Aug 13

Best of the Best: The Booth Brothers

declarationThis “Best of the Best” series will not just cover my favorites from years past, but also my favorite recordings broken down by artist.  I won’t cover every single group represented in my music collection, because my collection isn’t extensive, and my knowledge not expansive, for every artist.  I thought I’d just go in alphabetical order, so I’ll kick this part of the series off with one of gospel music’s most celebrated and awarded trios, the Booth Brothers.

The Booth Brothers have covered a lot of stylistic ground over more than two decades on the gospel music scene, but what has remained consistent is their smooth, seemingly effortless harmony, which is among the best of the genre.  Though they are perhaps better known for a quieter, soothing sound, my favorite Booth Brothers recording is their biggest departure from that.  Declaration is chock full of grand, epic arrangements and soaring harmony, powerful from beginning to end.  It presents deep, lyrical truth in a most stirring fashion, with a big assist from the maestro himself, Lari Goss.

Here is my list of my favorite Booth Brothers albums, with Declaration leading the pack.  Their most recent offering, Still, with a mix of big arrangements and more easy-going tunes, makes a strong showing as well.

1. Declaration (2010)

2. Still (2014)

3. Let It Be Known (2011)

4. A Tribute to the Songs of Bill & Gloria Gaither (2012)

5. Pure Southern Gospel (2004)


And the songs:

1. “Then I Met the Master”, Declaration (2010)

2. “God Did It All”, Declaration (2010)

3. “Jesus Saves”, Still (2014)

4. “In Christ Alone Medley”, Declaration (2010)

5. “He Saw It All”, The Blind Man Saw It All (2005)

6. “Thank Him for the Miracle”, The Booth Brothers (2003)

7. “A Higher Throne”, Declaration (2010)

8. “I See Grace”, Declaration (2010)

9. “Touch of the Master’s Hand”, Still (2014)

10. “What About Now”, Let It Be Known (2011)


What are your favorite songs and recordings by these masters of harmony?

Jul 07

Album Review: All That Matters (Edwards Family)

All That Matters CoverThe Edwards Family has been delighting congregations in southern Appalachia for several years, with their energetic brand of traditional family harmony.  From inception, the group has consisted of Adam (this site’s creator and owner), his wife Patricia, and Patricia’s mother, Anna Scott.  Recently, the family added the talents of tenor Jacob Ellison.  With their new recording, All That Matters, the Edwards Family debuts Adam and Patricia’s daughters, Keanna and Sarah, who were 11 and 8 years old, respectively, at the time of the recording.

The girls are definitely not a cute “novelty,” as is heard on many recordings with children so young.  They are featured on seven of the album’s twelve songs, and are surprisingly polished vocalists for their age and inexperience with recording.  The quality of the vocal blend is just as good on these songs as it is when the adults are featured.  The CD kicks off with the young ‘uns, on a stirring rendition of “All That Matters”.  I must also add that it is a real treat to hear these young ladies singing old-fashioned, toe-tapping southern gospel.  Strong examples of this include “I Know My Lord’s Gonna Stand by Me,” “I’d Rather Be Saved,” “When We All Get There,” and “I Thank You Lord”.  There is truly not a bad egg in that bunch.  With the obvious natural talent and training these girls have received, the future is very bright for the Edwards Family.

The balance of the songs feature the “classic” Edwards Family, if you will.  Patricia sings most of the melodies in a distinctly Appalachian alto, with Adam on the lower harmony and either Scott or Ellison providing the middle part.  The highlight among these songs is “I’m Not Going to Hell,” written by Stacy Pearcy, a pastor in East Tennessee.  Pearcy’s “God Makes No Mistakes,” “I Choose the Lord,” and “My Lord Is Taking Good Care of Me” were recorded by the Inspirations a few years ago.  (The latter is also found on this Edwards Family recording.)  But his finest work I’ve heard is “I’m Not Going to Hell,” which was introduced to me by this family a couple of years ago.  The best way I can describe it is that it’s a big “nanner nanner boo boo” to the devil. I’ve yet to hear this song in a church service where it didn’t elicit a powerful response.  I long for the day when a national group picks this song up (I hear the McKameys) and puts it in the ears of people across the country.  But any such group would have a hard time doing it as well as the Edwards Family does.  Like many gospel groups from the mountains, this group is most adept with mid-tempo, 3/4 time fare, like “A Risen Savior,” and “I’ve Heard of a Land,” along with the aforementioned Pearcy compositions.

