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September 27th - October 7th, 2005

“We Need a New Mega-Group”

Plaintive posting over at the SouthernGospelNews message board:

Think about this: In the last year, the Wilburns, the Steeles and a few others have left the "circuit." The Journeymen just announced that they are disbanding. Gold City downsized their group, and the Freemans sold their bus.

SG radio is populated with groups no one has ever heard of. No-name groups can sign with the best of the labels. The Singing News Fan Awards barely generate any excitement even within the industry….We are desperately lacking some "stars". With maybe the exception of SSQ, nobody is "shining".

15 years ago, there were any number of groups in SG that had huge followings. The Cathedrals were riding very high and drawing huge crowds. So was Gold City and a host of others. I read recently where Greater Vision had 3-400 at one concert. (I was at the Greater Vision Reunion video taping and there were less than 500 people there). Right before the Bishops disbanded, I was at a concert in Dayton, OH, with Gold City, The Bishops, The Talley Trio, and Greater Vision. The auditoriuim was less than half full, and the Kingsmen alone could pack that place in the '80's.

I think we need the "next big thing." We need a new mega-group. Your thoughts?


In reply comes the following:


There IS a mega-group. Three letters: GVB. The smart ones are lining themselves up with Mr. Gaither. He probably draws as many, if not more people in a weekend than the NQC draws all week - and that's just one weekend for him.

October 7th, 2005


Escorted from This Life by Angels

A friend, a retired pastor in his nineties, is arguing with his doctors that he does not want to continue receiving treatment for his bone cancer. Last night, at our weekly Bible study, our group bemoaned the fact that doctors work to keep alive even the oldest and sickest patients. “Christians aren’t afraid of death,” said my wife, though one of our members, a nurse, cautioned that doctors are obliged to try to keep their patients alive.

When the Bible study had finished I checked my email and found Paul Heil’s latest newsletter. He was writing about death:


As a rule, Christians go peacefully. Almost gladly….Luke 16:22 seems to indicate that saints are escorted from this life by angels. Perhaps you heard the story a few years ago about when noted Cathedral Quartet lead singer Glen Payne was dying from liver cancer. As he lay on his bed with death just moments away, friends say he looked around the room and an expression of awe came across his face. He could muster only enough strength to exclaim, "Wow!" And, again, "Wow!" And then he was gone. He was obviously seeing at that moment a glimpse of heaven confirming the truth of what he'd been singing about for most of his life.

The late Danny Gaither told the story on one of the Homecoming videos about how, when he was undergoing exhausting chemotherapy, he prayed to see his guardian angels. That night, he said, he did. He saw angels in his room. And that night he had the best sleep he'd had during his treatment. "I know," he said with considerable emphasis, "there are angels." Just a few months later, Danny was probably shaking their hands.

October 5th, 2005

Janet’s Back

I haven’t received Janet Paschal’s email newsletter in a while, but reports, under the headline “Victory Report from Janet Paschal,” some great news:


We're pleased to celebrate with Janet Paschal on having completed her last chemo treatment for breast cancer! She did experience a brief scare when she went to UNC for radiation; the radiologist initially was concerned about calcifications which were investigated and finally found by Duke's top four radiologists to be nothing worthy of a biopsy.

A relieved Janet reports, "Believe me, there was dancing in the streets!"

So Friday, she "de-cancerized" her house, stating, "I bagged and stored all the lovely cards, bears, books, etc. that people had so graciously sent. I feel as though I have my life back - and I'm so anxious to jump in headfirst!"

So... all friends of Janet Paschal will be happy to know... she's baaack!

October 4th, 2005


Logrolling in Southern Gospel

Last year, Anthony Burger released “A Tribute to Bill and Gloria Gaither.” Now comes a Gaither tribute to Anthony Burger.


In his latest newsletter (with a shorter report here), Anthony has announced that Gaither Music is to release a “Best of Anthony Burger” video, as part of the Homecoming series. According to a news release, “Hosted by Bill Gaither, this video keepsake features a beautiful selection of music as only Anthony can deliver, plus exclusive photos and personal conversations with Anthony about life, faith, music, and more.”

October 4th, 2005


CrossWay Quartet – Pushing for Youth

Having just registered at the CrossWay Quartet website to win an “iPod nano packed full of Southern Gospel music,” I was interested to read an interview with the group, over at It was good to see the following:

In the last ten years, there seems to be a big push for the youth and we’re beginning to see a lot of young people in our audiences.  We’re trying to relate to the younger audience. I like to say we’re giving them a light dose of Southern Gospel and we’re kind of that happy medium. Our style has allowed us to go into churches that usually don’t host Southern Gospel. We try to relate Southern Gospel in a form that young people can relate to and as Matt said, get the message of God’s love to them. 

October 4th, 2005

David Phelps – Starting Strong, Finishing Weak

David Phelps continues to receive mixed reviews for his album “Life Is a Church.” The latest is the Wichita Eagle, whose reviewer wrote:

Much like an American Idol runner-up trying to find his or her place in the music industry, this project starts strong and finishes weak….Except for one song, the back side of this project is mellow and worshipful while predictable and, at times, somewhat boring. Phelps has a great voice but a long block of songs with long, Josh Groban-like vocals is a bit tiring. Fans of Clay Aiken, Michael English and Greg Long will probably enjoy this disc. For me, I'll be giving this one away to a friend in hopes they'll like it.


