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The New Covenant Children and the start of the Canadian Gospel Music Association

Written by Staff on July 28, 2020 – 11:26 am -

The New Covenant Children.CGMA.Ontario Canada

The New Covenant Children

History of London, Ontario, Canada’s Christian Country band, the New Covenant Children (1972-1977)

It all began with Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry

New Covenant Children. Ontario Canada. CGMA

Neil Degraw and his Sho-Bud double pedal steel guitar

Like a lot of good musical stories in North America, the history of London, Ontario’s, Christian Country band, the New Covenant Children’s story began in Nashville, Tennessee. Young Neil Degraw, a 17-year-old resident of London, Ontario would listen at night to AM radio broadcasts of the Grand Ole Opry from Nashville, Tennessee, as well as the Jamboree out of Wheeling, West Virginia. He was inspired to play steel guitar, and at the age of 19, obtained a rare Fender 400 pedal steel guitar.

Somehow he befriended Gary Spicer, a player from Nashville who taught Degraw how to replicate that unique Nashville sound on the pedal steel. Degraw began playing in local country bands and would often travel to Nashville where he would attend Evangel Temple. The church was pastored by Rev. Jimmy Snow, the son of the legendary Hank Snow. Johnny Cash and Kris Kristopherson also attended the same church.

Soon, Degraw was feeling the call to use his special talent for the Lord back in his hometown of London, Ontario.

The formation of the New Covenant Children in London, Ontario

New Covenant Children. Ontario Canada, CGMA

The NCC Singers at practice- left to right, Nancy Mills, Donna Harris and Sharon Degraw

While attending Faith Tabernacle, his home church in London, Ontario, Degraw would sometimes accompany three female vocalists singing harmony on gospel songs like “The King is Coming”. Degraw was still performing with a traveling country band when he decided he needed to use his talent exclusively for the Lord.

The New Covenant Children were formed with Neil on pedal steel and Darlene St. Pierre on piano. The harmonies of the three singers, Donna Harris, Elaine Weurch, and Julie Sholtanuk made for the sweetest sounds this side of heaven!

New Covenant Children. Ontario Canada. CGMA

Author Dan Mailer in the recording studio

In an effort to expand the musical appeal of the group, Degraw added his brother Don Degraw on bass and Dan Mailer on rhythm guitar. The group was dedicated to spreading the gospel and performing meaningful inspirational gospel songs that touched the lives of many. The popularity of the band continued to increase and it was time to record an album.

New Covenant Children. Ontario Canada. CGMA

NCC in concert

In early 1973, the group was headed to Nashville to a recording studio owned by Opry lead guitar player, Joe Edwards, where the band recorded “Reaching Out.” This album featured some of their most popular and well-liked tunes such as “The Lighthouse.” The album only helped increase the band’s popularity back in Ontario and surrounding areas. A drummer, Ron Mills was added and over time, lead singers Nancy and Sharon Degraw replaced departing singers. Every member of the band volunteered their time and effort and tirelessly practiced their music and instruments to polish their presentation. By 1974, the band was traveling almost every weekend and some weekdays, performing at churches, coffeehouses, picnics, parades, sings, concerts, as well as on radio and TV.

New Covenant Children. Ontario Canada. CGMAIn November 1974, they were back in the studio, this time at the Masters’ Workshop in Toronto, recording their second album “That’s Just Like Jesus,” which soon sold 2000 copies on vinyl, cassette, and 8 track tapes (remember those?). The band performed some of those songs on Cam Shillington’s nationally syndicated television program “Gospel Singing Time,” which reached as many as 10 million viewers at times. The Lord was using the band in a powerful way to touch thousands of lives. For a while, the band also had a monthly newsletter that they sent to keep in touch with their fans.

In April 1975, it was time to record another album titled, “I’ll See You in the Rapture.” This was the band’s final and most popular album. All 2000 copies sold out quickly. In late 1975, the band underwent a few line up changes but continued to travel. Cam Shillington invited the band to perform at the Summer World Olympics held in Montreal and Kingston, in August 1976.

The band disbanded in 1977 but all members continued to perform gospel music in one form or
another together or on their own.

Formation of the CGMA and awards

New Covenant Children. Ontario Canada. CGMAIn November 1974, Neil Degraw, working with Cam Shillington and the Hisey family, formed the Canadian Gospel Music Association known as the “CGMA.“ The stated purpose of the CGMA was to promote unity among Canadian gospel music groups and to provide an incentive to groups to improve musically and spiritually.

The first CGMA convention was held in Waterloo, Ontario, during a weekend in May 1975, and the New Covenant Children and numerous other high quality Canadian gospel bands performed. Rev. Jimmy Snow traveled from Nashville to give the inaugural address at the banquet. A trophy was awarded to the Hisey Family as Group of the Year, and the New Covenant Children also received industry recognition. Their album “That’s Just Like Jesus “ was voted Album of the Year in 1975, and “I’ll See You in the Rapture,” album of the year in 1976.

