David Ragan leaves The Inspirations


Inspirations lead singer David Ragan announced yesterday evening that he is leaving the group. He is married to Michelle Ragan; they have a newborn son, Bradley, born exactly one week ago. 

In a statement posted on Facebook, he indicated that he was not fired; he chose to leave the group due to irreconcilable differences. He added:

Singing for the Inspirations was my dream ever since I first saw them in concert when I was 14 years old. I am very thankful that God allowed me to live that dream for the past 4 ½ years. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. I have met some of the most amazing, wonderful people in the world, and I have been privileged to experience so many things that many people never get to. I have made so many friends, both artists and fans alike, in the past several years. For all of that I am extremely grateful. …

To the guys I have sung with, I support you and love you like brothers. I have never, nor will I ever take your friendship for granted. I wish them all the best and hope they can find somebody that sings better than me!

Let me say a huge thank you to all of you who have supported me, befriended me, and prayed for me during the last 4 ½ years. I am very grateful. At this point I’m not sure what the future holds or if I will sing full-time again, but I will keep you all posted. Please continue to pray for me and my wife along with our newborn son as we begin a transition into a new time in our lives. Please pray that I’m able to find employment soon as well.

I love you all and thank God for the opportunity to be involved in the greatest music this world has ever known. God bless you all.

We ran a feature interview with him in September 2009, which you can read here. He is one of our genre’s most gracious and personable singers; hopefully it won’t be too long until we see him again.

UPDATE, 4/30/13, 7 AM: Jon Epley posted a statement to The Inspirations’ Facebook page:

Hello everyone, this is Jon Epley. First of all, let me say on behalf of all the guys, that we love David and wish the best for him. He is an incredible singer and a good friend. David made a decision that he felt was the right thing for him and his family, and we support his decision. There was no sin or immorality involved, so we can put any of those rumors to rest!

Change is never easy, but at times it is inevitable. We, The Inspirations, will continue to sing about the same Jesus and His great love, and that will never change. We appreciate ALL of our friends and thank you for sticking by us through even the most difficult of times. We hope you will continue to stand by us as we seek the Lord’s will in the search for that one person that God has in mind for us. We know that He always has a plan and covet your prayers in the days ahead. … We love each and every one of you and look forward to seeing you down the road!

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Gold City hires Robert Fulton

In a radio interview earlier this week with Springfield, Missouri’s KWFC Radio, Tim Riley announced that Robert Fulton is Gold City’s new tenor singer. Fulton has been filling in for the last month or two.

He is a Gallipolis, Ohio native, and studied music University of Rio Grande. He sang in their university choir. He also sang with the regional group Forgiven 4 and, most recently, the Palmetto State Quartet. 

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Shane McConnell replaces Michael Sykes in Canton Junction

Canton Junction: Shane McConnell, Aaron Crabb, Matthew Hagee, Tim Duncan

Left to right: Shane McConnell, Aaron Crabb, Matthew Hagee, Tim Duncan

Canton Junction announced this afternoon that acclaimed studio vocalist Shane McConnell will be replacing founding baritone Michael Sykes. McConnell has been a studio vocalist in Nashville for fifteen years, and has made frequent appearances on Gaither Homecoming recordings and concerts since 2006.

Canton Junction is based out of Cornerstone Church in Texas; Sykes, who had been on staff at Cornerstone, recently relocated from Texas back to Nashville.

Matthew Hagee, tenor for Canton Junction and Executive Pastor of Cornerstone Church, commented: “Shane is a remarkably talented and incredibly gracious individual, who greatly complements the idea that Canton Junction is where good things come together We are extremely blessed to have him and look forward to what the future holds for Canton Junction.”

McConnell added: “I’ve enjoyed all the opportunities I’ve had in the studio through the years, but now as a member of Canton Junction, I’m especially looking forward to being able to interact with live audiences. I’ve always loved quartet harmonies, but I also have a heart for praise & worship, so Canton Junction seems like a great home for me. I believe it’s going to be a fun journey!”

For many groups, the first personnel change can be a hurdle. This doesn’t seem to be the case here. Canton Junction has had to answer questions of whether they’re just a church quartet—albeit perhaps the most talented church quartet in the country! That they would carry on through a lineup change—especially with the loss of such an acclaimed producer and vocalist as Sykes, and finding a similarly acclaimed replacement—speaks to a certain level of seriousness about the quartet that promises well for their future.

