September 4th, 2013 is a day I will not ever forget. My mom suffered a massive stroke and heart attack at the same time, the day before I was to leave to go on vacation to the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. All the way there on the bus from California I asked everyone to pray for her. When I finally heard the news what was wrong, I was halfway there. The news was that part of her brain was dead; there was heart damage, no speech and no movement. It was just devastating as you can imagine.
Well, prayers went up and around 1:00pm during the afternoon showcase, the hospital called and said, “We were standing by your mom’s bed side and we said her name and she opened her eyes and could make a fist!” After four days of NOTHING! That was a miracle!
They told me how grim the situation was and that I had to make decisions that were going to be very hard. They took her off the ventilator and put her on oxygen, because that was her wish, not to be revived. I was then told to either put her in hospice or a feeding tube and I did not feel comfortable about the feeding tube because of all the other surgeries. No matter how small a procedure that would be, I couldn’t do that to her.
So I went to one of my friends at NQC who was a nurse and she prayed with me and talked to me and told me that the hospice was the better choice. Then I ran into two other ladies and they were nurses and they also said hospice was better. So I began to look for someone to gather around me and pray for me as I made the phone call for hospice and they did.
I felt a peace about it, but deep inside I knew my mom was going to die. It took me two days to get to California on the bus, and another two days to recuperate from the trip, but I finally went to see Mom in the nursing home. She looked horrible! I took her hand and looked into her eyes and talked to her but there was no squeezing of the hand, no indication she knew who I was. I left the room in tears and cried out, “Oh Lord if she’s not going to be the same, please just take her.” Four days later it’s exactly what happened. There was no funeral, no memorial service, no nothing. They treated her as a homeless person and I had to make the choice to have her cremated.
I had to give away everything, sell everything and move. I even had to shut down my Internet station as well. It was a very hard time for me. In November, I moved back to Missouri and went back to the radio station I was at before. I was there till March of this year. I got my Internet station back again, but had technical problems and physical challenges. With no one checking on me by phone or in person, it was hurting me emotionally and all the way around. So the Lord opened the door for me to leave Missouri at the end of May to go to live in Alton, Illinois. Thanks to my dear friends Earl and Theresa Young, and Cindy Hughlett, I live in the best apartment I’ve had in years. The rent is even less than I was paying in Missouri!
This year, I was nominated for the Eyes of Mercy Servant Award in June and the Radio DJ of the Year in the Gospel Post Fan Awards in July. My friends from Florida, The Reflections, nominated me for that. I also got my Internet station up and running again. I have done over 300 interviews with many Southern Gospel and Christian Country singers. They have all become like family to me and I love each and every one.
Then I heard about Creekside Gospel Music Convention and I wanted to go! Christy Hinson told me about www.gofundme.com so I set up a page there and donations came there and by mail. I was overwhelmed by all the support and it is really exciting to me to know that I will be able to be there for the four days, to get to do more interviews and get more music for my internet station. I’m so excited!
My heartfelt thanks,
Update from SGN Scoops: Cowboy Roy has now called to say his driver was hospitalized and isn’t able to go to Creekside. Roy can take the bus to Knoxville, but he needs a ride from Knoxville to Pigeon Forge and then back to Knoxville when it’s over. We are asking for any of our Creekside friends who will be going through Knoxville to consider making plans to assist Cowboy Roy. If you can help, please contact Vonda Easley at firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t forget…Creekside Gospel Music Convention is Nov. 3-6 at Pigeon Forge, TN. Join Cowboy Roy and all your favorite artists at the Smoky Mountain Convention Center. http://www.creeksidegospelmusicconvention.com/
Tags: Christian DJ, Cowboy Roy, Creekside Gospel Music Convention, gospel music, Pigeon Forge TN, Roy Hall, sgn scoops, southern gospel, Vonda Easley
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I’m sitting here on my first leg of two flights today. This flight is from Jacksonville to Las Vegas and to say the least, it is a full flight. Jason, Amber and Autumn are all sitting somewhere else in the plane.
I am seated in the middle seat between two elderly ladies. The one on my right is very petite and very kind. The one to my left is very tall and slender and, well, I don’t know if I can explain her. She is very eccentric and has her one leg on my side of the seat and is continually elbowing me in the side as she is half way in my seat and can’t seem to get settled.
On take-off she asked the lady on my right (we will call her P-lady) to raise the shade because she is claustrophobic. The lady looks at her and slowly raises up the blind. She whispers to me, “Wouldn’t it be terrible to be that way?” I nod in agreement.
I am desperately trying to keep both arms in my lap but it is a three-and-a-half hour flight. I think I am going to go crazy. The eccentric lady (we will call her E-lady) is dressed to a tee in a navy blue suit and her jewelry is very expensive. It seems as if she is very well off and used to everything being her way. She stands up in the aisle every chance she gets, until a voice comes on the speaker telling her to sit down. Reluctantly she plops down in the seat, flips open her magazine and continues on with poking me in the side. I wait for every opportunity for her to stand up as it is my only time to relax.
