Kingsmen hire Bob Sellers

Bob SellersThe Kingsmen just announced that, following Bryan Hutson’s departure, they have hired Bob Sellers:

The Kingsmen are pleased to welcome Bob Sellers to the quartet, filling the vacancy created by the departure of Bryan Hutson. “I am so excited to become a member of the legendary Kingsmen Quartet family,” says Bob. “I’m thankful for this opportunity that Ray and Brandon Reese have given me, and I look forward to meeting every single Kingsmen fan.

“The first song I recall singing with my mom and sister in our little country church was ‘A Place Where The Hungry Are Fed,’ so it is a dream come true to now stand on stage with the group that introduced that song and so many other great songs to Gospel music. I will work with all that is within me to continue the proud tradition that is The Kingsmen Quartet and, most importantly, to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ in song effectively. I cannot wait to see what God has in store!

Bob’s first concert will be in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada on December 31, 2011.

Brandon Reese confirmed to SouthernGospelBlog.com that Sellers will be their new lead singer; Randy Crawford will remain at baritone.

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Bryan Hutson joins Soul’d Out Quartet

Soul'd Out Quartet: Dusty Barrett, Matt Fouch, Michael Howard, Bryan Hutson, Matt Rankin

Soul'd Out Quartet: (standing) Dusty Barrett, Matt Fouch, Michael Howard; (seated) Bryan Hutson, Matt Rankin

Kingsmen Quartet lead singer Bryan Hutson will be leaving the Kingsmen at the end of this month. He will be joining Georgetown, Ohio’s Soul’d Out Quartet, sharing lead duties with current lead singer Matt Rankin. He gave SouthernGospelBlog.com the following open letter to explain his motivation behind the move:

I want to thank the many friends that I have made while being involved in Gospel Music as well as Worship Ministry. You have embraced me since I began singing with my brother in “The New Generation” in 1985. I started traveling fulltime with “The Heartland Quartet” in 1993. Your continued support, love and encouragement through both my tenures with “The Kingsmen” is deeply appreciated.

In early November, I decided to follow God’s leading and give my resignation with “The Kingsmen.” January of 2012 will mark a new chapter in my gospel music career. I will be joining one of America’s best new groups, Soul’d Out Quartet. In fact, the group was awarded “Horizon Group of The Year” (Favorite New Group) in the Singing News Magazine Fan Awards in 2010. Matt Rankin (lead), Dusty Barrett (tenor), Matt Fouch (bass) and Michael Howard (piano) make up “Soul’d Out Quartet”. I will share lead vocalist duties with Matt Rankin.

SOQT is a solid quartet who sings straight ahead Southern Gospel Music with a progressive sound. I’m very excited to see what God has in store for our future! Over the past several years, I have developed a friendship with members of the group. I believe the men of “Soul’d Out” are men of integrity and have a heart for ministry that mirrors my own passion. I know my friends and family will love the music and ministry of “Soul’d Out” as much as I do.

My wife, Yvonne, and I have been seeking God and wise counsel about this decision and feel that this is a door God has opened. The tour schedule for “Soul’d Out” is a better fit for me as a husband and father. This opportunity will also allow us to reach our long term goals as a family.

I joined my all-time favorite group, The Kingsmen, in 1996, under the late Eldridge and Greg Fox. The five years that I spent learning from the Fox’s, the late Jim Hamill, and Ray Reese were some of the best years of my life. Upon returning for my second run with The Kingsmen in 2007, we have seen lives changed through our music. I want to thank Ray and Brandon Reese and The Kingsmen for allowing me to be a part of the continuing Kingsmen legacy.

I would like to ask for your continued support, encouragement and prayers for my family and both groups. I am looking forward to seeing each of you at upcoming Soul’d Out Quartet concerts. Please check our website for upcoming performances www.souldoutquartet.com.

Brandon Reese of the Kingsmen also issued a statement:

Brandon Reese states, “In November, Bryan came to me and stated that he felt it was time to make a change in his professional career. He also told me that he had been seeking God’s will in an opportunity to stay home more with his family. I commended him for letting the Lord lead in his life. The door opened for Bryan to join Matt Rankin and the rest of Soul’d Out (who are based out of Columbus, OH) and, as many of you know, is only an hour or 2 from where Brian grew up in Batesville, IN. Bryan stated to me that joining Soul’d Out is perfect for the long term goals of his family and until then will maintain his residence in Asheville, NC with his wife Yvonne and four children, Alexa, Jake, Bailey and Jordan.  I, along with the other Kingsmen members, wish to thank Bryan for his two tenures here and his continuing friendship.”

UPDATE: Matt Rankin also chimes in:

We would like to inform everyone that Tanner will be leaving Sould Out Quartet and will be pursuing other interests. He will be missed by many and SOQT would like to thank Tanner for being part of this ministry for four and a half years. We ask that you pray for Tanner and his family as he is starting a new path. We believe that God has orchestrated this change and we pray that he will continue to bless Tanner as well as SOQT.

Coming the first of 2012, Matt Rankin will be assuming the baritone position and Bryan Hutson, a Kingsmen Quartet icon, will be taking the lead. We are excited that God has placed us together and we look forward to seeing how the Lord blesses the new line up. As always, the heartbeat of the ministry is to reach the lost, encourage the saints, and make a difference in people’s lives.

We will be releasing two new recordings after the first of the year. Coming the first part of January will be a hymns and old songs CD called “Soulace.” Then a brand new CD with all original songs called “What the World Doesn’t Know” at the end of January. We are very excited about both of these projects and we pray they will spiritually effect the lives of those who listen.

