Legacy Five Turns 20
At 20 years of age, the teenager becomes a young adult. The brain is still developing, but otherwise, most human beings are physiologically mature by this age. Gospel quartet Legacy Five enters this age of maturity in January 2020 and is fully embracing this by the release of “Pure Love,” a dynamic re-awakening of the powerful Legacy Five sound first heard in their unofficial debut at the National Quartet Convention in September 1999. Scott Fowler, at the helm, is deftly guiding his group into their adulthood, with Josh Townsend, Matt Fouch, and newcomers Lee Black and Bryan Walker.
Who Fowler is now, is the result of God working in his life, bringing him into contact with Roger Bennett to form Legacy Five, and prior to that, leading him into ministry with the Cathedrals to sing with Bennett, Ernie Haase, and legends Glen Payne and George Younce. It was the Cathedrals that ignited Fowler’s desire to sing. From that time to this, God has been fulfilling Fowler’s dreams in a way even he could not imagine.
“I have been blessed to sing in a lot of amazing places in my 31 years (of professional gospel singing),” says Fowler. “I’ve sung at many of the churches in America that people would say are important to sing at. We have had United States Congressman and Senators in our audience over the course of 20 years. I have personally sung at a Billy Graham Crusade, in Cleveland, Ohio, where 70,000 people were packed in the Cleveland stadium.”
Fowler relates a particularly poignant memory, “Legacy Five saying on the (Ground Zero) Observation Platform, the day it was dedicated in New York City, just weeks after 911. There was still smoke rising from the site and we stood on the Observation Platform (as) it was dedicated by Rudy Giuliani and we sang the national anthem.”
With all of these remarkable experiences, certain blessings stand out to the owner of Legacy Five.
“I had a husband and wife approach me in the lobby and tell me that they had been married for 46 years, and that they had decided to separate and dissolve their marriage,” Fowler recalls. “She and he both informed me that evening, with tears in their eyes, that after being at our concert, they had decided not to do that and were going to get the help that they needed in their marriage. And what I love about the gospel is, whether it is presented in music or any other package, we didn’t sing one song or say one word that night about how God can restore marriages. And yet he somehow was able to convey that message to that couple that night. And the amazing thing is, that he was able to convey a totally different message, concerning a totally different need, to two totally different people the same night. I love hearing those individual stories from people about what God does for them through our music.”
God has worked through Legacy Five many times to change hearts.
“I think about the young lady a few years ago who came to us after the concert, weeping, saying that her life was a mess and that she had decided to take her life this very week,” Fowler recalls. “But after being at our concert and hearing the message, she was given a new sense of hope.”
Reminiscences over the life of Legacy Five would not be complete without talking about the group’s co-founder Roger Bennett, who passed away March 17, 2007.
“I feel like I learned a lot from Roger,” says Fowler. “A couple of things that I learned from him were, how possible it was to have a great attitude in the midst of great distress and difficulty. Roger endured three bone marrow transplants and countless chemotherapy treatments, and I can probably count on one hand the number of days that I feel like he was living defeated that day. He was extraordinarily resilient and optimistic and positive and happy and joyful. He was always, always, always laughing.”
“He taught me to be honest and transparent with myself and others. He was a remarkable man. He was my best friend. And I still miss him fiercely,” declares Fowler.
Frank Seamans was the tenor with the quartet when Bennett passed. He shares a great memory from this pivotal moment in the history of Legacy Five.
“When we lost Roger Bennett to cancer in 2007, we had no idea how to move forward,” Seamans shares. “We were simply trusting God to help us and he certainly did. The first concert date after Roger’s death was quite a challenge. How do we start? What do we say? What do we sing? How do we address our loss on stage? These were all questions we couldn’t answer, but we prayed before going out and just asked God to lead us. We didn’t have a plan, but we decided to sing three of our standards without saying a word and then see where God takes it from there. As we sang those first three songs, we noticed an adorable and very exuberant couple in their late 80’s, sitting in the first row, clapping and singing along with every word. They were such an encouragement to us with their enthusiasm and sweet disposition. We stopped after those three songs and addressed the gentleman: ‘Thank you so much for your enthusiasm, sir. You are such a blessing to us tonight. How many years have you two been married?’
