Dan Keeton not joining New Florida Boys

Earlier this year, it was announced that Charlie Waller would bring back the Florida Boys name, and that personnel for his group would include Waller on lead, Joshua Pope on piano, and Dan Keeton on tenor. Evidently, plans have changed, since Dan Keeton announced over the weekend that he is starting a new group, and seeking applicants for multiple positions. [EDIT, 2/22/13: Broken link removed.]

Those interested in seeking positions with his group can contact The Star Hill Agency, 552 South State Hwy 207, Rush, KY 41168 or call (606) 262-4718.

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TK & McRae Disbands

Several days ago, TK & McRae disbanded. [EDIT, 2/22/13: Broken link removed.] Troy & Katy Peach, the group’s “TK,” will mostly come off the road, doing only selected dates, while Annie McRae, the “McRae” of the group, will continue (with Amanda Till) as The McRaes.

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Josh Garner, Jonathan Sawrie join Blackwood Gospel Quartet

I notice (hat tip, PM) that the group photo on the Blackwood Gospel Quartet’s website has been updated [EDIT, 2/22/13: Broken link removed], and that Josh Garner has joined the group as lead and Jonathan Sawrie has joined as pianist. They join current tenor Derrick Boyd, baritone Mark Blackwood, and bass Terry Mullins.

The Blackwood Gospel Quartet has had quite a few top-notch personnel pass through the group within the past two or three years. If they can hold this lineup together, I could easily see this group moving back towards the top in Southern Gospel.

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Mercy’s Mark disbands…for now?

Earlier today, it was reported that Mercy’s Mark was disbanding. [EDIT, 11/7/10: Regrettably, the link is broken, so it has been removed.] Their bass singer, Christian Davis, left last week, and their booking agent, the Dominion Agency, pulled all Mercy’s Mark concert dates and any other mention of the group from their website (hat tip, Coomer Cove).

This afternoon, group frontman Garry Jones sent an open letter to the Singing News stating that the group was “temporarily unavailable” to fulfill their remaining 2007 commitments. He added:

In the last few days I have been presented with many exciting possibilities for the future of Mercy’s Mark and am prayerfully weighing each one. I ask that you would please continue to pray for the future of this group and I will keep you informed as things develop.

So the group may be disbanding, and may be staying on the road. At any rate, their future is officially…up in the air. One thing is for sure: Jones has assembled some strong lineups in the past, and certainly stands a change of doing the same again.

My commentary from earlier this morning still mostly holds true:

I was very impressed by the original Mercy’s Mark lineup. Pairing Anthony Facello, Josh Feemster, and Chris West was a move of genius that had supergroup potential. While it took a little longer for me to warm up to the second lineup, with Brent Mitchell, Josh Feemster, and Christian Davis, after hearing them live twice I became convinced that they had one of the best live presentations in Southern Gospel.

It can be hard to keep a group on the road today, and while Jones was producing a quality product, evidently there just wasn’t the demand to meet the supply. Here’s hoping that the talented members of this group will land on their feet in other positions, perhaps with other Southern Gospel groups currently seeking members.

EDIT: 11/14, 4:48 P.M. Updated post with Garry Jones’ open letter.

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Dallas Rogers leaving Dixie Echoes

Though I’ve heard it was coming for a while now, it is now official: Dallas Rogers is leaving the Dixie Echoes as of Christmas break this year. He is one of the best young tenors in Southern Gospel right now, and I look forward to hearing his future plans. Though it will be hard, I hope the Dixie Echoes manage to find someone else of his caliber.

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Christian Davis leaves Mercy’s Mark

Garry Jones has announced that Christian Davis has left Mercy’s Mark Quartet. [EDIT, 11/9/10: The link is broken and has been removed.]

While I hate to see him go, I can understand; he lives in North Carolina, and Mercy’s Mark is based in Columbus, Ohio. Even though I understand the group meets south of Ohio–I believe it may have been Nashville, Tennessee–it’s still quite a commute. If he had the opportunity to sing with a group closer to his home, and there are plenty in North Carolina, I could see how he would take the offer.

Recently, he has been criticized mercilessly in comments on various websites. Sometimes I think people who post negative comments forget that singers are real people–people who sometimes read what they say. Sure, everyone has off nights, and even on their best night any performer might hit a few notes slightly off (tempo or pitch). But compared to the average bass singer, or even the average professional Southern Gospel bass singer, Christian’s abilities are far above average; he has perfect pitch, a massive range with four usable octaves (G above middle C to the lowest F/G on the piano), and the ability to sing anything from subwoofer bass to a baritone-range lead to occasional high tenor notes.

