Two Thousand Ten was another
good year for gospel quartet music from independent labels and artists.
Like 2009, many new artists ventured into releasing their
own product instead of relying upon a label. No longer are the artists
dependent solely on the ‘major’ labels to have a recording distributed to
the world. Technology has certainly made it easier, and within the price
range, for any artist to put together a great recording. Fewer artists are
waiting to be signed by a major labels before release their projects.
As to the independent CDs we did review in 2010, we began with a review of
the CD The Last Mile by
Johnny Ruffin, Jr.
The CD showcased not only the vocal talents of Mr. Ruffin, but also his
songwriting ability. As we begin to appreciate his music, we learned
that he is a former member of
Darryl and Donnie Joy Boyz of
and The Gospel
Branchville, Virginia. He is a member of
The Brothers in Christ
of Franklin, Virginia. He is also the minister of music at the Mt. Nebo
Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, NC. And, he is a music producer. So, Mr.
Ruffin is no stranger to the gospel music genre.
sophomore release from Johnny Ruffin, Jr.
is a good recording.
In February we reviewed
The Gospel Crusaders'
He's All I Need. This group was formed in 1988. The group
refers to themselves as “a quartet with a twist of contemporary.” We beg to
differ; the group is all quartet - traditional to the core. They have
released several recordings and each further solidifies the group as one of
the ‘up and coming’ members of this genre. This latest installment is
on the independent record label Frizzel Corporation Music Group and features
12 power packed selections. There are no hard drive songs on this project.
The ballads are some of the best recorded by a quartet gospel group in
sometime. Maybe, just maybe, the trademark of this group is – the ballads.
On a whole this project is very powerful and definitely deserves the
attention of quartet enthusiasts.
In March we
ventured to the state of New
York to take a look at the new CD by
Bishop Joe Clark and AeroFaith.
Their new CD is titled I'm Blessed. This group truly have a
unique sound (and style) of gospel. At the same time they will remind you of
many of the groups on the road today. The group has been described as
being “able to produce hard hitting rock and quartet grooves along with
sweet singing contemporary ballads, yet keeping the soulful/Spiritual sound
of Gospel.” The project contains some of the tightest arrangements in
the industry today. You have to look twice to make sure that this project
Bishop Clark & AeroFaith
could very well be the next ‘superstar’ of this genre.
In April we returned to the state of North Carolina to review the new CD by
The Golden Trumpets.
This group has been around for over sixty years. Their new project is titled
Jesus Is Coming. The group has three (3) lead singers. They
each showcase their vocal talents on this project. There are only
eight (8) songs on this CD. And, we stress the word 'only.' The talent and
ministry the group brings to this CD are such that after the last song the
listener is left wanting more. The project begins with "God’s Got A
Blessing." The ballad represents an interesting twist on the often
repeated phrase Name It and Claim It. The guys deliver this song in almost a
sermonette style. Other songs on this project are "Change In My
Life," "He Loves You," "My Father’s House," "Jesus Is
Coming," "Praise The Lord I’m Free," and "Pray And Believe."
"In My Father’s House" is probably the one that will get the attention of
most Radio Angels. However, all of theses songs deserve your attention. In
listening to these songs it became evident that the reason they are so good
is the spirit and realness of the lead singers. You really feel that the
guys put their “all and all” into each song.
The group chosen for the May review is no stranger to the gospel music
Lady Beatrice Ward And Angelic Voices
were organized in March 1982. In 2003, they released the CD Hold On
under the name Beatrice Ward & Angelic Voices. And there are at least two
(2) other projects that showcase the exceptional talents of this group,
Sister Ward and Angeletts Plus
– God Will Deliver and
Sister Beatrice Ward
– Live In Houston. The group can also be heard on the CD A Taste
of Texas #2 that was released in 2009 by Family Styled Entertainment
Group. The new CD is titled Gospel Experience. And, what an
uplifting experience it is listening to this CD. The new CD should
become a favorite with Radio Angels. The songs were made for radio - not to
long, great messages, many upbeat tempo arrangements, and a powerful lead
In June, Need More Love
by The Swan
Silvertones was the
subject of our review.
Yes, there is a group that is committed to keeping that name alive. The
group has charted a course to bring about a resurgence of the sound and
style made famous by the original legendary
The members of this new assembly of Swans are Marvin Latimore (who sang with
the Legendary Rev. Claude Jeter), Sam Hubbard (who also sang with the
Legendary Rev. Claude Jeter) and Mel Johnson. Mel Johnson is the brother of
the late Louis Johnson. These gentlemen along with Jimi Fluellyn, formerly
of The Highway QC’s and Rev. Billy Houze represent the current lineup. From
the names of the members, you know two things immediately – 1) they are
seasoned singers; and 2) they are no stranger to recording good gospel
music. Need More Love at times will remind you of the group
during the time period right before Rev. Jeter left for the ministry. Fans
of the Swans will remember Louis Johnson as the ‘hard shouter,’ Paul Owens
as the crooner of the group, and the unimaginable falsetto of Rev. Jeter.
Well, the new CD incorporates a little of each of their style and more.
For the month of July we spotlighted
of Compton, California. They are one of the most dynamic groups in
gospel music today. From their bio we learn that “their premiere
album, “If There Ever Was a Time,” reached the top of the charts
nationally, crossing the shores to Europe. Their second album “Do U Got
their closing signature song for concerts. Their versatility has
allowed The Starlights to perform throughout the United States, Belgium,
Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Luxembourg, New Zealand, and Switzerland. A
command performance before the sequestered jury of the infamous O. J.