“‘He grinned and answered, ‘We’re not married, we’re on a date.’ The whole place erupted in laughter, and the rest of the concert was so light and fun, we never had to think about any of those questions,” Seamans concludes. “God knew exactly what we needed that night and we believe He placed that little couple on the front row just for us.”
Laughter is something everyone needs and Fowler and his group often deliver that during their performance. Tim Parton learned this during his time as pianist for the quartet.
“Scott Fowler taught me about having fun on stage, and when I have fun, the audience can too,” says Parton. “Scott also taught me that nothing happens by accident; you only see results when you’ve planned for results. Scott is a machine, but you’d never know it because he makes it look like he’s just having a good time.”
“Be who you are, there’s an audience for almost everyone,” Parton continues. “Enjoy the journey, support your friends, love people, love God. Fall, get back up. And forgive. “
“I had a super time with L5 and I don’t think I ever laughed so hard than when I was on stage with them and Scott Howard forgot his words and made up an entire verse without skipping a beat,” laughs Parton. “I couldn’t see the piano keys for the tears.”
As Parton recalls, the gang was full of hijinks, and even the boss wasn’t exempt from the jokes.
“I recall hiding in Fowler’s closet after a concert and waiting until he changed clothes to scare the daylights out of him,” says Parton. “But one never does anything to Scott without him returning the favor, so I kept the shenanigans to a respectful level.”
Parton concludes his recollections with this comment: “Being with L5 was such a super time in my professional life when all heck was falling apart at home. So grateful for Scott, Glenn Dustin, Scott Howard, Frank Seamans, and Gary Buckner. We were Legacy Five.”
Legacy Five’s tenor from 2009 – 2015, Gus Gaches, has his favorite Fowler story as well.
“We were two days into a 10 day run, when I discovered that the suit I had picked up from tailoring had bad thread and the seam on the inside of my left leg was coming undone,” recalls Gaches. “Unfortunately, it was during the second song that I discovered that. I shared this with Scott (Fowler) as Matt (Fouch) was singing his solo verse. I told him if I was still enough I could make it to intermission and change at that point. Mistake! I’ve never seen Scott move so much on stage in my life. He was determined to make that seam come apart. Thank the Lord, I made it to intermission and no one knew any different.”
Gaches loved his time with the group. “I was blessed to be a part of L5 for six years and I am forever grateful for that incredible opportunity.”
Seamans was the tenor prior to Gaches, but also remembers his tenure with Legacy Five as a special time.
“Scott Fowler and I sang together in the group The Sound back in 1990, before he went to the Cathedrals, and I’m so grateful he never forgot his friends from those early days before his great success,” Seamans confides. “It was also my dream to sing with the Cathedrals, and when he called me in 2004 about the tenor position with L5, he gave me the opportunity to live my dream, or the next best thing to it. Singing with L5 from 2004 – 2009 was my dream come true. Scotty taught me what it means to never forget your friends.”
Joshua Cobb, original tenor for Legacy Five, also shared about his Fowler education.
“I learned a lot from Scott,” says Cobb. “I learned about the business side of music and how to sing in the studio. But what really sticks out to me all these years later are two things: Shave every morning and if you’re not 10 minutes early, you’re already late.”
Josh Feemster, tenor who recently departed Legacy Five, says, “I think what I’ve learned most from Fowler is the art of kindness in most every situation. He, honestly, is one of the nicest people I have ever known. I have a tendency to let things get to me when it’s not going my way but Scott has proven through the years that it works better to show kindness in every situation. And his knack for hiring men of character has been a huge asset to L5.”
Feemster continues, “I’ll never forget the first night of N.Q.C., after the N.F.L. debacle regarding the National Anthem. We did our tribute to the veterans and to see the faces of thousands who felt disrespected a day before be honored on this day was such an incredible moment.”
All of these men have so many good things to say about Fowler. He, himself, however, would change several things about the past 20 years.
“I’m going to be 100% honest with you here,” declares Fowler. “I have spent a lot of time worrying and being anxious about circumstances for which I had zero control over. I have had many nights with very little sleep, being worried about situations professionally that I could not control. I am much better now than I was 15 years ago, but I still have a long way to go.”
