Past the Press Release: An Interview with Stephen Srein

Stephen SreinPast the Press Release is an interview series featuring a new member of a professional Southern Gospel group. It’s a chance to look past the standard “excited to be here” press release comment and learn a little more about them. In this case, the column title is somewhat of a misnomer, because the Inspirations’ official announcement that Stephen Srein is their new lead singer is coming a little later today on Facebook. So watch for that, but meanwhile, let’s get to know Stephen a little better!

Daniel: Which artists were your first exposure to Southern Gospel and sparked a desire to sing it yourself?

Stephen: My very first exposure was the Gaither Vocal Band album I Do Believe. It was given to me by a great friend and helped encourage me through some rough times as a teenager. I then began to be introduced to groups such as The Kingdom Heirs. At a Kingdom Heirs concert, Arthur Rice took about twenty-five minutes to talk to me about singing. It was that conversation that sparked the desire to sing in quartets. (especially the lead part)

Daniel: Have you sung in any groups prior to joining the Inspirations?

Stephen: I sang in some regional groups while I was in college: Sacred Heritage Quartet (with Jon Epley and current Promise tenor T.J. Evans) and also a group called Committed Quartet.

Daniel: Is this solo project yours? http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/stephensrein

Stephen: Yes, that is my solo album. I am still working with cdbaby on some issues with this link though as far as purchasing Etc…

Daniel: What was your first exposure to the Inspirations?

Stephen: My first exposure was two years ago when I first learned that Jon was with the group. I knew of the Inspirations but had never really listened to any of their music before then.

Daniel: Looking back through their history, what are some of your all-time favorite Inspirations songs and albums/CDs?

Stephen: The I Know record is very strong. Also, the Southern Gospel Treasury Series is one of my favorites.

Daniel: From when I first met you earlier this week, your name sounded quite familiar, and I’ve been trying to place it since. Are you the same Stephen S. we see around here on occasion? 🙂

I have been known to interact occasionally on sgblog. 🙂 I thoroughly enjoy the site and also enjoy interacting with fans of Southern Gospel music.

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An Interview with Allison Durham Speer

Earlier this week, Allison Durham Speer launched the GodSong Music Academy.

Daniel: Most of my readers know that you have a connection to the Speer Family, but many are new enough to the genre that they don’t know the connection. How are you connected?

Allison: I married into the Speer Family in 1989. I married Brock and Faye Speer’s son, Brian. He played guitar for the family for five years and retired to continued his education at Trevecca Nazarene University. He was an accountant at the Benson Company and several companies as he aged. He now owns and manages a recording studio. He is an engineer and producer. It has been an adventure to be in the Speer Family. What giants they are in our field of expertise, and as saints of God. I learned the importance of education from Brock, Faye (and my beloved). I also learned from them what it means to love and respect one another in marriage. They were lovers and partners eternally.

Daniel: I would venture to say that most of my readers have seen you on Gaither Homecoming videos, but probably some do not have any of your solo recordings. If I could talk my readers into purchasing one of your solo recordings this week, which one should they get?

Allison: My last recording “The Holy Hills” is my best work to date. I have a new recording in the works, at present. It is called “The Writer”. I have co-written every song on the new one and am excited about the possibilities for the project. “The Holy Hills” is my first attempt at production. It has three Dottie Rambo songs and several new titles, as well. It has a celtic flare and is musically diverse.

Daniel: This week, you announced a new venture, GodSong Music Academy (www.godsongmusicacademy.com). What is the vision of this academy?

GodSong Music Academy is a training ground for musicians who want to be better communicators from the stage. We have seen, over the years, a “cut and paste” mentality in Gospel music. What I mean by this is that many performers just repeat what they hear another group or singer say and do. In digging beneath the surface though, we have found that most of those who are just mimicking another’s blueprint of music have very deep spiritual threads running through their lives. They just do not know how to tap into those core emotions and then articulate them with music and speaking. With just a basic communications foundation artists develop a right sense of their calling and the ability to captivate an audience with their performance. This increases their invitations, finances, audience base and ministry opportunities. It is worth investing in musicians if we can teach them to be ministers in the realm of the church. At GodSong we train people in each aspect of ministry- music, speaking, writing, voice, appearance, people skills, fund raising, booking, management, recording, etc.

