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The Many Faces of Phelps

Written by Staff on June 10, 2014 – 10:37 am -

David Phelps 2Gaither Vocal Band tenor continues to broaden his musical horizons

By Craig Harris

Mark Lowry doesn’t know what David Phelps sounded like as a freshman in high school.He’d guess that Phelps was already a vocal heavyweight even then. “I think he was good from the start,” Lowry said of his tenure with the Gaither Vocal Band. “I don’t really see that he’s grown in that sense musically. He had his (music) degrees way before he met us.”

However, it was at that time when Phelps had a breakthrough of sorts. “When I became a teenager, I realized I was kind of rising above other people who were doing music,” Phelps said. “There was actually a moment for me in ninth grade. I sang for our town talent show (singing Sandi Patty’s ‘Bethlehem Morning’). They gave me a standing ovation. I remember getting in the car that night and saying ‘This is what I want to do with my life.’ It grew from there. I was invited to different churches and did concerts. My parents were driving me everywhere. My dad is a CPA (certified public accountant), and my mom is a professor. From those practical professions, they began to believe and encourage me. I just had this passion and drive to do it all of the time.”

Phelps01     He’s still doing it all of the time, currently in his second stint as a member of the Gaither Vocal Band.“It’s been just fantastic,” Phelps said. “When I joined the Vocal Band at first, Mark was there. That was always a high point with me, singing on stage with Mark Lowry. He’s fantastic and a comedic genius. It was a learning experience. I remember sitting in Waco, Texas, and watching Michael English winning Dove Awards and saying to Lori (Phelps’ wife), ‘Boy, I would love to be up there singing with him some day.’ I was thrilled to be singing with Michael English. What an incredible, iconic talent. He has helped so many vocalists in and out of the church. People have mimicked his style for a decade. Wes (Hampton) took my place when I left the Vocal Band. What a generous guy. He’s literally like a little brother to me. He’s become a really good friend of mine. It’s been great to see his talent really grow. Then, of course, Bill (Gaither) is just a songwriter of the century. It doesn’t get a whole lot bigger than that to stand on stage and see how he communicates with people. In all, it’s a pretty amazing experience.”

Lowry was introduced to Phelps back in 1997, which led to Phelps’ eventual hire.“A guy named David Estes at Word Records called me and heard that we were looking for a tenor,” Lowry said. “David had come in to Word and sang for them and thought he might be a good fit. I was going to be passing by Word at that time. I told him to tell him to be there in 20 minutes. I thought he was good. Bill said, ‘Well, have him make a cassette tape of some of our stuff,’ like ‘The King Is Coming.’ He did. Guy (Penrod, the group’s lead singer at the time) and I went over and met David at his house and sang with him to see how that would go.”

David Phelps    Phelps was leaning more toward a contemporary career at the time. “I grew up in a family where our musical style was pretty eclectic, everything from ‘80’s rock to classic country and definitely gospel,” Phelps said. “I fell in love with Contemporary Christian- It was Amy Grant, Russ Taff. I had recorded an independent project that was contemporary. In all of my growing-up years, people were telling me, ‘You need to get hooked up with the Gaithers.’ I never knew how to make that happen. I just keep singing. I had moved to Nashville. We were here about six months. I was still traveling (for concerts). It was difficult as a relatively unknown artist. I was in the middle of talks with a record label to do my first national release. One of the gentlemen there said, ‘Hey, did you know that the Vocal Band is looking for a new tenor?’ Jonathan Pierce had left. I said, ‘If you could make an audition happen, I would love to have a chance at that.’ Mark Lowry was on that label too. It was Word. He came up and listened.”

Gaither added, “Mark Lowry had brought me a CD, and we were going on a cruise. We were looking for a tenor at the time. I asked Mark to tell him to go into the studio with just him and his voice. He did. We were overwhelmed.”

