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Marlana VanHoose, “The first face I will see will be Jesus!”

Written by Staff on July 30, 2019 – 9:49 am -

Mariana VanHoose "The first face I will see will be Jesus!”

Marlana VanHoose plays the keyboard during a gospel concert. She says she is “God-taught.” (Photo furnished)

Blind since birth and small in stature, Marlana VanHoose’s powerful voice blesses many

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

It was more than fitting when Marlana VanHoose told me the first concert she ever attended was one by The Oak Ridge Boys.

“I was three years old,” she says before breaking into “Elvira, Elvira!” as we sat in a Lexington restaurant. I didn’t know she sang the legendary group’s most famous hit but I knew the 23-year-old singer could deliver a rousing version of a song the Oaks are also known for today.

The National Anthem.

Marlana, who was born with a condition known as cytomegalovirus (CMV) and has been blind from birth, burst on the scene after singing The National Anthem at a University of Kentucky women’s basketball game in 2012. The performance was posted on YouTube and since that time, Marlana has been in demand to perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” at various events across the country. She’s sung at Kentucky Wildcat basketball games and at various Major League Baseball and NFL games. She was also asked to sing in Cleveland during the NBA Finals between the Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors.

She’s even sung with President Donald Trump in attendance and has given the President some sound advice.

More on that later.

(According to the Center for Disease Control website, www.cdc.gov, CMV is a common virus that affects people of all ages. The website says, “Over half of adults by age 40 have been infected with CMV. Most people infected with CMV show no signs or symptoms. When a baby is born with cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection, it is called congenital CMV. About one out of every 200 babies is born with congenital CMV infection.  About one in five babies with congenital CMV infection will have long-term health problems.”)

It became apparent soon after she was born that Marlana would be one of those “one in five.” When she was just a few weeks old, it was determined that she was blind as her optic nerve had not formed. The prognosis for living past one year old was not good, but she made it only to be diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy at age two.

Marlana is also very small in stature, causing many to think she is a pre-teen or in her early teens rather than a young woman in her 20s. But her ministry of one of a powerful voice, a powerful testimony and a mature knowledge of God’s word that overcomes any disability.

The blindness was a shock to Marlana’s parents, David and Teresa VanHoose, who live near Paintsville, Ky. “It was terrifying,” David says of the diagnosis of blindness. “It was scary. I had never been around anyone who was blind.”

But it wasn’t long before Marlana’s family knew she was going to be a blessing.

“She was rolling on the floor and humming ‘Jesus Loves Me,’” Teresa says. At age two, she was putting notes together to play melodies on a piano.

Marlana was living the words engraved on her necklace the day we met: “Never, never, never give up.”

Even if she only sang The National Anthem, Marlana would be an incredible inspiration. But her burning desire is to use her voice — and her life story — to lead people to Jesus Christ.

“God gave me this gift,” Marlana says, “and music is my passion. God called me to sing and he made me special for a reason. He made me little with a big voice.”

Marlana VanHooseThe seeds of Marlana’s ministry were sewn when her great aunt started taking her to church when she was three. She also spent much time with her great-grandparents, with whom she sang many of the old gospel hymns. David, who worked for the federal prison system, and Teresa, a special education teacher, were not attending church at the time, but that soon changed.

“She reinforced my faith,” David says with tears welling in his eyes.

“I was saved because of her,” Teresa adds, but Marlana quickly clarifies what her mother said.

“I didn’t save her. Jesus did,” Marlana says.

Mariana VanHoose "The first face I will see will be Jesus!”

It’s a ready answer from a young lady who is blessed by God and blesses people. And make no mistake, she’s a huge fan of gospel music, citing singer Shirley Caesar as a favorite. Marlana has sung with The Crabb Family and met Bill Gaither.As we talked for the better part of an hour, it became obvious that Marlana believes God continues to direct her ministry. She says she loves being blind because God made her that way and she wants to stay that way. Remember that she learned to put melodies together on a piano at age two? She eventually learned to form chords and now plays the piano or a keyboard to accompany herself in concerts. It prompted nationally-known journalist Maria Shriver to ask Marlana if she was self-taught. Marlana answered, “No, I’m God-taught.”

“Bill, he’s pretty nice and pretty funny,” Marlana remembers.

She says she loves being blind because God made her that way and she wants to stay that way until she gets to Heaven. “The first face I will see will be Jesus,” she says.

And as we talked about her upcoming concert at Graefenburg Christian Church, Marlana said, “I am excited to be able to sing at your church.”

But that brings us full circle to Marlana’s rendition of The National Anthem. She loves her country and has been featured at many military events. She says she would eventually like to schedule an event to be held near the Pentagon on the Fourth of July. “I would like to involve all kinds of churches as one nation,” she says.

Marlana VanHooseIt comes back to the advice she gave President Trump when she met him in 2017.

Marlana remembers the moment, “I told him Jesus Christ and God’s Word are what will make America great again.”

For other appearances by Marlana VanHoose, see www.littlemarlana.com.  We will also post her appearances in Kentucky and surrounding states on the calendar at KentuckySings.com

By John Herndon

First published by Kentucky Sings! on June 6th, 2019

John Herndon is a regular contributor to SGNScoops Magazine

John Herndon is a writer for SGNScoops Magazine and also has a website called KentuckySings. John is a Kentucky native who was raised listening to gospel music. As a child, the Sunday morning routine always included the Gospel Singing Jubilee and his summers were filled with all-day-singings-and-dinner-on-the-ground listening to local groups just about every Sunday. He remembers seeing The Prophets at his county fair when he was seven years old and eventually, he became a huge fan of The Oak Ridge Boys, The Imperials and J.D. Sumner and the Stamps. John spent 20 years in the located ministry and during this time, he began writing local sports for The Anderson News in Lawrenceburg, Ky. For the last 16 years, he has been the full-time sports editor of that paper. John has won over 100 awards from the Kentucky Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and Landmark Community Newspapers. He loves listening to gospel music or playing one of his guitars. John lives in Lawrenceburg with his wife, Stephanie, and 17-year-old daughter. He has three grown children and four grandchildren.

For more Gospel Music news read the latest issue of the SGNScoops Magazine HERE.

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Legacy Five: Unchanging message in changing times

Written by Staff on March 18, 2019 – 3:36 pm -

Legacy Five Announces Tenor Position Opening

Legacy Five

Scott Fowler leads Legacy Five into the future

By John Herndon

Rooted in one of the greatest traditions in gospel music, the Legacy Five has embarked on a 2019 schedule that will see the group pay tribute to history, yet do so by embracing the changes of the times.

I was fortunate to talk with Scott Fowler, one of the quartet’s founding members, after a concert at Sand Spring Baptist Church, in Lawrenceburg, Ky., on Jan. 24. It was a performance that drew a good crowd on a bitterly cold night and prompted several extended standing ovations.

Fowler was excited to talk about the group’s plans for the coming year. “We are getting ready to release our first video in about five or six years,” he said, noting that 21-year-old pianist Josh Townsend will be prominently featured. “A couple of things people have been asking for are J.T.’s testimony, which you heard tonight, and the song that he sings.”

Josh Townsend of Legacy Five

Josh Townsend of Legacy Five

Townsend, who has overcome two childhood tumors and a massive stroke while being carried in his mother’s womb, shared his testimony with a mesmerized audience before singing the tear-filled “God’s Been Good,” a bonus track from the “Faith and Freedom” album released in late 2017.

“People ask a lot if we’ve got the patriotic segment we did tonight on video,” Fowler continued. “That’s going to be on the video with ‘I Made it to Arlington’ along with the ‘Tribute to the Troops’ we do. Those are two big items that will be on the DVD. It will be called, ‘Live in Peoria.’

“It will come out around the first of March, maybe the 15th. Then we are working on a new studio album. We don’t have it titled yet, but it will have 10 brand new songs on it. That will be coming in the late spring or early summer.”

