Reprinted from the Englewood, FL Sun Herald -- www.sun-herald.com (Feb. 26, 2005)

Southern Gospel Singers Praise The Lord

Written by: Jan Findley (The Spirit of Englewood)

Increasingly, churches are the primary places where our citizens can go to hear singers and musicians in live performance of music that doesn't offend at a price they can afford.  As they say in show biz, that's a hard act to beat.

Case in point came last Sunday evening when Jim and Wendy Allshouse came to the First Baptist Church on Mango Street as musical guests for the evening.  That evening, First Baptist was their ministry.

They sang music in praise to God and His Son, Jesus, with lyrics that preached the Bible and told its stories.  Their reputation obviously had preceded them, because the sanctuary was mostly full.


Jim and Wendy, southern-style Baptist Singers, put on a show of contemporary gospel music at the First Baptist Church last Sunday Evening.  Their voices are such they could easily have pursued careers in the general, pop music field, but they opted to apply their talents to gospel music.  They sing with computer-generated orchestra music, full and lush.  The effect is similar to that of contemporary radio programs, a musical joining that praises God and satisfies the lover of contemporary music with a swing/rock beat.  Good listening, easy listening music with a message.

All told, they sang more than 23 songs, and sang them in a way that truly satisfied the audience.  They refer to their music as "Southern Gospel."  For some, it's an extension of the down-home gospel music they've heard in churches and tent meetings most of their life, while for others, it's a change from the twang of down-home guitars and down-home voices.  Whichever, the Allshouses' music truly pleased the audience at First Baptist.  The applause was hearty, long and sincere.

And all it cost was whatever the listeners cared to donate.  I don't like to say I peeked, but I did -- just a little.  I saw a lot of ones, several fives and a few tens -- the total of which wouldn't have paid for more than a half-dozen tickets at the Van Wezel up in Sarasota.

After the concert, I spoke briefly with Jim Allshouse and asked how they
acquired their music -- did they write the lyrics or compose the music?

Jim said they "cover" songs other gospel singers have produced first.

He explained that "cover" is a musical term meaning someone else made the record first.

Several artists will cover the same song.  Some producers will reuse the music track.

"We generally sing lyrics that are in existence," Allshouse said, "and sometimes we
twiddle them around a little to suit our style and message."

According to Pastor C.L. King, music director for the church, Jim and Wendy have
been touring the country for more than 16 years, dispensing sermons in song. 
It was clear the audience was of the opinion they could come back this way anytime
they had a mind to.

The First Baptist Church of Englewood is at 278 S. Mango St. 
The phone number is 474-2473.

The Rev. David Holt is interim pastor and the Rev. C.L. King is pastor of worship. 
Sunday morning worship is at 10:45 AM and evening worship is at 6:30 PM.

You're invited to drop by and join -- anytime.

Jan Findley is a columnist for the Englewood Sun and Englewood Herald.  You can email her at burkefindley@verizon.net.  The Spirit of Englewood runs everyday Saturday.

Reprinted from the Englewood, FL Sun Herald -- www.sun-herald.com (Feb. 25, 2006)

These Gospel Singers Hit All The Right Notes

Written by: Jan Findley (The Spirit of Englewood)

There are gospel singers and there are gospel singers.

There are what I call "basic" gospel singers.  These are the ones who come forth from the congregation to sing out their beliefs, regardless of vocal ability.  The dedication and the love of God and Jesus come through loud and clear.

Then there are what I call "professional basic" gospel singers.  Some are paid, many sing only for the love of serving the Lord.  They don't necessarily sing beautifully, or harmoniously, but they sing with enthusiasm -- and often with a guitar or piano for accompaniment.  They often appear as quartets.

Then there are what I call the "semi - or musically professional" gospel singers.  These can encompass any number from "two" and up.  These are people who have excellent and often trained voices plus pre-recorded, computer-programmed music tracks as backup.  Sometimes they have their own mini-band.  They sound the most like popular singers, and make for easy listening, simultaneous with delivery of their message.

Jim and Wendy Allshouse are excellent representatives in the last category.  They have made singing praise their personal ministry.  Like many gospel singers, singing to them is a special event or weekend kind of thing.  They have day jobs and other things to do during the week, except for this time of the year when they come to Florida to get warm.  The rest of the year they headquarter in in Lancaster, PA.  They've been singing praises for 17 years, with 45-55 engagements booked each year.

I first heard Jim and Wendy last year at the First Baptist Church of Englewood on South Mango Street.  I liked them then.  They returned there for a performance last Sunday, but Wednesday evening they were at the newer and growing Sunnybrook Alliance Church in East Englewood, State Road 776 at Sunnybrook Boulevard.  And I liked them even more.

What strikes one first about Jim and Wendy is their personable style -- warm, friendly; just a couple of believers spreading the Word in their own way.  The big difference is, they can sing, really sing, and they sing together as if they really like one another.  In other words, they hit all the right notes.  What more can I say?

Their music is all contemporary, recently written and delivered by programmed computer.  The arrangements are based on 1950's and 1960's swing, when outstanding band arrangers had their heyday -- syncopation with an occasional touch of rock 'n roll.  It's gospel music you can enjoy and lyrics you can get caught up in, all at the same time.  Jim and Wendy's syncopated version of "Amazing Grace" was a real wowser.  Wow.  The other song that has stuck in my mind was their rendition of "I Have A Friend ... His Name is Jesus."  It rocked.

I talked with Pastor Jim Davis, who reported that members of the church have recently cleared the adjoining field for 22 new parking spaces, needed because membership in the Sunnybrook Alliance has grown (A year ago, they had 12 members; in the interim, membership has more than quintupled.)  The church has, amazingly, retained its original comfortable atmosphere and attitudes.

Sunnybrook Alliance is at 6401 Sunnybrook Blvd., across the road from Winn-Dixie.  The phone is (941) 475-0342.  They start off Sunday with Bible Study at 9:15 AM, and the morning worship service is at 10:30 AM.  An evening service takes place at 6:30 PM.  Every fourth Sunday of the month, it's a contemporary 6:30 PM service.

Jan Findley is a columnist for the Englewood Sun and Englewood Herald.  You can email her at burkefindley@verizon.net.  The Spirit of Englewood runs everyday Saturday.
Jim and Wendy, southern-style Baptist Singers, put on a show of contemporary gospel music at the First Baptist Church last Sunday Evening.  Their voices are such they could easily have pursued careers in the general, pop music field, but they opted to apply their talents to gospel music.  They sing with computer-generated orchestra music, full and lush.  The effect is similar to that of contemporary radio programs, a musical joining that praises God and satisfies the lover of contemporary music with a swing/rock beat.  Good listening, easy listening music with a message.