Song Snapshots #30: Mary’s Wish

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

Ask Joseph Habedank which song, of all the songs he has written, is his all-time favorite. You might be surprised! He won’t name one of his #1 hits, or even his Song of the Year-winning landmark hit “If You Knew Him.” He will name a song Ivan Parker recorded in 2011, “Mary’s Wish.”

Joseph Habedank and Matthew Holt became close friends and began writing songs together when they were both members of The Perrys. They continued writing together after Matthew left the group in 2008.

One day, shortly after Matthew’s departure, the Perrys bus was parked at a Wal-Mart in Huntington, Tennessee. Matthew drove out to Huntington to meet Joseph at the bus and take him out to write and do lunch. As they walked into O’Charley’s, Matthew asked Joseph, “What’s the song you’re wanting to write?”

Joseph sang him the chorus to “Mary’s Wish.” He recalls, “Matthew started crying, which he doesn’t do very often—he’s not a crier. It moved him.” After lunch, parked Matthew’s car in an alley next to a Kohl’s, and finished the song in his car.

The song was inspired by a comment Matthew’s wife Lindsey made while she was expecting their first child (their son, Fletcher). That December, as Fletcher’s due date drew near, she told Matthew, “Now that the time’s come, I’m almost a little apprehensive about exposing him to the world. I almost wish I could keep him inside of me.”

She paused, then added, “I can’t imagine how Mary must have felt.”

“That was one of the more special songs we’ve ever written,” Habedank recalls, “probably my favorite thing that I’ve ever had a hand in.”

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Friday News Roundup #210

Worth Knowing

  • Congratulations to Nick and Jessica Trammell, who announced this week that they are expecting their second child.
  • Joseph Habedank and Ricky Free announced this week that Free will produce Habedank’s solo mainline debut project for his new Daywind contract.

Worth Reading

Insights from this week’s Letters To The Editor. From John Situmbeko, in response to “Songs From Numbers: High And Lifted Up“:

There was a time I used to wonder why God instructed Moses to lift high a bronze serpent to symbolise Jesus. Why not lift a bronze lamb to represent the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world? Further study of the word revealed to me such texts as 1 Cor. 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Then I understood that when Jesus, “the Lamb that taketh away the sin of the world,” was lifted up, in the likeness of sinful flesh, He was made to be sin for us as every sin on Him was laid. The bronze serpent was therefore a sound representation of Him at the cross. This also serves to show just how dreadful the load He bore was; so dreadful that a serpent was fit for His representation. No wonder He felt the heavy weight of separation and bitterly cried out to His Father. And how sad that it was our sins that put Him there, but how amazing that grace will always be greater than sin.

No wonder such songs as High and Lifted Up never fail to command praise from my heart each time I listen to them.

From Greg Bentley, in response to “Southern Gospel’s Most Successful Soloists“:

Coming from the side of traveling with Squire for 10 years, one of the benefits I see as a soloist who writes their own music is the interaction that it gives them with the audience. Let’s face it, one person standing and singing with soundtracks can be, well, not very entertaining. But when that person can say, “I wrote this song after I …” helps to pull the audience into the life of the writer and gives them a more personal concert experience. I’ve seen this happen with Mark and Kirk as well. Writer / artist don’t have to search for songs that speak to them that they can try to convey to the audience, they have the advantage of being able to write their story and then sing it. I know Joseph will be very successful with what his track record of writing has been to this point!

Worth Watching

Also worth watching: Southern Gospel Journal’s youngest contributor, Caleb Garms, is a fine singer in his own right, as he shows on “He Pilots My Ship.”

Worth Discussing

Were there any other Southern Gospel news stories of significance this week?

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Southern Gospel’s most successful soloists

On Monday, Daywind announced that it had signed Joseph Habedank to a solo recording contract. Ever since, I have been pondering the question of what, if anything, Southern Gospel’s most popular soloists have in common.

It’s not too hard to identify Southern Gospel’s most popular soloists over the last quarter-century or so. Ever since Singing News added a Favorite Soloist award in 1997, only three soloists have won: Kirk Talley, Mark Bishop, and Ivan Parker. If the award had been launched five years earlier—when Kirk was still with The Talleys, Ivan was still with Gold City, and Mark was still with The Bishops—it is quite probable that Squire Parsons would have picked up the first few awards, given his popularity in the 1980s and 1990s. 

There are, of course, any number of common threads here, including that these are all male singers who came to prominence singing lead or tenor for the genre’s leading vocal groups. But one common thread stands above the rest: With one exception (Ivan Parker), these singers were all songwriters writing most of their material, as acclaimed for their pen as for their voice. All three had written #1 hits; in fact, Kirk and Squire both wrote #1 hits for groups they weren’t traveling with at the time (“Wedding Music” and “I’m Not Giving Up,” respectively).