Scott Fowler of Legacy Five

Scott Fowler of Legacy Five

Fowler said the Legacy Five will be on a normal tour schedule of about 135 concerts, too.

The Sand Spring concert was heavy on songs from “Faith and Freedom,” including “God Bless the USA,” “Hallelujah Chorus,” and a rousing version of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” as the finale.

Fowler explained the reasoning behind the album. “I have always been very patriotic personally,” he said. “I have always had a deep sense of gratitude. I have been to El Salvador. I have been to the Dominican Republic. I have been to the nation of Colombia. They are great places with great people, but the kids there will never have the opportunities of kids in America because of where they were born. I realize that the only difference between my kids and those kids in other countries was where they were born. There is no other difference.

Legacy Five

Legacy Five

“They may speak a different language and their skin might be a different color but God doesn’t love them any less than he loves my kids. I am very grateful that my kids were allowed to be born in America.

“Then you have the political climate. The culture got there for a while there that people were apologizing for America and not standing for the Anthem, just not being respectful. I wanted people to know where Legacy Five stood on those issues, so that is what we did.”

The group took time to recognize veterans from all branches of the service. “Veterans deserve everything our government will give them and more,” Fowler said.

Fowler is one of the veterans of gospel music, singing with the Cathedrals for 10 years before legends George Younce and Glen Payne retired the group. Fowler and Cathedrals pianist Roger Bennett formed Legacy Five to begin touring in January of 2000. Bennett died in 2007, but the group continues as one of gospel music’s most popular.

Scott Howard of Legacy Five

Scott Howard of Legacy Five

Part of Legacy Five’s appeal has been its ability to adapt to a changing world. “The actual style has changed. It always gets a little more progressive,” Fowler said, noting the same thing happens in other styles of music.

“The biggest change is technologically. You know with all the social media, now your music is available online and on YouTube. You can stream it. Nobody knew what those terms were 20 years ago.”

When Fowler talked about CD’s and other merchandise available at the product table, he noted the group had a USB-drive loaded with several albums available.

Fowler smiled, “The message doesn’t change. The package changes, but the message never changes.”

It’s why Legacy Five remains near the top of gospel music.

All images by John Herndon, except for promotional photographs.

Josh Feemster of Legacy Five

Josh Feemster of Legacy Five

By John Herndon

John Herndon is a writer for SGNScoops Magazine and also has a website called KentuckySings. John is a Kentucky native who was raised listening to gospel music. As a child, the Sunday morning routine always included the Gospel Singing Jubilee and his summers were filled with all-day-singings-and-dinner-on-the-ground listening to local groups just about every Sunday. He remembers seeing The Prophets at his county fair when he was seven years old and eventually, he became a huge fan of The Oak Ridge Boys, The Imperials and J.D. Sumner and the Stamps. John spent 20 years in the located ministry and during this time, he began writing local sports for The Anderson News in Lawrenceburg, Ky. For the last 16 years, he has been the full-time sports editor of that paper. John has won over 100 awards from the Kentucky Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and Landmark Community Newspapers. He loves listening to gospel music or playing one of his guitars. John lives in Lawrenceburg with his wife, Stephanie, and 17-year-old daughter. He has three grown children and four grandchildren.

***Note: This article was written before the announcement that Josh Feemster is leaving this popular quartet. See elsewhere on this website for more information.

For more Gospel Music news read the latest issue of the SGNScoops Magazine HERE.

Download the latest SGNScoops Magazine PDF Here

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Listen To Today’s Gospel Music Here

 


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It Must Be Christmas when David Phelps sings in December

Written by Staff on December 13, 2018 – 1:03 pm -

It Must Be Christmas when David Phelps sings in December. Photo by John Herndon

It Must Be Christmas when David Phelps sings in December. Photo by John Herndon

If the calendar says “December” and David Phelps is ready to sing, it can only mean one thing: It Must Be Christmas!

Phelps, the powerful tenor who is one of gospel music’s most recognizable voices, has been bringing the message of hope through Jesus Christ across the country in his annual “It Must Be Christmas” tour.

