Your Favorite Gold City Lead Singer… or Tenor?

With the recent flurry of lead singers and tenors Gold City has had, it prompted me to think about all the various talented singers who have filled those two spots over the years. One thing’s for sure, there haven’t been any slouches among them. For me, it’s definitely harder to pick favorites than for some other groups.

Among the lead singers, I’m very partial to Jonathan Wilburn, but more recently I was captivated by Craig West along with many others, and like many others I was sorely disappointed to see him go.

Among the tenors, I could easily go for Brian Free, except that his sound was really nasal in the early years. As many others have noticed, he improved dramatically in the 90s. People will often say they first noticed a change with Assurance, but I could already hear a huge difference on Pillars of Faith. So I might choose him on the strength of some of that later material with Gold City. But Josh Cobb also brought a lot to the table for the short time he was with the group. I was very disappointed that circumstances worked against him and would have liked to hear a project with his vocals on it. He seemed to have matured greatly since his Legacy Five years.

So, what say ye? Am I going to get lambasted for not picking Ivan? Or Jay? For the record, both talented guys too, just not my first choices.

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31 Comments

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31 responses to “Your Favorite Gold City Lead Singer… or Tenor?

  1. Josh Cobb was actually on a GC project, A Collection of Favorites.

  2. Wes Burke

    For me, I’d love just one time to hear a Gold City lineup of Jay Parrack, Craig West, Steve Lacey, and Tim Riley sing something. They could sing the menu from the Chinese Kitchen restaurant and it would be incredible.

  3. We sang with Jay at a church recently with his new group called Vocal Event. I had not heard him live since the night at Boutwell Auditorium when Jay took over for Brian Free in the middle of the concert. He is an amazing singer and is a great guy too. If you will search on youtube Get Up, Get Ready by Gold City, you will see to me that Jay is the best tenor that Gold City ever had. He is just as great now as he was with Gold City to me.

    • Jay has a new group? I didn’t know that. Do they have a website?

      • No website that I am aware of. The group name is Vocal Event and they are booking select dates. He is still minister of music at the church he is serving. One of the other members is pastor of a church too. I do know that they are working on a new cd. I don’t know for sure when it will be finished.

      • I just went and found an announcement about its formation back in July. They must be working very quietly! I wonder if I could find videos on Youtube.

  4. Also I forgot to mention that Craig West lived across from me growing up. I said it even before he started singing with Gold City that he is one of the best lead singers you will ever hear. What is so great about his singing is that he is a humble person. You know he loves God and his family above any kind of fame he may get to me.

  5. Samuel

    Not as bad as I’m gonna be for picking Jerry Ritchie and Brian Free.

    • Brian’s a popular choice, but who’s Jerry Ritchie?

      • coomercove

        Jerry was the original lead singer for Gold City. He moved to baritone when Bill Crittendon (who was replaced by Ivan Parker) joined. He left when Tim relocated the group to Gadsden, AL.

        At tenor, I’d take Parrack, but Steve Ladd is a sentimental favorite.
        At lead, I would go with Wilburn, but Bruce and Craig could have overtaken him with longer tenures. Jerry has a chance too.

      • Wow. Proof that I’m not really a full-blooded Gold City nerd. :D

        I forgot about Steve Ladd—he’s a good one too. I like him better than Parrack actually.

  6. My favorite lineup was Cobb/Taliaferro/Riley/Riley. I simply can’t listen to “Somebody’s Coming” without wonder how the final product would’ve sounded a year ago when Josh and Bruce were still with the group. It’s just….lacking.

    • Wes Burke

      Did you ever listen to the leaked versions of “Lord of Life” and “I Stand Redeemed” when they were on YouTube?

      • I got a listen before they got pulled down. Honestly, “Lord of Life” as a SONG didn’t really click with me, but good vocals. The new version of “I Stand Redeemed” was pretty good, but I’m biased towards Gus Gaches’ more subdued new version. I know, I know, heresy. Shoot me now. :P

  7. Andrew

    While his tenure was short lived with GCQ, I was a big David Hill fan.
    I’d take late 90s Brian Free, David Hill, Daniel Riley and Tim.

  8. I like Parrack over Free, although both are probably in my top 5 of tenors. The lead is tough, but I guess I’ll take Parker over Wilburn. Gold City from 1994-2001 (i.e. the Trammell years) is my favorite recording period for any group on SG history.

  9. 123

    I would have liked David Hill to stay longer than he had with GC. I think he handled Ivan’s songs better than Jonathan while pushing the group to a new era. Standing In The Gap and Classics would probably be my top 5 as far as GC albums go.

  10. 123

    Parrack. The Best.

  11. quartet-man

    I voted in the poll, but although West was a beast, I have to give lead to Ivan. His leads during their heyday have not been surpassed although some have made their own good and unique marks.

    I have to go with Ladd for tenor. Brian got better as time went on, Parrack had a freakishly high voice, Cobb had a full-voiced sound, but Ladd sounds similar to Free, has most (If not all) of Parrack’s ultra high notes and a nice smooth sound.

  12. preacher man

    My favorite line up was Jay Parrick, Johnathan Wilburn Mark Trammel and Tim Riley “Are you ready”, Mercy rescues me” no way anyone gets close except maybe the cathedrals of the 80′s Funderburke Payne Trammell and Younce. That was the Gold City I loved.

  13. Kevin Gaither

    West could have been one the best GC leads ever. I saw him at winterfest in Florida do Midnight Cry and hit a note on the second verse that was awesome. Then he never really did it anymore. Makes me wonder if they made him stop doing it. I talked to his brother that night and he said he has no limit on high notes he said he could hit a high D with ease.

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