My favorite aspect of All That Matters is the song selection.  The vocals are as clean and solid as the Edwards Family has ever sounded, and the instrumentation and production are spot on.  But those aspects only serve to allow for the effective delivery of the messages of these songs.  Several found on this recording are songs I’ve heard for years in churches across the Carolinas, but had never heard a recording of until now.  If you’ve gone to a traditional Baptist revival in this region in recent years, chances are you have heard “I’m Not Going to Hell,” “Why Should I Worry,” or “All That Matters”.  Now, we can hear them all the time, courtesy of the Edwards Family.  If you like old-fashioned, Spirit-filled singing, you will certainly enjoy All That Matters.

Song list:

1. All That Matters (Micah Henson)

2. Why Should I Worry (Charlotte Sons Baker)

3. My Lord Is Taking Good Care of Me (Stacy Pearcy)

4. I Know My Lord’s Gonna Stand by Me (Luther G. Presley)

5. Altogether Lovely (Lori Metcalf)

6. I’ve Heard of a Land (Harvey Gene Smith)

7. I Thank You Lord (Jason Camp)

8. I’m Not Going to Hell (Stacy Pearcy)

9. I’d Rather Be Saved (Rodney Griffin/Kirk Talley)

10. A Risen Savior (Chris Allman)

11. Let Me Tell You ‘Bout Jesus (Alphus LeFevre/Charles Matthews)

12. When We All Get There (Shekinah Camp)

Available at: Edward Family website, major digital outlets

(Though Adam is a friend and my “boss” as far as this blog goes, he did not in any way request or suggest a review from me of this CD.  I just flat out like it, and think others will, too.)

Jun 24

Best of the Best: 2009

declarationTraveling backwards in time, here’s a look at my favorite songs and albums released in the year 2009!

First, my list of top songs, which is dominated at the top by three of my all-time favorite Rodney Griffin songs.  It just so happens that none of them were Greater Vision recordings.

1. “God Saw a Cross,” Kingsmen, Missing People (Rodney Griffin)

2. “He Locked the Gates,” Kingdom Heirs, When You Look at Me (Rodney Griffin)

3. “If You Knew Him,” Perrys, Almost Morning (Joseph Habedank/Rodney Griffin)

4. “Fear Not Tomorrow,” Collingsworth Family, The Answer (Carolyn Adkins)

5. “Prior to a Prayer,” Perrys, Almost Morning (Kyla Rowland)

6. “When You Look at Me,” Kingdom Heirs, When You Look at Me (Dianne Wilkinson)

7. “Did I Mention,” Perrys, Almost Morning (Kyla Rowland)

8. “Jesus Is Still the Answer,” Collingsworth Family, The Answer (Lanny Wolfe)

9. “The Shepherd’s Point of View,” McKameys, The Message (Sandy Blythe)

10. “I Want Jesus More Than Anything,” Collingsworth Family, The Answer (Don Marsh)

11. “The Empty Tomb Says It All,” Kingdom Heirs, When You Look at Me (Daryl Petersheim)

12. “Crown Him King,” Inspirations, The Son Came Down (Dianne Wilkinson)

13. “Oh the Thought That Jesus Loves Me,” Collingsworth Family, The Answer (Wayne Haun/Lyn Rowell)

14. “On the Gloryland Way,” Kingdom Heirs, When You Look at Me (Dianne Wilkinson)

15. “I Know,” Collingsworth Family, The Answer (Gerald Crabb)

16. “When They Found Nothing,” Legacy Five, Just Stand (Marty Funderburk/Bev Lowry)

17. “King Jesus Is Coming,” Whisnants, Life Worth Living (Dianne Wilkinson/Chris Binion)

18. “John Saw Me,” Mark Trammell Trio, Vintage Gospel (Gerald Sweatman)

19. “Thank God I’ve Made It,” Inspirations, The Son Came Down (Eugene Anderson)

20. “Almost Morning,” Perrys, Almost Morning (Joseph Habedank/Matthew Holt)


Of the 53 albums in my collection recorded in 2009, here are my top ten:

1. Almost Morning, Perrys

2. When You Look at Me, Kingdom Heirs

3. The Answer, Collingsworth Family

4. The Son Came Down, Inspirations

5. Vintage Gospel, Mark Trammell Trio

6. Missing People,  Kingsmen

7. Life Worth Living, Whisnants

8. I’d Rather Have Jesus,  Dixie Echoes

9. Just Stand, Legacy Five

10. Jubilee, Booth Brothers/Greater Vision/Legacy Five

May 27

Best of the Best: 2010

declarationSeveral years ago, I went through an exercise on this site of ranking my one hundred favorite albums.  That was truly an enjoyable endeavor, but like in all facets of life, things change.  Since that time, my music collection has grown considerably, and my tastes have also changed in some ways.  I’m not going to re-rank one hundred albums (at least I don’t currently plan to do so), but I thought I’d give an updated look at my favorites, in a different format.  This is the first post in a series that will rank my favorite songs and albums from each year, and from selected artists.

For the first post, I will look at the year 2010, since it is the year before I started blogging about this music.  My favorites from 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 can be found in the archives of this blog.

While not the strongest of years overall for me, 2010 is now dominated by an album I didn’t even own when I made my original Top 100, but has since gained a special place in my collection.  But first, my list of favorite songs recorded in that year:

1. “Then I Met the Master,” Booth Brothers, Declaration (Mosie Lister)

2. “God Did It All,” Booth Brothers, Declaration (Dianne Wilkinson/Rusty Golden)

3. “It’s Almost Over,” Mark Trammell Quartet, Testimony (Ann Ballard)

4. “I Want to Know,” Mark Trammell Quartet, Testimony (Big Chief Wetherington)

5 “In Christ Alone” Medley, Booth Brothers, Declaration (Keith Getty/Stuart Townsend)

6. “I’ve Never Known a Day,” Inspirations, On the Sunrise Side (Van Mitchell)

7. “I See Grace,” Booth Brothers, Declaration (Jim Brady/Tony Wood/Barry Weeks)

8. “Ransomed and Redeemed,” Mark Trammell Quartet, Testimony (Daryl Williams)

9. “A Higher Throne,” Booth Brothers, Declaration (Keith Getty/Kristyn Getty)

10. “I of the Storm,” Old Paths, A Wonderful Life (Ken Kuykendall)

11. Calvary Medley, Mark Trammell Quartet, Testimony (Various)

12. “Saved by Grace,” Triumphant Quartet, Love Came Calling (Carroll McGruder)

13. “Test of Time,” Kingdom Heirs, 25th Anniversary (Savana Foust)

14. “There’s a Record Book,” Primitive Quartet, He Lifted Me Out (Larry Whitehead)

15. “The More I Think About Heaven,” Inspirations, On the Sunrise Side (Rich Stevens/Tami Stevens)

16. “One Drop of Blood,” Mark Trammell Quartet, Testimony (Dustin Sweatman)

17. “River of Mercy,” Inspirations, On the Sunrise Side (Beverly Sexton/Kenny Sexton)

18. “That Sounds Like Home to Me,” Gaither Vocal Band, Greatly Blessed (Aaron Wilburn/Eddie Crook)

19. “Every Need Supplied,” Barry Rowland & Deliverance, Glory Burst Through the Darkness (Joel Hemphill)

20. “Sheltered,” Breakin’ Ground, Sheltered (Jonathan Davis)


Of the 57 albums in my collection recorded in 2010, here are my top ten:

1. Declaration, Booth Brothers

2. Testimony, Mark Trammell Quartet

3. On the Sunrise Side, Inspirations

4. Love Came Calling, Triumphant Quartet

5. A Tribute to the Cathedral Quartet, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound

6. Greatly Blessed, Gaither Vocal Band

7. Jubilee 2, Booth Brothers/Greater Vision/Legacy Five

8. He Lifted Me Out, Primitive Quartet

9. Something’s Happening, Hoppers

10. Glory Burst Through the Darkness, Barry Rowland & Deliverance

May 06

Songs From Scripture: He Never Even Looked at the Man (Whisnants)

It’s been far too long, but let’s look at the Scriptural basis for another great gospel song.  I set out to come up with a song from every book of the Bible in order, and I’m at Leviticus.  A gospel song from Leviticus may seem a little unusual on the surface, but the truth is that the Gospel is found in every part of the Bible, including in Leviticus.  A Christian may labor to get through the law books when studying the Word, but that labor will pay off when the reader looks at those books with the realization that every part of it points gloriously to Christ.  What better to teach us this than a gospel song lyric!