Phelps was not overly familiar with Southern Gospel Music at the time.“I didn’t really know what Southern Gospel was,” Phelps said. “My family used to sing four-part harmony. I knew those things. I just didn’t know the industry as a whole. I was just doing my own thing. I was just kind of who I was. I am so grateful that Southern Gospel Music has embraced me. I have fallen in love with the icons of Southern Gospel Music. It was fantastic to get to know Vestal Goodman and Jake Hess. This music has people like no other genre. I had heard of Michael English and the Vocal Band, but I had lost track of the Vocal Band a little after Michael left. I had heard the songs that had come out of Southern Gospel. Stylistically, it really is such a wide range. Southern Gospel has embraced the Gaither stuff, which has a country flair to more of a Contemporary style at times.”

Phelps joined the Vocal Band in July of 1997. “It’s truly affirming,” Phelps said. “That’s an important element to any artist’s journey. People ask me all of the time, “How do I get started in this? What is the magic pill?’ There is no magic pill. John Bisagno, who was a minister of music in Houston, gave me the best advice I ever got. I’m 6-foot-1, and my face was at his chest. He said, ‘Sing everywhere you can.’ That’s still the best advice I’ve ever been given. The people that end up doing this persevere.

David Phelps 3   Phelps continued, “You learn from it. You learn what works and what doesn’t work, how far to push your voice, what to say on stage, what not to say on stage. The most important element of that is you learn to love what you do no matter whether the crowd is there or not. It’s about creating the art of what we do in the moment and creating the joy for people. What I’ve learned over the course of my career is it’s not always about the lyric. In Southern Gospel, we have lyric that is not only theologically and doctrinally sound, but it’s also in music itself. God created music. Beauty is in and of itself something that glorifies the Lord.”

Gaither added, “Everything is timing. A lot of people ask me what it takes. You have to have talent. You have to have training. You have to have a great deal of perseverance … but sometimes, it’s just timing.”

Phelps left the Gaither Vocal Band in 2005 to pursue a solo ministry.“Before I left the Vocal Band, my goal was to define myself as an artist individually,” Phelps said. “I had actually gone to Bill and Barry (Jennings, the president of the Gaither Music Group) and said, ‘While I love being known as the tenor for the Vocal Band, I want your help in helping me define myself as an artist.’ They said, ‘Well, it’s about time you asked.’ Bill is a big part of my solo stuff. I had begun that road before I left. There were some difficult years in my solo work. To go from the first one (his self-titled project released in 2001) with ‘No More Night’ and ‘End of the Beginning,’ then, to go to Revelation, I don’t know whether it is Contemporary or whether it is Southern Gospel or if it’s just artistic. People would come to my concerts thinking they were going to get Vocal Band songs. That’s just not what I was as a solo artist. I still choose songs that fit me in both places.” Read more »


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MATTHEW HAGEE’S A NEW SEASON IS TOP SOUTHERN GOSPEL DEBUT

Written by SGN Scoops Staff on March 31, 2014 – 10:29 am -

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—A New Season, the latest solo offering from leading pastor, author and recording Layout 1artist Matthew Hagee, debuted at #2 on Nielsen SoundScan’s Top Southern Gospel Albums chart for the week ending March 23. The chart’s only Top 30 debut, A New Season was produced by Michael Sykes (Oak Ridge Boys, Gaither Vocal Band) and features 11 Inspirationally-focused country selections.

Released March 18 from Difference Media/Capitol Christian Distribution, A New Season features the debut single, “I Don’t Want To Get Adjusted”; the Hagee co-penned songs “This Ain’t Nothin’” and “My Nomination”; “The Day He Wore My Crown,” featuring guest contributions from Larry Stewart and David Innis of legendary country group Restless Heart; and “That’s Jesus,” which was co-written by Hagee’s father, internationally-renowned evangelist Pastor John Hagee.

Executive pastor of the 20,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he preaches alongside his father, Matthew Hagee is the author of Shaken, Not Shattered (Charisma House). A husband and father of four, Hagee is a member of the Dove Award-winning Southern Gospel quartet Canton Junction and also records and tours with his family’s vocal group, The Hagees.

