There’s no question that the Kingsmen Quartet have secured their legacy as one of the longest running, accomplished and innovative Southern Gospel artists in history. Though they have had dozens of releases in their storied career — all containing hits that are today's Southern Gospel classics — each release from this celebrated group is special, and More to the Story is no exception. Produced by the award-winning Jeff Collins at Crossroads Studios, the set features several already-released singles surrounded by a fresh group of songs given both traditional and contemporary Southern Gospel arrangements.
Written by the powerhouse trio of Kenna Turner West, Sue C. Smith and Jason Cox, The album’s title track, “More To The Story” begins with an easygoing, Beatles-esque vamp before sliding into a relaxed yet insistent country-soul feel. The setting offers plenty of room for introducing the story of Jonah — or, as the lyric has it, a “whale of a tale” — that illustrates the need, even in moments of peril, to look beyond the immediate and trust in God. As the chorus tells it:
There's more, more to the story
So don't you worry
It's not the end
There's more, more to be written
God is holding the pen, my friend
There's more, more to the story
And, indeed, there is more to the story in this collection. In “The Wind and Waves Still Know,” the quartet, led here by Chris Bryant, presents a gripping display of the familiar spirit and dynamism for which the group is known. Yet even as it offers echoes of the quartet’s classic performances in days gone by, the song’s modern construction and crisp arrangement showcase the Kingsmen’s mastery of a more intricate, contemporary style. With Alan Kendall taking the lead, “These Are The Days” has a message for the moment that encourages faith and strength amidst the most trying of times. “If there was ever a message that was timely for the Church in 2021,” the singer says, “it is ‘These Are the Days.’ Dixie Phillips and Matthew Lawson wrote this song, and I immediately fell in love with it. What a message of resilience and hope! It’s in that driving, country quartet style that I always loved hearing from the Kingsmen growing up. I am both excited and humbled to be a part of it.” “I See A Lamb,” first released for the Easter season, captures the occasion’s joy and victory. The song tells the story of Christ throughout its three verses — each led by a different singer, with the full quartet (Bryant, Kendall, Chris Jenkins and Ray Dean Reese) joining in on the choruses — inspiring listeners to lift up their voices and praise all that God has done for us.
“More To The Story has been a long anticipated project for us,” reveals Jenkins. “This recording has been unlike any other we’ve worked on, from the recording process to the production to arranging songs remotely amid a global pandemic. We thank God for His provision and hand of guidance through the past year. We truly believe this album encompasses the message for the times in which we live. The Kingsmen are celebrating 65 years in Christian music and after a trying hiatus from touring, we are eager to tell our listeners that there’s ‘more to the story’ of The Kingsmen. We’re not finished. We are encouraged and motivated, now more than ever, to let our faith shine brighter and make Christ’s name known!”
Classic, powerful, and filled with the gospel spirit that has carried the Kingsmen Quartet far beyond their western North Carolina origins over more than 60 years of performance, More To The Story offers a spirit-lifting, crowd pleasing jewel in the ever-growing catalog of the legendary Kingsmen Quartet.
About The Kingsmen
For more than half a century, no other group has secured such a far-reaching legacy as that of The Kingsmen Quartet. Since 1956, this group has risen from humble beginnings in the mountains of western North Carolina to become one of the most beloved and innovative groups in Christian music. Countless renowned artists have been a part of this great lineage, such as Eldridge Fox, "Big" Jim Hamill, Ray Dean Reese, Squire Parsons, Johnny Parrack, Anthony Burger, Ernie Phillips, Gary Sheppard, and a host of others. The momentum has not stopped as this group continues to help define the Southern Gospel genre for a whole new generation of music lovers, perhaps more so than any other group.
In the mid-fifties, brothers Raymond, Reese, and Louis McKinney formed a gospel group, traveling locally throughout the western part of the Carolinas and completing dozens of recordings by the late 60's. By the early 70's, area natives Eldridge Fox and Ray Dean Reese joined this emerging quartet and in 1974 released their first live recording, "Big & Live" consisting of Fox, Reese, Jim Hamill, and Johnny Parrack. This Dove award winning album brought to gospel music, fresh arrangements and catchy melodies that would later become southern gospel classics, such as "Glory Road," "Look for Me At Jesus Feet," and "Love Lifted Me." This would be the start of many legendary live albums for the Kingsmen. Traveling with a live band, the Kingsmen became one of few groups during this era to be able to perform with three to five musicians, granting them individuality and innovation in the industry.
Always seeking to have a creative edge, they began introducing themselves as, "The Ton of Fun." Through the late 1970's and 80's, more hits were churning from albums such as "Chattanooga Live," "Live Naturally," & "Live at The University of Alabama." These albums combined with high energy and up-tempo music brought music lovers an exciting brand of showmanship. Songs like, "Old Ship of Zion," "Shake Hands with a Poor Boy," "Beautiful Home," "Saints Will Rise," and "Child, Child" became gospel music staples. In 1981, "Excuses" became the Kingsmen's biggest hit of that era; it was steady at number one for 18 months, making it the longest running number one song in Southern Gospel Music history.
The successes of The Kingsmen have led to many prestigious opportunities. In 1977, The Kingsmen performed on the south lawn of the White House for President Jimmy Carter and in 1982 they performed at the opening ceremony of the World's Fair in Knoxville, TN which was broadcast on local and regional TV, with President Ronald Reagan present to open the fair. The Kingsmen was also the first group to film and record a live performance at the famous Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and in 2000 they were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame followed by the Christian Music Hall of Fame in 2008. They've garnered multiple dove awards and numerous Singing News Fan awards including favorite bass vocalist, tenor, baritone, lead, instrumentalist, video, the 1992 favorite song "Wish You Were Here" as well as favorite album by the same name, male quartet of the year, and group of the year. The Kingsmen band was voted favorite band a record 17 times making this quartet one of the most awarded groups in Southern Gospel Music.
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