Opinion: Legacy Five Has An Opportunity To Reformat

Opinion: Legacy Five Has An Opportunity To Reformat

Legacy Five faces the impending departures of original baritone Scott Howard as well as tenor Josh Feemster. Replacing one group member can be stressful enough, but replacing two can entirely alter a group’s character for better or for worse. The fact that Scott Howard has been a member of Legacy Five for the group’s entire existence (almost 20 years) means the coming changes are critical.

I used the term “opportunity” in the title of this article intentionally. Some fans will always have doubts about new hires, whoever they turn out to be. They’ll surely miss Howard given his long history with the group, and they’ll miss Feemster’s excellent vocal abilities as well. The opportunity in front of Legacy Five currently is to carefully choose the right pieces and come back stronger than ever, just as Scott Fowler’s mentors, Glen Payne and George Younce, did when three members left the Cathedrals back in 1979.

The best path going forward for Legacy Five would be for Scott Fowler to move back to the baritone role he held with the Cathedrals during the 1990s. With a dynamic lead singer and a clear-tone tenor combined with Fowler at baritone and Matt Fouch continuing to provide the foundation at bass, the result could truly be outstanding.

This current “task” of replacing two singers is better viewed as the perfect OPPORTUNITY for Legacy Five to reformat. With Fowler as baritone/emcee, their approach to future song arrangements would improve (assuming, of course, that the other two individuals they select can consistently deliver the goods).

Whether you agree or disagree, your responses are welcome.

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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52 Comments

  1. Brett Smith
    Reply April 15, 16:10 #1 Brett Smith

    I tend to agree with your assessment. Fowler is certainly a capable and accomplished lead singer and one who I might add probably has a vocal range on the upper end of what you typically would consider a baritone. But he’s certainly proven his ability to hold down the baritone part during his tenure with the Cathedrals. So given his age and the potential that he may welcome a break from the demanding lead position, this change might be the best way to go. At least it may help to ensure his longevity in singing, but then again look at Glen Payne. He remained at the lead position until his retirement. If Fowler did switch to baritone, then of course which young, dynamic lead singer do you select? I’m not sure. Go with a household name or someone unknown? I’m thinking unknown may be the best route. Find an individual like the Kingsmen or Soul’d Out Qt’s current leads. Very strong singers who most people probably did not know prior to them joining their respective groups. As for tenor, a name I’d like to see again is Randall Garland, formerly with Paul’s Journey several years ago. I was impressed with his singing back then and think he would make a great tenor for a group such as Legacy Five.

    • David Bruce Murray
      Reply April 15, 16:24 David Bruce Murray Author

      My first pick for tenor would be Robert Fulton.

      If they choose to hire a lead singer, he needs to have a somewhat “big” and more importantly, a distinctive voice. There are plenty of well-known names who would certainly fit the bill…Joseph Habedank, for example…I would be surprised if he wanted to go back to group work after having success as a soloist, but it’s that sort of singer who could really elevate Legacy Five’s sound.

      Regarding Glen Payne, one reason he was able to sing for so long is he typically sang in the baritone range. Many of their arrangements had Scott Fowler’s harmony part above Glen’s melody.

    • Tad Kirkland
      Reply April 15, 21:44 Tad Kirkland

      Glen Payne remained in the lead position in name only. Scott was singing most of the high notes between he and Ernie.

    • Russell Graham
      Reply April 17, 18:49 Russell Graham

      I agree with Randall Garland. Great tenor and an unbelievable songwriter in his own right.

  2. Jeff Gurnett
    Reply April 15, 16:23 #2 Jeff Gurnett

    Could not agree more. Fowler has been a solid lead with L5 but i wouldn’t consider him a dynamic lead. However, I’m guessing he doesn’t feel ready to step down to the baritone role, though.

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    • David Bruce Murray
      Reply April 15, 16:37 David Bruce Murray Author

      I would only consider it a step “down” in terms of musical pitch. The baritone role is just as important as the lead role in most respects, plus he’d still be the emcee.

    • Pat Armstrong
      Reply April 16, 06:39 Pat Armstrong

      Going to baritone definitely would not be a step down. That position is what ties the four-part harmony together. Look at the example Mark Trammell has set for years. Step down…I think not.

