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

Archive for the ‘Palmetto State Quartet’

News Catch-Up (8/9/12)

August 09, 2012 By: Aaron Category: Palmetto State Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

1. Palmetto State has signed with Song Garden Music Group. The group is working on a project due for a fall release. It is worth noting that group member David Staton is Executive VP of the label.

This is an upward move for the group in solidifying the Palmetto State name once again. The label is home to young groups like the Ball Brothers that have put out quality music, and the label has seen groups like the Dixie Melody Boys put out music that have breathed new life into a long career. With that in mind, I am looking forward to hearing what the new Palmetto State produces.

2. Dianne Wilkinson is releasing her autobiography, Dianne Wilkinson: The Life and Times of a Gospel Songwriter. Written in conjunction with fellow blogger Daniel Mount, the book will detail her life and “the stories behind over 150 of her best-known songs.” If you name a Top 25 hit in Southern Gospel since the 1980s, Dianne’s name is probably in the songwriting credits, so a book detailing the history behind the writer and songs is a must-read.

3. In the “interesting videos” category, check out this story from Ken Turner about JD Sumner coming to the Lord:

Random Findings

June 08, 2012 By: Aaron Category: Driven, Palmetto State Quartet, Promise, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Stamps Quartet

1. Promise Trio has been looking for a full-time tenor since their original tenor, James Bell, left to join the Army late last year. A couple of weeks ago, I posted some videos of a concert they did with fill-in tenor Daniel Rivera, and the feedback was largely positive as to the sound. To quell any rumors, however, Rivera says he will not be joining the group:

I just wanna thank everyone for being so supportive of me and the people who have helped me get where I am with singing and everything. As of right now, I am coming off the road from full-time traveling and singing. God has been so good to me! Even though I am young, I have had a lot of trials in my life, especially with my health. I am thankful that God has given me the gift to sing and share His word and the gospel! But as of right now, I have to put traveling aside and focus on getting my health back together. I will be continuing my ministries at my church in South Holland, IL.

Again, I thank God and everyone for everything! I say all this because I had posted a status like this after I had left my last group, but I continued my ministries and helped another full-time group with filling in a vacant spot for them, hence the reason why I post again. I know God’s plan is always perfect and I believe coming off the road from singing is part of His plan. I don’t know what the future may hold, but I know it’s something good! I love u all and thanks for being so supportive! My new solo album will be coming out soon! Basically will tell my life story. Hope ya’ll will like it! 🙂

According to a post on Promise’s Facebook page, an announcement is forthcoming about a new full-time tenor singer.

2. Diana Brantley has posted some videos of a concert from Palmetto State from a couple of weeks ago. Mike Allen and Larry Strickland were absent, but former group baritone Rick Fair filled in on bass. Here’s a video of “All Hail The Power” that gives a good taste of the vocalists’ sound, as well as that of the group’s piano player Casey Martin. It’s interesting how the group has rearranged the song; it was originally a song that gave baritone David Darst all the solos. Currently, it is divided among Jeremy Easley, Paul Lancaster, and David Staton. This kind of thing makes me interested in future arrangements of Palmetto State’s material:

3. Also in the interesting video category, here’s a “behind the scenes” clip of Driven Quartet in the studio listening to a cut from their upcoming project. It may sound familiar to some viewers; that’s because it’s a revival of a track that is found on the 1984 album The Prestigious Cathedral Quartet, which was tenor Danny Funderburk’s second release with that group. It is only fitting that his son, Jason, be the leader of the group that brings it back. Also, it looks like Wesley Smith is Driven’s official tenor, though I have seen no press release yet. Here is the final choruses of  “I Would Not Be Surprised:”

On a side note, that must have been a LONG day in the studio! 😉

Bonus video: The big news in Southern Gospel this week was the major change in the Dixie Echoes. Though departing member Michael Helwig sang tenor for the quartet, he has sung lead or baritone in several other places, including the Stamps Quartet. However, I came across this clip a while back that features Michael on the tenor part for the Stamps, albeit in what appears to be a fill-in situation. Here’s their rendition of “Rainbow of Love:”

Palmetto State Quartet Gets An Overhaul

February 27, 2012 By: Aaron Category: Palmetto State Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

If you’ve been to the Palmetto State Quartet website in the past few days, you may have noticed that both the site and the group have gotten a revamp. David Staton just posted the above picture to his Facebook with the caption, “This is the new Palmetto State.”

Pictured from left to right are Mike Allen, David Staton, Casey Martin, Paul Lancaster, Larry Strickland, and Jeremy Easley. Be on the lookout for a press release soon. I will post my thoughts on the change once the press release goes out.

