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

Dixie Melody Boys Announce Change

March 23, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Dixie Melody Boys, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

In a departure from normal “change” announcements, the Dixie Melody Boys have announced that Steven Cooper has stepped down from the Dixie Melody Boys as baritone singer… but not as a member:

“We are sad to announce that Steven Cooper will be stepping down from the baritone position with the Dixie Melody Boys. As some know, he has been experiencing vocal issues for the last several years. He has been to numerous vocal specialists and they have advised him to go on an extended vocal rest. Steven recently celebrated his fifth anniversary with the group. He has been a valuable asset to us and will continue to be so.” said Ed O’Neal. Steven will remain a member of the Dixie Melody Boys. He will help the group off stage and will also begin playing bass guitar for the group in the near future.

“I want to thank everyone for their concern and understanding over the last year. It has been difficult time having to go through this as a singer. I hope that someday my voice will return and I will be able to sing again. I ask that you will keep me in your prayers as I trust God for a healing. I also want to thank Ed, Matt and Mike for their support in this change and for allowing me to remain a member of the group.” said Steven Cooper.

I have enjoyed Steven’s vocal contributions to the group since the beginning of his tenure. My listening to the music they were putting out when he first joined was admittedly spotty, but I appreciated the fact that was a solid “blending” baritone that could sing a strong feature when needed. I trust that God will heal his voice, and am glad that he is remaining a part of the Dixie Melody Boys.

Now we come to the part that makes this change announcement different from the norm. You may have noticed that it said Steven would soon begin playing bass guitar for the group. It seems that the Dixie Melody Boys have been bitten by the “live band bug” that’s been going around recently, because the plans are in place to bring back live music to the DMB concerts:

The opening has brought an exciting change for the group. “We are currently looking for a new baritone that can also play piano. The Dixie Melody Boys have a rich legacy that included a live band for years. Our lead singer Mike Rogers is one of the best guitar players in Gospel music. With Mike, Steven on bass and the new member on piano, we are excited to add the live band back to our performances. Sometimes through tough situations God can bring new seasons of blessings.” said Matt Felts.

The Dixie Melody Boys will be excepting demos for the baritone/ piano position. Interested people can send them to dixiemelodyboys@yahoo.com.

While I hate that it took a tough circumstance to bring this change about, I am excited that it’s being turned around this way. The Dixie Melody Boys have been on an upward climb over the past couple of years, with a sound and new material that is making them a viable group again. A move that brings back live musicians for them will continue that trend. Their live band set at NQC last year was among the most exciting of the week, and I’m looking forward to hearing that sound in some capacity on a regular basis again.

In tribute to Steven’s contributions to the group thus far, here are a couple of videos. The first is from a couple of years ago and features him prominently. The second, while not a baritone solo, highlights his enthusiastic stage presence. Be sure to watch the whole thing!

Dixie Melody Boys Begin Lead Singer Search

June 18, 2012 By: Aaron Category: Dixie Melody Boys, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

Over the weekend, it was reported that Donald Morris, lead singer for the DMB for over three years, is coming off the road. As follow-up to that announcement, the group has sent out this press release about the audition process:

The Dixie Melody Boys announced on Saturday that lead singer Donald Morris has resigned. They are now beginning the process to find the next member of one of Gospel music’s legendary groups. “Through the years, Ed has developed some of Gospel’s finest singers including Ernie Haase, McCray Dove, Rodney Griffin and Derrick Selph. We are now looking for the next voice to add to that rich legacy.” said Matt Felts. The Dixie Melody Boys recently celebrated their 50th anniversary which included the historic album, The Call Is Still The Same. They are also seeing resurgence in popularity, being named Favorite Male Quartet in the SGM Fan Awards in May. The Dixie Melody Boys also host their own weekly television show, Great American Gospel, seen in over 200 countries.

“It is an exciting time for our group. God is blessing in so many ways. We have numerous things coming down the road that I am looking forward to. We know that God will send us the perfect fit to our group.” stated Hall of Fame member Ed O’Neal.

The group is now accepting demos. “We will narrow down the auditions to a few men who will then travel with the group. We will then announce the new member of our family on the main stage at this years National Quartet Convention.” added Matt Felts. Interested singers can contact the group by emailing them at dixiemelodyboys@yahoo.com.

This process for auditioning a new singer is very interesting. For one, it sets a deadline for both the group and the fans: for the group, in that they have a timeline for finding someone, and for the fans, in that they know when to expect to see a new face with the quartet. It’s not a restrictive timeline, either; this gives the Dixie Melody Boys a little under three months to find a new lead singer.

A move like this that promises the new singer’s “official” debut at an event like NQC also generates buzz for the group’s set. With the DMB, they already have a bit of buzz, since it’s their return to main stage, but this addition will add to that. Since the new vocalists will already have traveled with the group, they won’t be debuting at NQC completely cold to the group/material, which also helps.

All in all, this is a transition that I’m looking forward to seeing play out. Ed O’Neal is known for hiring “unknowns,” so it’s anyone guess as to who will get the job.

Troy Peach Departs The Perrys, Bryan Walker Joins

October 14, 2010 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Perrys

From the press release sent out by the group earlier today:

Daywind Recording artists, The Perrys, have announced that Bryan Walker will be joining the award-winning group effective October 22, 2010. Bryan will be singing baritone, filling the vacancy created by the departure of Troy Peach. Bryan is no stranger to Southern Gospel music as he has been a member of Safe Harbor and the Dixie Melody Boys. Most recently, he has served as a police officer for the city of Sevierville, Tennessee.

“Troy feels that his work with the Perrys is done, so we want to offer our appreciation for all of the hard work and effort that he gave to our group during the past two and a half years,” says Tracy Stuffle of the Perrys. “We love Troy and we wish him nothing but God’s blessings for all of his future plans.

“At the same time,” continues Tracy, “we’re excited about welcoming Bryan Walker to our group. He’s a great young man and a fine singer. So make sure you say hello to him at a concert soon!”

I share the same reaction that many have had: this was not a move I expected. Peach brought a solid sound and energetic stage presence to the group, and did an excellent job on their new project, Blue Skies (the review of which will be posted on this blog tomorrow.) However, Walker brings a great voice to the table as well, and he has good stage presence from what I remember of his DMB days. It will be interesting to hear how the new voice will change the dynamic of the group.