Salvation after joining a Southern Gospel Group

From time to time, there are interesting discussions about the testimonies of Southern Gospel performers who share from the stage that they had recently been saved. Singers such as Mark Trammell, Brian Free, Tim Riley, David Hill, and Mike LeFevre have all shared as part of their testimonies from the stage about how they were saved after already singing in a Southern Gospel Quartet.

This got me to thinking. Which Southern Gospel groups require that their members be born-again Christians?

Undoubtedly there are unsaved singers in Southern Gospel groups today. Don’t post any names in the comments; those comments will be immediately removed. But feel free to post the names of groups you know require that their members have made a public profession of faith.

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Southern Gospel Quartets: Business Information

There has been some discussion on the Singing News message board concerning who owns various Southern Gospel groups. Somebody was thought to own a certain group, when in fact the owner had hired him to manage it.

I thought that a little research could save a lot of confusion, so with that in mind I searched business filings for about thirty groups. Here is a list of various corporations and limited liability corporations, their dates of formation, and their registered agents.

Legacy Five, Inc.
Date of Formation: 01/07/2000
Registered Agent: George M. Johnson, Brentwood, TN

Legacy Five Leasing, L.L.C.
Date of Formation 10/24/2002
Registered Agent: Scott Fowler, Franklin, TN

Triumphant Quartet, Inc.
Date of Formation: 10/23/2002
Registered Agent: Eric Bennett, Sevierville, TN

Blackwood Brothers Quartet, Inc. (Also Blackwood Brothers, Inc.)
Date of Formation: 06/22/1987
Registered Agent: James Blackwood, Jr., Memphis, TN

Palmetto State Quartet, LLC
Date of Formation: 11/09/2004
Registered Agent: Kerry Beatty, Franklin, TN

Monument Quartet, LLC
Date of Formation: 05/07/2005
Registered Agent: Marshall Pugh, Brentwood, TN

Greater Vision Music Ministries, Inc.
Date of Formation: 04/28/1993
Registered Agent: Gerald Wolfe, Morristown, TN

The Isaacs
Date of Formation: 01/29/2004
Registered Agent:THE ISAACS, LLC , Nashville, TN

Kingdom Heirs
Date of Formation: 07/23/1990
Registered Agent: Kreis French

The McKameys, Inc.
Date of Formation: 05/18/1989
Registered Agent: Reuben Bean

Stamps Quartet, Inc.
Date of Formation: 11/01/1962
Registered Agent: Shirley Enoch

Talley Trio, Inc.
Date of Formation: 06/29/2000
Registered Agent: Roger Talley

Signature Sound Quartet, Inc.
Date of Formation: December 20, 2002
Registered Agent: Ernie Haase, Stow, Ohio

Gold City Quartet, Inc.
Date of Registration: 01-14-1986
Registered Agent: Tim Riley
Names of Inc.: Gary McQuire, Tim Riley, Gary Jones, Ivan Parker, Brian Free

Mark Trammell Minstries, Inc.
Date of Inc.: 08-21-2002
Registered Agent: Mark Trammell, Southside, AL
Names of Inc.: Mark Trammell

Gaither Vocal Band
Bill Gaither has at least 12 corporations to his name

Dixie Echoes
Date formed: 09/25/1984
Officer/Director: Randy D. Shelnut

The Florida Boys, Inc.
Date formed: 03/03/1997
Registered Agent: Donald A. Roark
Officer/Director: Lester G. Beasley (President), Derrell M. Stewart, and Glennan H. Allred

Brian Free, Inc.
Date formed: 12/22/1993
Brian Free, CEO; Pamela Free, CFO and Secretary

The Nelons, Inc.
Date formed: 5/30/1995; date dissolved 7/5/1998
Kelly Nelon Thompson, CEO; Jerry L. Thompson, CFO

North Carolina
Dove Brothers Quartet, LLC
Date formed: 12/31/1998
Registered Agent: David McCray Dove
Duration: NOV 2028
(Hopefully the date of duration is eventually revised!)
Carolina Entertainment, Inc.
Date formed: 9/25/2001
Registered Agent: Ray D. Reese

The Inspirations, Inc.
Date formed: 6/11/1971
Registered Agent: Martin A. Cook
President: Martin Cook. Vice-President: Archie Watkins. Secretary-Treasurer: Mike Holcomb.

The Anchormen, Inc.
Date formed: 2/18/1994
Registered Agent: Ray Bullard

Hopper Brothers & Connie, Inc.
Date formed: 2/3/1972
Registered Agent: Claude D. Hopper

I additionally searched for but did not find corporation filings for the Chuck Wagon Gang (TN), the Perrys (TN), the Toney Brothers (TN), the Ball Brothers (GA), Poet Voices (GA), and the Dixie Melody Boys (NC).

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Inspirations and Signature Sound: Male Quartets of the Year

Ever since the Inspirations and Signature Sound tied for Male Quartet of the Year in last Thursday’s Fan Awards, this unlikely tie has been the topic of heated discussion on various Southern Gospel message boards.

Most of this discussion has centered around how hard it would be to find two less similar groups. But looking beyond the surface dissimilarities reveals some interesting parallels.

Both groups are vocally led by a tenor and anchored by a bass; in each case, the tenor and the bass are (arguably) the most popular of the group members. While the bass part often has the best-known individual, relatively few groups are led vocally by a tenor.

But there is a key similarity, which makes the many of the same fans willing to vote for either for quartet of the year. Both devote about least half of their live concerts, and a quarter to a third of the slots on their recordings, to bringing back classic songs that were popular before that group’s founding. Many of these songs are convention songs with a walking bass part. After they establish a connection with live audiences with familiar songs, they sing the new songs that they have introduced.

