Paul Harkey replaces Ian Owens with Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

Ernie Haase & Signature Sound just announced that bass singer Ian Owens will be leaving to pursue other musical and personal interests. He will be replaced by Paul Harkey.

The group commented that Owens will be with them for the next two weekends, through October 13th, adding: “We will miss Ian dearly. He is a funny, FUNNY man who has become a great friend and that will never change.”‘

Owens will be replaced by Paul Harkey. Harkey, who got his start in Southern Gospel with Crystal River, performed with the Anchormen until recently. About six weeks ago, the LeFevre Quartet announced that Harkey was leaving the Anchormen to join them. Even though he was only with the group for about six weeks, he was on their Β new CDΒ But For the Cross, delivering performances that already won critical acclaim.

Here’s a video of Harkey performing with the Anchormen:

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77 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. Wow! Big news, at least to an outsider like me. Wish Ian the best. Looking forward to hearing the new sound…

    • WOW

  2. The LeFevre Quartet and the Nelons are comming to Wooster, Ohio on Oct. 13th: I can’t make it!!!!!!!! Oh well, the world won’t end.
    The LeFevre’s previous booking, on the 12th, is in Ft.Wayne, Indiana, and their next 2 are on the 14th, in Pineville, and London, Kentucky. Unless they’ve already hired someone by then, these will be the only chances, before the change, that people in this geographical area will get to see him with Mike.
    For 2 CD’s in a row now, the LeFevre’s make a CD with a new lineup, send out a radio single, and then there’s change. I think it’ll be hard for them to find a replacement that’ll top Paul. Daniel Ashmore would be a quallity contender.
    As for Ernie, this is a VERY good hire for them. He’ll not only be the best bass they’ve had, but the best vocallist they’ve got.

    • I still think Doug Anderson is EHSS’s strongest vocalist, and I know that quite a few fans and industry experts alike would agree. πŸ™‚

      The Old Paths are doing so well right now that it would only be a horizontal move for Ashmore to leave them to go with Mike LeFevre. TOP’s voices blend so well right now that I hope they can hold this lineup steady for a good while. If they can, they’re on their way to the top.

      • Well, we can agree to disagree on that one.
        Yep, I agree that The Old Paths have a great lineup. Keeping the same personnel will be a major key for their continued sucess.

      • I’d not be disappointed with Justin Terry.

      • I toally agree… Doug Anderson is for EHSS what Bill Shivers is for BFA. If Doug someday leave the group (I pray that this never happen), it will be a serious crash for the group IMHO!!

    • We will miss Ian . He has a great personality & beautiful voice. We have truely enjoyed him. We just saw ehss here in Springfiel,illinois at the Hoogland Center. Good luck Ion & best wishes.

    • You might as well not even suggest Daniel Ashmore!!! I would have to hog-tie him if he even tried to leave The Old Paths, where he is a perfect fit!!

      I enjoyed hearing Paul with the LeFevre Quartet and am very sorry he is leaving.

      • Preach it! I couldn’t agree more! πŸ™‚

    • Oooh be careful some of the Signature Sound fans are still die-hard Duncan followers. No doubt he fits the ticket for the group.

      • There will never be anyone like Tim Duncan. I truly miss him.

  3. Whoa, it looks like 2012 will be remembered as the year for bass singers to come and go. πŸ™


    • Hmm. Give Ben a raise, even if it’s just 50 cents per week. πŸ˜›

  4. Just watched the video. I first heard the song on the Kingdom Heirs’ “Going On With The Song”, saw them sing it live, and then I watched Jeff sing it on the “Going On With The Song” video. Then, some years later, I saw Crosses For Crowns do this live. Impressed me then that Justin Terry was the only other bass I’d heard that had the confidence to stage it.
    Well, Jeff Chapman and Justin Terry have NOTHING on Paul. He owns it!
    Ernie hit it out of the ballpark by hiring Paul.

    • I can appreciate your enthusiasm, but I still think that Jeff Chapman’s is the definitive version. (After all, he introduced the song, and it stands to reason he’d be the one to define it!)

  5. Ok, another “agree to disagree”. Shall we try for a 3rd? HaHa!

    • Well, Harkey is quite solid on the lowest notes. The reason I’d give Jeff Chapman the edge (on this particular song – this isn’t a general comparison!) is that Chapman is more comfortable and confident with the harmony notes. He hits each note with a crisp precision.

