The David Phelps – Kingsmen Connection
I’ve mentioned before on this blog, a friend who goes to my church that used to travel and sing. Let me tell you how he got started, for I found it moderately interesting…at least worth sharing.
He hails from a musical family, being able to play a variety of instruments with average quality, and has always enjoyed to sing. But growing up, he hated southern gospel. He played in rock bands. He was the community’s own version of Mylon LeFevre. His musical foray was stuff like Journey, Boston, The Boss, AC/DC, Guns-N-Roses…you know the other good stuff. When he started listening to Christian music, it was DC Talk, Pillar, and probably Stryper. He thought men singing 4 part harmony in suits was mostly cheesy and something his parents loved for some odd reason.
Then that young boy grew up. “I didn’t listen to southern gospel except at church, even when I got saved, I didn’t like it much. Then one day, I was at my parents’ house, watching a Gaither Homecoming video and heard David Phelps sing. I realized that day, there was some unbelievable talent in this genre that I was missing out on”. I’ll pause here for a moment. I’ve heard this story before regarding David Phelps. Many ultra-conservatives may not like his curly, wavy hair, or believe him to be a sorta prima donna. But he’s good for gospel music, I’m convinced.
“When I heard Phelps, I got everything the GVB had ever recorded with him, plus some. Then that led me to stuff my parents always had around. And that was a lot of Hinsons, Florida Boys, Happy Goodmans, Gold City, and The Kingsmen. And I really got into the Kingsmen. Now, I have everything they’ve ever recorded since the Hutson/Martin/Jonathan group.”
So then I proceeded to ask, what the next step was?
“I was enamored with the tenor voice. I had a natural ear, but I had to work at it. I couldn’t do what Phelps did, but tried to imitate a lot of other guys too. Jerry Martin became my 2nd favorite tenor. I went back and listened to other guys…Haase, Parrack, Allman, Sutton, Chris Collins, Facello…those guys were gold…and just tried to create my own mixed bag of singing tenor, with those influences as broad as they are. Later on, I sang with some regional groups, and a pretty well-known quartet for a few years. Had David Phelps not opened my eyes to another world of southern gospel, The Kingsmen would just be another southern gospel group to me…and I’d still be singing in a rock band.”
And the world doesn’t need another mediocre rock band. Especially if my friend was the one playing the drums…