Guest Post: Why Legacy Five’s Blend Improved

Guest Post: Why Legacy Five’s Blend Improved

Some quartets feature four distinct voices. Others blend as one. For years, Legacy Five has belonged in the first category. But the release last Friday of their new CD In the Hands of a Carpenter shows how far they’ve moved toward the second category.

Why?

Consider this:

Matt Fouch is a bass singer who can rattle the subwoofers whenever he likes.

Scott Howard is a baritone who used to sing bass before joining Legacy Five. While he’s perfectly capable of hitting a baritone’s high notes, he does it with a bass singer’s rich tone.

Scott Fowler is a lead singer who used to sing baritone before joining Legacy Five. While he’s perfectly capable of hitting a lead singer’s high notes, he does it with a baritone’s warm tone.

So until recently, Legacy Five’s blend featured a high tenor joining three singers whose previous positions were bass, bass, and baritone.

But their current tenor, Josh Feemster, used to sing lead with Mercy’s Mark. While he’s perfectly capable of hitting a tenor’s high notes, he does it with a lead singer’s commanding tone.

So with a tenor who used to sing lead, a lead who used to sing baritone, and a baritone who used to sing bass, it’s no wonder that Legacy Five’s blend is the most cohesive it’s ever been.

Daniel J. Mount

<p>Daniel J. Mount is a Christian author and songwriter. He lives in Black Mountain, NC.</p>

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27 Comments

  1. Bobbie
    Reply November 16, 21:49 #1 Bobbie

    So glad to have this explanation! I am in agreement with you, but I didn’t know the “whys”…….
    Thrilled with their ‘new’ sound.




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    • Daniel J. Mount
      Reply November 17, 17:56 Daniel J. Mount

      I am, too! My thought process started with “I love their sound now!” And then it moved to “I wonder what changed?”




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  2. David
    Reply November 17, 08:51 #2 David

    Nice to hear from Daniel again-I miss his contributions to the blogosphere.




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  3. Darrell
    Reply November 17, 09:29 #3 Darrell

    Good to read this review. I believe it was some YouTube comments I read shortly after Josh was hired that were critical of the hire. They weren’t sure he could handle the high notes. (Of course you need to take those with a grain of salt.) Obviously Scott knew what he was doing. Now I want to go hear L5 in concert. :-)




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    • Daniel J. Mount
      Reply November 17, 18:00 Daniel J. Mount

      Well, people almost always criticize a tenor’s high notes when he’s new. It seems to come with the territory, I guess! But in this case, a tenor who can go high but likes hanging out a little lower suits their blend perfectly. :)




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  4. JE Butler
    Reply November 18, 07:16 #4 JE Butler

    L5 has always been in the upper tier, from Day #1. There has always been something special about this group going back to the humility shown by Roger and Scott.

    I have personally always preferred a bass who did not camp out in the bottom range and a tenor who did not camp out in the top range. Blend is next to impossible when this is going on. There is a unique quality in their sound today. I feel Feemster was a perfect hire and Fouch is the perfect bass for this group.

    Some entertain, some minister – these guys entertain and minister.

    Good to read your thoughtful and informed words again Daniel.

    JEB




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    • Daniel J. Mount
      Reply November 18, 12:56 Daniel J. Mount

      Thanks! It’s good to read your thoughtful and informed words again, too. :)




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  5. Brandon Coomer
    Reply November 18, 12:07 #5 Brandon Coomer

    I’ll be the dissenter to say that while this might give you a blend, the current trend of low baritones singing bass, high baritones singing lead, and lead singers singing tenor is one of the things hurting southern gospel music right now. With quartet vocals being condensed into narrow ranges and the overuse of two or three producers/arrangers, it makes too many groups sound stale.




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    • Daniel J. Mount
      Reply November 18, 15:42 Daniel J. Mount

      It’s wonderful to have tenor singing high Ds all night if you have a lead singer who can sing high B-flats all night and a baritone who can sing high Fs all night. Put another way, it’s great to have a Jeremy Peace if you have a Tim Rackley and Doug Roark on lead and baritone. It’s great to have a Jay Parrack if you have Jonathan Wilburn and Mark Trammell.

      But if you have Scott Fowler and Scott Howard, you’re better off with Josh Feemster.




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      • David Bruce Murray
        Reply November 18, 16:00 David Bruce Murray

        I agree with Brandon that using only a few producers is limiting the genre and people singing outside their comfortable range is never a good thing. I just don’t think that’s the point Daniel is making in this case.

        As long as Legacy Five sings songs that are arranged properly, there’s no need for Feemster to sing “real” tenor notes like high Cs and above. Most male quartet songs can be arranged to fit between a low F for the bass and a high A for the tenor, or a low E-flat for the bass and a high G for the tenor. The groups that do the extremes either do it because they really can pull it off (both classic Gold City lineups), or because they think it sounds better than it actually does. I’d much rather hear a group that knows their limitations range-wise. Always leave a little extra “in the tank.”




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        • Daniel J. Mount
          Reply November 18, 16:03 Daniel J. Mount

          By the way, I do agree that using only too few producers limits any genre. And DBM’s right – I intended the main point to be vocal ranges.




