Bobby Clark passes away

Bobby Clark, original tenor for the Cathedral Quartet, passed away this afternoon at 12:10 P.M. He had suffered a stroke in February. A celebration of life service will be held on Saturday, May 31 at 11:00 AM at the Temple Baptist Church in Flower Mound, Texas.

Clark was the last surviving member of the original Cathedrals lineup; lead singer Glen Payne passed away in 1999, bass singer George Younce in 2005, and baritone/pianist Danny Koker in 2008. This is the 50th anniversary of the quartet’s 1964 start; he was the only alumnus to make live to see that fifty-year mark.

Here is a video of Clark at the Cathedrals Reunion videotaping:

That doesn’t quite do justice to the Cathedrals’ delightfully tight blend when Clark was with the group and in his vocal prime. Though this is audio only, it comes closer:

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Song Snapshots #32: He’s More than Just a Swear Word (Couriers, Blackwood Brothers, Collingsworth Family)

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

Neil Enloe’s father was a barber. He describes him as a “fun-loving, happy guy, who never had a sad day in his life.” But, Enloe recalls, “He loved his Lord, and he was dead serious about God. He was a great role model.”

“In his barber shop,” Enloe continues, “he could not stand to have the name of Jesus berated or blasphemed. In his shop, one wall had a sign, ‘No swearing, please.’ Another wall had a sign that said, ‘No profane language, please.’ My dad was a very crude person when it comes to design; he tore the flap off a cardboard box, and with a child’s crayon, he wrote a sign and thumb-tacked it to a third wall. And it said, and this one he made up, ‘A feller’s tougher who is not a cusser.’”

Enloe recalls the impact of his father’s stand: “So here I am, and going into my dad’s barber shop. In front of his customers, when they would blaspheme the name of the Lord, he would stop, mid-stroke, whether it was shaving, or cutting hair, or whatever, and he’d say, ‘Look, this is my Lord and my Savior, we don’t talk like that here.’ So at the expense of losing business, my dad stood up for his Lord, and that deeply impressed me as a little guy. So in the years that followed, I just decided to make a statement, too, and that’s where that song really came from, my childhood.”

The song was one of the most popular songs the Couriers ever introduced. It made the rounds in the 1970s; the Blackwood Brothers, Cathedrals, Dixie Echoes, Dixie Melody Boys, Downings, Florida Boys, Kingsmen, and Sego Brothers were among the groups who recorded it. After receiving little attention for decades, the song was recently brought back by the Collingsworth Family on their 2007 We Believe CD.

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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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Doing the Little Things

Yesterday, I bought the new Gaither Vocal Band hymns CD at Wal-Mart. As I was checking out, the cashier, to my surprise, commented that she remembered when Larnelle Harris was with the group, and particularly enjoyed that lineup.

Then she told a story. Back in the mid-’90s, she was a security guard at a local mall. The mall didn’t like trucks parking in its lots overnight. So when she saw one, she was supposed to ask them to park somewhere else.

 

One night, she looked out into the parking lot and saw a bus. She went out to see it and saw a little sticker that said that the bus belonged to the Cathedral Quartet. She knocked on the door anyhow, and asked the bus driver if he could go to a nearby hotel instead. He said that he had already been there, and they didn’t have any vacancies.

The cashier told me, “I thought God would be mad with me if I didn’t let The Cathedrals get a good night’s sleep.” So she told the bus driver that she wouldn’t turn them in.

The point of this story isn’t whether or not the security guard made the right decision, and the point isn’t whether or not God would have been upset with a guard who asked them to park the bus somewhere else. The point is in what happened the next morning: The Cathedrals tracked down the security guard, thanked her for letting them get a good night’s sleep, and gave her complimentary tickets to their concert that night. 

Thanks to that little gesture, twenty years later, she is still telling people—even strangers—how gracious the Cathedrals were.

Why do the little things? Why go out of your way to be gracious to people who probably won’t do anything to advance your career? And why does it matter what a cashier at Wal-Mart thinks of you, fifteen years after your retirement?

That’s your legacy. 

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Bobby Clark suffers stroke

Original Cathedral Quartet tenor Bobby Clark suffered two strokes on January 27th and 28th. He spent about two weeks in intensive care. A family member posted to his Facebook page this evening that he is beginning therapy, adding, “We will not know the true damage just yet, but I covet your prayers for him.”

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2013 SouthernGospelBlog.com Awards: Best On-Stage Video: Voting

Quite a few Southern Gospel magazines and websites offer “best of” contests and awards shows. But they often cover much the same ground: Favorite artist, song, album, musician, singer at each vocal part, and the like. Let’s do something different. Let’s honor the best Southern Gospel videos—concept videos, behind-the-scenes videos (including studio videos), and live concert videos. For each category, we’ll do a nominations post and a follow-up post with a poll featuring the top nominees.

You’ve already selected the best concept video and the best behind-the-scenes video. You’ve also nominated and seconded the finalists for this final category, best on-stage single-song video, here. It’s time to vote!