Difference Media is a division of Cornerstone Church, founded and pastored by John Hagee. The label features some of the leading names in Gospel music, including Aaron & Amanda Crabb, Canton Junction, Matthew Hagee, Tim Duncan, The Cornerstone Sanctuary Choir, John Hagee and The Hagees. A non-denominational evangelical church, Cornerstone Church is home to John Hagee Ministries, which telecasts Pastor Hagee’s radio and television teachings throughout America and in more than 190 countries around the globe. The ministry also operates GETV, a 24/7 online television and video on-demand broadcast of sermons and original programming, as well as music videos and performances by Difference Media artists.

For further information, visit differencemedia.org, matthewhagee.com or turningpointpr.com.


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A New Era Begins For The Gaither Vocal Band

Written by SGN Scoops Staff on February 18, 2014 – 7:23 pm -

gvbnewWhen two Gaither Vocal Band vacancies came open in late 2013, Bill began a meticulous search and considered every possibility.  A few weeks ago, Gaither Music announced Adam Crabb as the new lead singer, joining Bill Gaither, David Phelps and Wes Hampton.  Now, at last, the search is over for our fifth member and a new era begins in the Gaither Vocal Band’s legacy!

Gaither Music is pleased to welcome our new baritone, Todd Suttles, to the Gaither Vocal Band.  Todd’s deep resonant baritone voice is matched only by his wonderful character, quick sense of humor and infectious energy. He comes to us from Vanderbilt University, where he has served for 20 years as a Sports Fitness Director as well as Vanderbilt’s CampVandy Youth Programs Director, where he will continue when he is not traveling with the Gaither Vocal Band.  Todd has sung with the Settles Connection and can be heard in the background vocals on numerous recordings with artists whom you know and love.  He comes highly recommended by fellow artists, university faculty, and many others who have had the privilege of working with him.

“First of all, I want to thank Mark Lowry and Michael English for giving us some really wonderful years and incredible recordings that will live on in gospel music history,” Bill states. “We knew when they left, we had big shoes to fill and, as I have said before, you never truly replace anyone. You have to create something new and unique. I have been putting voices together for a long, long time and never before have we considered more possibilities or auditioned so many incredible singers than we have during the past few months. This decision came down to finding a vocal range and texture that would offer just the right balance to the current mix of voices in the group. I could not be happier with this decision. Not only do we love the rich tones in Todd’s voice, he also happens to be a wonderful human being to be around. So not only have we gained a talented individual, we have gained a new friend.  And very soon, I believe you will agree. Trust me. This is going to be good!”

This energetic new line-up will set sail on the Gaither Homecoming Caribbean Cruise this coming Saturday and will be headed off to a full schedule of concert weekends throughout the spring.  And we will soon announce fall tour dates as well! So stay tuned!


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‘MUSIC & MADNESS’ TO FEATURE MARK LOWRY AND THE MARTINS The Long-Awaited First Tour Together Kicks Off this Spring

Written by SGN Scoops on February 14, 2014 – 11:35 am -

image(Nashville, TN)  – It’s been talked about for years and is now finally coming to pass. Gospel music legends Mark Lowry and The Martins will hit the road together for the first time this spring with their Music & Madness tour.

Kicking off March 6th in Little Rock, Ark., the first leg of Music & Madness will cover 22 cities including stops in Des Moines (Iowa), Bowling Green (Ky.), Fayetteville (N.C.), Nashville and more.

“It’s a lifelong dream,” says Mark about touring with The Martins. “It’s going to be an exciting year, just getting to hear them sing every night.”

The history between Mark and sibling trio Joyce, Jonathan and Judy Martin spans more than two decades and can be traced back to a cassette tape The Martins gave him at a national convention in 1992. Mark and fellow Gaither Vocal Band-mate Michael English were so impressed, they insisted Gloria Gaither listen to an impromptu audition of the group, which they held in the women’s restroom. Gloria then told husband Bill and the rest is history as the Gaithers helped introduce The Martins to the world.