Granted, there are differences between the groups as well–musical differences such as instrumentation or accents, and superficial differences such as hairstyle or tie length.

But since some bloggers (figuratively) tear their hear out in puzzlement over how the same voters could possibly vote for one group one year and another group another year, it’s worth stepping back for a moment to take in the fact that, after all, both groups do come from and utilize the same Southern Gospel tradition, in ways that have their similarities just as they have their differences.

In conclusion, I have no idea what the Inspirations think of Ernie Haase and Signature Sound but it’s fascinating to read what Ernie Haase thinks of Archie Watkins and the Inspirations.

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Ernie Haase thanks fans for awards

Ernie Haase made a post on the Signature Sound message board today thanking the fans for nominating and voting for Signature Sound in the Fan Awards. [EDIT, 11/8/10: The link is broken and has been removed.] It’s worth joining the message board to read it. (The first link only works for registered members.)

He tells the story of how, on one of his first concerts in a full-time group (with Squire Parsons), he met Archie Watkins for the first time. He says that he has stayed in touch with Archie over the years, and was personally honored to have shared the Group of the Award with the Inspirations.

There was a big surprise in the post, too. Ernie revealed which tenor he voted for this year. But I’ll let you read that one in his own words.

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American Gospel Music: Not Dead on Arrival

The National Quartet Convention, Christian Music Presenters, and Lifeway Worship Group have been working for several months to prepare a roster of top-notch Southern Gospel groups and market them as “American Gospel” artists. This attempt to re-think Southern Gospel was immediately declared dead on arrival by some observers, who said that it was all talk and no substance.

But if you ask me, I’d tell you that there’s some substance to an invitation to appear in Carnegie Hall. [EDIT, 11/8/10: The link is broken and has been removed.]

For those who do not have access to the Singing News website: The article states that the National Quartet Convention, Christian Music Presenters, and MidAmerica Productions will be partnering together to launch an American Gospel Music Festival. MidAmerica Productions promotes concerts at Carnegie Hall and other venues in New York City.

This festival is scheduled to be held in November 2007, during Thanksgiving weekend.

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Old Time Gospel Hour Quartet to record new album

In an email update mailed yesterday, Jerry Pilgrim of the Old Time Gospel Hour Quartet announced that the quartet would be going into the studio in November and December to record what will be their first new project in about two years. (For those who care about such things, their project will be recorded at GAT3 Studios in Charlotte, North Carolina.)

This recording is an interesting case study in personnel turnover. Lead singer Wyatt Wilson is now the only group member who also appeared on the previous recording. The Old Time Gospel Hour Quartet that recorded Restoration in 2005 (a fine project, by the way), was tenor Robbie Hiner, lead Wyatt Wilson, baritone Jeff Stanley, and bass Jeff Pearles. Robbie Hiner is now an executive with Song Garden Music Group; Jeff Stanley has (according to the quartet’s most recent email update) accepted a position with Liberty University, and Jeff Pearles is now bass with the King’s Heralds Quartet, a group whose schedule is nearly entirely filled with Seventh-Day Adventist venues.

Two years later, as the quartet prepares for their sixth album, their lineup consists of former Legacy Five tenor Tony Jarman, lead singer Wyatt Wilson, newly joined baritone Ron Grimes, and bass Jerry Pilgrim.

Although the lead singer has still stayed the same, a group with this much personnel change has to effectively start over with every album, winning (or retaining) fans of previous versions of the quartet. But the Old Time Gospel Hour Quartet has assembled a lineup of extremely talented men, and I have no doubt that they will be able to re-establish themselves as a quartet with a smooth blend and a trademark sound.

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On Liner Notes

Sometimes liner notes can be more interesting than the music they describe. It’s not that the music is boring or forgettable (usually); it’s that liner notes can get pretty interesting.

Liner notes, both today and back in the days when a 33 1/3 rpm record cover provided plenty of room for prolixity, often contain interesting facts about the group and stories about songs or about the recording process of the album. Production credits permit observers to trace musicians’ contributions to various albums.

Songwriter credits are also fascinating. With research, you can easily find whether songs introduced on a recording are entirely new or have been recorded before. One aspect of song credits common in other genres but usually (and unfortunately) omitted in Southern Gospel is listing the year a song was copyrighted; this can also send a signal as to whether the song is original to the project.

But, ironically, the most useful part of CD liner notes is frequently omitted.

First, some background: Some groups, such as Greater Vision and the McKameys, maintain a steady enough lineup for every Southern Gospel fan who so desires to easily remember the members of the group. But most Southern Gospel groups do not measure the duration of a particular lineup in decades.

Some Southern Gospel groups list group personnel in their liner notes. But many groups omit this information, even if they list all the other musicians who contributed to recording the album. While this omission is particularly conspicuous when it occurs in a project by a group with yearly turnover (like the Anchormen, Dixie Melody Boys, or Palmetto State Quartet), it is a problem anywhere.

It causes a problem for people who purchase CDs, tapes, or records of groups recorded before they personally became familiar with the group. Occasionally even the experts will have a hard time figuring out group personnel for a particular record.

Additionally, to just face the facts, quite a few casual Southern Gospel fans don’t read Singing News. Yet they will frequently purchase a group’s album when the group performs a concert at their church. Afterwards, when they open the CD and start listening to it, they might notice that a few of the people who appeared on the cover had left the group by the time they purchased the album.

While all the elements of a good set of liner notes are interesting, identifying the group members is simply too important to overlook.

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