[UPDATE, 1/27/2014] The results are in! Here are the final vote totals and percentages:

  1. 42% / 1,313 votes: From My Rags to His Riches – Devin McGlamery – http://youtu.be/LC0B7idut00
  2. 33% / 1,036 votes: He Broke The Chains – Inspirations – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7clxQv-uRZ8
  3. 8% / 239 votes: Long Live The King – Old Paths – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bW-t09L4kk
  4. 4% / 132 votes: Thanks To Calvary – Pat Barker at the Cathedrals Family Reunion – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cnp8azmLVQ
  5. 3% / 83 votes: I Rest My Case At The Cross – The Perrys – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wozmtqhEfA4
  6. 3% / 80 votes: While I Still Can – Devin McGlamery – http://youtu.be/wi2CWLFEInE
  7. 2% / 52 votes: Glorious Freedom – Gaither Vocal Band – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qzxv8EYGCM
  8. 2% / 47 votes: Light a Candle – Ernie Haase & Signature Sound – http://youtu.be/sWvLdgG2RQk
  9. 1% / 44 votes: He Loves Me – Chris Allman, Gerald Wolfe, Mark Trammell, Pat Barker – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3z-vIVdoeE
  10. 1% / 43 votes: All Bass Quartet at NQC – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSBYqFdeKo0
  11. 1% / 28 votes: Something’s Happening – Hoppers with TaRanda Greene – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhTXW0Q8s5U
  12. 1% / 16 votes: All is Well – Whisnants with Melissa Brady – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nw7u9F1-n7k

Total votes: 3,115.

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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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George Amon Webster passes away

George Amon Webster, baritone for The Cathedrals for a decade (1969-1979), passed away last night. He had been battling cancer, strokes, and other health issues for several years. Due to declining health, he was in hospice for the last few months.

News of his passing was confirmed on social media by several fellow alumni from his years with the Cathedrals and with his own group, the Heartland Boys, in the 1990s. Tributes included:

  • Mark Trammell: “The first time I saw The Cathedral Quartet in person, George Amon Webster was the baritone/bass player. I was 13 years old. Just a few years later I was standing in his place. Amon was a dear friend and always treated me like I was somebody. I will always cherish his friendship and kindness. Rest in peace my friend.”
  • Bryan Hutson: “Just got word that my old singing buddy from “The Heartland Boys”; George Amon Webster passed away about 8:30pm tonight. George, Roy Tremble and Brent Fredricks gave me my first professional singing job. Amon has been battling cancer for several years.. Tonight he’s not suffering and is in the arms of Jesus.. Love ya George.”
  • Stuart Cary: “Just received the news of George Amon Webster’s passing. George was a member of the famed Cathedrals during the 1970’s, then managed the Heartland Boys for a number of years. I will forever appreciate George for taking a chance on a twenty year old bass singer. I had the privilege to sing with him for a year, he was a great mentor and friend. Please remember his family in prayer.”

Webster was one of the longest-running Cathedral Quartet members. George Younce and Glen Payne, of course, were founding members and remained there for the group’s entire run. Roger Bennett was with the group eighteen years, Mark Trammell ten and a half, and George Amon Webster ten. Since the Cathedrals became the biggest group in Southern Gospel in around 1981, this means that Webster was, until yesterday, the longest-serving member still living from the lean years.

Here’s a video of George Amon Webster singing and sharing the story behind his signature song, “He Loves Me.”

UPDATE, 9/30/13: Tim Webster, George’s son, posted:

We will be having a memorial service for my dad, George Amon Webster, at 11am on Saturday, October 5, 2013 at Colonial Hills Baptist Church 5375 W Mount Morris Rd. in Mount Morris, MI. My Uncle Dannie is also planning on having a service in Daytona Beach, FL. When I get all of that information I will post it.

Thanks to everyone for their kind words and condolences. Our family appreciates it more than we could ever say.

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NQC 2013, Day 2: Live Blog

Are you watching in person or online? Jump in; join the discussion and share your thoughts in the comments section!

Highlights

In no particular order.

  • The webcast quality was greatly improved from last night. There was only one point where there were any significant interruptions—though, sadly, it was…
  • The Cathedral Family Reunion appearance—Danny Funderburk, Ernie Haase, Gerald Wolfe, Mark Trammell, and Scott Fowler, joined by guest bass Paul Harkey—singing their new radio single, “We’ll Work.” I could only catch a few seconds here and a few seconds there, but it was enough to confirm that it was one of the evening’s highlights.
  • Even though Legacy Five’s set had the somewhat odd pacing of three bass solo songs to open, it showcased Matt Fouch’s growth into his role as a Legacy Five-style bass singer within the past year.
  • I was prepared to describe the Kingdom Heirs set much like I described one or two sets from yesterday: Solidly paced, and so great as a whole that it deserved mention here, even though there wasn’t one song that stood head and shoulders over the rest. But then they closed with their current #1 hit, “Just Beyond the Sunset.” They gave it the all-our barn-burner treatment that they’ve given to previous favorites, “He Locked the Gates” and “I Know I’m Going There.” 

Highlights of their respective sets include: “Homecoming Day” (Tribute Quartet), “Searchin'” (The Talleys with Jason Crabb), “When He Spoke” (The Perrys), “That’s What The Blood is For” (Jason Crabb), “Calvary Conquers It All” (Gold City), “Goodbye World Goodbye” (Penny Loafers), “When We Meet to Part No More” (Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver), “When I Wake Up To Sleep No More” (Inspirations), “Reason Enough” (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound), “What Remains of Me” (Dixie Melody Boys with The Isaacs), “Hold On” (The McKameys), “Four Days Late” (Karen Peck and New River), “I’ll Trust The Potter’s Hand” (The Whisnants)

Live Play-By-Play

Click “Read More” to read the live blog; it is hidden from the home page for space considerations.

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