The Kingsmen revisit classic songs on Decades, a stunning retrospective

SPECIAL CROSSROADS MEDIA

Arden, North Carolina (February 21, 2023) — One can hardly begin to count the ways in which the world has changed since 1959, yet at least two things have been constant from then until now: the already timeless message of the Christian Gospel, and its powerful delivery through the music of Southern Gospel greats, The Kingsmen. Now, as their newest lineup prepares for its full-length debut release later this year, the legendary quartet and their label of some 30 years, Horizon Records, offer Decades, a stunning 2-disc retrospective full of highlights from that storied career, some neglected treasures — and the reappearance of some of the group’s very first recordings, unheard for over 60 years. The album is now available for pre-order, add or save ahead of its March 24 release. 

“For the last couple years, we have been trying to get into the studio and re-record some of our favorites,” says baritone singer Alan Kendall. “Yet due to timing never quite being just right, we came to the decision that we would rather focus our recording efforts toward recording more new material. 

“However, when Drew Laney, Thomas Nalley, and Cole Watson joined us, we began looking for some Kingsmen material from years past that we felt would fit them stylistically — and wound up thinking that re-releasing some of these old favorites in their original form would be something that the fans would enjoy. We have not only selected some of the greatest hits of the Kingsmen, but also some of those ‘forgotten gems’ that we felt needed to be heard once again.”

“We also came across a 1959 EP on 45RPM, while visiting at the home of original baritone Raymond McKinney, with music that hasn’t been heard in over 60 years: Reece McKinney, bass; Raymond, baritone; Frank Cutshall, lead; Jack Henderson, tenor; and Eldridge Fox at the piano. This early quartet, even under such primitive recording conditions, was an outstanding singing group, and we are thrilled to add all four of these largely-unheard performances to the collection.”

“In 1959, the Kingsmen were appearing regularly on WHBK Radio in Marshall, NC, and performing whenever we were given the opportunity,” recalls Raymond McKinney.  “We would rehearse at my house weekly, and one night, we recorded four songs during one of these very rehearsal sessions. We had no idea what lay in store for the Kingsmen in the years ahead, but I am fully convinced that God has had His hand on the Kingsmen ministry from the very beginning. I hope you enjoy this collection of music by the Kingsmen Quartet down through the years, including the four songs from 1959 which have not been heard in more than six decades.”

Opening with one of those precious historical recordings, Decades winds through the years, sampling the group’s supremely rich catalog of long-retired and still active songs and lineups, right up to the current decade’s previously-unreleased “Shaking Off The Clay,” recorded during the session for 2021’s More To The Story. Mixing studio performances with spirit-filled live recordings that range from the homespun classic quartet sound to elaborate arrangements, it’s both a reminder of The Kingsmen’s unique legacy and contribution to Southern Gospel, and a token of contributions still to come.

Celebrate Christmas with albumsfrom The Kingsmen, The Lore Family

SPECIAL CROSSROADS RECORDS

Arden, North Carolina (September 13, 2022) — Horizon Records artists The Kingsmen and The Lore Family are sharing their love for the meaning of Christmas with new albums now available for pre-order, add and save ahead of their October 14 release.

On their new Christmas EP, The Kingsmen waste no time in getting to the point. The title track and very first tune on ‘Tis The Reason is direct, with clarion horns punctuating lead singer Chris Bryant’s sympathetic reminder: “‘Tis the season to be frantic / The crazy time of year we panic / Countless greeting cards to send / Christmas parties to attend / But it’s not the time to fret / Over what we may forget / On the list to do, or make or bake or spend / ‘Cause in the end — it’s about Him” 

The song rises to a crescendo as Chris Jenkins, Alan Kendall and the group’s patriarch, Ray Reese, join in: “‘Tis the Reason to let our praises ring / ‘Tis the Reason to lift our voice and sing / To open up our hearts — and keep on believin’ / ‘Tis the Reason”

The collection seamlessly weaves together old favorites — the majestic “O Holy Night” and the warmly nostalgic “The Christmas Song” — and new songs that range from the upbeat “Here We Come A Caroling” to the thoughtful meditation on the infinite mercy of “The God Who Gives Himself Away” and the closing reminder of “There Is Peace,” with its timely message: “When we love and hold on to each other / When we give just like it’s still December / Every day the Christmas season stays with you and me / There is joy, there is hope, there is peace”

From start to finish, ‘Tis The Reason affirms that the spirit that has animated The Kingsmen’s legendary career is as strong as ever. “The last time the Kingsmen released a Christmas album was in 1994,” notes Alan Kendall. “With the tremendous response from the Christmas single “Tell It On the Mountain” in 2020, our fans and friends made it clear to us that they were way past ready for another collection of seasonal songs celebrating the birth of Jesus. Our producer Jeff Collins and the folks at Crossroads Music agreed with us, and we began preparing it over a year ago. 

