Ernie Haase & Signature Sound Take Your Questions

The guys from EHSS are enjoying some summer time off right now, and Ernie has opened the floor for fans to send in questions for the group. Your question could even appear in a future newsletter! Here is how it will work:

For all of you who have had a question for one of the guys that you’ve been wanting to ask, but haven’t had the chance, well here’s your chance to do just that!
For the rest of the Summer we want you to send in your questions to us and we’ll compile them and send them on to the guys who will answer them as they’re able!
In future newsletters we’ll pluck some of the best questions/answers and let you see them … we promise to protect your privacy and won’t use real names…
So … here’s the deal … if you want your question to be considered please email and use either “Ernie Question” … “Doug Question” … “Devin Question” … “Paul Question” … “Wayne Question” or “David Question” as the subject line depending who you are asking the question of … this will allow us to manage the influx of questions ..
So … here’s your chance …. GO!

A Chapter Closed in Southern Gospel

My erstwhile blogging colleague Daniel Mount has decided to close down his site Southern Gospel Journal (formerly Southern Gospel Blog), citing a lessening need for a news site with the rise of social media and a desire to meet some other personal goals, like honing his songwriting craft:

For my entire adult life, writing a post every morning has been the only routine I have known. So this decision was certainly influenced by a number of factors.

Perhaps most significant is how the world has changed over the last eight years. In 2006, we needed news websites. Now, we follow our favorite artists directly on Facebook or Twitter. That has decreased the need for this site. But I truly don’t regret it, because it is better for the genre.

Something similar happened with CD reviews. Thanks to Spotify, we don’t need a reviewer to tell us if a CD is any good when we can hear it for ourselves.

This is a great disappointment to those of us who used Daniel as our one-stop spot to catch up on what was happening in Southern Gospel music, because it was too cumbersome to check everyone’s twitter feeds/recent Youtube uploads for ourselves. It’s especially disappointing for folks like me who have stubbornly resisted opening Facebook/Twitter accounts of our own. But I respect his choice, and knowing how passionate and dedicated he is about songwriting, I look forward to hearing him blow us away when the cuts start coming.

I can’t hope to fill his shoes when it comes to exhaustive, up-to-the-minute reports on your favorite artists, but then again, I’ll need to keep up more with those twitters/subscriptions if I’m to know when the next major group turnover happens anyway! So, I will try not to fall asleep at the wheel there. I would also love to do more interviews, as those are always my favorite columns to read on his site, or any site actually. They also seem to be quite popular whenever I run one. So artists, writers, producers… if you’d like to give me a heads-up and a scoop about an upcoming project of yours, shoot me an e-mail. I’d love to give my readers more sneak peeks than I’ve offered in the past. One thing I would like to do more of is pull back the curtain on some of the behind-the-scenes folks in the business, like I did with Rebecca Peck recently. But given how busy their schedules are, we’ll have to see how that pans out!

So, farewell to Daniel, thanks for all your hard work, and we’ll see you around.

Another Group Change Done Right

Some of you might remember when a trio named Freedom got started, with tenor John Rulapaugh at the helm. I remember being very, very impressed with their sound even though I don’t think I listened to an album of theirs straight through. I don’t remember which NQC it was, but their showcase appearance was a bright spot in what was, as I recall, a middling to mediocre night of music otherwise.

So it’s a bit sad to see that their lineup is going through a change with the departure of lead singer Josh Garner for an open position with the Dixie Melody Boys. However, I was impressed with the classiness of this particular group change. Below is an open letter from Josh that very candidly lays out the thought process that went into this shift. There’s a lot of mutual respect that comes through in this letter. Thanks to everyone involved for leaving no room for spiteful rumors with this one. Continue reading “Another Group Change Done Right”

Gaither’s New Women of Homecoming Ventures Outside SG

Here’s a promo trailer for the upcoming “Women of Homecoming” DVDs from Gaither. Reader Josh VanKlomp has already noted the inclusion of new CCM singer Jamie Grace on the roster, but I’m also seeing other faces like Amy Grant and Kristyn Getty who are outside the realm of southern gospel. This wouldn’t be the first time a Homecoming has included a CCM singer (Avalon performed on a Billy Graham tribute, Natalie Grant has performed on one before, and I believe she is featured here again). However, I feel it’s especially odd to include Jamie Grace, since a) This particular video doesn’t have connections to some personality outside southern gospel, like Billy Graham, and b) Jamie has no connections to southern music and hasn’t even performed a song covered by southern gospel artists (like Kristyn Getty, whose voice introduced the world to “In Christ Alone”). Not only that, but the song she performs (“Hold Me”) has got to be one of the most pathetic offerings of Christian radio in recent years. I can’t for the life of me figure out what she’s doing here. She seems like a pretty girl with a nice voice, and I wish her all the best of luck, but this just isn’t the proper venue for her.

The Booth Brothers Bring Back Two Older Videos

The Booth Brothers pulled two older DVDs from retail a while ago. They were An Evening With the Booth Brothers (2005) and Live! In Lakeland (2003). However, by popular demand (ahem) both videos are now back in the store. I knew that Booth Brothers fans would be pleased, especially if they didn’t already own either video. Both are well worth adding to your collection. You can buy them here.

