Craig Thomas leaves Dixie Echoes

Dixie Echoes tenor Craig Thomas announced on Facebook yesterday that he is leaving the group:

Well this post comes with a heavy heart. I have decided to come off the road with the Dixie Echoes and resume my other work at my construction company. I want to thank Scoot and Randy for understanding my need to do this and for allowing me to live out my dream. I will miss the singing, the traveling and most of all the fans. I want thank Scoot, Randy, Ben and Jordan for some great times and wonderful singing. I love you guys and may God Bless your ministry. You are all true men of God.

This now leaves four major groups (Dixie Echoes, Gold City, Mark Trammell Quartet, Inspirations) which are either looking for tenors or haven’t announced their new tenor yet. It must be a good time to be a tenor looking to make the jump to the big leagues!

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30 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. I know one of the major groups has a tenor…I hope that we will get a chance to get some new blood into the Southern Gospel circut…also, any opinions on whether groups should be looking for a ultra high tenor or a more full voice tenor? We have this discussion from time to time…
    God is opening doors for someone who has been asking for open doors! Exciting!

    • I would have to say that depends on the group. Mark Trammell Quartet fans are looking for an ultra high tenor, I think. Dixie Echoes fans are used to full voice tenors.

  2. What about the Inspirations? Is their tenor position still vacant or do they now have a permanent one?

    • Oh, I forgot about them! They had a fill-in last I heard, but I had not heard about anything permanent.

      • The Blackwood Quartet no longer lists Andrew Bailes as their tenor. Hmm…

      • Josh, that’s correct. Andrew left a while back. I understand they were trying out a new tenor on this latest trip.

      • Yeah, that was Harold Reed, but I don’t think he’s joining them, based on what he had to say on Facebook.

    • Actually Mark Clark is the Inspirations’ new tenor now,they just haven’t announced on their website.

      • I knew he was filling in. I don’t know if he’s officially a member now.

  3. I saw on FB that Jessica Trammell filled in with the Mark Trammell Quartet this past weekend. From what I understand, she did a great job.

    • I hope they remain an all Male Quartet. I know Mark will folow God’s leading and it will be the right decision.

      • I am under the understanding that Jessica was just filling in.

    • Yes, she was just filling in, and yes, she did a great job.

      I watched them via webcast at Lake Gibson Church. From how Mark was telling it, it was mainly for the cruise, and the idea for her to fill in with the group actually came from Pat Barker.

  4. Debra Perry and Jaidyn’s Call are looking for a lead/tenor.

  5. You’d think with all the tenors tried out in the interim between Michael Helwig and Craig Thomas, this would be a position that would be filled quickly.

    A tenor like Harold Reed would fit the traditional style of the Dixie Echoes well, but perhaps it will be one of the other tenors they tried out.

    • I wasn’t aware they’d tried anyone other than Craig Thomas. I know George Shelton, Jr. was filling in for a while, but I figured that was just what it looked like; a fill-in.

      • I don’t think they tried anyone else out “on the road,” but it was my understanding that there were more men being considered for the job. I could be wrong (and that’s very possible!) 🙂

  6. Are salaries in SGM a major factor in the number of vacancies and the turnover even in major groups.? Studies by Pay Scale say that in the US in 2011 the median income (half the people make more and half make less) for full-time employed adults over 25 (regardless of education) is $50,900 a year. If SGM groups are not close to that figure, I would assume it is difficult to keep individuals as they get older.

    • I’m sure salaries are a big factor, but I also think the long hours (including weekends) away from home are every bit as big or bigger, once marriage and children come along.

      • Checked a couple of the groups mentioned and they are working between 13 and 15 days in March and travelling would add to the time away from home. But reducing number of dates would also reduce income meaning even lower salaries. Might be too many groups with too many dates for too few fans resulting in an inability to charge flats which would lead to decent salaries.

  7. Many of you talk like changes in qts and groups are something new ! If you go back and study the artist from the 50’s till now all the artist have had changes ! There are all kind of reasons why ! Some have had changes when they were at the top of there career ! Even the great Statesmen had a change when they were the biggest name out there other than the Blackwoods ! So there will always be changes and those changes are not always based on a dollar !

    • This thread makes interesting reading.
      McCray hit the nail on the head.

  8. NORM, I believe that 50,000 would be for the household (not individual). The average full time salary for an individual is about 25-30,000. If you are lucky enuff to have a job today :). Sad- but most groups do not even pay that.

    • Sam: The figure I quoted was for individuals not households. But it was limited to certain individuals — those over the age of 25 working full-time hours so that eliminates all part-timers andall those under the age of 26. It is also a median figure not an average figure. So half the individuals meeting the criteria make over $50.900 and half make less. Bear in mind that it is a national figure and there can be significant regional differences. I came acorss another survery of 5,000 musicians in the US in different fields of music and the average they made from music work was $34,000 a year.

  9. There have been some great points made here and all are very true. One that affects me personally was touched on by Sam. My wife and I both work so we can make our household budget. The problem that this creates is that she works Monday thru Friday and I work Thursday thru Sunday. That means we don’t get a lot of days off together outside of vacation. This is something we were aware of going in and we work hard at our relationship and really take advantage of the time we have together. Those rare days together are a very guarded commodity at the Gaches house! We have the advantage of having been married for almost 24 years. So we have a great amount of love and maturity in our relationship and that is the only way we can make it work. That being said, we still pray that God will open the door for her to either be able to stay home, or change her schedule to give us more of those precious days. Just another in the many things that most don’t know about traveling.

    • Wow. Just another reason why I have the highest respect for families that can make road life work … and another reason why I am so glad to have a Monday-Friday job!

  10. Gus, 24 years of marriage? Did you get married at 10?
    Great points by all…I am not sure how many of the groups today are making it, let alone making decent salaries available to the group members.

  11. Luke Vaught of the Inspirations told me that Mark is their new tenor now.

  12. No problem!