CD Review: “The Inspiration Of Broadway” – Ernie Haase & Signature Sound with J. Mark McVey

CD Review: “The Inspiration Of Broadway” – Ernie Haase & Signature Sound with J. Mark McVey

The Inspiration of BroadwayThe Inspiration of Broadway
StowTown Records
http://www.erniehaase.com
Format: Studio CD & Digital, Live DVD
Available: August 14, 2015

TUNE-O-METER LEVEL: Low

Studio CD Song list:  (1) “Any Dream Will Do” – [Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice]  (2) “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” – [Cole Porter]  (3) “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” – [Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II]  (4) “Get Happy” – [Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler]  (5) “The Impossible Dream” – [Mitch Leigh/Joe Darion]  (6) “Ol’ Man River” – [Oscar Hammerstein II/Jerome Kern]  (7) “Seasons Of Love”  – [Jonathan Larson]  (8) “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat” – [Frank Loesser] (9) “I Got The Sun In The Morning” – [Irving Berlin]  (10) “Bring Him Home” – [Alain Boublil/Herbert Kretzmer/Claude-Michel Schonberg]  (11) “Sunrise, Sunset” – [Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick]  (12) “Together (Wherever We Go)” – [Jule Styne/Stephen Sondheim]  (13) “You’ll Never Walk Alone” – [Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II]

Ernie Haase & Signature Sound has never been a group known for following “the rules” of southern gospel music. Whether it be their on-stage attire, choreography, or musical selections, there’s no denying that EHSS has marched to the beat of their own drum. In some instances, it’s worked to great effect, while others kinda left folks scratching their heads.

The Inspiration of Broadway is going to be the ultimate head-scratcher, I believe. That’s not to say that the album is bad, per se. It’s very well-done, and seems right up producer Wayne Haun’s alley, arrangement wise, but it’s just not a southern gospel album. So, how do you review an album that hits a bullseye on a completely different target than the one expected?

For starters, J. Mark McVey, a veteran Broadway performer, is featured on the cover and credited individually, but from what I can tell, he’s simply an added vocalist on most songs. There really isn’t much of a feature for him, at least not any more than the other members of EHSS. I initially expected an album featuring McVey with EHSS on backing vocals (similar to what they did on their George Younce record), but instead, he’s just kind of added to the group and given little more to do (although his performance of “Bring Him Home,” which he sang in Les Miserables, is quite amazing).

I can see how songs like “Any Dream Will Do” and “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” might make it with SG audiences, and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” has been sung by gospel groups for years, but the inclusion of songs like “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat” and “Get Happy” are strenuous reaches at best. Including “Seasons of Love,” while admittedly an enjoyable and pretty much positive song, may get some negative reaction from more conservative listeners simply based on the musical that it came from (and yes, each song lists the musical from which it originated, which is nice).

Again, this is not a bad album. It is VERY well done – large, solid orchestral arrangements, tight mixes, and top-notch singing abound. It would easily be right at home (and could easily compete with) any mainstream showtunes compilation or cast album – and therein lies the problem. At the end of the day, this is a showtunes album, not a gospel album.

A live DVD was also filmed to coincide with this project. I’ve not seen more than a preview, but given as it’s done in a concert setting, it probably won’t differ much from the studio release (aside from having a live audience and some stage choreography).

If showtunes are your cup o’ tea, then you’re most likely to enjoy this album. If you are expecting a more gospel-flavored album, however, you might want to try Happy People instead.

UPDATE: Apparently StowTown Records has updated the cover of both the CD and DVD with the current lineup prior to their release. What makes this odd is that the demo I received of the studio CD most definitely has Doug Anderson’s voice intact (and the artwork they sent me included Doug on the cover). Have they since recut the CD with Dustin Doyle on vocals? Also, you may notice that Tyler Vestal is featured on the cover. This goes along with rumblings I’ve heard of his being prepped to take over for Wayne Haun. Perhaps Ernie is moving him to front-line status.

