Studio video of the Inspirations

One of the things I do for Crossroads is shooting and editing videos of the Southern Gospel groups who come through Crossroads Studios. The Inspirations were recently in the studio; here’s a video of them re-cutting their 2004 radio hit “In the Twinkle of an Eye”:

I just love baritone Jon Epley’s reaction when bass Mike Holcomb goes for the alternate lower ending!

Videos are posted on a fairly steady pace, dependent, naturally, on when groups are actually in the studio. You can watch them all here:

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Listen. Be blessed. Go home rejoicing.

Before it was the fad, we featured occasional YouTube spotlight posts. Now that everyone else is doing it, we’ve cut back to only including them in Saturday News Roundups. This video, however, deserves an exception.

YouTube user QuartetHarmonyFan recently posted a home video of the final ten minutes of the final Statesmen concert. The first six minutes are talking—a mixture of reflections, a comment from the author of a book on the Statesmen, and even an impromptu photo pose for an audience member. The final minutes are a standing-ovation performance of “Oh, What a Savior.”

It’s the few, fleeting seconds just before the six-minute mark that make this video an unforgettable treasure. Though the master’s touch on the keys is as sure as ever, the cancer that would take Hovie Lister’s life within a month had already taken most of his voice. As he introduces this closing song, he bids the final Statesmen audience goodbye. It would be hard to pen a more fitting epitaph or tribute than those six final, raspy words:


Be blessed.

Go home rejoicing.

(Side note: Can anyone tell if the baritone here is current Blackwood Brothers tenor Wayne Little?)

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Video: Nick Trammell fills in with Greater Vision

Greater Vision baritone Rodney Griffin’s father-in-law passed away shortly before last week’s Singing at Sea cruise. Original Greater Vision baritone Mark Trammell filled in for most of the cruise—with one exception. On one song, his son Nick, who sings with The Browns, came up. Normally, saves the video highlight of the week until the next Saturday News Roundup post, but this is far too strong to keep to ourselves for the next few days!

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Early Cathedrals Videos of Ernie Haase

Every now and then, home footage of one of Ernie Haase’s earliest Cathedrals performances surfaces on YouTube. These videos are particularly interesting when they feature a song the group stopped staging after the Haase/Fowler lineup built their own repertoire of feature songs.

Here are two of the most memorable:

Standing on Holy Ground:

I’ve Just Started Living:

Surely these aren’t the only two. Are any others floating around?

Update: Via Kyle in the comments, here’s another early video of Haase singing “I’ve Just Started Living”:

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Video of the Day: “Any Other Man” (Ernie Haase and Signature Sound)

Ernie Haase & Signature Sound is predictably unpredictable. They won’t record the same album twice in a row.

It has been three and a half years since their last album of new songs; they have a new album, Here We Are Again, releasing in February. A fan just posted this video:

This song, “Any Other Man,” features solos from all four group members. It has the kind of musical energy they need, coming off a long mainline-recording hiatus, and a comparatively subdued album (Dream On) at that. Stylistically, it just might generate discussion. It’s not necessarily “more contemporary,” which is the easy out for anything with a featured electric guitar. What, exactly, is it?

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A new septet of seven men, simply called Seven, recently released a debut album and performed a debut concert. Southern Gospel songwriter Marty Funderburk wrote this song:

Also worth watching is the concert opener, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”:

It seems the idea is fusing classical music with a pinch of Southern Gospel flair, a dash of Black Gospel soul, and a few cups of the energy that launched groups like the Statesmen and Signature Sound. It’s equally intriguing and riveting, and certainly worth passing along.

The group either doesn’t have a website or is essentially impossible to Google, but their debut album is available here.

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Videos: First Look at Keith Casstevens with Dove Brothers

The first live videos of Keith Casstevens with the Dove Brothers have surfaced. Here’s a last verse / chorus and encore of “Little is Much”:

The same user posted two other videos from the night. In the first, Casstevens holds down the tenor part on the Dove Brothers’ long-time concert favorite, “Get Away Jordan.” The second, shaky enough to fall into the “listen more than watch” category, features Casstevens singing the concert-closer “He is Here.” 

