Friday News Roundup #224

Worth Knowing

Worth Watching

Matt Fouch, known for both his On The Couch With Fouch series and for singing bass for Legacy Five, recently launched a podcast and video blog. In last week’s episode, here, he mentioned that he will include a news section each week. This provides one more option for fans wondering where to keep up with the latest news once this site retires.

Also worth watching: This the first video I’ve seen of the Down East Boys with new bass singer Joe Brinkley:

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Song Snapshots #33: Ask Me Why

Jason Cox and Kenna Turner West co-wrote “Ask Me Why.” Cox brought an idea to their co-writing session called “It’s Love,” with the idea of structuring a chorus around questions someone was asking—“ask me why,” “ask me where.”

They decided to structure the song as a story around someone coming to Christ. “Our original version was about a guy,” West recalls; “He slipped through the door / sat on the last pew.” West released a solo project with that version of the lyric.

One day, she was at Daywind, where an engineer was mixing her version of “Ask Me Why.” Steve Mauldin contacted her; he was producing Legacy Five’s A Wonderful Life project, and said they were looking for a fast song and a song with a 6/8 signature. “Ask Me Why” has a 6/8 signature, so she immediately wondered if it might be the right fit.

“So I sent it over to Terry Franklin to do a male vocal, so they could hear it as a guy doing it,” she recalls.

She had never heard a story Scott Fowler had started sharing in concerts, about how Patty Bahour, a Muslim lady, had accidentally purchased tickets to a Legacy Five concert, and had eventually come to know the Lord. But when Scott heard the song, he immediately thought of Patty’s story. So he emailed Kenna, asking if it would be okay if he turned the “he” into a “she.”

“It was very thoughtful of him to ask,” West said; “I was completely fine with that. As songwriters, we’re just trying to equip singers with songs that they can share. I had no idea that changing a pronoun would make the song fit such a significant story in their ministry.”

West pitched the song one week, and Legacy Five recorded it the following week. But there was even more: Steve Mauldin’s email came on a Wednesday. The next day, West, Lee Black, and Jason Cox were sitting in a writer’s room at BMI. West commented, “Hey, Legacy Five needs a fast song. Let’s write a fast song!” They wrote “I’m Still Amazed” on Thursday, recorded and submitted a demo on Friday, and Legacy Five recorded it the next Monday!

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Cathedrals Family Reunion expands beyond initial date

Last year, Ernie Haase, Gerald Wolfe, Mark Trammell, Scott Fowler, and Danny Funderburk held an event they called a “Cathedrals Family Reunion” in Fort Worth, Texas. Yesterday, the event’s promotion team, IMC Concerts, posted a video to YouTube, announcing that four more Cathedrals Family Reunion dates have been added: Akron, Ohio; Denver, Colorado; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and, Orlando, Florida.

The video is also worth watching for a memory Ernie Haase shares about being there the day that George and Glen decided to retire the group:

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Friday News Roundup #218

Worth Knowing

  • Longtime Diplomats bass singer Joe Brown has returned to the group.
  • Blackwood Quartet member David Mann is coming off the road due to voice issues. In an open letter, he commented: “My windpipe was full of mold that, I later found out, I had been breathing in from a mold infested vehicle. This problem had collapsed a portion of my airways, and prevented me from using more than 1/3 of my lung capacity.” On doctor’s advice, he has decided to pursue non-musical lines of work, at least for the next several years.
  • Roger Talley entertained the audience at a recent Talleys concert in Norway by coming on stage dressed in the costume of their Olympic curling team.

Worth Reading

On Monday’s “Creating Trends” post, Pat Barker posted insightful thoughts on the relative merits of gimmicks and the songs to back them up:

I was told by one of my managers in the early days of me traveling that most Gospel music fans were also wrestling fans. In those days I was still trying to be “High Church” in my presentation because that is how I was taught. The problem was that it wasn’t getting past the first row. His point was that most of the fans want a gimmick. They want something they can identify with every time they see you. That is true.

