It was posted on Facebook today that The Kingsmen were at Crossroads Studios working on their next release. One of the songs was “Oh What A Savior,” and apparently, new tenor Chris Jenkins nailed it. No studio videos have surfaced yet, but here’s a concert video of that same song from last week. (Trust me, even though everybody and their brother has done this song, it’s worth it):
Update: Just as Daniel Mount promised in the comments, studio videos are surfacing. Here’s “Without Jesus,” showing off a smoother side of the Kingsmen. You may remember that song from The Kingsmen’s Proven Time and Time Again project, released with the Jerry Martin, Bryan Hutson, Parker Jonathan, and Ray Dean Reese vocal lineup:
The Kingsmen Quartet’s official Youtube channel posted a video this morning that gives the first real glimpse into what the group sounds like since hiring Jenkins. Check out this a capella reprise of “The Judgement,” a song made popular during the Garry Sheppard era of the group:
It’s a bold move to have your first online feature of a new lineup be an a capella song, but I think that they pulled it off here.
(l-r) Ray Dean Reese, Bob Sellers, Randy Crawford, Chris Jenkins, Brandon Reese)
After a fill-in period that once included Ernie Phillips, and a guessing game this past weekend on Facebook that built some excitement, the Kingsmen have finally announced their pick for the tenor position:
The Kingsmen are pleased to announce the addition of Chris Jenkins as our new tenor vocalist.
Chris, 25, has been singing in various ministries and groups since his teenage years, most recently tenor vocalist for the Vintage Quartet since 2010. Prior to joining The Kingsmen, Chris worked as a loan officer and banking manager for the last six years.
“I am so thankful that God has allowed me to do what I have always loved to do,” says Chris. ”I could not be more excited about joining a group with such a legacy and rich history as The Kingsmen. I have been a fan of The Kingsmen since I was very young. I look forward to seeing what the future holds with this great quartet, especially this line-up of individuals as they are top-notch vocalists. It is a real honor to follow in the footsteps of some of my heroes.
Chris will begin touring with the group immediately. In fact he has been filling in with us in recent weeks. Chris, along with his wife Kimberly, and two children make their home right outside of Greensboro, in the Piedmont area of North Carolina.
Chris is looking forward to meeting many friends and fans of The Kingsmen as he begins this new chapter in his life. To find out when the Kingsmen Quartet will be in a city near you please visit us at www.kingsmenquartet.com, and also visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kingsmenquartet
I have been excited about the possibility of this hire ever since I learned that Chris was filling in after Ernie Phillips came back off the road. Jenkins has already impressed me with his work with the Vintage Quartet, and I am glad that he has been given a platform with such a well-known group. I would encourage anyone in the “bring back Ernie” camp to give this guy a chance; Jenkins bring a sound to the table that is a throwback to the Ernie days of the group, while still having the modern flair the group has adopted over the past few years.
I am looking forward with renewed anticipation to the release of material featuring this lineup of Chris Jenkins, Bob Sellers, Randy Crawford, and Ray Dean Reese.
No videos of Chris with The Kingsmen have surfaced yet, but here’s a clip from the Vintage Quartet:
Ever wonder how some of the legends of yesterday that are no longer “in the spotlight” sound today on a more modern song? Here’s one of those legends: Ernie Phillips. One of the more famous tenors to come along in the history of the Kingsmen, and Southern Gospel in general (remember his big ending on “Love Lifted Me” on Live… Naturally?), and the father of Mark Trammell Quartet tenor Eric Phillips. Since the departure of Harold Reed for the LeFevre Quartet, Phillips has been filling in for The Kingsmen. Here he is taking one of Reed’s signature songs while with the group, “God Saw A Cross.”
If this doesn’t make the case for why The Kingsmen should try their hardest to get Phillips out there with them full-time, I don’t know what does. (Well, this and the fact that, from what I hear, he can still do those sky-high endings!)
Update: Daniel Mount informed me this morning that there had been more videos from this concert uploaded since this post went up. I’ll post a few more, some of which also highlight new lead singer Bob Sellers. Even if Ernie Phillips doesn’t turn out to be the man for the job, this is still an interesting look at one of the legends still toting the mail!
