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January - April 2007


Kenny Bishop - Invincible and Bulletproof
Kenny Bishop reflects on his mistakes:

"When you feel invincible and bulletproof, you'll walk through a hail of bullets. Feeling bulletproof and being bulletproof are two entirely different things. I allowed myself to make some really foolish and remarkably dumb decisions that caused me to lose the work, the ministry and the business that we worked hard to achieve. It really spurred me and led me into a life of rebellion."
April 23rd, 2007


"Because He Lives" - A Catholic Reflection
Deacon Keith A Fournier writes about "Because He Lives" in Catholic Online:

It is rather odd for a Catholic Deacon to greet Easter Sunday, with the refrain from a Bill Gaither song going on inside of his head and heart. After all isn't that an evangelical Protestant hymn? However, that is precisely what happens to me on Easter Sunday. I find myself singing, "in my heart" the refrain of this popular evangelical Protestant song.

Perhaps it is because of all my years of working with so many dear evangelical Protestant friends in pro-life work. I have long considered myself to be an "Evangelical Catholic", using the phrase almost two decades ago in my first book, back when it was considered controversial. Whatever the cause, I welcome the experience of this song coming to life within me on this great Day of Days, because it is used by the Holy Spirit each year to awaken faith within me.

The verses of this song provide a backdrop for some Resurrection reflections which I offer to you.

Read it all.
April 9th, 2007


Tributes to Roger Bennett (Update II)
The Singing News "Trade Review" email newsletter presents a series of tributes to Roger. I presume this is all somewhere on the Singing News website, but right now I can't find it. Here are a few excerpts:

When I think about Roger, I think about the fact that he and I were two boys from Arkansas who loved Gospel music more than life itself. I think about a picture that my mom gave me that was of Roger and me on stage in Strawberry, AR, at his first homecoming concert. He was afraid no one would show up and the gym was packed to capacity. We were both in our early 20's then, and upon getting our jobs with the Cathedrals, thought we had "died and gone to the good place" one old man said.

Back then, Roger was single and LaResa and I had just been married a couple of years. We lived next door to each other twice during our years there. I remember one year in particular Roger came home from summer vacation and talked about this "girl" he wanted us to meet. Her name was Debra. The way he talked about her I knew that he was "smitten" by her. It wasn't long until the engagement ring and then the wedding and then she moved to Lorwood Drive in Stow, OH, with the rest of us. To this day, she is the only sane part of Roger Bennett's life.

Later, we bought houses next to each other. Started having families. His fence was my fence. He couldn't crank a lawnmower and I couldn't turn on a computer, so we made real good neighbors as well as working partners.

- Mark Trammell

I was first exposed to quartet music when I was 15 years old, when I attended my first Gospel concert--the Cathedrals. That night, I met the pianist who would make a big impact in my desire to play Gospel music. After hearing Roger Bennett play, I was hooked.

When the concert was over, I went to the product table and introduced myself. Roger had never heard of me or ever heard me play, but he gave me his full attention. That made a great impression on a fifteen-year-old redheaded pianist. He gave me his "Heavenly Highway Hymns" solo CD, and the Cathedrals "Radio Days" CD. I took them home and tried my best to pattern my playing after his. I wanted to be just like Roger Bennett.

Soon after, I made my own CD in which I recorded several of his piano solo arrangements. Then I mailed a copy to him. A few days later, I received a call from my hero! I can't put into words how that made me feel.

- Stewart Varnado

At the Roger Bennett's Midnight Meditations blog his wife Debbie details funeral arrangements and promises that "more posts will follow in the next few days".

The new Southern Gospel Critique blog carries a tribute.
March 21st, 2007


Tributes to Roger Bennett (Update)
From Paul Heil's "The Gospel Greats" Newsletter:

Roger was an encourager. He encouraged audiences by his very presence, especially in his latter years. He was always supportive of other groups and other forms of ministry. Looking back over my interview transcripts from the past quarter-century, it seems Roger seldom failed – as part of an interview – to encourage us in our work through the broadcast.

Back in 1999, he and Scott Fowler even allowed my program to be the catalyst for finding a new name for their new quartet through an on-air contest, and they visited my studio when the time came to telephone the listener who sent in the winning name.

Roger was insightful. He once told me (on mike during an interview, with Shelia in the room), "Paul's a nice guy, talented, but without Shelia, The Gospel Greats would be just another radio program."

March 20th, 2007

Tributes to Roger Bennett


The above is taken from an email bulletin from Greater Vision.