Daniel: I understand this academy arose out of the Elijah School of Performance. Are there any differences in focus or emphasis that prompted the name change?

Allison: Yes, this Academy has several different tracks of study that one can pursue. Voice, writing, speaking, instrumental performance, and managerial areas will be available. We are developing an online curriculum for members to access classes and video events that will further their learning. A person may want to take voice from a coach with a teacher through Skype, or continue music theory through the internet classes. I will also be available to help people with segues, writing, speaking and designing their musical sets of concerts. A master class of GodSong will be available later in the year and we will also take Godsong staffers on the road to do smaller conferences in other areas of the country. This is an exciting new model of education that will build ministry teams who will do music specifically designed for the church. Now days people do music that appeals to the throngs of positive country lovers and the church. We are targeting the musicians who really feel called to work specifically in the church. We are developing a record label, publishing company, and online magazine, as well as the conferences.

Daniel: How long does the academy last? Where is it held, and how does someone sign up?

Allison: GodSong is in June 26-29 (Wed.-Sat) 2013, at Grace Church of the Nazarene in Nashville, TN. The web page www.godsongmusicacademy.com has a registration page and more information about our staff and seminars. We keep the attendance at a number of guests small enough to allow me to work with every person individually. Each person gets to sing several times and receive coaching and instruction on how to augment the performance to make it dynamic. We also have a panel of music professionals who come in on Friday afternoon to hear every person and give their advice and critiques. We have seen three GodSong attendees hired to full time groups and several go into full time ministry because of the direction received at the conference. This year we are offering voice lessons from a vocal expert named Ben Waites. We are also planning to have a professional songwriter, a comedian, a graphics designer, an instrumentalist, a producer and a record label executive, as well as other professional singers. We develop the community and allow those who are there to grow by mentoring them.

Daniel: Thank you!

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Past the Press Release: An Interview with Mark Clark

Past the Press Release is an interview series featuring a new member of a professional Southern Gospel group. It’s a chance to look past the standard “excited to be here” press release comment and learn a little more about them. In years past, you may have met Mark Clark when he was filling in or singing backup for former Inspirations tenor Archie Watkins. Now it’s his turn to fill that legendary role. Let’s get to know him a little better!

Daniel: Let’s start with a little background. Did you grow up around Gospel Music, or did you discover it as an adult?

Mark: I was introduced to Southern Gospel Music through my parents. They took me to singings when I was a child because they had no one to keep me. I remember going to see such groups as the Kingsmen, Gold City, McKameys, and yes even the Inspirations. My favorite group was the Kingsmen (sorry Martin). The songs they sang with that Southern Gospel beat really grabbed my attention.

I was 27 years old the first time I sang in front of people, it was in our church. I was so nervous I started off singing with my back to the audience with my pants legs visibly shaking. After the shock, I sang for 9 years with my wife and another couple, we called ourselves Vessels of Praise. In 2004, Melton Campbell called me and asked if I would be interested in singing tenor in his group called Common Garments. I accepted. I was introduced to the Inspirations through Melton.

Daniel: What sparked your desire to sing Gospel Music?

Mark: I have always said that I was born in the wrong generation. I love the harmonies of 4 part singing. The only music that fits that style is southern gospel. I would rather sing harmony than do a solo any day.

Daniel: This actually isn’t your first time on The Inspirations bus; I recall seeing you with the group before, in March 2007, assisting Archie. How long were you the assistant or backup Inspirations tenor?

Mark: I helped Archie off and on from 2005 through the first part of 2008. Daron Osborne and I rotated on that duty. The opportunity was so awesome. I was singing with a living legend. Since his beginning, very few had been given such an honor.

