Joyaires’ ministry is aptly named

The Joyaires, Ernie and Debbie Peters, seek to bring the joy of Christ in their
music ministry. (Photo by John Herndon)

After 43 years, joy in Christ continues to be the message they bring

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

You probably won’t find any artist of any genre with a more fitting name than The Joyaires.

They’ve been singing gospel music since 1979, bringing joy to anyone who hears their message about Jesus and the joy that is found in Him.

“We hadn’t thought about what we were going to call ourselves, so we just jotted down a bunch of names,” Ernie Peters says of how the group came up with its name. 

Continue reading “Joyaires’ ministry is aptly named”

Three Bridges might be retiring, but the joy will never end

Three Bridges delivers a high-energy concert at Sand Spring Baptist Church in Lawrenceburg, Ky., in August, 2021. From left are Jeremie Hudson, Shannon Smith and Elliott McCoy.

Acclaimed trio entering last month on the road

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

The joy is still there for Three Bridges. It always has been.

And even though the group known for its high-octane songs and concerts will be coming off the road in December, the energy – and joy – will long remain in the memories of gospel music fans.

We caught up with Elliott McCoy, the founder of the acclaimed trio, and tenor Jeremie Hudson at the National Quartet Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., several weeks ago. We were unable to talk with the third member of the group, Shannon Smith, at the time, but he graciously talked about Three Bridges, its ministry and what the future might hold via Facebook Messenger earlier this week.

Continue reading “Three Bridges might be retiring, but the joy will never end”

Spotlight finally shines on Norah Lee Allen

Bowling Green native Norah Lee Allen, whose career as a background vocalist at the Grand Ole Opry spanned more than 40 years, sings during the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Oct. 28, 2022.

Gospel roots anchored Opry vocalist on road to Kentucky Music Hall of Fame

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

RENFRO VALLEY, Ky. — It didn’t take long for Norah Lee Allen’s father to see he had special talent in his family.

“My father was in a quartet. He could tell we were musically inclined, so he formed a trio and we traveled for around 17 years,” Mrs. Allen recalls. “We traveled around to seven or eight different states. We didn’t travel as much until I was a little older but we sang at churches, revivals, concerts and wherever we could.”

The Stuart Sisters, based in their hometown of Bowling Green, became one of the most popular regional gospel singing groups around during the 50s and 60s. They recorded their own EPs and grew to be as busy as they wanted to be.

Continue reading “Spotlight finally shines on Norah Lee Allen”

Cultivating creativity, growing a ministry of outreach

Canaan Coffman sings during one of her family’s sets during Coffmania in Danville on Oct. 22, 2022.

Canaan Coffman debuts as a solo artist with A Night of Worship in her hometown

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

DANVILLE, Ky. – Canaan Coffman knew the day was coming when some changes would be taking place. She just didn’t know exactly what they would be or when they would happen.

That time has come.

Canaan will be introducing her friends and fans to some of her new look with “A Night Of Worship With Canaan In Her Hometown” on Sunday, November 13. The event will be held at her home church, Danville Church of God. The night of worship begins at 6 p.m.

It’s new. It’s different. But it’s not a complete break from her role as a member of her family trio, The Coffmans.

Continue reading “Cultivating creativity, growing a ministry of outreach”

Kentucky Music Hall of Fame to induct seven new members

The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame will be inducting seven new members Oct. 28. (Photo courtesy Kentucky Music Hall of Fame.)

Museum explores all Commonwealth’s roots in all genres

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

When Jessica Blankenship was named director of the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame earlier this year, we knew this little gem just off I-75 at Renfro Valley was in for some changes.

Some big changes.  At least in getting the word out about what’s going on at the Hall of Fame.

Let’s just say if you haven’t heard about some of the goings on at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in the last few months, you haven’t been paying attention.

Continue reading “Kentucky Music Hall of Fame to induct seven new members”

Leading listeners to God’s path

Greater Vision sings at Sand Spring Baptist Church on Oct. 6, 2022. From left are Gerald Wolfe, Jon Epley, Rodney Griffin and Chris Allman.

Early detours led Rodney Griffin on road to SGMA Hall of Fame

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. – Once he tells his story, it’s hard to miss the irony of where the detours along career paths have led Rodney Griffin on his way to a place in the Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame.

“I was trying to get into med school,” Griffin says, remembering his days as a student at Berea College. “As I got into my studies, I saw that my grades were not going to be the straight A’s that are required to get into medical school. Those people were brilliant that I was in class with. “I thought I had better find something else because that is just not my thing.”

Continue reading “Leading listeners to God’s path”

A Touch of Heaven Touching People for 50 years

Primitive Quartet at Sand Spring Baptist Church on September 23. From left are Reagan Riddle, Randy Fox, Jeff Tolbert, Mike Riddle and Larry Riddle.