      That said, I’ve heard Harkey on other songs and been quite impressed.

  6. He sounds pretty good, but he is a bit pitchy in places.
    Hope it all works out for him.

    • I think he’s gained more seasoning in the last two years, and he’s more solid now.

  7. Seriously??!! What’s with all of the bass singers leaving?? πŸ™ We’ll miss you Ian!! Praying for you and your family during this time!

  8. Paul is a very solid bass singer! Ernie did a great job with this hire.

  9. WOW! Big time news! Paul is an underappreciated talent and this is a great move for him! Anxious to hear the new sound! Congrats Paul!

  10. [EDIT] But anyway, let’s hope all involved know what they are doing & they let God be in control & the Holy Spirit guide them.

    My words are from a sad Signature Sound follower’s heart. I last heard Ian when they sang at the Lari Goss’ tribute concert that aired on TBN a few days ago & their sound was awesome. I/we didn’t expect this.

  11. Sorry! As good as these guys may be The ONLY. Bass Singer making any money ( enough to retire)
    Is BILL GAITHER? He has proven that you can surround yourself with great singers and don’t have to sing low . I know of NO creditable Bass singer in this day and time that can retire and live comfortably. By the way if anyone knows their bass singers know that the following Bass Singers sang for me and were some of the best but cannot or couldn’t have retired on money made singing Bass. (HAROLD GILLEY, LONDON PARRIS, Aaron McCuen , Mike Allen, Jeff Chapman, Chris West, Nic Val. ) sad but neither of the 99% of the new good bass singers WILL OR CAN ever retire on their gospel check? Nothing personal as most of these bass singers are still my friends. Yep BILL GAITHER has out smarted all of
    us. I use to be J.D . SUMNER’s Agent & Bus Mgr and even JD could not retire? The coments will come after this but I have 52 Yrs of experience to prove I’m right. As JD would say! ( I CAN’T WAIT!)

    • While I would certainly agree with what you said about Gaither being able to retire, the money he’s made didn’t come from singing bass with his group. It’s obviously come from the business he’s built over many years: songwriting, publishing, of course the videos, retail, promoting, concerts, etc.

  12. Great hire for EHSS ……………….Saw Mike Lefevere group at G-burg Gathering EHSS has a real Bass singer again

  13. Everyone – make sure to stay within what’s permitted under the comment guidelines (posted above, at the top of the comments area). There has been at least one I’ve needed to edit.

  14. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow……

    Can you tell I’m surprised/shocked by this?! I’m glad I got to see them this spring.

    I like Harkey’s voice. Tough loss for the LeFevres….seems that they just hired him.

  15. I’ve always enjoyed his sound…love his tone..he has a “Tim Duncan-ish” sound to him. Look forward to hearing them…hope LeFevre Qt can find someone quickly

    • That’s actually what I thought too! His tone is very much like Tim’s.

  16. Wow I didn’t expect that!!! I thought Ian was gaining fans and fitting in nicely. And I heard the Lefevre Quartet at NQC and they sounded great. I met Mike and he was a super nice guy. I feel bad for him. They need a stable lineup. I will miss the smooth bass voice of Ian Owens.

  17. @Quaid, you must be related to P. Harkey! [Edit, even though I actually agree with what was said! -Editor] …he has potential and Ernie H. will bring it out for sure.

    Daniel said it right when he said that Jeff defined this song when he originally sang it with The Anchormen and then again with The Kingdom Heirs. There are FEW in the industry today that can even touch Jeff Chapman in range and sheat quality. Even on his lowest of low notes you can understand every note Jeff sings.

  18. This move will have a similar effect as when Matt Fouch joined Legacy Five. Ever since Tim left the group, people have been saying that the group sound isn’t as good. This personnel change will go a long way to bring that sound back.

  19. I will miss the smooth, trained voice of Ian Owens. Best most beautiful bass voice I have ever heard. Seems more controlled and less harsh and abrasive than other bass singers. I am sad. Glad for Paul but Ian will be sorely missed.

  20. I think another bass singer that can retire anytime he wanted to and live comfortably would be Claude Hopper. Bill wouldn’t be the only one. There are a few that have managed their groups wisely and been around long enough to be able to retire and live a good life.

