Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.
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NQC 2013

September 09, 2013 By: Aaron Category: NQC, SG Artists, SG Music

It’s that time of year again; the National Quartet Convention, which seems to be unofficially considered the “kickoff” of each Southern Gospel music year. Here’s just a few things I’m looking forward to this time around:

  • The Old Paths’ debut on mainstage. They’ve had it coming for quite a while!
  • The revamped Skyline Boys and Freedom as a quartet.
  • The Dixie Melody Boys. Their lineup right now is one to watch.
  • For that matter, I’m looking forward to hearing several groups that have changed members since last year, like Gold City and the Dixie Echoes.
  • The fellowship in the exhibit hall, which is the best part of events like this.

I’ll be headed to Louisville on Wednesday and staying through Friday.

As far as “live coverage,” I’ve decided to take it easy in that department. It’s the NQC’s last year in Louisville, so I’m going to kick back (as much as you can “kick back” at NQC, anyway!) and take it all in. Who knows; I may have a video or two from different things after it’s all said and done, but as far as regular coverage, I encourage you to check out some of the other SG blogs; I’m sure discussions will be taking place there. Of course, the comments section is open here as well!

As always, I’m looking forward to the biggest event in Southern Gospel music, and here’s to a great final year in Louisville!

Freedom Trio Becomes Freedom Quartet

September 05, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Freedom, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

Freedom QuartetIt seems that the NQC season of changes has recently kicked off, with several changes taking place over the past couple of weeks. This one in particular is the one that many were keeping an eye on; since the departure of group co-founder and lead singer Josh Garner for the Dixie Melody Boys, many were wondering where John Rulapaugh would take the group next. I think it’s safe to say that the group bounced back from the shakeup:

Nashville, TN (September 5, 2013) – John Rulapaugh, founder of a group known for its dynamic energy and prowess, Freedom, raises the bar even higher, as he introduces Freedom Quartet.

The quartet’s new line up is the “creme dela creme” of Gospel music.

The new lead singer has an array of accolades and accomplishments and is best known for his days with the group, Perfect Heart.  He is Dale Shipley.  Read more about him at daleshipley.com.

Filling the baritone position for the group is Preston Garner.  Garner is not only a notable vocalist with a vast array of experience. He is also a music minister and worship pastor and has a very clear understanding of leading an audience to the throne of God.

Taking the bass position is one of the most talented bass singers to grace a Gospel music stage.  He is none other than Burman Porter.

Along with the solid and seamless tenor singing of Rulapaugh, this combination is poised to be one of the most cutting edge and impacting Gospel music ministries of the decade.

“The departure of my friend Josh Garner from Freedom’s lineup left a great void, one that could not easily be filled,” shares Rulapaugh.  He continues, “Since the inception of Freedom, it was always our desire to have a great quartet. There have been several opportunities to make that move, but the timing was never right. Over the past few weeks the Lord has really made His plans evident in our lives and we are thrilled with the new starting place He has set for us. I couldn’t be more happy than with the addition of my old friend, Burman Porter, to the lineup of Freedom. Many will remember that Burman and I worked together on two previous occasions; First with The Dove Brothers Quartet and, then, with Palmetto State Quartet. There’s so much to tell about how this decision and direction unfolded…and not nearly enough space here to tell it all. Over the coming days and weeks I will share the details of how this all came to be. If you’re interested in the “back story,” visit and join our website.  You can sign up for free and receive all the latest news from the group.”

The group is partnered with a premiere booking agency, Mountain Top Talent (one entity of the multi-faceted Michael Davis & Associates).  Mountain Top will be heading up their scheduling.

Michael Davis expresses, “John Rulapaugh has done it again by assembling one of the strongest personnel lineups to come along in quite sometime.  The move from trio to quartet will be well received by John’s fan base.  I am very excited about the future of the Freedom Quartet.”

The quartet is looking forward to getting into the studio soon for their first full recording together.

To meet and follow the exciting happenings of this outstanding quartet, visit their brand new website, coming soon, at www.freedomquartet.com.

You can find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/freedomquartet and follow them on Twitter at twitter.com/freedomquartet.

To learn more about all of the artists who call the Dominion Agency home, visit mountaintoptalent.com and michaeldavisandassociates.com. To schedule the Freedom Quartet and other wonderful artists with Michael Davis And Associates, call 828-454-5900 or email michael@michaeldavisandassociates.com.

Each iteration of the group Freedom has been a stellar assembly of talent, and this is no exception. What SG quartet fan hasn’t wanted to hear Dale Shipley in that setting again, or Burman Porter and John Rulapaugh filling the “bookends” of a group again? As far as Preston Garner, here are a couple of clips of him singing baritone with The Supernals in 1997, a group which included SG songwriter Ray Scarborough (“He’s My Song”). Garner is the featured singer on both songs.

safe to assume that this lineup of Freedom will be appearing at NQC. With this lineup overhaul, Harold Reed joining the Diplomats, and the Skyline Boys seeing tenor Jodi Hosterman’s return and Brian Alvey’s debut at the lead position, NQC 2013 is shaping up to have several groups to watch with particular interest. As a matter of fact, Freedom and the Skyline Boys will be appearing on the same side showcase on Friday afternoon. It’s during the NQC Music Awards, but I think this has convinced me to leave that early.

Dixie Melody Boys Hire Josh Garner

August 05, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Dixie Melody Boys, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

Editor’s Note: This was supposed to go up earlier, but Verizon’s Internet service for my area experienced another hiccup of about an hour.

After a few weeks of uncertainty, questions were answered today as the Dixie Melody Boys announced that their lead singer search is over:

The Dixie Melody Boys are excited to announce one of Gospel music’s best lead singers, Josh Garner, as their new member. The group began their search over two months ago when Mike Rogers resigned and had them listening to over 400 demos and auditioning numerous men. “This has been different than most of the times I have hired someone to fill a position. We heard so many great singers and we even thought we had found the right man a few times but it just wasn‘t the right fit.” said Ed O’Neal. “I have always loved Josh’s voice. I have even tried to hire him a few times in the past but the timing was never right. I am thrilled to have him join us.” added Ed.

The fans of Gospel music will remember Josh as the last lead singer for the Florida Boys as well as from the Gaither Homecoming Series. For the last five years he has been with Freedom, a trio that he founded with John Rulapaugh. Josh has been nominated numerous times as Favorite Lead Singer and is widely acknowledged as one of Gospel music’s all-time great lead singers. “Josh called me and offered to help us by filling in until we could find someone. It made looking for someone easy knowing he was on stage with us until we found the right person. His first night with us felt as if we had been singing together for years. Over the next few weeks both he and the group knew the right guy for the job was already there. Josh is a great addition to our team. I know the fans will be excited about seeing him with us.” stated Matt Felts.

The Dixie Melody Boys have already been in the studio with Josh and will release the new album soon. The project comes off the success of their fiftieth anniversary album, The Call Is Still The Same, and promises to be a hit. Josh will join the group mid August and will appear with them for the first time at NQC on Tuesday and Wednesday night. To check the Dixie Melody Boys schedule go to www.dixiemelodyboys.com

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Youtube Spotlight: Freedom

June 25, 2012 By: Aaron Category: Concert Reviews, Freedom, SG Artists, SG Music, Youtube

This past Friday night, I headed over to Wirtz, VA to hear Freedom sing at Halesford Baptist Church. The church hosts several concerts each year, and I’ve never been disappointed with the quality of the groups that are brought in. This concert was no exception. This relatively new trio features tenor John Rulapaugh, lead Josh Garner, and baritone Tyler Vestal. Here are some videos that I took during the concert:

 

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