Aaron Swain's blog about Southern Gospel Music, News, and other items of interest in the SG world.
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Mark Lowry, Michael English Leaving The Gaither Vocal Band

October 28, 2013 By: Aaron Category: Gaither Vocal Band, Michael English, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music

Talk started late last week that there may be changes for the GVB when it was noted that Mark Lowry was not listed on the roster for concerts in Spring 2014. This morning, Lowry posted a video announcing that he is departing the group, citing the reason as being a desire to slow down and focus on solo dates more. He says a press release will be sent out today and that he will remain with the group through the rest of this year, and will still appear at events like Family Fest.

Later update: I have updated the title of the post to reflect the news that just hit. Apparently, Mark is not the only one leaving the GVB. A press release has been posted on the Gaither website saying that Michael English is also leaving, effective immediately:

Nearly five years ago, when Bill Gaither created an all-star version of the Gaither Vocal Band, the returning GVB members were managing solo careers and added the Gaither Vocal Band’s tour dates, video tapings and recordings to their existing schedules.  Now, after trying to manage both solo careers and Gaither Vocal Band responsibilities, Mark Lowry and Michael English are ready for a new season of life that is not so demanding.

“When I rejoined the Gaither Vocal Band in 2009, I figured it wouldn’t be a long-term commitment since Bill was over 70 years old,” Mark says, adding, “That was nearly five years ago and Bill’s bucket list is wearing me out!  But the Vocal Band is a family.  We come and we go, but we never REALLY leave.  I could pop up anywhere at any time!”

Mark Lowry will fulfill his Gaither Vocal Band concert commitments through the end of 2013. Michael English has already concluded his last regular Gaither Vocal Band concert as the lead singer, but we look forward to having him join us for Gaither Fest in Myrtle Beach and other future events. We have confirmed Mark Lowry for the 2014 Caribbean Cruise and Family Fest 2014.  Besides those two events, if you want to hear the Gaither Vocal Band with Mark Lowry singing baritone, the concerts remaining in 2013 will be your last opportunity! Check www.gaither.com for upcoming tour dates and ticket information.  Check Michael’s website,www.michaelenglishmusic.com, for solo concerts in a city near you.  And check for Mark Lowry’s solo dates at www.marklowry.com.

Bill Gaither states, “I am grateful that we have had five bonus years with these incredibly talented artists. Thank you, thank you to Michael and Mark.  For those of you who have followed the Vocal Band for the past 25 years, you know that I have worked with some of the most talented male vocalists in our field, and I promise you we are not going to let that standard down in this transition. I am sad to see Michael and Mark leaving, yet I am so excited about the new possibilities we are considering.  So stay tuned for an exciting voyage in 2014!  We will update you when we have made final decisions.”

At this point, the future personnel of the GVB is anyone’s guess. While this chapter of the group’s history is drawing to a close, the “all-star five-man group” was an awesome period that I’m glad to have witnessed.

Update: Here’s a statement from Michael English:

Want everyone to know I appreciate all your love and support over the years. The last 5 years with the GVB have been very enjoyable for me and I will miss the guys.
Like Mark this was a very difficult decision but one I feel at peace with. I will be enjoying more time off and able to pursue other opportunities. It will be a new day for Michael English but one I am very excited about. Hope to see many of you at solo shows in the future!

Gold City Posts Clips of “Somebody’s Coming”

October 30, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Gold City, SG Artists, SG Music

A look at Gold City’s Facebook reveals that the group has clips of the new project up. Here’s the playlist from their Bandcamp page:

It seems that two songs that were on the original list have been cut. One, of course, is “I Stand Redeemed,” which was removed after Josh Cobb’s departure. The other song is “Heaven,” which was the Michael English hit from the 90s that was also to be a tenor feature. Other differences I noticed is a change in key and new instrumentation on “Peter, James, and John,” as well as a rearranging of the song order.

The music player states the release date to be November 15, and these clips have me excited to hear the full release.

Mega-Roundup

June 28, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Danny Funderburk, Gaither Vocal Band, Gold City, Greater Vision, Legacy Five, Mark Trammell Quartet, NQC, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Kingsmen

It seems that when I went on vacation, the Southern Gospel world decided to go on overtime with newsworthy items. Here’s some of the things I missed out on:

1. Check out Daniel Mount’s short interview with Gold City tenor Josh Cobb. In it, Cobb mentions two of his features on the upcoming mainline release from the group. The first is the song that he is probably most recognized for from his Legacy Five days, “I Stand Redeemed,” which he mentions Gordon Mote has arranged this time around. The second is a Michael English song from the early 90s, “Heaven.” With a singer well-known for performing the song producing the project, it will be interesting to see just what he brings out of Cobb for that particular track.

