Saturday News Roundup #76

In the News

  • It has been a slow news week! In fact, there has been only one news story of note that we didn’t get to in the course of our regular posts: Gerald Wolfe will be having sinus-related surgery on the 27th to address a blockage which has been impacting the middle region of his vocal register. If all goes well, he will be back on the road within days. He will not, however, be singingβ€”he should be able to do emcee work, but will have a fill-in for three weeks to handle the singing.

Video of the Week

Check out our contributors The Garms Family in action on stage!


And, as always for these news roundup posts, consider the comments section an open thread!

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35 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. Thanks for the mention, Daniel. My surgery is actually not until Monday June 27. Surgery “tomorrow” (6/19) would not be my idea of a great Father’s Day gift! πŸ™‚

    • I would say so! I apologize for the date mix-up, and I’ll edit promptly.

  2. AAAHHH! It’s REALLY been a slow news week if you post a video of US on Southern Gospel Blog!! 😯


    • Besides that I simply liked the video, and there was nothing that was more newsworthy, I did have a separate ulterior motive. πŸ™‚

      You see, I’ve suggested to several groups that they make a beginning-to-end video exactly along these lines. If I have this here, it will be easier for me to find it when I’m referring them to it.

  3. who’s filling in for Gerald?

  4. I’m sure folks would love to hear your piano playing since u won’t be singing, Gerald. Hope all goes well. Greater Vision is Americas best trio

  5. Southern gospel basses: I think the very minimum an SG bass should have is a low C. That and a tenor on a high C lets them cover 3 octaves. Daniel mentioned Bb’s which of course is better. However, I love basses who can sing a low Ab or G and tenors who can do so 4 octaves above. Of course quality is important too, but even hitting them and them not sounding bad is an accomplishment. People like Younce, Riley and Sterban could hit them and sound great. Nice full tones. J.D. didn’t have the quality, but could hit lower and they still added to the songs.

  6. It is interesting how people go crazy for J.D. Summer when, in my humble opinion, I’m probably a better singer than he was. Now, that isn’t to say that he couldn’t hit some amazingly low notes, but I feel he just wasn’t a very good singer.

    • I wasn’t as much a fan of his voice as much as many others. If you re-read my comments, you will see I talked about how he was lower and still added to the songs even if he didn’t have as good of a voice as the others I mentioned.

      • Just a quick note on JD Sumner. This is for those of you who never heard JD sing in person. No recording does him justice. You had to be there to believe it.

      • Ed, I did see J.D. in concert two times. The first was not long after Strickland joined and the second was after their Golden Stairs CD.

      • JSR and Quartet-Man, I have a habit of referencing singers like George Younce, Pat Barker, Randy Byrd (Blackwood Brothers), and Big John Hall (who followed J.D. with the Blackwoods) as bass singers, emphasizing the second word.

        I refer to J.D., Tim Riley, and others who can hit unbelievably low notes but have a less melodic voice on solos as “low-note specialists.” And in Southern Gospel, there’s room for both! πŸ™‚

  7. Daniel, you’re dead on with both of your comments. I like making the separation between singers and specialists.

    Are there any other parts that have specialist? To me bass is the only part where you can get away with not.being the best singer but just being able to kill a note. The only other one I can think of would be a soprano in a choir setting who hits really high notes at the end of a song.

    • JSR – thanks!

      Yes to sopranos. I would also say that tenors from the Jay Parrack school can fall into that category. Jay himself was pretty solid at turning in an ear-pleasing solo, even though he could also shatter the roof whenever he wanted. But the tenors that aspire to be like him but ultimately end up being fairly weak parodies could be called high-note specialists.

      • I actually think Riley has a good voice and is more than just a low note specialist.

