Ask Ernie

It has been slightly over four years since the first time IΒ interviewed Ernie Haase. While we have had briefer Question-of-the-Week style interviews since then, we haven’t done another feature interview until now.

He has graciously agreed to do another interview, with an interesting twist: About five of the questions (and perhaps a few more) will come from you.

Submit one question per comment, and not as replies to other commentsβ€”that way replies to each comment can be used to express support for a particular questionβ€”that you think a given question is one of the best submitted so far. While I will make the final decision, taking into account other factors such overlap with the questions I’ve already prepared, I will place as much weight as I can on the submitted questions you feel are the strongest.

Naturally, I will not select any comment that I view as too personal, too combative, or similarly not fitting the mold of a interview question. If any question goes too far in that direction, it may be deleted. But with that necessary disclaimer out of the way, I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

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117 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Great!

    Ernie, do you have plans to come to Brazil after the Gaither Vocal Band?

  2. Ernie,

    What would you like to see EH&SS accomplish as far as influencing the younger generations with Southern Gospel Music?

    • I like this one.

      I think the best questions are the specific ones that explore intriguing areas nobody has touched on before, but this one is still pretty interesting. Thanks for submitting it!

      • He could also touch upon how it feels to go from being a “newbie” to now being a “statesman” (no pun intended) and running a group etc.

      • I was going to say, I think Ernie has discussed this one in some depth in the past (see previous interview with Daniel).

  3. Stand By Me Live is still one of the best recordings EHSS has released. Are there any plans to release a live cd in the future?

    • I vote for this one! Great question. πŸ™‚

    • Yes, great question!

  4. This one isn’t so much a question as I would like to hear more about Ernie’s career before he joined the Cats and then his audition with the Cats. I know he sang in that college group and I believe Scott did too.

    • Well, I’d like to invite you to make one or two questions out of that! (Two is probably better.)

      • Okay, Ernie, would you tell us about your history (previous groups) you sang with such as at home, in college and then beginning your professional career with the Dixie Melody Boys and Squire Parsons and Redeemed?

      • Thanks!

      • Thank you. I would love to hear more and have only heard that he was and not much details. I always love to hear about historical things like that with people.

  5. Ernie, would you tell us how you found out about the Cathedrals job, the audition, and the events leading to your joining as their last tenor? I’ll bet you were nervous at the beginning and on cloud nine when you got the job.

    • Didn’t Ernie tell a bit of story around his first days with the Cathedrals when he talked about Jake Hess’s famous “offer” to Glen on the night when they told him the job was his to lose?

      • I don’t know that I remember that. Where was that?

      • Don’t know about that at all.

      • It’s on the Cathedrals Tribute DVD.

      • Yeah guys. Didn’t you rush out and buy it, hmmmm?

      • The CD, but I don’t have the DVD. πŸ™

      • Did I rush out and buy them? Yes. Have I listened to them yet? No. πŸ˜›

      • Well then what was the point of… never mind. πŸ˜‰

      • The point on rushing (if I rushed) was to get it at the price I did and so that when I did have time to watch it, I would already have it here and could. πŸ˜›

      • Good point. But it sounds like you’re not rushing to listen/watch now anyway. πŸ˜›

  6. Here’s another. Ernie, when you heard Daniel singing tenor in the Bloggers’ quartet, did you feel threatened in your position as one of the top tenors? (Tongue in cheek). πŸ˜€

    • Wrong tenor – you could’ve asked that to Brian Free, though. πŸ˜›

      • Oh dear, oh dearie dear…

      • πŸ˜€ I thought he might have heard it online like some of us did.

      • I didn’t. I was spared. πŸ˜€

      • NSGF, is your real name Isaac? πŸ˜‰

  7. What are both the greatest and most difficult aspects of life on the road?

  8. How did the Ernvis thing get started?

  9. The group’s “signature sound” has not changed much through the years, but the stage presence and choreography has. How do you keep your audiences focused on the signature sound and the message without letting the choreography and stage presence become a distraction?

    • I like this one!

      • I like this question too. I’ve wondered that as well.

  10. Can you talk about the opportunity to have producer Wayne Haun travel with you and accompany you on stage full-time?

    • Maybe we can ask a flip-side question:

      Do you see Wayne being overloaded in other committments, and are you envisaging hiring a full-time group pianist?

      Do you consider, on balance, the quartet pianist as a) the 5th member of the group , or b) part of the backing band?

      • Aww! I wish I had this comment sooner – I have sent the questions off to Ernie at this point.

