Best Versions Of Popular SG Groups Part 2

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The southern gospel genre has produced some amazing talent over the past 70 years. Many popular groups have had numerous variations of themselves as industry turnover is a given for every group who sings for any length of time. Here we list some of our favorite versions of some popular groups in southern and country gospel, including a few current newcomers who have caught some attention. This 2nd edition features 10 groups from the past to the modern era. The rankings will go from very best lineup in slot A to other notable lineups on B and C. The final group listed on each edition will be a current group we feel has potential to make some noise in the industry. Part 3 will be posted next month. If we miss a lineup you like, please let us know in the comments!

1). JD Sumner & The Stamps Quartet-In the fall of 1962, Frank Stamps sold his Stamps Quartet Music Company to James Blackwood, Cecil Blackwood, and JD Sumner of the Blackwood Brothers. The new owners created a new Stamps Quartet with Jerry Redd,  Roger McDuff, Terry Blackwood, “Big” John Hall and “Smiling”Joe Roper. Jim Hill, Mylon LeFevre and Chuck Ramsey also performed with what turned out to be a transition version of the Stamps, bridging the three years between the end of the Frank Stamps era and the launch of the J D Sumner era.

Their 1964 LP releases What A Day That Will Be and Without Him featured similar artwork. Both title tracks became timeless classics that can now be found in most modern hymnbooks. “What A Day That Will Be” was written by tenor Jim Hill and “Without Him” was written by baritone Mylon LeFevre.   Best Lineup:

A

  • Bill Baize- Tenor
  • Donnie Sumner- Lead
  • Ed Enoch-Baritone
  • JD Sumner- Bass

B

  • Bill Baize- Tenor
  • Ed Enoch- Lead
  • Ed Hill- Baritone
  • JD Sumner- Bass

C

  • Jim Hill- Tenor
  • Donnie Sumner- Lead
  • Jimmy Blackwood- Baritone
  • JD Sumner- Bass

2). Oak Ridge Boys- The roots of the Oak Ridge Boys date back to a group originally known as  Wally Fowler’s Georgia Clodhoppers. The town of Oak Ridge, TN drew national attention after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan in August 1945. Fowler, whose group had been popular in the area since 1943, subsequently re-named the group after the town. After the name change, they were known as the Oak Ridge Quartet, but they also referred to themselves as the “Oak Ridge Boys” dating back to the early 1950s. The current edition ranks second in our opinion. Best Lineup:

A

  • Willie Wynn- Tenor
  • Smitty Gatlin- Lead
  • William Lee Golden- Baritone
  • Herman Harper- Bass

B

  • Joe Bonsall- Tenor
  • Duane Allen- Lead
  • William Lee Golden- Baritone
  • Richard Sterban- Bass

3). Singing Americans- The Singing Americans were formed in late 1968 by Bob “Sonny” Lemar in Winston-Salem, NC. Lemar played piano and sang baritone. The other original members were Preston “Pete” Yates (lead), Bob Sims (tenor) and Norris Rife (bass). Sims was later replaced by a 12-year-old tenor named Rodney Hoots. After Yates left, Lemar moved to lead and Mickey Blackwelder moved into the baritone slot. Blackwelder was only with the group for a short time before being replaced by future Kingsmen baritone Wayne Maynard. The Singing Americans also added a drummer named Jon Mark Russell and a bass guitar player named Euclid Huella. In the early 1970s, they added a pair of trumpet players named Jerry Hill and Gary Barnhart.

