By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com
When His Heart Quartet went in the studio for the group’s newest CD, there might have been a bit of apprehension about a new work that emphasized the old.
The reception of “Truth” indicates there should never have been any questions about one of Kentucky’s most popular Southern Gospel groups.
“I didn’t know how people would like it because I have been bringing some of the older styles back,” says baritone Bill Sowder, the group’s founder and owner. “This has more of the traditional quartet sound.”
Sowder breaks into a big smile. “Everyone who has the CD loves it,” he says.
His Heart unveiled the CD with a release party at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in April and fans have been raving about a work that combines some of the sounds of modern Southern Gospel with songs written 20 years ago or more. At times, the album brings back the memories of all-day-singing-and-dinner-on-the-ground along with air conditioning provided by handheld fans promoting funeral homes.
Whatever the style, the CD showcases the talents of a group that stays busy traveling around Kentucky and surrounding states.
“We have had some people say it is the best (CD) we have ever done,” Sowder says. “It’s got some great songs on it.”
“Truth” comes from the featured cut, “Truth is Marching On,” written by Jim Brady, Tony Wood and Barry Weeks. “I’ll tell you, it is an awesome cut,” Sowder says. “I like the message. We have a lot of songs on the CD that go way back 20 years or more but the message, the message of the truth will stand forever. That just stayed with me.”
Lead singer Jeremy Dickerson takes over on the title cut which tells the story of Christ’s life and sacrifice while incorporating a line from “Battle Hymn of The Republic.”
“Jeremy is featured pretty heavily on this CD,” Sowder says. “He’s on ‘Leave with Nothing Left’ and ‘When Jesus Speaks Life,’ which is a great song The Kingdom Heirs did.”
The CD opens with the uptempo “I Knew it was the Blood” and a driving rendition of “What We Needed,” both of which bring back the sounds of an old-fashioned gospel quartet.
Sowder takes the lead on “The Ground is Level,” a song written by Mark Lanier while tenor Kyle Harris and bass Bob Abbott hit the high and low notes throughout the work. “Kyle isn’t featured on as many ballads but he’s featured on some tenor step outs,” Sowder says.
Abbott closes the CD with a heartfelt rendering of Johnny Cash’s “Ragged Old Flag.” The group changed one lyric line to reflect the nation’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the red, white and blue blood of the classic remains the same.
While the CD was released independently, His Heart went to Daywind Studios in Hendersonville, Tenn., using renowned writer-musician Marty Funderburk to produce “Truth.”
Sowder believes the success of “Truth” is simple. It really is truth.
“All of His Heart are sold out to the fact that Jesus is the reason we sing,” he says. “We told God that if He’d honor our efforts, we’d give our best every time we take that platform. In order to sell anything, you first have to believe in the product. Because we believe, Jesus is easy for us to promote. We have kept our commitment, and most of all, God has honored and blessed our efforts. We commit each song, each CD, for the Glory Of God.”
His Heart named Artist in Residence at Kentucky Music Hall of Fame
His Heart was named the Artist in Residence at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame earlier this year. The Hall of Fame is located near Renfro Valley Entertainment Center in Mt. Vernon, the group’s hometown.
“It is an honor to be the Artist in Residence at the Hall of Fame,” Sowder says. “It give us an opportunity to sing, not just for the gospel crowd but it gives us an opportunity to spread the gospel. They have some special events and we are scheduled to sing there several times this year.”