      • “send it again” πŸ™‚

      • Under other circumstances, or perhaps with a less established artist, I might . . . but, seriously, could you imagine me (or anyone else except maybe the fearless NSF) emailing him and saying, “I’m sorry, Mr. Haase, I have changed my mind about which questions I would like to ask you?” (!) πŸ™‚

      • I could imagine myself doing it. πŸ˜›

      • If Wayne were to leave the group, I wonder who would replace him?

        Hey, I know! Bryan Elliott will leave Gold City and… okay, sorry. Bad joke…

  11. So many groups in the industry have gone through multiple changes throughout the years. How blessed are you to have a core with Doug and Tim who have been with you since the very beginning?

  12. Then again, maybe we should just let Josh have all the reader questions… πŸ˜›

    • Sorry…….

      Your comment was a bit too short. Please go back and try again.

      • But if they’re good enough, why not… πŸ™‚

      • No, it’s great. We were worried we might not have enough good ones. πŸ˜‰

  13. One more…

    Has there been an consideration of putting together either a hymns project or an a capella project? Or maybe combine both into one?

    • That would be a great idea for a table project, and a sort of homage to the Cathedrals as well. The only thing is he might want to avoid comparisons to the Cats’ acapella stuff.

      • I got to thinking on the hymns part….they actually recorded quite a few in their early days…

        Old Rugged Cross
        I Know Who Holds Tomorrow
        Mansion Over The Hilltop
        Going Home
        Gentle Shepherd
        Glory To His Name

      • Well most groups have. Ask Daniel, who’s heard so many hymns projects he’s sick and tired of a lot of them. πŸ˜‰ Also, I would place many of the ones you listed in the gospel songs category, not hymns.

      • I’m not sick and tired of all hymns projects, of course – it’s just that I’ve heard enough that for one to impress me, the group must either (a) do something creative with the arrangements, something that a half-dozen other groups haven’t already done with the song and/or (b) pick songs that a half-dozen other groups haven’t done in the last decade or two.

      • Actually, “them” referred to the hymns themselves. πŸ™‚

      • I can only think of one hymn that I’m sick and tired of, as well as two Jesus Music era songs, two praise songs, and two CCM songs (both of which have been covered by SG groups).

        Lyrical repetitiveness is a factor in most of the selections on that short list; poor chording is a factor in two, and linguistic schizophrenia is a factor in one.

      • Yes. I believe “I Can Only Imagine” is one of the CCM songs (repetitive lyrics), “The Blood Will Never Lose its Power” is your “chords of death” number, “My Tribute” similar, and “As the Deer” is your linguistically schizophrenic friend. “My Savior Loves” would also be a praise song you’re sick of.

      • “My Savior Loves”?

        I love the hymn “My Savior’s Love” if that’s what you’re thinking of. In fact, I counted it as my favorite song for several years.

      • I can sympathize with you in some of those cases, but the two Crouch songs I’m just scratching my head over… the chords seem normal to me. Maybe if you were a great pianist you wouldn’t complain…? Who knows. πŸ˜‰

      • No, the one that goes “My Savior loves, my Savior lives, my Savior’s always there for me…” etc.

      • Oh, the one with the lyrics to the hymn “I Am Not Skilled to Understand” as the verses?

        The chorus isn’t to the quality level of the verses, but I don’t dislike the song.

        As to your comments on my piano skills (and, tangentially, my knowledge of music theory), I think it would be best that choose not to reply.

      • Actually I should rephrase… I’m not a great pianist, but I don’t see anything weird in the chords for the Crouch songs. What you’ve told me is that you have trouble playing them. However, I would be hesitant to say “This is bad music” or “These chords are bad” simply because they are hard for me to play.

      • I do not believe that I have said that I have trouble playing them, because in point of fact I can and have played both for church services. I just think the chords sound atrocious – and particularly with “The Blood Will Never Lose its Power,” by far the worse culprit, atrocious in the hands of any pianist I’ve ever heard touch the song.

        Understand that I’m not saying the renditions I’ve heard have been atrociously rendered! I’ve heard pianists make the best they could of the mess they were handed, and the pianist is not the one to blame for the frailties of the end result.

      • Don’t you think that’s a little subjective?

      • No.

      • Well whether you think so or not, it seems pretty subjective to me.

        (Yes, that was tongue-in-cheek. ;-))

  14. Ernie could you tell us how you met Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? I would love to hear your testimony, of where, and who led you to the Lord!

    • This is a really nice question.

  15. Ernie,

    It is a real nice thing to be open to handle questions on Daniel’s blog πŸ™‚

    Do you see the global reach of EHSS, as SGM ‘ambassadors’ increasing in the near future?