We’ve been on the plane now for 20 minutes. Only three hours and 10 minutes left. It’s snack time and she gets out her banana nut bread and something else that looks and smells disgusting. I put my jacket over my nose and say my nose is cold so not to hurt her feelings but I think I’m going to gag. She also gets some cookies from the flight attendant and crumbs are everywhere. I’ll finish this note later; maybe I can close my eyes and the time will fly by.
Oh no, now she is sneezing uncontrollably. I wish I had earplugs. Her husband or companion is seated in the seat across from her and I guess she doesn’t hear well because he speaks on volume 10 to her. I’m going to try and sleep now.
Well that was short lived. The air is bumpy and I guess it is scaring her or making her nervous. She is hopping around in her seat. I’m starting to feel a little sorry for her; she is on my side and flings the arm of my jacket toward me as if it is in her way. I want to laugh but holding it in. The poor petite lady on my right tries to sleep. Wish I could.
E-lady accidentally pushes the steward button instead of the light. The flight attendant comes and she tells him it was a mistake. “But since you are here will you tell me what time it is here and what time it will be in Vegas?” He tries to explain but she doesn’t quite get it. P-lady looks up and asks, “What State are we flying over? Is it Arizona?” “No Ma’am, it’s Oklahoma.” “Very interesting,” she says. Now both are reading with their lights on. Me – I’m giving you a play by play of my flight.
Five minutes later, I kid you not; E-lady is standing in the aisle again. You can’t make this stuff up. She is hopping from one leg to the other. She decides to make her second trip to the restroom. I may join her. Hoping my battery will last until we get off this flight. Twenty minutes later she has still not returned from the restroom. Maybe she is standing in the back. I knew I should have gone.
Thirty minutes later she is back. She reaches down to get her purse and it’s huge. She can hardly maneuver it. She gets a snack out and then frantically tries to zip it and get it back under her seat. She tries from the inside but can’t get it through her legs. Finally she tries from the outside in and successfully gets it in. She proceeds to ring the flight attendant for a drink. Whew. I’m worn out! Crumbs from her cookie are everywhere.
As I sit here I think, “What would Jesus do?” First thought in my head is, I am not Jesus. But I am supposed to be like Him. Jesus was in the middle one time too. It was while He was on the Cross. He was loving and forgiving in a very dark time in his life. So I try to think of something to connect with. She does not talk, at least to anyone but her husband and the flight attendant so I open my purse and I offer both the E-lady and the P-lady some gum. They both accept and smile. Ten more minutes and we will be on the ground. It really wasn’t so bad at all!
By Kelly Nelon Clark, monthly columnist for SGN Scoops
First published by SGN Scoops in September 2014
For current issues of SGN Scoops please visit http://www.sgnscoops.com/
Tags: Christian Music, Devotional, gospel music, Kelly Nelon Clark, sgn scoops, southern gospel, the nelons
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Jonathan Wilburn has been around Southern Gospel for as long as he has been alive. Son of Elaine and Jackie Wilburn, Jonathan learned his craft at the knees of one of the best duos in Southern Gospel. He sang with his parents until the age of 16 and then moved on to anchor the lead position of the award-winning Gold City Quartet for several years. His powerful voice now blends well with his son, Jordan, as they sing together in Wilburn And Wilburn, carrying on the family tradition as they sing about their faith. [Editor's note: article first published December 2013]
Jonathan Wilburn has always been the friendly extravert who naturally falls into the position of group spokesperson. Just as he has had to answer the same questions from interviewers all his life, he must at times tire of giving the same answers. For our “In Depth” article, we tried to find out some different things about Jonathan that you may not know. We have tried to let Jonathan tell it in his own way.
Jonathan began singing with his son Jordan in 2011, releasing their first CD, Family Ties. In 2012, they won the Singing News’ Horizon Group of the Year, with Jordan picking up the Horizon Individual Award. It seems like their group began at the top and stayed there, but Jonathan says it wasn’t as easy as it may have appeared.
“Getting started in a new business or venture is never easy but in our case was made some what easier due to the fact that I traveled singing Southern Gospel Music for most of my life up until 1996. That is when I took the lead position with Gold City. I stayed with Gold City for 12 years until 2008.
Jonathan continues, “That was a tough decision when I felt it was time to leave. Gold City had become like family to me. Tim Riley and Daniel Riley were great to live with and work with over those years. I could not have asked to be treated any better than I was with Gold City. My decision to leave was completely personal and all my decision.”
“During the time I was off the road, working at a local Ford dealership, I began to notice that my son was developing as a singer himself. I would come home and all he wanted to do was watch or listen to Southern Gospel music. That is when I began accepting some dates for us to sing from time to time. One day at work God spoke to my heart. He said all He needed was a father and son to tell folks about The Father and The Son! Now I know there are some who might say, “Yea we have heard this before.” I will tell you this: my position as one of the top sales people at Ronnie Watkins Ford brought home a good living! This was not for fame or money. It is what God laid on my heart, period. It makes no difference if anybody believes that or not as long as God and I have it worked out. I guess I learned that from my Dad, Mr. Jackie Wilburn.”