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      • Jeff Gurnett
        Reply April 16, 22:04 Jeff Gurnett

        Yes, I’m aware of what a baritone singer does. But there’s a reason the position is called “lead.” Further, Mark Trammell is more of a lead singer for his quartet than he is a baritone.

  3. John Snodgrass
    Reply April 15, 17:09 #3 John Snodgrass

    From what I have noticed of his singing, I am not confident that his range fits Baritone lows…. his range seems to be strong in the upper part to me.

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    • David Bruce Murray
      Reply April 15, 18:42 David Bruce Murray Author

      That’s more a matter of arranging. Fowler could sing a harmony part above the melody just as he often did with the Cathedrals.

  4. Tad Kirkland
    Reply April 15, 17:25 #4 Tad Kirkland

    I totally agree.

  5. Nathan Scott Stainbrook
    Reply April 15, 18:30 #5 Nathan Scott Stainbrook

    I’ve heard Lee Black (the songwriter) will be their new Tenor singer. As for the baritone I’m told it will be someone everyone will recognize, and that they were selected a while ago. Scott Howard made his intentions to retire known a while ago so they already have his replacement lined up. He cannot start until May. Feemster leaving was a surprise.

    I personally like the Lee Black hire. Check out his demo of his song “When The Prodigal Comes Home” on sound cloud. He has a very clear, and strong tenor voice with good range. Not to dismilar from Robert Fulton.

    I do agree with you David that Fowler would be best suited moving down to Baritone and let the new guy take over the lead position. I expect the changes to be announced this week.

    • David Bruce Murray
      Reply April 15, 18:40 David Bruce Murray Author

      Getting first crack at new songs written by Lee Black would definitely be a perk. I hadn’t heard enough of him to realize he was a tenor, but you’re right about that demo recording. He has the range.

      • Nathan Scott Stainbrook
        Reply April 15, 18:46 Nathan Scott Stainbrook

        Lee tends to write a lot of songs that L5 of the past would not record. They have recorded I believe 4 of his songs. However it’s mostly the more progressive groups like BFA that record his songs, so this could be a shift in musical style for L5 as well.

        I have been trying to guess who the new baritone will be and the name I keep coming back to is Bryan Walker. He would be a good fit in my opinion and I believe he could handle the lead as well if they want to go in that direction. Joseph Habedank would be the perfect fit; but as you said he is having a lot of success as a soloist right now.

      • Simon
        Reply April 15, 21:17 Simon

        Funny how everyone has an opinion, but nobody has the experience Fowler has in the industry.
        It would be extremely uplifting and helpful instead of trying to give advice to someone who has been very seccesful in the industry to instead pray for them and the transition they are going through.
        Evidently THEY are doing Gods work. NOT us gossiping about them.
        2 cents opinion

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        • David Bruce Murray
          Reply April 15, 21:45 David Bruce Murray Author

          It’s fascinating you appear to have no hesitation in sharing your own opinion while at the same time criticizing others for expressing theirs. :)

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  6. John Householder
    Reply April 15, 18:58 #6 John Householder

    I have said this for a long time, but I didn’t see Howard leaving anytime soon. Now that he is, I think it best for the group for Scott Fowler to move to baritone. He no longer has the range to sing lead like he once did, meaning they have to select low-vocal-range tenors. I mean, as good as his voice is, Feemster is a lead singer. I think it would take L5 to a level they haven’t been at in a while if they took this opportunity. Unfortunately, I doubt they will.

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  7. Scott Fowler
    Reply April 15, 20:48 #7 Scott Fowler

    I’m now on my second bag of popcorn…this is fun! :-) Please don’t let my presence here stop the honest dialogue. I seriously do enjoy reading everyone’s thoughts and assessments.

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    • olderthanuthink
      Reply April 17, 22:14 olderthanuthink

      Lucky for you, I have no thoughts. ;-) Just wanted to mention that one of my favorite songs on the Fanny Crosby cd is I Know the Sweet Voice of the Shepherd. Beautifully done! So, you know – thanks for that! (And I’m sure you’ll make the right calls on personnel. If you need any advice, you can always call Gaither – he’s been through this MANY times!)