It’s not hard to see the similarities in Joseph Habedank’s career. He was a longtime lead singer for one of the genre’s most popular vocal groups, but by the time he left, he was as acclaimed for his writing as for his voice. He had written a #1 hit for his own group (“If You Knew Him”) and a #1 hit for another group (“That’s All I Need / He’s Everything I Need,” The Kingsmen).

Southern Gospel fans appreciate soloists from a variety of backgrounds and specialties. But it seems there is a special place in a Southern Gospel fan’s heart for soloists who are both one of the genre’s finest vocalists and one of the genre’s finest songwriters.

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Joseph Habedank signs recording contract with Daywind

This evening, Daywind announced that they have signed Joseph Habedank to a solo recording contract. Habedank is, of course, no stranger to Daywind, having spent his entire professional Southern Gospel career to date as part of an artist who was (at the time he was with them) part of the Daywind roster, The Perrys. Habedank commented: “I am excited to begin this new season in my life and share the story of God’s grace, forgiveness, faithfulness and love. My wife Lindsay and I want to thank everyone who has reached out to us and prayed for us. We love you and can’t wait to see you soon!”

About three weeks ago, he also signed with a booking agency, Michael Davis’s Dominion Agency.

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Friday News Roundup #208


Worth Knowing

  • Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of Tracy Stuffle’s stroke. The Perrys posted a note of thanks here.
  • We learned earlier in the month that Jared Stuffle would be singing bass for the Perrys until his father was able to return full-time. A press release with a few more details has now been posted.
  • AbsolutelyGospel has announced the nominees for their annual awards.
  • The Mark Trammell Quartet held a blog tour to promote their new release, featuring four simultaneously posted interviews with group members here, here, here and here. There’s also a contest open to win a copy of the new CD here.

Worth Watching

Here’s a personal testimony song that Joseph Habedank wrote and has been singing in his solo concerts:

Worth Discussing

Were there any other significant Southern Gospel news stories this week?

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Dominion Agency to book Joseph Habedank

Joseph Habedank recently launched a solo career. Michael Davis, owner of the Dominion Booking Agency, announced on Facebook this evening that the Dominion Agency will be booking Habedank’s solo dates. Churches and other venues interested in booking Habedank can contact him at 828-454-5900 or at

Habedank, as most readers here would know, came to prominence in Southern Gospel while singing for a decade with The Perrys, co-writing and singing lead on their their Song of the Year “If You Knew Him.”

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Joseph Habedank launches solo career

An attentive reader noticed that Joseph Habedank has launched a solo website, here. It lists a number of solo concerts scheduled for this month.

Habedank’s ten-year run with the Perrys ended in May. During that time, he moved from being completely unknown to being heralded as one of the genre’s most promising young talents—both for his voice and his songwriting. After a couple of months off of the genre’s radar, so to speak, it’s encouraging to see him back on the road.

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Song Snapshots #28: Ordinary Man

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

Several months after Joseph Habedank joined The Perrys, Joel Lindsey invited him to Nashville to co-write songs together. “Joel was the first person to bring me to Nashville to write,” Joseph recalls. “I was eighteen years old. It’s been almost ten years ago.”

One day, they met at Daywind to work on a different song. After they worked on it for a while, Joel said, “I’ve got another idea,” and brought up the idea for “Ordinary Man.” The Booth Brothers were looking for songs at the time, and Joel and Joseph wrote the song with them in mind. (They passed on the song.)

It ultimately took five or six years for the song to get cut. At the time Joel and Joseph wrote the song, it probably would not have occurred to anyone to pitch it to the Kingsmen. But in April 2008, they released a CD entitled When God Ran; its title track became a #1 hit in February 2009.

Joseph Habedank recalls that he was surprised when he heard that The Kingsmen had cut “Ordinary Man”; “It’s not what you think if when you think of the Kingsmen.” But, he added, it made more context in light of “When God Ran”—“That song was an old Contemporary Christian song from back in the ‘80s. In that light, I could understand why they cut it.”


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Song Snapshots #27: That’s All I Need

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

Joseph Habedank had the idea for “That’s All I Need” on a Singing at Sea cruise in 2009 or 2010. “I just had this chorus going in my head,” he recalls, “and I thought, ‘Nothing will ever come of that. It’s too traditional, it’s too quartety.’”

He sang the song for his fianceé Lindsay. (She is now his wife). She said, “I actually think that could be good.”

He said, “Yeah, but it’s so traditional!”

She replied, “Well, just keep working on it.”

So he kept working on the song; he would write it while driving from his home in Nashville to visit Lindsay at her home in Kingsport, Tennessee.

He wrote it with his own group, The Perrys, in mind. “Troy Peach was with us at the time,” Joseph remembers; “He wanted to cut that song. And it just didn’t work out; he couldn’t convince the rest of the group to cut it. And then the Kingsmen cut it, and had a #1 with it!” It was his second #1 hit, and the first he’d written by himself.

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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!”

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