The dilemma is presenting the gimmick with class so it doesn’t come off as hokey or “local group” for lack of a better term. A gimmick can be anything from an old man to two microphones. It can also be a white flag or a passionate piano player. There has to be something that brings the people to the concert night after night.

Here, in my opinion, is where many groups miss the boat. YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE SONGS TO BACK UP THE GIMMICK! Glen was always the old man, but they didn’t have their greatest success till We Shall See Jesus. Brian Free was always precious, but Midnight Cry was their launching pad. Gerald has always made fun of Rodney, but Lazarus, to this day, has to be sung night after night. Thank God that at the end of the day, whether you like wrestling or not, It’s all about the song. That’s the way it should be and I hope that’s the way it always will be.

Worth Watching

One bass singer, Legacy Five’s Matt Fouch, interviews another, the Mark Trammell Quartet’s Pat Barker:

Also of note: Reality TV stars The Duggar Family attended a recent Collingsworth Family concert. They invited the Collingsworth Family over after the concert, and filmed and posted a video of the Collingsworth Family singing “God Bless America” a cappella in the Duggar’s living room:

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CD Interviews: Scott Fowler (Legacy Five) on Great Day

CD Interview with Scott Fowler

In the CD interviews column, instead of sharing a reviewer’s thoughts about a project, we interview the artist to get the artist’s own thoughts. Our family has taken the structure and adapted it into a 8-1 format: a question from each member of our family for one singer. In this edition, Scott Fowler of Legacy Five shares some insightful thoughts about their upcoming album, Great Day.

David: What is Legacy Five looking for when you go to Lari Goss to produce a project?

Scott: I’m looking for the very distinct “high church” sound that Lari Goss produced music gives.  Big orchestral ballads especially.  Nobody does those like Lari.  You need certain songs and certain arrangements at certain points in your live performance.  When you need a big, moving ballad…Lari is the man!

Kris: Being a Lari Goss project, did that make recording vocals for Great Day more intense?

Scott: ABSOLUTELY. He makes you sing STRING parts much of the time.  I always hear, “Ok Fowler…now your going to be a viola on this part”. It’s a very different approach to vocals….and it is very hard, which is probably why most groups don’t even attempt it.  Every time we do a Lari recording, I promise myself I’ll never do it again…..then a few years later, I return back to the torture chamber to take my medicine.  

Ben: Who picked out the songs for your CD?

Scott: I did.  I probably listened to about 200 songs looking for the ones I felt strong about.  That’s pretty typical on most every recording.

Taylor: How do you see the songs — particularly “He Heals” and “Only the Living” — ministering to your audiences?

Scott: It’s interesting that you ask about these two songs in particular.  They are the “heaviest” songs on the entire recording, that’s for sure.  It’s always hard to know how folks are gonna embrace these kinds of songs.  

“Only the Living” is a song about the subject of dying.  Obviously not a fun topic to think about.  But, it’s the one thing every person at every concert has in common.  We have all had or will have to say goodbye to someone that we love.  But as this song says, if we are saying goodbye to a Christ Follower, then “only the living regret the leaving.  It’s only the one’s left behind who cry. Only the living, no shadows of grieving, but there is joy on the other side.”  So, I think this song will do great and will encourage our audience as it reminds us that the dearly departed are not crying….unless it’s tears of JOY!

 Concerning, “He Heals.”  Everyone needs to go to our blog  and read the story behind this song.  It will shed great light on these amazing lyrics.  Suffering, questions, doubt, resentment, anger….these are emotions we will all likely encounter at some point in our walk with God if we live long enough and experience enough heartache.  One of the most challenging issues is how to reconcile great suffering for the believer.  Especially when it comes to health related illness or accidents that adversely alter our lives forever.  That’s exactly what the writer of this song was challenged to do when her 20 year old son, Joey fell asleep while driving one day.  The resulting crash and devestating injury relegated him to a vegetative state that continues to this day.  Joey is now 27. Joey’s dad became angry with God wondering why He was just letting Joey “lay there.” His mom, in an effort to encourage her husband, penned these lyrics . “I know you’re hurt, I know you’re angry, I know you don’t understand. Why you’re here, How did this happen, How can this be part of his plan? Well, I don’t know what he knows, So I can’t tell you why. But I know the love He shows, And His ways confound the wise…and…He heals, broken hearts, broken bodies, broken minds. He heals, by His blood, by His love and in His time.”  