“I’m so excited about being on tour with Mark,” says Joyce, the eldest Martin. “We have for years talked about getting on the road together, but never had the opportunity, so it almost feels surreal. We’re going to just hit the road and have a good time.”

Sponsored by Feed the Children, Music & Madness will also feature renowned pianist Stan Whitmire, and according to Lowry, fans can expect a little bit of everything at the shows: “We’re going to mix it up. The Martins and I will be singing together. I’ll be kicking Jonathan out and singing with just the sisters on a couple songs. Whatever it takes to make the night a success, we’re going to do!”

Best known for his comedic storytelling and writing the Christmas classic, “Mary Did You Know?” Mark Lowry has been entertaining audiences since age 11. His life work includes a long list of recordings and DVDs reflecting a wide range of influences. In October 2013, Lowry announced his departure as the baritone of the Grammy-Award-winning Gaither Vocal Band to focus on his solo career.


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Gospel Music Today On SGNScoops.com

Written by SGN Scoops Staff on February 3, 2014 – 9:49 am -

Adam Crabb is the guest on Gospel Music Today for the week of February 2. Ken and Jean Grady host southern gospel news and concert updates, the Feature Group is New Road, and Jean reviews a new recording by Carter Crossing. An article entitled “Looking Back” is the subject of this week’s Singing News Notes. Ben Jam and The Bowling Family sing, and the show includes exclusive video of HisSong, recorded by Gospel Music Today’s cameras at Vian Baptist Church, in Vian, OK, and a visit to the Gospel Music Today Archives for an exclusive concert video of Heaven’s Echoes.

The show is on KWHB TV47 in Oklahoma every Sunday at 4:30 PM, and on Roku on FFE TV Monday at 8:00 PM and AllNations TV Tuesday and Wednesday at 6:30 PM. Check local TV schedule for Beaumont, TX, Tyler, TX. Atlanta, TX, and Morrilton, AR.


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A&G Entertainment Announces Gerald Crabb’s Gospel Fest

Written by SGN Scoops on January 25, 2014 – 6:13 am -

photo (41)Ripley, Mississippi (Jan 20, 2014)  Gerald Crabb and Alisa Asbury of A&G Entertainment are pleased to announce plans are underway for Southern Gospel’s newest Gospel Music event, Gerald Crabb’s Gospel Fest. Gospel Music artists and fans will gather on Labor Day weekend 2014, August 28, 29, 30 and 31st, at the Dalton Trade and Convention Center in Dalton, Georgia to experience the best in Southern Gospel Music, Crabb-style! Gerald Crabb commented, “I am so excited about our first Gerald Crabb’s Gospel Fest. It will feature morning worship services that will include special guests, artist seminars, a talent search, and lots of great Gospel music. It will be very similar to the Crabb Fest that was held in years past in Owensboro, Kentucky. You will not want to miss this event.”

In the mid 90’s, Crabb Fest was launched in a church parking and grew into a four-day major event with the Saturday night attendances reaching 5,000 or more. Several artists such as Joseph Habedank and Josh Franks were discovered at Crabb Fest talent contests and many memories were made as the best artists in all of Gospel Music performed.  “Everyone looked forward to Crabb Fest each year,” Crabb stated. “It was a great time to fellowship with one another, and to be spiritually uplifted as well as a time to enjoy great music. I believe Southern Gospel music fans are going to love that we are bringing back the spirit of Crabb Fest to our new event.”

During Gerald Crabb’s Gospel Fest there will also be afternoon showcases featuring regional artists. “We were thrilled with the response from artists from many states wanting to participate in this year’s event,” Alisa Asbury remarked. “These groups are greatly talented and have thriving music ministries. It is a pleasure to help them expand their fan-base and give them opportunities to take their ministries to a new level. We’re also excited to host a talent contest that will allow rising new artists a chance to expose their talents to industry professionals.”