Daniel: Do you have an all-time favorite Inspirations album and/or song?

Mark: My favorite album of the Inspirations is “I Know” because I helped with that project while Archie was out. Archie actually sang on the recording. I had a part in working out the harmonies.

Daniel: Could you tell us a little about your family and about interests or hobbies you have outside of music?

Mark: Well I have been married to my wife, Gay, for 25 years this September and she supports me in my singing and travels. I have two children, daughter, Yancey, 21 and son, Hunter, 16. I love to hunt, fish and play golf in what little spare time I have.

I love singing with the Inspirations because the guys are a lot of fun. There is never a dull moment on the bus. Also, with the schedule we have, I am able to make it back for church 95% of the time. Church is very important to me and my family.

Daniel: Thank you!

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Past the Press Release: An Interview with Paul Harkey

Paul HarkeyPast the Press Release is an interview series featuring a new member of a professional Southern Gospel group. It’s a chance to look past the standard “excited to be here” press release comment and learn a little more about them. In years past, you may have met Paul Harkey at an Anchormen or LeFevre Quartet concert, but today, he is the newest member of Ernie Haase & Signature Sound. Let’s get to know him a little better!

Daniel J. Mount: What inspired you to want to sing Southern Gospel? 

Paul: Well I grew up in church. It was one of those “every time the doors were open” situations. My parents are some of the most amazing people I know. My mother was the church pianist/organist so I grew up hearing all of the hymns not only in church, but also at home when she would practice. I did my first solo when I was around six years old. I got so nervous. I was supposed to sing the song through twice, but once through was quite enough for me! 

It wasn’t until I went to the Homecoming Texas Style in Ft. Worth in 1995 that I truly fell in love with Southern Gospel music. That was when I first saw George Younce and the Cathedral Quartet. Not only did I know I wanted to sing, I knew I wanted to sing bass! It was the greatest thing I had ever heard!

Daniel: Has your voice tended toward the bass end of the spectrum since your teens, or is the ability to sing bass one that you discovered more recently?

Paul: I was classically trained in college as a baritone but bass singing was always the part I leaned toward any time I heard a quartet singing…which is still what you would hear if you rode around with me in my car.

Daniel: What bass singers have you studied (or studied with) to develop your vocal technique?

Paul: Of course, George Younce though I never got to meet him. Jeff Chapman has been my biggest personal mentor. He also happens to be a great friend. I have also had the opportunity to study from Tim Riley (Gold City) and Joe Brown (The Diplomats). All absolutely wonderful, and coincidentally, hilarious men of God.

Daniel: Glorious Day, releasing on April 2, is your debut recording with Ernie Haase & Signature Sound. What are some of your favorite moments on the project?

Paul: There are so many great moments! It’s really hard to choose just a few. All of the orchestration and instrumentation headed up by Wayne Haun is breathtaking! We did a live acoustic version of “Sometimes I Wonder” as well and it is quite a moment!

Daniel: Most of my readers have seen EH&SS at some point, but for some, it’s been a few years. How would you compare the Signature Sound live experience today to what it was five years ago? What’s new or different, and what’s the same?

Paul: Well besides the obvious member changes, I think that the goal is still the same…JOY! We all want to spread God’s love, hope, and joy to as many people as God puts in our path. Here more recently, if you come to a “Siggy Sound” concert, you will get an intimate look at our hearts and truly what we are about in this wonderful ministry with which God has blessed us. Your spirit will definitely be lifted and there will be a song in your heart!

Daniel: Thank you!

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Past the Press Release: An Interview with new Dixie Melody Boys lead singer Mike Rogers

Dixie Melody Boys: Matt Felts, Mike Rogers, Steven Cooper, Ed O'Neal

Dixie Melody Boys: Matt Felts, Mike Rogers, Steven Cooper, Ed O’Neal

Past the Press Release is an interview series featuring a new member of a professional Southern Gospel group. It’s a chance to look past the standard “excited to be here” press release comment and learn a little more about them. Meet new Dixie Melody Boys lead singer Mike Rogers, whose hire will be officially announced today!

