From the Mail Bag: Easy-Listening Southern Gospel

A reader writes in to ask:

Do you have any cd recommendations that are relatively easy listening? Acoustic, bluegrass, instrumental, soft-core SG, etc. For a nursing home.ย 

I mentioned the Isaacs’ย almost acapella project and the Collingsworth Family’s upcoming hymns projectโ€”which, based on the live performances I heard last weekend of three of their arrangements looks to have at least a fair number of easy-listening momentsโ€”but quickly came up empty. So I thought I would pass the question along to you.


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48 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. Not sure how readily available it still is, but Hymn Classics from the Bill Gaither Trio, recorded in 1990, may well be a cd this person would like. This recording gives old hymns a very respectful treatment, yet makes the hymns sound new and fresh. The best recording, ever, in any genre of music, in my humble opinion.

    • Thanks! I love that recording.

    • Lori Line is a delightful pianist. Her playing is light, lively, & meaningful. She has several recordings available. She has several inspirational recordings also. When I listen to her, I often feel as if the troubles & cares of this life are just flowing out of me. I would highly recommend her CDs.

  2. One CD I’ve used a couple of times as quiet “background” music is Gerald Wolfe’s recent piano CD, Hymns You Asked For. It’s just Gerald’s piano, and nothing else. Some of Kim Collingsworth’s piano CDs may fit also.

    Groups like the Isaacs, Booth Brothers, Greater Vision, and Collingsworths have done plenty of songs like that, but it’s harder to think of a CD that contains all, or mostly, songs like that.

  3. What about instrumental projects? Most pianists have them and, for the most part, they are not as lively as live piano solos.

  4. I have always thought of anything by Carroll Robinson as “easy listening” in style. I guess it’s his delivery.

  5. I find Mark Lowry’s “I Love to Tell the Story” cd restful and blissful. When I want soothing music that is the one I play over and over again. .

  6. Part of what makes this discussion challenging for me, I think, is that, when I’m in the mood for something easy-listening, I’ll almost always put on something that the 1974-1979 Cathedrals lineup recorded. The question at hand was for “CD” recommendations, and very little of that lineup’s music is available on CD.

  7. Whenever I put on any of Stan Whitmire’s stuff I always get told how relaxing it sounds.

  8. I do not have the name of the recording, but the Lefevre QT made a praise song recording while Gus Gaches was still there. I am a SG guy – but enjoy praise music also… Very good recording…

    JEB

  9. The most easy listening would be any Carroll Roberson. His arrangements are mainly acoustic and his delivery is definitely easy listening

  10. The Anthony Burger “Hymns Collection” is a great easy listening CD.

  11. ANYTHING BY THE BOOTH BROTHERS.

    • I think that the Booth Brothers’ Spring Hill releases are too edgy to really be easy-listening for a nursing home audience. But their recent Gaither Tribute release would be incredible in this context.

      • I also immediately thought of the Booth Brothers Gaither tribute. With their smooth voices, I doubt if they can sound harsh even if they tried.

        Another one I would suggest is Gaither’s God Gave The Song CD, extremely smoothing.

      • Soothing, I meant to say.

      • Okay maybe not ANYTHING, I guess they experimented with some rockier sounds in a few projects, but yeah the Gaither tribute would be awesome and a lot of there other projects are easy listening. (Hymns, Pure SG etc.)

    • The Booth Brothers’ hymns CD – Hymns Pure and Simple– would be an excellent suggestion, in our opinion, and Michael Booth’s Everlasting Truth would also be a great candidate.

      • Both are great. Everlasting Truth is a brilliant one I should have thought of from day one!

  12. I like Roger Bennett’s “Midnight Meditations” for some background music.

  13. Nothing will sooth the soul like a relaxing evening with Teddy Huffman and the Gems ๐Ÿ™‚

    • (Warning for the innocent and uninitiated passersby: Steven’s post included a healthy dose of sarcasm.) ๐Ÿ™‚

    • ๐Ÿ™‚ We love Teddy Huffman and the Gems around here! ๐Ÿ˜†

  14. It’s country gospel and not SGM but the CD “Precious Memories” by Alan Jackson is filled with laid-back music (even the few faster songs). An extra bonus is that almost everyone in the nursing would know the old, famous songs.

  15. I don’t have any of his music, but from the little of heard from him, I would say anything by Mike Upright would fit the bill. Kind of the same style as Carroll Roberson.

  16. The last I knew, the Gaither hymns album was available (at least as download, but maybe still on CD). I saw it on Amazon at least in recent years. Another good background music choice is this:
    http://www.amazon.com/Peaceful-Meditation-Nick-Bruno/dp/B0029741AM/ref=sr_1_3?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1370534308&sr=1-3

    Nick used to sell CDs (that is where I got mine), but his site is either messed up or he doesn’t anymore.

    This one would be good too, but good luck in finding it for a good price (at least on Amazon).
    http://www.amazon.com/Turn-Quiet-Lari-Goss/dp/B0000589TF

  17. I forgot to put down Gerald Wolfe’s Key To Quiet Places. I use this one, the Bruno one etc. for communion at church (while I am taking communion) and then play for the rest of it. But I also use them for pre-service usually on those days too.

    • Is my previous comment in moderation because of links I put in?

      • Yeah; I just approved it. I do believe that the site is automatically configured to send anything with 2+ links to moderation, since ~99% of comments with more than one link are spam!

      • I figured. I know at times I had mistyped the email address or name, but didn’t think I had one either. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Kim Collingsworth’s Sunday Morning Ivories II is good.

    I also enjoy Stan Whitmire and Gerald Wolfe on their respective cds.

