Saturday News Roundup #146

Worth Knowing

  • Terry Toney has resigned from the Blackwood Quartet. In an open letter posted on the Blackwood Quartet website, he stated: “Hello friends. After wrestling with this for a while, I have resigned my position as bass singer for The Blackwood Quartet to pursue some other interests. Mark and the guys have been an absolute joy to work with and I love each of them. I have had more fun traveling with them than I ever thought possible. I ask that ya’ll continue with me in supporting The Blackwood Quartet. I wish them nothing but the best and continued success. I traveled and sang gospel music for 40 years. There have been good days, bad days and some that were not worth getting up for. Laughter and tears, mountain tops and valleys, joy and heartaches. I have made many friends along the way and I cherish each of you. You cannot do something that long and not miss it. I am sure I will. It’s been a great ride.” He joined the group in October 2011, in a move billed as the Toney Brothers and Blackwood Quartet merging.
  • David Mann’s Promise has signed a booking agreement with April Potter Holleman’s Creative Visision Entertainment. Co-owner T.J. Evans, who recently moved to tenor when David Mann moved to lead, states: “April’s enthusiasm and experience is exactly what we need at this point in our ministry. I feel confident that Promise is in good hands.”

Worth Watching

Videos have surfaced of Ian Owens with Soul’d Out (hat tip, Aaron):

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday—you decide!

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22 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. Looking forward to seeing who the Blackwood Brothers are going to bring on. Any ideas or suggestions ?

  2. Maybe semantics Mat, but this is the Blackwood Quartet – different than the Blackwood Brothers. Blackwood Quartet = Mark Blackwood, Blackwood Brothers = Billy Blackwood.

    • Thanks Tony, not semantics at all. I do not want to offend anyone! How many groups are related to the Blackwoods?

      • The Blackwood Brothers are of course the main ones. Right now Billy Blackwood is managing and singing baritone, with Wayne Little singing tenor, Mike Helwig singing lead and Butch Owens on bass.

        The Blackwood Quartet is Mark Blackwood’s group. Mark is Cecil Blackwood’s son and used to sing with his dad back in the late 80’s/early 90’s when the original Blackwood Brothers had been succeeded by Cecil’s group. In 1997 he left to form a group he called Blackwood Voices, which later became the Blackwood Gospel Quartet. It was this quartet that gave Wayne Little and Randy Byrd their real start. From this quartet the current Blackwood Brothers were re-launched.

        The Blackwood Singers were/are the Pigeon Forge-based group run by Fee Entertainment. For years Ron Blackwood owned and managed this group, which also featured his brother Winston and their wives, Shelley Layne and Donna. Off and on this group would feature a quartet, usually with Steve Warren singing the tenor part. Basses like Mike Allen, Paul Hyde and Aaron McCune got great exposure from this. Later John Rulapaugh, Royce Taylor and Rick Fair would sing with this group.

        The Blackwood Singers became a secondary concern for Ron Blackwood after he decided to go on the road with a “super-group” version called Ron Blackwood and the Blackwood Quartet. Originally, the quartet consisted of John Rulapaugh (tenor), Josh Garner (lead), Tracy Trent (baritone), Trent Adams (bass) and Joseph Cox (piano) with Ron himself as MC and featured vocalist. This group very quickly fell apart, and couldn’t seem to hold onto members very well. Steve Warren and Chris West also performed with that group.

        Eventually, Ron Blackwood sold the Blackwood Quartet to Mark Blackwood, and thus the Blackwood Gospel Quartet became the Blackwood Quartet.

        Like Ron, Mark has had trouble keeping a lineup together for longer than about one year, often less. Tim Williams, David Mann, Mike Helwig, Butch Owens, Derrick Boyd and Roger Robinson have all sung with the group, and all left after a very short time. Only Terry Toney seemed to be sticking around, and now he’s gone, too.

        The Blackwood Singers are still in Pigeon Forge; Winston, Donna and Shelley Layne still sing there, as does Brad Smith. I think Ron may be back with them again.