Later this morning, the Dixie Melody Boys will distribute an official press release announcing that their new lead singer is Mike Rogers. Rogers hails from Sandersville, Georgia. His wife is named Becky, and they have a three-year-old daughter, Coraline. He previously performed with Kindred Spirit. (Here’s a video of him featured on a solo with that group.)

Dixie Melody Boys tenor Matt Felts states that the group received over three hundred applications. He adds: “It was an overwhelming response. We didn’t expect so many men to apply. It proved to me that there is a lot of talent in Southern Gospel music. As we stated, our plan was to audition several men, take them on the road with us and then announce them in September. Sometimes plans change. As I was going through demo’s a voice begin to sing and I knew we had found our next lead singer. Ed listened to his demo and agreed. The moment we met Mike Rogers and heard him sing with us we knew God had brought us the right fit.” He added that they moved up the announcement after the strong response Rogers received at the Absolutely Gospel Fan Fest and at Frank Arnold’s Songfest; they knew it wouldn’t take long for word to get out online.

Daniel: What was your first exposure to Southern Gospel? If you didn’t grow up around it, what individuals or groups introduced you to this style?

Mike: I heard it around my grandparents’ house growing up but I never really connected to it. A few years back I was introduced to the music of Jason Crabb. I thought “If you can sing Gospel music like that, that’s what I want to do.” Michael English has also influenced me along with Jason.

Daniel: What / who inspired you to start singing?

Mike: I actually didn’t start singing until I was in my late teens. I got involved in a community theatre production that required me to sing.

Daniel: Did you have the opportunity to grow up in a Christian home? If not, where along the way did you hear the Gospel?

Mike: Luckily, I did. I started going to church around nine years old but I really committed my life when I was around 19.

Daniel: What group(s) have you sung with prior to joining the Dixie Melody Boys? (I’ve heard about your work with Kindred Spirit, but don’t know if there are any others.)

Mike: The first group I was with was called Saviors Touch. I was with them two years before joining Kindred Spirit this past January. They were dissapointed to see me go but fully supported me. They are thrilled for this opportunity that I have been blessed with.

Daniel: Do you play any musical instruments, or have other musical interests (e.g. songwriting, album production, live concert audio) other than singing?

Mike: I love anything to do with music. I began playing the guitar when I was 12. I also dabble a little with the piano, drums, mandolin and bass guitar. I also enjoy live concert audio and have written a few songs.

Daniel: How about non-musical hobbies?

Mike: I am an avid hunter and fisherman. I love the outdoors. From what I have been told by Ed and the guys, Golf will be my new hobby on the road. lol.

Daniel: Yes, I think that may be safe to assume! 🙂 Let’s suppose you had the opportunity to go back in time and hear any one Southern Gospel group you’ve never gotten to see in person live. What group would you pick, and what lineup or year?

Mike: I would have loved to hear the Hinsons back in the day. I’m sure that was an awesome show.

Daniel: If you could put together a dream team quartet of any vocalist currently in Southern Gospel, who would you pick?

Mike: Well, I’m pretty blessed to have a dream quartet where I’m at with Ed O’Neal, Matt Felts and Steven Cooper. These guys are great but if I had to pick other guys I would pick David Phelps, Jason Crabb, Joseph Habedank and Tim Duncan.

Daniel: I understand you’re married and have one child. Could you share a little about your family?

Mike: I have a beautiful and supportive wife Becky. We have been married 4 years. I am also blessed with a incredible 3 year old little girl named Coraline. We will be moving soon to Kinston.

Daniel: What are good ways to keep up with you and with the Dixie Melody Boys?

Mike: I have already been blessed to meet some incredible Dixie Melody Boys fans on the road and I am looking forward to meeting more. It’s an exciting time to join the guys. We have so many great things coming up. You can keep up with us at www.dixiemelodyboys.com and on our facebook page.