Update: That was quick. Right after I hit the publish button, I received this:

PSQ Partners to bring Southern Gospel Music to Wider Audience

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The historic Palmetto State Quartet announces the newest incarnation of this enduring vocal ensemble that defies the quartet label. The group assembles not four, but five vocalists, and breaks out of any traditional mold by refusing to define its members by vocal part. The diverse lineup includes: Mike Allen, a fixture on the popular Gaither Homecoming television series, who had never signed on officially with any one group until now; Jeremy Easley, the X-Factor season-one, top-15 finalist (male vocalist ages 15–30 category) who received a standing ovation from Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger, and L. A. Reid; Paul Lancaster, longtime Palmetto State member and former member of the Mullins, winner of two Dove Awards with gospel music siblings, the Martins; Casey Martin, popular keyboardist for an array of secular and gospel artists, brings a soulful influence and plays an integral part in the PSQ presentation; David Staton, Grammy-nominated songwriter, singer, producer, and adroit industry thought leader; and Larry Strickland, who sang with the famous Stamps Quartet in the ’70’s when they backed up Elvis Presley, and has been seen on the OWN network show, The Judds.

“Ask any of these guys and they would tell you that singing with other great singers causes you to step it up. And once in a while you hit this magical combination where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” according to Strickland. Besides their stellar talent, each member brings a unique new audience to the gospel music they love and its message they cherish.

With so many tie-ins to pop culture that cross musical genres, this group is uniquely positioned to attract and influence new listeners. This will be welcome news to music promoters and presenters of gospel music globally. Not since Strickland’s Elvis days with the late J.D. Sumner and the Stamps has there been another vocal group that has featured two great bass singers.

Most recently, PSQ has been touring with the Judds, singing backup to Wynonna’s powerful voice and introducing southern gospel music to a whole new audience.

“We are not interested in anyone labeling us a ‘super group’. What we hope is that churches will leverage whatever we’ve been blessed to do in order to reach out to various crowds that typically aren’t planning to come to church or a gospel concert,” said Staton. And with some strategic use of traditional advertizing and social media, church leaders may be surprised the number of first-time attendees who drop in to check out the great music and happen to hear some very good news. The members of Palmetto State are committed to effectively sharing the gospel in a clear, compelling manner and consider that their top priority.

Palmetto State is booked exclusively through the Becky Simmons Agency at +1 615.595.7500 or Info@BSAworld.com.

It should be noted that Mike Allen was with the Poet Voices as a member several years back, and was with The Prophets Quartet during their short revival period, so the statement that he has never officially signed on with anyone until now isn’t entirely true.

When I saw the new group picture over the weekend, I had wondered what the deal was with having two bass singers (Larry Strickland had been the group’s bass up to this point.) I had wondered if maybe Strickland was taking a Jim Hamill/Eldridge Fox type of role with the group and handing bass singing duties mostly to Mike Allen. This five-man revamp, however, is interesting; Palmetto State has been a quartet its entire existence, and while the Gaither Vocal Band did make the transition to five vocalists, they have never been a Southern Gospel quartet in the traditional sense with their vocal arrangements; truly, more of a vocal band with four (now five) part harmony.

I was intrigued by the fact that the point was stressed that they would “refuse to define members by vocal part.” This would make it interesting in terms of arrangements; lots of part swapping among the vocalists. I would imagine that we’ll be hearing Strickland and Allen trade off on the bass vocals quite a bit, but it’s anyone’s guess how the three others will end up configured on a given song. David Staton sang lead with The LeFevre Quartet from its inception until last year, and Jeremy Easley held the tenor slot with that same group for a time. Paul Lancaster has a versatile enough voice that the possibilities are numerous as far as where each vocal will stack.

While the group may not be interested in “being labeled a ‘super group,'” Strickland has definitely brought together a lineup of talent that many may think of them that way. The problem with super groups, however, is that they don’t always stick together for one reason or another (see the Ron Blackwood Quartet of a few years ago). I, for one, am hoping to see this one pan out, and am listening with interest for what these vocalists will produce.

Review Of "Praise The Lord" Last Night

March 29, 2008 By: Aaron Category: Crabb Family, Gold City, Mike and Kelly Bowling, Palmetto State Quartet, SG Artists, SG Music, Three Bridges

I taped the show last night and watched it this morning. The lineup was Gold City, Mike & Kelly Bowling, Three Bridges, Palmetto State Quartet, and The Crabb Family. The event was hosted by Jason Crabb.

1. Jason Crabb

1. Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus

2. Gold City

1. God’s Been Good
2. Mercy Came Running
3. That’s What I’m Talking About
4. Preach The Word

Only one song featured their new lead singer Bruce Taliaferro, but that was all I needed to hear to tell you that Gold City is as good as ever! Bruce has just the right voice to do Jonathan Wilburn’s songs justice, while still making a name for himself. Danny Riley mentioned that they are working on a new project, and I can’t wait to hear it.

3. Mike & Kelly Bowling

1. ??? (song I didn’t get the name of)
2. There Is Power In The Name Of Jesus
3. There’s Just Something About That Name (with Jason Crabb)

Good to see the former baritone for Crystal River, Jeff Snyder, with this group. I don’t care much for the group, but it is nice to see that guy with someone.

4. Three Bridges

1. Step Back On The Rock
2. Medley (Somebody Bigger Than You And I, You’ll Never Walk Alone, The Impossible Dream)
3. I Feel A Little Song Coming On

I wasn’t very familiar with this group, and I wasn’t too impressed with what I heard. Just not my cup of tea.

