Well, to be clear, former members of Signature Sound. But that would have been too long of a title. We’ve got Josh on tenor, supported by both Doug Anderson and Ryan Seaton plus Roy Webb on piano. Josh, of course, is a former Gold City tenor, and Roy was also employed by Gold City after his tenure with Signature Sound. This is an unusual combination, but it’s a reminder of how talented every one of these guys is.
Dustin Doyle just made his live debut as Signature Sound’s new baritone singer the other day. He sang “Redemption Draweth Nigh,” the song he picked for his audition. Meanwhile, I just discovered some great up close and personal videos of Doug Anderson and the guys from about a month ago. They’re from a retreat session in Shipshewana, Indiana, and since Indiana is Doug’s home state, some old friends of his came up to show their appreciation. So the retreat kind of doubled as a going-away party for him, and it just looks like a sweet time all round. A user named Joyce Williams has uploaded several of these videos (about 15-20 minutes long each), full of funny stories, heart-to-heart reflections from both Doug and Ernie, and some performances by request. I’ll point readers to her channel for all of them but embed a couple that I found especially fun.
In the first half of this one, Ernie Haase shares his top ten moments with Doug on the road. I’d never heard any of these stories before, but oh my, these are some good ones. Some are funny, others are embarrassing (and funny), some are touching, and one of them is a little bit scary (it involves going jogging in a spot in Israel where you do NOT want to go jogging). Ernie really bares his soul in a couple of these moments, particularly the last one:
And the number one top ten moment for me, ever, was you reaching across the aisle late one night, giving me a fist bump, telling me everything was going to be all right, when this group was going to hell pretty quick. And for staying and being my best friend, and helping me get this group off the ground.
The second half is some other stuff, but that was the part that really got me.
And here’s Doug singing an old sugar stick of his: “Gone.” If you watched the first video, you know they’re laughing at the beginning because they’re thinking about the fact that Ernie specially requested Doug sing this, and the hook reminded everyone that Doug was going away. (But that was nothing compared to Ernie setting up “Forgiven Again” by saying Doug was going to spend more time with his family, and then Doug singing the first line of that song: “I left my family, the love I had known…”)
Here’s an impromptu group performance of “All the Gold in California.” Never heard them try this one before!
One friend of Doug’s who shared some words also happens to know Bill Gaither. According to him, Bill once said in a conversation about Doug, “I can’t believe I let him get away!” So congrats, Ernie. You one-upped Bill for thirteen years!
As Charleston reels from the unspeakably evil actions of Dylan Roof (while amazingly making statements of love and forgiveness at the same time), here’s a new Steven Curtis Chapman song dedicated to them. While it’s typical of his more recent material in that the melody could be more tuneful, it has a characteristically strong chorus and very moving lyrics. Rejoice in the reminder that good will always overcome evil!
This latest upload from the Booth Brothers’ Live in Lakeland project is a one-off, completely unplugged cover of the Kenny Rogers hit “Buy Me a Rose,” penned by Jim Funk and Erik Hickenlooper (boy, what a mouthful!) You’ll notice the run-time on this one is a bit longer than usual, and that’s because I’ve included Michael’s moving words at the end on marriage and divorce. In an incredibly sweet moment, he walks down into the audience at the end of the song to present his wife Vicki with a rose, then they stand together while he offers some reflections.
Since this concert, Michael has opened up more about his wife’s difficult childhood past and how they’ve sought counseling at various points in their marriage. But even here, he’s honest about their struggles. “We found out it was more than 50/50. It’s 100% without really expecting much in return. And that’s when things really seem to work out the best.” Sadly, Christian couples and even southern gospel couples aren’t always spared the pain of divorce, and Michael specifically recognizes that. In a room that size, he says there are bound to be couples who are hurting. At the same time, he expresses his conviction that when both parties in the marriage are committed to Christ and each other, it will be able to weather the storm. The tragedy is that so often it is only one spouse or the other who actually wants to keep on trying. (I confess that I have less sympathy for so-called “mutual divorces,” where the husband and wife jointly throw in the towel).