You see, Taylor…many of us never see the healing in the sense of a miraculous healing or reversal of the damage done as a result of debilitating sickness or injury.   My dad died of cancer when I was 19 years old. My best friend, Roger Bennett died from Leukemia.  The list is almost endless, the number of funerals I have attended of people dying before “their time.” Sometimes, God does heal miraculously.  But when He doesn’t…..what then?  What does that mean?  That’s where most of us live.  This song addresses that head on.  And I think it addresses it in a significant and realistic way. So to finally answer your question…I hope this song will bring enough of an answer to these difficult questions so that the listener trusts God….and doesn’t blame Him when we have to endure the unthinkable.

Leesha: Are there any songs on this project you personally identify with? 

Scott: Yes.  I really, really identify with “So Many Things To Thank Him For.” Let me tell you a quick story. One night recently, I laid awake in bed and couldn’t seem to fall asleep.  As my mind wondered aimlessly, I found myself thinking, “man….I’m laying in a king-sized sleep number bed.  I have a wonderful wife next to me.  I have two amazing, healthy, happy boys upstairs and they are sleeping soundly in a warm, dry non-sleep-number bed.  I have a great “job” doing what I love to do with guys that are incredible to walk thru life with.  My tummy isn’t growling.  My car runs.  My bills are paid.  I was born in America. I have great family and wonderful friends.  I go to a fantastic church.  Most of the food in my fridge still has a valid expiration date.  My family are all Christians….man, I’m blessed!  This song challenges me to stop concentrating on what I don’t have and focus on being grateful for what I DO HAVE!

Sam: Your Kickstarter campaign was a great success.  Could you tell us how it came about, and if were you ever concerned that the funding wouldn’t come through? 

Scott: Well Sam, I had been contemplating this concept for quite a few months. I’m not even sure how I stumbled on to kickstarter a few years ago, but I have been “milling” it around for quite some time now.  Recording a CD like “Great Day” is very, very expensive.  You have a full orchestra to pay.  Having a full orchestra means you spend an enormous amount of time mixing which means lots of extra studio time and engineer time.  You have to hire a producer to write every single instrument’s part in the orchestra.  Lari Goss writes his charts the old-fashioned way…by hand, on staff paper.  Then, you have to hire a copyist to put it all in a computer program and get it readable and printable for the players to actually read like a normal piece of music. Then, we wanted a choir, so Trey had to write all the choir parts.  He wrote two soprano parts, two alto parts, two tenor parts and one bass part.  Lord knows Trey ain’t cheap!  Plus you have all the typical expenses of photography, graphic design, mastering, manufacturing the final product, marketing, etc.  Another reality is CD sales in every single genre of music has fallen drastically.  So, it’s much more difficult to warrant making these expensive CD’s because you can’t sell enough these days to ever recoup your costs.  So, I decided to see if the people who love Legacy Five and love our music would want to partner with us to make this type of recording a reality for us.  I didn’t really know what to expect.  But what I soon found out was that people were loving being a direct part of the process.  So for different “pledge” amounts, people got different “rewards.”  The L5 choir was a BIG hit and it turned out fantastic!  Folks can go here to learn more about what we did on Kickstarter.  The money we raised didn’t pay for the entire recording budget, but it sure did help get us a long way down the road!

Jayme: Who came up with the idea for a choir composed of fans on “Christ is Still the King”?