        Well, there are some baritones for instance who do the part well, but aren’t the soloists others are. One example would be Ed Hill. His solos are okay, but he is great a blending and singing baritone. Then you have someone like Russ Taff who could belt out a solo, but wasn’t as good at blending in the group sections. Mike Lefevre would at least back in the Gold City days would fit the first camp. There may be some who can do both. The first one who comes to mind is Mark Trammell. He can blend with anyone, but then turn around and belt out a solo like no one else. Mark Lowry might fit to some degree although there are times he belts out the group sections too much. However, he CAN blend real well and he can take a solo and run with it.

      • Oh, boy, here we go again!

        I did not say that Riley had a bad voice. I said he had a less melodic voice than a George Younce or a Pat Barker, and I think that statement can be advanced as an objective truth.

        Call them “oomph” basses and “pleasant-solo” basses, “low note-specialists” and “melodic basses,” or whatever you will, there are distinct differences between the voice types.


        I totally agree on your baritones observation, by the way. Some baritones are “harmony specialists”! πŸ™‚

      • I know you didn’t say Riley’s voice was bad, but you did imply it wasn’t melodic (or at least as much as some). I enjoy Tim’s solos. Admittedly he is less smooth than Younce, Barker, Morales etc. But I consider him to have a melodic voice. There are basses who don’t do solos well, but do fit the “low note specialist” description. J.D. could sing a solo at least, but he is closer to the “low note specialist” description than Riley. πŸ˜€

        WARNING: The Oak Ridge Boys supposedly asked Rex Nelon at least twice upon losing basses to join. I presume this was when Harper left and Fox left, but it might have been before Harper. They liked bass singers with low melodic voices. Basically, they wanted octave low lead singers. They wanted those with good lead voices that just happened to be lower.

        I tell you, my favorite version of the Stamps was Baize, Donnie Sumner, Ed Enoch on baritone and Richard Sterban on bass. However, it just occurred to me that another awesome version would have been Baize, Enoch, Mark Trammell and Richard Sterban. Trammell could have evermore blended with this group, but also add another dimension with his solos. I guess the closest we came is that his brother Jerry was tenor for a while. πŸ™‚

      • Yes, Riley’s voice is more melodic than J.D.’s, but at the same time, I believe we can still objectively state that it’s less melodic than a number of others which come to mind.

  8. I agree that there are “bass singers” and “low note specialists!” I would also agree with you Daniel that George and Pat are at the top of the list of melodic bass singers! They could and can sing the melody and it be so pleasing to the ear. Now, Tim Riley has a melodic voice but once compared to George Younce or Pat or Randy Byrd, it is not quite as melodic as it is in the “low note specialty” category. J.D. changed bass singing for all of us bass singers because before he started with his contra bass, a low C was good! LOL! Now a low C is a good starting point! πŸ˜‰ I will have to say that Mark Trammell is a “harmony specialist!” He has the unique gift of being able to blend in and you forget he is there or he can do a solo that will knock your socks off! I think that Mark Trammell and Ed Hill are two of the best baritones of all time but then I think about Doy Ott of The Statesmen and he could blend and had an awesome solo voice as well! In my opinion, when it comes down to it a bass singer that can do just that, “sing,” is what I look for when I am listening. I am in the category of a melodic bass because I am definitely no “low note specialist!” LOL! However, a great bass singer once told me that you NEVER go for a note that you know you can’t hit! I have sang by that logic. If I feel like I can hit but do not KNOW I can hit it, I will not try it. Anyway, I went off subject there toward the end, sorry! LOL!

    • This is an open thread! Off subject is just fine here!

      Question: “a note that you know you can’t hit” or “a note that you don’t know you can hit”? There’s rather a difference there! πŸ˜€

  9. Very much a difference there! There is one thing for sure and you being such an avid fan of SG music know what I mean and that is if a bass singer goes for a note and he misses it, the crowd will remember that note more so than the rest of the songs if he sang them all without missing one note! We tend to remember the notes that the singers do not hit more so than if they sing on pitch the rest of the night! I went and saw one of my favorite bass singers sing and I have seen him so many times and have NEVER heard him miss one of his “low note specialties” but on this night, he missed it! I could not believe it (mainly the fact that he was human after all…LOL)! I am a HUGE fan of this bass singer and have heard him hit some incredible notes over his career but I still to this day remember that one note that he missed! I can not even imagine what people would think about me if I went to hit a note and completely missed it! I don’t think I can make them remember me with my good singing….LOL!

