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

New Tenor For The Dixie Echoes

March 20, 2013 By: Aaron Category: SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Dixie Echoes

Since the departure of Craig Thomas and Jordan James a couple of weeks ago, the Dixie Echoes have been seeking a new tenor and bass singer. Part one of their search is complete, as evidenced by this announcement posted last night on the group’s Facebook page:

The Dixie Echoes are pleased to announce the hiring of George Shelton, Jr. as our new tenor singer. George is one of the greatest tenor singers, and one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. We are so proud to have George and his lovely wife, Gail, as part of the Dixie Echoes family!

We are still in the audition process for the bass singer position, so If you have a demo, or a Youtube clip, we would love to hear you! Email a short resume’ and demo to scoot@dixieechoes.com.

Shelton filled in with the group two separate times: last summer, when the group was searching for a tenor after Michael Helwig’s departure, and in the past couple of weeks. He was present with the group at a recent date at Lake Gibson Nazarene Church, and I commented to some friends that I thought he’d be a perfect fit if he was interested in the job, which I had thought over the summer as well.

Here are some clips from his fill-in stint this past summer:

Since the Dixie Echoes are still looking for a bass singer, Mark Cates (the fill-in bass from the first three clips above) may be worth a call.

First Look: Michael Helwig with The Blackwood Brothers

October 10, 2012 By: Aaron Category: Blackwood Brothers, First Look, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, Youtube

In the course of the week, Youtube user MannaAcres posted several videos of the new lineup of the Blackwood Brothers in concert. These are the first videos of the group since Jimmy Blackwood’s recent retirement. You can go to the link above to see the rest of the videos, but I’ll just post a few that highlight what Helwig brings to the table:

What strikes me about these clips is how seamlessly the transition has been pulled off. Michael stepped into a huge void left by Jimmy Blackwood, but has brought a voice that is very similar to a Blackwood lead, while being unique enough to carve his own niche. Fans of the group that lamented the Blackwood Brothers sound being completely changed will find a lot to enjoy with this lineup.

First Look: Dixie Echoes 2011

August 14, 2011 By: Aaron Category: First Look, SG Artists, SG Music, The Dixie Echoes, Youtube

Stewart Varnado just posted this clip of the new lineup of the Dixie Echoes, featuring new additions Michael Helwig on tenor and Mike Jennings singing bass. This standard for tenor singers features Helwig, although Jennings can be heard on the chorus. This clip is a great show of the potential that this new combination of singers has. It is worth noting that this is their first full concert together, and the first time that they have sung this song.

Update: Another video has just been posted from the same concert, this one featuring Mike Jennings. He is singing a song I don’t believe the group has staged since Pat Barker’s time with them: “How Big Is God.” This both gives a better insight to Jennings’ voice, and gives Helwig some of Wesley Smith’s higher notes to hit. Check it out:

Dixie Echoes Hire New Vocalists

August 10, 2011 By: Aaron Category: Blackwood Quartet, SG Artists, SG Industry News, SG Music, The Dixie Echoes

Last week, the news broke that the Dixie Echoes had filled the vacancy left by departing bass singer Trent Adams with a relative newcomer: Mike Jennings. See Daniel Mount’s post about the hire, which includes videos highlighting his sound, here.

Today, the announcement was made about a new tenor for the group following Wesley Smith’s move to the Palmetto State Quartet. In a surprising move, the group has hired a lead/baritone singer: Michael Helwig. You may remember him from groups such as The Wilburns, The Stamps, and The Williamsons (formerly The Homesteaders.) In all of those groups, he sang lead or baritone. Most recently, Helwig was the lead singer for the Blackwood Quartet. I was at the concert where he debuted with the group, though interestingly enough, he was the quartet’s new tenor, coming in after Dale Evans left. He did a fantastic job, but moved down to lead when David Mann went to Statement of Faith. Here are some videos of Helwig with the Blackwood Quartet:




Daniel Mount has linked to another video in his post about the move which highlights Michael’s tenor singing. Needless to say, Helwig has quite a range. I have been impressed with his vocal ability for quite a while and will be looking forward to hearing him as a Dixie Echo. I agree with Daniel: look for this lineup of the Dixie Echoes to generate buzz soon.