Homer Wadford bought the group and relocated them to Raleigh, NC around the end of 1972. Wadford did not perform with the group. After selling the group, Lemar reunited with Rife to form a mixed group called the Hallmarks. Jimmy Taylor played piano when they were in Raleigh. Later in the 1970s, the group called Asheville, NC home. Wadford ultimately sold the group to Charles Burke who was based in Maiden, NC. Under the guidance of Burke, the Singing Americans achieved their greatest success.  The group saw some of the industry’s most well known talents grace its roster.  Best Lineup:

A

  • Danny Funderburk- Tenor
  • Michael English- Lead
  • Ed Hill- Baritone
  • Dwayne Burke- Bass

B

  • Danny Funderburk- Tenor
  • Ivan Parker- Lead
  • Ed Hill- Baritone
  • Dwayne Burke- Bass

C

  • Rick Strickland- Tenor
  • Michael English- Lead
  • Ed Hill- Baritone
  • Dwayne Burke- Bass

4). The Rebels Quartet- The history of the Rebels Quartet begins with the Sunny South Quartet, a group based in Tampa, Florida. The Sunny South Quartet was sponsored by the Dixie Lily Flour Company when Horace Floyd decided to relocate the group to Orlando. Bass singer J D Sumner remained in Tampa and retained the sponsorship of the flour company. He formed the Dixie Lily Harmoneers and hired his brother-in-law, John Mathews, to sing baritone, but soon departed for Atlanta to join the Sunshine Boys.

The group Sumner left behind went through a few changes in personnel before the name of the group was changed to the Dixie Rebels Quartet around 1950. “Dixie” would later be dropped from the name. The earliest known configuration of the Rebels once the name changed occurred included Horace Parrish at tenor, Lee Kitchens singing lead, John Mathews at the baritone position, Norman Allman at bass, and Jimmy Hand playing piano. Best Lineup:

A

  • Horace Parrish- Tenor
  • Jim Hamill- Lead
  • John Mathews- Baritone
  • London Parris- Bass

5). Dixie Echoes- The Dixie Echoes got their start in 1960 when JG Whitfield decided to return to singing. Whitfield, only just a couple of years earlier, had yielded his bass singing role of the Florida Boys to spend more time at home. But as the country entered the first year of the ’60s, the desire to sing lured Whitfield to form another quartet that he named The Messengers. In 1962, J.G. renamed the group to The Dixie Echoes Quartet. It was in 1963 that the Dixie Echoes truly began to journey down the path that would carve their place in Southern Gospel history. Current lineup ranks third in our opinion. Best Lineup:

A

  • Coy Cook- Tenor
  • Dale Shelnut- Lead
  • Joe Whitfield- Baritone
  • JG Whitfield- Bass

B

  • Kevin Ivey- Tenor
  • Randy Shelnut- Lead
  • Randy Shelnut Jr- Baritone
  • Billy Todd- Bass

C

  • Stephen Adair- Tenor
  • Randy Shelnut- Lead
  • Randy Shelnut Jr- Baritone
  • Chandler Johnson- Bass

6).  Gaither Vocal Band- The Gaither Vocal Band formed spontaneously before a Gaither Trio concert. Original members included Gaither Trio members Bill Gaither (baritone) and Gary McSpadden (lead) along with Trio backup singers Steve Green (tenor) and Lee Young (bass). They sang “Your First Day In Heaven” for an appreciative Gaither Trio audience. The debut recording by the group was self-titled The New Gaither Vocal Band.

For the next decade, the Gaither Vocal Band had success in the exploding Christian contemporary market. Steve Green left to become a successful soloist. He was succeeded by Larnelle Harris who also became a household name after recording a couple of big duets with Sandi Patty. By 1988, the line-up included former Imperials tenor Jim Murray, Michael English and Mark Lowry. Bill Gaither had shifted from baritone to bass around 1985.

In 1991, Bill Gaither convinced their contemporary label, Star Song, to allow the group to record a Southern Gospel album with some of their heroes. Titled Homecoming, the album led to a concept video being recorded for the song “Where Could I Go?” After the video taping, the guests gathered around a piano in the studio to sing. This was also captured on video and included on the ensuing videotape release. The first video led to another and another. The Gaither Homecoming video series ultimately became the most successful video series of its kind with several titles certified gold and platinum by the RIAA. For our purposes, we will focus on the lineups who released music in the southern gospel industry.

