Now Featuring…Pat Barker

BarkerFew gospel music news items have hit me harder in the last few years than the announcement that Pat Barker would be resigning his position with the Mark Trammell Quartet and leaving the road as a gospel singer.  Though I certainly understand and fully support the move, Barker leaves a void not only for me, but for gospel music fans everywhere, that simply cannot be filled.  His vocal talent is undeniable; he is one of the best bass singers in gospel music, and unrivaled today as a melody singer in the bass range.  But more importantly than that, he has brought joy to this genre of music.  In a day when many are attempting to write the epitaph on the tombstone of southern gospel, Pat Barker has helped make me want to listen to it and support it more than ever.  I know that just because Pat won’t be on a stage every weekend doesn’t mean that he will cease to be an ambassador for gospel music in this way.  Going forward, I hope that many, starting with myself, follow his example  and show the world that there is unsurpassed joy in the gospel, and in gospel music!

We have been blessed with Pat Barker’s contributions as a singer for only a relatively short time, but he still leaves a great mark.  Below are my top ten songs from my music collection that feature him.  I’d love to hear from all of you with any songs that are special to you, or with any memories of the impact he may have made on you.

10. “Not in a Million Years,” Dixie Echoes, So Many Reasons (2008) – This was Barker’s first chance with the Echoes to shine on a fun, fast song, and it is an infectious delight.

9. “Calvary Medley,” Mark Trammell Quartet, Testimony (2010) – I still count this as a “feature,” though Barker only sings a verse of “At Calvary” as a solo.  But that solo is the shining climactic moment of this moving medley.

8. “I’d Rather Have Jesus,” Dixie Echoes, I’d Rather Have Jesus (2009) – Pat’s delivery of this classic doesn’t contain any thrills or standout moments.  It is just simple magnificence throughout.

7. “Wonderful Time Up There,” Mark Trammell Quartet, Lifetime (2012) – Much like another song later in the countdown, Barker helped bring fresh excitement to an old song recorded countless times.  I would almost go so far as to say I could not stand this song before hearing the MTQ version, yet it was still my favorite track on Lifetime.

6. “I’ll Take It to the Grave,” Mark Trammell Quartet, Your Walk Talks (2014) – For me, one sad aspect about Barker leaving the road is that he did not get many opportunities to showcase his talent on new songs, that could someday be covered by another young bass singer paying tribute to him.  Of the few new songs Pat was featured on, this barnburner is my favorite.

5. “I Thirst,” Mark Trammell Quartet, Treasures (2011) – This all-timer from the pen of Bev Lowry sounds like it was created to be sung by a melodic bass.  No one has done it better than the genre’s all-time greatest such bass, George Younce, and the greatest of this generation, Pat Barker.

4. “Wedding Music,” Cathedrals Family Reunion, Cathedrals Family Reunion (2013) – Only three lines and twenty-three words were sung solo by George Younce in the original version of this song, and by most all others in covers since, but it has still become one of gospel music’s most celebrated bass features.  I can pay no greater compliment to Pat Barker’s performance of this song than to say he did George justice.

3. “Thanks to Calvary,” Mark Trammell Quartet, Your Walk Talks (2014) – Of all the pages taken from Younce’s playbook, this is tops on my list.  The performance is typical brilliance from Barker, but what sets it apart is hearing how much of a personal testimony it is for him.  And that’s what it’s all about.

2. “I Want to Know,” Mark Trammell Quartet, Testimony (2010) – The exciting arrangement from Lari Goss helped, but Barker’s enthusiasm and style made this track the Mark Trammell Quartet’s biggest song yet.  It was the quartet’s first #1 hit, and the only one who had more fun with it than gospel music fans was Pat Barker himself.  This is the definition of breathing new life into an old song.

1. “How Big Is God,” Dixie Echoes, Pensacola Live (2008) – There is no doubt that the Stuart Hamblen classic is Barker’s signature performance.  Not since Big John Hall himself have gospel music fans been treated to so great a delivery of this song.  Barker recorded it with both the Dixie Echoes and the Mark Trammell Quartet, but I chose to highlight the live version from the Echoes, which well encapsulates the energy his performance brought into the room most every time “How Big Is God” was done.


Godspeed, Pat Barker, and thank you!


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    • Robert York on April 29, 2014 at 8:14 am
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    ‘LIKE’ …… Pat will be missed on the stage but as Brian says Pat will always be an ambassador of Gospel Music.

  1. “How Big is God” is the obvious #1 on any list. After that, I’d put “I’ll Take it To The Grave” at #2. It’s that good. Then I’d put “Wedding Music” at #3, and his Dixie Echoes performance of “Plan of Salvation” at #4. I have to admit that I’m biased about “Plan of Salvation,” though, since the Dixie Echoes worked it up spur of the moment at a concert they knew I’d be attending, and the audience loved it so much that they kept singing it and eventually recorded it.

    • Steven on April 29, 2014 at 10:06 am
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    I would add an additional one on that list….”You’re walk talks”. Its so catchy and Pat is the perfect bass for that song.

    1. That is a good one! The reason it isn’t on my list is not because I don’t love it, but because I didn’t really consider it as a “feature” for Pat. Maybe I should have, as he does have step-out lines and a bridge as a solo!

    • Lacey Pounds on April 29, 2014 at 11:05 am
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    Pat, You are going to be missed so much! You have blessed our hearts in so many ways and have touched hearts across America! Our prayers are with you as you make this move. Praying God will Continue to Bless You in All You Do!!! We love you very much!

    • KEN TANKERSLEY on April 29, 2014 at 5:03 pm
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    • Helen Davis on April 29, 2014 at 8:33 pm
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    I have been blessed every time I heard Pat sing. Being a musician, I sensed his love for the Lord and using the talent the Lord gave him to the glory of God. A beautiful voice and the ability to sing his best for the Lord. Never a sloppy moment or a missed note. I always kidded him that I wanted to take him home with me and I did in the cds. I am glad I got to hug you and thank you for blessing my heart and giving me encouragement especially the night Don could hear you all sing. You will be missed and I pray Gods blessings on you as you follow Him. I’ll love you in the Lord where ever you are and if I don’t see you down here, I’ll see you at Gods house.

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