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Past the Press Release: An Interview with Andy Tharp

Andy Tharp, puzzling over Daniel Ball's emcee work.

Past the Press Release is an interview series featuring a new member of a professional Southern Gospel group. It’s a chance to look past the standard “excited to be here” press release comment and learn a little more about them. Meet (relatively) new Ball Brothers baritone Andy Tharp!

Daniel: I understand that you go way back with the Ball Brothers – so far back that you were actually singing with them before they started singing with Stephen. At what ages did you start singing together?

Andy: My older brother and I started singing with Andrew and Daniel when I was 10 years old. We were all pretty nervous the first few times we sang to a congregation. We almost sounded like the chipmunks with our quivering voices.

Daniel: At the time, who sang the highest and lowest parts? If this was before your voices changed, were you calling the parts tenor, lead, and baritone, or something else?

Andy: Each person had a “title” as either a tenor, lead, baritone or bass. When we first started I believe that Andrew sang tenor but we quickly realized that Daniel had a higher voice and so he took over as the tenor of the group and Andrew took the lead. After our voices began to change, which I might add was a crazy time for our group, Daniel and Andrew switched the lead and tenor parts again. My brother Matt sang the bass part and I was the baritone of the group but all four of us learned to switch parts as needed.

Daniel: That would be a crazy time for a group! Did you just sing together in your own church, or did you sing at other venues in your area?

Andy: We started out just singing at our church where we grew up but began to get requests to sing at other churches, camps and youth conferences. We always looked forward to summer time when we had the opportunity to do a little traveling and singing.

Daniel: In the fifteen years or so before you (re)joined the Ball Brothers, what have you been up to, musically and otherwise?

Andy: I’ve worked a normal 40 hour a week job since I was 18 and stayed busy helping in our church as the music director for over 9 years. Being involved in our church is very important to my wife and I. We are so thankful for the church that God has led us to be a part of.

Daniel: I suppose it wouldn’t be an interview of a Ball Brothers member without at least one totally random question. Do you only hate lettuce by itself, or do you also hate it in burritos? 🙂

Andy: That’s actually not an uncommon question for me. I have 11 siblings and all of them love to eat lettuce, so I’m the oddball (no pun intended). I generally do not care for lettuce on or with anything. I think my mother always assumed that it was something I would grow out of but that’s not the case.

For the rest of the interview, click the post title or, if you’re viewing this on the website, the “read more” button.

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Past the Press Release: An Interview with Tyler Vestal

Past the Press Release is an interview series featuring a new member of a professional Southern Gospel group. It’s a chance to look past the standard “excited to be here” press release comment and learn a little more about them. Meet new Freedom baritone Tyler Vestal!

Tyler VestalDaniel: I’ve heard that you come from a musical background. Could you tell us about your musical family members?

Tyler: Well my mother sings with the female trio out of Greensboro, NC called Rejoice! but even at a young age, she and her family traveled and performed around much of the southeast. My grandfather also played the piano and organ for an evangelist named Rudy Teague around much of the Carolinas. (We’re all big music people! LOL)

Daniel: So did you grow up wanting to be a singer? Or if you weren’t particularly interested as a child, what sparked that interest later on?

Tyler: I did always like to sing growing up but until I turned 13 and went to my first NQC, I had never considered that being my career.

Daniel: Outside of your family, who are your biggest musical influences?

Tyler: As far as inspiring me to want to be a singer, Gene McDonald, Mark Trammell, and Roger & Debbie Talley played a big part. Influences stylistically, however, range all the way from Jake Hess to Brad Paisley!

Daniel: Did you sing with any other groups before joining Freedom?

Tyler: I sang bass for Rejoice! for about 4 years full-time.

Daniel: When I saw Freedom in concert a few months ago, you played the piano on several songs. How long have you been playing piano?

Tyler: I started to pick it up around the age of 3 or 4 my parents say.

Daniel: Do you think of yourself as more a singer who can play piano or more a pianist who can sing?