2. The master schedule for NQC 2010 has been posted. A quick perusal shows that up-and-coming groups like Liberty Quartet and The Ball Brothers have finally made it to mainstage, and there is a showcase highlighting young artists called “Legends of Tomorrow” that has a Wednesday afternoon slot. That will be worth going to, especially if it is like the “Torch” video that was released a couple years back.

3. Speaking of legends of tomorrow, check out this clip of a recent Remember The Music concert: A quartet comprised of tenor Danny Funderburk, lead Scott Fowler, baritone Mark Trammell, and bass Pat Barker sing “Movin’ Up To Gloryland,” and this is the first time I’ve seen an instance where Glenn Dustin didn’t take the bass on the song.

At a Mark Trammell Quartet concert I attended a couple of weeks ago, I was talking to Joel Wood and Dustin Sweatman beforehand, and both of them mentioned how, since Barker had joined the group and gotten his own mic, he had adopted a George Younce style of bass singing that showed a lower range he didn’t get to display often with the Dixie Echoes’ two-mic style. I certainly noticed it during that concert, but this clip is by far the greatest evidence of that fact. Whether intentionally or not, young Barker’s tones and placement are very reminiscent of those of Younce’s, especially here. This well-rounded bass will only improve with age.

4. My friend Andrew Graham attended a recent Kingsmen concert, and got several videos. You can view the four that he posted at his Youtube channel, but the one that perhaps best highlights the impact that Randy Crawford is having on their sound is this clip of a song originally led by Phillip Hughes, “Mountain of Grace.”

5. I noticed that Wes Hampton posted the track list and features for the upcoming Gaither Vocal Band project, Greatly Blessed, on his blog. Interestingly enough, ChristianBook.com also has a preview of five songs from the new project here. The first three songs were already featured on the latest GVB videos (although, the studio versions have added instrumentation), but about halfway through the preview comes two new songs. Check out the heavily orchestrated Crabb Family cover, “Please Forgive Me,” featuring Michael English. The vocal lead-in is stunning, and the entire arrangement sounds like it will be stellar.
Update: Looks like a preview for the entire project is up here.

6. As a last-minute addition to this roundup, Greater Vision just posted a sneak preview of their upcoming project at their Facebook page. It’s a re-recorded version of “You Were Faithful Yesterday” from their 2009 project, Not Alone, released with Jacob Kitson. The difference is almost indiscernible until the second verse when Chris Allman takes a solo. This says good things about both Kitson and Allman; Kitson’s vocal style is close to that of the stellar Allman’s, and Allman’s ability to seamlessly blend after so many years is impeccable.

This & That

May 30, 2010 By: Aaron Category: Gaither Vocal Band, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Dove Brothers, Uncategorized

Here’s a couple interesting tidbits from the weekend you may have missed:

First, check out this video that David Bruce Murray blogged about last week and recorded at a recent Dove Brothers concert. The song is “I’ll Fly Away”:

A couple thoughts:
1. The low G that bass singer David Hester hits actually vibrates two Bose speakers right off the stage. Wow.
2. The Dove Brothers are a good quartet to begin with, but throwing a live band into the mix takes them to a whole new level. Look to see how that affects the arrangements on their recordings from now on.
3. Speaking of which, the group has a full preview of their upcoming release, Unstoppable, available on their website’s music player. It’s well worth the listen.

In other news, Daniel Mount has posted both the song list and cover art for the upcoming Gaither Vocal Band project, Greatly Blessed, on his site. The songs are as follows:

1. Better Day
2. When He Blest My Soul
3. Love Like I’m Leavin’
4. You Are My All In All – this is possibly the popular Praise & Worship song, and if so, it will be interesting to see how the group can present it to an SG audience without being too polarizing. Then again, the GVB has never been strictly SG. I can see this as a David Phelps or Wes Hampton feature.
5. Please Forgive Me – An interview I was fortunate enough to do with Michael English indicated that he would be out front on this Crabb Family classic.
6. Greatly Blessed, Highly Favored
7. He’s Alive – There is a song of the same title about Jesus’ resurrection that has been featured on a Homecoming video, and was also recorded by David Phelps on his very first solo project, Journey to Grace, that came before his time with the Vocal Band. A solo by Phelps with the whole group kicking in on the final choruses would be a powerhouse sound for sure.
8. Ain’t Nobody – if this is the same song by Soul’d Out Quartet, it would be one of the most unique sounds the GVB has ever adopted. Keep an eye on this one.
9. Clean
10. Muddy Water – The group has adopted a country flavor to several of their songs recently (Jesus & John Wayne, anyone?), so I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the tune made famous by Trace Adkins. A Michael English lead could possibly come from this, especially since the lyric is essentially the story of the prodigal son.
11. That Sounds Like Home To Me – This Happy Goodmans classic was mentioned in the interview. It will be interesting to see how the group arranges this song.
12. I Know How To Say Thank You
13. He Is Here – Michael English stated that this would be a big song for Wes Hampton, and I’m sure that Wes will do great on this Kirk Talley staple.