2010 Independent Releases Overview


2010 Independent Releases Overview


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 Nashville, Tennessee, and The Gospel Harmoneers of 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.  Overall, the 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 was self-produced.  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 industry.
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 PlusGod Will Deliver and Sister Beatrice WardLive 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 singer.

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 Swan Silvertones.  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
The Starlights 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 It”, gave The Starlights 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 The Starlights 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 The Shepherds. 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 BeginningsNew 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 appearances.

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.



Overall, 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.




Top 5 Independent Releases of 2010

The Starlights "Live In  Compton/Did You Stop 2 Pray?"

2. The Anointed Brothers "Introducing The Anointed Brothers of Flint, Michigan"

3. Bishop Joe Clark &  AreoFaith "I'm Blessed"
The Swan Silvertones "Need More Love"

5. Lady Beatrice Ward and Angelic Voices "Gospel Experience"

15 Groups to Watch in 2011

Women of Strength – Lots of talent.  Waiting on something new in 2011.
The Exciting Golden Bells – Heard you were working on something.
The Bell Singers  – Very talented.  Long overdue for a live recording.  
The Turner Brothers – Time to get up and record.
The Russells  – Will 2011 be their year?
The Clifton Brothers – Also overdue for a new CD.
The Columbia Spirituals - Time to record. 
The Silver Trumpets – It's been a long, long time.
The Taylor Singers – Heard about you.  What about the CD?
The Valley Boyz  – Still Waiting.
The Gospel Gents   – Is there a new CD in the works?
Karen Washington & The New Singing Stars – Time for a LIVE DVD.
The Singing Angels – Heard you were working on a new project.
The Harmonic Bells  – Would really like to hear from this group in 2010.
The Zionaires – Michael is still singing! 









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