    • Agreed. And, besides those two, there are others who might not have as big of names, but are able to retire comfortably enough. Take, for example, Gerald Williams of the Melody Boys; he is actually retiring this year, because he can and because he wants to. Sure, he might not have the flashiest bus or the most ads in online and print publications, but he’s spent his money wisely enough that he isn’t obligated to die in the saddle (so to speak).

      I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of other bass singers could retire if they wanted to – Tim Riley (he already has, once!), Ruben Bean, Claude Hopper, etc. I’m not saying, of course, that I personally know for a fact that every one of the ones I’ve named could, but I think it’s likely that several could.

  21. Ian wrote this on Paul’s Facebook page last night:

    Hey, brother. Just want to congratulate you again and encourage you!! You’re gonna love the ride!! EHSS is a wonderful group of men and I know you’ll fit right in and love every minute. Give me a shout if you need anything at all. Unless it’s about the dance moves. I’m way too white to help you there!!! πŸ˜‰ God bless you!!


    • Totally agreed. I hadn’t noticed that; that’s really neat. Thanks for passing it along!

  22. I am sad to see Ian leave. While he was not the type of bass singer who could hit those basement notes, he sang his part solidly and blended very well w/ Signature Sound. Ian is a better singer in the higher range while Paul can nail those low notes. I do like Paul’s singing ability and I am looking forward to hearing EHSS ‘s new sound. Also, best of luck to you Ian in your future endeavors. Keep praying for these guys as well as the Lefevre Qt. that they find a great replacement for Paul Harkey.

  23. Good luck to all involved here. Now, in my opinion the ONLY bass singing today that can hold a light to Jeff Chapman is Tim Riley.

    • For that style of singing – the lowest bass type – I would have to agree that Chapman and Riley are the (pretty much) undisputed top of the pack that everyone else would love to be able to emulate.

      I’d classify the more resonant, full-voice (as in classical-full-voice) basses in a separate category all their own – the Pat Barkers of the world. πŸ™‚

      • I was waiting for Daniel to bring up Pat Barker!

      • Well, he is the best!

      • Really?….he is good but the best?

      • Well, he is for me anyways. Closest we have to George in terms of bass SINGERS today in my opinion.

      • He’s the best at what he does. He’s one of the few classically trained bass singers using mostly classical open tones, and he’s the best at that style among top-tier groups.

        In fact, though other bass singers excel at other styles (e.g. Randy Byrd and Joe Brown at a fairly open, warm tone, and Gene McDonald splitting the difference between what they do and what Pat Barker does), for the actual style itself that Pat Barker does, the only bass singer coming to mind presently who’s really doing anything all that similar is Liberty Quartet’s Royce Mitchell. I love Royce’s voice, too, but since they spend most of their time touring on the West Coast, most fans on this side of the Mississippi rarely if ever get to hear him!

      • Makes sense if you thought George was the best that you would think Pat Barker is the best today…
        I just have a hard time saying anyone is the best…

  24. Those who are commenting on the range of Paul Harkey may or may not know that he’s a classically trained baritone. In fact he had a song on The Anchormen’s most recent project that most people couldn’t figure out who was singing the lead on because it was in a lead or baritone range and didn’t sound like Dale or Terry. It was Paul. He’s come a long way in a short time and I believe Paul has the potential in his voice and stage presence to be an “impact” singer. Plus, he’s from Texas so how can you go wrong?

    • I didn’t know that; that’s fascinating.

  25. I agree Pat Barker is one of my favorites also. But Jeff, in my opinion, has the total package. Basement low notes and a very good upper register in the songs he leads harmony in.

  26. I ripped some Kingdom Heir CD’s to my I pad and have really been listening to their quality. They are the best, Jeff has great quality, and, lets not forget that Arthur Rice produces their quality product. Listen carefully to the mix and quality of the product.

  27. PJ: nope, I’m not related to Paul. Never even met him. I’m just a fan who like what I heard in Paul on the Anchomen’s radio singles.
    Reading the comments on the YouTube video page, Paul, who posted the video, says that he was recovering from pneumonia. How many bass singers can sing an Eb1 when recovering from pneuomunia, much less attempt to sing the song at all? Yes, I agree wholeheartedly with the above comment from Matt that he was a bit pitchey. But still, for being sick, I think he sounds alot better than many other bass singers when they’re healthy.

