Craig Thomas, Jordan James leave Dixie Echoes

The Dixie Echoes have announced the departure of tenor singer Craig Thomas and bass singer Jordan James. “Both men have been great additions to the group, and we will sure miss these guys, but we respect their decisions to be home with their families.” Group baritone/manager Scoot Shelnut confirms that both have agreed to stay on until replacements are found. They are requesting that bass and tenor singers interested in auditioning send a demo and short resumé to scoot@dixieechoes.com.

Both were able vocalists; Jordan James had a tone that lead various observers to include that he had the potential to become one of the industry’s leading bass singers. Hopefully this isn’t the last we see of him. Here’s a video of James in action:


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31 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…that’s a little bit of a suprise. The Shelnuts need our prayers with all the turnover they’ve had recently.

  2. I hope I’m wrong, but I honestly can’t remember the last time so many groups were losing people all at once, coupled with slow, slo-o-o-o-o-w progress in finding replacements. Has there been a time like this before?

    Another comment before people get on here and start suggesting replacements; the Shelnuts are very good (very very good) at finding and nurturing amazing but unknown talent. I have little doubt that the replacements will be names we won’t recognize. It’s tempting to record a bass demo and send it in myself, but I live in Canada.

    • In the six and a half years I’ve been doing this site, there have been periods like this one several times before. There are often times with a lot of change going on.

      • You know your stuff better than I do. Still, I worry about the length of time before replacements are announced, not to mention how many groups who used to have at least pianists but some who had full bands, are now just four guys and tracks. Off the top of my head, the Kingsmen, Gold City, the LeFevre Quartet (although they finally have a pianist again), the Old Paths Quartet, the Florida Boys, Brian Free & Assurance, etc. all used to have a pianist and in most cases a full band, but now don’t (with the exception, as I said, of the LeFevre Quartet, but that’s quite recent, and they are on the rise again).

        In fact, the only quartets I can think of that have a live band are the GVB, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, the Inspirations (because the group owner and his son are two thirds of the band), the Kingdom Heirs and the Dove Brothers. One could also count the Dixie Echoes, since they have at least two instruments at every show, and three when Randy Sr. plays guitar.

        I know there are still family groups that have a live band because nearly all of them play AND sing, and other groups that have musicians that sing, but I refer here to quartets who have bands with members that don’t sing.

      • Maybe it’s just that we hear about changes sooner in this era of Facebook.

      • I would also say that some people “expect” to hear about changes sooner in this era of Facebook, and when that doesn’t happen, we take it as a “troubling sign”

      • That’s probably true. I would love to see the day when my gospel group list has no ?’s on it (that’s what I put when a group has a vacancy; right now there are five. Tenor and Bass for the Dixie Echoes, Bass for the Anchormen, Tenor for the Mark Trammell Quartet and Baritone for Freedom Trio.

  3. Hi Daniel! Sorry to hear about the departures. In a close knit group like a quartet , it takes more than great music,which they have!! They all have to click together. Does that make sense? My husbands group -Mark209, really get along well and like each other. And who knows , why they clicked , they just did. I see that with other groups like Tribute, Mark Trammel , Legacy Five, to name a few. Or maybe Dixie Echoes thing is to find Unknown talent, polish them up show case them , start a great career for them, then do it again. Either way sad , but happy Jordan and Craig got to live their dream. Looking forward to what’s next for those two gentlemen, and what great talent Dixie Echoes is sure to find!

  4. I believe this goes to show how hard it is for the groups out there today. I believe that it will be harder and harder to find folks willing to fill these positions.

  5. Sherry, change happens for a lot of reasons. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but your post seems to indicate you are implying the members of Dixie Echoes didn’t click, and I’m not sure that’s a fair implication to make. I also find it hard to believe, as you suggest, Randy and Scoot Shelnut’s life mission is to bring new talent to the surface only to have that talent use them as a stepping stone to something else. Regardless of who admits it or not, groups take a major hit when personnel changes occur and, barring major conflict, I’d guess they’d just as soon avoid the revolving door of group changes if at all possible.

    I think we sometimes forget that when new blood comes into the industry, they have no idea what it’s truly like to travel this much, keep a schedule of this caliber, living on a bus so many days per year, etc. I love to sing, but I’m not sure I would want to do it full time. I would think that, at least some of the time, it may not be all a person thought it was cracked up to be. Or perhaps not what the family that person leaves behind each week thought it was going to be. It could have nothing to do with getting along with each other on the bus. Nor does there have to be any sort of scandal at all. There’s not always a “behind the scenes” story when a person chooses to leave a group.

    I find it an enormous double-standard when people want to over-analzye and dramatize a personnel change or 50 personnel changes within a group, and yet the average person has somewhere between 6 and 10 job/career changes in their lifetime. So, gospel singers aren’t supposed to change groups, jobs, or careers, but everyone else can? Hmmmm…….

    • Brady that is a good point about new people in the industry. Does it seem telling to anyone that we have not heard anything about the Gold City, Inspirations or Mark Trammell Quartet tenor positions?