 Scott: Well, I actually came up with the idea when I was brainstorming on different creative pledge rewards to offer.  I remember thinking how cool it would have been when I was a kid, if I had had the opportunity to sing on a southern gospel recording with my favorite group.  So, I decided to find a song on the CD that would work well with a choir and “Christ Is Still The King” is perfect! The choir MADE this song!

Caleb: What was your first impression when you heard “That’s a Hallelujah”?

Scott: The biggest challenge for me when I am listening to songs trying to find 10 to record, is frankly the up-tempo ones.  It’s kind of hard for me to find up-tempo songs that actually “say something.”  I don’t like songs that are filled with predictable cliché’s.  So when I heard, “That’s a Hallelujah” I thought….”yes, here’s a good up tempo song that say’s something.”

TGF: Are you up for a bonus question? We sure hope so! Here it goes:

Caleb: If you could be anyone in the studio but the singer, who would you be?

Scott: I would either be the piano player or the producer.  Both seem super fun to me!

David: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about Great Day?

Scott: When you’re down and out, lift up your head and shout, it’s gonna be a great day.

Angels in the sky promise that by and by, there’s gonna be a great day!

Gabriel will warn you some early morn’ you will hear his horn.  Rooty tootin’.

It’s not far away lift up your head and say, it’s gonna be a great day!

Thank you so much for making time out of your busy week to answer our questions, Scott!  You will be able to order Great Day though Legacy Five’s website, www.legacyfive.com, when it is released.

Editor’s note: If you’d like to hear one of this album’s songs for yourself, Daywind is holding a giveaway: The first 1,000 to email legacyfive@daywind.com will receive a free mp3 of “Christ is Still the King,” the song with the Kickstarter Choir! 

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Friday News Roundup #207

Worth Knowing

  • Legacy Five has signed a long-term recording contract with Daywind Records. Daywind will release their Kickstarter-funded project, Great Day, on March 25. Legacy Five is holding a contest, asking fans to pick the cover photo for the CD, here.
  • Rebels Quartet bass singer Rick Fair will be leaving the group due to demands of his day job. The group is seeking a replacement, asking interested bass singers to contact them at group@therebelsquartet.com.

Worth Watching

Worth Discussing

Are there any other significant Southern Gospel news stories from the past week?

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Saturday News Roundup #203

Worth Knowing

  • Please keep noted Southern Gospel concert promoter Robert York in your prayers this week; his wife of fifty-one years, Carol York, passed away on Monday after an extended illness.
  • Worth Reading: Brian Crout offers the story behind the Kingdom Heirs’ “I’ll Know I’m Home.”
  • Jeff Whisnant’s father, Paw Paw Joe Whisnant, sustained serious injuries in a car accident on Saturday.
  • When I write about non-Southern Gospel topics, I generally post them somewhere besides this site, to keep this site’s content as focused as possible. But from time to time I’ll mention something here. I’ve been pondering why Christian nations throughout history rise and fall, and posted some thoughts on the topic here.

Worth Watching

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday—you decide!

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Legacy Five, Freedom Quartet Kickstarter campaigns concluding today

Over the last month—here and here—we have covered the Kickstarter campaigns from Legacy Five and Freedom Quartet. Both conclude today. Legacy Five’s campaign, which has exceeded its $25,000 goal (currently at $26,557), concludes in about ninety minutes. 

Freedom’s has 16 hours to go—it concludes around midnight—and is currently $475 away from its $5000 goal. (If they do not hit their goal, they get none of the money pledged.) So fans of John Rulapaugh, Burman Porter, and Dale Shipley may want to check out the campaign here.

UPDATE, 9 AM: Legacy Five’s project has been successfully funded. The final total was $26,492; one or more donors must have cancelled or shrunk their pledges within the last few minutes of the campaign.

UPDATE, 11 AM: Freedom has also reached their goal.

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CD Review: Cathedrals Family Reunion

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Cathedrals Family ReunionIt was a historic occasion: Five alumni of a group many consider the greatest Southern Gospel group of all time—the two living ’90s alumni and the three living late-80s alumni—gathered together for the first time to do a recording together. Which direction should they take?

