Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.
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Youtube Spotlight: Ernie Haase & Signature Sound (3/3/13)

March 06, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Concert Reviews, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, SG Artists, SG Music, Youtube

The EHSS bus once again rolled into my home area of Lynchburg, VA for a concert at Thomas Road Baptist Church this past weekend. It’s almost become an annual date for the group; they did not come in 2012, but came the year before that when Ian Owens had just recently started singing with them, and had a couple of concerts there when Tim Duncan was there. This time, they have Paul Harkey in the bass slot, and are experiencing change on the band side of things; guitarist Kelly Vaughan recently left the group, and drummer Zak Shumate is on the way out for a position with The Isaacs.

While I was not able to attend this year because of being away at college, my Mom did, and filmed a few videos of the night. Thanks, Mom! 🙂

Every bass singer that has been with EHSS has had a signature song at some point in their tenure that was usually a softer selection. For Tim Duncan in his early days, it was The Old Rugged Cross. For Ian Owens, it was “I Believe.” For Paul Harkey, it’s “Scars In The Hands Of Jesus.” While this song is more often heard as a tenor feature, it works quite well for Harkey’s smooth upper range. Look for this as a featured track on the group’s upcoming project, Glorious Day.

This is a brand new song entitled “That’s Why” from the group’s upcoming release. Mom did not film the main song, but was so impressed with it that she made sure to film the reprise. I don’t know how extensive the instrumentation is for the track, but the song sounds as if it was made for a “stripped down” sound like what is done here. This “teaser” makes me look forward to hearing the full thing on the project in April.

In the last of “new” clips from the night, the group does a cover of “Noah Found Grace In The Eyes Of The Lord,” which was recorded by several groups, but was arguably made the most popular by the Statler Brothers. EHSS takes off from the Statlers’ later arrangement that was recorded with Jimmy Fortune, right down to the held tenor note near the end, and it fits their energetic style.

There’s not much to say about “Sometimes I Wonder” that hasn’t already been said, except that Doug Anderson was a perfect choice to be featured on this song. Like Scott Howard of Legacy Five, he seems to always get songs that fit him like a glove, and this is no exception.

The concert closer, “Then Came The Morning” has rightfully remained a concert staple for the group, as evidenced by its strong response even after eight years of staging it.

CD Review: Ernie Haase & Signature Sound – Here We Are Again

January 27, 2012 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 4.5 stars

Producer: Wayne Haun
Label: Stow Town Records
Website: www.erniesigsound.com

Buy Project Here

It’s been said that, in Southern Gospel music, the only thing that is more certain than the Truth that is sung about, is change. Ernie Haase & Signature Sound are not immune to that fact; since their last project of original material (2008’s Dream On), the group has said farewell to longtime lead singer Ryan Seaton and bass singer/founding member Tim Duncan. Devin McGlamery filled the vacancy left by Seaton, and Cumberland Quartet/The Imperials bass Ian Owens came back on the road following Duncan’s departure. Though McGlamery was featured on a table project (Influenced II: Spirituals and Southern Classics) and a mainline release (A Tribute to the Cathedral Quartet) in 2010, this is his first “original” project with the group, and Owens’ first effort with them period (unless you count background vocals on George Younce with Ernie Haase and Signature Sound).

With this latest release, fans are hoping to see a return to the creativity and energy that was found with the group’s 2007 hit effort, Get Away Jordan. The follow-up release, the aforementioned Dream On, had several strong songs with lasting value in the group’s repertoire, but was overall just… missing something. I’ve made the observation that it was “sleepy” (pun somewhat intended!).

I am happy to report that Here We Are Again brings back the spark, in spades.

Take, for instance, the opening track. “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” starts with the sound of an old projector reel, and then launches into a classic spiritual that EHSS injects with its trademark “SG quartet music with a kick” style, much like they did with “Someday” to open Get Away Jordan, complete with an “instrumental” break in the middle that has the quartet mimicking a band with their voices. This track sets the tone for the rest of the project, and flows nicely into an original upbeat tune, “Singing In The Midnight Hour,” which serves as a vehicle for baritone Doug Anderson to show off some of his soulful vocals. The other most creative tracks undoubtedly come in the form of “Every Time,” a wild Ernie Haase feature in the vein of “Happy Birthday, Anniversary Too” (except more bearable, and twice as hyper), and “Any Other Man,” which adopts a Third Day-esque rock sound and has already piqued interest around various SG blogs and message boards.