Gaither Songwriting Workshop 2013 Features CCM Writers

There are only a few seats left for the 2013 installment of the Gaither Songwriting Workshop. Further details are here. What struck me about this year’s lineup of writers is that it includes two CCM tunesmiths: Andrew Peterson and Nicole Nordeman. Most people wouldn’t think “Gaither” when you think of these two artists, but my guess is that Peterson was invited this year because the Isaacs recorded his song “Labor of Love” for their Christmas album the other year. I hope this makes some fans of southern gospel notice him a little more, because honestly, if you want to know how a great lyric is crafted, you can learn a lot from Andrew Peterson. And apparently Gloria Gaither thinks so too. As for Nordeman, I confess that I’ve really heard only a handful of her radio singles, and they struck me as a mixed bag. I really like a few of her songs, but some of her most popular hits don’t impress me that much. Are any of my readers familiar with her, and if so, what album(s) would you recommend for someone who’d like to go beyond the radio hits?

Steven Curtis Chapman to Release Hymns/Gospel Album

This surprised me somewhat (in a very pleasant way)! Steven Curtis Chapman is set to release a new 12-song project called Deep Roots to various outlets a week from now, including everyone’s favorite country store, Cracker Barrel. Just over half of it will contain fresh recordings of old hymns and gospel songs (including “He Touched Me”), and the other section will contain new versions of some of his own classics. Many songs are collaborations with family members, and one of them features country star Ricky Skaggs.

Although Chapman has made his living perfecting the art of smooth Christian pop, his heart has always been down in Kentucky, “where the grass is blue.” He showed more of this rootsy, earthy side to his craft on 1996’s Signs of Life, as well as The Abbey Road Sessions. I look forward to more of the same on this new release and can’t wait to hear him put his signature spin on some hymns. I’m especially looking forward to hearing him work with his father and brother on the two gospel tracks. Moreover, all of the songs chosen from his own catalog are among his best and should fare very well with this acoustic treatment. It’s interesting to note that of the five, three of them are from either his debut or sophomore releases (“Be Still and Know” and “Cinderella” excepted). This is a thrill for die-hard fans who love the really old songs and a testament to how well they still hold up all these years later.

Here’s a full song list:

Deep Roots Track Listing:

  1. “’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”
  2. “How Great Thou Art” (featuring Jillian Edwards Chapman)
  3. “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (featuring Ricky Skaggs)
  4. “Blessed Assurance”
  5. “Life is Like a Mountain Railroad (Life’s Railway to Heaven)” (featuring Herb Chapman Sr. and Herb Chapman Jr.)
  6. “He Touched Me” (featuring Herb Chapman Sr. and Herb Chapman Jr.)
  7. “Hiding Place”
  8. “Rock of Ages”
  9. “Be Still and Know” (featuring Caleb Chapman)
  10. “His Eyes”
  11. “My Redeemer is Faithful and True”
  12. “Cinderella”

Support the Perrys

There have been too many updates on Tracy Stuffle’s stroke for me to keep up with them all. I continue to point readers to the Caring Bridge website, where fresh news is posted daily. Things took a turn for the worse just recently when the drainage catheter stopped functioning, but the newest replacement now seems to be doing the job.

It’s been heartening to read about the outpouring of aid for the Perrys during this time (Lauren at View From the Pew has details on benefit concerts and other ways fans can tangibly show their support), but disappointing to hear of promoters who are cancelling booked dates because Libbi can’t leave Tracy, even though Joseph and Brian are continuing on with a fill-in alto. Libbi writes:

Questions have been ask [sic] when will I be back on the road because some churches and promoters are starting to not book or cancel dates. I wish it wasn’t this way, because I know the group is doing a great job!! I have told the agency that I will try to be back on the road by April 1. Sometimes you have to do what you really don’t won’t to do, but because of circumstances you have no choice. Thank you to those who do and have understood! I am forever grateful for your love and support.

I mean… I seriously don’t get it. Especially those who are cancelling. I do feel promoters should continue to book the Perrys despite this tough circumstance, but I’m especially angered by those who are cancelling previous agreements. Yes, Libbi and Tracy are the main draw for Perrys fans, but surely those very fans would by now be fully aware of what the family is going through and hence more motivated to show up in support. Ironically, promoters may be backing their way out of a nice profit.

Zak Shumate Leaves EHSS

I was very sad to read that Zak Shumate will be leaving Ernie Haase & Signature Sound to accept a position with the Isaacs. He wrote on his twitter:

I have mixed emotions to announce Mar.3rd will be my last show w/ Ernie Haase & Signature Sound. An amazing 3 years w/ some incredible guys! I’m excited & honored to be joining @IsaacsMusic! Check out  for concert schedules! Excited about the future!

This really is a great, great opportunity for Zak. Still, he was my favorite EHSS band member! What will they do without their Animal? Now they are short both a guitarist (Kelly Vaughn) and a drummer. They’ve been known for being one of the few southern gospel artists on the road who uses live music, but now it looks like it’s down to Wayne and David Griffith.

But hey, the Cathedrals managed okay with just piano and bass guitar… right?

Craig Thomas Leaves the Dixie Echoes

I thought this line-up was gelling quite nicely and that Thomas had a sweet, smooth sound. But it seems he was homesick:

Well this post comes with a heavy heart. I have decided to come off the road with the Dixie Echoes and resume my other work at my construction company. I want to thank Scoot and Randy for understanding my need to do this and for allowing me to live out my dream. I will miss the singing, the traveling and most of all the fans. I want thank Scoot, Randy, Ben and Jordan for some great times and wonderful singing. I love you guys and may God Bless your ministry. You are all true men of God.

Daniel Mount has pointed out that this now makes not one, not two, but THREE high-profile groups “looooking for a tenor.” Dixie Echoes plus Mark Trammell Quartet and Gold City. A little Gerald Wolfe seems in order: