Billy Hodges leaves Kingdom Heirs

The Kingdom Heirs have announced Billy Hodges’ resignation from the group. He leaves on great terms with the other members, but has to cut back singing due to a lesion on his left vocal chord. This Wednesday, he prayed and talked with Steve French, and said: “We both decided that my time with the Kingdom Heirs has come to an end. Through tears we announced to the rest of the group that I would be leaving and my last date would be Jan 17th 2011.”

“It’s been a real pleasure having Billy, Selena, and Adison Jo as part of the Kingdom Heir family,” said group manager Steve French. “All of the guys prayed and hoped that Billy’s voice would clear up and he would be able to stay for many more years. Unfortunately it didn’t work out as we had planned. Billy and I both agree that it’s time and we wish him and his family the best in all of their endeavors. He will always be a Kingdom Heir in our hearts and he will be greatly missed.”

Hodges thanked French for being understanding: “Other groups might have just fired me but Steve knew my family commitments and has promised to give me two and half months to find other employment. It’s my intent to continue to work for the Dollywood Company.” He added, “I want to say a honest and heartfelt thank you to all the fans and friends I’ve made while being with the Kingdom Heirs. I will miss all of you greatly.”

When a group change has to happen, it is refreshing to see it go down this way.

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74 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. I’m sad to hear about Billy’s vocal troubles, and I’m sad to see one of the more stable lineups in SG take a hit. But this appears to be for the best. It will be interesting to see Billy’s replacement; tenor for the Kingdom Heirs is one of the most vocally demanding jobs in gospel music.

    • He was singing in the old church at Dollywood this weekend and he still sounds great.

  2. Billy is a nice guy and has really become a great tenor singer. Singing with the Kingdom Heirs has got to be strenuous at times, to have to sing not only every day of the week for multiple shows, but to do it in the mornings and afternoons, especially when singing tenor. All the vocalists in KH deserve hats off for maintaining personnel like they have, and even more so for announcing a change in the classiest way possible.

  3. This announcement has saddened me more than any announcement I have heard this year. The Kingdom Heirs have had one of the best lineups in Southern Gospel. I love to hear them and love to just talk to them when we go and see them. They are all super guys and Billy is nothing short of a class act. I pray that God will supply them with the perfect tenor singer for the job. I did not say replacement because Billy will not be able to be replaced. I pray that Jerry Martin is looking for a position and I think that he would be perfect for KH. Thanks for the post Daniel but this puts a damper on my Saturday. 🙁

  4. Wow, lot of tenors moving around right now!

  5. Wow! What an exciting week in SGM if your into personal changes! Hate to hear this!

  6. Last week I was in Dollywood and I saw Jerry Martin in a group of people being led by a Dollywood guide. They all had name tags and I thought it was rather unusual. Could it have been just a tour or maybe orientatiom? I know it is two months before Hodges leaves, but it struck me as really odd.

  7. Very interesting Jeremy. Very, Very, interesting… I would guess, just a guess that the Kingdom Heirs will higher a “BIG NAME” tenor. I think someone with a bigger name then Jerry Martin.

    • Yes, Jerry Martin has a LOT more name recognition than any other KH tenor before. If you’re implying that they’re “thinking bigger,” from their perspective, they WOULD be thinking big to hire Jerry!

  8. The last couple of tenors havent been big names for the kingdom heirs. I think Martin is a much bigger name than Hodges or previous tenors were when they joined

  9. Like J.C. in the previous comment,this has surely put a damper on my Saturday. I have always loved Billy Hodges tenor singing. I wish he and his family the very best. He was good with Dixie Echoes and awesome with Kingdom Heirs

  10. It’s sad to see Billy go but applaud both parties for not only handling this in a classy way but also a godly way.

  11. I agree, that the KH are a classy classy, real deal group, and Steve French, is to be admired at how “Godly” he did handle things.
    Especially when you hear rumors of other owners or even group members bad mouthing thier so called friends. Very sad if this is really going on.
    I also think that Jerry Martin would be a good choice for the KH position. Jerry if your reading this, KH NEEDS A TENOR MAN!
    God bless all the groups and I know God has something wonderful in store for them all.

  12. I agree, that the KH are a classy classy, real deal group, and Steve French, is to be admired at how “Godly” he did handle things.
    Especially when you hear rumors of other owners or even group members bad mouthing thier so called friends. Very sad if this is really going on.
    I also think that Jerry Martin would be a good choice for the KH position. Jerry if your reading this, KH NEEDS A TENOR MAN!
    God bless all the groups and I know God has something wonderful in store for them all…

  13. I think Josh Cobb or Jerry Martin would be phenomenal. 🙂

    • I don’t think that Josh will be interested if “logistical reasons” were why he was released from Gold City. The Kingdom Heirs all live in Dollywood or within a close driving distance of the park anyway. That is a dream Southern Gospel job to me. LOL! I am hoping that Jerry Martin will take the position if offered.

      • But here’s guessing that Nashville, and even Pigeon Forge may have more “genetic research” going on than Gadsden.

    • Unless Jerry has something really good lined up in the world of pop music… I suggest he snatch it up if Kingdom Heirs makes the offer!

      • Even if he has something really good lined up in the world of pop music . . . well, pop goes through superstars faster than a certain group under recent discussion goes through tenors. 😛

      • Kingdom Heirs is a vocally demanding job, but an excellent, stable job. Great for a family man.

      • That is what I am saying too Brian. Jerry has proven that he can withstand vocally demanding job because he was with the Kingsmen before Dove Brothers and we all know how the Kingsmen kill their tenor singers! LOL! You have got to be a superb tenor to hold up to that kind of strenuous vocal activity.

  14. I hate to hear Bily is leaving. I’ve met him a few times, he’s a great guy and a great tenor, I wish him the best of luck.

  15. From a logistical and vocal point, John Rulapaugh is a natural. He lives in the area, has a parttime business there, and is as good of pure tenor as in the industry. Downside is that he and Josh have recently started “Freedom” trio. He would be my first vote.

    • He would be awesome, but he pretty much sings the same range as freak of nature Arthur Rice. So I don’t think he’d fit vocally into the current KH set lists.

      • LOL @Daniel. Arthur Rice is a freak of nature. You have to be a super tenor to sing above the tenor singer that is singing lead! LOL! Arthur is one of the most amazing singers I have ever heard and will go down (in my opinion) as one of the best of all time. He always makes the tenor singers better that sing with him too. Look at David Sutton, Jodi Hosterman, and Billy Hodges. They were all good when they started with Kingdom Heirs but at the conclusion of their tenure with KH, they became great tenors.

      • (…even if he did wear out two of the three…)

      • Perhaps David would be a better tenor now if he had stayed with Arthur, hmmmm? 😉

      • Which of Jodi & David would you consider “worn out?”

      • Well, Jodi’s back full force, but he left after voice troubles, too, as I recall.

  16. Ok. Gotcha. That was who I thought you were talking about. Jodi is definitely back at full force and he has really changed the way that the Inspirations sound. Some long-time fans do not like the sound but they are higher now than they have ever been and can do some very powerful endings to songs that fans were not accustom to with previous lineups.

    • Sorry Daniel….This was supposed to be a reply to your comment. I got in too big of a hurry. LOL!

  17. Hey guys. We have not heard anything negative concerning our new sound at all. The response has overwhelmingly positive. I know that no one here is trying to imply anything but, I want to state for the record, that I have been so well received by our fans. I do not mean that to sound conceited at all so please don’t anyone take it that way. I really expected more problems than we have encountered. The vast majority of the comments sound something like “It’s still the Inspirations only better.”

    But, to add my two cents to the topic at hand, I am sad to see Billy go. The Kingdom Heir job is the toughest in the business, hands down! I know the rigors of singing 600+ shows a year as well as recording 2 projects a year plus doing outside concerts like Greater Vision’s Praisefest, Dixie Stampede, etc. It isn’t easy and it is going to tell on a tenor before anyone. You get so few breaks throughout the year that, once you start having trouble, you can’t catch up. It is very demanding! I wish Billy all the best.

    • Jodi,

      Great to hear from you! I’ve been hearing great things from the fans, too, about the new lineup.

      I’m also happy to see your kind words about Billy. I really hope he lands solidly on his feet . . . it really is tough to recuperate with that schedule.

      • Perhaps Billy will eventually find a job with another quartet? One that doesn’t sing quite so much.

    • Jodi,

      I do not think the Inspirations have sounded better than they do now! You know that I am one of the biggest “Jodi” fans out there!!! I hope you did not think that I meant anything negative toward you or the Inspirations. I have always been a fan of the Inspirations and will continue to be one. I think that the lineup right now is the most powerful that Inspirations has had. Billy Hodges is one of the best and most respected tenors in the Southern Gospel world. The tenor singer is definitely the first one that will feel the stress on their voice. You shed a lot of light on the stress by “600+ shows.” People that only go to one or maybe a few concerts a year do not realize that it is not the group’s 5th or 6th singing. It is very strenuous. My little brother sings tenor and his voice can get strained if we have several singings in a row. It is the toughest position in the group. Just my opinion. Keep singing and we will see you in a few weeks. Blessings!