“He Never Even Looked at the Man” was written by Jeff Steele, Toni Clay, and Jeff Ferguson, and was recorded by the Whisnants on their 2007 project, Promises.  It is a beautiful power ballad with a great vocal turned in by Susan Whisnant, but more importantly, it is a lyrical masterpiece that sinks its teeth deep into the doctrines of atonement and justification.

The first verse sets an Old Testament scene of a man bringing his burnt offering sacrifice on the day of atonement, and lays down some doctrinal foundation: “The time of year had come for sin to be atoned…The law required a payment, only blood could satisfy…”  This scene is just what God outlined in the law for Israel in Leviticus 1:1-4.

1 And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,

2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock.

3 If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord.

4 And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.

The key for the sacrifice was that it was to be without blemish.  Later in Leviticus 22:20, God commands:

But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you.

The end of the first verse of the song presents a poignant contrast.  The man bringing the sacrifice is thinking about the greatness of his sin: “His sins had been so many, surely nothing could suffice”.  But the priest to whom the sacrifice is presented has a different view: “Then the priest fixed his eyes on the sacrifice”.  That leads into the chorus, with the song’s key lyrics:

He never even looked at the man

He only examined the lamb

Carefully, deliberately, judging its acceptability

But he never even looked at the man

If you’re a Christian with a fairly basic understanding of Scripture, you’re probably already rejoicing about what this means for us.  Every sacrifice outlined in the Old Testament is a picture and preview of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, on the cross of Calvary.  Just like the levitical sacrifice, our sacrifice had to be perfect and without blemish.  Pontius Pilate examined Jesus and said it better than anyone ever could: “I find no fault in this man” (Luke 23:4).  Because Christ, the one sacrifice for the sin of the entire world, was perfect, the quantity and quality of my sin does not matter ONE SINGLE BIT in the eyes of God!  He never even looks at the man!

The second verse of “He Never Even Looked at the Man” brings home this application.  The parallel to the man coming to the temple in the first verse is the sinner coming to the altar for salvation in the second verse: “Wanting to come forward, many in the crowd…Focus on the altar, they’d like to come, but how?”  Again, the contrast is presented between the sinner and the sacrifice: “Their sins are overwhelming, and works cannot atone…But the Father in His mercy has made a way back home…it’s only through the sinless blood of Christ alone!”  The chorus repeats, but this time, we know the Lamb being examined and accepted is not some animal, but the Son of God.  Oh, how hopeless we would be if we were the ones being examined by God for entry into heaven!  But we have a sacrifice that we can bring to God, that meets the necessary qualifications.  His name is Jesus!

If the song stopped there, that would be plenty enough.  But just for good measure, there is a bridge and chorus to hammer home one final point.  Christ’s sacrifice is not just good enough at the moment of salvation, but it forever JUSTIFIES the believer.  Sins past and future cannot change God’s view of us, because He only considers the Lamb!

He never even looks at the man

He only considers the Lamb

Carefully, lovingly, knowing His acceptability

But He never even looks at the man

He only sees the Lamb!

If you don’t know this song or have forgotten it, you need to download it or give it another listen!  What a message!

Apr 16

‘Happy Rhythm’ from The Ball Brothers featuring new bass vocalist, Jon Epley

I am looking forward to hearing all of the new project from the Ball Brothers. This clip from the recent tour in Ireland gives us a small taste of good things to come. These guys have a great sound!

Be happy today! Here's a clip from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Featuring our newest member Jon Epley on bass. Proverbs 15:13 Feel free to SHARE. :)

Posted by The Ball Brothers on Thursday, April 16, 2015

Apr 15

The Inspirations – First Look At New Vocal Lineup

Here’s an extended video of the new lineup for the Inspirations Quartet.  The Inspirations welcome Harold Reed as their new tenor and Joe Brown singing Bass.  They join Melton Campbell and Matt Dibler, their baritone and lead singer respectively.

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