This performance is yet another home run for the group and one I vote they resurrect in concert as long as Ronnie is lugging around that guitar of his. I don’t throw away compliments, and I can confidently say this version blows the original out of the water. Vocally, I don’t think I’ve heard Michael better, both technically and emotionally. Kudos to Ronnie and Jim for their spot-on BGVs too.
It gives me great pleasure to brighten Youtube with the (in my opinion) definitive cover of this B. J. Thomas classic. The Brothers don’t seem to have a studio recording of it, which is interesting since they obviously cut a studio track for themselves to use on this performance.
This arrangement hews fairly closely to the Gaither Vocal Band’s interpretation, but the Booths’ harmonies are just unbeatable on this. I would also rate it as one of Ronnie Booth’s best lead vocals. I’ve often thought that in a different era, Ronnie could have had a great solo career in country music. Truly one of the most naturally gifted vocalists I’ve ever heard.
I’m not sure who the gentleman in freeze frame is at around 2:43 (presumably an acquaintance of the group who had passed).
If you’ve enjoyed this, keep coming back for more gems from the vault!
I’ve obtained permission from Michael Booth to post some vintage Booth Brothers music that’s no longer available at any retail outlets. This includes two DVD projects that I was sad to see the Brothers pull from the store, since I think they represent some of the group’s best work with Jim Brady. Over the next week, I will be adding some video performances you may never have seen unless you snapped up a copy of one of the DVDs when you had the chance.
Other Youtubers have posted a few highlights, but some of the very best (in my opinion) haven’t seen the light of the day. What’s especially neat about the project Live in Lakeland is that it includes bonus material that was cut from the accompanying CD. So while you fortunately CAN still buy a digital download of the audio project from the Brothers’ own store (and I recommend that you do), you won’t hear some of these performances at all except on the video.
I have only uploaded one video so far, but it’s a goodie: “Just Beyond the River Jordan,” featuring Jim Brady and co-written by him and his wife. Stay tuned for more treasures from the vault!
Some of us don’t have the space to amass a vinyl collection or the vinyl players to enjoy it on, but we still love vintage music. The other day, I found a goldmine of Cathedrals music on Youtube, including albums from the 60s/70s/80s that you still can’t purchase digitally. The music has been digitized from the user’s collection, and while the quality varies from record to record, it’s better than a through-the-air recording like some other vintage Cats uploads. The user hasn’t gathered most of them into playlists, but if you go to his channel and click “See more” enough times, from a certain point on it’s nothing but vintage Cathedrals records. Better yet, here’s a link to all the songs at once, generated by searching “Cathedrals” on the channel, though this doesn’t group songs from the same album all together. Also, it appears that the videos for Climbing Higher and Higher were accidentally uploaded with no sound. Otherwise, full albums all told include:
With Brass, 1966
Focus on Glen Payne, 1968 (full playlist here)
Welcome to Our World, 1972 (full playlist here)
You Ain’t Heard Nothing Yet, 1979
Featuring George Younce, 1983
Voices in Praise Acappella, 1984
The Prestigious Cathedral Quartet, 1984
An Old Convention Song, 1985
Worship His Glory in Acappella Praise, 1993
Some of Their Finest Moments, 1994 (best-of collection, middling quality)
Radio Days, 1996
Acapella Favorites, 2000 (best-of collection)
I haven’t even scratched the surface of it all yet, but one album I do have in my collection already that’s uploaded here in excellent quality is 1984’s Prestigious Cathedral Quartet. Recorded with tenor Danny Funderburk, baritone Mark Trammell, and pianist Roger Bennett, this album featured a few of the Cathedrals’ signature songs and a few forgotten gems. It includes one of my absolute favorite Cathedrals songs ever, which to my knowledge has never been recorded by anyone else. It should be. It’s called “Next Time We Meet,” and it’s absolutely haunting. Somebody please bring this one back. Thank you:
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!