“Wilburn and Wilburn was not an over-night success, by no stretch of the imagination!” Jonathan continues, “I have been singing now since I was 12 years old. I remember our first National Quartet Convention in Nashville, Tennessee and hoping one day to be able to sing on that stage. Well after a lot of hard work over the years, God has blessed me with an opportunity to sing and travel with my son Jordan. We have had some great songs written by some of the best writers in Southern Gospel music. That is the key! Good songs with good music.”
God has taken Wilburn and Wilburn along a path of rich blessing. “We were signed by Daywind Records with an awesome support staff there, then a very highly-sought-after booking agent, Michael Davis at The Dominion Agency. We have a great producer in Ben Isaacs. We also have wonderful support from pastors, promoters and many others that have become our friends over the years. God has truly blessed our efforts. It has not all been easy. This is hard work keeping a ministry on the road. I have a whole new respect for my dad and Tim Riley!”
Jonathan shares what it has been like over the last three years. “Traveling with my son Jordan has already been a great trip. We travel about 120 dates a year. Some may ask, “Is that healthy for a father and son to be together that much?” Well, Jordan and I have a unique relationship. We have always been able to just be very truthful with one another and get passed stuff. That means a lot when traveling. It’s putting disagreements and problems in the rear view mirror. He is my son who is also my best friend. He has even become more special since he and his wife, Lauren, are expecting my first grandchild. We know it is a little girl. My, my, my, I am done. Stick a fork in me because I am going to spoil that kid to death!”
For the time being, Jonathan and Jordan travel light. “Right now it is just two men and a truck,” Jonathan laughs. “I am going to try to add a utility picker one day, but for now economics won’t allow us to hire anybody. I will not hire a musician unless I can take care of him. From time to time we have a dear friend from Georgia, Jim Cox, who helps us drive on the longer runs we are required to make.”
It is obvious that Jonathan loves his current career and singing with his son. However, there is a part of him that is still is a quartet-man. He says if he could sing with anyone for just one performance, it would be in one of the most beloved quartets of all time. “I have a wide selection of groups that I have loved and listened to over the years, but if I could just pick one that I have never sung with it would be The Cathedrals; the era with Danny Funderburk, Gerald Wolfe, Mark Trammell, Glen Payne and George Younce!”
However, as this is a dream that won’t come to fruition until all the members reach Heaven, we had Jonathan pick out some singers that he would choose in order to increase his current duet into a quartet. His choices for bass vocalist would be either Gene McDonald or Aaron McCune. On tenor, he would pick Steve Ladd or Jay Parrack. “I believe these four guys to be some of the best artists not traveling with a group full-time in gospel music!”
With Christmas swiftly approaching, Wilburn and Wilburn turn their thoughts toward home and hearth. “Christmas is very special to all of my family,” says Jonathan. “This is going to be a very special one, though, because both of my children are married now and we will be together for the first time. We always go to my Mom’s, Elaine Wilburn’s, on Christmas Eve. It is a tradition that has been in our family for over 40 years. I have never missed a Christmas Eve night on Wilburn Lane in Carthage Tennessee. Family and friends from all walks of life gather at my Mom and Dad’s house to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Yes, we really celebrate. I ain’t talking people forced to be there. We get there early and stay late. Singing, testifying, eating, telling old stories and yes we love it! Just family and friends enjoying each other’s company. The love we share on this special night is awesome. It may be a little too “country” for some folks but we like it just the way it is. Sometimes there are just as many outside as there are inside!” Jonathan laughs. “We always have a tender Tennessee Christmas!”
With the end of the year in sight and a new one just around the corner, we asked Jonathan what his goals were for Wilburn and Wilburn in the coming months. “I hope and pray Wilburn and Wilburn will stay in the will of God in 2014. I am not sure where that will lead us, but we pray He gives us enough wisdom to pursue the things and set the goals that will bring Him honor and glory.”
Jonathan has always been open and vocal about his desire to see lost hearts come to know his Lord and Savior. His music with Jordan is all about ministry and reaching those who are hurting and alone. Therefore, it was no surprise to hear his favorite scripture and a little Wilburn preaching too. “Romans 10:13- For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved!” Jonathan continues, “This scripture is not just speaking to the lost souls. When Jesus was on that boat, with His disciples, they thought everything was going to be fine as long as Jesus was just there. Well the storm came, the lightening flashed and the thunder rolled! They were in fear for their lives. Then one called out to the Master! Remember Romans 10:13. Jesus got up from his sleep, walked out on deck and just spoke: “Peace, be still” and the waves fell, the thunder and lightning ceased. We are seeking for Jesus and the peace He brings but very few are calling on His Name! I will tell you this: if you are not in a storm, you are headed for one or coming out of one. Remember Rom 10:13 and before you go under, just call on Him. He will see you through!”
It’s good to see a family tradition of faith that lasts throughout generations. The kind of personal faith, like that of Jonathan Wilburn, is more than something inherited; it is the kind of spiritual change that is experienced deeply and daily. We are so thankful that Jonathan is continuing on the tradition of communicating that kind of faith to his generation and beyond.