“We’re excited about four brand new songs that not only sing us into our favorite time of year, but celebrate the very reason for the season. And with timeless classics like ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘The Christmas Song’ added to the mix, we feel like we have something for everybody. We are certainly proud and honored to present this recording, and we pray that it will be a cherished and spirit-filled part of everyone’s holiday listening for many years to come.”

“I love Christmastime,” says Darren Lore. “It’s truly the most wonderful time of the year.” That love for the holiday — and for the Savior whose birth is celebrated — made the creation of a Christmas collection a natural choice for The Lore Family and the result is sure to find its place among the most treasured of holiday albums.  

The cheery opener, “Sing A Happy Song At Christmas,” with its clever musical references to seasonal classics, sets the pace for the eight-song set, as Fayth Lore Whisnant leads the family through an expansive, sophisticated arrangement. Yet, as the following take on the venerable “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” shows, The Lore Family keeps the miracle of Christ’s birth at the center of its celebration, and indeed, the next song after that, “Make Room,” gets right to the heart of their message, as Sandy Lore offers its heartfelt chorus: “Make room this Christmas / Make room for Jesus / Make room in your heart for His love / There’s already a place in His heart for you / Make room this Christmas…for Jesus”

As the Roger Talley-produced collection moves on, through the majestic “Let The Faithful Come,” the bright swing of “Talkin’ ‘Bout Jesus,” which features spirited leads from Fayth and brother Samuel Lore, the moving narration by Sandy of the Christmas miracle set to a medley of traditional carols and more, the depth of The Lore Family’s devotion — and talent — makes an unforgettable impression.  

“There seems to be a renewal of relationships around the holidays,” notes Darren. “Families and friends take time to get together. Society seems to be more considerate, generous and kind. Laughter can be heard. Love can be felt. And, if you listen, you’ll always hear music. People love to sing loud when they celebrate. And since Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus, we have a reason to lift our voices and sing!

“Our family feels very honored to share The Lore Family Christmas with you — our first Christmas album. We thoughtfully and prayerfully selected the songs for this album. Our family, the writers, the musicians, our producer and staff at Crossroads worked hard to present this collection. We pray that you will fall in love with each song. We hope that our music becomes a part of your Christmas celebration. Learn every line to each song and join us as we sing.

“Most of all, we encourage you to ‘Make Room’ for Jesus in your heart. Keep Christ the center of it all. Until you know Jesus personally, you’ll never fully understand the meaning of this season. For those who know Him, share His love, peace and joy with the world. ‘His Name Is Jesus!’ My family wishes you a very, Merry Christmas.”

Kingsmen, Endless Highway and Jeff Collins take home Absolutely Gospel Music awards

CROSSROADS RECORDS

Arden, North Carolina (May 23, 2022) — Horizon & Sonlite Records artists The Kingsmen and Endless Highway and producer Jeff Collins were honored for their work in the Southern Gospel genre at last week’s Absolutely Gospel Music Awards held at the Historic Franklin Theatre in Franklin, Tennessee.

The Kingsmen’s latest album, More To The Story, was named Traditional Recording Of The Year. Classic, powerful, and filled with the gospel spirit that has carried the Kingsmen far beyond their western North Carolina origins over more than 60 years of performance, More To The Story — produced by GRAMMY®-nominated Jeff Collins — offers a spirit-lifting, crowd pleasing jewel in the ever-growing catalog of the legendary quartet. 

“We are honored to be named among our very deserving peers. This album is special in many ways because it came from our time during the pandemic. Many of these songs speak of encouragement and hope that there’s better days through Christ. We do not take lightly the fact that our peers and listeners still love our music after 65 years,” says the Kingsmen’s Chris Jenkins

Endless Highway’s album Come Home won the award for Country/Roots Recording Of The Year. The album, produced by multi-awarded and 3-time GRAMMY®-nominated Wayne Haun, is a diverse and compelling work that proclaims faith and encourages hope.

“We are simply overwhelmed and honored that our project, Come Home, was recognized among the projects of the most talented artists in our industry,” says Endless Highway’s Jason Griggs. “We are grateful to our incredible team at Crossroads for all of their support and investment in our ministry. We would also like to thank the incredibly talented Wayne Haun for lending his creative genius to the production of this project.” 

Jeff Collins, who produced albums for the Kingsmen, Kingdom Heirs, The Inspirations, 11th Hour, Mark Bishop, Down East Boys and Kenna Turner West throughout the last year, was named Producer of the Year.

“What an honor to receive the AGM award for Producer of the Year! I don’t take for granted the trust that artists put in me for their productions, and I’m excited each time I produce,” says Collins. “Thanks to our team at Crossroads, great songwriters, talented artists, and incredible fans! And thank you to God and His blessings, and for allowing me to have a career in Gospel Music, the best music on earth!”