Blackwood Quartet Reorganizes

Members of the Blackwood Quartet issued several press releases over the night.

First off, group manager Ron Blackwood is retiring at the recommendation of his doctor, turning the group over to his cousin Mark Blackwood. Mark Blackwood—who is interestingly identified as Cecil Mark Blackwood in the press release, hinting at a possible shift in how he is identified, using the first name he shares with his late father instead of just his own middle name.

Up to this point, Mark Blackwood had led the Blackwood Gospel Quartet, a group known for having the highest-caliber talent, but typically on a fill-in basis. As of March 1, the Blackwood Gospel Quartet will evidently disband as Mark takes leadership of the new group.

Meanwhile, Blackwood Quartet tenor John Rulapaugh issued a separate one-sentence press release: “Josh Garner and John Rulapaugh have announced their departure from The Blackwood Quartet effective March 1, 2010.” Their future plans are not known.

While Mark has yet to issue a press release—which is not necessarily a bad thing, since three press releases on the same day might be a little much!—the two press releases seem to suggest that Mark will be bringing his own baritone (David Mann) and tenor to the lineup. The Blackwood Gospel Quartet tenor is listed on the group’s website as Daniel Blackwood Childs; however, his departure was announced several months ago, so it’s not clear who their current tenor is. (Mark didn’t have a bass, since Brad Smith announced his resignation several weeks ago. So presumably he will be keeping the Blackwood Quartet’s existing bass, Chris West, Harold Gilley, or Aaron McCune.)

Kudos to Ron Blackwood for keeping the name and the group in the family. Hopefully this merger will cause things to be a little less confusing for the fans.

UPDATE (9:34 A.M.): Via Ron Blackwood, the other members of the reorganized group will be tenor Dale Evans, baritone David Mann, and bass Chris West.

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45 Letters to the Editor

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  1. What website for BGQ are you looking at? This page lists Dale Evans as the tenor. Of course this was before Brad Smith left.

    (EDIT: 8/5/2011: Broken link removed)

    • Daniel Childs is with the Toney Brothers.

      • Daniel left the Toney Brothers a couple weeks ago, so they are now looking for both a lead singer and a tenor singer.

      • They can’t catch a break either!

      • What happened to Joe Kitson? I did not realize he had left.

  2. The “Cecil Mark Blackwood” identification is nothing new. Mark often identifies himself that way. His solo project, “It Came From Memphis” released in 2006 is labeled as such.

    In addition to baritone David Mann, the current singers Mark’s Blackwood Gospel Quartet are Dean Haskins (piano and bass singer) and Dale Evans (tenor).

    • Now that you say it, I guess I did know that Mark’s first name was Cecil. I had just forgotten.

      • Yes, he has always called himself Cecil Mark Blackwood.

  3. It sounds like Josh and John may be starting their own group. I say this because a personal friend of mine was asked by one of the two gentlement to learn a few songs and send a picture. This is just my speculation, however. The songs that were sent were the old style songs that the Blackwoods sing, so that may be an indication of the style they are going for.

  4. We’ll have to see how this all plays out, but I am not sure I see the benefit of disbanding the BGQ to take over Ron’s group instead of just retiring the Ron’s group.

    • They have the label contract and the gigs.

  5. And what about Steve Warren???

  6. Just wondering…where are these press releases posted?

    • They weren’t posted – they were sent directly to me (and presumably other outlets). That’s why it pays to read this site! 🙂

      • Is it possible for us to see the releases somewhere?


        Garner & Rulapaugh to Depart Blackwood Quartet

        Sevierville, TN
        February 12, 2010

        Josh Garner and John Rulapaugh have announced their departure from The Blackwood Quartet effective March 1, 2010.

      • For Immediate Release

        12 February 2010

        Contact: Ron Blackwood

        Phone: ***

        E-mail: ***

        Changing of the Guard in the Blackwood Quartet:

        Mark Blackwood to Take the Reins

        February 12, 2010 – Knoxville, Tennessee – Ron Blackwood, upon advice from his physician, is retiring from the Blackwood Quartet. As of March 1, 2010, Ron is turning the reins of the group over to his cousin, Cecil Mark Blackwood, the son of the late Cecil Blackwood of the Blackwood Brothers.

        The Blackwood Quartet will fulfill all contracted concerts with the professionalism and talent Gospel music promoters and fans have come to expect. Ron’s decision to hand over his quartet to his first cousin, Cecil Mark, was reached after months of prayer and contemplation at the urging of medical professionals. Ron believes he made the best possible decision to maintain the integrity of his family, his quartet, and make it possible for the quartet members to have the opportunity to continue doing what they love.

        Ron Blackwood has poured his heart and soul into the Blackwood Quartet. Using the gifts God has given him, he has shaped it into an extremely successful group, becoming the first Gospel group to ever perform on the Farm Aid stage, and on many of Willie Nelson’s concerts nationwide. The Blackwood Quartet also appears in Willie Nelson’s latest movie. Under Ron’s leadership, this talented group signed a contract with Homeland Records. All of this was accomplished in under a year!

