Saturday, January 20, 2018
Gospel music fans: A bit of sad news to share...
This past Monday, Edwin Hawkins went home to glory; he was 74 years old. If you know anything about gospel music, and maybe pop oldies, you definitely knew this music giant. He's a Grammy winning singer, songwriter who's known world wide for the gospel cross-over hit, "O Happy Day" with the Edwin Hawkins Singers. Edwin took a hymnal classic and changed it up in such a unique way that crossed musical, denominational and cultural lines.
He was a pioneer of contemporary Christian music along with Andre Crouch, James Cleveland and others! In those early CCM days, I was personally encouraged and inspired in my young life at a needed point of time. Although Edwin is gone, he will not soon be forgotten.
Sunday, December 17, 2017
Brotherhood had a wonderful,Christmas concert this past week at New Life COG. The folks really enjoyed the array of gospel music along with a mix of many Christmas carols and classics. A very special thanks to Kevin Dees for taking the lead spot on short notice! He did a great rendition of "Mary Did You Know?". And, the people did an excellent job of guessing those Christmas carols during "Name That Tune" Time, as well.
Check out Brotherhood on Facebook at Brotherhoodgospelmusic for more news, pics and concert calendar.
Until then... be blessed and be a blessing.
Friday, October 13, 2017
Warm, Christian greetings to all of Brotherhood's circle of friends!
Fall is fast approaching and then... another year will have come to an end! It seems the older we get, the days, weeks, etc. fly by so much faster than when we were younger. Well, as they say, let's redeem the time that the Lord allows us. Continue to persevere in ALL that we do - at work, at home and at play. I thank the Lord that my valleys are short and my mountain tops are enjoyable and memorable while I'm there. I realize that, as a Christian, I WILL be in either place at any time and that He is with me ALL the time. What a comforting promise God gives to us!
My latest joy comes from my oldest grandson, Braden. He's a young teenager, loving, full of energy, starting HS and all the issues with high and lows coming as a teen boy in a new school. Since a toddler, his mom placed him in all sports activities, teams, leagues, etc. Through it all, Braden has learned teamwork, encouragement for others, the need to learn, nutrition, physical conditioning, etc. Football is his first love and he has dedicated hours and hours of practice, viewing games, memorizing plays for offense and defense (he's a 2-way player). He recently played his last freshman team game which ended their season at 5-3. At the final team meeting, the coach announced that some players were being moved up to the varsity team. He read the 9 names... and Braden was one of them!!!! At 14, that's quite an accomplishment for the rest of his HS career. He was so thrilled and excited... and of course, I was so happy and proud of him and for him. I can't explain it but it's similar to the joy you get when a child is born or when they graduate.
Wow... ain't that a good thing!!! I guess the doxology is a fitting way to end right now ..."Praise God from whom all blessing flow..."
Until then... be blessed and be a blessing.
Isn't that just like out heavenly father who desires to give us good things. And, when he bestows "gifts" upon us and we use them properly, don't you think He is a proud Heavenly Father? I'm sure He smiles and adores His creation that gives honor, love and respect back! And, that cycle keeps on going and going. It's a definite win-win situation that we ALL should desire and pursue.
Monday, July 10, 2017
A happy summer holiday season to all! Just sharing some photos from Brotherhoods' recent concert at Sanctuary Church of God in Orlando, FL. And, a quick story I know you'll enjoy. Photos were provided by our new bass singer, Dennis Martin (the man at the far right) and my cousin Ron Russo. I hadn't seen Ron is approx. 15 years, so this was a special treat for me. It was also great to see our home church friends, John and Val... and Cliff Morales! Cliff briefly sang with us during our inaugural year. And now for the story...
Since our concert came right after July 4th holiday, it was only fitting to include some patriotic music and honor our veterans. We came equipped with some props that I've saved - my fathers' Army shirt (still looks new) and and original Navy P-coat. For those who don't know what that is, it's a very heavy winter, double-breasted jacket.
This one was given to me when I was a teen and I wore it throughout high school and college during the NYC winter seasons. Now, here's the rub... it belonged to my cousin Ron! I told that story at the concert and then gave that P-coat back to him - after nearly 50 years!! He was quite surprised and grateful for that memento. As the picture shows, the coat still fits him!
Now, back to the concert... Brotherhood has a blast meeting new folks and sharing our brand/style of southern gospel music - always something for everyone. We had them play "Name That Tune" and all joined in singing "Mansion Over The Hilltop". We also had special prayer break that was so evidently needed for healings right in the middle of the concert.
We look forward to a return visit, Lord willing.
See you "down the road"!!
Saturday, June 10, 2017
Trust and pray everyone's had a great spring celebrating Easter (Resurrection Sunday), Mother's Day, Father's Day (next week) and graduations. Summer is right around the corner and, believe it or not, half the year is already gone! Hey, don't shoot the messenger - it's true.