By Lorraine Walker
First published by SGM Radio website in December 2013
For current features on SGM Radio website, please visit http://www.sgmradio.com/
Tags: Christian Music, gospel music, Jonathan Wilburn, Jordan Wilburn, Lorraine Walker, sgm radio, southern gospel, wilburn and wilburn
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1 Karen Peck and New River Everybody’s Going Through Something
2 11th Hour How Will You Plead
3 Whisnants Not Afraid To Trust Him
4 Hyssongs I Was Blind But Now I See
5 Old Paths Love Them To Jesus
6 McKameys There Is Jesus
7 Hoskins Family God Is Big
8 Talleys Hidden Heroes
9 Browders Listening For The Shout
10 Bowling Family I Know Enough
11 Brian Free and Assurance Say Amen
12 Shellem Cline Dinner With Jesus
13 Carolina Boys Watch And Pray
14 Perrys I Can Trust Him
15 Dunaways Church In The Kitchen
16 Kingsmen Oh Yes I Am
17 Gordon Mote Ain’t It Just Like The Lord
18 Joseph Habedank Never No Never
19 Barry Rowland and Deliverance He’s Still God
20 Gold City Never Too Broken To Belong
21 Dixie Melody Boys That Story Is Mine
22 Ernie Haase and Signature Sound Water Walking God
23 Zane and Donna King If There Was Any Other Way
24 Mark Bishop Love’s Gonna Get You
25 Booth Brothers If God Didn’t Care
26 Social Security Boys I’m Not What I Was
27 Gaither Vocal Band God Leads Us Along
28 Soul’d Out Quartet Hey Everybody
29 Tony Burchette We’ll Soon Be Gone
30 Greater Vision For All He’s Done
31 Legacy Five Christ Is Still The King
32 Dennis Cook Crying In The Chapel
33 East Ridge Boys He’s Leaving His Throne
34 Pauline Patterson I Fell Down
35 Collingsworth Family How Great His Love/Love Found a Pardon
36 Calebs Crossing What I’m Made To Be
37 John Lanier Look For Me
38 Kingdom Heirs I’ll Know I’m Home
39 Bev McCann Thunder
40 Red Roots Great Big Yes
41 Shellem Cline Look Up
42 Debra Perry and Jaidyns Call Coming After Me
43 Inspirations God’s Word Will Stand
44 Charles Surrate Just Stand
45 The Gospelaires Miracle
46 Jim Sheldon Even After
47 Jeff and Sheri Easter I’ll Take It
48 Martins If We Ever Needed The Lord Before
49 Mylon Hayes Family Prayer Meeting
50 Adam Crabb Hey Now
Tags: Christian songs, sgn scoops, southern gospel, Top 100
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Oct. 17, 2014) – The debut of the Jim Brady Trio and the Booth Brothers first concert with new group member Paul Lancaster will highlight Legacy Five’s New Year’s Eve Celebration, which will be held at Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Hotel.
Brady has spent the last 12 years as the baritone singer of the award-winning Booth Brothers trio, but he will now be singing with his wife Melissa and former Legacy Five pianist Tim Parton as the Jim Brady Trio debuts on Thursday morning, Jan. 1.
Paul Lancaster is joining the Booth Brothers, and he will make his debut with the group on Wednesday evening, Dec. 31. That will also be Brady’s last concert with the group.
“It’s extraordinarily rare that you get to witness this much Southern Gospel Music history in one place at one time, ”says Legacy Five group manager and lead singer Scott Fowler. “To see and hear the Booth Brothers for the last time with Jim Brady, and to hear the new Jim Brady Trio and to hear the new Booth Brothers lineup all at the same event is really exciting. What better way than to ring out the old year and sing in the new year … the end of a season and the start of a new one.”
There will be four sessions of this year’s New Year’s Eve Celebration event, beginning at 7 p.m. on Dec. 30 with a lineup that includes the Collingsworth Family, the Burchfield Brothers, Triumphant Quartet and Tim Lovelace. The Collingsworth Family will be back for a 10 a.m. session on Wednesday morning, Dec. 31, along with the Freedom Singers and Rick White.
In addition to performances by both the new and existing configuration of the Booth Brothers, the 8 p.m. session on Dec. 31 will also include Greater Vision and a Jubilee performance that includes the Booth Brothers, Greater Vision and Legacy Five. Legacy Five will be performing at each session. Then, the event will conclude with a 10 a.m. concert on Jan. 1 that will include Cal Reichnor in addition to the host group and the Jim Brady Trio.
Tags: booth brothers, Burchfield Brothers, Jim Brady Trio, legacy five, southern gospel, Southern Gospel News, triumphant quartet
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(NASHVILLE, Tenn) The Jubilee Christmas Tour, featuring award-winning Christian artists The Booth Brothers, Greater Vision and Legacy Five, is bringing a heart-warming Christmas concert to twelve cities this December, and they want your socks! After hearing first-hand the needs of many shut-in seniors during colder months, the artists and promoters of this exciting musical Christmas tour decided to partner with the national organization, Socks for Seniors, in an effort to collect and distribute warm socks to area seniors.
