Key Personnel

Jonathan Wilburn’s departure from Gold City several weeks ago got me thinking about key personnel. After Jason Waldroup’s departure yesterday, I revisited the topic. What group members, not part of the ownership / management of the group, are so identified with a group that their departure would be felt as much as Wilburn’s with Gold City, or Waldroup’s with Greater Vision?

Ironically, my initial top five draft included Jason Waldroup (as well as Rodney Griffin).

  1. Kim Hopper – Hoppers
  2. Mike Holcomb – Inspirations (I’m not sure if he’s technically part of the group management or not)
  3. Rodney Griffin – Greater Vision
  4. Eric Phillips – Mark Trammell Trio
  5. Arthur Rice – Kingdom Heirs

Try naming a top five or ten. It will be interesting to see who we come up with.


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25 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. Jim Brady – Booth Brothers
    Guy Penrod – GVB

  2. At this point in their venture, Guy Penrod’s departure from the Gaither Vocal Band would be a tough act to follow (although, with the exception of Buddy Mullins’ one year gig, Guy DID have to follow Michael English, so I guess anything is possible….).

    Let’s not forget that quite a few groups have endured such changes and soldiered on with little problems. The Cathedrals lost Danny Funderburk and Mark Trammell within a year of each other, and continued to rise in popularity with Ernie and Scott. Gold City basically had to rebuild almost from scratch when first Mike, then Brian and Ivan left the group, then again several years later when Jay Parrack and Mark Trammell left within a couple years of each other, followed shortly thereafter by the retirement of Tim Riley.

  3. Guy Penrod is definitely one who needs to be included on such a list.

  4. Guy Penrod, of course
    Kim Hopper
    Jim Brady – Booth Brothers
    The two in Greater Vision
    Wilburn
    Doug Anderson and Tim Duncan of SSQ
    Glenn Dustin of L5

  5. Matt McFarland- Crossway
    Jim Brady- Booth Brothers
    Bill Shivers- Brian Free & Assurance
    Tim Duncan- EH&SS
    Glenn Dustin- Legacy V
    Scott Inman- Triumphant Quartet

  6. Gerald Wolfe or Rodney Griffin – GV
    Kim Hopper – Hoppers
    Dean Hopper – Hoppers
    Connie Hopper – Hoppers
    Scott Fowler – L5
    McCray Dove – DBQ
    Ronnie Booth – BB
    Ray Dean Reece – Kingsmen
    Bill Shivers – BF&A
    Scott Inman – Triumphant
    Karen Peck – KP&NR

  7. Ed, a couple of the people in your list (McCray Dove, Scott Fowler, Ray Dean Reese, Karen Peck, Gerald Wolfe) are owners / managers of their groups, to the best of my knowledge. I had in mind people who weren’t group owners/managers, but whom the group would have a hard time going forward without.

  8. Susan Peck Jackson- KP&NR
    Scott Howard- L5
    Jeff Tolbit- Primitive Quartet
    Stewart Varnardo- Dixie Echoes (??? I’m not certain if Stewart is involved in managing the DE’s)
    David Hester, Jerry Martin or Eric Dove (same as above for Eric)- Dove Brothers
    Roger Fortner- McKameys
    TaRanda Greene- Greenes
    anybody leaving Triumphant
    Misty Freeman- Freemans
    Amber Thompson- Nelons

    Some in recent memory not yet mentioned that have occured include Joe Isaacs, Tim Surrett, and John Bowman leaving the Isaacs,
    Charlotte Richie leaving Jeff& Sheri Easter, Loren Harris leaving the Perrys (although they have rebounded well, and I think they are better now, some people are still quite attached to the Perry sound with Loren), Andrew Ishee, Tony Peace, & Aaron McCune leaving PSQ. It’s hard to beleive that Gold City has had a complete personall turnover (over 7 stage members) in 6 years.

  9. I think it would be hard to see the following quit singing full time:
    1. Jerry Martin
    2. Lauren Talley
    3. Paul Smith
    4. Peg Bean (Who would kick her shoes off???)
    5. Sonya Isaacs

    I would hate it if Lauren or Sonya stopped singing…that’s like having no Talley Trio or Isaacs!

  10. Hmmm…

    Clayton & Scott Inman – Triumphant
    Rodney Griffin – GV
    Arthur Rice – KHQ
    Bill Shivers – BF&A
    Eric Dove (again) – DBQ

  11. Andrew, who would kick Peg’s shoes of, or who would kick their own shoes off in Peg’s place? HA HA!

  12. CORRECTION:
    That was supposted to be “..Peg’s shoes off..”, not “of”.

  13. You think Kim Hopper is an employee of the Hoppers?

  14. Well, I don’t think she’s the manager of the group.

  15. Kyle,
    As much as I enjoyed the Franklin/English/Lowry GVB, the Phelps/Penrod/Lowry GVB was the best ever. With Lowry and Phelps gone, it isn’t the same. It isn’t “just as good in a different way” either. Every GVB version including the current version has been very, very good, but I totally agree that the loss of Penrod now would rip the heart right out of the GVB. Any singer can be replaced with another great quality singer, but those rare combinations can’t be duplicated.