The big question is, how are the “new guys” doing in the new group? The answer is, quite well. Lead singer McGlamery takes the feature on the group’s latest single, “I’ve Been Here Before,” as well as solos on “Love Carried The Cross” and “Stand By Me,” the latter of which he absolutely nails his part on. These songs spotlight his development since joining the group, seeming to bridge the gap between his sound as lead for the Dixie Melody Boys and his more modern sound he attained with Karen Peck & New River and brought to EHSS.

Speaking of “Stand By Me,” that is indeed the song that really got EHSS started back in 2003 with a project of the same name, and it was actually the first track I’d heard on the project since I went right to it, wondering if it was actually the same one. Ian Owens is a different type of bass than Tim Duncan; he’s not all about the low notes, and has a smoother higher range that makes for a killer blend. On this particular track, he takes the EHSS signature and effectively makes it his own, giving it a soulful swagger that reminds me of a Black Gospel group like the Fairfield Four. Other highlights for him include his standouts on “I’ve Been Here Before,” which serve to show that his lower range has been brought out and developed nicely in the year since he joined the quartet, and “I Believe,” which he has sung regularly in concert since his Imperials days, and has become his “signature” with this group.

The other vocalists also have a strong showing. A big ballad about Christ’s sacrifice (“Love Carried The Cross”) calls to mind a ballad the Haase-era Cathedrals would do, especially with Haase’s delivery on the last verse. “Sometimes I Wonder” sounds like a song that would have fit seamlessly into Doug Anderson’s solo project, and pianist Wayne Haun even gets a full-fledged feature on “You Are Welcome Here.” The whole group comes together for “Thankful,” a softer, orchestrated tune that I’d imagine would be used near the end of a concert, but doesn’t really jump out on CD.

People who have written the group off since the lineup changes took place are doing themselves a disservice. This lineup can hold its own with any previous iterations of the quartet and has developed very nicely, and has produced a top-notch project. In fact, I will go out on a limb and rank this project as the best collection of songs they have released to date, with Get Away Jordan at a close second. I’d encourage anyone who may have been a fan of the previous lineups to purchase a copy of Here We Are Again; you just may be pleasantly surprised. Here We Are Again receives 4.5 stars.

Tim Duncan Departs Signature Sound; Ian Owens Named As New Bass

January 18, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

By now, it has made the rounds in the Southern Gospel blog: Tim Duncan has left Ernie Haase & Signature Sound after eight years as their bass singer. The press release at Singing News reads:

NASHVILLE, TN (January 17, 2011) – Tim Duncan, bass vocalist of Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, is stepping down after eight years with the quartet.

Tim states: “After 8 years of service to Ernie Haase & Signature Sound I have been feeling in my heart that my time has come to an end. I’m sad on one hand yet excited on the other hand. Ernie & the boys are like brothers and always will be. I covet your prayers.”

Ernie Haase states: “I realize changes are inevitable, it always brings a challenge as well as new opportunity. We will always be grateful for Tim’s contribution to the group over these past years. We love Tim and wish him and his family great success.”

Ian Owens will replace Tim Duncan. His first date with the group will be January 21 in Portland OR.

Thankfully, this doesn’t seem to be a situation where the speculation can turn ugly as to what happened to cause the change; the press release features statements from both parties that indicate there is no bad blood. As Haase stated, change is inevitable. Tim Duncan became one of my personal favorite basses in his time with the group, and his sound improved during that tenure. His contributions to the group’s sound leave some big shoes to fill.

That brings me to Ian Owens. You may remember him from his time with the Cumberland Quartet, but most will remember him as the young man who stepped in when Armond Morales, longtime bass singer for The Imperials retired. Indeed, Owens possesses a voice that has the smooth tones of Armond’s, but with a deeper, lower range. It is interesting to note that, in an interview hosted on Daniel Mount’s blog, Ernie Haase was asked to put together a “quartet of tomorrow.” Owens got the bass spot in that group. Owens’ sound differs enough from Duncan’s that it will be intriguing to hear how the group’s sound as a whole changes.

For a preview of Ian Owen’s voice, here’s the Imperials singing “Arise, My Love.”

CD Review: Ernie Haase & Signature Sound – A Tribute To The Cathedral Quartet

October 26, 2010 By: Aaron Category: CD Reviews, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, SG Artists, SG Music

Rating: 4 stars

Producers: Wayne Haun & Lari Goss
Label: Gaither Music Group
Website: www.erniesigsound.com

Buy The CD Here or Buy The DVD Here.