The evening performance line-up is stellar.  Thursday night’s concert will feature the Grammy award winning artist, Jason Crabb. On Friday evening, the Gaither Vocal Band’s new lead singer, Adam Crabb will perform along with Crabb Family vocalist, Terah Crabb Penhollow and the popular duo, Josh and Ashley Franks.  Saturday’s schedule includes multi award winning Jeff and Sheri Easter, The Freemans and Weston and Christy Hinson. On Sunday morning, legendary Gerald Crabb will wrap up the weekend with a prayer breakfast and concert.

Ticket prices are $20 per day, $55 for a 3 day package, $80 for all 3 days plus Sunday morning’s prayer breakfast and concert with Gerald Crabb. To purchase tickets, visit http://www.daltontradecenter.com/ or call 1-877-772-5425. For more information about Gerald Crabb’s Gospel Fest, visit www.geraldcrabbgospelfest.com.


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Popular Southern Gospel Favorite Guy Penrod to Perform at TBN’s Holy Land Experience January 18th

Written by SGN Scoops on January 14, 2014 – 6:04 am -

GuyPenrodcloseupSMALLORLANDO, Jan. 13, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — Trinity Broadcasting Network’s Holy Land Experience family vacation destination in Orlando, Florida will host Southern Gospel Music favorite Guy Penrod in a free praise and worship concert at the park’s 2,000-seat Church of All Nations, Saturday, January 18th, at 6:30 p.m. Admission is on a first come, first served basis.

One of the most popular artists in today’s Southern- and Country Gospel venues, Guy Penrod exploded onto the inspirational music scene in 1994 as one of the featured vocalists with the award-winning Gaither Vocal Band, appearing on several Gaither Homecoming videos. In 2009 Mr. Penrod launched his successful solo career, and since then has been one of Gospel music’s most in-demand vocalists, known for his sensitive artistry, along with a warmth that gives him a unique ability to connect with audiences all over the world.

Joining Guy Penrod for this very special praise and worship experience at Orlando’s Holy Land Experience will be Pastor Jonathan Miller, along with the exciting and talented Holy Land Experience Singers and Dancers.

Admission to the January 18th concert with Guy Penrod at Holy Land Experience is free to the public, with 2,000 seats available. Doors open at 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) and the program begins at 6:30 p.m. (Scheduled guests subject to change without notice.)

Located in the heart of America’s most popular vacation spot, Orlando, Florida’s Holy Land Experience is an unforgettable vacation destination that transports guests back thousands of years to experience the sights, sounds, historical time frames – and impacting truths – of the Bible. With its colorful and realistic recreations of ancient Israel, exciting depictions of favorite Bible stories, and awe-inspiring dramatic and musical productions, TBN’s Holy Land Experience has become a must-see attraction for individuals, families, and groups from all over the world. Visit us online at www.holylandexperience.com.


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The Gaither Vocal Band Welcomes Adam Crabb

Written by SGN Scoops Staff on January 10, 2014 – 2:30 pm -

GaitherWe are thrilled to welcome Adam Crabb aboard as the newest member of The Gaither Vocal Band! Adam comes to us with years of musical expertise, including on-stage and studio work as a member of award-winning Crabb Family, and as a solo artist and worship leader.

Bill Gaither is grateful and excited about the future! He says, “For decades now, we have reinvented the Gaither Vocal Band again and again, and in the process we have found some of the most incredible male singers and wonderful human beings on the planet. Adam is a very exciting addition to this 30-year legacy of excellence.”

As for a fifth member of the Gaither Vocal Band, Bill adds, “We are taking our time and trying out some wonderful individuals during the next few weeks. You will see some very gifted guest artists out on the tour with us as we seek the perfect fit. Trust me. You do not want to miss the chance to see what is about to happen as we enter this new season.”


