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

Greatest Hits Collections, And Why Buy Them?

August 06, 2011 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Music

Steve Eaton’s latest View From The Back Row is an album review of sorts; Daywind Records and Brian Free & Assurance are releasing a new project right on the heels of their latest mainline release, Never Walk Alone. The “new” part can be debated, however, since this is just a compilation of fourteen of the group’s hit songs.

The post addresses a point I absolutely agree with: what incentive is there for long-time fans to get this CD? Chances are, they already have the original projects from which each song is taken. With a group as popular and as long-lived as BF&A, I’d say brand-new fans are not going to be the vast majority, so really, this project would just be another ho-hum compilation. Another point brought up was the merit of placing a couple of new songs alongside the old, which would be that incentive to buy this release.

I’ll take that last point a bit further; the only thing that would make a Greatest Hits project break the mold from all the other ones is re-making the hits. New vocals, new tracks, possibly even new arrangements. New songs are optional, but with the current group putting their own stamp on the group’s hits, the interest factor to buy the thing is there for both new and old fans of the group. A good example of this would be Legacy Five’s Decade release. This was a greatest hits compilation marking the group’s ten-year anniversary. Rather than being a run-of-the-mill “let’s throw together the best stuff we’ve ever done” CD, the group actually went in and cut all-new tracks and vocals for each song, some of them with slightly different arrangements. There were also a couple songs that were previously unrecorded that went right alongside the others. Another interesting thing this project did was include a second CD that had the original cuts of the songs, giving an easy way to compare the renditions.

Was each new cut better than the original? In some cases, I personally liked the older version better, but at least I was given the chance to compare. Groups don’t necessarily have to go all-out with a two-disc release of the originals and the newer version, but a compilation that breathes new life into the group’s hits would likely get fans to pay quicker than what is usually done. Plus, only releasing projects like this on a big event (like a ten-year anniversary, for instance) would avoid an over-saturation of the market with a bunch of Hits releases.

The greatest hits project concept is a good one, but if more groups don’t give an incentive to buy them, it will continue to become a tired trend.

My Final Picks for the 2010 Singing News Fan Awards

June 19, 2010 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Music, Singing News Fan Awards

1. Favorite Artist of the Year
Booth Brothers
Greater Vision
Kingdom Heirs
Perrys
Triumphant Quartet

2. Favorite Traditional Quartet
Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
Inspirations
Kingdom Heirs
Legacy Five
Triumphant Quartet

3. Favorite Mixed Group
Collingsworth Family
Hoppers
Isaacs
McKameys
Perrys

4. Favorite Trio
Booth Brothers
Greater Vision
Greenes
Jeff & Sheri Easter
Karen Peck & New River

5. Favorite Soloist
Bishop, Mark
Crabb, Jason
Parker, Ivan
Penrod, Guy
Ritchie, Charlotte

6. Favorite Male Singer
Booth, Michael (Booth Brothers)
Booth, Ronnie (Booth Brothers)
Habedank, Joseph (Perrys)
Parker, Ivan (Soloist)
Rice, Arthur (Kingdom Heirs)

7. Favorite Female Singer
Easter, Sheri (Jeff & Sheri Easter)
Gooch, Karen Peck (Karen Peck & New River)
Greene, TaRanda (Greenes)
Hopper, Kim (Hoppers)
Stuffle, Libbi (Perrys)

8. Horizon Individual
Barker, Pat (Dixie Echoes)**
Easter, Morgan (Jeff & Sheri Easter)
Elliot, Bryan (Perrys)
Gaches, Gus (Legacy Five)
Ragan, David (Inspirations)

9. Horizon Group
Akins
Austins Bridge
Ball Brothers
Crystal River
Soul’d Out Quartet

10. Favorite Young Artist
Collingsworth, Brooklyn (Collingsworth Family)
Easter, Morgan (Jeff & Sheri Easter)
Elliot, Bryan (Perrys)
Stringfield, Andy (Kingdom Heirs)
Thompson, Amber (Nelons)