    • Yes, that is regrettably memorable!

    • You reminded me of a time at church at a concert with various artists from outside the church. I was young. We were singing “King Jesus” and I was doing the second solo. I was really getting into it, the piano player said, ‘sing it, Terry’ and went for a high B which was an octave higher than normal. Now, I had hit Bbs and Cs before, but not every day. Well, I went for it and my voice cracked. LOL. So, I never tried anything like that again in concert.

      • You instantaneously had new sympathy for Kurt Young, right there. πŸ˜†

  10. Truthfully, I thought JD was an underrated singer. Low notes asides, JD with right song could deliver. Songs like, “The Lord Still Lives In This Old House” and his rendition of “His Hands” were songs that showcased him well. Not sure any other bass could even come close his ability to deliver emotion in his solos.

    • (!)


      I could name a number of bass singers which I think were at least on par with J.D. with conveying emotion in solos, but I don’t know that there’s a point in arguing the point! πŸ™‚

  11. My personal favorite of all time is George Younce. Never have I heard a smoother bass.

  12. “Well, I sang with both of them at their peeks…George was the best singer to sing bass and Tim was the best bass singer”-Mark Trammel (NQC 2007-enjoying a coke at a table together)
    Tim Riley is my hands down favorite, then George, Richard Sterban…the list goes on…
    I could be thrown out for saying this but I often wondered if people loved George’s singing or his stage presence..great singer don’t me wrong one of my favorites…but I thought his endings were weak and sloppy at times and that he “bumped” big notes…sitting back at times…to me he was the best at selling a song or a note in the business…but to stand there and sing full melodius bass the whole night…the award would go to Riley…JMHO…
    Go ahead fire away!

    • BB, was that you that said something like the following once? “That Mark said Tim was the best, but George could sell it like no one else.” I actually thought of that before you posted here. I couldn’t remember who said it or what board(s) it was said on.

      As far as Younce, I like his singing a lot. Tim probably has an edge on low ones and cut, but George did better at leads and higher notes and of course selling it. There are other basses I like as people and entertainers, but they don’t make my top 3 list. πŸ™‚

  13. I believe George Younce is best bass I’ve ever heard. Although many may disagree, I really loved listening to Tim Duncan when he was with EHSS.

  14. Yes, it was me quartet-man…great to hear from you!

    • Same here. As I recall you also said that Mark heard Tim sing low Eb’s at sound check, but that Tim didn’t go that low in songs because he went for quality. Am I right again? πŸ˜€

      • Yes you are right….Jonathon Wilburn told me the day he went to try out with GC Time came out of the office singing so loud and and low it made him laugh…of course Johnathon had heard bass singers all of his life…Tim Riley has one of the clearest and loudest full voices in the industry…

      • Thanks, not only do I love hearing stories and details like that, but it’s also nice to hear “Yes you are right”. πŸ˜‰

  15. I have to offer a few comments on this one. Glen was probably the best singer, especially with his very wide range. JD was absolutely the lowest. Chief was the total package with his trademark moves, solid bass voice and movie star good looks. London Parris was possibly the best all around bass singer of the bunch, and he could easily hit the really low notes. A few other quality bass singers come to mind: Aycel Soward, Bob Thacker and John Gresham. Unfortunately, I believe all of these gentlemen have passd on. Out of the current bass singers, I have to give the nod to Pat Barker, Randy Byrd, Gerald Williams and Mike Holcomb as being the best out there. Too bad Harold Gilley left SG…