We caught up with David after he performed to an enthusiastic crowd at Shelby Christian Church in Shelbyville, Ky. It had been a night of dynamic worship, fun and a challenge to help others.

“It has been great,” Phelps said of his 20th Christmas tour. “We have just been blown away.”

And if the night in Shelbyville was indicative, that reaction goes both ways. The energy flowing from Phelps and his backup band of six musicians and

David Phelps sings with his daughters, Maggie Beth, left, and Callie during a performance at Shelbyville, Ky. Photo by John Herndon

David Phelps sings with his daughters, Maggie Beth, left, and Callie during a performance at Shelbyville, Ky.
Photo by John Herndon

two vocalists — Phelps’ daughters, Callie, and Maggie Beth — charged a crowd of about 1,000 slightly more than two weeks before Christmas Day.

The tour is sponsored by the KORE Foundation, which promotes the work it does in Haiti, helping farmers become self-sufficient in the poultry business. Midway through the program, Phelps paused so that concert-goers could see a

video of the foundation’s work and be challenged to contribute.

It’s about giving for the One who gave his life. And Phelps makes sure the concert focuses on the season that celebrates God becoming man.

“We drop our non-seasonal music and just do completely Christmas for the month of December,” Phelps says. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Early in the concert, he sang the theme song of the tour, “It Must Be Christmas” and soon after covered Jackie DeShannon’s big 60s hit, “What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love.” Phelps tied the message of the pop song to loving Christ and loving others.

During his Christmas concert, David Phelps called children from the audience to read his humorous book, “Santa Claus Get Well Soon.” Photo by John Herndon

During his Christmas concert, David Phelps called children from the audience to read his humorous book, “Santa Claus Get Well Soon.”
Photo by John Herndon

He says the message reaches people who are searching and he says it’s not uncommon for an attendee to share how the concert has affected him. “We are always humbled and honored when that happens that our music can reach someone on such a personal level,” he says. “It’s always just amazing. We hope that we are honorable vessels to deliver the message of hope that is in the songs.”

Phelps says the Christmas season presents an opportunity to share the message of Christ through song. “Definitely. It’s a great time to come together and celebrate renewal,” he says. “It’s the end of the year and it’s starting over again and that’s what Jesus represents too on many levels. I think it’s a great time of the year for everybody, no matter where they are. They may have not stepped in a church all year long, but they love to come together to listen to Christmas music and to celebrate.”

Phelps became a household name in Christian music during his 15 years as a member of the Gaither Vocal Band. He’s coming up on two years of touring strictly as a soloist and says 2018 has been a blessing.

David Phelps in Shelbyville, Ky. Photo by John Herndon.

David Phelps in Shelbyville, Ky. Photo by John Herndon.

“To this point, it’s been very, very busy, but we’re good,” he laughed.

Phelps says his decision to leave the Gaither Vocal Band has presented an opportunity to expand his creativity. “For Bill, it was a job. I would do what he asked me to do. If he wanted me to sing a certain line, I would do that,” Phelps explains, “and that was wonderful! I enjoyed it and stayed there for a long time. He is a great mentor to me.

“But out here, we get to express ourselves a little more as a soloist.”

Phelps closed his concert with what might be his signature song, “Oh, Holy Night” and a rousing version of “Feliz Navidad.”

But even though the It Must Be Christmas Tour continues through Dec. 21, Phelps says 2019 promises to be another big year. “We have a new video coming out just before Easter. It’s called The Hymnal Project,” he says. “We have been working on that and we will be

 David Phelps performs his signature song, “Oh Holy Night." Photo by John Herndon

David Phelps performs his signature song, “Oh Holy Night.” Photo by John Herndon

touring nationally and internationally. We will be recording, too.”

And come December, 2019, David Phelps will be traveling the country to celebrate Christ’s birth once again.

By John Herndon

John Herndon writes regularly for SGNScoops Magazine, and has his own blog here as well.

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