Simpson trail, and benefit concerts for the American Diabetes Association,
the Boys & Girls Club of America, Polly Klaas Foundation, Woman of Color
Breast Cancer Survivors, among many others.” And, if there were any doubt
about the connection this group has to the history of gospel music.
Remember the legendary
Pilgrim Travelers? If you
do, then you have heard of Henry Botts, Sr. Brother Botts was a member of
The Pilgrim Travelers. The members of
are the sons and grandsons of Brother Botts. There are twelve (12)
songs on this live concert recording. If you have
The Starlights’ 2004
recording T. S. L. Live At West Angeles' project, then you know the
guys pull out all the stops for their live recordings. Now, with the release
of the new CD, they have taken their performance to another level.
For August we
reviewed the new CD by
This group is no stranger to quartet gospel fans. They have been around
since 1968. In 1980 they recorded the songs ”I Know Who Jesus Is”
and “God Is” in 1981.” In 1988 they released Hiding Place on
the Tyscot label. In 1995 they released the project Alive and Restored.
In 2000 they released Live In Durham, NC. In 2002 they
released Trilogy Live in Augusta, GA. In 2007 they released
Tribute. Now they are once again positioned to be one of the most sought
after groups with their new CD New Beginnings. New
Beginnings is the first release on the group’s very own record label,
Strawberry Vinyl Records.
In September we reviewed the latest CD by
Lil' Ricky & The Mighty Golden
Stars titled We
Need The Lord.
The Mighty Golden Stars
are a family group from Bennettsville, SC. The members are four brothers Lil
Ricky McDuffie, Laytron McDuffie, Rodney McDuffie, and James McDuffie Jr.;
and two sisters Sharmekia McDuffie, and Marsharika Quick. The members have
been signing gospel music ever since they were old enough to memorize lyrics.
Each of the singers can sing lead and they all share in providing
background vocals. The musicians are also members of the McDuffie
family. They are the cousins of the singers - Brian Dukes, Alfonso Bouie,
Anthony Brown, Preston Teal, Yascha Williams, Timonthy Cook, and Timothy
Cook. Overall, this is a group full of talented personnel. In 2005,
they released their first CD titled I’m On My Way To Heaven.
That CD introduced the group to promoters all over the country. And, the
popularity of the CD allowed the group to travel and perform in many
states. The new CD should bring the group new fans and many more
For the month of October we we return to the State of Michigan, and take a
closer look at the CD
Introducing The Anointed
Brothers of Flint, Michigan.
The Anointed Brothers have been together for nine (9) years. However, the
members have been involved in gospel music for many years before forming The
Anointed Brothers. The members are also songwriters, producers and
musicians. The self-titled project contains twelve songs. There are
many original songs on the group’s freshman project. Songs like "It Could
Have Been Me," "That Rock," and "You Are" showcase the
guys’ extraordinary writing abilities. The guys take you back to church with
“I Made It Over.” From the opening mourns to the solid drums and bass
lines, you get the feeling that you are in for a mid-tempo hand clapping
good time. With twelve (12) songs on the project, there is something
for everyone. From the opening chords of “It Could Have Been Me” to
the final chord of “I Need Thee,” the Brothers deliver extraordinary
vocals, inspiring messages, and just great gospel music. The group
describes their music as traditional, contemporary, neo soul and many
others. Well, we would describe it simply as good gospel quartet music
customized for the 21st century.
In November we visited Clarksville, Tennessee. It is the home of
The Clarksville Soul Stirrers.
They may not be a household name. They may not have appeared in your city.
And, most of the gospel music industry may not have heard of the group. But,
they are indeed a solid gospel quartet group. “They have brought to
all who will listen: a message of faith, hope and love through songs of
praise.” One of the first recordings that brought this group to our
attention was the CD Brothers To Brothers. In 2006, they released the
CD titled The Blood. Now, in 2010, they have released the CD
Don’t Let Nobody Shake Your Faith. Like their previous CDs, the 2010
release contains nine (9) songs. This group is truly one of the many
hidden treasures in gospel music. They know how to sing. Their songs convey
messages that touch the listeners.
We closed the year with
The Gospel True Tones
of Lexington, Mississippi. Their newest CD is No Friend Like Jesus.
The Gospel True Tones
have been around for over twenty-five (25) years. The project begins with “Can't
Beat God's Giving.” The upbeat version of the ever significant truism is
sure to have you on your feet. It is also a good introduction to the group.
The song showcases their ability to handle upbeat tempo arrangements.
After confirming that you “Can’t Beat God’s Giving,” the guys tell us
to just “Hold On” for God’s blessing. “Hold On” is a ballad
that further solidifies the vocal talents of the lead singer. The
title track, "There's No Friend," is a uniquely crafted version of “What
A Friend We Have In Jesus.” There are some great songs on this
project. This CD deserves your attention.
It was indeed another great year for independent releases. We look with much
anticipation to 2011.
Below you will find Gloryland Gospel top 5 independent labels or artists
picks of 2010 and the top 15 independent groups to watch in 2011. This
list is in no way all inclusive, however if you're looking for the best of
the best you will definitely want to add these recordings to your music
collection. The order in which the projects are listed does not
necessarily represent their ranking. God Bless and we look forward to
an exciting 2011 for gospel quartet music.