Gerald Wolfe of Greater Vision states, “Many of the folks that come to our concerts either know people through church, their community or even people in their families that are shut-ins or in nursing homes. We’ve learned that as it gets colder, something as simple as warm socks for these precious people can make all the difference in their comfort. We talked with the guys and decided we want to help make this Christmas season a little warmer for others, and that’s what sparked the idea.”
Tour promoters, Landon Beene and Brian Hudson (IMC Concerts) are working with Socks for Seniors to coordinate collection, distribution and some special appearances by the artists to deliver socks.
Concert attendees are encouraged to bring new, warm socks to the Jubilee Christmas Tour event in their area. Socks will be collected on-site at the concert and distributed to area seniors. For a complete listing of the Jubilee Christmas Tour dates – 12 Days of Christmas and ticket information, visit www.jubileechristmas.com.
Tags: christmas, Greater Vision, JUBILEE CHRISTMAS TOUR, legacy five, southern gospel, Southern Gospel News, the booth brothers
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Half of the male quartet Brian Free and Assurance didn’t grow up singing Southern Gospel Music. In fact, half of Brian Free and Assurance didn’t even grow up singing. However, the “quiet” guys have found their voice and now appear to be as extroverted as they come.
“I grew up very insecure,” lead singer Bill Shivers says. “I grew up with an inferiority complex. That’s something that God has really reached down and helped me with. I never dreamed in a million years that this is what my life would be.” Shivers didn’t sing until he was 20 years old.
“I guess the transformation for me was when I started with Heaven Bound,” Shivers explains. “I had never actually stood on stage. I had always played the guitar before that, with family groups, local groups. “I would have to introduce a song, and I had to let God use me and get out of the way. When I completely depended on Him, He showed up in my life. It gave me a confidence, on stage and off stage.”
That confidence is evident in Shivers’ personable demeanor both on and off stage. “I never had a plan in my life,” Shivers notes. “God has opened the doors. He has made a work in me. Today, I am very much a people person. I love and try to meet as many people as I can. In my younger years, I was afraid to step up and meet people. That’s a God thing, not a me thing. I thank him for that.”
Shivers has been the lead singer since Free moved from being a soloist back into a group setting, in 2000. “Phillip Hughes called me and told me that Brian was putting the group back together,” Shivers remembers. “He told me that he had thrown my name in the hat. It was close to Convention (the National Quartet Convention). Me and Craig (Singletary, who Shivers sang with in Heaven Bound before he became the baritone for Brian Free and Assurance) sought Brian out and spoke with him at his booth (at NQC). We said that we’re interested in the position and said what’s the next step.
“We did a showcase at convention. When we walked in our showcase, we were about to walk on stage to do our three songs. Craig says, ‘Don’t look now, but Brian Free is back at the sound board.’ I said, ‘Thanks Craig for telling me.’ After the showcase, Brian approached Craig and I and said, ‘We need to have a conversation.’ We went down (to Atlanta), and he had the bass singer at the time there (Bill Lawrence). We sang three or four songs around the piano. We went on the bus, and he said, ‘The job is yours.’ I said, ‘Done deal.’”
Shivers and Free have been inseparable ever since. “He understands his responsibilities and what his job is, and he does it,” Free says. Free himself broke into Southern Gospel Music as the tenor singer for the Gold City Quartet before departing the group at the end of 1993. “You can’t be on the road 13 ½ years without being close. After a couple of years, you start to know each other. There’s a fine line there between being the boss and being a friend. There’s ups and downs in anything. It’s his dedication to what he does, my dedication to making sure everything works … it’s all of us together. Everybody chooses whether they want to be here or not. Any kind of music is one of those things where if you really love it, you’ll stick with it.”
Shivers adds, “I am a very loyal person. I just felt a kinsmanship with Brian. I knew we clicked. I knew our sound together meshed really well together. Our personalities just clicked. This is my calling, and I know it’s definitely his calling. I’m not one of those guys where the grass is greener on the other side.”
Forty-four-year-old Shivers admits to having learned a lot from Free. “He’s like my mentor,” Shivers explains. “He has taught me so much – about singing, about life in general. He is a man who is very firm and who stands firm on what he believes. He’s very serious about his convictions. He’s been a great example for me. We’re very tight.”
Fans have understandably adhered to the veteran lead singer. “People love him,” bass singer Jeremy Lile says of Shivers. “People come just to see him. He’s good with people. In my opinion, his role is just to be the best lead singer out there. I think he is the best lead singer.” Lile adds, “He could be a tenor with any group.”
Shivers admits that it can be difficult singing the part below a man who is arguably Southern Gospel’s highest tenor singer. “To sing right under Brian night after night is a challenge,” Shivers admits. “Brian Free is a freak. I mean that in a positive, great way. He pushes me, but it’s a good push. It’s a drive to be better. It challenges me. I love a challenge.”
However, it’s not just the relationship between the elder statesmen that functions well. The whole group seems to click. “We’re brothers,” Lile points out. “We’ve never had a falling out. They’re hilarious. They’re always making me laugh.”
