The Grand New Hymns

Lee Black has written or co-written numerous Southern Gospel hit songs, including the #1 Brian Free & Assurance hit “I Want To Be That Man.” But he doesn’t only write Southern Gospel hit songs; he also writes modern hymns on the side. Here is an example:

Here’s another.

Lee hasn’t been the only one writing songs reminiscent of the grand old hymns. Dianne Wilkinson has written several through the years, from “Of Thee I Sing” (Greater Vision) to “I Am Free” (Mark Trammell Trio) to the recent “Man of Sorrows” (Mark Trammell Quartet). When “Man of Sorrows” came out earlier this year, I noticed a comment criticizing the song for not sounding like a traditional Southern Gospel big ballad. I didn’t reply, since online arguments are usually futile and counterproductive, but I did think, “It wasn’t written to be a big ballad; it was written to be a hymn.” There’s no point in criticizing a dog for not looking like a cat!

There is and should always be a place in our genre for doctrinally sound, Biblically rich lyrics with majestic melodies. To their credit, Southern Gospel has always found a place for the grand old hymns. We need to make sure we also have a place for the grand new hymns.

Read More

NQC 2013, Day 5: NQC Music Awards

Daniel is at work, so Daniel’s Siblings are live-blogging the afternoon showcases.

For all those who signed up, remember the Friday NQC coverage is free!

3:25 Favorite Male Group: The Booth Brothers. Ronnie: “This is called a Quartet Convention award…” Michael, “We did a quartet album this year, so we’re okay.”

3:19 Les & Clarke Beasley brought on stage to explain that a CPA firm validates the results. They introduced the individuals representing the firms. The Southern Gospel Music Guild chooses a business who has made an impact on Southern Gospel. This year’s winner of the Les Beasley Impact Award is Herschend Properties, the parent company of Silver Dollar City and Dollywood.

3:16 Favorite Song: “I Played in the Band” by the Booth Brothers. Michael Booth talking about Bill Gaither believing in the body of Christ and each person doing there part to honor the Heavenly Father.

3:12 Booth Brothers singing “I Played in the Band.”

3:07 Favorite Album: Through the Night! The Perrys.  Libbi, “I’m totally blown away.” David Ragan has his baby on stage with him! Bryan Walker and Leah Page are up there with Libbi. She is saying how Tracy usually is the one who accepts the awards and has something to say. She never dreamed they would live every song of the album. Every song needs to have a message and say something and be scriptural. Someone will need it. This year she was one of those people who needed the songs (and songs from other artists). Libbi thanking Leah for helping and being her right arm and doing an incredible job. She’s thanking the guys in the group and is asking for prayer. Libbi said “Next year, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Tracy Stuffle will be there.”

3:05 Radio Stations of the Year: WGUS & FWFC.

3:05 Promoter: Landon Beene.

3:05 Producer of the Year: Ben Isaacs.

3:04 The Hosts are introducing Autumn, the award girl.

3:00 Favorite Songwriter: Dianne Wilkinson…and the feed went down! She didn’t expect it. She is saying how she feels such a responsibility. “Sinners need to be saved. Christians need to be encouraged, The Church needs to be awakened, and God needs to be Glorified.”  Thanking the singers and studio players, who do her songs. She is overcome!

2:55 Hoppers singing, “He Didn’t Just Carry the Cross, He Carried Me.” Claude was absent, but Mike and Karlye were singing, making the Hoppers a five part group.

2:53 Video of the Year: “I Wanna Be That Man” by Brian Free and Assurance. BF&A were not in town, touring in North Carolina. The producer accepted the award for them.

2:50 Presenter Gordon Mote brought on and said his trick worked. “I swapped glasses with Kim Collingsworth and it worked!” referring to when she said she couldn’t see to read what was on her card. They continued with a series of humor as would be expected from Mote, Williams, and Easter. The crowd was laughing!

2:46 Favorite Bass: Eric Bennett. Says he’s amazed. Every bass loves to do what he does. “All of them deserve to be up here.” He hopes to never let the fans down. He’s thankful for his wife, the super guys he travels with, and to God.