    Do you think that the awareness of and interest in SGM is increasing among a younger and wider audience?

    Is the time right for other headline groups [apart from GVB:-)] to follow where you have gone?

    • Did you see my reply to your last comment? Regrettably, questions have already been submitted.

      There was too much fuss the last time I closed comments, so I’ll leave them open.

      • LOL, Daniel I didn’t mean the questions were ‘open’ – I was complimenting Ernie on HIS openness to field questions and answer them, on a public forum – especially when he has his own web site.

      • Yes, I knew that was what you meant – I was talking about the balance between shutting the thread down vs. the confusion of leaving it open for new comments.

      • Ah! I get you now Daniel,

        The summary has gone to Mr Ernie, but the Daniel’s Den thread is still open to receive more questions, which won’t be sent to Ernie, but which all the opinionated commemters on the blog can answer – as we sometimes do – on Ernie’s behalf :-)!!

        Then we can have a competition to see whose answer was closest to the one Ernie might have given, if he had answered them first…

        Maybe two free tickets to a BF&A concert. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      • I would have no objection with a prize being offered, if you would like to be the one doing the offering. πŸ˜›

      • ‘Scuse me – you got a CD up ya sleeve bro!!!

      • I thought we were talking about BFA tickets. πŸ˜‰

      • David, that comment about us answering the questions is hilarious. All the way through.

    • Shucks! Next time though. :-/

      • Hey guys, I was travelling and off air – Sorree!

        Maybe Ernie reads the blog, occasionally :-)?

  16. I’m sure he does, I’m sure he even comments on this site!

    • Actually, I rarely see him comment, although I know he reads the blog.

      • Many Southern Gospel performers stop by, at least on occasion. This is a large part of the reason why I will err on the side of caution in the cause of keeping comments civil.

  17. If I was a gambler I would say Ernie comments frequently on this site. I will also take a guess and say that 95% of the people that post on this site sing in a group/or think they should sing in a group! I think I should! πŸ™‚

    • πŸ™‚

      It’s one thing to sing well, it’s another thing to think you should sing full-time.

      I would be an example of someone who fulfills the former but would fail miserably at the latter for a variety of reasons.

      I will be silent as to those who are in the reverse situation. πŸ˜›

      • sourceofpower, I have access to email addresses used and IP addresses from which the content was sent, and I can state fairly confidently that he is not a regular commenter.

        Most of the commenters here are exactly what they appear, even if there is a rare celebrity or anonymous celebrity who comments.

    • SOP,

      You think you should.

      NSF thinks he/she shouldn’t.

      I know I can’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t…

      That IS about 95% of the commentors on this site [not inc Daniel who perhaps thinks he could and doesn’t] πŸ˜‰

      • I have been taking voice lessons for about a year . . . but I don’t desire a life on the road. My voice lessons have been so I can do song demos for my songwriting.

      • Ahh. You can, an’ could, but wouldn’t; so you didn’t.

        Different category then bro –

        that makes about 99.5% of the commentors covered….

        So, who is commenting who thinks they can, ‘n could, ‘n should; and isn’t singing?

        Big Question!;-)

      • Well, can and could is somewhat of an issue. I started out ten years ago barely being able to carry a tune . . . I’m steadily improving, but not in pro territory yet.

        How about “plans to be at that level, but wouldn’t…” πŸ™‚

      • “Can he, could he, would he…”

        Sorry. πŸ™‚

      • I thought that too NSF

      • Daniel, that’s an interesting comment, and encouraging.

        My family has tended to consider singing ability as mostly an innate thing. (“Oh, of course so-and-so can sing; look at her dad/grandma/big brother.” Or alternately, supposing someone is hopeless because they get off-key.) I’ve observed over the last few years, though, that children who don’t grow up actively singing a lot (like in children’s service or at least regular song services) can’t always control their voice. Some of them are obviously musical, though, based on the way they respond to music.

        I am now married to a guy who can’t carry a tune. But I’ve noticed he has a decent ear – he can tell when somebody else is off; he used to play the drums; he just really responds to music. He would really like to be able to sing (all the more reason that he should learn to sing on key), and I’ve thought about trying to figure out some simple vocal exercises.

        He goes up and down in the right places, just doesn’t hit the right notes! I’ve noticed other people like that, and one of my theories has been that they probably have a limited range. If Juan sings “At the Cross” by himself in the car, he tends to pitch it where he can actually sing it. But he can’t sing in church. So I don’t know if thinking about learning a part is too ambitious, or what approach to take there.

