What Part Are You Singing?

What Part Are You Singing?

With news of Legacy Five hiring Josh Feemster as their newest tenor singer, I’ve been looking back at other singers who sang different parts over the course of their singing career. I’m not talking about someone who filled in on a part, but someone who was hired specifically to sing one part, then switched vocal parts somewhere down the line*.

Who can you think of who sang multiple parts over their professional singing career? The ones that immediately come to mind are:

  • Jim Hill (tenor with the Stamps, lead with the Statesmen)
  • Roy Tremble (baritone and later tenor with the Cathedrals)
  • Michael Helwig (tenor with the Dixie Echoes, lead with the Blackwood Brothers)
  • David Mann (lead and later bass with the [Mark] Blackwood Quartet)

*I don’t count lead/baritone shifts, as those typically tend to be similar vocal ranges.

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Kyle Boreing

Kyle has been writing for MusicScribe since 2008. He is a musician, producer, arranger, and occasional quartet singer, who pays way too much attention to recordings. He is an alumni of Stamps-Baxter School of Music and has shared the stage with many different artists. He also really likes movies that are "so bad they're good." Visit his website at www.kyleboreing.com, or follow him on Twitter @kyleboreing.

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  1. Reply October 20, 10:59 #1 Bill

    Jon Epley sang baritone then bass for the Inspirations. Bill Gaither baritone to bass for the Vocal Band.

  2. Reply October 20, 11:39 #2 Joe Mannon

    Roy McNeil seemed to move from tenor to lead pretty often, with several groups.

  3. Reply October 20, 11:54 #3 smilinsince69

    Phillip Hughes has bounced from Tenor to Lead with a couple of groups.

  4. Reply October 20, 12:02 #4 Abk

    Brian Alvey has done tenor (Tribute), lead (Skyline Boys), baritone (Kingdom Heirs), and played piano (Southern Sound).

    Josh Garner sang lead and tenor at different points with the Florida Boys.

    Brad Smith, lead singer with The Impacts, bass singer with The Blackwoods.

    Jack Mainord and Howard Welborn each at different points filled all 3 upper parts with the Plainsmen.

    Gerald Williams has of course sung bass all these years, but also sang baritone with the Plainsmen during the late 70s.

    Shorty Bradford sang all 4 parts, sometimes in rapid succession on the same song.

    • Reply October 20, 12:18 David Bruce Murray

      Going forward on most new material recorded by the Kingdom Heirs, you’re going to hear Brian Alvey singing the part between Jerry and Arthur quite a bit. He’s billed as a “baritone” just like Scott Fowler was a “baritone” with the Cathedrals, but it’s a baritone that sings closer to a tenor range than a true baritone.

      Assuming this line-up continues for a few years, there will be a good bit of switching back and forth as they continue to do old material, but it’s also worth noting that on one of their sets at NQC this year, they actually featured Alvey on “The Rock’s Between The Hard Place And You,” which used to be a feature for Arthur.

      It’s a smart, smart move on their part. It’s the sort of wise foresight that can extend a great singer’s career for another ten years.

  5. Reply October 20, 12:06 #5 David Bruce Murray

    I can’t list the groups, but Brad Smith has sung all four parts.

    So has Chip Cooper, lead for the Pine Ridge Boys, bass for Ed Crawford’s Mystery Men. He’s also been the bass & baritone for the Florida Boys. He sang tenor at one point as well, but I don’t think that was for a professional group.

  6. Reply October 20, 12:10 #6 David Bruce Murray

    I can think of two singers who need to switch to a lower part now that they’re older. And there’s no reason why they can’t, since they’re both soloists at the moment.

    I won’t name any names, but one is a tenor who sounds like a crowing rooster when he goes for his high notes these days. The other is a lead who I’ve heard switch to a baritone part mid-song when the key gets too high for him. How hard is it to find a song track in a lower key, really?

  7. Reply October 20, 14:44 #7 joshvanklomp

    I don’t know if this would qualify, but Nathan Kisler has been singing Connie Hopper’s part when she takes a song off, but when they do Hopper Brothers 2.0, he’s singing the tenor.

    • Reply October 20, 15:29 Darrell

      Isn’t the 1rst tenor in a male quartet singing the equivalent of the alto part in a SATB mixed quartet? I’m thinking in terms of vocal range. Speaking of the Hoppers, didn’t Greg Bentley sing the highest part when he was with them “back in the day”? So actually he would have been singing the soprano part. I don’t think you see that much in SG music today.

  8. Reply October 20, 20:52 #8 yankeegospelgirl

    Wes Hampton has sung tenor, lead and baritone as needed with the GVB, as has David Phelps.

  9. Reply October 21, 06:29 #9 nber

    Dave Kyllonen switched from bass to baritone with The Couriers, Frank Sutton went from baritone to tenor with The Dixie Melody Boys, Donnie Seabolt went from tenor to lead The Blue Ridge Quartet.

  10. Reply October 21, 12:22 #10 Samuel

    Gerald Wolfe started on on piano with the Dumplin Valley Trio, then to baritone, then to tenor.

  11. Reply October 21, 23:35 #11 Dean Adkins

    Dean Brown sang tenor with Blackwood Boys (aka many other names) and then sang lead with the Prophets.

  12. Reply November 01, 00:35 #12 Paul Edwards

    I wish I could remember which one, but on a Gaither video Ben Issacs sang bass on an a cappella song the Issacs performed.

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