Track list: “Wedding Music,” “Step Into The Water,” “Boundless Love,” “I Thirst,” “This Ole House,” “Champion Of Love,” “I’m Gonna Live Forever,” “Can He, Could He, Would He,” “Wonderful Grace Of Jesus,” “Sinner Saved By Grace,” “An Old Convention Song,” “Mexico,” “God Delivers Again,” “Life Will Be Sweeter,” “Moving Up To Gloryland,” “Plan Of Salvation,” “We Shall See Jesus,” “Yesterday,” “Gaither Medley,” “He Made A Change,” “Oh What A Savior”

When Ernie Haase started the Signature Sound Quartet in 2002, it was no secret that the group’s ties to the Cathedral Quartet legacy were strong. After all, Haase’s father-in-law was the Cathedrals’ bass singer, George Younce. Wisely, however, the group set out to make a name for itself, rather than just riding on the coattails of the Cats’ success, although they did throw in the occasional Cathedrals song here and there on their project. Now that the group has established itself as a quartet all its own, it seems like the perfect time to give a salute to the group from which its founder came.

One thing I have always admired about Signature Sound is that whenever they cover a song that has been done previously, they do not simply do the same arrangement that every group has done; they try something new with it. Such is the case with the bulk of this project. Take, for instance, “Boundless Love.” Rather than starting the song with a couple of piano chords like you would expect, the opening “boom boom clap” (think Queen’s “We Will Rock You”) throws the listener for a loop and leads into a high-energy arrangement of the familar quartet number. Several more subtle changes are made as well, with inclusions that will intrigue long-time Cathedrals fans, like when piano player Wayne Haun is featured on “Champion Of Love” in an interesting parallel to piano player Gerald Wolfe’s feature on the same song when it was first recorded.

Final thoughts: Overall, I was very impressed with this body of work. Am I a fan of every song that was selected? No. But there’s really nothing here that has me reaching for the skip button. I’d much rather hear those particular takes on those songs instead of the take that every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a quartet has tried to do. That is one of the main reasons this project is such a good tribute; it’s not just recycled arrangements and lackluster performances. It’s an honest effort to maintain the originality and highlight the harmonies that The Cathedrals were known for.

Bottom line: For fans looking for a fitting tribute to one of the finest quartets Southern Gospel music has known, or a collection of classics that have been given new life, this is the project to turn to.

Youtube Find: Ernie Haase & Signature Sound – We Shall See Jesus

August 05, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, SG Artists, SG History, SG Music, Youtube

Ever since it had been let out of the bag that Ernie & crew would be doing “We Shall See Jesus” on their Cathedrals tribute project, speculation ran wild as to what the arrangement would sound like and who would be featured, as Haase did a good job of keeping both under wraps. Since the recent video taping, it was revealed that the featured soloist is none another than lead singer Devin McGlamery, in his first major project with Signature Sound.

Although it’s been said that a video of Glen Payne taking the third verse was shown at the taping, this Youtube clip shows McGlamery taking the song all the way through. This is the first time I’ve heard Devin really let loose with this group, and he does an incredible job of both doing justice to Payne’s performance and making it his own.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6dYH28AkTg

Video Find of the Day: I’ve Just Started Living – The Cathedrals w/ Ernie Haase

July 29, 2010 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG History, SG Music, The Cathedrals

Props to Clarence Grigsby for this upload. Although Ernie Haase apparently sung this Danny Funderburk signature many times during his tenure with The Cathedrals, it has not hit the Internet yet. Although it was originally uploaded to Facebook only, it is now available on Youtube:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ndyNxZKmrs

What I like about Haase’s take on it is that he did not merely scream out high notes trying to match Funderburk’s power tenor. Rather, he takes the song and makes it his own, while staying within his range. Some of the points at which Funderburk would hit higher notes (“I’d be covered in trouble, There’d be no place to go..”), Haase wisely opted to go lower, rather than straining to match those notes. Going that route probably did two things to make it possible for the group to still effectively stage the song: it saved Ernie’s voice quite a bit, and putting his own spin on it made it unique to him and still delivered, rather than sounding like a cover group tenor trying to replicate Danny’s every note.

Although Ernie Haase & Signature Sound did not do this song in their Cathedrals tribute, this video gives a fair glimpse into what Ernie’s take would sound like.

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)