      • I think a lot of it is innate. People who have trouble singing won’t necessarily be able to become great singers even if they work hard at it. It’s a physical issue, to a large extent.

      • Well, it’s almost definitely possible to improve.

        I’d look at ear training and working on singing what parts of the melody he can sing before trying to teach a harmony part. If he can hear when someone (say, you) is rather sharp or flat, I think the biggest and perhaps only thing keeping him from hearing when he himself is flat is practice.

      • Then again, I think Michael Booth’s story is rather inspiring and encouraging for those to whom singing doesn’t come naturally. Would I call Michael a great singer today? No, but he has beautiful tone and is very good at what he does, which is surely much more than anyone foresaw when he first began learning to sing correctly.

      • NSF – If by “great” you mean once-in-a-lifetime, best-of-generation caliber, as, say, George Younce and Vestal Goodman are widely recognized to be in SG – true.

        But if you mean a singer who can reliably stay on pitch and convey a song well, even in a professional quartet setting – many people who are determined and persistent enough can learn that.

      • True, and for someone like Juan who does have a good ear, there’s a good chance that he’ll improve with practice. However, there’s only so much practice can do—a person without much innate vocal ability can improve without ever being able to sing, say, at a pro level.

      • NSF – Michael Booth is a good case in point. An average person who works incredibly hard could hope to get that good – namely, as good as the (I believe) reigning Tenor Singer of the Year.

        (That’s even if they might not quite be the next George Younce.)

      • πŸ™‚

        Yes, but as Michael will tell you, the other nominees were, vocally speaking, more deserving of the award than he is. However, he is certainly well-loved by the fans.

        However, Michael does have the genes on his side—singing runs in that family.

      • Well, for someone like me, getting as good as Michael Booth is a reasonably attainable goal, and one that would be immensely satisfying when reached.

        For whatever it’s worth, the genes on one side of my family are of the hardly-carry-a-tune variety, but on the other side there is a worship leader (vocalist) and an uncle who was part of a select college vocal ensemble. (I only mention that since I mentioned taking voice lessons a little earlier in the discussion.)

      • Man, Juan doesn’t have to get as good as Michael Booth. It’s just that I have to sit by him in church when I’m not playing the piano! πŸ˜†

        I wouldn’t have started with singing a part. I think what he needs is voice control. I think he at least has an idea when he’s off; he just doesn’t know how to find the note.

      • πŸ™‚ That sounds like a plan!

      • David, you were on a roll, weren’t you?

  18. I think that I shouldn’t…

  19. Daniel, and that’s why I wont gamble! I would never win! πŸ™‚

    • Good for you – at least as to the conclusion!

      I don’t gamble because it would, I think, be breaking one of the Ten Commandments, “Thou Shalt Not Covet,” because it inherently involves trusting to chance to get something that is not yours.


      • There are a lot of reasons not to gamble. Just say no.

        A bet intrinsically isn’t wrong though. Presumably Daniel has insurance. πŸ˜‰

      • …minimum required by law, and I’m even uncomfortable with that.

      • But you’re not engaging in covetous behavior when you buy car insurance…

      • Insurance is more of a protection thing. Of course, the insurance company is “betting” that you won’t need it and they will make money, but you are more just paying it as protection in case you do need it (not that you hope you do need it and will get use of it. πŸ˜‰ )

      • Very true. If anything, when you buy insurance, you’re hoping the occasion will never arise when you will actually have to ask the company for money!

  20. i was wondering if the ernie haase and signature sound guys could come to fergus falls mn or if they have ever been in Minnesota.

    • Questions have already been submitted shelby, but their tour schedule is constantly being updated, so you can check there and see whether they are coming to MN.

    • As a fellow Minnesotan, I feel somewhat qualified to answer this. They make it to Minnesota usually about once every year or two years. Most of the time their concerts are in the Twin Cities area, but they’ve held concerts in the past up in Grand Forks, ND, as well.

      Did you know that Legacy Five will be in Fergus Falls on March 19th?

      • See, told you so!!

  21. I also wonder if Wayne Haun would be the producer on their projects from now on, or would they bring back Lari Goss and/or Michael English?

    • Wayne has done a good job with them, but I’d like to see them have another go with Lari. He did a great job on self-titled.

      • I would like to see someone “new” produce their album! I think EHSS is trying everything they can to relate to a wide variety of audiences (and doing a good job), but let’s think out of the box a little. Not just the same big name SGM producers. Ask me who I dare ya! πŸ™‚ Actually Ernie if you’re reading this call me [umm, edit] we’ll talk!

      • No, no, no. Ernie needs to call ME. Ve haf ideaz. πŸ˜‰