Fowler continues, “If I could change any one thing about the past 20 years it would be this: To simply be still and know that God is God. To simply trust him in a way that allowed me to literally not worry or be anxious about anything. I do believe that that is a lifelong task and we probably never get to 100%. But surely I can do better and get better in that regard and that is my prayer for my next 20 years.”
Other lessons Fowler says he has learned, include the need for integrity, character, and compassion.
“Love what you do,” Fowler encourages. “Love others. Be obedient to what God has called you to do and, as Dr. Charles Stanley says, ‘leave all of the consequences to him.'”
One of Fowler’s oldest friends has some great thoughts to impart on this anniversary.
“Through nearly 30 years of knowing Scott Fowler, he has been a consistent and faithful friend and quartet manager,” says Scott Howard, original member of Legacy Five who recently retired from the road. “He learned from two of the best: George Younce and Glen Payne. I would say that one of the greatest things that I learned from him is his philosophy of paying it forward. We are all at a place in life because of what others have invested into us. The old saying says if you see a turtle on the top of a fence post, he didn’t get there on his own, he had some help. How true that is. I have learned that we should always be willing to help others achieve their goals and not to dismiss them just because they haven’t been afforded the same blessings that we have.”
“One of the most miraculous things that happened with L5 is the story of Dale,” Howard says. “We were stopped early one morning getting fuel, when the driver came and woke me up to tell me that the bus had died and wouldn’t start back up. I got up and went to see if I could help diagnose the problem. As we were looking into the engine compartment a man pulled into the bay next to us in his motorhome.”
Howard continues, “He came over and asked if we were having problems, and surprisingly informed us that he was a diesel mechanic. Wow. We are in the middle of nowhere, broken down, and the guy at the truckstop next to us not only is a mechanic, but has a computer to plug into our bus and determine that we have a faulty throttle sensor.”
“I ask him if he knows where we could find the part there in town. He says no, that he is from out of town (Oregon) but he thinks he has one in his truck. Wow again. Sure enough, from inside the service truck that he is towing behind his motor home, he retrieves the exact part that we need and proceeds to install it on the bus,” says Howard.
“In about 30 minutes, he has it installed and the bus running again,” Howard recalls. “I pay him and tell him, ‘Dale, you have been our angel this morning.’ To which he replies, ‘Yeah, I guess I am an angel of sorts.'”
“He then tells me a story of a head on collision he was in a few years back. He was trapped inside a crushed cab of a truck and bleeding to death, when he said he could feel the flames of hell lapping up on him. He said, ‘I told God: ‘If you will get me out of this, I will do good for you.” The doctors told Dale he was dead when he arrived at the E.R., but they were able to revive him. I told him he had made good on that promise to God this morning. Dale gave me his business card, told me he had several repair shops across the country and to call him if we were ever in trouble on the road again,” Howard remembers.
“Fast forward about 18 months,” says Howard. “We are parked at a Walmart in Missouri, getting ready to head to the church, and the bus won’t start. I start looking on my phone for a mobile mechanic in the area, when our driver says that there is a guy in the parking lot working on a motorhome. I say go ask him if he can work on the bus, or maybe knows someone who can. When I walk outside the bus, there stands Dale! Our angel! He gets his computer, and hooks it up to the bus and determines that we have a bad fuel pump, which he just so happens to have with him on his service truck!” Howard is still amazed at this occurrence.
“In 30 minutes we are up and running again,” continues Howard. “When I asked Dale why he was in Missouri, (remember he lives in Oregon), he said he had sent his motor home to the manufacturer in Missouri to be worked on and was just picking it up and getting ready to go back home.”
“Coincidence? I don’t think so. The odds of this guy being in two different locations that we were broken down in, at the same time, with the exact parts we needed, is unimaginable. But somehow God was able to make it happen. Thank you God! And thank you Dale,” concludes Howard.
God has made a lot of things happen for the group, like the friendship of Dale. As the spiritual head of the group, Fowler wants the gentlemen of Legacy Five to realize God’s control and have their feet firmly on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ.
“I believe that staying grounded corporately has to be a result of each individual staying grounded personally,” Fowler states. “It’s very important to do all the things that you hear other Christians say we must do for our spiritual health. We must pray. We must read God’s word. We must not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We must ask God to create his heart in us, so that we want what he wants. We have to do whatever we must, so that we do not become cynical with the world around us and the people in it.”