Bus activity is what many might expect for an all-male contingent. “It can be routine at times, but we always make a joke that you have to be half-crazy to be out here on the road like we are,” Shivers shares. “We get along so well on the bus. Thank the Lord, we are like a big family on the bus. We just have a great time. We play the Wii (video game system). We play Mario Cart, but we have times of great discussion and debate. We complement each other very well. That’s what keeps it fresh. We’re friends. We’re family.”
Rogers has been with the group for slightly more than a year at this point. “They’re great guys,” Rogers says. “We’re pretty much cut from the same mold. It’s comfortable. It’s been good. I just jumped in there and went with it. Everything is smooth. It’s been different singing a different part. The baritone part was different, but I love it.”
Rogers walked in after Derrick Selph had spent nine-and-a-half years with the group, which came in two different stints. “He’s fitting in good,” Free notes. “He’s young, green, but he’s learning. He’s got an amazing voice. He’s good with the people. He has a good attitude. He’s a hard worker. It’s been a very good relationship.”
In some ways, (baritone singer) Mike Rogers can relate to what Shivers has experienced. “I didn’t start singing until I was 20,” Rogers points out. “I did some musical theatre stuff. I didn’t know Gospel Music existed until I heard a couple of voices. I heard Jason Crabb. When you hear Jason, you can’t help but to ease into a little Michael English. That’s right up my alley. I researched a little bit. If you listen to Michael English, you get into the Gaither Vocal Band. Then, you run into Wes Hampton, David Phelps and Mark Lowry. You run into Marshall Hall, who is a beast.”
Rogers eventually ran into the Southern Gospel industry himself, starting his career with the Dixie Melody Boys. “Brian Free is pretty progressive for our genre,” Rogers notes. “I was like, ‘hey, that’s pretty good music.’ I saw where the Dixie Melody Boys were looking for a lead singer and I thought I’d love to get into that. Then, this job came open.”
Rogers admits that he’s still learning about the genre. “Not even an ounce of me is Southern Gospel,” Rogers points out. “I had never listened to it. This fits me better stylistically. I am into more contemporary stuff, progressive. I listen to a ton of black gospel, like Smokie Norful. I dial it back to fit our genre. It’s been great. There’s no better quality than Southern Gospel music. To be blessed enough to have an opportunity to do it at 25 years old … people go their whole life and would give their right arm to be blessed enough to do what I am doing.”
Like Rogers, Shivers prefers a more progressive brand of music. “This is a little more my style,” Shivers says. “I’m definitely not traditional. I can sing that, but I love the soulful sound … and I love the more country stuff.”
The group’s sound is not something that the group made a concerted effort to move toward. “It’s my preference,” Free notes. “I like music that’s challenging. The simple stuff is not as challenging to me. Each album, I want it to be more challenging. That helps me. More than setting out for a style, it just happens. It’s not like we set out and say, ‘Let’s make this choice progressively.’ I choose songs lyrically, but you have to stay within certain parameters obviously.”
The style progression was initially a concern for Lile. “When I first joined, the stylistic part of it was going edgy,” Lile shares. “I’ve always been a fan of the old Statesmen stuff. I’ve always loved singing the old stuff. Through it all, I was afraid they were not going to utilize the bass singer as much, but they’ve always made it so that I was still doing my thing.”
The group’s current project is entitled Unashamed, which released in April. “It falls in the pattern of the last five or six albums,” Free explains. “I think our society today within the church needs a shock. They need a wake-up call. We need to remember the times we live in and remember how important it is that we do what we’re supposed to do. There are so many things that are trying to dilute our stand as a Christian and the word of God. There’s no compromise. Sometimes, we’re more interested in presenting a meek message. We want to do it with love, as Christ did. There’s also a line that you kind of cross when you compromise. If you dilute it in any way, you’re not taking on the message of the Lord. These songs are a wake-up … know where we stand, what we stand for and don’t back up an inch.”
Unashamed is the sixth project that Ricky Free – Brian’s son and the group’s former drummer – has produced for the group. “I like to sit back and watch him and let him go,” Brian says. “His creativity and the direction he takes and the ideas he comes up with are much better than any of mine. I may insert something here and there from time to time, but I kind of get out of the way. He knows how I think. I know how he thinks. There’s been a real release and peace in just handing him the reigns and letting him go.”
The first radio single from the project, “Say Amen,” has rocketed up the charts. In fact, the group filmed its second concept video for “Say Amen,” after having previously comprised one for “I Want To Be That Man.”
“I Want To Be That Man” was the first short-form music video to win the video of the year award at the National Quartet Convention Music Awards. “We did it on the Pedestrian Bridge in Nashville,” Free remembers. “We did it in February or March. We were frozen, but it was a lot of fun.”
“Say Amen” was filmed in the Gallatin and Hendersonville areas, just minutes north of Nashville, Tennessee, in June. It was completed and released in late July.
“This was my first album ever,” Rogers said. “It’s fun to be doing this with people who have been doing this for so long who are the best. I love being with a group where I just have to walk on stage and do my part. Everybody pulls their weight, off stage, on stage, vocally.”
