In case you haven’t been following Signature Sound on Facebook, they’ve been posting some great clips from their tour with the Booth Brothers. The most recent one features Ernie Haase and Ronnie Booth doing a duet of “Til the Storm Passes By,” in honor of Mosie Lister’s recent passing. Unfortunately, I can’t embed Facebook videos here, but I do encourage you fans to check out the video on their public page at this link here.
Also, I love this shot of Ernie and Michael hamming it up together. Priceless! Makes me wish the tour was swinging by a little closer to my neck of the woods.
Here’s the post I was going to publish this Monday, before the death of Lari Goss shoved it down in urgency.
Last week, the great gospel music legend Andrae Crouch went on to his reward. Overcoming the handicap of severe dyslexia, Crouch wrote many classic songs and also became a sought-after arranger/producer across genres. Perhaps his best-loved song is “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power,” which he wrote in a white heat of inspiration at the age of 14. Few of us can hope to write one great song in our lives. Practically none of us can claim to have written our greatest before finishing high school. I was fortunate to stumble across this great home video of Crouch sharing with an old friend a little bit about how the song was written. It was taken a few years ago when his voice had already been ravaged by various illnesses, so you might have to prick your ears up to catch what he’s saying:
I greatly enjoyed spending some time with the music of Andrae Crouch over the last weekend, and I thought it only fitting to make a little playlist of some of my favorite versions of some of his best songs. From Andrae himself to Selah, to the Jessy Dixon Singers, to Gordon Mote, to Kim Collingsworth, to Cece Winans, these artists give some definitive renditions.
Another version of “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” that I also love is this one, from a Gaither Homecoming. Cece Winans is featured again. I think Selah is still my favorite, but this version had both me and Andrae wondering who was cutting onions in the room.
One of my favorite Christmas movies is It’s a Wonderful Life. Technically, you could say the entire thing takes place on Christmas Eve, since George Bailey’s life story is told entirely through flashbacks as Clarence gets debriefed before touching down for his rescue mission that fateful night. Once George has his moment of grace and time returns to normal, he comes home to celebrate Christmas with family and friends as his oldest pounds out the tune of “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.” All the people who love him are gathered around, giving all that they can for this man who has helped so many.
When I was first teaching myself to make music videos a few years ago, I was inspired with the perfect song choice to match this movie. It’s a song called “World Traveler,” by Andrew Peterson. The character it describes sounds a lot like George Bailey. He grows up with dreams of seeing the world, but he winds up falling in love instead. In the process, he discovers the beauties and mysteries outside his own front door:
Take a left at the end of my street, just a few doors down
Up the hill and into the trees, there’s a hole in the ground
Where we traveled the caverns so deep
Wandered the wonders so wild
It was right beneath our feet
All this time, all this time…
Although Andrew was partly inspired by some actual caves that were discovered near his house, the song obviously has a double meaning. Even if we never go anywhere or see anything spectacular by the world’s terms, the adventure of finding love and raising a family can be just as epic. A man can lose himself walking the infinite hills of his wife’s soul. His children are images of God lying right beneath his roof. And the fellowship of dear friends is more precious than gold.
This Christmas morning, I’ll simply share my creation with you and hope that it moves you as much as it moved me while I made it. As T. S. Eliot wrote, “The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time.”
Merry Christmas to all!
Signature Sound bass Paul Harkey recently brought his baby boy on-stage for a special performance of “Thank God For Kids.” In a word, squee! Check out the official Provident upload:
Regrettably, I can’t embed this video, as it’s on Facebook, but I was tickled pink by this bit of Sunday School improv from the young children of southern gospel group The Akins. I wonder where the boy got the idea to bang away on the drums like that! I’m also impressed by their use of syncopation. Way to go! It must be in the genes.
Ernie Haase recently shared this promotional video for Signature Sound’s new tour with J. Mark McVey. It includes some never-before-seen concert footage of all five vocalists together, as well as a list of the songs they’ve covered on their upcoming record. Wayne Haun also shares producer’s insights. I’m very impressed with the quality of the singing and the song selection, although I actually don’t know many of the songs. Among the ones I do recognize, I’m most excited about “Sunrise, Sunset,” which is one of the best songs from one of the greatest musicals ever, Fiddler On the Roof.
