2009 in Review: Top 10 Stories
Last year was filled with big news stories, with enough major ones breaking in the last two weeks that it just wasn’t safe to put this post up until the year had officially ended.
- Gaither Vocal Band unveils new lineup: Penrod, Hall leave Gaither Vocal Band; Phelps, Lowry, English return. If the announcements had been spread over weeks, it would have been one thing. But to have this story hit all at once left no doubt that this belongs at the #1 spot.
- Gold City unveils new lineup: Riley returns, Cobb and Webb join. There were a number of other major Gold City stories over the year (Ladd leaves, McCune and Simpson leave, Cooper joins, Cooper leaves)—but beyond doubt, this was the big one. Tim Riley is probably the genre’s most legendary living bass singer, and for him to rejoin his classic group would be a big enough story itself without the addition of two talents like Cobb & Webb.
- Archie Watkins leaves the Inspirations and launches a solo career; Rogers and Ragan join. Some liked his voice, some didn’t—but 45 years in a major group, especially at the tenor position, earns this story a spot this high on the list. Rogers and Ragan joining ought to be ranked separately on this list, since Watkins’ departure was over a month after their addition was joined. (According to the Inspirations’ office, the plan at that time was for Watkins to be a featured vocalist, like James Blackwood with the Blackwood Brothers in the 1970s.) But there are more big stories than slots, so these will have to be combined.
- Devin McGlamery replaces Ryan Seaton as lead singer for Signature Sound. The #2 and #4 stories of the year breaking in the last week or two create problems for anyone who published their top year-end stories early!
- Joel Wood joins the Mark Trammell Trio, after Eric Phillips’ departure. This story is ranked as high as it is both since Phillips was the last founding member of the group other than Mark Trammell himself, and because many competent industry professionals and fans considered Phillips one of the most able and consistent tenors on the road.
- Frank Seamans leaves Legacy Five; Gus Gaches joins.
- Eva Mae LeFevre passes away. Thanks to Meagan for the reminder yesterday; this was certainly one of the year’s most significant stories, but it hadn’t been on my mind.
- The Lewis Family retires. The group’s sixty years on the road ensure them a spot on this list.
- Nick Trammell leaves the Perrys; Troy Peach joins.
- Billy Blackwood joins the Blackwood Brothers. This is significant for several reasons; first, Brad White’s departure was the first lineup change the group had in several years. Second, the group’s recent signing with Daywind ensures people will hear this new lineup. Third, this is the first time in over fifty years that blood brothers have been at two of the vocal positions in the group.
- Signature Sound cuts back on Gaither Dates. This would have been top 10 story if they had left altogether; as it is, they’re just doing more solo dates and won’t be at every Gaither event. It’s not clear how many Gaither dates they will be doing this upcoming year.
- Derrick Selph leaves Brian Free & Assurance, and is replaced by Randy Crawford.
- Jerry Kelso leaves the Dove Brothers and is replaced by Adam Harman.
- Harold Gilley joins the Songfellows.
- Carol Woodard leaves the McKameys, replaced by Sheryl Farris.
- SouthernGospelForums.com is launched.
- Josh Feemster joins N’Harmony.
- Dana Younce Willis (George Younce’s daughter) passes away suddenly due to a heart attack.
- Kerry Beatty leaves Palmetto State Quartet.
- Tony Greene’s successful kidney transplant (donated by his wife, TaRanda).