Are we running short on good quartet songs?

Singing News forums member RogerBennett_Fan made this statement a few days ago: [EDIT, 11/6/10: Regrettably, the link seems to be broken, so it has been removed.]

I just think that SGM is running short on solid quartet songs. . .Making it harder for the groups to remain 100% traditional.

Is Southern Gospel running short on solid quartet songs?

I think the answer is “no.” We might not have as many as in the days when songbook companies would publish several new songbooks every year, chock-full of quartet songs.

Let’s just take a few current groups’ recent projects. I’ll mention newly written convention-style quartet songs; the idea is to highlight songs that the Statesmen, Blackwood Brothers, Happy Goodmans, or Kingsmen could have done in the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Perrys

  • “When We Hear Him Say Well Done” (Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey) – Changed Forever (2001)
  • “Come on and Join Us” (Beverly Lowry) – Changed Forever (2001)
  • “Damascus Road” (Kyla Rowland) – This is the Day (2003)
  • “We Will Be Changed” (Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey) – Live of Love (2004)
  • “Until the Last One is Home” (Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey) – Come Thirsty (2006)
  • “A Day That Never Ends” (Gerald Crabb) – Come Thirsty (2006)
  • “Every Question Will Be Answered” (Rodney Griffin) – Look No Further (2007)

Kingdom Heirs

  • “Mighty Deep Well” – Going On with the Song (2003)
  • “Good News From the Graveyard” – Going On with the Song (2003)
  • “I Know I’m Going There” – Forever Changed (2004)
  • “Sing, Shout, Dance” – Give Me the Mountain (2005)
  • “I Don’t Wanna Go Back” – Give Me the Mountain (2005)
  • “Poorest Main in Heaven” – Give Me the Mountain (2005)
  • “I Want You to Know” – True to the Call (2007)
  • “What We Needed” – True to the Call (2007)

Triumphant Quartet

  • “Forgave Me, Saved Me, Raised Me” (Jerry Kelso, Sue C. Smith) – Triumphant Quartet (2005)
  • “Don’t Let the Sandals Fool Ya” (Rodney Griffin) – Triumphant Quartet (2005)
  • “He Rescued Me” (Chris Binion) – You Gotta Love It (2007)
  • “I Know I’m Going Home” (Jeff Stice) – You Gotta Love It (2007)

Inspirations

  • “Overwhelming Joy” – Highway to Heaven (2002)
  • “In the Twinkle of an Eye” (Sandy Knight) – What a Day (2004)
  • “I Have Not Forgotten” – I Know (2006)

Brian Free & Assurance

  • “My Answer is Yes” – Greater Still (2004)
  • “Crown of Thorns” – Greater Still (2004)
  • “We’ll Say Goodbye” – Live in New York City (2005)
  • “Knock No More” – Live in New York City (2005)

Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

  • “Old Time Christian Way” – Stand By Me (2003)
  • “Goodbye Egypt” – Ernie Haase & Signature Sound (2005)
  • “John in the Jordan” – Get Away Jordan (2006)

Gold City

  • “Then We Shall Sing” – Walk the Talk (2003)
  • “God Handled It All” – Walk the Talk (2003)
  • “My Child Enter In” – First Class (2004) (not sure if it was new)
  • “This Poor Man Cried” – First Class (2004)

Greater Vision

  • “He Is to Me” (Rodney Griffin) –Quartets (2004)
  • “I Didn’t Know” (Rodney Griffin) – Quartets (2004)
  • “When He Washed My Sins Away” (Dianne Wilkinson) – Quartets (2004)

Do we have as many good quartet songs written each year as we used to? Maybe not.

But are there still good quartet songs to be found?

It’s your call.


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16 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. Yes, there are a number of great quartet songs still out there…sadly, IMHO, to many of the quartets have gotten the idea that people want to hear something else…

  2. Define “solid quartet songs.”

  3. Hmm. I don’t see anything dated 2008 in the above lists.

  4. OK, how about “I’m Glad That I Know Him” by L5 on Know So Salvation? Or is that last year … I didn’t get it until this year.