Should they record the greatest hits—the ones they’d already recorded on their groups’ individual tribute projects, but for the first time together?

Should they record great songs from deeper in the Cathedrals’ vast repertoire that deserve another hearing?

Should they record new songs in the Cathedrals’ style or update the arrangements?

Should they record songs with just their voices? 

Should they add in one or all of the three bass singers regularly touring with these alumni—Matt Fouch, Pat Barker, and Paul Harkey, because it’s difficult to play tribute to a quartet without a bass part?

Should they do an extended-family choir with all the current members of the groups that they currently tour with?

Should they incorporate old recordings of the three longest-running alumni—Glen Payne (36 years), George Younce (35 years), and Roger Bennett (18 years)—all of whom have passed away?

For better or worse, the answer they selected was “all of the above.” There are some songs with just their five voices, plus a bass singer. There are songs with a full male-voice choir with the voices of other members of Legacy Five, Greater Vision, the Mark Trammell Quartet, and Ernie Haase & Signature Sound joining the alumni. Glen Payne’s, George Younce’s, and Roger Bennett’s voices are also incorporated, courtesy of technology (on “I’ve Read the Back of the Book,” for Roger, and “Search Me, O God” for Glen and George). Each of the bass singers gets at least a few step-out lines; Pat Barker fans will be delighted to hear him nail the project’s most prominent bass solo, “Wedding Music.”

Some songs, like “Champion of Love,” “Oh, What a Savior,” “Wedding Music,” and “Somebody Touched Me,” are among the defining songs of their respective Cathedrals lineups. “We Shall Be Caught Up,” “O Come Along,” and “Blood-Washed Band” are welcome finds from a little deeper in the catalog.

Arrangements generally stay relatively close to the originals. “Yesterday” and “Blood-Washed Band” are both a little more orchestrated than the original performances. But it’s not distracting, because they’re no more fully orchestrated than quite a few of the Cathedrals’ own songs of the 80s and 90s were. It’s easy to imagine that an actual Cathedrals re-cut of either song in, say, 1995 would have sounded exactly like these. It made particular sense to update the arrangement on “Yesterday,” since it’s the oldest Cathedrals song revisited, and the only one from the ’70s.

Cathedrals Family Reunion succeeds in having something for everyone. For the most casual of fans, who don’t have any of the previous tribute projects, it contains a number of the all-time biggest hits. (Including this approach does make sense. Since this is released on StowTown records and has the marketing power of Provident behind it, it will undoubtedly reach many bookstore customers who do not have the other tribute projects.)

For more active fans who have the other tribute projects, it also has several tracks making it worth purchasing. But for active fans, it is perhaps less a full-course menu and more of an appetizer for what the future could hold.

What could this future hold? Well, take a look at the songs these alumni were singing at the reunion event earlier this month. One user posted five videos, “Movin’ Up to Gloryland,” “Into His Presence,” “Whosoever Will,” and two absolutely show-stopping performances in “Thanks to Calvary” and “What a Meeting.” None of these have been overdone; in fact, only “Movin’ Up to Gloryland” has appeared on a previous Cathedrals alumni tribute project. Could these songs be hints as to what we might see in the future? Could there be a Cathedrals Family Reunion 2?

One thing’s for sure: There will only be a chance at a volume 2 if this is a success. And the nice part about having something for everyone is this: It doesn’t matter what you’re looking for from a Cathedrals tribute project; there will be something here for you.

Traditional or Progressive: Traditional to middle-of-the-road.

Credits: This review was based off of a digital edition and, as usual, credits are only available in the hard copies. (Review copy not provided.) 

Song List (songwriters in parentheses): Blood-Washed Band; We Shall Be Caught Up; Wedding Music; We’ll Work; O Come Along; I’ve Read the Back of the Book; Yesterday; Can He, Could He, Would He?; Oh, What a Savior; He Made a Change; Somebody Touched Me; Search Me, O God; Champion of Love.

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