Change has hit The Kingsmen yet again. The group announced the departure of tenor Harold Reed today, and he is making the move to The LeFevre Quartet. From Brandon Reese:
The Kingsmen announce the departure of tenor Harold Reed.
“I have been blessed to sing with one of my favorite Quartets for the past 4 1/2 years and now I feel it is time for me to start the next chapter in my singing career and join The Lafever Quartet,” says Harold. “Sometimes the Lord tells you it is just time and I will truly miss Ray and the rest of the guys but I am comfortable knowing we will remain in contact.”
“The Kingsmen will be celebrating 55 years of music ministry in 2012. Through those years we have had the most talented and enjoyable team members but more importantly good Christians work with our organization,” says Brandon Reese. “Harold is no exception. I know God is in control and has a plan for The Kingsmen. We are more committed than ever to spread the gospel in song all throughout 2012 and beyond.”
For consideration of the tenor position please send all info and demos to: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Harold is replacing the departing Jeremy Easley. I was very impressed with Easley in the couple times I saw him in a live setting and am looking forward to seeing where he ends up. I have no doubt he’ll be singing in some capacity!
I had a hunch that this move might happen when I saw Harold filling in with the LeFevre Quartet on TBN the other night. I’m very interested to see who The Kingsmen might hire; their tenor part is notorious for being demanding, especially on the older material. Perhaps a young, upcoming talent that hasn’t really been widely heard yet will take the spot.
For a taste of how the LeFevre Quartet will sound, here are their two songs from their TBN apperance. Bass singer Brandon Barry was out in the hospital and Mike Allen was filling in. The addition of Reed gives them a different sound than they are used to, but it’s still good.
In a move that has been much speculated on and expected, Capstone Quartet lead singer Bob Sellers has come in as the new lead singer for The Kingsmen. Here’s the press release:
The Kingsmen are pleased to welcome Bob Sellers to the quartet, filling the vacancy created by the departure of BryanHutson. “I am so excited to become a member of the legendary Kingsmen Quartet family,” says Bob. “I’m thankful for this opportunity that Ray and Brandon Reese have given me, and I look forward to meeting every single Kingsmen fan.
“The first song I recall singing with my mom and sister in our little country church was ‘A Place Where The Hungry Are Fed,’ so it is a dream come true to now stand on stage with the group that introduced that song and so many other great songs to Gospel music. I will work with all that is within me to continue the proud tradition that is The Kingsmen Quartet and, most importantly, to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ in song effectively. I cannot wait to see what God has in store!
Bob’s first concert will be in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada on December 31, 2011.
Sellers has filled in for two Kingsmen singers recently: the first was Bryan Hutson a couple months ago when he had to be away for a funeral. Most recently, he was filling in for Randy Crawford when he was out for his heart operation. Here’s a taste of what he sounds like, singing “For God So Loved” with the Capstone Quartet:
For a taste of his sound with The Kingsmen, here’s “Look For Me At Jesus’ Feet.” Hat tip goes to my friend Andrew Graham for this find:
If the videos are any indication, Sellers will be a great fit.
At long last, the word has finally come out. The “mystery man” that is coming to the group after the departure of Tanner Stahl earlier this month is none other than Kingsmen lead singer Bryan Hutson. Here’s an open letter from Hutson on this move:
I want to thank the many friends that I have made while being involved in Gospel Music as well as Worship Ministry. You have embraced me since I began singing with my brother in “The New Generation” in 1985. I started traveling fulltime with “The Heartland Quartet” in 1993. Your continued support, love and encouragement through both my tenures with “The Kingsmen” is deeply appreciated. In early November, I decided to follow God’s leading and give my resignation with “The Kingsmen.”