5. Palmetto State Quartet

1. On Time God
2. Resting Place
3. Open The Eyes Of My Heart

This was my first opportunity to hear the almost-totally new lineup of PSQ, and I liked it. There were some pitch issues from the baritone, Brian Beatty, near the end of the first song, but he caught himself (you could see him shake his head as if to say “Not right!”) and finished strong.
The group’s new keyboardist, Casey Martin, is a very talented guy, which was evident throughout their set. They’ve also added a percussionist, which adds alot to their onstage sound and presence (the guy really gets into it!).
They’re obviously still trying to mesh and find their sound as a group, but nevertheless, they sound pretty good at this point. It’s pretty clear that they are bringing a fresh, new sound that PSQ has not had before. I expect great things from this new incarnation of the Palmetto State Quartet!

6. Mike & Kelly Bowling, Part II

1. Your Cries Have Awoken The Master

This is quite possibly the only song I really like from this group. Very powerful song.

7. Jason Crabb

1. You’re All I Need
2. I’d Rather Have Jesus (joined by The Crabb Family)

8. The Crabb Family

1. Please Come Down To Me
2. He Thought Of Me

Now, what doesn’t make sense to me is that the Crabb Family broke up not too long ago and have seperate ministries all over the place, and yet they have “reunions” all the time. On this show, at this coming NQC, and I saw across the bottom of the screen where they’ll be on another show in a couple of weeks. I wonder when they will truly disband (the brand name, not the family itself)…

SG Groups On Praise The Lord Tonight

March 28, 2008 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, Mike and Kelly Bowling, Palmetto State Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, Three Bridges

It will be a good night to catch some good Southern Gospel groups tonight on Praise The Lord at 10 PM Eastern and 9 PM Central time on the TBN channel.

The lineup will include Gold City, Three Bridges, Mike & Kelly Bowling, and Palmetto State Quartet. I’m excited about the two quartets; Gold City’s performance will be new lead singer Bruce Taliaferro’s first TV appearance with the group, and it will be my first opportunity to hear how the group sounds since Jonathan Wilburn’s recent departure. It will also be interesting to hear how the new Palmetto State Quartet lineup sounds.

I’ll try to tape the show tonight and post my thoughts tomorrow.

Larry Strickland To Manage New Palmetto State Quartet

December 18, 2007 By: Aaron Category: Palmetto State Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

Read this article on southerngospelreporter.com and found it very interesting. A couple of things stood out to me:

1. This one’s a good thing:

“The PR indicates that Strickland has a wealth of knowledge and experience from the many years in the music industry working with The Judds and other popular artists,.. and will provide oversight and vision through his management responsibilities for PSQ. He hopes to use his experience and relationships to introduce some exciting new marketing and promotion strategies to, not only PSQ, but to southern gospel music in general. Larry adds: “It’s some of the best music in the world and it deserves to be exposed to a much broader audience.””

Man, if only every quartet manager had these connections. With those kind of doors open for them, this new incarnation of PSQ will be going places, count on it.

And now, a bad thing:

“….Palmetto State members Rick Fair, Burman Porter, Wesley Smith and Bryan Elliott will not be involved with the merged quartet. Beatty says those members had apparently decided to start their own group.. but had failed to notify PSQ owner Kerry Beatty. Brian adds that Kerry confronted the members.. about the rumors he had heard. Although they said it was true.. they were not quite ready to begin thew new venture. Brian says: “Kerry tried to keep going, as though nothing had happened, but found that in gospel music.. unity is so important,.. and their unity was not what it should be to represent the Lord in song.. on a daily basis.” Brian Beatty also says that all members do care greatly for one another.. but Kerry was ready for a new start. Brian continues: “Both myself and Larry Strickland felt this to be a God ordained move and we are thrilled to be the new Palmetto State Quartet.”

Ouch. It’s bad enough that they tried to hide it from Beatty in the first place, but then they got confronted. Talk about your awkward moments…

I’m sure this new quartet of ex-PSQ members will be a winner, but I’m not sure if I will be a fan in light of these circumstances… We shall see…

News Roundup

August 23, 2007 By: Aaron Category: Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, Palmetto State Quartet, Prayer Requests, Roy Webb, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Dixie Echoes

Well, with school starting back up, me becoming a freshman, orientation, shopping and the like have kept me from blogging these past few days, so let me get a rundown of these news items I’ve missed.

1. Burman Porter is leaving Palmetto State? Here’s hoping the rumour is untrue, but back problems can have a hand in taking talent off the road (Gene McDonald, anyone?)

2. Roy Webb’s father passed away a couple of days ago. I actually knew this but didn’t blog it. Nice to see that EHSSQ sent out a newsletter about it. Hmm… maybe this will stop the rumour mill about Webb’s departure… Please keep him and the family in your prayers.

3. The Dixie Echoes’ bus fire. Man, what a shock. Thankfully, the only thing lost was some merchandise…

And of course, we can’t forget to count down to NQC. By my watch, (or, rather, by Chuck Peters’ “Days till NQC” clock), it is 16 days.