Responding to my query about the late Speers in the post below, reader CVH offers some insightful thoughts on the great group, well worth promoting to the main page:
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Actually I’d venture the thought that the Speers always had a sense of (what would become known as) the “inspo” sound even back in the 70’s. Between Ben and Harold Lane, they anticipated and pursued musical trends that were outside the traditional southern gospel style yet gave those songs a distinctly ‘Speer Family’ finish that enabled them to work in the broader context of the songs they were doing at the time.
It might have been in part because of the period of time when the children Steve, Marc and [Hottie Alert!] Susan were with the group, although that was relatively short-lived. It may have been the vocal ability of Dianne Mays, whose voice had a wonderful character that lent itself to other genres of song. It wasn’t just doing Gaither songs - they were singing songs by writers not associated with Southern Gospel, like Phil Johnson’s “I Wish You All Could Know Him” and Carolyn Gillman’s “And He’s Ever Interceding”. Whether this mix of inspo and southern gospel worked or not (sales, concert revenue, etc.) in the long run I don’t know, but they were one of the few groups of that era that seemed to reach outside the traditional boundaries of southern gospel to bring something fresh and different to the scene.
Listen to some of the songs from the Heartwarming albums like ‘A Family Affair’, ‘Between The Cross and Heaven’, ‘Cornerstone’, ‘Interceding’ and ‘Something Good Is About To Happen’ and you’ll find a rich variety of styles that were a precursor for what was to follow in the years to follow.