Best Lineup:

A

  • Terry Franklin- Tenor
  • Michael English- Lead
  • Mark Lowry- Baritone
  • Bill Gaither- Bass

B

  • David Phelps- Tenor
  • Guy Penrod- Lead
  • Russ Taff- Baritone
  • Bill Gaither- Bass

C

  • David Phelps- Tenor 1
  • Wes Hampton- Tenor 2
  • Michael English- Lead
  • Mark Lowry- Baritone
  • Bill Gaither- Bass

7).  Masters V- The original Masters V consisted of Rosie Rozell singing tenor, James Blackwood and Jake Hess alternating between lead and baritone, JD Sumner singing bass, and master emcee and pianist Hovie Lister rounding out the group. The Masters V’s first self titled album won a Grammy Award for best traditional Gospel performance. Most of the songs from this Skylite album were songs formerly associated with either the Statesmen Quartet or the Blackwood Brothers. As subsequent recordings were released, most of the quartet’s songs fit this same mold. Best Lineup:

A

  • Rosie Rozell- Tenor
  • Jake Hess/ James Blackwood- Lead
  • Jake Hess/ James Blackwood- Baritone
  • JD Sumner- Bass

B

  • Steve Warren- Tenor
  • Jake Hess/ James Blackwood- Lead
  • Jake Hess/ James Blackwood- Baritone
  • JD Sumner- Bass

8). Booth Brothers- The original Booth Brothers included Ron Booth, Charles Booth, James Booth, and Wallace Booth. They were based in Detriot, MI. This group formed in 1957 and functioned as a regional group until 1963 when Ron left to sing with the Toney Brothers. Ron would later sing with the Rebels, the Thrasher Brothers, and the Stamps.

The group name was revived in 1990 when Ron Booth and his sons Michael Booth, and Ronnie Booth formed a trio. Over the next few years, the group would come to be known for their infectious energy on stage. The elder Ron Booth retired and was replaced in 1998 by former member Joseph Smith. Winning over fans at events like the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion and keeping a strong connection to traditional fans by involving the legendary Mosie Lister in their recordings, the Booth Brothers had a major hit with a Lister penned song titled Still Feelin’ Fine. This song featured a sequel lyric to Lister’s popular I’m Feeling Mighty Fine. Best Lineup:

A

  • Michael Booth- Tenor
  • Ronnie Booth- Lead
  • Jim Brady- Baritone

9). Ernie Haase & Signature Sound- Ernie Haase and Garry Jones formed Signature Sound Quartet in 2002 after Old Friends Quartet dissolved. Both men had performed in Old Friends along with George Younce, Jake Hess and Wesley Pritchard. Other original members of Signature Sound included Shane Dunlap on lead,  Doug Anderson at baritone and Tim Duncan at bass. Dunlap dissolved his own group,  N’Harmony, in order to join the new group. Not long after the initial group lineup was announced, Duncan resigned, but he would return to the group before they began touring.

After a year, Haase and Jones decided to part ways. Dunlap and Jones planned to form a new group that never materialized. Duncan and Anderson remained with Haase. Haase’s former Old Friends baritone filled the lead role until Ryan Seaton was hired. This lineup would soon sign with Bill Gaither’s Spring House Music Group, releasing several successful albums and companion DVD’s and gaining wide success. Like many groups today, roster changes eventually caught up with Signature Sound as some talent wasn’t as strong as some of the original versions. Best Lineup:

A

  • Ernie Haase- Tenor
  • Ryan Seaton- Lead
  • Doug Anderson- Baritone
  • Tim Duncan- Bass

B

  • Ernie Haase- Tenor
  • Shane Dunlap- Lead
  • Doug Anderson- Baritone
  • Tim Duncan- Bass

Our newer group spotlight: 

10). Freedom Quartet- 

“Freedom” is the culmination of a mutual lifelong dream for longtime friends Josh Garner who sang with the Florida Boys and currently with Dixie Melody Boys and John Rulapaugh who sang with the Dove Brothers and Palmetto State Quartet. Having spent a combined total of more than 30 years singing the Gospel, these young men created a new standard in Christian Music. Joining Garner and Rulapaugh in this new undertaking was former  Soul’d Out Quartet baritone Joel Trimble.