This trio of videos should remove any doubt as to whether McCray Dove made a good hire. This may well be the Dove Brothers’ strongest lineup since the original group. Of course, vocally, two founding members are back after hiatuses, so this is 3/4 of the original vocal lineup. Casstevens’ tenor vocals are more likely to suggest Jerry Martin comparisons than John Rulapaugh comparisons—but then, Rulapaugh’s tone is so exquisite and unique that a group manager would be hard pressed to find a tenor who sounded like him.

Yet in that more Kingsmen-style vein, Casstevens more than holds his own. Of particular note is his ending on “He is Here,” where he takes a line and does it twice in light head tones, building to a big third time where he belts the lines out with power and confidence.

Yes, the Dove Brothers have had quite a few changes in the last two years (two changes at tenor, one at bass, one or two at piano, two at bass guitar). But don’t count them out—this lineup has what it takes to make its mark.

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“Silhouette” is Still Rolling!

Those who had the opportunity to see the legendary Cathedral Quartet in the 1990s will remember the quartet’s famous black Silver Eagle bus. Many were privileged to see this special coach sitting outside churches and auditoriums when the quartet toured across the nation, but not as many were able to view the inside. Recently, Sam, Jayme, and Caleb Garms (along with big sisters Taylor and Leesha and a few other little friends) had the memorable opportunity to tour the grand old “Silhouette”.

The original owner of the bus was Bill Gaither and he sold it to the Cathedrals in 1991. After the Cathedrals retired in 1999, the bus eventually came under the ownership of Ernie Haase and Signature Sound when the group formed in 2003. When Signature Sound upgraded their transportation, they sold the bus to the Forgiven Quartet from Oklahoma.

The Garms family met up with Forgiven Quartet at the Floyd Gospel Sing in Floyd, Iowa, September 2011. Stanley Johnson of Forgiven offered to give the Garms kids a tour of the inside of the Cathedrals’ former bus and we eagerly accepted. Not only was it a tour of the Cathedrals’ bus, it was also our first tour of any entertainer bus!

Caleb describes the bus tour this way:

“Well, the bus was black and it had swirls on the sides. First we went up the steps – the door was really heavy. Then we came into the living area with a kitchen, a couple couches, and chairs. Then we went to the bunk place; you go into this tiny hallway and there were bunks on each side and red curtains on all the bunks. There was a tiny, itsy-bisty bathroom. Then he showed us where all the clothes were stored; it was a big bus actually! It was really exciting being in that bus because it was the Cathedrals’, Signature Sound’s, and Bill Gaither’s bus! I can’t believe George, Glen, Roger, Scott, and Ernie had actually been in there. It’s something I’ll treasure for the rest of my life!”

Jayme’s thoughts:

“It was cool, but a little cramped. I felt a little nervous because I didn’t know what it was going to be like. My favorite part of the bus was probably the back lounge; it looked comfy. 🙂 It was weird to be in the bus the Cathedrals had traveled in.”

Leesha commented on the experience,

“It was pretty amazing. I had always wondered what the Cathedrals’ bus actually looked like and I finally got to see it. I kept expecting Glen and George to appear around a corner!”

The funniest part of the whole tour was when a man’s face suddenly popped out of one of the bunks. One of the group members had retired to the bus to rest and he was just about as surprised to see us, as we him!

Sam summed up the experience this way: “It’s not the bus which makes the bus special; it’s the persons who lived in it.”

Here are exterior photos of “Silhouette” by the Garms Family:

And here is a video tour of the bus’s interior hosted by Ryan Bilby of the Forgiven Quartet (aka The Man We Woke Up On the Bus):


The Garms Family thanks Stanley and the Forgiven Quartet for the chance of a lifetime. It was an honor and special memory we treasure!

Have any of you been on the Cathedrals’ bus or a different Southern Gospel group’s bus? What was your experience?

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Video: Unique Rendition of “Old Ship of Zion”

This is quite possibly the most unique version of “The Old Ship of Zion” yet recorded. At any rate, it’s almost certainly the least expected. Hungarian recording artist Kayamar, whose previous work includes an acapella plus beatboxing song for a Hungarian T-Mobile commercial, set out to record this Southern Gospel classic in five-part harmony. He believes he’s breaking the world record for lowest note recorded; while it may not be lowest frequency ever emitted by a human voice, this note is off the bottom of the piano keyboard and is certainly one of the lowest notes recorded while still audible to the human ear. To top things off, in addition to hitting this note, he sings all other parts—including tenor. 

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