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Top 10 Southern Gospel Favorites 2014: A Half Yearly Review

The Taylors

As we step into the second half of 2014, it's time to take stock of the some of the best Southern Gospel music that has had been released this year.

In completing a tally like this, one has to admit that subjectivity and personal tastes are inevitable.  And it is often the cause of grief that not everyone's favorites will be included.  However, in order to set some level of objectivity, we have followed two criteria:  first in order for a song to be considered, it needs to be released within the time frame of January to June of 2014.  

Second, only songs that were sent to us were considered.  In this regard, we want to thank  Carol Roundtree (StowTown/Provident), Jim Stover (Crossroads Music), Amanda Martin (Daywind),Sarah Drumheller (Proper Management) and Brian Speer for their generous support.

So, here goes: 

10. John Bowman's "Have Your Way" from John Bowman's "Worship Him"

You don't need a stadium's worth of equipment to worship Jesus.  Quipped with just a guitar and his voice, Bowman brings us right into Christ's presence on this acoustic rendition of Darlene Zschech's (Hillsong) ballad:  intimate, exquisite, poetic, and simply worshipful.        

9.  The Perrys "I Can Trust Him" from the Perrys' "Into His Presence"

After Tracy Stuffle's massive stroke last year, this album almost didn't materialize.  Thus, to hear the Perrys sing "I Can Trust Him," especially the part they weave in the tag lines of the hymn "Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus," it is hard to fight back the tears.  This is more than a song that exalts the faithfulness of God, it's a living breathing example of faith in action. 

8.  Watts, Rowsey and Bean "I Am Still Your Child" from "Turn Your Radio On"

When Jesus talked about trusting him with a child like faith in the Gospels, Watts, Rowsey and Bean takes on the task of setting Jesus' command into music.  Intertwining strains of the nursery rhyme "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" so appropriately into this ballad, "I Am Still Your Child" speaks of God's sovereignty and our simple trust in him.  The line, "You put a twinkle in the sky so I don't have to wonder where you are," still chokes at the heart with every listen.  

7. The Nelons "Sweet Hour of Prayer/I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again/Pray" from the Nelons' "Hymns: the A Cappella Sessions"

You can't compile a list of the best Southern Gospel songs without a song about prayer.  In every era of the church, prayer is always God's choice device to get His will accomplished. Here the Nelons string together in an ingenious manner, three songs about prayer coming from different eras and context to show us the universality of prayer across time and cultures.  And with just their harmonies, the hour of prayer has never been sweeter. 

6.  Red Roots "Seven Days" from Red Roots' "Triplicity"

It's more than just the locks of these three identical triplets that are red.  Burning with perfervid banjo riffs and some chunky mandolin sounds, "Seven Days" is a red hot scorcher of a song that calls for us to resign as the CEOs of our own cosmos.  Giving the reins back to God, there is a liberating trust that makes you want to jump, sing and dance in worship.  

5. The Talleys "Holy Ground" from the Talleys' "The Test of Time"

The Talleys' latest release "The Test of Time" is choked full of great tunes that picking out one's favorite is indeed a challenge.  Yet, one song that adds a defining nuance to the word "heavenly" is the Talley's rendition of Geron Davis' "Holy Ground."  Rarely has a song configured itself so well that the layered harmonies, the timing of the vocals, the emotional investment of each utterance and the Spirit-guided atmosphere transport us right into God's heavenly courts.  If you want to hear what heaven sounds like, give this track a spin.  

4. Allison Speer "The Light of the Kerosene" from Allison Speer's "Writer"

Speer is indeed a writer par excellence.  On this griping story song, she'll get you hanging on every word.  Told with a deep emotional flourish, the story of the song revolves around the sacrificial love of a blind grandmother who would read the Bible to her grandson by the light of the kerosene.  After many years later, her labor of love was finally rewarded when the lad finally gave his life to Christ. Be warned, this is heart rendering material at its best.  

3.  Allan Hall "The Light" from Allan Hall's "Work of Love"

Though he keeps himself busy as a third of Christian group Selah, when it comes to his own individual offerings, his presence is scarce.  10 years after his solo debut record, we have been blessed (finally) with his follow-up this year.  Opening up the set is this oft-beat Emmylou Harris and Kieran Kane penned "The Light."  An obscure track initially found on Emmylou Harris "A Cowgirl's Prayer," Hall brings out Jesus in a major way on this sonic quest for life's purpose.  

2. Mark Bishop "Pray on the Little Days" from Mark Bishop's "That What It's All About"

When Mark Bishop sings about those days when we feel so helpless and God seems to be on His long-service leave, you can almost be certain that he has read our diaries.  Like a brother who comes alongside us when our faith is wobbly, "Pray on the Little Days" is such a lifter of the heart. 

1. The Taylors "I Tremble" from The Taylors' "Measure of Grace"

In the chronicles of Narnia, in his description of Aslan (the Christ figure), C. S. Lewis writes, "He's not safe, but He's good."  Conterminously, God is both to be feared as well as to be loved.  Few can capture such contrasting attributes of God as perspicuously as the Taylors as in "I Tremble." This gorgeously crafted ballad captures judiciously the majesty of God in both its transcendence and its intimacy.

Tags : Top 10 Southern Gospel Favorites Southern Gospel 2014 Southern Gospel Favorites Southern Gospel best songs Hallels Southern Gospel Favorites Red Roots THE TALLEYS John Bowman John Bowman Worship Him Watts Rowsey Bean The Perrys the nelons Allan Hall Selah Mark Bishop crossroads music Daywind Records Allan Hall

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