Saturday, September 15, 2007

Fan Awards

National Quartet Convention was a great experience. I have quite a bit to say about it, the performances, the booths, the friends I ran into, the groups, you name it. However, I first want to contribute a little commentary concerning the fan awards. Y'all got some right, but you blew it on a few. Here we go (winners are in bold):

Bean, Peg McKamey (McKameys)
Easter, Sheri (Jeff & Sheri Easter)
Hopper, Kim (Hoppers)
Stuffle, Libbi (Perrys)
Whisnant, Susan (Whisnants)

There is no doubt that Kim Hopper is very deserving of this award. She possesses one of the most powerful voices in Southern Gospel music (male or female). However, with that said, I was personally pulling for Susan Whisnant, the heir to Connie Hopper's title "Queen of Class". Susan is an underrated vocalist who has learned how to sell a song without belting. Right now, the Whisnants are one of my favorite SG groups.

Fowler, Scott (Legacy Five)
Haase, Ernie (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound)
Parker, Ivan
Rice, Arthur (Kingdom Heirs)
Wolfe, Gerald (Greater Vision)

Sorry, fans. You blew it here. Don't get me wrong, Ivan can still bring a crowd to its feet, albeit with his classics in lower keys and a tendency to avoid the big punch as in old days, but he is not in the same class as the rest of these guys. I see this category as including more than just a good voice. I would have gone with Gerald Wolfe in this category. There is no one who can bring the entire package (vocals, humor,charisma) to the stage like Gerald. While his vibrato is widening with age, he can still sing the big songs like few others in the biz.

Free, Brian (Brian Free & Assurance)
Haase, Ernie (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound)
Seamans, Frank (Legacy Five)
Sutton, David (Triumphant Quartet)
Waldroup, Jason (Greater Vision)

I like Jason, but right now Brian Free is sounding better than he ever has. He is one of those few guys who truly improves as he gets older. His voice sounds so much better than it did in the Gold City hey-day. He can tear it up live better than any of the other guys. Brian consistently brings it night after night. Frank makes it tough to vote just because he's in a 2-way tie with Rodney Griffin for the nicest guy in Southern Gospel music. He also sounds better every time I hear him.

Dibler, Matt (Inspirations)
Fowler, Scott (Legacy Five)
Inman, Clayton (Triumphant Quartet)
Rice, Arthur (Kingdom Heirs)
Wolfe, Gerald (Greater Vision)

I agree.

Anderson, Doug (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound)
Griffin, Rodney (Greater Vision)
Howard, Scott (Legacy Five)
Inman, Scott (Triumphant Quartet)
Trammell, Mark (Mark Trammell Trio)

I don't get this one. Not that Rodney isn't a deserving recipient, he is. But he sings lead on 85% of the Greater Vision songs. He's not a baritone, people! And, Mark Trammell is singing lead with MTT. We like to stereotype singers. Just because Mark sang baritone with the Cats back in the day doesn't mean he's still stuck on that part. That being said, I like both Rodney and Mark, but I have to go with the best guy nominated, Doug Anderson. Doug has an incredible instrument and deserves the honor. The best baritone in SG music wasn't nominated, though. That's Marsh Hall. That's a baritone!

Bennett, Eric (Triumphant Quartet)
Duncan, Tim (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound)
Dustin, Glenn (Legacy Five)
Holcomb, Mike (Inspirations)
Stuffle, Tracy (Perrys)

I'd go with Glenn out of this group. I have to say, though, that the best bass singer this week was Aaron McCune of Gold City. He's incredible! Give him some love.

Easter, Sheri (Jeff & Sheri Easter)
Hopper, Connie (Hoppers)
Stuffle, Libbi (Perrys)
Talley, Debra (Talley Trio)
Whisnant, Susan (Whisnants)

Once again, I would have liked Susan to win this award. That being said, though, I love Debra. So, I don't feel too bad about this one.

Fortner, Connie (McKameys)
Gooch, Karen Peck (Karen Peck & New River)
Greene, TaRanda (Greenes)
Hopper, Kim (Hoppers)
Talley, Lauren (Talley Trio)

I agree with Kim's statement when she accepted the award: " favorite soprano is my sister-in-law Taranda". Taranda should have been the one on stage. She has a beautiful voice that can belt out SG standards such as "When I Knelt" as well as CCM classics like "Redeemer". By the way, she sings Redeemer better than Nicole C. Mullen.

