Category Archives: Open Threads

Saturday Survey, 3/15/14

Here’s a little potpourri of doings from the southern gospel world and elsewhere. Apologies for my laxness this week, I simply ran out of time to post a whole lot of fresh stuff! Rest assured, there are album reviews for the Gaither Vocal Band and the Perrys, a Christian movie review, and more on the way.

*Southern Gospel music executive Norman Holland passed away this week. As vice president of A&R at Daywind records, Holland was an integral figure in the careers of some of gospel music’s most celebrated groups, including, but not limited to, Greater Vision, The Perrys, Legacy Five, The Booth Brothers, Brian Free and Assurance, The Nelons, and Mark Trammell Quartet. Gerald Wolfe reflects:

Norman was the first Record Company Executive I ever met in Nashville.  In January of 1987, the Cathedrals stopped in Nashville in the middle of the night, to pick up a load of records at Benson Record’s warehouse. The big overhead door opened, and there stood one of the tallest people I had ever seen. Norman Holland, all 6 feet, 8 inches of him, had showed up at 1am to help us load records.  We instantly became friends.  Neither of us knew that, just a few year later, he would be instrumental in the formation of Greater Vision.  It was Norman who encouraged me to consider starting a group, and it was Norman who convinced Riversong/Benson to give us our first Record Contract.  When Norman moved to Daywind Records, we went with him.  I once told Ed Leonard, the President of Daywind, “as long as Norman is here, we’ll be here.”
We had a great working relationship for almost three decades, but our personal friendship was much more important.  Norman became a part of our family.  He went on family vacations with us to Disney World, New York City, and even a Hawaii Cruise.  All the guys on our bus, and their families, loved Norman.  He was one-of-a-kind.  He was certainly a big dude, but his personality was even bigger.  He could light up any room he entered.  He had the rare gift of being naturally funny, and people were instantly drawn to his magnetic personality.  He made a lasting, positive impression on anyone who ever had the honor of meeting him.
 *Don’t miss this great post from Daniel Mount, where he passes along a wonderful story about the Cathedrals and small acts of kindness. And don’t stop at the post–others have begun adding their own reminiscences about the Cathedrals and others in the comments thread!

*David Bruce Murray is answering reader questions out of his vast store of musical knowledge over on Musicscribe. Check out his entry on secular influences in southern gospel and vice versa.

*Did you know that the Internet turned 25 this week? Here’s a google blogpost from the man who designed the first web browser. (Just hum your way through the naive “diversity” blather.)

*Social conservatism was given disappointingly short shrift at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, and the future doesn’t look great for the Republican party. John Murdock gives a report. Denny Burk also shares some statistical info about the South’s current stance on gay “marriage.”

*Here’s your weekly dose of sniffles. You’re welcome:

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Pre-NQC Open Thread

Is there an artist you’re looking forward to? Any songs you will be disappointed if they don’t sing? Any moments you’re dreading? Put all your NQC hopes, fears, pet peeves, and general chatter here! (There will be another open thread for post-NQC chatter.)


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Open Thread (11/29)

Sorry for my lack of posting this week. I’ve been working on a whole bunch of things, but haven’t finished any one single post. I have a couple new series in the works, and I also want to (gradually!) ease into some Christmas posting. But I should probably postpone most of that until after finals, which will be in the week of December 10th. So don’t be surprised if I take a little hiatus here. I don’t think I’ll completely lay off posting until then (for one thing I’ve got a stand-alone piece I’m very excited about that I probably won’t be able to keep from writing when I get a few spare moments), but I won’t post as frequently. Meanwhile… what do you want to talk about? I notice, among other things, that Zig Ziglar passed away this week. I know that he had a great impact for Christianity and was close friends with the Booth Brothers among many others. If you’ve been touched in some way by his legacy, feel free to share in the comments.

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The Week in Mini-Review (9/8)

Just a few notable things from the week… you guys can fill in the gaps. This week was rather busy for me, as you can tell.

On the Southern Gospel Front

*The GVB is adding three songs to Pure and Simple. Also, they’re cutting two songs from the original list and releasing them in a Walmart exclusive. Sound confusing? DBM tries to explain it all.

*Dove Brothers are getting a new pianist, Andy King, because Joe Lane is retiring to have back surgery. Ouch!


*No, I didn’t watch Michelle Obama’s performance from the DNC because I was busy living a productive life, and I like to avoid inducing nausea in myself if I can help it. However, I did find a terrific fisking of her speech over at The American Thinker. The one misleading thing about the article is that it gives the impression Obama spent his entire childhood in Indonesia, when he actually just spent some formative years there. Otherwise, a pretty crushing blow-by-blow.