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Rhonda Frye Of SGNScoops.com Talks With Wes Hampton

Written by SGN Scoops Staff on November 24, 2013 – 8:01 pm -


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Singer/Songwriter/Musician Gordon Mote to Appear on Popular Syndicated Morning Radio Program The Rick & Bubba Show

Written by SGN Scoops on November 14, 2013 – 4:42 pm -

Nashville, TN (November 14, 2013) –— Award-winning musician and talented singer/songwriter, Gordon Mote, is scheduled to gordonmote2appear on the popular syndicated radio program, The Rick & Bubba Show, Tuesday, November 19 at 8:00 am CST. Mote will perform his current single, “Faith Like That,” which is from his current new album, All Things New. Mote will also be making his third appearance on the highly rated morning show Coffee, Country, and Cody on WSM-AM, January 6, 2014. Mote will be the substitute host for Bill Cody and will be joined by the show’s producer, Charlie Mattos.

“Faith Like That” is starting to generate strong support from radio and Rob West, Program Director at WJVL/Janesville, WI, compares the song to a Randy Travis classic. “If you think back to when radio stepped out of the box and played ‘Three Wooden Crosses,’ ‘Faith Like That ‘ is one of those songs. Being a dad, the song has a powerful message without really pushing it. Christian music can work well with the Country format and this song fits!”

“Not knowing what to expect, I put Gordon’s song up against two very good independents and two major label cuts in my weekly playoff, and all I can say is Wow!,” exclaims Mike Thomas, Program Director, KWRE/KFAV, Warrenton, OH. “He smoked the competition and the requests haven’t stopped since. We often hear about immediate reaction records…this is the definition of an immediate reaction record. One of my listeners summed it up best when she said this and I quote…’this is what we need to hear more of on the radio with what’s going on in the world.’”

The project is wide-reaching through several genres of music that include Country, Christian and Southern Gospel. Music Row Magazine critic, Bob Oermann, honored Mote’s new album, All Things New by naming it Disc of the Day and saying in the review, His singing of the thrilling, inspiring, pile-driving title song of his new album will lift your heart, pierce your soul and dazzle your spirit. What an anthem. Play it again. Other strong reviews include; Soul-Audio.comGordon Mote is a profoundly talented artist, gifted with his ability to tickle the keys with the greatest of ease, a strong vocal, and a knack for crafting and choosing songs that fit him perfectly, and Absolutely Gospel says, Gordon Mote is one of the most inspiring and enjoyable solo artists in our industry. He sings and plays with such charisma and energy, that you can’t help but enjoy him. Other media outlets includeBillboard.com, Inside Music Row, CCM Magazine, World Christian Broadcasting, Homecoming Magazine, Beliefnet, Baptist Standard.

All Things New released in August of this year and Mote continues his heavy touring schedule in support of the new project by playing over 150 dates a year. For more information on Mote please visit online at www.gordonmote.com.

About Gordon Mote
An Alabama native, Mote was born blind but the handicap didn’t stop the creative talent in the young child as he started playing piano at 3-years-old without any professional training.  Soon afterwards, Gordon became one of the first blind students in the country to be mainstreamed into the public school system and later received a full scholarship to Jacksonville (AL) State University, before transferring to Nashville’s Belmont University and graduating with honors. Two days after graduation, Mote joined Lee Greenwood’s band, and eventually toured with such artists as Trisha Yearwood, Porter Wagoner, the Gaither Vocal Band, and Gaither Homecoming Tour.  Mote has grown into one of the most beloved and premiere session players in several genres of music and has played for Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Bob Seger, Alan Jackson, Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Lionel Richie, and Alison Krauss. Mote’s keyboard skills led him to being honored twice by the Academy of Country Music for Piano/Keyboard Player of the Year Awards, as well as two Music Row Magazine Instrumentalist of the Year Awards. Mote has released nine albums as an independent artist, with If You Could Hear What I See earning Mote his first Dove nomination in 2004.  Mote signed with New Haven Records in 2012 and All Things New is his second project for the label.

About New Haven Records
New Haven Records is a Nashville-based music corporation that includes label, publishing, and film companies. For more than two decades, they have focused on the uniquely American genres of Black Gospel, Southern Gospel, and Country & Bluegrass Gospel.New Haven’s product is distributed to the mainstream through SONY Distributio and to the Christian marketplace through Provident Music Distribution. For additional information, go to www.newhavenrecords.com


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