Young Artist
Fortner, Eli (McKameys)
Free, Ricky (Brian Free & Assurance)
Habedank, Joseph (Perrys)
Inman, Scott (Triumphant Qt)
Sweatman, Dustin (Mark Trammell Trio)

On the money, with this one. Scott's a class guy with a great future ahead of him.

Horizon Individual
Barker, Grant (Kingsmen)
Lile, Jeremy (Brian Free & Assurance)
Singletary, Josh (Tribute Qt)
Sweatman, Dustin (Mark Trammell Trio)
Trammell, Nick (Perrys)

To be honest, I really didn't have a favorite. I'm glad Nick won, though, because he provided the quote of the night: "Thanks to Tracy and Libbi for giving me an opportunity that my own father wouldn’t give me."

Horizon Group
Ball Brothers
Crystal River
Paid In Full
Young Harmony

How many times can you be nominated for this award? I know that Paid in Full has been nominated 2 or 3 years. They've been traveling for 15 years. I don't see how that fits the parameter of being a "new" group. I would have gone with the Ball Brothers.

Bennett, Roger (Legacy Five)

Collingsworth, Kim (Collingsworth Family)
Holt, Matthew (Perrys)
Stice, Jeff (Triumphant Qt)
Webb, Roy (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound)

OK, so we all knew that Roger would win one more time. And I don't begrudge that at all. Roger will always be remembered as one of the all-time piano greats. I loved the guy. I'm hoping that Kim finally gets her due next year.

Bishop, Mark
Brady, Jim
Crabb, Gerald
Griffin, Rodney
Wilkinson, Dianne

I guess I should be grateful that fans are finally starting to read the liner notes and nominating non-singer writers. I was hoping that Dianne would win. She has written so many fantastic songs for the premiere groups of our genre.

Get Away Jordan (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound)
I Know (Inspirations)
Live In Music City (Legacy Five)
Revival (Gold City)
Triumphant (Triumphant Qt)

In my mind L5s album was in a dead heat with "Revival". They're both great recordings that I play quite frequently. So, heads or tails: Heads, you have it. Legacy Five.

Group of the Year
Booth Brothers
Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
Legacy Five
Triumphant Qt

Thank you for getting this right, fans. The Booth Brothers are at the top. Their unique blend of harmony, comedy, energy, and great songs are unparalleled in Southern Gospel. They are my favorite group right now.

Give It Away (Gaither Vocal Band)
He Will Hide Me (Perrys)
Heaven's Hero (Greater Vision)
Hey Jonah (Triumphant Qt)
I Have Not Forgotten (Inspirations)
I Will Trust You Lord (McKameys)
If It Takes A Valley (Brian Free & Assurance)
My Anchor of Hope (Kingdom Heirs)
Once Upon A Cross (Mark Trammell Trio)
Strike Up The Band (Legacy Five)

You totally blew it! I don't get it. The song shouldn't have even been in the top ten. I heard all of the songs and the most powerful, by far, was "Once Upon a Cross". What a song! "He Will Hide Me" would have been my second choice. It was nice to recognize the songwriter of each song, but why did they exclude Phil Cross? They mentioned everyone but him. Just an oversight?

It was a fun evening. And now, I'll put my soapbox away and go see why Royce is swerving all over the road.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hello Manhattan!

Nice set of pipes! No, I'm not referring to the vociferous sound Royce is producing with facial contortions; I'm talking about the pipe organ behind us. They began the concert by singing 3 congregational songs (I can't remember the first, but the last two were Victory in Jesus and Wonderful Grace of Jesus), all verses thank you very much. The organist could flat out play (the term "flat out" brings to mind colorful images)! She tore it up! It's rare that you hear an organist who knows how to bring the instrument to life, skillfully getting the most out of it. I enjoyed that almost as much as singing to the wonderful crowd.

Ok, so the skyline wasn't quite what I expected, but our concert in Manhattan, MT was a success. People came from all over the state to hear us at the Brethren Christian Reformed Church. I'm sure they were wondering what was going on with the camera on stage, but now they know.