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Tanner Stahl leaving Soul’d Out Quartet

Tanner StahlLate last night, Tanner Stahl announced on his Facebook page that he is leaving Soul’d Out Quartet.

A couple of months ago, Ashley and I felt led to begin praying the Prayer of Jabez. Things started happening in our lives! We were determined, no matter what happened we were going to trust Him and stick to His plan. God started closing doors He wanted closed and opening doors that He wanted opened. It has been amazing to watch Him work in our lives! One of the doors He closed was Soul’d Out Quartet. The hardest part of this change in our life is saying goodbye to all of the many friends we have gotten to know and love over the last five years. We want to thank you for your love, support, and encouragement— it never went unnoticed and was always greatly appreciated! Wherever He leads, we will go—please continue to pray for us and we will continue to pray for you. God bless you all and Merry Christmas!

Watch for the news about his replacement shortly—likely within a week’s time.


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Eric Phillips returns to Mark Trammell Quartet

Ever since Joel Wood left the Mark Trammell Quartet several months ago, more than a few individuals—fans and performers alike—have commented that their dream scenario would be Eric Phillips returning to the road.

Sometimes dreams come true.

Mark Trammell has posted this announcement on his Facebook page: 

After three months of searching, praying, and auditioning. Mark Trammell Quartet is happy to announce that former Mark Trammell TRIO tenor Eric Phillips will rejoin the group at the end of the year.

Eric has faithfully served the city of Gadsden, Alabama as a law enforcement officer for the last 2 years and has earned highest honors in his service to them. Eric states “When music is in your blood, it’s hard to get it out. I’m looking forward to getting back on the road with Mark and the guys, seeing friends I haven’t seen in two and a half years and most importantly encouraging people with the gospel message thru song!”

Mark states: “I couldn’t be happier with Eric‘s decision to return. He loved being a police officer and I admired him for his work. The first song we sang together when he asked to be considered again confirmed what God was trying to tell everyone in the room. All I can say is welcome home Eric, good to have you back!”

Mark continues, “We would like to thank 28 men and two ladies that showed interest in filling the position. We are honored that you would trust this ministry that much. Also, we MUST thank our friend Jim Cox from Cumming, Ga for his excellent job of filling in at the tenor position over the last two months. Jim has been a true joy to our fans and friends across the country.”

Just in case you’re new to Southern Gospel, or had forgotten how good Eric is, here is a little reminder:

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Liberty Quartet hires Doug Wiley

Doug Wiley

Doug Wiley

Liberty Quartet announced this evening that they have hired a new lead singer, Doug Wiley. Wiley grew up around Southern Gospel and has performed with the Southmen Quartet (singing lead), the Mercy Road Trio (singing tenor), and the California Melody Boys (singing tenor). He has also opened for evangelist Lowell Lundstrom.

Wiley lives in Visalia, California, with his wife Angela and their five children (ages 6-19). They will be relocating to Idaho.

Wiley’s hire is effective today; he replaces Dan Gilbert, who sang with the group for nine years of their (currently) fifteen-year run, and left last month. The press release states: “Doug is excited to join the Liberty Quartet family and spread the word of God through gospel music.”

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James Bell leaves Promise Trio

James & Charity Bell

James & Charity Bell

Promise Trio announced this evening that their tenor, James Bell, has left to join the U.S. Army. He flew out for basic training on Sunday. Baritone and manager David Mann stated, “When Promise was launched back in July, we were most fortunate to have our tenor singer, James Bell, available during those important, beginning stages of our ministry. The 3 of us have been friends for almost 10 years and that friendship has made the last 4 months an easy ride. … We want to thank him for his time here and wish him the best as he serves our country.”

Tenors interested in auditioning can contact davidmannmusic@gmail.com.

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Dan Gilbert leaves Liberty Quartet (again)

In April, Liberty Quartet announced that long-time lead singer Dan Gilbert was leaving the road. He changed his mind in May. Six months later, it seems he has changed his mind again. Liberty Quartet just distributed the following press release:

After nine years, Dan Gilbert, lead singer, has resigned from Liberty Quartet. He made the decision based on his feeling that he needs to invest in some business and personal matters at this time in his life. Dan is the longest tenured member of Liberty Quartet other than Royce Mitchell, founder of the group. Dan was not only an incredible lead singer, but he also was our #1 bus driver. Through his down- to-earth, friendly personality, Dan has become like family to so many across the U.S. and Canada and he will be greatly missed. He leaves with our blessing and we wish him nothing but God’s best! We will be announcing our new lead singer in the near future and we ask that you continue to pray for Dan and Liberty as God guides and directs us into the future.

The wording suggests that Gilbert’s replacement has already been selected.

Here’s a video recorded and originally posted in April, the first time Dan left:

Click “more” for a transcript.”

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Mike Hammontree leaves Blackwood Brothers

The Blackwood Brothers have just announced (on Facebook) that pianist Mike Hammontree is leaving the group. [EDIT, 6/18/12: Broken link removed.] He had toured with his family prior to joining the Blackwood Brothers, and continued to tour with them on days the group was off.

Prior to Hammontree’s joining the group, baritone Billy Blackwood played piano on a few numbers, so the Blackwood Brothers do have that option, should they continue with the four members for now.

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Jonathan Price leaves Dove Brothers

Jonathan PriceDove Brothers tenor Jonathan Price has left the group. The announcement on AbsolutelyGospel states that he is leaving the road to deal with personal issues, and quotes group manager McCray Dove as stating: “We ask all Christians to join us as we lift Jonathan up in prayer. We are now accepting auditions for the tenor position.” [EDIT, 2/21/13: Broken link removed.]

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