        Ron, who is also respected as one of the most brilliant minds in the booking and promoting business, will concentrate his efforts on first, his health, and also on what he does best: booking concerts and promoting Gospel music, for not only the Blackwood Quartet, but also for The Chuck Wagon Gang, The Florida Boys, and many more!

        Mark Blackwood is no new comer to Gospel Music. He is a Grammy Award winning music producer and performer who is a seasoned Quartet owner/manager. Most of all, Mark is devoted to upholding the legacy of his father, and carrying on the message of hope and Salvation in Traditional Gospel Quartet music.

        Watch for great things happening in the Blackwood family in 2010 and beyond!

  7. I would love to see John Rulapaugh, Josh Garner, and Burman Porter form their own quartet if John and Josh leave. Reuniting John and Burman would be awesome, I think!

  8. David Mann and Dale Evans are WAY too good to not be in a quartet somewhere, so I hope that Mark is bringing them along. Dean Haskins, as it was mentioned before, has been playing piano for the Blackwood Gospel Quartet, so I hope he comes as well if Steve Warren decides to leave.

    As far as bass singers, having Chris West stay would make for one solid lineup.

    • Yes, indeed!

    • Aaron, see the update above: It looks like you’re getting your dream team! (I don’t know about Dean Haskins, but we’re getting Dale, David, and Chris.)

      • I doubt that Chris is going along…

      • Just saw it, Daniel. That’s going to be a quartet to keep an eye on!

      • Agreed.

  9. Oh Lord, what a mess!

    • It seems a mess because we are getting the behind the scenes info on the transition.

    • Not really. The merger makes some sense. If Ron has to come off the road for health reasons, Mark might as well take over (if his group is slowing down).

      • Sometimes when people get too many details about a transition it could seem like a mess.

        I didn’t realize Mark’s group was slowing down. But, the new line up sounds good to me.

  10. I’m in the same camp with David J. Stuart….Oh Lord, what a mess!
    I would like to see Josh and John add Gene McDonald as a bass singer and maybe Ryan Seaton as Baritone. 🙂
    THAT, my friends, would be a powerhouse quartet!!!

    • On the other hand, if they would pick up Brad Smith for Bass and Rick Fair for Baritone THAT also would be a powerhouse quartet and they could name it, “We used to sing for the Blackwoods Quartet” LOL

      • Classic DJPhil! LOL! That would be a great lineup!!

      • Last I heard, Rick Fair was still singing with RW Blackwood’s group in Pigeon Forge.

    • That would be an awesome lineup (Seaton & McDonald)! I would love to see Burman Porter come back into full-time ministry though. He is a great bass singer but Gene is an unbelievable singer…, this is gonna be exciting to see what transpires!!!

  11. Another question, or two, to be answered… Will these new guys all be learning the Blackwood Quartet songs to sing in concert and how will this effect their Homeland contract?

    • I imagine they will be learning the Blackwood Quartet songs, largely since both of them sing a number of the same songs.

      Don’t know about the Homeland contract, but with this level of talent I suspect there’s a decent chance they’ll be able to keep it.

  12. It never amazes me how a post on the Blackwood Family escalates the number of readers and comments.

    • It shows the level of interest established in the Blackwood name over the last 75 years!

    • I think you would get a 100 times the comments if Bill Gaither retired and Ernie Haase took over the GVB…:)

      • It wouldn’t be 100 times. I’m fairly confident in saying it would be 15-20 times as much.

      • I agree with you Daniel! What will happen when Bill decides to give it up? Now that will spark some interest for sure!

      • Ernie might struggle with the bass part … 😀

        Really, the Blackwood stuff sounds very sensible, and likely to be best for everyone concerned. It will make it a little easier to follow the Blackwood name; it has seemed to me that it was scattered a little too thin.

  13. Has anyone noticed that Jimmy Blackwood and the Blackwood Brother are on the West Coast this weekend?

    • Yes, I did know that, via Facebook status updates. They are out West several times a year, more frequently than most groups.

  14. I know for sure that John and Josh are working toward starting a new quartet. That said, There are certain groups that seem to have the right management and chemistry and few personnel changes. On the other hand, there are groups that can’t keep four guys for four months. (just look at the above posts). Finding singers who can sing is not the problem. Finding managers who can manage four or five personalities and all that goes with it IS the problem.

  15. Mark Blackwood, having studied voice and music theory extensively with Verle Pilante, has become a strong singer and emcee in the field of SOUTHERN GOSPEL MUSIC. He learned a lot from traveling with James, J.D. and Cecil. It seems that he has garnered some of the best singers in the business into his group. May the BLACKWOOD GOSPEL QUARTET along with all you wonderful gospel singers continue to be safe in your travels and, above all, give glory to God.


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