2:43 Kim Collingsworth’s card didn’t say who was to sing next, so she said, “Whoever is supposed to sing now, come out and they’ll welcome you.” Greater Vision appeared and sang, “He Didn’t When He Could Have Passed By.”

2:41 Favorite Lead:  Ronnie Booth. He said, “I don’t know what to say.” He talked about growing up in Florida, hearing his dad sing for the Rebels Quartet. He talked about the day when there will be an award show like no other and we will lay our awards at Jesus’ feet.

2:40 Presenter Kim Collingsworth introduced. She will be presenting the Favorite Lead award.

2:36 Triumphant Quartet singing “Take it From Me, Meshach.”

2:32 Favorite Tenor: David Phelps. “I’m just amazed by this.”  He’s thanking the fans. “I have nothing other than great appreciation for this.” He loves singing for the people in the seats.

2:29 Legacy Five singing “I’m Still Amazed.”

2:26 Favorite Soprano: Kim Hopper. Saying thanks to the fans. It has been a wonderful year, but one of the most trying years of her life. She was sick at the beginning of the year and enjoyed being at home with her kids, but became homesick for being on the road, doing what God has called her to do, encourage the Christians. She is thankful for God’s sustaining grace.

2:24 The Hosts brought up Josh Singletary as the next presenter.

2:14 Favorite Musician: Kim Collingsworth. Kim’s says she’s at a loss for words. Before she is a musician, she is a wife and a mama. Thankful for parents who introduced her to music and taught her to love God with her heart, soul, and mind. Thankful to her visionary husband. Matthew Holt asked her to play a song.  Kim played “His Eye is On the Sparrow” with just the piano–no tracks! She got a partial standing ovation.

2:09 Kingdom Heirs singing “Just Beyond the Sunset.”

2:07 Favorite Baritone: Jim Brady. “This music is all I ever wanted to sing.”  Psalm 37:4 is true. He is doing the desire of his heart, singing for the Lord. Thanked Booth Brothers, his wife, Melissa Brady, and NQC.

2:05 Presenter Matthew Holt introduced.

2:01 Favorite Alto: Sheri Easter. Sheri saying how she watched Libbi and was thinking of the Grace of God that it takes to sing on stage after 30 years of it being different. “We are blessed.” Sheri thanking fans.

1:57 The Perrys sang “I Got A Hold of God.” (Libbi Perry Stuffle, David Ragan, Bryan Walker)

1:53 Favorite Mixed Group: The Collingsworth Family! Phil Sr. saying 10 years ago, they never envisioned standing here.  He thanked fans for their support and prayers.

1:49 Presenter Jeff Stice brings on the Gaither Vocal Band to sing their top ten nominated song “Glorious Freedom.”

1:47 Favorite Soloist: Guy Penrod! Guy Penrod is in Canada so Jeff Easter held his award for him.

1:45 First hosts: Kevin Williams and Jeff Easter.

Dixie Stampede sponsored the Gaither Sing-a-Long, and it looks like Dollywood is sponsoring the Awards show.

1:42 The NQC Music award show was kicked off by Gordon Mote. There was no microphone at the piano and he shouted something about someone saying he didn’t need a microphone. A microphone promptly appeared at the piano and he started with “Ain’t It just Like the Lord.”  As long as the feed stays up, we plan on bringing you play by play coverage of the award show!

Read More

Updates to the Singing News #1 Analysis Posts

Earlier this week, I updated the posts analyzing Singing News #1 Hits by artist, by writer, and by label (as well as the overall list). Here’s a quick summary of changes:

  • Label Analysis: There were no position changes. Crossroads picked up two #1 hits since the last update, while Daywind picked up one. 
  • Artist Analysis: There was only one #1 by a group with enough #1s to place on the list: The Kingdom Heirs picked up their eighth #1 hit, breaking the tie with the Inspirations to claim sole possession of the ninth-most #1s by any artist in our genre’s history.
  • Songwriter Analysis
    • With her ninth and tenth #1 hits, Dianne Wilkinson moves up into a two-way tie for third place with Ronnie Hinson. Her songs have spent twelve months at #1.
    • With his fifth #1 hit, Jerry Salley moves into a 5-way tie at #7
    • With her fourth #1 hit, Sue C Smith moves into a 5-way tie at #8
    • With his third #1 hit, Matthew Browder makes his debut on the list. The list only tracks writers with three or more #1 hits. Notably, all three of Browder’s #1s have come within less than three years.
Read More