11. Favorite Tenor
Booth, Michael (Booth Brothers)
Free, Brian (Brian Free & Assurance)
Haase, Ernie (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound)
Phelps, David (Gaither Vocal Band)
Sutton, David (Triumphant Quartet)

12. Favorite Lead
Booth, Ronnie (Booth Brothers)
Fowler, Scott (Legacy Five)
Habedank, Joseph (Perrys)
Inman, Clayton (Triumphant Quartet)
Rice, Arthur (Kingdom Heirs)

13. Favorite Baritone
Anderson, Doug (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
Brady, Jim (Booth Brothers)
Campbell, Melton (Inspirations)
Griffin, Rodney (Greater Vision)
Inman, Scott (Triumphant Qt)

14. Favorite Bass
Bennett, Eric (Triumphant Qt)
Duncan, Tim (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound)
Dustin, Glenn (Legacy Five)
Holcomb, Mike (Inspirations)
Riley, Tim (Gold City)

15. Favorite Soprano
Gooch, Karen Peck (Karen Peck & New River)
Greene, TaRanda (Greenes)
Hopper, Kim (Hoppers)
Isaacs, Sonya (Isaacs)
Ritchie, Charlotte (Soloist)

16. Favorite Alto
Bean, Peg McKamey (McKameys)
Easter, Sheri (Jeff & Sheri Easter)
Hopper, Connie (Hoppers)
Stuffle, Libbi (Perrys)
Talley, Debra (Talley Trio)

17. Favorite Musician
Collingsworth, Kim (Collingsworth Family)
Fortner, Roger (McKameys)
Mote, Gordon
Parton, Tim (Legacy Five)
Stice, Jeff (Triumphant Qt)

18. Favorite Songwriter
Brady, Jim
Crabb, Gerald
Griffin, Rodney
Habedank, Joseph
Hinson, Ronny

19. Favorite Album
20 Years-Live In Texas (Greater Vision)
Almost Morning (Perrys)
Everyday (Triumphant Quartet)
Jubilee (BB, GV, L5)
The Son Came Down (Inspirations)

20. Favorite Song
He Locked The Gates (Kingdom Heirs)
I’ll Pray For You (Whisnants)
If You Knew Him (Perrys)
It Pays To Pray (Greater Vision)
Peace In The Shelter (Booth Brothers)
The Son Came Down (Inspirations)
When The Trumpet Sounds (Triumphant Qt)
When They Found Nothing (Legacy Five)
Why Can’t All God’s Children Get Along (Karen Peck & New River)
You Must Have Met Him (Brian Free & Assurance)

Randy Crawford Joins The Kingsmen

June 14, 2010 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Kingsmen

From a press release on The Kingsmen’s Facebook page:

Ray Dean Reese is thrilled to announce the addition of Randy Crawford to The Kingsmen. Randy will be filling the vacant baritone/ lead position. Many will remember him from his past tenure with the Kingsmen. He can be heard on the 2002 top ten song, “Justified”. More recently he was a member of Brian Free & Assurance. Randy is an extremely gifted vocalist as well as a fine Christian gentleman. Randy will be relocating to the mountains of Asheville, NC immediately. He will share the stage with Ray Dean Reese (bass), Bryan Hutson (lead/ baritone), Harold Reed (tenor), Cody McVey (piano), and Brandon Reese (sound). Randy looks forward to seeing his many friends as he embarks on this new chapter in his life. To find out when the Kingsmen will be in a city near you please visit www.kingsmenquartet.com

There had been rumors floating around ever since Randy had departed Brian Free & Assurance that he would be making this move; glad to see they were true. Even when he was filling in for the past several weeks, he seemed to be having the time of his life, and seemed to fit seamlessly into the group. I enjoyed Randy’s sound with the group when he was with them the first time (although, they were The Carolina Boys for most of his tenure), and the “Justified” song mentioned in the PR is one of my favorite Crawford features.

Looking forward to hearing this new lineup in action!

Edit: Check out this clip of Randy’s first night with the group. Here, he sings a Phillip Hughes feature, which is a perfect platform to compare/contrast their respective styles.

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