Tyler: Well I’ve been blessed throughout my career in gospel music to be able to do both but if i had to choose, I would most likely say a singer who can play.

Daniel: Let’s suppose you had the opportunity to go back in time and hear any one Southern Gospel group you’ve never gotten to see in person live. What group would you pick, and what lineup or year?

Tyler: It would either be the Ivan, Brian, Mike, Tim, and Garry lineup of Gold City, or the Hovie, Jake, Chief, Rosie, Doy lineup of the Statesmen.

Daniel: Congratulations on joining Freedom! Josh Garner and John Rulapaugh are known for having big, powerful voices. Have you had to make any adjustments to your singing style to match the volume and intensity of their power vocals and harmonies?

Tyler: Having been a bass singer before, there were definitely some adjustments; however, it has also helped expand my range quite a bit.

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Past the Press Release: An Interview with Chris Jenkins

Past the Press Release is an interview series featuring a new member of a professional Southern Gospel group. It’s a chance to look past the standard “excited to be here” press release comment and learn a little more about them. Meet new Kingsmen tenor Chris Jenkins!

Chris JenkinsDaniel: Have you grown up around Southern Gospel your whole life, or did you discover it more recently?

Chris: Since a very young age I have loved Southern Gospel music. My family introduced me to this great music by taking me to concerts with such groups as; Gold City, Heaven Bound, Hoppers, and of course, The Kingsmen. My grandfather sang in a regional quartet in North Carolina and I longed to be able to do the same. I knew from this moment, this was what I wanted to do when as I grew older. Most people follow sports and it’s statistics through the years. I was very different I ate, slept, and breathed Southern Gospel Music. I studied many groups, their styles, and their history.

Daniel: Which group(s) most influenced you to want to be a singer yourself?

Chris: The very first group I remember seeing live was Gold City. By this time, the line-up included Free, Parker, Lefevre, Jones, and Riley. They always seemed to have a very structured sound and presentation. This was very different from that of the Kingsmen line-up I remember, which consisted of Garry Sheppard, Ray Dean Reese, Arthur Rice, and Ed Crawford, who seemed to always call their songs “off the cuff” with the guidance of Jim Hamill from the stage.

Daniel: I understand you trained under one of Southern Gospel’s most beloved tenors. Could you tell us about that, and any other musical training you’ve had?

Chris: I have always loved the tenor part, mainly because I could sing in that range as a young boy as the other parts were too low for me at that time. As I grew older I prayed for the Lord to allow me to maintain my tenor range. I feel blessed that the LORD gave me the desires of my heart. As a teenager, I had the great privilege of sitting in with Brian Free for a short time during his solo years in which I received feedback, guidance, and tips in the technique of my singing. I have to say that it was not an immediate understanding and gratification in my singing. At one point, I seemed to have had an epiphany in my singing. Everything just seemed to “click” in my head regarding my singing voice and technique. I practiced daily to get it right and after the years that have passed, I still revert back to a lot of these techniques. After high school I went on to study music at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the Stamps-Baxter School of Music in Nashville, TN.

Daniel: You sang with several groups before joining the Kingsmen, most recently the Vintage Quartet. What other groups did you sing with? What are some highlights from your years on the road prior to this point?

Chris: From about the age of 18, I traveled with a group from my home church called, Redeemed Voices. In the summer of 2010, we were booked at an event with Karen Peck and New River with one other regional group. From that concert, a couple of members from the other regional group and I formed the Vintage Quartet. While traveling with the Vintage Quartet, we were awarded Grand Champion Group of the North Carolina Singing Convention in 2011 and signed a recording agreement with SkyLand Records, a division of Crossroads Entertainment, the same parent company that the Kingsmen recorded with. I am glad to still be a part of the Crossroads Family and the great people there.

(Click the “read more” button—or, if you’re reading via RSS or email, click through to the post—to see the rest of the interview.)