    As far as singing, a good suggestion would be Guy Penrod’s Hymns project. It is full of familiar tunes that would strike a chord with the people.

  19. I have quite a few (over 300) easy listening instrumental CASSETTES, that I used to play and sell in my retail gift shop. If anyone would like any, the unsold ones are free. You would have to convert them to CD’s. About half are gospel, and the rest are broadway, classical, & movie themes, etc. My collection is too extensive to list them all here, but I would be happy to respond to any inquiries or requests.

  20. Many of us Southern Gospel fans would have a lot of suggestions. I’ll go with something new with a quartet that Daniel Mount brought to my attention on May 10, 2013. The song is a familiar one called “I’d Rather Have Jesus”. It’s by The Sounds Of Jericho on an album called “The Story Of His Grace” and it seems to fit what the person was asking for. I don’t buy many CDs because I download most of the music I buy. It’s a little tricky to download from their website but it can be done, and it’s well worth the effort. I’m pretty sure you can buy the whole CD from their website too. I just don’t have the patience to wait for a CD to arrive in the mail.

  21. I need to make a correction or at least give an explanation for my previous comment. The whole CD isn’t what I’d consider to be soft-core, easy listening Southern Gospel. The song I mentioned would fit that description but some others on the album wouldn’t. “Operator”, for example isn’t really what I’d call
    easy listening. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. I was going to recommend the Roger Bennett “midnight meditations” CD but someone beat me to it ๐Ÿ™‚ good stuff

    Also, that Alan Jackson album would fit the bill pretty well also. I’ve had it for several years (it’s actually something I turn on on my iPod some nights in the bus bunk when I can’t sleep) and its a favorite of mine.

    Did the Happy Goodmans ever do a hymns project? I’m sure I risk sounding ignorant with that question (even though SG is my profession – and I love it much! – I’m a relative late-comer to really listening to it compared to a lot of others), but something like that it seems would be very fitting.

    • The Happy Goodmans didn’t do any all-hymns albums, though Vestal Goodman did do the best recorded version of “Sweet Hour of Prayer” EVER as the closer on Wanted Live.

      I’m still newer to Southern Gospel than most of my readers – I’m nine years into this adventure now – but I have managed to purchase a copy of each of the Happy Goodmans’ projects in that nine-year span. ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Tim Parton’s recording, Simply Hymns, is absolutely wonderful! Nothing ever loud or uptempo. A bunch of medleys that have seamless transitions. I listen to it often. Check it out!

    • Paul is right. I can’t believe I missed that one. I have used that too, but have misplaced it at church in a stack I am sure.

  24. As far as “easy listening” music, instrumentally speaking, I’ve quickly become a huge fan of Gordon Mote’s piano CDs. I downloaded a few songs the other day and they’ve been on repeat ever since. His Christmas CDs (piano and vocal) are great as well. Gerald Wolfe’s piano CD is phenomenal as well. Ralph Carmichael has a project called “Big Band Gospel” a collection of hymns or medleys of hymns set to big band style music…it’s really good!

    As far as something i’d like to see in the future..an instrumental hymns project by Lari Goss with strings and big orchestration. That would fly off the shelves!

  25. I would highly recommend the cd by Dean Bernstrom (bus driver for the Inspirations) of hymns from the church song book. It is Dean playing the acoustic guitar and very soft listening. I can not find my copy right now or would list the songs. (must have loaned it to someone and forgot.
    Also, Luke Vaught of the Inspirations has an Instrumental of him playing several instruments on the same song, which is excellent and easy listening.
    The songs are as follows: In the sweet by and by, Have thine own way, Are you washed in the blood, In the garden, Power in the blood, Jesus keep me near the cross, When the roll is called up under, I need the every hour, Where we will never grow old, Down at the cross.
    We will be seeing the Inspirations tonight and if the reader is interested maybe we could get the two of you together. Wish I had a copy of these when my mother was in the nursing home. She would often ask me to sing “Where we will never grow Old.”

  26. Another good discussion Daniel. I tend to aggree with you on the Cathedrals of the 70’s. Its kind of hard to find an entire album of easy listening southern gospel because it seems that most groups include some variety in their albums/cds. I remember some gems by groups not know for that kind of thing. The Singing Americans had a song called “Mercy River” on their Angels on Board albem. Easy listening and exquisite harmony. From the 70’s the Thrasher Brothers version of Sinners Plea on their Heart to Heart album was also incredible. Probably one of my favorites was the Blackwood Brothers album called “Hymns of Gold”. In my opinion one of the best albums they ever did and easy listening.

    • I would add that Tommy Fairchilds piano artistry is on fine display on the Hymns of Gold too. It really added a great deal to the easy listening aspect.

  27. Kevin Williams Acoustic Sunday

  28. The Hymns CD by the Daybreak Quartet would be perfect in this situation. Nothing really heavy that I recall, but just good smooth singing.

  29. Gotta add any album from Jimmy Swaggart from 20 or 30 years ago. His rich smooth voice was as easy listening as it gets.

  30. One of the best easy-listening projects I know is the George Younce project “Day by Day” It is all easy listening with the mello voice of George singing slow to medium tempo songs.

    • That reminds me of another one, the George Younce with Ernie Haase & Signature Sound CD

  31. Right after that found one that is probably ideal. I found it in my local Christian bookstore and it turns out the player is Gerald Wolfe. Here is a link. It is on Daywind and distributed by New Day.
    http://www.allmusic.com/album/100-piano-hymns-mw0002475909

    I have been told that Gary Prim has one called “Peaceful Praise” that would be good too.