January of 2012 will mark a new chapter in my gospel music career. I will be joining one of America’s best new groups, “Soul’d Out Quartet”. In fact, the group was awarded “Horizon Group of The Year” (Favorite New Group) in the Singing News Magazine Fan Awards in 2010. Matt Rankin (lead), Dusty Barrett (tenor), Matt Fouch (bass) and Michael Howard (piano) make up “Soul’d Out Quartet”. I will share lead vocalist duties with Matt Rankin. SOQT is a solid quartet who sings straight ahead Southern Gospel Music with a progressive sound. I’m very excited to see what God has in store for our future! Over the past several years, I have developed a friendship with members of the group. I believe the men of “Soul’d Out” are men of integrity and have a heart for ministry that mirrors my own passion. I know my friends and family will love the music and ministry of “Soul’d Out” as much as I do.
My wife, Yvonne, and I have been seeking God and wise counsel about this decision and feel that this is a door God has opened. The tour schedule for “Soul’d Out” is a better fit for me as a husband and father. This opportunity will also allow us to reach our long term goals as a family.
I joined my all time favorite group “The Kingsmen” in 1996 under the late Eldridge and Greg Fox. The 5 years that I spent learning from the Fox’s, the late Jim Hamill and Ray Reese were some of the best years of my life. Upon returning for my second run with “The Kingsmen” in 2007, we have seen lives changed through our music. I want to thank Ray and Brandon Reese and “The Kingsmen” for allowing me to be a part of the continuing Kingsmen legacy.
I would like to ask for your continued support, encouragement and prayers for my family and both groups. I am looking forward to seeing each of you at upcoming “Soul’d Out Quartet” concerts. Please check our website for upcoming performances: www.souldoutquartet.com
In His Will,
Can’t argue with that. Family is often a reason for changes made in a singer’s career, and I am glad that Hutson didn’t beat around the bush in stating that as the reason. I also appreciate that he didn’t simply say, “I want more time with my family.” He was open and transparent and explained the move well. Not that every singer has to live in a glass house, but it’s a refreshing change from the usual cliches. The classiness is also admirable; both the group he is going to and the group he is leaving get equal treatment, and it’s nice to see a singer that is making a move from one quartet to another have good things to say about their former employer.
The Kingsmen have also put out a press release:
From The Kingsmen
Bryan Hutson will be leaving the Kingsmen this December and will be joining Soul’d Out Quartet.
Brandon Reese states, “In November, Bryan came to me and stated that he felt it was time to make a change in his professional career. He also told me that he had been seeking God’s will in an opportunity to stay home more with his family. I commended him for letting the Lord lead in his life. The door opened for Bryan to join Matt Rankin and the rest of Soul’d Out (who are based out of Columbus, OH) and as many of you know is only an hour or 2 from where Bryan grew up in Batesville, IN. Bryan stated to me that joining Soul’d Out is perfect for the long term goals of his family and until then will maintain his residence in Asheville, NC with his wife Yvonne and four children Alexa, Jake, Bailey and Jordan. I, along with the other Kingsmen members, wish to thank Bryan for his two tenures here and his continuing friendship.”
I am planning on seeing Soul’d Out in January, and I am looking forward to hearing how the group’s sound changes with Bryan on board. Hearing Matt Rankin and Bryan Hutson swap parts will be interesting for sure! Be sure to check out the group if they are near you; I have a feeling the future for this quartet is very bright!
Update: Soul’d Out Quartet has also issued a release on the change:
We would like to inform everyone that Tanner will be leaving Sould Out Quartet and will be pursuing other interests. He will be missed by many and SOQT would like to thank Tanner for being part of this ministry for four and a half years. We ask that you pray for Tanner and his family as he is starting a new path. We believe that God has orchestrated this change and we pray that he will continue to bless Tanner as well as SOQT.
Coming the first of 2012, Matt Rankin will be assuming the baritone position and Bryan Hutson, a Kingsmen Quartet icon, will be taking the lead. We are excited that God has placed us together and we look forward to seeing how the Lord blesses the new line up. As always, the heartbeat of the ministry is to reach the lost, encourage the saints, and make a difference in people’s lives.
We will be releasing two new recordings after the first of the year. Coming the first part of January will be a hymns and old songs CD called “Soulace.” Then a brand new CD with all original songs called “What the World Doesn’t Know” at the end of January. We are very excited about both of these projects and we pray they will spiritually affect the lives of those who listen.