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Past the Press Release: An Interview with Andrew Goldman

Past the Press Release is an interview series featuring a new member of a professional Southern Gospel group. It’s a chance to look past the standard “excited to be here” press release comment and learn a little more about them. Meet Union Street baritone Andrew Goldman!

Andrew GoldmanDaniel: Over the last few months, Union Street (formerly The Ryan Seaton Quartet) has generated enough buzz and won enough fans that I thought readers would be interested to see an interview with the group’s newest face. I understand that this isn’t your first time singing with a Southern Gospel group, though. What group(s) have you sung with previously?

Andrew: I’ve been around Gospel music my entire life. I joined the Conquerors Quartet as their lead singer in 2006, when I was a Sophomore in high school. Once, I began my college career at Oakland City University, I joined their ambassador Gospel group, Earthlight. I traveled with both groups during my college years.

Daniel: What or who inspired you to start singing?

Andrew: My family has been my inspiration. My dad started singing with the Conquerors Quartet when I was six months old. I always wanted to be like him, and be a member of the group. I have had the honor of singing alongside of him with the Conquerors since 2009. Not only is he an amazing vocalist, (100 times better than I’ll ever be), he’s completely in tune with what God has in store for each and every one of our concerts. Not only does my father sing, but my mom has one of the smoothest alto voices you have ever heard. She sounds a lot like Karen Carpenter. I’m blessed with such talented parents. I also have had the opportunity to sing with both of them as a trio.

Daniel: Have you had any vocal training, formal or informal?

Andrew: Yes, I actually just graduated with degrees in Music Education and Vocal Performance from Oakland City University. My instructor, Cynthia Retana, has been a tremendous influence in my music. She has helped develop my voice, and helped to take it to the next level. I have studied Italian Arias, Opera, English Oratorio, German Lieder, French, and English Arias under her direction.

Daniel: Readers might be interested to know about a musical connection you share with Ernie Haase, Scott Fowler, Jeremy Lile, and Dusty Barrett. Could you elaborate?

Andrew: Yes, these fantastic artists were once members of Oakland City University’s ambassador Gospel group, Earthlight. I have been a member of Earthlight during my college years.

Daniel: Why the big glasses and bow tie? 🙂

Andrew: Union Street wants to not only appeal to current Gospel music fans, but we want to appeal to future, younger fans of Gospel music. Our style and sound is more progressive gospel. The glasses set me apart from others, and I’ve always been a huge fan of the bow-tie.

Daniel: I love bow ties, by the way—I wear one myself when I wear a tie! Do you have other musical talents, perhaps playing an instrument, running sound, or something else?

Andrew: I’ve played the drums since I was 11. I’ve had the opportunity to play alongside some great musicians. I actually started with the Conquerors as their fill-in drummer during their time traveling with a live band. I would not consider myself a sound man, but I did run sound during my time with Earthlight.

Daniel: How long have you known Ryan Seaton?

Andrew: I met Ryan during his time with Signature Sound. At the time, I wasn’t aware that he lived, basically just down the road from me. I later found out, we actually graduated from the same high school (He, of course, long before me). We became friends during this time and have kept in touch.

Daniel: When did you first find out about what is now Union Street, and join in?

Andrew: Ryan called me one day on my way home from work asking me if I would be interested in singing for fun at his upcoming solo concert at his home church. He said that he had an itch to sing with a quartet, and thought it would be fun to put a group together as a surprise at the concert. That’s how it all began.

Daniel: Can you fill us in on plans for Union Street’s debut recording?

Andrew: Union Street is hoping to get into the recording studio soon. We are currently raising funds for this. If you or someone you know would like to help, check it out on KickStarter here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/unionstreet/union-streets-debut-recording

I’m also currently working on my first solo project, set to release this summer.

Daniel: How can readers keep up with you and with Union Street?

Andrew: Follow us on Facebook (Union Street). You can also follow us on Twitter @unionstreetqt. You can also follow me @agoldman_12, Tony @TobyHitchcock, Ryan @rseaton1.

Daniel: Thank you for taking the time to do this!