      • Well, at a minimum, it’s certainly not saying much either way that we haven’t heard anything from the Inspirations. Martin Cook is not in the habit of issuing press releases when a member comes or goes. Other commenters have posted here that they have a tenor, but I’m not holding my breath for a press release. Doesn’t Gold City have one, too?

      • I heard an interview the other day on WEMM (our local radio station) with former WEMM DJ Robert Fulton who is filling in with Gold City on tenor right now for a trial run. He’s hopeful, but he said they haven’t made a decision for sure yet.

        I’m hoping he’ll still be with them when they are singing in Milton, WV, next month. He was great to listen to on the radio, but I haven’t heard him sing yet. Very knowledgeable about Southern Gospel music from what I could tell.

      • Ah, yes, that’s the name I heard.

      • I spoke with someone within the know about Gold City, and it sounds like they haven’t received any viable options through the auditioning process.

    • Brady, I am sorry!! Did not mean to come off like it sounds like I did. I meant they have a gift for finding talent. And helping them , then finding more and helping them. Not stepped on at all! Like when pastor starts a church, builds it, then starts another. That’s a good thing!! I did mean maybe they did not click. But I realize I should not of said that, I know NOTHING about any of them. Now that I re read my post, it sounded cruel. I promise, I did not mean it that way at all. Thank you for setting me straight!!

      • Sherry, thank you for the way you responded! I hadn’t taken your initial comment the wrong way, but I suppose I can see how it left room for Brady to take it in a way other than you intended. Thanks for clearing up any confusion about your original intent.

  6. There is nothing that I have seen that says anything about Gold City and a new tenor. Their new website still shows Dan Keeton…maybe there are traveling with tryouts??

    • It wouldn’t be the first time their website is behind. I think they at least have a fill-in.

  7. Does anyone have any video of Robert Fulton…..

  8. If STCMUSIC is correct with their comment, that to me would seem to be a troubling sign when an “A-list” group such as Gold City would struggle to find a tenor singer.

  9. Comment

  10. Sorry about that my finger hit the wrong button. The changes in groups is understandable. In one way its sad because it seems to take a period of years together as a group to really gell in their sound. If you listen to groups that have been together a long time it seems that their voices even begin to sound alike. I think of the Oak Ridge Boys, Statler Brothers, Florida Boys and different versions of the Blackwood Brothers. As far as the Cathedrals I believe the last lineup of Ernie, Scott, Glenn, and George were together longer than any other and listenning to them sing songs like Theres something about that Name and you can hear that they clicked. Sad to hear of the changes but in one way its a good thing that these young men have a desire to see their children grow up and be a part of their lives.

    • What’s really funny is that very often this seems to happen when a group has found a sound that really gels, and you think “Now they’re really going to take off/become huge again/remain on top.” And then one of them leaves.

      On the flip side, there was a group that almost completely re-built from the ground up, replacing two very well-loved members and forming a very unlikely gospel group. One of my thoughts when this happened was “I give it a year and a half; two years on the outside.”

      That was in 2009. The group was the Gaither Vocal Band. And the current incarnation is actually its LONGEST LASTING.

  11. Man, I love hearing that boy sing some bass. Now that makes me want to put that kind of bass singer on with our group. I love Randy n Scoot and I really hate to see them go through this again but they will work it out again. They have the no quit hearts.

    Joe

  12. Can’t help suggesting a couple of fill-ins: Eddie Broome and Gerald Williams…

  13. Been awhile since I posted but it seems last time I posted it was along these same lines…One reason I think it’s so hard to keep tenors is they are pushed to their limits every night. While I like to hear high tenor singing, not every tenor is “built” to hit the high notes every night. For their part, I think every tenor should continually be perfecting their craft through voice training, but from a group and fan’s perspective we need to stop “encouraging” them to blow out their voices.

    I think the Booth Brothers and Oak Ridge have proven you don’t have to have the highest tenor in the world to have a world-class sound and longevity. I would much rather hear a tenor that blends and stays in his range around for 20 years, than I guy that can squeal like a pig around for…well…any length of time.

  14. I agree, I’ve never been a fan of the “squeal like a pig” tenor. I’ve sung in a few quartets in my life, and do sing tenor. There are ways to approach the higher notes without blowing yourself away, but it takes practice, and training. I was lucky enough to have some good voice profs in college 🙂 Still, it does seem to me that some have forgotten that higher is not always better. Sing high, sure, but sing. Don’t scream. Haha

  15. I had forgotten about this lineup with two fill-ins from last summer for the Dixie Echoes, but why not give these guys a call? George Shelton, Jr. (the tenor) sang with them at Lake Gibson last night and sounded great. Mark Cates is the bass here; nice cut. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNe2_vFx_q4

  16. Good grief, poor Scoot. I give him a lot of credit, because I don’t know how long I could handle the massive turnover they deal with.

    Is this the opening that we’ll finally see Harold Reed fill?