*Another week, another irritatingly vapid Russell Moore article (ho hum). This time he’s trying to tell us that a new kids’ movie with Puritan zombies and a main character whose special gift for talking with the dead makes him “not normal” (spawning language and themes obviously meant to parallel situations where kids are gay), plus a casual reference by a male character to his “boyfriend” which is played for laughs… is harmless, somewhat endearing, and not the least bit subversive. Royght. I tell you that guy’s like the little girl with the curl. When he’s good he’s very, very good, and when he’s bad, he’s, well, horrid.

*Could you summarize the gospel in seven words?


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The Week in Review (08/28): Fall Outlook, New Dixie Echoes Lineup, Matt Fouch Debut, and More…

Well, as the Bruce Hornsby song says, “the autumn’s coming in and the summer’s all gone.” Man, I feel that. I wish I could have this summer back and spend the time more wisely. But alas, we can only go forward.

I want to start with a word about the Week in Review. This particular feature is actually pretty time-consuming for me, but I’ve tried to keep it up because it’s a way of rounding up some news items and other things that bigger blogs have already covered. I don’t tend to post these sorts of things throughout the week because typically somebody like Daniel Mount is immediately on top of it, and by then the item has been reposted on several other blogs. I’ve always wanted my blog to have its own character. That said, I don’t want to make it look like I’m living in a bubble. But that does mean running around and picking stuff to include, putting it in order, saying something meaningful about each item, etc. Starting next week I’ll have a new job, and of course I’ll be in school. This means that blogging in general will very likely take more of a back seat, though I do hope to continue posting regularly (if less often). But that may mean that for a lot of weeks, there just isn’t a Week in Review. However, what I might do instead is put up an Open Thread for you guys to supply the interesting stuff. I hope you’ll understand. :)

Second, I know that you have all been waiting patiently for several months for me to write that concert review of the EHSS/Collingsworth Family double-billing I caught in Shipshewana. Or at least some of you have… others may have forgotten about it altogether by this time. :) But I haven’t forgotten, and in fact (drum roll please), the review is finally in the can and ready to go for some time next week. Watch for it…

Thirdly, I am hoping/planning to cover the National Quartet Convention this year, but it’s going to be a little different from last year because my new job involves teaching classes in the evening for four evenings. So no running commentary every night, sadly. :) Probably what will happen is that I will watch sets from only some of the artists, then try to pick highlights for the next day.

Okay, now for the week in review…

*Scotty and Kasey Inman’s daughter was born earlier this week but quickly began to struggle with seizures in conjunction with breathing loss. The latest update is that her brain scans came back normal, but she still has the seizures and will be remaining in intensive care on medication for a few more days. The Inmans covet your prayers!

*The Dixie Echoes have filled all their positions with some names that I for one didn’t recognize: Craig Thomas on tenor, Jordan James on bass, and Ben Hart on piano. They sound great. Here’s a video of the lineup singing “If You Know the Lord” (shaky vid, good audio), and another video from the same concert of “On the Other Side of Jordan,” which showcases Craig and Ben’s skills. And this is Jordan James’ rendition of “How Big is God” (audio so-so but good video). We’ve found another great young bass singer!

*DBM has posted the first review of Dianne Wilkinson’s new autobiography.

*Video of the week: Matt Fouch made a successful debut with Legacy 5 at Silver Dollar City. Lauren at Southern Gospel View caught him singing “I’ve Been Changed” (cut off before the last chorus, unfortunately). I know this might be heresy, but I think Fouch may actually be a better bass than Glenn Dustin (I hope I haven’t called down the wrath of L5 fans everywhere!) You can read Lauren’s coverage of the entire Southern Gospel Picnic at her blog.

Open thread.


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The Week(s) in Review (8/25): More on Amber Nelon’s Idol Story, Tribute Quartet Buzz, Sisters Wow at Stephen Hill Memorial, and More…

While I won’t try to go back and cover everything of note that I missed the week before last, I’ll do a little combining to flesh out this roundup.

On the faith and culture front

*Whether you think that Senator Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments were bizarrely offensive or just somewhat impolitic, I think all pro-lifers can agree that the Republican establishment has done a lousy job handling the backlash. They seem determined to throw a good man under the bus while simultaneously proclaiming loudly and proudly that yes, yes, yes, they do support the rape exception to abortion, as a matter of principle. I’ve been particularly saddened to see Paul Ryan forced to play along with Romney’s less conservative stance on this issue as Romney’s number one campaigner. Here we are and it’s only been a couple weeks since Ryan was nominated. Did I tell you or did I tell you?