Andrew: Thank you, sir!

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Past the Press Release: An Interview with Doug Wiley

Past the Press Release is an interview series featuring a new member of a professional Southern Gospel group. It’s a chance to look past the standard “excited to be here” press release comment and learn a little more about them. Meet Liberty Quartet’s new lead singer, Doug Wiley!

Doug Wiley

Doug Wiley

Daniel: Your parents introduced you to Southern Gospel; what groups did you grow up on?

Doug: I grew up listening to the Statesmen, the Hinsons, and the Happy Goodmans. I also remember loving to hear the Downings and Blackwood Brothers.

Daniel: Did you grow up hoping to be a singer? If not, at what age did that interest arise?

Doug: I wanted to sing as early as I can remember. Whenever I could, I would hold a concert in my living room and sing to the audience (the couch). I was the only one in the room at the time, but that didn’t stop me from giving it my all. I would try and mimic Ronny and Kenny Hinson, Rusty Goodman, and, of course, Jake!

Daniel: Did you have any voice training? What other preparations did you make for what you do today?

Doug: I have had no formal vocal training, although I would daily go through my father’s albums and listen to different people and try my best to sound like them. I would listen to Elvis, then switch to Ronnie or Kenny Hinson, then maybe try some EngleBert Humperdinck. I figured if I could get any of their qualities, then I could sing anything. The bottom line is that if I have any talent at all vocally……I owe thanks to God!

Daniel: How did you get involved in Southern Gospel?

Doug: When I was in my early 20s, I ran across the Southmen Quartet and met Gary Casto, who now has Tribute Quartet. We became friends and I later joined the quartet. I owe a lot of thanks to Gary for remembering me when they needed a lead singer. 

Daniel: You have sung with several other groups – Southmen Quartet, Mercy Road Trio, and the California Melody Boys. What were some highlights from your time with those groups?

Doug: I loved traveling full time with the Southmen. I made a lot of friends and learned a lot about Southern Gospel and what makes it work.

One of my dear friends and wonderful soloist, Nathan Young, and I, along with Daymon Qualls, who I also sang with in the California Melody Boys, formed the Mercy Road Trio. It was like singing with my brothers, and I was blessed with my time with them. While still with Mercy Road, I went to a California Melody Boys concert and fell in love with their sound. Five months later, they called and I was quick to join them as their tenor. I have had so many wonderful times with all of them and will never forget all the good times.

Daniel: Any non-musical hobbies?

Doug: I love to golf! I used to be pretty good, but don’t have a lot of time now to play. I love sports and more sports and am very competitive. I’m also a big reader. I love a good book.

Daniel: Do you have other musical interests besides singing, like songwriting or playing a musical instrument?

Doug: I have written a few songs and am currently working on a few more. I plan in the future to set more time aside for it. I love to try and play the guitar and the piano…..but have no idea what I’m doing! I play a mean Ipod though!

Daniel: Neat! I’ve heard the “play the radio” line, but this is the first I’ve heard someone update it to the modern era! What is your favorite Liberty song? What are your favorite hymns and Southern Gospel classics?

Doug: At this point, I would have to say “God’s been Faithful” off our new album. Every direction I turn, God has answered a prayer and has provided what was needed. Along the same line….I love “Great is thy Faithfulness.” I love almost anything the Hinson’s did. I could hear the “Light House” 20 times a day and never get tired of it. 

Daniel: I saw from the press release that your family is above average. 🙂 Could you tell us about your family?

Doug: I have a large wonderful family. My wife Angela and I have 5 children. Hannah – 6 years, Madison – 12 years, Alyssa – 12 years, Grayson – 15 years, and Mariah who is 19. They are all a blessing and I couldn’t have asked for better children.

We were scared earlier this year when Madison was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and was dangerously ill. Once again, our Faithful God stepped in and has had his hand on her. We ask for your prayers for healing.

My wife has been such a support and friend to me as we make this move to Idaho to join Liberty.

Daniel: Thank you!

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