New Covenant Children. Ontario Canada. CGMAI think that the band would all agree that these awards pale in comparison to the blessings that each member received as a result of sharing the gospel and inspirational music to so many in Ontario and the surrounding areas of the United States. Each member volunteered their time and effort free of charge to do what they strongly believed was the Lord’s work. It was a very precious honor to be part of something so special that touched the lives of so many. And now you know the story!

By Dan Mailer, with assistance from Torrey Antone

In memory of Cam Shillington, May 17, 1946 – January 12, 2016

The Master’s c. 1976
Cam Shillington, second from left, top row
Posted by Roxy Smith, first from left, bottom row

Note by Lorraine Walker, editor of SGNScoops Magazine: If it weren’t for the singers who have gone before us, many of us whose lives have been touched and shaped by gospel music would not be the same people we are today. Having just started to listen and learn about gospel music in Ontario in the ’80s, I missed the heyday of the NCC, but I do remember others who were traveling the Ontario backroads every weekend…there were few fulltime gospel singers in Ontario. I could start to name the groups I remember but I would leave out half, so please just accept this shout-out from a former member of the CGMA and one who enjoyed several CGMA Conventions. I would love to hear from other members of groups and of the CGMA from that time period. Please write to me at

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The 2020 Torchmen welcome Eric Lovell

Written by Staff on February 4, 2020 – 12:59 pm -

Torchmen Quartet

The 2020 Torchmen Quartet: (l-r) Sandy MacGregor, Eric Lovell, Mike Moran, Jon Hisey

With the New Year came big changes for the Torchmen Quartet from St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.


Eric Lovell, newest member of the Torchmen Quartet

Last fall, long time lead singer of this beloved quartet, Jeff Tritton, announced that he would be stepping down after 10 years. The group made a bit of a shuffle, with Sandy MacGregor taking the lead part, and newcomer, Eric Lovell, assuming the tenor position. Jon Hisey will continue as bass singer.

Mike Moran, the longest serving member of the group, will be remaining at the baritone position. Mike has been with the group for 50 years, and was nominated for the 2019 J.D. Sumner Living Legend Diamond Award, presented by SGNScoops Magazine. To nominate Mike or any of the gentlemen for the 2020 Diamond Awards, click HERE.

The Torchmen have announced that they will be heading into the studio next month to work on a fresh project with the new lineup.

2020 TorchmenThe Quartet would like to encourage as many of their fans and friends to hear their new lineup, so to facilitate this, the Torchmen are booking free will offering concerts during May and June. Their schedule is filling quickly, so look for them in your area this spring. For churches or other groups looking to invite the Torchmen to sing at their venue, please contact them quickly as openings are limited.

The Torchmen can be contacted at:

Look for the Torchmen on Facebook HERE

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

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The Torchmen celebrate 50 years with guests, Greater Vision

Written by Staff on July 6, 2019 – 7:03 am -

Torchmen 50th Anniversary with Greater VisionThe Torchmen Quartet from Ontario, Canada, are celebrating 50 years in gospel music this year. Over the years they have made many friends and fans. Among these are gospel music artists, Greater Vision.

Greater Vision Adds New Vocalist

Greater Vision

Greater Vision will be appearing with the Torchmen Quartet on Sunday September 8th, 2019, for the Torchmen’s 50th Anniversary celebration concert.

Torchmen appeared recently at NQC. Photo by Paul Marker

Torchmen appeared recently at NQC.Photo by Paul Marker

This event will be held at Glenridge Bible Chapel, St. Catharines, Ontario, at 6:30 pm. The concert is free. An offering will be received during the evening.

Everyone is invited to help the Torchmen celebrate this incredible achievement. This event is being held as part of the Henley Christian Music Festival concert series.

For more information and directions go HERE.

About the Torchmen:

For 50 years the Torchmen have been celebrated as Canada’s Gospel Quartet. Members include Mike Moran, Jon Hisey, Sandy McGregor, and Jeff Tritton. They regularly travel across Canada and the United States, and have many awards and accolades to their credit. To visit them online go here.

About Greater Vision:

This male trio, consisting of Gerald Wolfe, Rodney Griffin, Chris Allman, and Jon Epley, is the most awarded trio in the United States. From Morristown, Tenn., Greater Vision was formed in 1990 and continues to perform over 160 concerts every year across America, Canada, and abroad. For more information go HERE.