    For all the Jeff Chapman fans out there, I may be opening a can of worms here, but please hear me out on this. [edit]

    Either I’m digging a deeper hole for myself, or I’m being detailed in describing what I mean. Still, you might want to check a local cemetary for a fresh plot! HaHa!
    “Good news from the graveyard, he’s not there.”
    All humor aside, wether you all agree with me or not, I hope I’m making sense with what I’m trying to say.

    • That last sentece was supposted to say “whether”, not wether. Hope I’m not digging the hole even deeper!

    • Sorry that I had to step in and edit there, but part of that comment was too detailed a criticism of another bass singer to fall within this site’s comment guidelines.

      (And for the record, I’ve already deleted anti-Harkey, anti-Owens, and anti-Ernie Haase comments within the last 48 hours! I am deleting items that are too critical on all sides!)

  28. Ok, let me try again, with a shorter, simpler version.
    Perhaps it’s the engineering choices of producers, egineers, ect., that hasn’t allowed me to become a huge Jeff Chapman fan. Now, I know that engineers who have had their jobs for many years are there for a reason: people like what they do, thus groups keep comming back to have them produce their next recording. Just saying that I don’t like everthing that I’ve heard of Jeff on the finished product.
    Paul Harkey, from what I’ve heard of the Anchormen’s radio singles, has (to my ears, anyway) a more pleasing tone.
    Hope this is acceptable.

  29. I think it’s interesting that whenever a discussion about bass singers comes up, people invariable mention Jeff Chapman and Tim Riley. Bass singing is not only about bottoming out the low notes. So I would have to join Daniel on the Pat Barker bandwagon. πŸ™‚ Actually, I will get a chance to hear him Friday evening, Lord willing, as the Mark Trammell Quartet will be in my area. Should be fun. Not only will I get to hear one of the best bass singers on the road today, but also one of the best tenor singers as well.

    • Darrell – I completely agree that it’s not all about the low notes. But those are sure fun to listen to sometimes, and you’re not going to find any two vocalists better at that style than Chapman and Riley! πŸ™‚

      • Agreed. This is coming from a longtime Gold City fan, who was thrilled to see Tim back with the group. I really need to go here them again. Now if they would just come around the Northern Virginia area….. πŸ™‚

  30. On a side note, doesn’t Paul’s stint with the LeFevre Quartet have to rank up near the top as far as shortest with one group? I tend to think of 6 months as being short, but 6 weeks?!?! Maybe it was the kind of thing that this Signature Sound opportunity was one that he couldn’t turn down. Hey, I don’t blame him. Whatever the case, I wish God’s blessings on both groups.

    • Well, it all hinges on how long someone has to stay to be considered official. I’m sure there have been cases where someone was thought to be hired and only stayed one weekend! (Also, counting two-week notices, it looks like he’ll be with MLQ 8-9 weeks.)

    • Yeah, I kind of feel bad for Mike and the other guys in his group. I hope they find a good one!

  31. Another thing, to give Ian Owens quite a bit of credit, the first time I heard “I’ve Been Here Before”, and “Any Other Man”, I thought that the bass sounded like Tim Riley.
    On the first of the 2 songs, Ian seems to have the “Tim sound” on the first “I’ll be just fine”, but not on the latter choruses. Try to figure this out, when they probably recorded the chorus once, and pasted those vocals in time with the 2nd chorus. (which is a common studio pratice)
    For “Any Other Man”, I was downstairs, and the radio upstairs was on. I thought I heard Tim, but the style didn’t seem like it’d be Gold City. Once Ernie took the lead, I realized that it was Signature Sound.

  32. Does anyone know [edit – let’s not go there – Editor] and who will be a fit for the LQ? And is Ian going solo or somewhere else? Thanks guys

    • ok thanks for the info Mr Daniel.

    • I don’t know if I know because I don’t know what it is you want to know if anyone knows. You know?!