*I’ve always said that it’s not enough for Christians to oppose same-sex “marriage” but shrug over civil unions, since civil unions give homosexual couples all the same legal rights, including adoption. There’s been a shocking new development in an old case on this issue. In 2009  2003, Lisa Miller converted to Christianity and sought to separate herself and her daughter, Isabella, from her lesbian partner, Janet Jenkins, after dissolving the civil union. When the court not only upheld her partner’s custody rights but eventually ordered Miller to give Jenkins full custody when she refused to cooperate regarding visitations (the few that she had allowed were highly upsetting to Isabella), Miller and her little girl disappeared in 2009. Now it’s been released that a Mennonite pastor named Kenneth Miller (no relation) had helped the two to flee the country. He has been caught and convicted of aiding in “kidnapping” and will mostly likely be sentenced to prison. Read the full story here. How does it hurt people to give homosexuals marriage rights? Now you know.

*I recently came across one of the most idiotic, substanceless and odious pieces from an ostensibly “conservative” pastor that I’ve ever encountered. The topic was the FRC shooting. Ed Stetzer says, in essence, “Well yes of course we shouldn’t go around shooting people, so that’s bad, but then there are consequences for doing some of the things FRC has done.” Please excuse me while I vomit quietly into the nearest garbage can… while trying to collect my few remaining brain cells.

On the Southern Gospel front

*There’s been a lot of buzz over the fact that the Booth Brothers are going to appear as a quartet with Gene McDonald at the Memphis Quartet Show. Michael Booth said “For those of you who have wondered what we’d sound like as a quartet, we’re about to find out at the same time! This is gonna be fun!” However, you can actually sample that sound already by checking out “Going in Style” from their album Pure Southern Gospel, which features guest vocals from Gene.

*Regular blog frequenter quartet-man contributed a guest review  to Musicscribe of Oak Ridge Boys bass Richard Sterban’s new book of memoirs, From Elvis to Elvira. It looks like an interesting read.

*Daniel Mount is hailing Tribute’s new project Our Anthem as their breakout project based largely on the strength of the two standouts “Good News From Jerusalem” and “The Song of Heaven.” Check out samples here to see if you agree! I have downloaded both songs, and they are excellent. “The Song of Heaven” reminds me of Mark Bishop’s “Let the Angels Take the Fallen” in musical composition and showcases Riley Clark’s magnificent tenor voice. Daniel has said “Good News From Jerusalem” is the next “Jerusalem” or “Midnight Cry,” and while I’m not quite prepared to make that comparison, partly because the melody is very repetitious, I think it compares favorably to “He’s Alive.”

*Hat tip to Lauren for finding this video of Kelly Nelon discussing her daughter’s Idol journey. She gives more details about how far Amber went, what kind of future people were predicting for her, and how the judges reacted to her statement of faith.

*Congratulations to Andrew S. for winning this year’s NQC Webcast Giveaway on SG Back Row! The competition came down the wire, but Steve broke the tie by having Andrew and another reader identify southern gospel personalities in a montage of spoken word concert clips.

*Speaking of SG Back Row, Steve has come up with yet another fresh, cool column idea in “What’s In an Album Cover??”. Steve will present a weekly batch of six album covers to be ranked by his readers, and at the end of the “tournament,” he will pick out the ten best and ten worst for final voting. Here’s the first round.

*The Garms Family, formerly known as the Great Adventure Gospel Band, has decided after much thought and consultation to shorten their official group name to the easy and simple “The Garms Family.” Check out their new website here.

*Karen Peck Gooch misses big hair. Anyone else?

*Video of the week: The Sisters singing “It is Well” at Stephen Hill’s homegoing service…

Open thread.


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The Week in Review (08/17): Open Thread

I need to leave early for an all-day outing tomorrow morning, so I don’t have time to round up a lot of tidbits from the week. I’m going to leave this wide open for you guys to note interesting stuff. However, I do want to put out there that Phil Boles has asked for prayer as he and his girlfriend Esther travel to Kenya for a group missions trip. They’ve most likely arrived and are asking that we request God’s blessings on their work there. You can read more about it at his blog here.

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The Week in Review (8/11): Enlighten Calls For Excellence, EHSS Lands in India, Dianne Wilkinson Announces Autobiography, and More…

*The Gaither Vocal Band has released additional details about their upcoming release. Read more here, listen to samples here.