  5. #2 – For the purposes of the discussion at hand, I was using a definition along the lines of “Convention Songs in the classic Stamps-Baxter style.”

    A few defining characteristics:
    * typically up-tempo
    * parts of the song with counterpoint, often as a bass run

  6. #3 – How about

    Kingsmen – “He Knows My Name” – When God Ran (2008)

    Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver – “Press Along, O Pilgrim” – Help Is On the Way (2008) – not sure if this one’s new

    Prophets – “One Thing the Father Forgets” – I’ll Follow (2008) – OK, so that one’s only borderline convention-style 😉

    Several of this year’s top groups named on my list above (Perrys, Kingdom Heirs, Triumphant, Signature Sound) have yet to release their a-line projects for the year.

  7. This is the kind of stuff that leaves me scratching my head. How often do you hear someone say, “We never hear any good HILLBILLY music anymore,” or, “Man, if only Hank Williams were still alive…” Music changes…it evolves…and artists evolve with it. To use a country music example, look at Conway Twitty. He knew that the music industry was constantly changing, and he was able to have a number one record in five different decades because of it. He went with the changes, and he stayed in demand right up till his death.

    But in Southern Gospel, we want the old stuff. “Traditional.” “Old-time.” SG is nothing more at this point than nostalgia. Take a look at Signature Sound….they are doing the traditional stuff, but they are doing it for a modern audience, and they just got a gold-certified DVD. If ONLY they were doing “traditional” quartet songs in matching suits and flat-footed stage appearance….they might have sold almost 100 copies!!!

  8. Poor Man Cried? On this list??? To put it mildly, I dont hear any resemblance to “Stamps Baxter” type quartet music. I guess 2 sets of ears hear things defferently though.
    At least it fits mutch better here than their version of “When He Blessed My Soul”……but that’s another topic.

  9. A better question would be does Southern Gospel even exist?

    Last time I checked radio perdominatley played modern country arrangements with Christian lyrics. If that is not what is on, then they will play the over-dramatic, excessly orchestrated, compressed and stacked to death songs. And there is yet another segment of “southern gospel” on radio, music that is borderline to CCM and P&W.
    Radio gets VERY old, very quickley.

  10. in my personal opinion lol…our lead singer has written many many good “quartet” songs…this is not a plug for our group, but our current single is a great quartet songs and one of my favorites that we sing…it’s called he’s coming back soon…and dmount actaully previewed it here on southerngospelblog…but you can hear it on our website or at http://www.myspace.com/soqt …again…not a plug for us, i just want you to hear a good quartet song that is new!!

  11. Old Time Christian Way that Signature Sound recorded is actually an old song, by the Bibletones of Gulfport, MS, many years ago.

  12. I think sometime people, especially those that listen to current SG Music on a regular basis, get confused as to what a good quartet song is: I would say a terrific example might be “I Want to Be More Like Jesus” by the Blackwood Brothers.

  13. Tanner, I do agree, after hearing you guys last night, that Soul’d Out does stage many good quartet songs, new ones and covers of classics. But I especially loved it when you guys did them with just the piano and bass. There’s always just something special about that kind of performance.

  14. Those songs (well most of em) are all nice songs and enjoyable traditional tunes, but how many of those will be remembered 10 years from now?

    “I Know I’m Going Home” and “I Have Not Forgotten” will remain on our minds for quite a while I think, but “Standing On the Solid Rock”, “Boundless Love”, “The Old Country Church”, “Climbing Higher and Higher”, “Open Up All My Doors” have been quartet favorites for decades. Those had personality, a driving rhythm, and an infectious spirit.

    Of the other two, one is really driving and a HUGE concert favorite for Triumphant, and the Inspirations have really struck a chord with a lot of fans with the latter, in addition to them giving it a style and bluegrass kind of harmony that’s quite memorable.

  15. Tanner, that was a plug if I ever heard one. haha…keep up the good work.

  16. I would love to have the words to ‘Do ya want to go to heaven’.
    Is that possible?
    Thank you.