  33. First of all I have to say that my opinion of bass singers is often biased because I grew up listening to George Younce (in my opinion, the greatest of them all), Big Chief Wetherington, JD Sumner, Brock Speer and two guys that aren’t mentioned a lot these days, Buddy Liles and a young Mike Holcombe. And I am a bass singer and I try to sing bass the way they did. So you can sort of see why I am always a little leery when people start throwing terms about greatness out about young bass singers.
    That being said, the only “George Younce – Big Chief voice” that I really see out there today belongs to Pat Barker. His is truly the ply one who can sing the low notes as well as could easily carry the lead on most songs. But that’s not to say he’s “in a league by himself”. I’m very heartened that this seems to be an era in which the bass position is once again accumulating a good number of quality voices. They may not all be George – JD – Chief sound-a-likes but they do bring class, honor and talent to the position.
    Christian Davis of Dailey and Vincent is in my opinion the most overlooked young bass talent there is because he doesn’t get to show what he can do vocally as much as other Southern Gospel basses do. But put him with a quartet in a full time bass- only position and he would skyrocket to the top of the heap. Tim Duncan is the premier low note man in the business. Jeff Chapman and Tim Duncan are probably the best “quartet” basses there are just do to their experience. Lump Mike Holcombe into that group as well. Mike is (and Daniel, I hope you’ll agree with this) the bass singer that rarely gets talked about even though he’s sang high quality for years with the Inspirations. Eric Bennett is a smooth bass voice and matches well the vocal stylings of the Chief. Jeremy Liles of Brian Free and Assurance is another excellent young bass as is Fouch and Harvey. Aaron McCune of Ryan Seaton’s new group is also great. Lastly, it’s good to know that Ray Dean Reese, Tim Riley and Claude Hopper are still out there on the road. A lot of these young bass singers would do well to sit down and pick their brains! I have to say though that I miss….I mean really miss….Ol’ Cuz…Glenn Dustin. I’m hoping we see him back in full – time quartet singing one day. Glenn could bring it.
    Overall, I’m happy with the bass crop that’s out there. But…..I sure do miss George Younce….he was a national treasure!

    • “A lot of these young bass singers would do well to sit down and pick their brains!”
      Yes, that’s for sure. There’s some good talent out there, but there are very few “giants” who stand out from the crowd. We, DO need to pick the brains of the greats, listen to all their records, go see them, and get to know ’em. Guys like Tim Riley, Mike Holcombe, Buddy Liles are still at it, and I’m sure they’d love to encourage and help tutor the “young guys” who are comming on the scene.
      Glad you mentioned Buddy and Mike. They rarley get brought up these days.
      As for Eric Bennett, he’s very good. I wouldn’t have been saying that 10, or even 5, years ago, but he’s quite a singer. What’s impressive is how, except for the very bottom of his range, his round, full tone stays remarkably the same. He still thins out a bit on the bottom, but not as much as he used to. I think he’s better than he was 10 years ago.

      • I always enjoy reading about the great bass singers of yesteryear. Luckily, I am old enough to have seen many of them in person including all of those mentioned above. A few others I would include: London Parris (perhaps the best of all), John Gresham (Thrasher Brothers), Harold Gilley (Palmetto State) and Bob Thacker. Going way back, I would have to list Arnold Hyles (Rangers Quartet) and Acel Soward.

        Last week, I saw the Lefevres. To some it up, and I realize that perhaps I am the only person to voice this, Paul will be a much better fit with EHSS. I would like to see David Hester (Anchormen, Dove Brothers) as Paul’s replacement. Others come to mind as well: Randy Byrd or Will Lane (Driven Quartet). It will be interesting to see how it turns out.

  34. First footage of his debut tonight, I’m sure there will be more

    • Thanks for posting the link. Love it!

  35. Does that mean the the Lefavre Quartet is without a bass singer since Paul left them? I haven’t seen any announcments that they’ve found another one…

    • I haven’t heard any word of a permanent replacement yet.

  36. I sometimes have time to read the world of gospel singers. All this spin about changes,Bass singers,tenors,move looking for greener grass.The best bass voice in gospel music,that can blow the woofers that I have known and worked with are numerous.Younce,Harper,Warren Holmes,Foggy River Boys,in my opinion is Mike Bulluck,…….
    London Parris,was a geat basser. One olther thing,Mr Glen Payne,use to say about dancing on the stage,”WHEN YOU

  37. Paul seems to be a great fit for EHSS!! He is reminiscent of Tim Duncan’s rich tone and has an upper range similar to Ian Owens. All three are great bass singers!! Looking forward to hearing their upcoming recording with Paul!