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:
PALMETTO STATE POISED TO EXPAND REACH
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.