  18. I’m sorry but I don’t think Jerry Martin is a “Big Name Tenor” I could be wrong, and I’m sure someone will say I am but I just don’t think so. EX. David Phelps, Ernie Haase, Brian Free, Jay Parrack. Wes Hampton…Jerry Martin??? ummmm I like Jerry as a singer he has been outstanding in person every time I have seen him, I think he would have fit it much better with Gold City, but they got their man. The Kingdom Heirs should fork out the change and get someone that the entire SGM world says “Wow, never thought the Kingdom Heirs could have hired ________________ ____________” I want a flashy hire it’s DOLLYWOOD!

    • Perhaps you aren’t that familiar with Kingsmen and Dove Brothers history? Jerry Martin was a breath of fresh air for Kingsmen fans in the late ’90s – then in 2002 when he joined the Dove Brothers, he took a little while finding his sweet spot, but found it in a huge way with “I Can Pray.” He really is a “name” tenor, even more so than their last two hires, Billy Hodges and Jodi Hosterman were, at the time of their hire.

      • I agree…Jerry Martin is definitely a “name tenor.” Especially since “I Can Pray.”

  19. I am and honestly believe that all the tenors before him in those groups have a more popular name in the industry then he does still today, for the exception of Chris Collingswill or whatever his name was. So let me say this one more time I like Jerry Martins voice I think he is a real good tenor probably under rated in SGM just not for the Kingdom Heirs and all the HYPE they have going on at Dollywood.

    • OK. I think Chris Collins’ last name was Collins, by the way, but I’m not 100% sure.

  20. Well, let’s put it this way: When Gaither wanted three tenors to feature on “You Sho Do Need Him Now” on a video, he picked Ernie Haase, David Phelps…..and Jerry Martin. Jerry is big time.

    Jodi, I have heard one negative comment compared to dozens of positive comments. Guess there’s one in every crowd!

  21. Well I guess I’m wrong. I’m not afraid to admit it! Please forgive me SGM world for I have sinned against thee’ it seems as if the Kingdom Heirs have a new tenor according to everyone here.

    • You never know. As far as I know, KH hasn’t offered, nor has Jerry accepted! We shall see. 😉

  22. Jerry Martin is a “big name” tenor. He has one of the highest ranges in the business and I think would be able to handle the extremely high arrangements that the KH have. Again, just my opinion. Jerry does not get a lot of recognition but he does not crave it either. He is an excellent tenor and I think is the biggest name tenor that is without a group to sing with at this moment.

  23. He is an “Excellent” tenor he is. He is. He is. Still I doubt he will be the next tenor for The Kingdom Heirs.

    • LOL! We are saying the same thing over and over aren’t we @sourceofpower. We will just have to wait and see how things transpire.

      • It is possible that nothing will happen. But for my part I’d much rather hear Jerry sing the KH repertoire than “Too Late to Apologize.” Ick.

  24. Jerry is one of my favorite tenors to listen to. It seems like a good idea for KH; maybe we should all email them and request it! 😆

  25. I think Jerry Martin is a HUGE name in SGM. I have heard him live, and he can sure flat hit them HIGH notes and make it look like he isnt even trying!
    I think he would be a great fit for the KH’s! I agree with the above in emailing them to request Jerry. I would love to see him up there with them at DOLLYWOOD this summer.
    I kind of feel like the Sir or Ma’am up there is a bit of a Jerry hater from the sound of it, but thats how I read it.
    Repetitive, yes on this subject, but it IS TRUE, Jerry is a big name Tenor like it or not.
    I loved hearing Jerry with the Dove Brothers, and even with the Kingsman. I heard him do ” Look for me at Jesus feet” after a 30 day sing….. his voice was tired but he sure did belt it out as clear as a bell and hit every note as high as the rafters!
    You GO JERRY! YOU have Earned it SIR!

  26. My take on “big name” or not would be – of course Ernie and Brian have bigger names. But they own groups. It would be a little tough to hire almost any of the tenors mentioned above. As to Jay Parrack – I would consider him and Jerry Martin at a pretty similar level. I guess Jay did have more years at a really big-name group, but there’s not much difference between the two in my mind. (I’d prefer to hear Jerry, though.)

