for concerts featuring Legacy Five, Greater Vision, and The Pfeifers, and guest speakers Col. Oliver North and Dennis Swanberg.

Times for the broadcasts are as follows:
Friday, July 3 at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 4 at 10 a.m.
Saturday, July 4 at 6:00 p.m.

Interesting Observation

November 06, 2008 By: Aaron Category: Greater Vision, Kirk Talley, SG Artists, SG History, SG Music

Commenter quaid posted something yesterday that I thought was a very true statement:

Just wondering, has anyone else noticed vocal similarities between Jacob Kitson and Kirk Talley? I know, you who read this will probably think ‘what in the world is he talking about?’
But listen to “Be Still and Know” with Kirk in mind. I think you’ll see (hear) what I mean.

You can hear the song he mentioned here in the media player.

I think the comparison is pretty accurate. Both Kitson and Talley can carry a ballad like nobody’s business, and yet fit right in to any other faster song. The good thing is, Kitson is still young, and can only improve with age. He may very well be remembered as a great tenor akin to the likes of Talley by the next generation (controversies excluded, hopefully). I have a feeling Gerald Wolfe saw this similarity as well when he hired Jacob to sing tenor for Greater Vision.

What say you? I’m sure opinions will differ widely, and I’d love to read them.