Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.
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Things I Missed (7/6/13 Edition)

July 06, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Blackwood Quartet, Promise, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

It was a busy enough week that I didn’t have time to get to these stories when they hit, but here are some noteworthy news items that came about in the past few days:

1. The SG industry lost two men this past week that impacted it in various ways. The first was Harold Gilley, mostly known for his days singing bass with the Palmetto State Quartet and his impressions of various bass singers. I always thought he was grossly underrated, and I know that he had been in poor health for some time. The second is Furman Wilson, founding member of the Primitive Quartet. Although Wilson left the group in the late 1970s, there’s no question that the work he helped start has become a mainstay in SG, and that is not to be overlooked. Please keep the families of both men in your prayers.

2. David Mann, lead singer and co-founder of Promise, is stepping away from the group. It’s not often that you get a press release dealing with change that is this open and forthcoming, but David teased a change a couple of days ago on Facebook, and then posted this yesterday:

An Open Letter To Family, Friends, and Fans of Promise
By David Mann

7/5/13

“The only thing constant in life is change.” – François de la Rochefoucauld

The past two years have been a fun and exciting ride. It’s definitely had its ups and downs, but the progress we’ve seen, in spite of the obstacles we’ve faced, has always kept us optimistic. Because of that, making the decision to leave was one of the hardest ones I’ve ever had to make.

In August, I will be stepping down from my position as manager/lead singer for Promise. Starting a group, with next to nothing, is never an easy task. The past two years have taken a toll on me, both physically and emotionally. More importantly, the financial burden on my family has simply become too much. Everyone’s situation is different, but unfortunately, for me, it’s come down to choosing between my work with Promise, and the well being of my wife, and 3 young children.

The good news is, Promise is pressing on. TJ Evans will be stepping in and taking the reigns. I’ve known him for nearly 12 years now, and I have every bit of confidence that the group is left in good hands. Better hands. Promise will be keeping all it’s commitments, as well as continuing on. I’ve told the guys that, though I’m leaving, I still foresee a very bright future for this group. Please take a moment to show them your support. Encouragement goes a long way. My last date will be on August 4th, in Winona, Texas. This will be a special night for me, because my last date with Promise also happens to be where we held the very first concert we ever booked.

As far as my future plans are concerned, I will be taking a position, singing baritone, with the Blackwood Quartet. Most who know me, know I sang with Mark Blackwood and his group for a little over 2 years, from the fall of 2008 to the winter of 2010. I’m happy to be returning, and excited about the future. I’ll be starting with them, immediately following my departure from Promise.

Thank you for all your support and encouragement!

God bless,

David Mann

No real room for speculation there. I am excited that Promise will be continuing, as I have been impressed with them from their start and am looking for them to continue to rise in the industry from here. No word on a new singer for them yet, but be looking for a press release as August 4th approaches.

As far as the Blackwood Quartet, they are getting a solid baritone that knows the ropes. The first time I saw them was not long before David left, and even though it was the tenor’s first night and they had a fill-in bass, the sound was solid. Mark Blackwood has never had much trouble putting together a good quartet, and I look forward to seeing what plays out there in the future as well.

Side note: Be looking for a long overdue CD review on Monday. Hopefully I can actually get this thing finished!

Youtube Spotlight: Promise 2013

May 01, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Promise, SG Artists, SG Music, Youtube

It seems that Youtube is becoming ripe with videos to feature this week. Today’s feature comes to us from Promise, a relatively new trio that started back in 2011. Their debut release got a 5-star rating from this site. Since that time, the group has had several changes, and the lineup stands today at tenor TJ Evans, lead/baritone David Mann, and lead/baritone Matt Baker. Baker also plays piano on select songs. The videos are from Mann’s Youtube channel, and are taken from a recent concert that was broadcast on the Internet.

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Promise Welcomes Matt Baker

January 01, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Promise, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

2013 brings a Southern Gospel news item right as the year kicks off! Promise has been “promising” (pun intended) big news on New Year’s Day. That came to fruition early this morning with the announcement of a new member for the trio. Here’s the press release regarding this hire:

Promise is thrilled to announce the addition of Matt Baker to their ministry. Matt is from Lenoir, North Carolina, has a lovely wife, and a beautiful baby girl. They are also expecting their second child next summer. Matt will be filling the baritone position, as well as bringing his piano playing skills into the mix.

“When Matt first stepped on stage with us, something clicked” says David Mann. “His pleasing voice and great personality make him a joy to have with us. And we found out that he’s not a bad piano player either!”

TJ Evans states, “We’re gaining both a great singer and a good friend in Matt. We’ve gotten to know him well over the last few months. He’ll bring a lot to our concert experience, and we’re very excited to see what the future holds.”

And… HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

You can visit Promise online at www.promisetrio.com, or they can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

You’ll notice that the release mentions that Baker is the group’s new baritone. This effectively gives the group a new dynamic, as former lead singer TJ Evans is bumped up to the tenor position, and baritone David Mann steps in at lead. Such a shift will undoubtedly bring some changes to the group’s sound, while still building upon the foundation that was already in place.

I’m glad that Promise will be capitalizing on Baker’s talent at the piano, as that will give a fresh aspect to their concerts. While there have been no video clips of this configuration of the group yet, I did come across one of Matt a couple of years ago, showcasing both his singing and piano playing:

Youtube Spotlight: Promise

May 22, 2012 By: Aaron Category: Promise, SG Artists, SG Music, Youtube

Last Sunday, I headed over to Amherst, VA to hear this new trio in concert. Just over a year old, the group’s self-titled debut project received favorable reviews around the Southern Gospel blogosphere, so I was looking forward to hearing them in a live setting. Since this service marked the beginning of a week-long revival at the church, the group did an abbreviated concert, but still managed to sing plenty of music. Take a look:

 

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New Year’s Roundup

January 04, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Blackwood Quartet, Gold City, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, Statement of Faith, The Down East Boys

Though I’m a few days late, welcome to 2011, everybody!

I haven’t found the time to update the blog in the past couple of days, so here’s a roundup of what I missed:

1. Tony Jarman joins the Down East Boys – Daniel Mount has the scoop: the former Poet Voices, Legacy Five, and Old Time Gospel Hour Quartet tenor has joined the quartet after the end of Jason Runnels’ eight-year run. Jarman starts on January 13. I’ve thought for quite some time that the Down East Boys are one of the most underrated quartets out there, and this newest addition to the group may be what they need to produce some music that will give them some well-deserved attention.

Nate Pritchard has posted a video on Burke’s Brainwork of one of Tony’s big songs of his L5 days, but I’ll post one of my personal favorites: this performance of “Little Is Much” is taken from the Live At The Palace video that L5 did with Greater Vision, and features Jarman out front with piano as the only instrumentation, leaving that clear tenor to deliver the song unmarred by an overly loud track.

2. David Mann joins Statement of Faith – Right on the heels of the news of the trio’s former baritone heading to The Inspirations, they have announced that Mann will join his brothers-in-law. Mann comes from a stint of a few years with the Blackwood Quartet, and I have always been impressed with his voice. His talent, combined with those of Jacob and Joe Kitson, will make for a great trio in Statement of Faith. Their debut project already impressed me; their next should be even better.

Here’s a clip of him singing baritone for the Blackwood Quartet. The lineup at the time this clip is tenor Dale Evans, lead Mark Blackwood, baritone David Mann, and bass Chris West.

3. There are clips floating around of Craig West’s debut as Gold City’s lead singer. I won’t post them all, but here’s one of a Gold City standard: Midnight Cry. Craig’s voice possess the soul-tinged vocals of Michael English, while having the power of  Josh Feemster or early Ivan Parker. If this clip doesn’t convince you that West fits the group like a glove, I don’t know what will.

Stuff I Missed – March 2010 Edition

March 13, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Blackwood Quartet, Ryan Seaton, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, Triumphant Quartet

With the hustle and bustle of everyday life and other projects for this blog to work on, I missed several big news items in the world of SG.

1. Ryan Seaton Launches Solo Career – Many were wondering what path Seaton would take after his departure from Ernie Haase & Signature Sound in December. On Monday, that question was answered, when he announced that he was partnering with Innovation Management & Consulting to launch his solo career. This is an interesting move; most of Ryan’s presence has come in the form of being a quartet man (Dixie Melody Boys & Signature Sound), so it is worth watching to see how his sound will evolve in the solo realm. Best of luck to Ryan in this new endeavor! You can keep up with him through Facebook and his website.

2. Triumphant Signs With Mansion Entertainment – In another unexpected change, Triumphant Quartet announced that they are leaving their longtime record label, Daywind Records, and signing with Mansion Entertainment, with promises of a new live project from The Mansion Theater. Wayne Haun will be producing. Bill Traylor has a history of making great things happen when he is involved, and as president of Mansion Entertainment, he’s made a great move by signing this quartet.

3. Dan Keeton Joins Blackwood Quartet – Earlier this month, it was announced that Ron Blackwood was coming off the road, Josh Garner and John Rulapaugh were leaving the Blackwood Quartet as well, and Mark Blackwood was bringing tenor Dale Evans and lead David Mann and merging the quartets together for a reloaded Blackwood Quartet. The changes have not stopped there, though; it was announced Friday that Dan Keeton would be replacing Dale Evans, as Evans is coming off the road to spend more time with his family. Keeton filled in with the group on recent dates, and “everything simply came together,” as he put it.

With the lineup of Dan Keeton, Mark Blackwood, David Mann, and Chris West, this quartet is a stellar vocal group. Mann has promised big things coming for the group on various blogs, so stay tuned.