Consecutive Dove Award nominations highlight the Marksmen Quartetâ€™s latest two Rural Rhythm CDs.
The Marksmen Quartet, from left, are Earle Wheeler, Mark Autry, Davey Waller, Mark Wheeler and Darrin Chambers. (Photo courtesy BlueHighwaysTV)
Their latest â€œBlue Ridge Mountain Memoriesâ€ is up for Bluegrass Album of the Year sharing the category with â€œBreaking Like Dawn,â€ by Little Roy Lewis and Lizzy Long; â€œI Have Been Blessedâ€ by The Far City Boys, â€œI Just Want to Thank You Lordâ€ by Larry Sparks; â€œLord, Bless This Houseâ€ by Nothinâ€™ Fancy and â€œThe Isaacs…Naturallyâ€ by The Isaacs. The previous CD â€œGodâ€™s Masterpieceâ€ was also nominated in 2008.
Father and son Earle and Mark Wheeler, of Murrayville, Ga. have spent much of the groupâ€™s 43 years on the road sharing their love of God in music.
Earle said he is thrilled that the groupâ€™s gospel music peers are honoring the music they are creating.
â€œSometimes certain types of successes are years in the making,â€ Earle said. â€œOur sound is better than ever and the boys we have working with us are some of the finest musicians and vocalists in the industry. I am thankful that we are reaching our fellow performers with His music.â€
Mark Wheeler, who sings baritone, lead and plays guitar produced the project, and said he feels blessed to have spent his life playing music with his dad and creating songs that dozens of artists have recorded.
Several of the songs on the album are from his pen including their number one song â€œLove Letters in the Sandâ€ which he co-wrote the Rev. Willard Thomas.
He feels one of the biggest songs on the project is their current radio single â€œThe Sun Didnâ€™t Shine,â€ which has already hit the charts after three weeks of release.
â€œWe are getting a lot of response from it in our concerts,â€ he said. â€œIt is an extremely fun song to sing. This is the first time I have been able to bring this five-man harmony together to reflect the original sound from the Golden Gate Quartet of the 1930s. I was really excited we were able to capture this level of performance.â€
Other members of the group include second-generation member Darrin Chambers who sings bass, and plays Dobro and bass; mandolinist and tenor Davey Waller; bassist and vocalist Mark Autry. Appearances were also made on the CD by former Marksmen Keith Chambers and Tommy Dutton; banjo players Barry Abernathy, Mike Tucker, and Josh Hicks; and fiddler Jim Van Cleve.
Mark said their sound is â€œjust mountain gospel music.â€
â€œIt has been done this way for more than hundred years in these hills at the little old white churches found at the head of many mountain hollers,â€ he said.
The 41st Annual Dove Awards will air April 25 at 8 p.m. EST on GMC from the Opry Entertainment Complex in Nashville, Tenn.
Blue Ridge Mountain Memories is available from Books a Million, Amazon.com, www.ruralrhythm.com and other locations.
To learn more about The Marksmen Quartet, visit marksmenquartet.com.