  8. Ann Boggs
    Reply April 15, 21:17 #8 Ann Boggs

    SCOTT TO BARITONE

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    • Roman Gray
      Reply April 16, 08:49 Roman Gray

      Please keep the main thing the main thing, and keep the right balance between “ministry” and entertainment! Make your best decision, but base it the ability of L5 to connect the message of gospel music with people… a people who want something that the music of the prodigal’s far country cannot provide.

  9. Nate
    Reply April 15, 21:19 #9 Nate

    There is some very good and young talent out there to be found in the Southern Gospel Genre. Having Scott Fowler move down to a baritone role would be ok, but only on future projects. Any classic songs, which is a lot of what they sing, should be anchored by Fowler’s lead sound. I tend to think that an accomplished tenor, like Riley Harrison Clark, would be a good fit and a young lead/baritone singer would blend nicely. A move for Scott to lead in future projects would benefit not only because he would not have to worry about straining his voice and it would also make his voice last longer and be stronger for longer. Whatever they decide I will like and I have always loved hearing their old fashioned quartet sound that is hard to find today.

    • David Bruce Murray
      Reply April 15, 21:50 David Bruce Murray Author

      Regarding songs L5 has already recorded, I agree. The fans are going to want to continue to hear Scott on the songs where he is already the established lead singer.

    • Gail Douglass
      Reply April 16, 00:01 Gail Douglass

      If moving Scott to baritone would prove to help his voice for the longevity, . He could sing lead with the songs prior to the new guys coming on, and baritone for the new line up. Overall I know Scott has lead this group for 20 years and is more than capable and will do the right thing, no doubt about it

  10. disneygator
    Reply April 15, 21:46 #10 disneygator

    I guess this doesn’t matter since the line-up is already selected. But here’s another opinion. First, Legacy 5 needs songs. Songs they can call their own. GV went to the top with Rodney (and now Chris) writing songs that became their sound. Booths had Jim Brady, who really shaped their sound. Scotty Inman is definitely shaping the sound of Triumphant with his songs. If L5 had something like this, it would be a big boost. And I don’t mean someone we already know. Find a guy (or guys) that have a book of songs little known because of their part-time status from a region no one hears from. That to me is would be a great X factor. Otherwise, their just filling voids left by two incredible voices and personalities.

    As for Fowler’s voice, the dude still has it. He was never a true baritone with the Cats, and he was never a power voice like David Hill or Loren Harris. What he could use is a voice that’s big enough to carry the baritone, but high enough to help take the second tenor/lead on some songs…to let him rest in the baritone register. Not that he needs it at this point. But it would bring some added dynamics to the sound.

    When it comes to tenor, just get someone who can cut it. You’re L5, you can attract the best. Just get it done!

  11. KC Brandon
    Reply April 15, 22:07 #11 KC Brandon

    I personally think Scott should stay where he is. He’s one of then most underrated singers in the industry. Someone who would make a perfect baritone, who I would love to see back on the road, is Bryan Walker…formally with the Perrys. Bryan is an incredible singer. PLUS, he and Scott could interchange lead and baritone depending on the song selection. As for tenor, there’s not really that many out there that have caught my ear. BUT, there is a guy who filled in with Karen Peck and New River a while back….Lee Black. He’s a great songwriter, but what most people don’t know is that he’s a fantastic tenor singer as well. I’m anxious to see what the new line up will look like. Whoever they choose, I believe L5 will be better than ever. Here’s to another 20 years!!!

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    • David Bruce Murray
      Reply April 15, 22:16 David Bruce Murray Author

      Is KC Brandon Nostradamus? Or does KC Brandon already know more than they appear to admit? You decide.

    • Nate Stainbrook
      Reply April 15, 22:37 Nate Stainbrook

      That would be a terrific lineup. Walker is a very good baritone with a good range and has some power as well. He could easily take the lead on occasion. Lee Black is a musical genius, and awesome singer who would bring something to the group they haven’t had since Roger, and that is someone that can write really good Southern Gospel songs.

    • Glory
      Reply April 16, 11:24 Glory

      I think Scott is an amazing singer who sounds excellent in whatever part he sings. Scott has sung tenor on some songs (which proves he hasn’t lost his range), and Josh was a former lead. However, Josh had a tenor range with the large vocal chords of a lead singer. So, Josh was still a tenor just more powerful because he previously sang lead.I’ll miss Josh and Howie, but I trust that Scott has chosen great men to fill their places. I love Scott as a lead, and he will always be my favorite lead singer.