As usual, Ernie Haase is finding new ways to tap into a distinctly American musical heritage and put his group’s personal spin on it. Signature Sound has always been very good at doing that with a variety of styles. Broadway is a natural fit for the group, and with his veteran showmanship, J. Mark seems right at home with them. I especially enjoyed watching them all getting into “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat.”
Last week, I had some thoughts on the suicide of Robin Williams. While they deviated a bit harshly from the norm, I stand by what I said, because some balance was desperately needed amid the obsessive adoration. However, I can’t deny that once my attention was drawn to this character and the characters he created, it was difficult for me not to be drawn further in. It’s a rare talent that can leave you limp with laughter in one moment and move you to tears in the next. This sad, strange little man filled me with curious fascination, yet simultaneously, with pity. That was his way.
By sheer coincidence, I was recently listening to some Bruce Hornsby music and came across a little-known song called “Lost Soul.” The lyric brought me up short, because it was so startlingly poignant and apt. With surprising speed, something came together in my mind and my movie making software. I began to create and edit.
The finished product surprised even myself. Continue reading
Brian Free & Assurance have released a music video for their excellent new song “Say Amen.” Southern Gospel music videos tend to be hit or miss, since often there’s no storyline for the video to follow. The Browns also released a new video last week for their catchy song “Everything Changes,” but it fell into that very trap because there’s nowhere interesting for the song to go visually (and no, Andrew’s sleeveless biceps don’t count). But “Say Amen” is one of the better SG videos I’ve seen, because the song allows room for someone with a good imagination to tell a story with the images. It’s not groundbreaking like the Nelons’ “Famine in Their Land,” but it’s a notch up from “Four guys/gals standing around and singing.” A good example of how it’s done:
Folks may not know that there is a thriving community of Indian Christians who sing many of the same old American praise choruses and gospel songs we do. I was first introduced to this phenomenon at the wedding of a friend who married a young Indian man after meeting him at Moody Bible College. His father serenaded the couple and chose a Maranatha praise chorus. At the reception, a family friend performed the Scott Wesley Brown wedding song “This is the Day” with his younger brother—another blast from the 70s past.
Recently, I was looking for a good cover of a John W. Peterson song and found not one, but two covers originating in India. That led me to find more videos of one particular family who recorded a family hymn sing. They could have stolen my hymnal! Songs they cover include “There is Power in the Blood,” “Heaven Came Down,” and “Because He Lives.” The young man has also uploaded some guitar/vocal videos with more gospel covers, including “This World is Not My Home” and “I Just Keep Trusting My Lord.” It’s very heart-warming to see several generations gathered around to belt out the old hymns. In the words of another hymn:
Thee let old men, thee let young men, thee let boys in chorus sing;
Matrons, virgins, little maidens, with glad voices answering:
Let their guileless songs re-echo,
And the heart its music bring, evermore and evermore.
Enjoy a few of my favorite clips! Continue reading
From the looks of this video, the 1989 Dove Awards was a rather clumsily orchestrated affair, but it did honor some great musicians, and for one hour, it brought together a co-hosting team I never would have pictured in my head: George Younce, Cynthia Clawson and Rich Mullins. As Russ Taff says while introducing them over his scripted pages: “I think that the next hosts are very strange. That’s what it says in here.” It’s quite funny to watch. George is far and away the most comfortable person up there, what with Cynthia smirking and cringing over her myriad tongue slips and Rich squirming in his tuxedo (complete with cummerbund and bow tie, and yet he has a mullet also, which is just weird).
*At 1:04:00, after a couple of his trademark corny jokes, George says a few personal words about Cynthia and Rich.
*This segment includes three of Take 6’s 5 (!!) Dove wins and is very entertaining, prompting more than one joke from George—Contemporary Black Gospel Album of the Year at 1:14:22, back-to-back with Contemporary Black Gospel Recorded Song of the Year for “If We Ever” at 1:18:50, then Group of the Year a bit later at 1:54:10. The bass singer is especially entertaining on Recorded Song: “Doom-doom-doom, skiddly-skiddly, bank-bank. Oh, translated, we’d like to thank all of our parents…” George: “I wonder how old that bass singer is.” They keep having to think of more people to thank at each award. For Group of the Year, the bass singer is sure to include “my dog Spot, who’s in the audience.”
*At 1:21:00, Gold City performs “Midnight Cry,” but it’s George’s intro that’s pure gold as he casually throws the script out the window. “And these young friends of mine… [pauses, looks up]. Let me re-phrase that. I hate young people.” Continue reading