    The same thing goes for Arthur Rice. I have nothing but respect for Jeff Chapman, Billy Hodges and Steve French as singers, but it’s Arthur who really carries the group and defines their sound. He is the best lead singer in Southern Gospel, and has been for several years.

    I don’t think Jason Waldroup is the most obvious example for an exercise like this. He is a good tenor, but I’ve never thought Greater Vision’s sound depended on what he brought to the table. It’s Gerald Wolfe who defines Greater Vision vocally and Rodney Griffin’s songwriting that provides the framework for their style. Take either one of those guys away, and you’d have a different group. (Of course, they could still sing Griffin’s songs even if he came off the road.)

    Jim Brady has helped shape the sound of the Booth Brothers with his songwriting and ability to blend. He could be replaced, though. Their vocal blend didn’t shift significantly when he joined the group.

    Jerry Martin is a good example of a tenor who changed the sound of a group when he joined them. If he ever left, their sound would change again. Now, the DBQ sound is characterized by McCray Dove’s voice primarily, but Jerry Martin has added enough unique tone quality to leave a mark.

    Taranda Greene is another good example, but I would venture a guess that she’s a group owner…if not, I know she’s married to the group owner and that ought to count!

    I’m not sure if Stewart Varnado is a part owner with the Dixie Echoes either, but he has definitely made an impact on the sound of the group.

  16. David,
    For the first time in the years I have been reading your comments and blogs, I have to disagree with you on one point. Jim Brady did and does make a big difference in the Booth Brothers sound. I have been a fan for many years, and I have seen video of Michael and Ronnie with their dad. While their love of the Lord and talent have always shown through, I can say that I hear a significant difference in their sound. I personally think that it just gets better and better as they feel more comfortable in stretching their musical abilities to the limit and trying new things.

    Joseph was a very good singer as well, but Jim is in a totally different league. While I have no doubt the Booth Brothers would survive and do well without Jim, it is not a prospect I want to contemplate at any time. The energy and excitement are generated by the three of them and the vocal harmonies they work very hard at achieving both with and without stacks. They are one of the few groups that can do it without stacks, but they are not afraid of trying new sounds and new things within SG. but also stay true to the roots as well.

    I personally would venture to say that it would be hard to lose any of the three-group owners or not.

  17. Kim Hopper?
    Not a manager?
    Not a employess?
    Does just being part of the family count here?
    It does else where.

  18. Sometimes family members, if they don’t manage the group (or even if they do), will come off the road.

  19. The top five that I think that would have the most impact for their particular groups are:

    Arthur Rice – Kingdom Heirs
    Bill Shivers – BF&A
    Brooklyn Collingsworth – Collingsworth Family
    Guy Penrod – GVB
    David Staton – LeFevre Quartet

  20. I think I’d have to agree with Daniel on this one. Even though Kim is family, I think the dynamics of the group is built so that she is integral to the sound. If she was no longer there, I don’t know what they would do. Which brings up an interesting question… did anyone here go to their shows when Kim was out with the baby a few years ago? How did those go?

  21. I would agree that Jim Brady DID change the Booth Brothers, and that he is very instrumental in their current sound/style. The project “This Stage Of Grace”, with Joseph Smith, and “The Booth Brothers”, with Jim, are totally opposite of each other in many ways.

  22. Jon Yates-GloryBound
    Nathan Prisk-DayBreak Quartet
    Archie Watkins-Inspirations
    Gordon Mote-Gaither Homecoming Tour
    Daniel Riley-Gold City

  23. I am 61 years old and gone to gospel singings for most of my life. I don’t think I have ever heard harmony like the Booth Brothers. They by far are the best group. They also will take all the time you want to stop and visit with you. I hope they will win all the awards this year. Linda Higgins

  24. GC does not need to lose Ladd right now.
    Guy P. is iconic, at this point.
    Kim is the Hoppers…are you kidding!?!

    Linda…take a cold shower…BB’s are good, but hardly in the running for all-time harmonizers. Today’s technology is the biggest development in the last 61 years. NOT the talent of the singers. You are right about them being great guys!

  25. Gospelhog,
    I am glad you know BB to be a group of being great guys, but I have to take exception to your comment on the harmonizing they do. It is awesome. Technology isn’t what makes their harmony in anyway. Yes, they have used stacks in their stuff, but I have been in a very large venue where Michael said to turn off the stacks. They did and the harmony was still awesome.
    Before you wonder if I know what harmony is, click on my name and listen to a few of the songs on our group website. Family harmony is supposed to be the best when all the individuals have the talent, but BB have worked very hard on harmonies in order to do it right and it shows. They are one of the best with or without technology.