Alan Kendall, who was a baritone for  Melody Boys Quartet joined Freedom in 2011. In 2012 Alan Kendall left Freedom and was replaced by vocalist and pianist, Tyler Vestal. On September 1, 2013 Freedom Trio performed their last concert together.

Within a week of the trio disbanding John Rulapaugh, founder of the Southern Gospel group, Freedom, announced a new lineup of singers as part of the new “Freedom Quartet”. The lineup consisted of John Rulapaugh, Dale Shipley who sang with Perfect Heart, Preston Garner, and Burman Porter who sang with the Dove Brothers and Palmetto State Quartet. They debut as a quartet at the 2013 National Quartet Convention. Out of the current newer groups in the industry today, Freedom has the best opportunity to achieve the most success. Solid vocals and a style of music that southern gospel fans love make them the new group to watch. They have already garnered tremendous success winning the Singing News traditional quartet of the year in 2015.  Its a little more difficult to determine Freedom quartet’s best lineup as so far the original lineup is still intact. Its just a matter of time before this quartet is a household name. Best Lineup for Freedom trio:

A

  • John Rulapaugh- Tenor
  • Josh Garner- Lead
  • Alan Kendall- Baritone

Best lineup for Freedom quartet (The only lineup so far for group)

A

  • John Rulapaugh- Tenor
  • Dale Shipley- Lead
  • Preston Garner- Baritone
  • Burman Porter- Bass

 

 

 

 

 

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New SG Trio: The Bunkleys

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The Bunkleys are a Southern Gospel family group, that consists of Rick Bunkley, his wife Peggy, and their son Dwayne. You will find that through listening to their music, that they have unique sound and amazing vocals that will minister to your heart and remind you of your walk with God. They have performed with groups such as the Downings, The Whisnants, The Down East Boys and Gold City.

Some of the songs that they have performed are: “I Know My God Can Do It”, “Mercy Leads Us Home”, and “Room With A View”.
Andrew Brunet shared “Through meeting Rick Bunkley, I have found a man who is such a great friend and a prayer warrior, like we all should be”. Through listening to some of their songs, you will begin to feel the Holy Spirit minister to your soul and will remind you
of your walk with Christ and where you will be headed for eternity. God has definitely blessed this group with some anointed talent for everyone to enjoy!
You can find more info about the group at http://www.thebunkleys.com or you can give them a call at 803-640-4702.

Knight Family To Release 30th Anniversary Collection

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Three decades is long enough to amass a lot of miles and a lot of memories in Gospel music.  The Knight Family, from East Tennessee is celebrating that milestone with the most involved CD release of their career.  30th Anniversary Celebration, from the trio, features 16 cuts and some of the finest studio musicians in the world.

While the album features Knight Family classics, such as I Claim the Blood (which has been sang on state by group matriarch, Linda Knight, virtually nightly for the entirety of the 30 year ministry), Transfer Orders (a former radio single honoring Cathedral legend Glen Payne), and There’s A Refuge In Jesus (the title track from the group’s debut album), there are many new highlights to point out.

Angel Knight grew up in an acapella church in Hurley, VA.  Her grandmother, Nuvell Jackson, sang the Fannie Crosby tune, “I Shall Know Him,” often.  Not knowing how the tune went for certain, there was a lonesome and Celtic lilt to her voice as she sang it.  When it came time to record this album, the group had plenty of acapella material, but wanted to capture a certain Appalachian tone.  Adam Knight explains, “We called on Sam Levine, who has played for everyone from the Martins to Henry Mancini, to play pennywhistle and Frances Cunningham, who plays on the Opry weekly to play bazouki.  The magic they captured at TBN Studios translated to tape and gave us chills.”

Adam Knight, whose public fall and more public restoration several years ago left him with a testimony as few have, wrote the song “Man That I’ll Never Be Again,” for the album.  With the powerful lyric…”I’m not saying that I’m above reproach and I’m sure not free from sin, but I can’t help but worship Jesus, when I recall the man I’ll never be again,” the story of grace and mercy flows free.

Group matriarch, Linda Knight, closes the album with one of the finest renditions in her 48 year singing career with, “How Great Thou Art.”