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        • Darrell
          Reply November 18, 16:07 Darrell

          I’ve never understood why some quartets think they have to pitch their arrangements so high. Higher is not always better, especially if it means that the blend is not there. Not saying you don’t want an occasional song where the tenor and the bass “doing their thing”. Just don’t make it the norm.




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          • yankeegospelgirl
            November 18, 19:16 yankeegospelgirl

            It’s also bad for groups who want to have a long shelf life as their singers age.




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  6. JE Butler
    Reply November 18, 15:44 #6 JE Butler

    Brandon:

    I disagree… And I will say this… If SG is going to grow much beyond the current market, even with all that Gaither has done, it will not be with squeaky tenors and bass singers who can hit low notes but are unable to sustain the note or blend with the other singers.

    JEB




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    • Brandon Coomer
      Reply November 18, 18:20 Brandon Coomer

      JE, I agree with you that the future will not be with “squeaky tenors or bass singers who can hit low notes,” but I’m sure I am thinking that for a different reason. That isn’t the future because the talent isn’t there. The style has moved away from that not out of preference, but because groups can’t find singers that can do it. And please don’t think I’m saying that a blend isn’t important or that every song has to be sky high. Blend is very important and if every song was high, it would be just as bad as every song sounding the same. Groups need to find a middle ground. As it is, the music is losing my interest. I went to NQC two nights this year, and was bored out of my mind. As much as I love SGM, that terrifies me.




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      • yankeegospelgirl
        Reply November 18, 19:14 yankeegospelgirl

        My blog has been semi-dormant for a while as my tastes/interests have moved on, but speaking personally I’ve always found that SG holds my interest if the songwriting is strong and the vocals are pleasing. I don’t demand the thrill of having the high tenor pierce the stratosphere every time, I just want music that leaves me feeling “full,” figuratively speaking. It was the samey writing that eventually caused me to move on, not samey vocals.




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  7. Brian Fuson
    Reply November 18, 18:35 #7 Brian Fuson

    Daniel, glad to have you writing again, although I disagree with you. I like Josh Feemster, but he’s not a tenor singer. He’s a high lead and those who remember him from his Mercy’s Mark days know he’s a fantastic lead singer. Their new project, In The Hands of A Carpenter, is evidence of this. On Soul Pilot, the verses don’t even sound like a tenor feature.

    Furthermore, I think L5’s blend was at its best with Gus Gaches and Frank Seamans. Just my opinion.

    I also agree wholeheartedly with Brandon. And to JE’s point, not every tenor can sound like Jay Parrack and not every bass can be Tim Riley. However, it’s becoming too common place amongst SG groups. Same ranges, same producers, what’s the difference? Many outsiders already think every quartet sounds the same, why prove them right?




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    • JE Butler
      Reply November 19, 07:35 JE Butler

      Feemster not a tenor??? Gerald Wolfe is the one that told Feemster he was a tenor, and if GW said it, then he is a tenor! I am a fan only. GW knows more about this genre of music than 99%+ of the people who love SG.




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      • Daniel J. Mount
        Reply November 19, 18:13 Daniel J. Mount

        Here’s the ironic thing: It’s the Josh Feemsters, Tim Rackleys, and Jonathan Wilburns of the world who are the true tenors by a classical definition. They’re the ones who can sing in full-voice up to B-flats.

        From that point, it’s just really a matter of preference if one prefers a true tenor or a counter-tenor singing the first tenor position in a Southern Gospel group. In the ’60s, the trend was for true tenors. In the ’80s, the trend was for counter-tenors. Right now it’s more of a mix.




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  8. yankeegospelgirl
    Reply November 18, 19:10 #8 yankeegospelgirl

    I’m just now really sampling this new blend. I agree, it’s the best yet. Really love Feemster’s tone. In the lower register, it resembles Fowler, which of course is a good thing for blend.




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    • Daniel J. Mount
      Reply November 18, 20:42 Daniel J. Mount

      Exactly – and the thing is, there aren’t many if any other tenor singers whose tones remotely resemble Fowler’s. They’d be hard-pressed to find someone closer who could still go up and hit the high B-flats and Cs their arrangements require.




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  9. Brian Fuson
    Reply November 18, 22:30 #9 Brian Fuson

    Also to add to your Fowler point, Scott was a baritone for the Cats in name only. He sang the higher harmony parts above Glen the majority of the time, much like how Rodney Griffin is the baritone for GV, but is singing the part above Gerald. Fowler was also the lead singer for The Sound prior to joining the Cats.




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  10. Nate Stainbrook
    Reply November 19, 00:00 #10 Nate Stainbrook

    I am with Daniel on this one. This is by far the best L5 has sounded IMO. And I was the biggest Gus Gaches fan around. Josh Feemster blends with Scott Fowler better than any tenor I have heard with L5, and that makes the rest of the group that much better.

    As far as Brian saying that Josh did not sound much like a tenor on “Soul Pilot”, they had actually cut “One Holy Lamb” for the new project as Josh’s big feature. However the song “In The Hands Of The Carpenter” was added late in the process and one song had to go. I have heard their version of “One Holy Lamb”, and I can assure you that Josh sounds very much like a tenor. I look forward to hearing future efforts from this lineup of Legacy Five.




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  11. JSR
    Reply November 19, 00:47 #11 JSR

    Looking at all these good comments and the names on the comments makes me feel like I’ve stepped back in time.

    Discussions like this helped me become a SG fan.




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