  12. JSR
    Reply April 15, 22:21 #12 JSR

    I do think opportunity is the way to look at it. It’s an opportunity to shape your sound in a special way. Consider the power a couple of voices can have on a group. For example, Wilburn and Parrick had with Gold City or Haase and Fowler with the Cathedrals.

    I’m not sure about tenor, but bringing Pat Barker in to sing baritone would be a solid move.

    • David Bruce Murray
      Reply April 15, 22:25 David Bruce Murray Author

      If Pat was willing to come on board to sing baritone, then I would totally reverse direction and agree Scott Fowler should remain at lead!!! :)

  13. Craig
    Reply April 15, 22:54 #13 Craig

    For what its worth —Scott, you are an extremely talented vocalist and leader. I think its absolutely wonderful that you are willing to open this up and be transparent here and hear what people have to say. Weve all heard the old sating about “Seasons of change”. There is so much value in that statement though. Every so often we need a refreshing and that goes for our ministiry as well. Scott, I have no doubt that you will make a solid choice here in which direction to go.

    As a natural born baritone thats been singing lead for quite a few years and not getting any younger – I completely understand the thought of changing things up and moving back to baritone…..and I say, go for it. Mix it up. Perhaps this is a God ordained time of “refreshing”

    Simon is right that we definitely should be lifting up Scott Fowler and L5 for wisdom during this time.

    Blessing to you, brother Scott

  14. David Bruce Murray
    Reply April 15, 23:02 #14 David Bruce Murray Author

    Thanks to all who have commented so far. As I’m writing this, it’s approaching 11:00 PM in my time zone and I’ll be turning the computer off soon.

    I am not always able to check and approve comments during the day. If you post tonight or tomorrow, just please understand I am not ignoring you. I will get to them as soon as I can.

    Thanks to everyone for being cordial. Sometimes these discussions can get rather heated and/or hurtful, but so far, the worst name I’ve been called (that I’ve seen, at any rate) is “clown” on Facebook where the link to this article was shared. That doesn’t bother me at all (and may not be too far off base anyway). It comes with the territory if I’m going to put my honest opinions out there.

    Good night, and God bless Southern Gospel!

  15. Shaun Ogdie
    Reply April 15, 23:31 #15 Shaun Ogdie

    Joseph Habedank, Jonathan Wilburn, or Doug Anderson. You add any of those three gents and you have taken Legacy Five to a whole new level. I dont know who you could go with as tenor other than guys already in quartets like my all time favorites, Jerry Martin and Jay Parrak. Maybe there is a new kid out there looking to begin his career. Either way Scott decides to go, I believe Legacy Five is still one of the premier quartets in Southern Gospel. They have remained faithful to southern gospel all these years and have stayed away from the contemporary sound which is huge for me! Looking forward to the announcement soon.

  16. Donell White
    Reply April 15, 23:44 #16 Donell White

    I think the most important thing to do is pray for God’s wisdom and guidance so that He continues to be glorified!

  17. Jay Hickman
    Reply April 15, 23:59 #17 Jay Hickman

    I like L5. But to be perfectly honest, I think their best CD was their first. This is due to the fact that the songs on their first CD were the most memorable to me. I still love the “Strong In The Strength” album, and in my opinion has not been matched since. Quality, memorable Song writing is what they need first I was at an L5 concert recently and Mr Fouch stole the show.

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  18. Sharon L Cordy
    Reply April 16, 04:11 #18 Sharon L Cordy

    Hi Scott I believe that your Dad and your Grandpa Hamm would say son let’s take this to the Lord.

  19. Thelma Frost
    Reply April 16, 05:53 #19 Thelma Frost

    Legacy Five will never be the same. My health will not allow me to go to another concert so I am glad I got to see you in Lima, Ohio GOD bless who ever joins the group

  20. nber
    Reply April 16, 06:42 #20 nber

    I recall it wasn’t too long ago on this website that someone felt the reason L5 was so popular was because of their sound…a tenor who used to sing lead, a lead who used to sing baritone and a baritone who could be a bass. For people who love SG, good harmony but don’t like getting their eardrums blasted, L5 was the perfect choice. If this is true, then maybe they will just keep doing what they are doing. On another note, I don’t understand why people get bent out of shape over people expressing their speculations about stuff like this. It’s fun to speculate. However in the end God is in control and I have to assume Scott is or has sought God’s will.

