Southern Gospel vs. The Rest of the World: Terry Franklin and Peter Hollens

[Note: Several people have pointed out that I was comparing apples and oranges to some extent by initially choosing a live performance by Franklin and a studio recording by Hollens. I’ve now additionally provided something from the studio by Franklin and something live by Hollens to make it optimally fair.]

I don’t know how many ideas I’ll come up with for this series, but I’ve collected enough that I think it’ll work for a little while at least. Here’s the concept: I choose two artists, one officially under the “southern gospel” umbrella (although the music they perform might resemble another genre like pop or country) and one from a different genre like CCM or a secular field. These two artists share some resemblances—their styles may be similar, and in some cases they might even look alike! Your task is to render a verdict on which you prefer judging by the clips I provide.

So let’s try this and see how it works. My first entry pits former GVB tenor Terry Franklin against Peter Hollens, a singer I’m guessing most of you have not heard of. He is a pop singer who specializes in acapella singing and production. His college group On the Rocks was a finalist in the Sing-Off TV show several years back. Now he produces independent tracks where he layers together all the harmony parts by himself. Although he is not officially signed anywhere, his fresh, polished covers of pop songs have made him a major Youtube presence. Personally, I wish his choice of which songs to cover was a little less “current,” as I think his talent has been wasted on some numbers. But I always love hearing him sing, and I’ve featured his (amazing) cover of “Home” here before.

Today, I’m spotlighting his rendition of the folk classic “Shenandoah,” in which he not only sings every part but also manages to make his voice sound like a string quartet (it fooled my mom):

[Another update]: I’m providing a clip of what Peter sounds like live, to balance out Terry’s live performance. Here he is covering “Kyrie” with On the Rocks. Peter seems seems to have been taking style tips from Get Away Jordan-era Signature Sound:

You can see why I chose Terry Franklin to represent southern gospel in this first installment, since Terry is also an old hand at recording himself multiple times. Although I can’t find any of his demos available publicly, I thought I would feature his take on “There is A River,” which showcases his power and range:

[Updated: I’ve also found and added this lovely song for his wife, since it seemed fair to show off what his voice sounds like in the studio too.]

So which do you prefer? Comment below and let me know!

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15 thoughts on “Southern Gospel vs. The Rest of the World: Terry Franklin and Peter Hollens

  1. Jordan P

    Franklin has a more technically sound voice than Hollens. When Terry is on, he is pretty effortless in the higher tessitura. Hollens is good, but no Terry Franklin.

  2. Lydia

    Wow, that’s too hard for me to compare. For one thing, Hollens is getting more of an opportunity to show his chops in the upper notes than Terry is. And then there’s what you mentioned, the polished sound in Hollens’s video because it’s been done in the studio. I’d have to say that in some musical sense the Shenandoah performance is better, but I’m not sure that I’m able to disentangle the various aspects of that and to narrow in on just comparing the talent of the two singers. It’s a shame Terry doesn’t have more solo soaring material publicly available, because I know he can do more than what he shows in “There is a River.” (After all, doesn’t the lady from that one SoGo trio “hate him in Christian love” because of his wonderful voice? :-))

  3. lee65

    Love them both!!! I had never heard Peter Hollens but, he’s great!!! I’ve always loved Terry also ,that said, i have to Give Peter the edge because his voice has the timbre/tone and fullness that i prefer in a vocalist.

    1. Oh, good catch. As a matter of fact, yes, I changed my mind at the last minute. WordPress has an annoying feature of preserving old post titles if you previewed something before changing the title.

  4. Lydia

    Okay, I’m going to rule it a draw. Despite the innate awesomeness of the song “Kyrie Eleison” (and what a great take with the a capella group), Terry’s live performance on “There is a River” seems to me to have better vocal quality than Peter Hollens’s live performance. However, I still think Hollens in “Shenandoah” has that wonderful smooth sound that can’t be beat by the performance in “You Can Tell a Lot About a Man.”

  5. quartet-man

    I had never heard of Peter Hollens, but he seems good. I am not going to compare them though. I will just say that Terry is incredibly talented, but not only that, but I admire him greatly as a person. I wish I could share one example of this that I witnessed elsewhere, but suffice it to say that Terry handled insults and belligerence not only with grace and humilty, but went out of his way to try to take the eyes and blame off of the belligerent and egotistical artist doing the bashing. He is a class act.

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