        So basically, that’s three living groups (the Blackwood Brothers, the Blackwood Singers, the Blackwood Quartet) and one dead one that gave birth to two of the others (the Blackwood Gospel Quartet).

        Finally, Blackwood Legacy is a newer group that was started by Rick Price, a singer with a long-standing relationship with the Blackwood family. The only actual Blackwood in the group is Daniel Childs, Cecil Blackwood’s grandson (and Mark’s nephew).

        Confused yet?

      • Josh is pretty much on about the Blackwoods. A few corrections…

        I can tell you that Ron Blackwood is NOT back with the Blackwood Singers. I can also tell you that Mark Blackwood, though the lineup has changed often, has had some singers stay for an extended period of time. Wayne and Randy were both with him for somewhere close to 5 years. Brad Smith, though this includes a couple different stints, sang with Mark for over 5 years. I sang with Mark for just over 2 years. Bryan Hutson was with him for nearly 2 years. All longer than Terry.

        Also, you have to remember that this is a name that was there at the beginning. Over 75 years of family singing history. You’re going to have groups that form off of the original. My favorite group, along with many others, was the Cathedral Quartet. From their group, came The Brothers, The Talley Trio, Perfect Heart, Greater Vision, Legacy Five, Signature Sound, Mark Trammell Trio/Quartet, etc. I have no problem with this, and several of the aforementioned groups are favorites of mine. However, when you’re dealing with a family named group… things can get more difficult. Everyone has the same last name, so they want to be able to use it, in association with their heritage.

        It may be confusing, to those who are brand new to the whole thing. But, it’s not THAT difficult to understand.

  3. How about Roger Fortner’s first #1 song? According to his & the McKameys’ Facebook, “Unspoken Request” is #1 for January. It has only charted 3 months.

    • The story will be big news as soon as I am allowed to speak of the January charting period. I’m not exactly supposed to be talking about it yet. 🙂 That said, the news is on his personal Facebook page. If it happens to surface on a public Facebook page, then I will consider the cat officially out of the bag. Presently I just see a few whiskers. 🙂

      • Ok, I had seen it on the group’s FB. I didn’t see it on his because I am not friends with him on FB.

        I thought they meant the weekly chart, which, of late, they have recently hit #1.

        Sorry for showing the whiskers a little more. :-]

      • Ah! No problem – just an honest mistake. And since it’s public, then, I may as well let the nose out of the bag, too – they indeed were not talking about the weekly chart. 🙂

      • I wonder if the success of this song will lead to more singles featuring Roger, or if this was a one-time thing. I feel sure many people hearing this on radio were surprised to hear the dj say the artists were “The McKameys”.

    • I’m pretty confident that the lead writer on “Unspoken Request” is Steve Chapman, a good friend of mine. (nothing against Roger though, he may have contributed something) Tim Parton and I demoed the song for Steve.

      • Yes, it is a song that Steve wrote. I am fairly confident that the commenter above meant Roger’s song as a reference to a song Roger sings lead on – since this is the first time Roger’s ever had the lead vocal on a radio single, and (not sure) might even be his first vocal solo!

      • Yes, Daniel, I referred to the song as Roger’s because no one else in the McKameys will sing it. Not that they don’t like it, but it fits Roger’s voice.

  4. I’m liking the sound of Soul’d Out – of course Ian’s voice is different than Matt but he seems to be gelling nicely so far. I hope Soul’d Out’s ministry continues to grow. Great Group!

  5. Interesting…I think I enjoyed Ian’s singing more on those Soul’d Out than I ever did with EHSS. Seems to have been a good move for everyone.

    • Agreed, because I also like Paul with EHSS.

      • And Matt with Legacy Five!

      • Agreed! It seems they all ended up with groups where they fit at least as well (and in several cases, perhaps, better) than with their previous groups!

  6. I see that Ian is growing his beard back. I wondered if Ernie had asked him to shave it when he joined….and yet Paul Harkey still has his whiskers….

  7. Just watching those Soul’dOut clips for the first time. Yep, Ian fits in great!

    • (Please edit out the email part of my name, didn’t mean to do that