Henley Christian Music Festival. Torchmen 50th Anniversary. Greater Vision)More About the Henley Christian Music Festival:

The Henley Christian Music Festival is a ministry of GBC, and is a year-round festival that brings the best in Southern Gospel music, and various genres of music to St. Catharines. The feature event is the Summer Series. This event runs from the last Sunday is June to the first Sunday in September and features a concert every Sunday night.  We will be serving BBQ at 5:30 on each night as well.  Every concert throughout the year starts at 6:30pm. There is no admission fee or tickets required for every event.  A free will offering is accepted. (From, July 6, 2019) For more information go HERE.

Read the June SGNScoops Magazine Online HERE

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Three Bridges Sing At Business Convention In Canada

Written by Staff on October 3, 2014 – 1:23 pm -

3bNashville, TN (October 3, 2014) Three Bridges was recently invited to sing at a large business convention being held in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Even though it was a business convention the group sang their Gospel music and it touched many that attended.

There were over a thousand in attendance and approximately 400 received Christ through the message in song.

Elliott McCoy stated “We had a great weekend at a business convention in Canada. Several hundred prayed to receive Jesus Christ! God shows up wherever you make yourself available to minister. This was a very successful trip for the Kingdom of the Lord. ”

Three Bridges has been busier than ever in recent weeks. They traveled to Texas recently to the Daystar Network to tape a program set for future airing. It was taped for the Gospel Music Showcase. The group also just departed recently to begin a west coast tour. The states they will be singing include Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California.

The group recently conducted a video interview with CEO of to talk about their latest project and their west coast tour.

Three Bridges is proud to present their latest album entitled, “Jesus Saves”. This is Three Bridges’ 4th project with The Mansion Records and is being distributed by Sony Music Entertainment’s RED – An Artist Development Company – scheduled to be released late summer 2014. Pre-Order your copy of “Jesus Saves” today!

To learn more about Three Bridges go to or . Find them on Twitter at .

To book Three Bridges for your church, concert or event contact the Beckie Simmons Agency at or E-mail at . You can call BSA at 615-595-7500 .


About Three Bridges
Three Bridges music is rooted in traditional ”southern Gospel” and ”black Gospel” music. This blended style has made Three Bridges an internationally-acclaimed Gospel group — one that is known for tight harmonies, a unique vocal style, an exciting and energy packed stage presence and, most importantly, for spreading the joy of the Good News of Christ. They have entertained and ministered to millions through their recordings, TV appearances and live shows — which is why Three Bridges has quickly become one of the most prominent Gospel groups in Christian music today.
Following the release of the critically-acclaimed debut album, Soldiers (2002), Three Bridges has wowed packed-out venues across the nation…from Gospel singings, business conventions, churches, political meetings, TV shows, charitable relief events – all the way to Air Force One! They have also appeared on many of the Bill Gaither Homecoming video tapings and were special guests on a video for the United Nation.

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Beyond The Ashes Impacts Canadian Audiences

Written by SGN Scoops Staff on July 17, 2014 – 8:21 am -

btaNashville, TN (July 16th, 2014) – Beyond The Ashes made their very first Canadian concert appearance last month.  The group, who has traveled and sung all across the United States, had yet to take their ministry across the border until now.  The trip proved to be an amazing success and the guys look forward to many more opportunities to visit and sing in the Great White North.
Concert promoter, Richard Daniel, of the Henley Christian Music Festival expressed,  “I have never seen a better first set by a Southern Gospel group. Their harmony was impeccable, their stage presence was welcoming, their instrumentation was spot-on, and their love for the Lord was truly sincere.  They blessed us with 55 minutes of music during their first set alone.”
But, the story gets more interesting.  Daniel continues, “As the first set was wrapping up we experienced a power outage and the alarms went off!  It’s never a dull moment at the Henley.  With the safety of those in attendance at hand, we were forced to evacuate the building until we could determine the root cause of the electrical outage and the reason the fire alarm sounded.  Turns out an electrical line had come down in the vicinity and affected quite a number of homes and buildings…one being ours.”
However, that didn’t stop Beyond The Ashes.  Everyone came back in and the concert continued.  Even with no power in the building, the group ministered with an intimate acoustic set around an antique piano.
Daniel concludes, “And the Lord was there.  I had someone approach me and shared they felt the second set was better than the first. I didn’t think that was possible!  Two sets, two completely different feels, one amazing God!  Thank you, Lord, for allowing us to host Beyond The Ashes and for allowing us to continue to steward this ministry for your Glory and Praise.”
Beyond The Ashes’ tenor singer and ministry leader, Anthony Facello, shared, “We had an absolutely fantastic first tour to Canada.  The scenery was beautiful and more than that the people greeted us with warm hearts and spirits of expectation.  We are already scheduled to return in 2015 and we can’t wait.”
Baritone, Tyler Vestal, adds “I loved going to Canada for the first time.  The people were so warm and friendly and loved the style music we did.  I cannot wait to go back next year.”
To learn more about Beyond The Ashes or to schedule them for your church or concert event, visit  Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at @beyondtheashes1.

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