While Rogers is the newest addition, the other three have been together for more than seven years. They all view that stability as instrumental to the group’s success. “I personally think it’s very important,” Free emphasizes. “It’s important to me and the other members of the group. The less turnover, the better. The better attitudes, the better. People like consistency and continuity. It means a lot.”
Lile believes that Free is the key to that stability. “I think it has a lot to do with Brian,” Lile says. “He’s been out here so long. He knows what he’s doing. He’s good to us. He’s always consistent on everything. We don’t have to worry if we’re going to get a paycheck. It really goes back to Brian being consistent and being a good person. He genuinely cares for us. Once I had been here a few years and I saw how things were … I got married once I had been here and had a child. Brian loves my wife and my child. I know we’re always going to be taken care of. It is hard to see myself in another group. I know I’m going to be taken care of here in every way. ”
Witnessing the stability that trio has developed has prompted Rogers think about his long-term future with the group. “I do feel like I could be (in it for the long term),” Rogers explains. “I’m a really big dreamer. I’m always looking to grow, to get better, to do better. I definitely see this being my career, music in general. It’s been very good. It’s been a very good step in the right direction for me. I’m just soaking it up. It’s been good, and I’m learning from the best. Brian knows this inside and out. If I plan to make this my career, the best thing I can do is just sponge it all up.”
Shivers admits to being humbled at the number of notable settings that the group has been fortunate to sing, including three consecutive years that the group performed at the Dove Awards. Brian Free and Assurance won a Dove Award for the song “Long As I Got King Jesus.”
“The first song I sang with Brian Free, ‘For God So Loved,’ the first time we sang that together, I was like, ‘Wow,’” Shivers says. “Singing on the Dove Awards was a huge opportunity, singing on Gaither videos, singing on the Grand Ole Opry stage… We didn’t go out there and sing country music. We sang Gospel Music. It’s very humbling. I never dreamed in a million years this is what I would be doing. God is an amazing God. Every door that He’s opened for me has been just that much more grand. I couldn’t praise Him enough. I don’t deserve it. For some reason, I have favor in God’s eyes. I thank Him every day for it. The lives and the people we touch is what it’s all about. It’s not about me. It’s all about Christ. I can’t praise Him enough for allowing me and trusting me enough to do it.”
Rogers added, “Sometimes, I have to take a step back. You get used to it. You take a step back and look at the platform you have, and never in a million years would I have imagined singing Gospel music even four years ago. Sometimes, God does that. He put the desire in my heart and made it happen in about two years time.”
The 25-year-old Rogers admits that it can be tough at times, especially having five-year-old daughter Coraline and two-month-old daughter Everlee at home. “When you have a week-old baby girl who just made it home and you have to leave home, that’s difficult,” Rogers explains. “If it wasn’t for having family at home, you would be on cloud nine. You have to make it work the four days a week when you are not at home. Our families are just as big a part of this as we are.”
The 34-year-old Lile echoed those sentiments. “My wife (Nikki), when we were dating, she knew what she was getting into,” Lile says. “We got married and it was hard leaving her. I have a three-year-old son. His name is Logan. It’s 100 times harder leaving (now). He’ll hang on to my leg and cry and say, ‘take Lo with you.’ I’m home Monday through Wednesday. I can spend from seven in the morning until he goes to sleep. I can spend more time with him now than if I had a nine-to-five job.”
The motivation for Lile is the life-changing message in the music the group conveys. “It’s seeing people saved,” Lile points out. “We’ve been seeing a lot of people saved. We did a trip to Texas. We were out three days and saw 20 people saved. That’s really what is keeping me out here.”
Shivers adds, “It’s really tough. With a family, I’ve been married 16 years (to his wife Michelle). I have a 14-year-old daughter (Brittany). I have a nine-year-old daughter (Sarah). She just got saved (in June). I have a three-and-half-month-old little boy (William Brent Shivers III). God gives me peace in knowing that He has everything under control, that His hand is upon my life and that this is my calling … not only my calling, but also my family’s calling as well. If that had not been the case, I would never have been out here all that time. My wife is my biggest fan. She is my biggest supporter.”
Both of Brian’s sons – Ricky and Bryce – are adults, forcing him to leave only his wife Pam each week. “It’s 33 years full time (singing),” the 51-year-old Free notes. “(The reasons for traveling to minister) it’s a lot of things. It’s the challenge of the music, the vocals. It’s presenting them on-stage, watching the response. It’s seeing how the songs change lives. Even more important than that is when people are saved, when the Holy Spirit uses them. As far as the travel, I hate it. That’s just part of it.”
As for the future, Free’s hope is simple. “I just would love to see God use us in a greater capacity in the church,” Free says. “I’d like our music to be put in front of a lot more people.”
By Craig Harris
First Published by SGN Scoops in August 2014
For current issues of SGN Scoops visit http://www.sgnscoops.com/
Tags: Bill Shivers, brian free, brian free and assurance, Christian Music, Craig Harris, gospel music, Jeremy Lile, Mike Rogers, sgn scoops, southern gospel
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Pigeon Forge, TN HIGHROADIII had the privilege of singing at Dollywood September 30 and October 1st. The group performed at the Back Porch Theater and had a full house for almost all of the 8 shows.