Earlier, Christianity Today said something remarkably similar:


Things really slow down for the last five tracks with a series of predictable (though lyrically palatable) Josh Groban-esque renderings. A shame, really, that Phelps can’t be more interesting, considering his potential to shine apart from the group that brought him fame. Musical focus could go a long way toward fixing this.

October 3rd, 2005

Avery Gets Results

Forgive me if my knowledge of US time zones is askew (I live in Australia), but, according to his own website, Avery Fineline at 11:16am (10.16am EST??) on Saturday posted:


Can anyone tell if the new EHSSQ online regime…that's putting the message board and other stuff behind a registration-only barrier requires cash on the barrel head or not? I'm guessing not, but it's not entirely clear ... and is it a measure of success or stupidity when a popular product - and that's what EHSSQ is in some regards, like all successful acts - starts throwing up registration-only barriers to their stuff?


At 11:20am Saturday, EST, an “Ernie Happenings” newsletter landed in my inbox with the following:


Just wanted to make sure you all understand that this new website is FREE.  You just need re-sign back up to receive our internet newsletter, ONCE the new site is available (sometime on Monday or Tuesday next week)  The Full "iPass" Membership is FREE and the E-Mail List only is FREE.


All hail the blogger king Avery. Or coincidence?
October 2nd, 2005

God Got Saved

The two most enjoyable Southern Gospel email newsletters I receive are from Chonda Pierce (Roadkill Reports) and Mark Lowry (ReMarks). Coincidentally (or not), both are comedians.

Here’s an excerpt from Mark’s latest:


I've always heard and still believe that the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. But, I think if I'd just landed here from another planet and read the Bible, it might appear to me that, somewhere between the Old and New, He discovered Prozac or something. He seems a lot nicer in the New Testament.


My pastor said one Sunday, in a joking manner, that it looks to him like God got saved between the Old and New Testaments.


Well, I'll tell ya what I think caused the attitude change. He had a Son. A kid changes everything.

I think that could have been it. Then, again, maybe not. What do I know?


There are very few things I still think I 'know'.


Here are two:
1. God is good.
2. He's crazy about us.

October 1st, 2005


Dunny Update

I’ve received a friendly email from Tammy Dunaway, concerning my jocular references – here and here - to the Dunaways’ Dunnyville Blog. (I had pointed out that in Australia a dunny is an outback toilet.)


Tammy writes: “Actually where that came from was a three-year-old who goes to our church who could not say Sister Dunaway so she called me Dunny and it stuck.”


For those interested in Australian slang, dunny usage guidelines are here, here and here.

October 1st, 2005


Moving Sites

The Ernie Haase and Signature Sound website is moving here. Fans are asked to register for “full access to the ‘Interact’ portion of our website including the Message Board the Online Message Center, the Online Store and other special features which will be coming down the road.”

October 1st, 2005


Quote of the Day

From the Sioux Falls Argus Leader:

Membership into The Blind Boys of Alabama isn't that selective - you don't really have to be from Alabama....The group's leader, Clarence Fountain calls Baton Rouge, La., home. But, don't apply if you can see the words on this page. And, if you can't sing with passion and depth, well, just settle for being part of the audience when the group plays the Washington Pavilion Saturday evening. "Yeah, it's complicated. It's hard to find a guy that really can sing and is blind," Fountain says about recruiting new members for the Southern gospel group.

September 30th, 2005


Gaither Kool-Aid

Avery Fineline accuses me of “drinking a wee bit too much Gaither Kool-Aid lately. He's posting more frequently, Roth is (a good thing), but most of the posts are Gaithercentric.”

Yes, I’m sure there’s some truth in that. Because when it comes to Southern Gospel, Gaither is about all I know.


Southern Gospel is virtually non-existent down here in Australia. I first discovered it less than five years ago, on the Australian Christian Channel, which was broadcasting the Gaither Gospel half-hour. I was quickly hooked. Now I own a growing collection of Gaither Homecoming DVDs.


But I have still never attended any Southern Gospel event. And though I am developing my knowledge through building up this website, I have a long way to go. Thus, should Frank Seamans stay with Legacy Five (a recent Avery posting)? I’ve no idea. What about Marty Stuart’s new gospel project (ditto)? Sorry, no opinion (even though I’ve seen him on Gospel Bluegrass Homecoming).


But should Gaither buy me out to launch GaitherNet downunder (another Avery suggestion)? Yes, now there’s a good idea. (Except that, according to my website stats service, 86% of my visitors are from North America, with only 4% from Australia.)

September 29th, 2005


The Best (and Freshest) Southern Gospel News

I’m now trying to update this website regularly, and I try to keep up with the latest Southern Gospel news. It’s not easy – not a lot of online sources are available. So I want to pay tribute to SG radio station and its excellent news service, possibly the best around.

For example, here’s what’s on the site right now:


- A report on the farewell party this weekend for Kevin Williams, guitar player for the Gaither Homecoming productions.


-  A report on the Gaither Toronto Homecoming concert, which was watched live around the world online by Gaither.Com members. (Not by me, unfortunately. It was Saturday evening in Toronto, which is Sunday morning here in Melbourne, and I was in church.)


- Information about a new Christmas recording from the Oak Ridge Boys.


There’s lots more, all fresh, and generally placed on the website ahead of anyone else, as best I can tell. Thank you for a great job.

September 27th, 2005


Affiliated websites: The Personal Health Monitor Blog, Bird Flu Update, Bollywood Down Under, Martin Roth Christian Commentary.


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