*Daniel Mount announced the upcoming publication of Dianne Wilkinson’s autobiography, based on a series of interviews he’s conducted with her. It’s called Dianne Wilkinson: The Life and Times of a Gospel Songwriter, and the cover was designed by none other than our friend Taylor Garms! Brian at Southern Gospel Critique has already read a draft of it and comments , “If you love gospel music, you will find a multitude of tidbits of information you never knew from behind the scenes of the gospel music industry.  If you love songwriting or songwriters, there are pages and pages devoted to the stories and motives behind each of Wilkinson’s recorded songs.  If you just love a good story, you will find that Wilkinson’s is one of ups and downs, twists and turns, with many events going hand in hand with the songs she created.  I give this book my early and full endorsement and recommendation. This is an essential addition to the library of a fan of southern gospel music.”

*Ernie Haase and Doug Anderson arrived in India to a warm 1:00 AM welcome (photo and report here). The rest of the gang has now touched down and have been seen on Socialcam practicing with the choir and spotting sacred cows in the street.

*Marlin Taylor at Enlighten has written a plea for excellence in the quality of music sent to the station. He says, “This has not been easy for me to write, but when you understand that more than half of all the CD’s we receive do not contain even one song that we find to be appropriate for play on enLighten …with many others barely delivering a single selection that’s worthy of being included on the playlist, you’ll recognize why this had to be written.”

*Brian and Adam at Southern Gospel Critique have offered a joint review of Canton Junction’s two-volume debut album.

*It looks like the folks who put out Southern Gospel Magazine could use someone to double-check their photo dimensions! Ouch. (Hat tip: Musicscribe.)

*Triumphant Quartet recently released a music video for their new single “Let’s All Stand For America.”

While I’m proud of myself for slickly avoiding any mention of Chick-Fil-A or the Olympics today, I won’t forbid you from holding forth on either one of them in this open thread.


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The Week in Review (8/4): Chick-Fil-A Saga + Olympic Athletes for Jesus

On the faith and culture front

*I hope you had the time, means and opportunity to patronize a Chick-fil-A near you on August 1st. Sadly, being a Yankee and all, I’ve never even tasted the stuff. I had to cheer y’all on from a distance. Meanwhile, I was appalled to read this piece by Barnabas Piper (and many other pieces like it) making a sour lemon face over the movement because it might come off as “territorial,” “divisive,” etc. Yeah, you know just the thought of some homeschooling family with 21 kids showing up to buy chicken sandwiches terrifies me. Seriously, what a wimp. I have no idea why people are acting like this guy has any valid points whatsoever. Maybe it’s just the old man’s name making people pay attention to him? As far as this issue is concerned, everything he and his ilk are bothered by is stuff they shouldn’t be bothered by. Number one, it’s actually a scary thing to see ostensible conservatives shaking a finger at their fellow Christians for just about the most peaceful form of support you could imagine (seriously, wasn’t Gandhi all about this kind of thing?), and number two, there’s nothing wrong with “swagger” and “one-upmanship” when we’re one-upping evil. Although in one sense I’m not happy about the boycott because it always depresses me to see evil people making strides in the harassment of good people, I also get a kick out of a headline like this. Presumably that makes me an ungracious, confrontational Christian. I don’t give a waffle fry. MOR CHIKIN!

*Denny Burk had a good article about a young Olympic gymnast named Gabby Douglas and how her Christian faith has been suppressed in the press.

*Speaking of Christians at the Olympics, three cheers for Missy Franklin! She’s also representing her country and her faith with class and excellence, and just yesterday she won her third gold medal while setting a new world record. Here’s a Crosswalk feature on her. An added poignant touch to Franklin’s story is that she is from Aurora, CO, and she’s stated that she hopes to “shine some light on Colorado and make them proud” in the wake of the massacre.

On the Southern Gospel front:

Slow news week, but here are a few tidbits I collected from various SG artists’ visits to Chick-fil-A.

Bryan Walker posted a pic of his double order of nuggets (my mouth watered).

Gerald Wolfe gave running twitter updates on Greater Vision’s looooong wait inside a mall in Missouri (over an hour). In response to Walker’s photo, he said, “I had 2 of those, plus a Chikin Sandwich, then bought nuggets for 3 people who had never had ChikFilA before. My pleasure!” Chris Allman put a video on Socialcam.

My favorite was Lauren Talley’s novel idea for the upcoming election: “I say this coming November, we place polling booths inside Chick-fil-A.”