Next to Fowler, the two group members who have the longest term in the quartet are Fouch and Townsend, men who have their faith fully invested in their Lord. They say they have learned a lot from their boss.
“It has been a privilege to travel with Scott,” says Fouch. “I have learned so much and I know I’ll continue to learn a ton more. One thing I always hear him say when someone mentioned George and Glen, ‘I had the best teachers.’ I feel like that is being passed down to those of us in L5. It is not just lessons on how to run a gospel music group but more importantly, how to treat people!”
Pianist Townsend reflects on his Fowler education.
“Scott Fowler is like a walking, talking, dictionary,” says Townsend. “Almost everyday, he’ll say a word I’ve never heard before and he’ll explain the meaning. It’s become a sort of daily English lesson.”
Townsend and his funny bone have found a good home in Legacy Five.
“The funniest thing that’s happened since I’ve been here would probably be the time Scott Howard, Blake McAllister, and I, went frog gigging. We were at a church in Illinois and we caught some frogs and stuck them in the bus toilet. As soon as Fowler went in the bathroom, he immediately came running back out, screaming at the top of his lungs. It was one of the funniest thing I’ve ever experienced.”
Bass singer Fouch’s special L5 recollection so far, is less about frivolity and more about awe-inspiring.
Fouch says, “My favorite memory while being with L5 is singing ‘Champion of Love’ at the first Cathedrals Family Reunion event in Ft. Worth, Texas. It was awesome.’
One of the participants of the Cathedral’s version of “Champion of Love,” along with Fowler, was award-winning tenor, Ernie Haase. He also wanted to share his thoughts as the group moves into adulthood.
“Most readers of SGNScoops Magazine know that Scott and I traveled together in The Cathedral Quartet throughout the 1990’s,” says Haase, head of the popular group, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound.
“What they may not know is that Scott and I go back much further. In 1986, we were in an ensemble called ‘Earthlight,’ at Oakland City University in Oakland City, Indiana. We immediately became friends because of our common love of Southern gospel music. Later that year, Scott’s father passed away and he had to leave school for a time, but the friendship did not stop,” Haase continues.
“I remember traveling to Missouri to sing at his father’s funeral. That was a tough time,” remembers Haase. “Later, after we were reunited as members of The Cathedrals, Scott was a groomsmen in my wedding to Lisa. That was a joyful time.”
The tenor continues, “I share all of that to say this: you don’t share life’s ups and downs, all that musical history together, and over 30 years of memories without forming a very strong bond. Bottom line: I love Scott Fowler. He’s my forever friend. To Scott and Legacy Five: Happy 20th anniversary!”
To successfully lead a ministry for 20 years, Fowler has had to lean hard on his Lord. As he said earlier, to remain grounded, Christians must remain the word of God.
“My favorite scripture is Jeremiah 29:11,” says Fowler. “I draw great comfort from knowing that God has a plan for my life and always has. I draw a great comfort from knowing that I was created on purpose for a purpose. I can draw a great comfort from knowing that God is constantly working on my behalf to make full use of my potential in him. And it helps to know that his plan is a good plan meant to help me and not harm me.”
While he follows close to God’s plan, Fowler will be the first to admit he isn’t perfect, and he has had to learn some hard lessons over the year. Although he may appear the same as he was 20 years ago, Fowler has changed.
“I really have come along way with regard to not sweating the small stuff,” says Fowler. “I really do believe that with God’s help, we can discern what is important and what isn’t. We can discern what is a good use of our time and what isn’t. We can discern what is worth our getting indignant over and what isn’t. We can learn to discern Godly attributes.”
Learning to discern Godly attributes is just one of the many fine skills Scott Fowler has been teaching the men who have been a part of Legacy Five. Working with them to create new, inspiring music that encourages fans and new listeners is also his goal as they head into the next 20 years of ministry.
Fowler is pretty clear about where he would like Legacy Five to go with “Pure Love” and beyond.
“My dream for this group is to make relevant music that will speak to the hearts of the people today who hear it…and to finish well.”
By Lorraine Walker
First published by SGNScoops Magazine in September 2019
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