Saturday News Roundup #176


Worth Knowing

  • Tribute Quartet posted on Facebook that their song “Good News From Jerusalem,” written by Dianne Wilkinson and Jerry Salley, is going to be the #1 hit on the August Singing News charts. It is the group’s first #1. Here’s a recent video of them singing the song.
  • Liberty Quartet tenor Philip Batton’s mother passed away last Saturday afternoon.
  • Inspirations bass singer Mike Holcomb’s infant granddaughter was hospitalized with breathing issues.
  • Libbi Perry Stuffle posted an update about her husband Tracy’s stroke recovery yesterday. She said: “It’s all green lights to head back to rehab today for Tracy!!! Dr feels comfortable in letting him go today! All the blood counts look good and it’s full steam ahead in Jesus’ Name!!!! God is all powerful and merciful!!!!” 
  • She added another update last night: “Well here we sit in the ER in Lebanon! Yes, I said ER!! Tracy had done great all afternoon and evening until the nurse gave him his Meds tonight. About 20 mins later his heart rate dropped to 48. So after some major issues with the Health Care / Rehab center that WILL be addressed tomorrow, they sent him to the ER. They are keeping him overnight. They will run more test in morning. Dr said he could be over medicated. One test shows he could have a little bit of heart failure. They just don’t know at this point! His heart rate is slowly coming back up. We should know more tomorrow. Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him! Job 13:15”
  • UPDATE (6/15/2013, 5:45 PM): Libbi posts: “Tracy is better today. His Heart rate is back to normal. Blood pressure is good. Dr said she thinks what happened last night was medicine related. She said his heart sounded good and strong. They put him back on antibiotics to finish clearing out the small amount of pneumonia in the lungs. They will keep him here for another day or two.”
  • UPDATE, 6/17: Tracy Stuffle is headed back from the hospital to his rehab facility.

Worth Watching

Here’s a video of the current LeFevre Quartet lineup taking on one of the group’s enduring favorites, “Jesus Saves.”

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday—you decide!

Read More

Song Snapshots #21: Room With a View (11th Hour)


Song Snapshots is a column featuring the stories behind new and classic Southern Gospel songs.

One year, at the Singing News Fan Awards, Joseph Habedank was talking with Chuck Trivette. (Chuck is a former Perrys pianist and is Libbi Perry Stuffle’s brother-in-law.) Chuck told Joseph, “I was thinking it over; when we get to Heaven, we’ll have a pretty good view. We’ll have a room with a view.”

Joseph thought it was a cool idea. At the time, he was dating his future wife, and had long car drives from Nashville to Kingsport, Tennessee to see her. Over the course of these trips, he started writing the song.

One day, he joined Daywind Publishing Vice President Rick Shelton for lunch at the Chop House in Hendersonville, Tennessee. During lunch, Dianne Wilkinson called Rick. As they were talking, Rick told her, “Well, I’m sitting here with Joseph Habedank.”

Dianne said, “Sing me something.” So Joseph sang her the chorus to “Room With a View.”

“She said, ‘Oh, honey!’” Joseph recalls, “and then she asked if she could finish it. And sure enough, she finished it!”

“When Joseph sends me something,” Dianne adds, “it’s just his marvelous voice with no music. He records what he has on his phone and sends it to me. I heard exactly what he heard in his head—chord progressions, et cetera. And the first thought I had was, ‘WOW.’”

“The next thought I had,” she continues, “was how we’d develop the thoughts of exactly what the view would be (or more accurately, Who). What Joseph sent was so wonderful, it didn’t take me long to add the verses. I think we did the bridge together. When I heard the demo, it was just stunning: Joseph and Katy Peach on vocals, with Matthew Holt’s flawless piano work.”