Featuring East Tennessee’s finest musicians such as Adam & Aaron Knight, Tony Dingus, David Yates and Jon Presnell as well as Nashville A-listers like Bruce Watkins, Kelly Back, and Mike Schrimpf the album is 46 minutes of sonically pleasing instrumentation accompanying family, mountain style harmony that few artists can present.

Publicity by: Andrew Burnett

For more information: Knight Family Website

 

Paula & Angie Release Soon & Very Soon EP

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–
(Wilmington, NC)- Meet Paula and Angie, a mother-daughter duo, who has been singing since 2013. Through listening to their music, you will begin to feel a passion like never before, when these two begin to share their message to you about what Christ has done in their lives. The mission statement for their ministry is: “To be the hands and feet of Jesus.”
Some of the songs that you may have heard them perform are: “God Will Open The
Windows“, “God On The Mountain Medley“, and “I Am Redeemed. ” You will find that throughout their career, along with featured artists from the Wilmington Celebration Choir such as: Michael English, Karen Peck and New River, Lynda Randle, and The Collingsworth Family.
The Lamon Recording Artists have currently released their new EP “Soon and Very Soon”to fans in the Gospel and Southern Gospel genre on March 11, 2016. You will find
two songs that you are sure to love and enjoy as they both are classics that we all should know by heart: “God On The Mountain Medley” and “Soon and Very Soon.” Through listening to “Soon and Very Soon”, you will find sounds like a song you would hear in the 70s and 80s, as it has the pop and rock sound that you would hear back then, in which this would have been the background Angie grew up in. The next song you will find is “God On The Mountain Medley”, has the perfect sound of the soul/jazz genre, many fans will fall in love with this, as you can relate to the words of this song as many of us have been through situations in this life, and God always brings us through it!
Their publicist, Andrew Brunet shares this: “Through meeting Paula and Angie, you will find no greater friend, so spiritually wise and sharing their talent that our precious Lord and Savior has given them.” You can meet them at one of their tour stops, they would love to see you:
  • May 29- Bethesda United Methodist Church- Fairmont NC
  • June 4- PrayzeFactor Tour- Jacksonville, FL
  • June 5- PrayzeFactor Tour- Jacksonville, FL
  • June 12- First Baptist Church Woodburn- Leland, NC
  • June 18- PrayzeFactor Tour- Charleston, SC
  • June 19- PrayzeFactor Tour- Charleston, SC
You can purchase their music through digital outlets such as iTunes, Amazon, and Google Music. If you would like to find out more info about them, go to their website. For booking inquiries, contact A.C.T.S Management at 404-432-7648.

Tony Guyton Launches Solo Ministry

Buddy Durrett To Release Double Album

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Buddy Durrett is a Country Gospel soloist located in Hardy, VA. Through listening to his music, you will begin to enter into an atmosphere of praise and worship as The Holy Spirit ministers to you through the powerful lyric of each song. When asked about his project, Buddy shares “that he knows it will be a blessing to many souls and hopes to reach the lost to our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.”

You will find that Buddy has been involved in the music for almost 60 years. He has served as a radio personality, a booking agent, worship leader and executive producer. He has shared the stage with many artists such as: New Hearts, The Knight Family, Soul Purpose, and Bread of Life Gospel Singers. Some of his songs on his new project include: “God’s Master Plan”, “Jesus Will Welcome Them Home”, “My Heavenly Home”, and “God Only Sees The Blood.” As a songwriter, Buddy Durrett’s songs have been recorded by The Knight Family, Bread of Life, and the Victory Trio.

Currently over the last 9 months, Buddy and accomplished producer, Adam Knight have entered the studio multiple times to begin putting together a 20-song double CD project. The album features some of Nashville and East Tennessee’s finest musicians. You will find that on the album there are four distinct genres: Southern Gospel, Bluegrass Gospel, Orchestrated Hymns, and Neo-Traditional Country Cuts.

The album is set for release in mid-May 2016 on the AOK Records Label. It will be available directly from Buddy, AOK Records, and from your favorite digital partner.

