DVD Review: Torch (Various Artists)

RATING: 4 Stars

Label: Daywind Records
INSP Producer: Steven Hoyt
INSP Director: Russell Hall
Daywind Producers: Crystal Burchette, Ed Leonard, Mike Speck, Melody VanNus, and Rick Shelton
Website: www.daywind.com

Song Titles: “The Race,” “Stand Up,” “We Shall Wear A Crown,” “Midnight Cry,” “He’s Still Working On Me,” “I’m Getting Ready To Leave This World,” “Grace,” “Who Am I Medley,” “Boundless Love,” “Redeemer,” “Shout To The Lord/How Great Thou Art,” and “Our Generation”

Torch: A Live Celebration Of Southern Gospel’s Next Generation is a fifty-minute video recorded at Freedom Hall in Louisville, KY during the National Quartet Convention in 2005. Both the INSP-TV network and Daywind Records had a hand in putting this project together. Mike Speck hosts the event, which spotlights many of Southern Gospel’s top artists under the age of thirty. These featured singers are backed by a choir of up and coming young artists.

Most of the songs on Torch are remakes of hits made popular by Southern Gospel groups in the past. Exceptions include a new song called “The Race” which opens the video and “Our Generation” which closes it. The popular praise song “Shout To The Lord” is also included. All the songs feature combinations of artists who don’t typically sing together. For example, Lauren Talley, Scott Inman, Annie McRae and Adam Crabb perform “The Race” while Amber Thompson, Jeff Snyder, Kelly McRae, and Christian Davis offer their version of the Nelons classic “We Shall Wear A Crown.” Representing the youngest artists on the stage, Autumn Thompson and Avery Wolfe sing solo lines on the timeless Hemphills song “He’s Still Working On Me.”

The crowd seems to respond most strongly to the male quartets that were put together for Torch. These include:
1. Jeremy Peace, Josh Feemster, Derrick Selph, and Jeremy Lile singing the Kingsmen standard “Stand Up,”
2. John Rulapaugh, Lance Moore, Josh Singletary, and Aaron McCune on “I’m Getting Ready To Leave This World” and
3. Anthony Facello, Josh Garner, Scott Inman, and Chris West performing “Boundless Love.”

Lauren Talley, Stephanie Brown, and Eddie Harrison also get an excellent response from their version of “Shout To The Lord/How Great Thou Art.” Several male singers including Jason Crabb and Matt McFarland take the stage for “Midnight Cry.” The Crabb Family has a nice rendition of “Redeemer.” Jim Mahalick, Amber Balltzglier, and Jessica Harrison join to sing the Martins staple, “Grace.”

From a technical point of view, this video isn’t in the same league as a Gaither production, though I should note in light of the most recent Gaither videos that the cameras generally stay in focus on Torch. It looks a bit fuzzy, though. The lighting could have been better and the black backdrop certainly didn’t help the camera crew when it came to controlling their white balance levels. Freedom Hall, unfortunately, isn’t the most attractive arena in the world and there’s only so much a video crew can do to dress it up. Overall, the production quality on this release is comparable to other live Daywind video releases and generally surpasses most of the videos that groups make on their own.

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Category DVD Review

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. He is the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music and the owner of both SGHistory.com and MusicScribe.com. David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

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