The group played all of the songs on their current project which was produced by Ben Isaacs as well as some ragtime and fiddle tunes. Their enthusiasm for the music they perform is always contagious to the audience they are playing and singing to.
HIGHROADIII played back-to-back concerts both days lasting 30 minutes each at 1:30, 2:30, 3:30 and 4:30, captivating the audience with each performance. The energy filled execution of each song kept those in attendance glued to their seats. The country/bluegrass feel of their music seemed like a natural fit for Dollywood.
Lead singer and keyboardist Sarah Davison commented “We enjoyed playing at Dollywood so much and look forward to the opportunity to play there again soon. We met some wonderful folks from all over the world and it was so encouraging to see their reactions to our music, especially our original songs. We want to thank everyone on staff for their hard work to keep Gospel music thriving at Dollywood.”
For booking contact email@example.com .
Tags: Dollywood, HighroadIII, Sarah Davison, southern gospel, Southern Gospel News
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NASHVILLE, Tenn.—October 9, 2014—Gaither Music Group is excited to announce a partnership with newly formed trio Goodman Revival, of Smyrna, TN. Tanya Goodman Sykes, Michael Sykes and Johnny Minick, each of whom are seasoned Christian music veterans, have joined together to perform and record as a trio, capturing the musical styles and heritage that have endeared them to countless people around the world.
Tags: Goodman Revival, Johnny Minick, Michael Sykes, Songs in the Key of Happy, southern gospel, Tanya Goodman Sykes
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HENDERSONVILLE, TN – October 8, 2014 Daywind Records’ artists and songwriters received several Dove Awards at the 45th Annual GMA Dove Awards held last night at Allen Arena on the campus of David Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN. The Dove Awards program airs globally on the Trinity Broadcasting Network on Sunday, October 12, 2014.
Karen Peck and New River, along with songwriters Kenna West, Karen Peck and Don Poythress, received the Dove Award for Southern Gospel Song of the Year for their #1 hit “Revival.” “Revival” was the theme of a rousing segment on the show which also featured Brian Free and Assurance, Gordon Mote, and Ernie Haase and Signature Sound. After the win, Karen commented to the press gathered, “We grew up singing at those old time tent revivals, and we’ve been praying this year that God would just revive this world.”
Brian Free and Assurance won a Dove Award for their performance of the song “Say Amen.” The song, from the album Unashamed, was awarded the Dove for Southern Gospel Performance of the Year. Produced by Daywind songwriter, Ricky Free, the song stayed in the top 10 of the Singing News radio charts for 4 months and is the leading contender for the top-charting song of the year for 2014.
Marty Funderburk, received his first Dove Award for Musical of the Year for his work “Highest Glory.” Released through Daywind’s choral division, the musical is performed at countless churches nationally and is distributed by Lifeway Worship.
aywind Music Group artists, songwriters, and recordings received a total of 20 nominations for the 45th Annual GMA Dove Awards, including recognition for Greater Vision, Adam Crabb, Wilburn and Wilburn, the Browders, Red Roots, Diane Wilkinson, the Chigger Hill Boys and Terri, Jason Cox, and Vital Worship.
Daywind Music Group is home Daywind Records, Daywind Soundtracks, Daywind Music Publishing, Daywind Studios, Red Hen Records, and Thoroughbred Records. Daywind Records represents great artists like Brian Free and Assurance, Legacy Five, Greater Vision, the Hoskins Family, the Blackwood Brothers, Wilburn and Wilburn, the Browders, Adam Crabb, the Bowling Family, Karen Peck and New River, Amber Thompson, Joseph Habedank, the Nelons, and Watts, Rowsey, & Bean. Red Hen Records is home to Red Roots, Zach & Rodney, Michael Lee, and Ryan Watkins. Thoroughbred Records is home to the Chigger Hill Boys & Terri. Daywind recordings are distributed to Christian retail by New Day Christian Distributors (newdaychristian.com) and to the general market by Select O Hits.
Daywind Music Publishing is home to great songwriters Ronny Hinson, Dianne Wilkinson, Marty Funderburk, Sue Smith, Kenna West, Jason Cox, Kyla Rowland, Belinda Smith, Ricky Free, Scott Inman, John Darin Rowsey, Lee Black, Ben Storie, Gina Vera, David Browder, Matthew Browder, Sonya Browder, Tommy Browder, Aaron Crabb, Adam Crabb, Amanda Crabb, Karen Peck Gooch, Mike Richards, Natalie, Nika, and Nicole Taylor (Red Roots), Gina Boe, Caleb Collins, Janice Crow, Marcia Henry, Rick Schweinsberg, Micah Schweinsberg and CCM writers Sam Tinnesz, Aaron Rice, Michael Fordinal, Justin Kintzel, and Hearts of Saints.
Tags: 45th Annual GMA Dove Awards, brian free and assurance, Daywind Records, karen peck and new river, Marty Funderburk, southern gospel, Southern Gospel News
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