Stop by and see Him at one of his current tour stops, He would be glad to see you:

May 18th– John A’s Restaurant- Nashville, TN

May 27th-29th Breaks Interstate Park- Breaks, VA

June 5th- Calvary FWB Church- Kingsport TN

June 11th- Emmanuel Baptist Church- Roanoke, VA

You can find out more info about Buddy and his music on his website, http://www.reverbnation.com/buddydurrett and for booking, you can give him a call at 540-798-5850

Front Porch Interview: Randy Crawford

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SGM- The Kingsmen have one of the most storied traditions in gospel music. Tell us how you ended up singing with the Kingsmen and what the experience has meant to you.

RC- I started my first tenure with the Kingsmen in 2001. Eldridge and Greg Fox called and offered me a chance to sing lead, which I accepted! I knew the guys from my years with Brian Free & Assurance, so it was an easy transition on to the Kingsmen bus. (Answer to an obscure trivia question; I am the last man Foxy hired before he passed away.) As far as meaning, it is more than an honor to be associated with the heritage of a multi-hall of fame group like the Kingsmen. So many who love this music, and desire to sing it, have dreamed about becoming a member. Having been one for 10 years now, I can say it was everything I thought it would be.

SGM- Is singing southern gospel something you aspired to do from an early age?

RC-No. I never thought about singing this style of music until I was a Freshman in college.

SGM- You are the groups Emcee during concerts. Was that a natural transition for you?

RC- Sort of! You can ask the guys, and my wife Caroline, I love to talk…A LOT! So having a reputation with the friends and fans who come to see us, I was a natural fit when Ray asked me to Emcee. It takes some work, however. It’s not all about talking and setting up songs. It’s reading a crowd, a moment, a spirit when you must go down a path you hadn’t planned on. Switch up things to best benefit the service or concert. That’s why we never have a set program.

SGM- When you perform Justified, the song really seems to resonate with the audience as you perform it with emotion. Does this song hold special meaning for you?

RC- It is just the message of redemption. Christ showing you His love and forgiveness. When man is ready to condemn and destroy, Jesus sees an opportunity to show Grace and compassion. And in doing so, creates another soul, another soldier to champion the cause of Christ – which is love and redemption. Christ said in Luke 7, he who is forgiven much, loves much. I, like the woman in this song, was sinful and bound for death. But Jesus forgave my sins, restored me, justified me through my faith in Him and His sacrifice. So now that I believe, I am condemned no more.

SGM- What is a favorite memory you have so far in singing with the Kingsmen

RC-  The first time I stepped on stage with the guys at NQC. We closed that stand out with Jim Hamill singing, “Love Lifted Me”. Thinking about it now still brings chills!

SGM- What would you say is the biggest challenge about singing gospel music professionally?

RC- Having a family. It’s beyond difficult having a wife and children (being really involved in their lives) when you are away from home over 200 days every year. Some might think they can “get through it”. But trust me, you can only do that for so long. I’ve watched countless families disintegrate because of the schedule this job demands. It’s a shame, but it happens. You miss anniversaries and birthdays, you’re never in church with your family, never see a special program your kids are in, never see a dance recital, never see the big hit your son gets on Saturday to win the game…saying its not easy is an understatement. If your’e not called of God and sold out to seeing His Kingdom furthered, you can’t make it for long.

SGM- Who were your musical influences growing up?

RC- Gospel influences were the Hinsons, Cathedrals, Gold City, Inspirations, Kingsmen, and Larnelle Harris. Many influences in secular music.

SGM- When people attend a Kingsmen concert, what should they expect?

RC- excitement in the Holy Spirit. We are excited about our Savior and His gospel. That message of salvation. We try to give that away every night on stage. You’ll hear old and new songs, testimonies, and encouragement to grab hold of Jesus and not let go. It’s a struggle in this life. We are here to help encourage the soldiers of God to press on and to recruit and welcome the ones who will take up this fight once we are gone.

For more information on the Kingsmen quartet:

For booking information contact:

  • The Harper Agency
    615.851.4500 ext: 14
    jeff@harperagency.com