The same can be said of those Biblical day messengers heralding Jesus Christ, the coming Messiah. Old testament prophets foretold of His soon appearance and was mocked, ridiculed and considered crazy lunatics. Why would Israels' deliverer come as a baby? They expected a strong, conquering king - a superhero! Well, our God knows what's best/better for us to understand once we embrace the loving Savior. Listen to the lyrics of "Who Would Imagine A King"... and don't shoot the messenger!
I guess you shouldn't shoot the messenger when he delivers other news, as well. After nearly 13 years without a change in personnel,Brotherhood bids farewell to our jovial bass man, Mel Hopkins. He and his wife, Barbara, have relocated/retired to the hills of North Carolina! At our "last supper" we remininced sweet moments of Brotherhood's ministry together - laughed and cried in the process. Me's was very light-hearted and full of the joy of the Lord. His gift was sharing with the children at our concerts in such a tender, grandpa/uncle way. He grabbed their attention so that the could easily grasp the gospel message he would share. Always encouraging, always crying, always Mel. We love him and will sorely miss him.
Change is good... so I've been told. Brotherhood now enters a new phase of ministry with the same purpose! We will continue as a trio or, Lord willing, as a new-look quartet. As you know, the Lord allows doors to open and close for our good. He also brings people into our lives for different purposes, as well. In the past year, Dennis Martin is one such person whom Brotherhood considers a dear friend. He's a fun loving, Godly man who does weekly outreach ministry and recently completed an Israel mission trip. And, by the way, I learned that he sang bass in the choir, with The 4th Man Quartet... and loves southern gospel music! Hmm.....
On occasion, Dennis has admirably filled in for Mel, so he's no stranger to us. We consider this a smooth transition and welcome Dennis to complete Brotherhood's roster, praise God! Attached are some "welcome photos" of Dennis, as well! It's a big accomplishment, in short time, because filling a quartet need with the right person can be challenging. Brotherhood's unique sound, unity of spirit, along with mindset and focus to minister through music, resounds with this new 4-man team! We're excited and look forward to seeing you at a Brotherhood concert real soon.
Concert notes: More doors opening for Brotherhood this year! In July, we head back to Sanctuary Church of God in Orlando, FL after a long time absence - look for details shortly. We trust and pray for greater things that are still to come!
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Our God is an awesome, invinsible, loving God! We trust and pray that your year is going well as we move into the 2Q of 2017. Time keeps marching on no matter what we say or do. Our Lord controls everything and we just need to put our entire trust in His hands.
After our January concert trip to Naples, FL, Brotherhood continued with God's work "back home". Our baritone/pianist, Dan and his wife, were back on the mission field the entire month of February. He's part of the translation team with the Jesus Film Project and travelled to the South Pacific region of the world. Brotherhood supports that ministry and, when you come to our concerts, pick up a free DVD copy of the Jesus Film Project.
Phil, our lead singer, has been active with Campus Crusade For Christ (Cru). Every week, he visits the Full Sail University campus in Winter Park, FL distributing free chips, cookies, water, etc. At the same time, Phil has the opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ one on one and there have been many prayers for salvation. In a 2- week period, there were 17 decisions made to accept Jesus Christ into their lives! According to Phil, that's "off the charts"! We give God all the glory.
Bass man Mel, has been super busy with preparing his home for sale. It's tough enough when you do spring cleaning, so imagine getting an entire house ready to vacate. He's updating our Facebook site with current photos, upcoming concert dates and information. Make sure to visit and be friends with us!
As for myself, this tenor man has been excessively busy at his "real job". During audit season, it not unusual to put in 50-60 hours per week to accomplish the task. It is understood & respected at the office that Sundays is not a day to work. Although the scriptures state in Genesis that it's a day of rest, I see it as a time of praise & worship to our Lord. Not that we shouldn't praise Him daily, but it's a carved-out day set aside for that purpose every week and gather with other believers. I thank God for the strength He gives to do my work, take time for my wife and family, write new music, make booking contacts, search/rehearse new material and minister with Brotherhood. Quite a busy schedule but oh so enjoyable.
Upon our return, the March concert date was at New Tribes Mission in Sanford, FL. They are a non-denominational organization that takes the gospel all around the work with their missionaries to church plant, disciple new believers and partner with other faith-based ministries. Brotherhood ministered to these dear folks that mainly consisted of seasoned missionaries & pastors (active and retired). We were honored to minister in music to them and they were so blessed with the mixture of old and new gospel songs. many lingered afterwards to talk about Brotherhood, evangelism and the Jesus Film Project. Dan even met some ministry friends from his home state of Nebraska. It was so good seeing some of our fans, too (Art and Eloise).
We closed with "We Will Stand Our Ground" which spoke volumes to these people. We encouraged them to continue with this good work at New Tribes Mission as they evangelize the world. We know that no matter the circumstances or obstacles, His truth will keep marching on!