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
The other day, I discovered that someone has put all of EHSS’s vintage albums with Shane Dunlap and Ryan Seaton on Youtube. I’m very happy about this, because I think they made some fine music in this era, even though I can understand the economics of letting old material go out of print. These albums include Stand By Me, Stand By Me Live, Glory to His Name, Building a Bridge, The Ground is Level, and Great Love. Ernie Haase’s OOP solo albums Amen, Journey On, and Celebration Time have also been made available by this uploader. You can click here to browse through each album in its own playlist. Below is a collection of some of my personal favorite “forgotten tracks.” Enjoy them while you can—I notice this same uploader has put pretty much his entire Christian library on Youtube, including very much in-print work from mainstream CCM artists (*cringe*), so he’s probably due for a visit from the copyright police any time.
“I Can’t Wait for Heaven” (Stand By Me): This toe-tapper features Shane Dunlap. Like much of the group’s debut project, which was produced by Garry Jones, it has a very Gold City feel.
“There is a Savior” (Glory to His Name): Pure perfection. Ernie kills me every time with that falsetto… thing he does at the end:
“The Other Side of the Cross” (The Ground is Level): I know this is the Statlers’ signature tune, but in my opinion this version is much better sung. Continue reading
This fan-filmed video of “He Made a Change” was taken at Fan Fest the other day. Fun stuff!
Somebody has captured a LOT of low-quality but still awesome footage from a recent Gaither Vocal Band concert. Thanks to Aaron Swain for bringing this set of concert videos to my attention. One performance that nobody has highlighted yet features Adam Crabb stepping out on verse two of “Satisfied (Hallelujah I Have Found Him).” I believe I’ve heard this hymn somewhere else before, but it’s been a long time, and I absolutely loved hearing this lineup revive the GVB’s take on it. Their blend is fantastic:
The clip that’s been making the rounds more shows Todd Suttles stepping into Marshall Hall’s shoes for “Give It Away.” I wonder, does this mean Todd is officially the baritone while Adam is the official lead? Adam also jumps in for a high tag at the end of the chorus.
Click here for a studio clip of this song with the new lineup, arranged by David Phelps. Swain has noted astutely that Todd Suttles may be holding down the bass part in that studio clip, as it certainly doesn’t sound like Bill saying “Yeaaah” on that step-out at the end! Loved the extra, Take 6-ish iterations of “Give it, give it” that they’ve added at the moment too. The harmonies as a whole are even richer with the extra voice here.
I’ve saved the best clip from that concert footage for last: Bill asks a couple of audience members to belt it out on “He Touched Me,” and boy howdy do they deliver! I couldn’t catch whether Bill was indicating the name of the second gentleman who sang after his solo, but if he was, that could imply that he had been scoped out ahead of time, unless Bill asked him very quickly amid the deafening applause. I know that this is sometimes done in a secular context to ensure that nothing embarrassing happens from a true gamble. And yet Bill does say “Does anybody want to sing a verse?” initially, at which point several audience members seem to be pointing out the first gentleman. So his part at any rate seems to have been a very fortuitous pick. And since the two men were seated close to each other, it’s possible that they are friends who share a musical background. [Update: The second one is actually a professional singer named Kevin Pauls who's sung with the Gaithers before. Thanks to my reader canuk for picking out the name for me so I could look him up!] Both have very well-trained voices, and the second one really raises the roof! Check it out:
Here’s a little round-up of what’s been going on in the southern gospel world lately:
*Everything old is new again with the Inspirations as they bring back former members Dallas Rogers and Melton Campbell. Press release here.
*Congrats to Bill Shivers on his new baby, William Brent Shivers III! Bill has changed his twitter profile accordingly.
*Voting rounds have begun on Musicscribe’s search for the greatest southern gospel album of all time. Readers have submitted a plethora of nominations for each decade starting with the 50s, so head on over to cast your vote for that decade. Right now, the Weatherfords’ In the Garden and The Statesmen Quartet Sings With Hovie Lister seem to be duking it out for top honors.
Thanks to Matt Fouch for sending me his latest “On the Couch” entry with Scotty Inman. I enjoyed hearing Scotty talk about his background and his musical tastes. I hadn’t known he wanted to be a baseball player before suddenly being offered the chance to pursue singing instead.
Several concert videos caught my eye from this past week. Special thanks to Daniel Mount and others for bringing them to my attention.
First, Swain featured an unusual Hoppers lineup. Chris Allman and Doug Anderson had to fill in for Kim and Connie Hopper because they were snowed out of the concert! Tim Lovelace filled in on piano. A must-see:
Second, Ronnie Booth sharing his father’s testimony to introduce “The Secret Place” was immensely touching. I’ve never seen Ronnie give a word like this from the stage. It was honest and heartfelt. Also, I notice he broke out the guitar. Does this mean the Booths are incorporating more stripped-down moments in their live set? Please let it be so! Continue reading
In keeping with Ernie’s way of following current trends in popular music, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound have opened a Vevo channel. They’ve just uploaded a number of full-length performances from their latest DVD, Oh What a Savior, which consists mostly of material from their latest album Glorious Day and a couple from Here We Are Again. Looking over the track-list, one notably missing song is “Any Other Man.” As far as I know, EHSS has never recorded this song on a DVD. It’s always been a dynamic live number. But their other choices are excellent, and the out-sourced live band is a great bonus, though I can’t seem to identify most of the players, beyond Wayne of course on keys and Ricky Free on drums. Wayne gets my vote for best wardrobe. And, well, the less said about Ernie’s pink flowered jacket the better. ;-)
One nice added touch they’ve been incorporating on “Sometimes I Wonder” is a chorus of “How Beautiful Heaven Must Be.”
Also notable is an appearance from music theater veteran J. Mark McVey on the number “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” Continue reading