Debbie pays tribute at Roger's Midnight Meditations blog, where he wrote - often so movingly - about his long struggle:

It became evident a few days ago that the only earthly way out of this situation for Roger was going to be a miracle. By yesterday evening, it was evident that the way out for him was going to be a Heavenly miracle. I can only imagine what lies in store for him there! How must it feel to hear those words spoken by the Father: "Well done, my good and faithful servant!"

In the following days and weeks, I plan to share with you all some of the "God things" that have happened these last few days.

Avery Fineline (Doug Harrison), who, in his writing, so often gets it just right, says:

I didn’t know him, only exchanged a few brief emails with him a couple of times, and have nothing by way of eulogy that won’t seem to be trying too hard to make myself a part of the grief that many others much closer to him than I have more right to. Instead, let me reprint the last thing I wrote about Bennett while he was alive, from October of last year.

Go and read it all.

David Bruce Murray writes:

I always thought Bennett was one of the most tasteful piano players in Southern Gospel. He knew how to add just the right amount of flash to a song to make it stand out. He had a good sense of flow. At NQC's Pianorama one year (when Anthony Burger was still the featured host), all the other players were wowing the crowd with flashy runs and bombastic tracks, Bennett went up when it was his turn and played a calm hymn.

The only time I ever had the opportunity to speak with Bennett briefly was at a Cathedrals Reunion concert at Furman University in Greenville, SC during the late 1990s. I bought his piano book and got him to autograph it. Come to think of it, that's the last time I got an autograph from an artist. I still use the piano book in church on a regular basis.

Daniel Mount writes at his blog:

The chills are going up and down my spine and I cannot believe my eyes. A few seconds ago, I opened an email from the Singing News which said that Roger Bennett just passed away. I simply cannot believe that this has really happened.

When he joined the Cathedral Quartet as a young kid in 1979 or 1980, nobody dreamed that he would be the first to join George and Glen in glory. But what a homecoming they must be having right now…

In an email bulletin, Ernie Haase writes:

Roger Bennett along with myself, George Younce, Glen Payne and Scott Fowler had the great blessing of traveling together for the last 10 years of the Cathedral Quartet's career. Roger made those long miles very fun and enjoyable.

The sadness we all feel right now is not for Roger ..... He's healthy and whole ... free at last from the body of disease! Our grief is for His family and for our own personal loss. Not having Roger around is what makes our hearts heavy.

I and all the Signature Sound family grieve today along with all the Gospel Music world.

We will miss you ol buddy!

Numerous tributes are at the Singing News Forum.

The Chattanoogan newspaper carries an obituary.
March 18th, 2007


The Hoppers - "I Still See Our Best Years on the Horizon"
I wasn't aware of the writings of Randall Franks. His syndicated "Southern Style" column regularly features Southern Gospel artists. (I get lots of SG news via the Google Alert service, but it seems this doesn't include Randall's column.)

The latest column is a great piece on The Hoppers:

“This is an exciting time in our history, and we are all so grateful,” said Dean Hopper. “Even after a half-century, I still see our best years on the horizon. We are still growing and stretching as artists and musicians. Most importantly, we remain committed to this ministry, and to reaching out to others with the good news of Christ.”
March 12th, 2007


Seeking the Scoop on Signature Sound
Over the past couple of days I've been getting a flood of new visitors to this site - mainly via Google - seeking information on Ernie Haase and Signature Sound Quartet. What's going on? Can it just be related to their appearance on the Focus on the Family radio program?
March 9th, 2007


Quote of the Day
From the Get Underground "Creative Resistance Designed for the Emancipation of the Human Spirit" website - an article titled "Why I am Not a Christian Artist":

I'm talking about Michael English instead of Sandi Patty or Amy Grant or anyone else from the apparently syphilitic Christian Music industry because after the scandal English made remarks to the effect that he first went into Christian music because he couldn't break into secular music. I guess because he wasn't good enough for secular music. Which is what I want to talk about today.
March 3rd, 2007

Who Can They Be Talking About?
Unfortunately, the Star-Telegram does not name names when it reviews the clothing of some of the performers at Friday's Homecoming concert in Dallas:

The music was almost universally excellent, but a few of the acts could really use a fashion consultant. Just little things like don't wear a polka-dot tie with a checked shirt and coat.
February 19th, 2007


Chonda Pierce - Not Funny
It's been a while since we had one of Chonda Pierce's Roadkill Reports. Now we learn why:

It all started just before Christmas when I had minor surgery and was given some pain medicine to use for the next few days. Three days later I had fallen into the depths of despair - a darker and more desperate bout than my first struggle almost three years ago. I have been in and out of the hospital, changing and tweaking a regimen of medicine and am spending some time with wonderful counsellors and prayer warriors.