And from Karen Peck Gooch: “God bless Chick-Fil-A!!!!:)”


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The Week in Review (7/28): Shafts of Grace in Aurora, Chick-Fil-A Controversy, NQC/Singing News Awards Buildup, and More…

This will be rather thrown together and incomplete. I apologize. My excuse is that I’ve had a traumatic week with my computer. Here is what my family and I are now spreading far and wide: If you have a problem with your computer, whatever you do, DON’T TAKE IT TO THE GEEK SQUAD. We took mine in for a minor hardware issue with the sound last week. Not only did they not fix the actual problem, but in the process of removing some “malware” (which my Symantec Anti-Virus software never notified me of as a threat) they did something to screw up the system files so that when we came to pick it up, it wouldn’t boot up after being turned off. It requires an arduous, highly technical emergency procedure to wake it back up after being put to sleep that we aren’t equipped to do. We eventually brought it home “awake,” and I am now in the process of backing up all my data and shifting to a new computer since the “old” one is, for all intents and purposes, unreliable. My story is not unique—just google “Geek Squad” and “reviews” and you’ll find many a one-star rating. Spread the word.

On the faith and/or culture front:

*As Aurora, Colorado recovers from its horrible mass murder, some crumbs of grace can still be found. In a very classy gesture, Christian Bale himself paid a personal visit to Aurora with his wife, spending time with surviving victims (including one who had tweeted, “Shot in the leg at Batman. Where is he when you need him?”) and participating in the funerals for the dead. There were also some uplifting stories from the shooting itself, including one about a woman who took a bullet to the brain that amazingly missed all vital areas. Here’s another story about four young men who died protecting their girlfriends from bullets.

In the meantime, I have been collecting some thoughts on the different reactions people are having to this event, which should hopefully coalesce into a blog post at some point in the not-too-distant future.

*Perhaps you’ve heard of the brouhaha over Chick-Fil-A and gay rights activists. It’s pretty scary to read what the mayors of Boston and Chicago were saying, but for the moment it’s unclear what they could, legally, have actually done had they really tried to enforce their haughty statements with actions. For the nonce, they appear to have backed down. Meanwhile, gay activists are still calling for boycotts, and worse, “kiss-ins.” Can you imagine… on second thought, let’s not even try. Meanwhile, I’m not sure why Denny Burk and others have gone out of their way to stress that Cathy’s remarks are being exaggerated and taken out of context, since Cathy obviously made it clear he was against gay marriage even though he didn’t use that exact phrase. And frankly, there would have been nothing wrong with his using that exact phrase. If I were Cathy, my feeling at this point would be, “So maybe they cobbled together some things I said from various different interviews, and maybe they placed some words in my mouth. But they’ve got the gist of it. Excellent.”

On the Southern Gospel front:

*The final ballots are in for both the NQC Music Awards and the Singing News Fan Awards. David Bruce Murray has a side-by-side comparison of the finalists with commentary here.

*Beyond the Ashes lead singer Casey Rivers is leaving on pleasant terms. He has a growing family and has decided coming off the road would be best for them. He states, “For more than three years now I have been blessed to be one of those three singers that make up what many have come to know as Beyond The Ashes. Saying goodbye to family, and all I’ve grown accustomed to, is not an easy thing, but nevertheless, a new season has come for BTA and for me. I am 100% supportive of my brothers, and I know they are of me, as we all begin this new journey we’re embarking upon.” New lead singer TBA.

*Much more mysterious is the unannounced departure of Brandon Barry from the Mike Lefevre Quartet, news of which has managed to leak out anyway. I don’t know what the deal is, except that there seems to be quite a lot of unsubstantiated whispering and rumoring going around. I’m with DBM on this one. We’re not “afraid” to touch this—some of us only just found out what was going on!

*Legacy Five relates the saga of Scott Fowler, Trey Ivey, and The Mouse On the Bus. Not to be missed.

On the blog front:

*Starting next Monday I’m hoping to inaugurate a tradition I’m stealing (borrowing) from Kevin DeYoung’s blog: Monday Morning Humor. The aim is to provide Youtube clips that are a) clean and b) legitimately hilarious to start your week off with something cheerful. Comedians, TV shows, parodies, commercials… all are fair game, with the important caveat that my featuring a clean clip from someone or something does NOT constitute an endorsement of everything from that source. E.g. Monty Python is fertile ground for funnies, but not all of their material is family appropriate.

Open thread. Discuss away.



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