Christian is one of the most talented young performers in Southern Gospel, and I hope he will stay active in the genre. I look forward to hearing his future plans.

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Old Time Gospel Hour Quartet disbands

The Old Time Gospel Hour Quartet announced this morning that they are disbanding. Lead Singer Wyatt Wilson, the only original member remaining, stated: [EDIT, 11/8/10: The link is broken and has been removed.]

God is leading me in a different direction after 31 years of singing. The group had a wonderful ministry for eight years. We saw hundreds of people accept Christ and many more be called to ministry. In the past two years alone we saw over 500 people accept Jesus as their personal savior. Gospel music is a special calling and reaches people that other ministries may never reach. I will always be thankful for God s hand on the Old time Gospel Hour Quartet. It was a wonderful experience to have been a part of a tremendous ministry with such outstanding men. We have enjoyed the support of the best fans and friends in the world. There are not sufficient words to truly express our thankfulness to the people who supported us throughout the years.

When founder Robbie Hiner left a few years ago, it was a loss for the group. Although the stated reason for the group’s retirement was Tony Jarman’s departure last month, Dr. Jerry Falwell’s recent death was probably also a factor, since the OTGHQ was the home quartet at his home church.

Their original lineup–Robbie Hinner, Wyatt Wilson, Jeff Stanley, and Christian Davis–had one of the best blends in Southern Gospel music. Each of the lineups since brought other things to the table as well, but I will remember the original one particularly warmly.

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Donna Beauvais leaves Hope’s Call

Daywind Music Group announced that Donna Beauvais is leaving Hope’s Call to join the label’s Radio Promotions team. [EDIT, 11/8/10: The link is broken and has been removed.] This will permit her to spend more time with her family and with her record production efforts.

There are very few true first sopranos in Southern Gospel–this eccentric genre where the men sing high and the ladies sing low. In my mind, she was the best first soprano on the road today, and I hate to see her go.

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Scott Allen hired by Mercy’s Mark

Kyle Boering mentioned on his blog that Scott Allen has been officially hired as Mercy’s Mark Quartet’s new lead singer. His regional group did a concert with the group over the weekend, and to say the least, he was quite impressed:

Scot[t] has a very modern sound to his voice. It’s extremely smooth, blends wonderfully with Garry and Brent, and has a great resonance, but I dare you to listen to “Sheltered In The Arms Of God” and not shed a tear. He also does a DEAD ON impression of Guy Penrod (close your eyes and you wont’ be able to tell the difference!).

With the addition of Scot[t] to the lineup, I can see a lot of good things in the future for MM. They have the power and ability right now to take SG by storm.

I couldn’t help but be amused by noticed that my term “Mercy’s Mark 2.0” has caught on; David Bruce Murray used it at Musicscribe to describe the new lineup. (EDIT, 8/3/11: Broken link removed.) I used it here to express how impressed I was by the group with Shane Dunlap filling in. I don’t know if any readers heard them both with Dunlap and Allen, but I do know that those who have heard Allen have been extremely impressed. His rendition of “I Bowed on My Knees and Cried Holy” in a Saturday showcase was one of the things I heard the most buzz about at NQC, almost enough to make me wish I’d skipped the Hoppers’ 50th Anniversary Celebration to hear it.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they have any Ohio dates on their schedule for the rest of the year (though I note that they are touring, of all places, Norway at the end of the month). (EDIT, 8/3/11: Broken link removed.) So while it looks like it will be a while before I have a chance to see them, when I do I’ll post my thoughts here.

(Hat tip to DB for catching the misspelling of Scott‘s name.)

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Chip Cooper to join Waller’s New Florida Boys

A few weeks back, I posted that Dan Keeton was joining Charlie Waller’s New Florida Boys. This afternoon, Ed Crawford of the Mystery Men Quartet stopped by the post and commented. It’s worth promoting to the main page, since the Keeton post is old enough that few will notice it:

I have said both to his face and to anyone i talked to, Dan Keeton is the best tenor in southern gospel music. He and I sung together in the beginning of the mysterymen and he may be the best i have ever heard, including david phelps. I wish the very best for the new group. They also hired the long term bass singer from the mystery men Chip Cooper. He has without a doubt, one of the smoothest bass voices in the business and will be a trmendous asset to the new group. We hated to see him go but we wish him the very best. Good luck guys!

Here’s a bio on Cooper, and here’s are some sound clips that appear to feature him. [EDIT, 11/8/10: The link is broken and has been removed.]

(There’s no word yet on what happened to Buddy Burton, the original intended bass singer.) [EDIT: John, below, points out that Buddy Burton was actually set to be the baritone. So with Ed Crawford’s post yesterday, and John’s post below, the complete lineup is now public.]

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