I will honestly tell you that at times when my faith was weak and my spiritual eyes were covered over by the dark clouds looming over my head - it was the faith and trust that you prayed over me that has seen me through. It's been a slow recovery this time - but I can finally say I am beginning to climb out of that dark hole.

February 12th, 2007


His Song - Broken-Down Bus
I've received the following email:

While touring, the gospel group "His Song" have had a major setback. Wed. Feb 7 their bus broke down & the transmission needs replacing. This is a major cost and we are asking other gospel groups that do the same type ministry to please try to help by sending a love offering or contact Joe or Lynda Palmer at 706-342-0660 or cell 706-318-6394 for more info. Also please call Dennis Humphreys singer with "His Song" at 423-883-2101 for any help or information...Please pray for them, as of right now they are using the truck/trailer that our pastor Wayne Powers loaned so they could go on to Florida to sing. God Bless You all.
February 10th, 2007



Which Southern Gospel artist does the following Billboard report refer to?

Every year the Grammy Award nominations deliver some intriguing surprises that make industry folks scratch their heads and ask, "What?"

February 9th, 2007


New Music
I've had a couple of emails advising me of interesting recordings:

Roller Ministries have informed me of Kristen Roller's CD, "Beautiful Day". Lots of detail is at the website, and you can listen to some of the tracks. There is also information about the Pillar Music Group and the Women of Pillar conferences.

Marty Raybon and Parrish Nichols have a CD "Their Blood on Our Hands". You can read about it at their website, and also, by clicking through the site, you can listen to lots of their music.
February 7th, 2007


Win a Beach Bag
If you hurry you might still be able to win a Weekend beach bag from the St Petersburg Times:

Gospel singers Bill and Gloria Gaither bring the Bill Gaither Homecoming to Tampa Saturday. In 1970, Mrs. Gaither composed a song after the birth of their son that is now a widespread favorite hymn. To enter the random drawing for a Weekend beach bag, tell us the name of that song.
January 26th, 2007


I Didn't Know You Cared
Where's Martin? asks Avery Fineline kindly (I think), and he wonders if "Australia [has] been drowned by a melting ice cap while I wasn’t paying attention".

Well, yes, it is the middle of summer here in Melbourne, and, in between dodging snakes and sharks, we're enduring a serious drought that means we can't wash our cars (suits me) and can water our gardens just twice a week.

But I've also been busy with "real" work. My investment book is selling well, and as a result I've been asked to write for the Money supplement of the Sydney Morning Herald.

And, as I have written previously, I started Southern Gospel Beat as a kind of experiment, to see if it were possible to make money from a website, via some advertising and affiliate links to

I do make something ($60 a month average during 2006), but it is some other sites that I established that have proven far more lucrative. My Personal Health Monitor Blog made an astonishing (to me) $1,200 in December 2006, thanks to booming Christmas business, and I'm now devoting a lot more of my limited time to that.

And I must confess that I have an unfortunate tendency to become passionate about something or other, throw myself into it, and then move on. For many years I was crazy about world music, and I still have a collection of a couple of hundred CDs.

Then I discovered Southern Gospel, and accumulated lots of the Gaither DVDs. For a while last year I was watching them almost every night, and listening to online SG radio during the day.

But for several months now I've found myself, for some reason, with a renewed interest in classical music and art, and I'm not listening to so much SG.  I guess that gets reflected in this website.

But now I know that people notice, and care, I suppose I'll just have to try harder.
January 25th, 2007



Allen Asbury
Mark Bishop
Booth Brothers
Mike Bowling
Anthony Burger
Cynthia Clawson
Crabb Family
Jessy Dixon
Dove Brothers
Ann Downing
Jeff & Sheri Easter
Gaither Homecoming
Gaither Vocal Band
Gatlin Brothers
Gold City Quartet
Greater Vision
Buddy Greene
Legacy Five
Mark Lowry
Babbie Mason
Mercy's Mark
Oak Ridge Boys
Palmetto State
Ivan Parker
Janet Paschal
Sandi Patty
Karen Peck
David Phelps
Chonda Pierce
Dottie Rambo
Lynda Randle
Signature Sound
Russ Taff
Talley Trio
Randy Travis