Only in Montana (and Wyoming)

I never saw this in Indiana. In Montana they just shut down the road for a cattle drive. That little dog that you see in the middle picture was amazing! He kept those cattle moving. We sat for about 3 or 4 minutes waiting for them to get to the other side of the road.

Uno Voce

Thanks for praying, people. My voice was raspy all throughout the day, yesterday, but as soon as I stepped on the stage for the concert it came back in full force. Incredible! This entire trip has been wondeful. Every evening (and one morning), we have been blessed to sing to a fantastic audience who encourages us with their spirit. We have already seen about 25 decisions for Christ in the last few days. Doran shared with us that he had felt impressed to ask God for 50 commitments to Christ on this eastern trip. We have been specifically praying for at least 50 souls on this trip. I think our faith was too weak. God is going to blow the doors off of our little request. It's amazing what He can do!

I have some pictures from a couple of our most recent concerts coming up. Enjoy!


Special props go to Carrie for giving me the idea for this. I'm thrilled to even have a 51% match to Mel Gibson. I'm not sure where the Barry Manilow thing came in. This is very informative, to say the least. I think I'll look like Ernest in about 40 years.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

No Voce

As is my custom when traveling to Nebraska and Kansas, I have lost my voice. OK, so it's not as bad as it was last year, but it's still pretty rough. This time it's my allergies that have just nailed me. I save my notes, if you know what I mean. When I have an exposed line I have to be able to hit it, so I really focus on blending the rest of the time, which is a novel idea for a Southern Gospel tenor (sarcasm is included).


Royce wanted to save a little money on his portrait package

Bill and GooGoo

Dan's dad, Bill, went along with us on the Michigan trip to help drive the bus. Thank God he was with us! It was 36-hour trip there and at least a 36-hour trip home. Bill is a driving machine. Once he gets behind the wheel, he's there for 5 or 6 hours.

Unfortunately, for Royce's diet, we stopped at a Cracker Barrel. He bought a box of Goo Goo Supremes and wolfed them down in short order. OK, maybe he didn't eat them all, but let's just say he ate more than his fair share.

I Feel Like Traveling On

Hi from somewhere in South Dakota or Nebraska. A lot has happened since I last posted. I'm pretty pathetic in my efforts to be a consistent blogger. I would love to post more, but I just haven't had time to get around to it. Anyway, a lot has happened in the last couple of weeks, including:
  • Trey's first day of school (1st grade); he's not real impressed with the fact that he has to be at school all day.
  • The first Boise State football game of the season, which I was fortunate enough to attend, a 56-7 thumping of Weber State. By the way, it doesn't matter who you play, it's just a good feeling to know that football season is here.
  • The annual Labor Day golf scramble; I had the worst game of golf since my first feeble attempts; it was fun, though, with quite a bit of laughter at my hitched swing.
  • Labor Day picnic with all of my friends at Grace Bible Church; followed up by another picnic over at the Taylors; I ate waaaayy too much food.
  • Kassady's first soccer practice. Watching 3 and 4-year-olds play soccer is kind of like watching the Senate in action: you know what they're supposed to theoretically be doing, but the reality is they just end up stumbling all over themselves.
  • Trey's first soccer practice: he's making me proud. He's actually getting pretty good.
  • A big Colts win over the Chargers, which caused me to shout with joy loudly in our car (much to my family's chagrin).
  • The wedding of Matt and Mindy (Crane) Ritchey. It was one of the most beautiful weddings I've ever been a part of. I was the emcee for the reception and sang a song for the ceremony (I was pinch-hitting for Doran who lost his voice the night before the wedding; I'd never heard the song before, but Diane and I were able to pull it off; the name of the song was "When God Made You" and originally performed by Newsong and Natalie Grant).
  • Leaving for a 9-day tour with Liberty, including stops in Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Kentucky, and South Carolina. We're going to be spending 2 days at National Quartet Convention, a first for all of us.
  • ...and a lot of other stuff.

I'll be posting more from the road. We all brought our video cameras, so I'll try to have some video clips available too. In the meantime, here are a few pictures from Liberty. I forgot Trey and Kassady's soccer pics at home. I'll upload them later.