1. The Dixie Melody Boys have had quite a few things come down the pipe this past week. First, owner and bass singer Ed O’Neal fell six feet before a recent concert appearance, coming away with a broken leg and having to get eight stitches in his hand. It would certainly have been understandable if the group had just done the concert as a trio, but O’Neal insisted on doing the entire concert sitting on a stool. He will not be missing any dates. Talk about dedication!
2. The second Dixie Melody Boys happening is in preparation for their 50th Anniversary Celebration at this year’s NQC. There will be two events for this, and apparently will feature all former members that can attend, as well as the current group. From a press release sent today:
CALLING ALL FORMER DIXIE MELODY BOYS
The Dixie Melody Boys will be celebrating their 50th Anniversary with two very special events at this years National Quartet Convention. These events will include all former and current members who can attend. Over the years, the group has lost contact with some of the former members. If you are a DMB Alumni or have contact with one, please email Matt Felts through the Dixie Melody Boys website or call 615-335-0743. We don’t want anyone to be left out of this once in a lifetime event. More information will be announced soon for the fans who will want to be a part of this historic celebration.
3. The Kingsmen’s owner and bass singer, Ray Dean Reese, has announced his diagnosis of prostate cancer. He is optimistic about his future treatment, and plans to be on the road with The Kingsmen through it all.
4. Song Garden Music Group has announced their signing of The Diplomats. The popular family group will release their debut project with the label this fall.
Song titles: Back To Grace; Oh What A Hallelujah Day; I Knew It Was Him; That’s All I Need; Grace Says; Ordinary Man; I Can Hardly Wait; If Not For the Love of Christ; After the Sunrise; Loving Shepherd Gracious God
The Kingsmen have opened up an interesting chapter in their history during the past few years. After several lineup changes that ended up dissolving the Kingsmen Band and left the group with a new tenor (Harold Reed), and baritone (Bryan Hutson), the group released When God Ran, a project that was arguably the best that they had released in years, according to several critics. Not long after, the group hired young pianist Cody McVey, and the next mainline release, Missing People, was a good project, but in this blogger’s humble opinion, didn’t quite reach the same level as it’s predecessor.
Since that time, another lineup change has happened with the departure of lead singer Phillip Hughes, which moved Bryan Hutson to the lead position and brought in former Kingsmen/Carolina Boys lead Randy Crawford in to fill the baritone spot. The obvious question is this: what can this version of The Kingsmen bring to the table?
The group wastes no time in welcoming Crawford back into the lineup, as the first track of the project features him. An upbeat Joseph Habedank/Matthew Holt collaboration first heard on Statement of Faith’s debut project, “Back To Grace” sounds made for Crawford’s voice. Likewise, the other Statement of Faith cover, “I Knew It Was Him,” (written by the same team, coincidentally), fits Harold Reed like a glove. The other covers include an Oak Ridge Boys/Triumphant Quartet tune (“If Not For The Love Of Christ”) and a convention song (“After The Sunrise”). The nice thing about the majority of these covers is that they don’t sound like they were taken from another group. Rather, the group does a fine job of making them their own, particularly the Habedank/Holt tunes.
Other highlights of the project include the title track, which once again features Crawford and could easily become a career song for both he and the Kingsmen, and “Ordinary Man,” which is a progressive tune that puts Bryan Hutson out front. The final track, “Loving Shepherd Gracious God,” has gotten a lot of attention from severalbloggers, and features what probably the smoothest sound collectively from the group in quite a while.
To sum it all up, the rehiring of Randy Crawford has created a sound for The Kingsmen that is thick, powerful, and smooth, all rolled into one, and this project does exactly what it’s supposed to do in the way of taking hold of that sound and showcasing it. While some of the other reviews I’ve read have criticized the project for being “musically schizophrenic,” it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. The styles on the CD do tend to jump around from track to track, but I’m of the school of thought that, as long as it doesn’t go out in left field at every turn, it makes for a fun listening experience; the listener can be continually surprised.
With a group dynamic and song selection that is arguably one of the best the group has had to date, there’s not one thing I would throw out of this project if given the chance. Grace Says receives 5 stars.
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 Hamptonposted 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.
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