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    • David Bruce Murray
      Reply April 16, 18:21 David Bruce Murray Author

      nber,
      You are recalling an article written and posted here by Daniel Mount. Re-reading it just now, one distinction I noted vs. your recollection was that Daniel made the case for why Legacy Five’s blend had improved, not a case for why they are popular.

      They were already quite popular before Feemster joined, and I’m sure they’ll continue to be popular with the next two personnel changes.

      http://blog.musicscribe.com/2016/11/guest-post-why-legacy-fives-blend-improved/

      • nber
        Reply April 16, 22:04 nber

        Oh come on!! My recollection couldn’t possibly be off! Just kidding! LOL. Seriously they have had a good blend. They were to Eastern Canada here a while back. Even during the high endings they didn’t hurt your ears. Some other groups that have come this way I thought were going to break my eardrums.

  21. Tony Watson
    Reply April 16, 09:54 #21 Tony Watson

    With every change comes both adjustments and opportunity. When you have someone who has been one of the “faces” of a group for its entire history, it brings its own set of challenges, and expectations of fans and friends. I “trust the process” and look forward to the new chapter.

  22. Thurman Cagle
    Reply April 16, 10:25 #22 Thurman Cagle

    Let Scott make the decision

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    • David Bruce Murray
      Reply April 16, 18:22 David Bruce Murray Author

      No one is preventing him from making the decision. Perhaps you missed the first word in this article’s title.

  23. Ross Carter
    Reply April 16, 14:47 #23 Ross Carter

    I’m going to love L5 no matter who Scott adds to the lineup. We’ve had a lot of groups at our church, none better than L5. That being said, I’d love for him to hire someone with a vocal range similar to Bryan’s or Joseph’s. Scott would definitely have a lot more flexibility to really do some cool things vocally. I’m looking forward to hearing the new lineup!!

  24. Catherine Prentice
    Reply April 16, 17:51 #24 Catherine Prentice

    Scott is very capable having led L5 through some dark days and came out the other side doing just fine. I think this decision should be his. He has many friends in the business who can help him if he feels the need to reformat. I think we should ask God tomgive Scott wisdom and then see how the Lord leads him.

    • David Bruce Murray
      Reply April 16, 18:25 David Bruce Murray Author

      The decision is quite obviously his. Even if he changed his decision later based on opinions expressed here, it would still be his decision.

  25. Tiffany Tittle
    Reply April 16, 18:15 #25 Tiffany Tittle

    Scott could sing either part. He has done an awesome job with L5! I think I have most of their CDs or cassettes. Yes, I even have Scott’s solo cassette. I’m sad to see members like Scott Howard leave a group, but I have happy for him and his new endeavors. This creates exciting new opportunities for the group, and I’m looking forward to hearing the new L5 soon! I’m sure that Scott Fowler will make the right choice(s).

  26. Zack
    Reply April 16, 20:49 #26 Zack

    This is the same thing Bill Gaither faces whenever there is a change in the Gaither Vocal Band. I think back to 2013 when both Michael English and Mark Lowry announced their departures from the group. Bill always says you don’t replace a person. You just find a new fit and do something different. The Lord has blessed Bill’s faithfulness over the years and I’m sure the same will be said for Scott. Praying for the group during this time of transition and new beginnings!!!!

  27. Tim Strickland
    Reply April 17, 11:59 #27 Tim Strickland

    I saw Bryan and David Walker sing a quartet a few weeks ago. Both of them would be a great fit for L5. David is still getting it done at the tenor spot.

    • bfuson0384
      Reply April 18, 21:14 bfuson0384

      David Walker is one of the most underrated tenors of the last 30 years. He was great with the Anchormen, Singing Americans & Kingdom Heirs. It would be a cool dynamic to see a father & son join the group but that would seem
      unlikely. Personally, I was really hoping to see Jake Losen join L5. He currently sings lead with the Freedom Singers from Canada. He’s also filled in with Liberty Quartet at baritone and is a fine vocalist in his own right. He would be a perfect fit for this group.

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