Primitive Quartet in final months of amazing ministry, still giving God all the praise

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. – Little did some fishing buddies know that a springtime camping trip would be the beginning of a career that has been reeling in accolades from almost every corner of the gospel music industry.

But that’s how God has worked through Primitive Quartet ever since April 1973. 

The Primitives have cast their influence through a true-to-their-roots music and a faithful-to-their-Savior faith that has led them to touch more people than could have ever been imagined when the Riddle brothers and Wilson brothers were sitting around a campfire picking and singing.

Continue reading “A Touch of Heaven Touching People for 50 years”

Life is Good for Steve Bridgmon

Steve Bridgmon sings during the Ichthus festival on Sept. 10.

Owensboro native enjoying success on several fronts

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

It’s hard to imagine anyone enjoying life more than Steve Bridgmon these days.

Not just any country music artist. Not just any Christian music artist. Not just anyone in Nashville, from Kentucky or any other designation.

Just anyone. It’s hard to imagine anyone having more reason to smile of late than Bridgmon, the Owensboro native who has built a successful career as a soloist in Inspirational Country music, sometimes called “Christian country.”

Continue reading “Life is Good for Steve Bridgmon”

Mountain Gospel Radio Sharathon features Perrys, local artists

Libbi Perry Stuffle, shown in a 2019 concert, has been singing with The Perrys from the group’s beginning in 1971,

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

If you need or want more gospel concerts the week after the National Quartet Convention, Mountain Gospel Radio could be the place for you this week. 

The station, which is affiliated with Kentucky Mountain Bible College in Vancleve, Ky., is sponsoring a week-long “sharathon” featuring online concerts from some of the top regional southern gospel and bluegrass gospel artists from the Appalachian region. In addition, the station will be sponsoring a concert from The Perrys, one of the nation’s most popular and enduring Southern Gospel groups.

“We usually have a group of local artists that come in and at least one nationally known group,” says Seth Stevenson, the station’s general manager. “This year, our local group pool has been limited so we have groups that are further away than normal.”

Continue reading “Mountain Gospel Radio Sharathon features Perrys, local artists”

Kingsmen, Perrys, KPNR on powerful Paramount card

Belcher expecting special night in Ashland

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

Gospel music fans near Ashland, Ky., can experience a night of powerful worship when The Kingsmen, The Perrys and Karen Peck & New River come to town on Thursday, Oct. 6.

The stellar lineup of southern gospel greats will be at the Paramount Arts Center that night. The singing begins at 7 p.m.

“Ashland is a very special town,” promoter Paul Belcher says. “Folks come to worship. It’s totally different than any other market we come to promote. People rejoice and praise the Lord. It’s a church service.”

Belcher has put together a lineup full of southern gospel history but all three groups continue to receive accolades after decades in the business.

The Kingsmen in concert earlier this year at Crab Orchard, Kentucky. (File photo by John Herndon)

The Kingsmen, formed in 1956, features Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Famer Ray Dean Reese singing his distinctive bass. The group’s sound blends the best of traditional southern gospel with more contemporary sounds.

The Perrys first performed on Dec. 25, 1970 as a family trio that Libbi Perry Stuffle continues to lead today. She remains one of gospel music’s favorite altos and her late husband, Tracy Stuffle, who sang bass with the group for more than 30 years, was inducted into the SGMA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Karen Peck & New River. (Photo submitted)

Karen Peck and New River has been one of gospel music’s top groups since forming in 1991. Karen Peck Gooch is also one of gospel music’s beloved performers, being named to the SGMA Hall of Fame last year.

All of the groups have multiple No. 1 hits and have been awarded many times by the industry.

The Paramount Arts Center routinely brings high-quality acts to the Ashland-Huntington, W.Va.-Ironton, Ohio area and Belcher says it is a great venue for southern gospel. “The history of the Paramount is so rich,” he said. “We go to the Paramount because it’s a neutral location.  We seldom go to a church for a ticketed event. Every denomination feels comfortable coming to a service there….Sonny and Barbara Sites promoted there for years. I love Ashland, Ky.”

The Perrys have been singing gospel music for more than 50 years. (Photo submitted)

Belcher said he has been promoting at The Paramount since 2019 when he booked the McKameys there for part of their farewell tour. Common Bond, based in Ashland, was also on the card that night. “It was special. Being there last year, folks responded very well,” Belcher said.

Belcher said tickets, which are priced at 20 and 25 dollars, are “going rather well.” He advised that even with tickets available less than two weeks before the concert, fans should not wait.

“The last week is always the busiest with ticket sales,” he said. “I believe we will have a great crowd.”


**Tickets for The Kingsmen, The Perrys and Karen Peck & New River at The Paramount Arts Center in Ashland can be purchased at www.paulbelcher.com or at The Friends & Memories Tour featuring: Karen Peck & New River, The Perrys, and The Kingsmen Tickets | Ashland, KY | Paramount Arts Center (etix.com)