    But I don’t think it was a hateful comment at all, just a slight overestimate of the KH’s budget. 🙂

  27. “Big name Tenors”
    Parrack Jr.
    Parrack Sr.
    I know this is my opinion and I’m sorry I have an opinion but I would put Jerry Martin name with Seamens,Hosterman, Kinston, Hodges,Guches, Ladd, Runnells, “Medium Names” GOOD SINGERS! Not “Big Names”Good news is I heard from my sources today that Jerry will be the next tenor of the Kingdom Heirs! Good can’t wait to hear them!

    • Wouldn’t Michael Booth be a much more instantly recognizable name than some of the names on your list?

    • And you also forgot Josh Cobb…

  28. Oh my I forgot Booth!!! Yikes! Sorry! 🙂

    • LOL. I wrote my comment before seeing your correction. 😛

  29. We havent heard from the big man himself, Steve French on that “rumor”. BUT if that is true about Jerry Martin being the next tenor for the Kingdom Heirs. I will be the first in line to hear this group! I hope its true!

  30. I think they are just waiting for the votes to be counted! 🙂

  31. Jerry Martin is the best tenor in SGM.He would be a tremendous addition to the Kingdom Heirs.

  32. I disagree that Jodi is a mediocre tenor. I think he is among the greatest in SG. I hope Jerry is KH new tenor because he is an awesome tenor. I feel like I’m repeating myself. LOL.

    • well I think most fan votes are in, on the new KH tenor. I also feel like I’m repeating, but I do hope Jerry is the man for the job!

      • LOL! My thoughts exactly William. I am pulling for Jerry!!! I would love to have him back in a quartet that does nothing but great quartet music!! Kingdom Heirs’ last two albums “True To The Call” & “When You Look At Me” were out of this world. I would love to hear him singing “Lord, Your Word Is Still True” or from an older recording “Anchor of Hope.” I can just hear Jerry doing KH stuff.

  33. I am very confident that the Lord has a hand in the choosing, and I feel from everything I know about Jerry that he will be in by a landslide. The man has much compassion and a love for God. A man’s gift makes room for him and takes him before great men and kings; thus saith the Lord.

  34. Jerry Martin is absolutely one of the Top 5 best tenors in SG right now. If KHQ could land him, all I can say is WOW.

  35. Jerry will be great with KH. J.C. I knew Jodi was great when he sang with Kevin Spencer and I still like him HE IS A GOOD SINGER. I said “Medium Names” please don’t put letters in my post. 🙂 My posts prior never said anything about talent. I said “big name” Jodi is still building a “name” fan base. Jerry will be great with KH. Jerry will be great with KH. Jerry is still building a “name” fan base as well. Jerry will be great with KH.

  36. As a very long time gospel music fan, I’m excited about Jerry Martin. His tenor singing is “MUSIC TO MY EARS”…. one of the GREATEST!!!!!!!

  37. We had occasion to hear Billy sing with the Kingdom Heirs this year. It was a great experience for us and we are glad we made his shows. We had heard him sing before but these were great performances; some we will never forget.
    And of course we are not biased just because he is our nephew……………We love you Billy!
    Best of luck in everything you do. Hugs and kisses to Selena & Adison.
    Uncle Bill

  38. i wish Billy Hodges and his the best of luck in the years to come and i would like to have Jerry become the new tenor for the Kingdom Heirs.

  39. I wish billy and his family the best. I love the Kingdom Heirs greatly. I know changes come but sometimes it is hard. I know jerry will do great thing there. if he ever need a day off, do you think Billy could fill in??? Thank KH for all you do and lok forward to seeing you all again

  40. I had the great honor and pleasure of hearing Billy Hodges tonight in concert at a local church here in the Tri-Cities TN. I had no idea he had left until this week. It was great seeing and hearing him sing tonight. He did great! He will be missed dearly from the KH but like he said tonight, it wasn’t meant to be and time to move on. He left on great terms and is still working for Dollywood. He will be runnig the music shop in the CraftsMen area. So he will still be in the park and hopefully he will get to do some singing. 🙂 He is an amazing singer.

  41. My husband and I were shocked and very upset to hear about Billy’s misfortune! I actually had tears in my eyes as I read that he would not be back with the KH. We have enjoyed the KH for years and Billy was amazing! We wish him the very best. I am sure God has something very special in store for him!