Habedank would ultimately pitch it to 11th Hour, a mixed trio from Monroe, Louisiana. “They just absolutely are incredible,” he says. “They’re with Crossroads now. I pitched them songs, and sure enough, they picked that as their new radio single. I think it could be a big song for them. I love to hear Candace sing this song; she is the soprano in the group, and man, she’s a great singer.”

“When I heard their cut of the song,” Dianne adds, “it was exactly what it says in the lyrics—’shining perfection.’ It was one of those times when you just know you couldn’t have gotten a better cut on a song. So, Joseph and I are absolutely sure that God got “A Room With A View” to the right group. My goodness, but they can sing!”

Read More

Dianne Wilkinson book signing tonight

The NQC Music Awards are scheduled to run from 2:30 to 4:30 this afternoon, in Freedom Hall at the National Quartet Convention. Right after they end, Dianne Wilkinson will be available for a book signing at the Kingdom Heirs booth to autograph copies of her new autobiography, Dianne Wilkinson: The Life and Times of a Gospel Songwriter (written by Dianne Wilkinson with Daniel J. Mount). More information about the book is here.

I am also heading up to Louisville today, to be there for the signing. See you there!

Read More

Dianne Wilkinson autobiography now available; NQC signing announced

Dianne Wilkinson: The Life and Times of a Gospel Songwriter

Last month, I announced the upcoming release of Dianne Wilkinson: The Life and Times of a Gospel Songwriter.

It is now available for purchase on Amazon ($19.99 for the 342-page paperback), here.

At next week’s National Quartet Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, the book will be available all week at the Kingdom Heirs’ table. Dianne Wilkinson will also be at their booth for a book signing on Friday afternoon from ~4:30-5:30, directly after the NQC Music Awards and before the evening’s mainstage program commences. (The Kingdom Heirs’ booth is among the easiest to find at NQC; enter the exhibit hall from Freedom Hall, and the booth is on your left.)

UPDATE: The latest information on how to obtain copies of the book is here: /books

Read More

Announcing: Dianne Wilkinson: The Life and Times of a Gospel Songwriter

Dianne Wilkinson: The Life and Times of a Gospel SongwriterMany of you remember our December 2009 interview with legendary songwriter Dianne Wilkinson. Ever since I conducted that interview, I knew that her story needed to be told in book form.

I suggested the idea in May 2011. She said that songwriting kept her so busy that she might never find the time to write an autobiography. (She writes, on average, more than one song per week, and over two-thirds of those songs get recorded!) I knew enough of her story to know what a loss it would be to Gospel Music if it was lost to history, so I offered to do a series of interviews and turn them into a book.

She agreed, and the result is Dianne Wilkinson: The Life and Times of a Gospel Songwriter. It chronicles her life story and the stories behind over 150 of her best-known songs.

In 1974, Wilkinson—already a church pianist and Sunday School teacher—realized that she was still unsaved. Her salvation prompted a period of serious doctrinal and theological study which provided a foundation for her songwriting career.

She began writing songs when touring with her family group in the 1970s. Her career took off in the 1980s, in parallel with the group with whom she became closely associated, the Cathedral Quartet. Songs she wrote for them include “Boundless Love,” “Homeland,” “Jesus Has Risen,” and lead singer Glen Payne’s signature song, “We Shall See Jesus.”

She has become Southern Gospel’s most recognized non-performing songwriter. Virtually every major Southern Gospel artist has recorded her songs. Around fifty of her songs have been charting singles on the industry-standard Singing News monthly radio charts; seven have reached #1. Her songs have also received multiple Dove Awards® nominations, over a dozen Singing News Fan Awards nominations, and multiple Singing News Fan Awards for Song of the Year.

Dianne Wilkinson: The Life and Times of a Gospel Songwriter will be available for physical purchase from Amazon, and for digital purchase for the Amazon Kindle®, the Barnes and Noble Nook™, the Apple iPad® and iPhone®, the Kobo™ e-reader, and several other formats and venues. A book signing is also planned for the National Quartet Convention.

UPDATE: The latest information on how to obtain copies of the book is here: /books

Read More