Either way, this is an odd move for the DVD, as it was originally shot live with Doug at baritone. While recutting a studio vocal is relatively easy, reshooting an entire stage production is a bit more work, so I highly doubt they went that far, but in either case, it is going to confuse fans who think they’re going to see Dustin with the group and instead are getting Doug’s performance….

Category CD Reviews, Reviews

Kyle Boreing

Kyle has been writing for MusicScribe since 2008. He is a gospel music soloist, occasional quartet singer, and church music director who pays way too much attention to recordings. He is an alumni of Stamps-Baxter School of Music and has shared the stage with artists such as Mercy's Mark, the Dove Brothers Band, and The Oak Ridge Boys. Visit his website at www.kyleboreing.com, or follow him on Twitter @kyleboreing.

MusicScribe Comments

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11 Comments

  1. anthony
    Reply July 27, 12:53 #1 anthony

    To be absolutely honest, I stopped following and buying there cd’s since 2008 when i seen them in concert. I’ll stop there. Not my cup of tea.




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    • joshvanklomp
      Reply July 30, 20:16 joshvanklomp

      Thats too bad, considering the lineup is entirely different from the group 7 years ago (sans Haase, of course)




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  2. Brad
    Reply July 27, 13:12 #2 Brad

    I actually enjoy most of the songs on this CD, and the DVD is a very fun watch. I believe EHSS was going for a more inspirational goal rather than pure gospel, and I think they accomplished that, at least to some degree, with the DVD. I also got to see “Old Man River” staged live at the Memphis Quartet Show. It was performed expertly by Paul Harkey and received a huge ovation. Of course we were only a stones throw away from the mighty Mississippi, but I don’t think that was the main reason for the great crowd reaction.

    Also, the Melody Boys recorded “Get Happy” several years ago, so that is another song with a a southern gospel connection.




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  3. Sue Smith
    Reply July 27, 19:32 #3 Sue Smith

    I was at the taping and it was magical. We all get inspired by different things. Gospel music is my first love. But just as when David Phelps put out his Classic cd some people criticized it because it wasn’t “gospel” enough. Everyone who follows EHSS has known they have been planning this cd for a couple of years. It may not be your cup of tea…….BUT it is wonderful and inspirational to me. God has gifted these men with an ability to reach people on a new level. I applaud them for being brave enough to take a chance. And I consider “Inspiration of Broadway” an exceptional cd from an exceptional group!!




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  4. yankeegospelgirl
    Reply July 28, 14:43 #4 yankeegospelgirl

    I have no problem with a show tunes album. I do have a problem with the choice to cover “Seasons of Love,” since the way “love” is defined in the context of the musical is completely antithetical to true love.

    I would be really disappointed if they re-cut the album without Doug. My copy still has his vocals on it.




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  5. joshvanklomp
    Reply July 30, 20:19 #5 joshvanklomp

    It’s not a SG album, but I don’t think it was ever intended to be one. EHSS has never limited itself to the small box of SG music. Perhaps that’s why they’ve had more consistent support and concert attendance over the years.




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  6. Gradie
    Reply July 31, 01:33 #6 Gradie

    I wish EHSS the best with this recording. In our society today, the gospel needs to be put out there as much as possible regardless of the style. It may not be my preference but it may preferable to some people over the style(s) I’d lean toward.

    I’ve listened to southern gospel music for over 30 years so my brain just keys on certain things. For instance, when I look at the CD cover all I keep seeing is “The Inspirations on Broadway”. Am I the only one? Sorry if I ruined it for anyone else.




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  7. Abk
    Reply July 31, 07:17 #7 Abk

    Outstanding music on this album. A great generalized “music lover” release. Totally out of the southern gospel box, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Seasons of Love” is a great song and a great performance. I do recommend NOT seeing Rent before hearing this version. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, LOL.




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