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Dixie Melody Boys seek baritone/pianist

The Dixie Melody Boys just announced that baritone singer Steven Cooper has been experiencing vocal issues so severe that doctors are advising several years of vocal rest. But he’s not leaving the group; he will move to bass guitar. They plan to hire a baritone singer who can also play piano and bring back a live band.

Cooper commented: “”I want to thank everyone for their concern and understanding over the last year. It has been difficult time having to go through this as a singer. I hope that someday my voice will return and I will be able to sing again. I ask that you will keep me in your prayers as I trust God for a healing. I also want to thank Ed, Matt and Mike for their support in this change and for allowing me to remain a member of the group.”

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Craig Thomas, Jordan James leave Dixie Echoes

The Dixie Echoes have announced the departure of tenor singer Craig Thomas and bass singer Jordan James. “Both men have been great additions to the group, and we will sure miss these guys, but we respect their decisions to be home with their families.” Group baritone/manager Scoot Shelnut confirms that both have agreed to stay on until replacements are found. They are requesting that bass and tenor singers interested in auditioning send a demo and short resumé to scoot@dixieechoes.com.

Both were able vocalists; Jordan James had a tone that lead various observers to include that he had the potential to become one of the industry’s leading bass singers. Hopefully this isn’t the last we see of him. Here’s a video of James in action:

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John Bowman launches solo ministry

John BowmanEarlier this week, former Isaacs member John Bowman (Rebecca Isaacs Bowman’s husband) announced that he will be launching a solo ministry. He currently performs with the secular bluegrass group The Boxcars; he isn’t leaving the group, but is now accepting preaching and solo singing dates on days the Boxcars are off the road. In an announcement posted to Facebook, he commented:

Those of you that know me, know that I love the Lord. I have been preaching His Word since 1997. My heart has been and always will be in ministry. Also, over the past 20 years, I have recorded 4 solo CDs. So, I have plenty of original material to perform for special services.

Here is where I need your help. If you are part of a church or know someone who would like to book me, please give him or her my information. You can contact me through email at johnbowman10@bellsouth.net. I will give you my phone number when we make email contact. This is a huge step of faith for me, but I am so excited about it. …

Folks, please pray for me. I want to be right in the center of God’s will. I appreciate your support and your prayers.

His new solo ministry website is www.johnrbowman.net.

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Diplomats hire pianist Jeremy Elliot

Earlier this month, pianist Michael Lott left the Diplomats to join the Mike LeFevre Quartet. The Diplomats have announced that his replacement will be Jeremy Elliot. Corey Pearson gave this statement to the Singing News:

Thanks to everyone who has called and sent in demos for the pianist job. After many demos and auditions, we are pleased to announce the newest member of the Diplomats Quartet, Jeremy Elliot. He has attended Jacksonville University, the Alabama School of Gospel Music and the Steve Hurst School of Music. After obtaining his B.A. in music, he and his wife Kimberly now live in Braselton GA.

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Tyler Vestal leaves Freedom

In a concert streamed online tonight, Josh Garner announced that this weekend was baritone/pianist Tyler Vestal’s final weekend with Freedom. Garner said that Vestal was leaving on good terms and with the group’s blessing. At the close of the concert, he called the church’s pastor (Charles Kirby), Jerry Goff, and one or two other men from the audience up to pray for God’s guidance on the next steps in Vestal’s life.

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Craig Thomas leaves Dixie Echoes

Dixie Echoes tenor Craig Thomas announced on Facebook yesterday that he is leaving the group:

Well this post comes with a heavy heart. I have decided to come off the road with the Dixie Echoes and resume my other work at my construction company. I want to thank Scoot and Randy for understanding my need to do this and for allowing me to live out my dream. I will miss the singing, the traveling and most of all the fans. I want thank Scoot, Randy, Ben and Jordan for some great times and wonderful singing. I love you guys and may God Bless your ministry. You are all true men of God.

This now leaves four major groups (Dixie Echoes, Gold City, Mark Trammell Quartet, Inspirations) which are either looking for tenors or haven’t announced their new tenor yet. It must be a good time to be a tenor looking to make the jump to the big leagues!

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