On the road

While I was away, you’ve undoubtedly seen that the Nelons are back on the road, and they already look pretty busy, if their website schedule is any indication. I haven’t heard the praise and worshipy album they put out with Vine Records a while back, but what I assume are some clips from that album launch from their homepage and the first tune was pleasant enough.

Still, I’m not getting all twitterpated just yet. The Nelons have been so flaky since Rex died and so stylistically listless, so clearly unable or unwilling to let go of the idea of themselves as The Nelons and yet so incapable of living up to the name that it’s hard to know what to expect.

Still, I’m as much of a sucker for a nostalgic sg comeback as the next person. The Nelons’ sound always exploited the space between sg and adjacent styles, so it ought to be theorietically easier for them to get back in the game than other groups with a more fixed stylistic identity.

They’ve been off the road for a while now, doing church work, and whatever else that means or says, it’s a great context for a young vocalist like Amber Thompson to explore and experiment vocally in a safe space, to develop without the pressure that can come with touring. And if the clips are any indications, her voice has become more textured and powerful, more controlled and less thin. Plus there’s the question of what kind of sets they’ll stage. How much of the PW stuff will they use? How much of the older classic Nelons material will they mix in? Will people show up to hear them sing their  new stuff or mainly because of what they once were?

So yeah  … should be interesting to see and hear what happens. Drop a note in the discussion thread if you catch them at a concert in the near future.

And then Shane Dunlap and N’Harmony are back. This group really never made it onto my radar back in the day, so I can’t speak meaningfully about them. But Dunlap seems to be part of that Garry Jones/Mercy’s Mark/SSQ 1.0 crowd of super-talented artists with commitment problems and follow-through issues (I mean, how many times are we going to hear about some recombination of talent from these groups forming a hot new group that will blow us all away, only for nothing to ever happen). So for all you N’Harmony fans who are inclined to break out the exclamantion points over this announcement (yeah, Kyle, I mean you), I wouldn’t get my hopes up too soon. If you don’t believe me, just go ask all of us Nelons fans who’ve been jilted by a favorite group’s flakiness.

Update: Whoa, there, fellas. Let’s all take some deep breaths and remind ourselves that withholding judgment about the longevity of N’Harmony 2.0 says nothing about the quality of their sound (or how good a friends you are with these guys). They may sound great. I hope they do. That just wasn’t my point. Recall: Mercy’s Mark 1.0 was a fantabulous, once-in-a-decade lineup of a quartet with talent and blend that may not have been unrivaled, but was pretty close to it. And within a few years, they were kaput. The issue is one of stick-to-itness. Let’s wait a few years and see if anything remotely resembling this recently launched lineup remains in tact and performing and their initial level of quality. Maybe they will be … in which case, I like my crow well done. But everybody jumps out the gate full of excitement and a conviction that nothing will stop them. It’s those turns in the track up ahead that can trip a person up. Since N’Harmony 1.0 dissolved, Dunlap has: done a short stint with SSQ, then left the road. Then he worked some solo dates. Then he did some work with the Trio. Then he filled in for Mercy’s Mark once it started to dissolve. Then he sorta dropped outta sight. There are many words one could use to describe this record. Stability is not one of them. Which is to say: The race isn’t always to the swift, nor the fight always to the strong, but that’s how the smart money bets.

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  1. c wrote:

    dude you have major problems!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. scope wrote:

    I wish Jason would take a step back and let Kelly and Amber carry the singing load. It appears his ego has taken over. Notice how he is always front and center in their pictures? Amber has truly come into her own, and should be allowed to do more than be backup with her mother to Jason. Kelly seems to have abdicated all but the Nelon name to Jason. Too bad. Kelly and Amber can sing rings around Jason.

  3. PianoMan wrote:

    Scope, you hit the nail on the head. My brother, who is a songwriter was trying to pitch some songs to The Nelons before they”came off the road” and Jason wouldn’t even give him the time of day. In fact he was very rude to him. The songs got pitched to another group and 2 of the songs were recorded, so it was their loss. Jason is definitely riding on the “Nelon” name.

  4. dortie wrote:

    Avery-regarding N’harmony and your comments about commitment problems, you should probably check all of your facts before you just toss your comments casually to the wind. I believe that all 4 of these guys are dedicated to working together and they all seem to have common goals. I think that they are not out there to compete with the super star groups (if there actually is such a thing is SG) but to actually have some fun in doing what they all love to do. Yes, it will be run as a business, as it should be but, As I understand it they don’t want to be on the road every weekend. They have families and kid’s, and they value their families more than being on the road. The constant traveling wreaks havoc on families. I know that you like to Stir the Pot as they say, but let’s give them a chance and see how things work out before we start with all of the negative comments. They might actually surprise everyone!

  5. Mark Crary wrote:

    That’s just it. . . Avery was right.

    “Avery-regarding N’harmony and your comments about commitment problems, you should probably check all of your facts before you just toss your comments casually to the wind.”

    Commitment is a problem with the men in that group and that’s a FACT. Maybe you need to check the facts.

    Is it hunting season?

  6. dortie wrote:

    #5 Mark, and just what are those facts? Pray tell? And really what difference does it make to any of us if this is what they choose to do?

  7. Scott Lucas wrote:

    The fact is Shane started and was with N’Harmony for 10+ years. He then went to SSQ for a year. After a year they parted ways. Shane had a new baby girl & was just on the road too much! See Shane was commited to his family first! During this time Shane did some solo work. He also was asked to sing with The Trio. However, after Anthony died that group was no more. Shane also filled in for Mercy’s Mark as a favor to Garry while he looked for a new lead.
    So Shane commited to two groups. N’Harmony for 10 years & SSQ for 1 year. I would hardly quailify that as “commitment” issues!
    I will agree with one thing you wrote, when you wrote “I can’t talk meaningful about this”

  8. Mark Crary wrote:

    I have a hard time believing that your Mom named you DORTIE, my Mom gave me a real name.

    I worked for GM for 31 years and as long as I was on payroll, I was loyal, committed and never caused dis-harmony among the employees. As long as I’m on their payroll I’m not plotting or planning to steal key employes to start my own Car Company. We call this INTEGRITY.

    Give this group 6 months and they’ll have a new name, Dis-Harmony

  9. Brandon M. wrote:

    Hello, I have started to read your blog. I have and issue with what you think about the whole N’Harmony thing. I due believe they will be better than ever and they will sound great. If you need proof of there sound go to there myspace. They sound really good. They all came from good backgrounded groups. Groups that didnt swich members as much as there underwear! That is saying somehting.

    They will be great! I have high hopes and prayers for them. If you have to think bad then pray for them to do Gods will and ask God to be with them instead of comparing them to the Nelons who we know have a huge ego but instead of banting and bashing them pray for them!!!

  10. SGfan wrote:



    I don’t know what turnip truck you fell off of, but you hit your head pretty hard didn’t you? The fact is, I know some of the new line up in N’harmony and one of the guys is a dear friend of mine. I have traveled with a couple of groups before and let me tell you, it is a little different then being employed by GM. You see, you worked and then went home. You did not spend much time away from family on the road in that 31 years. I would bet that the average “full time” gospel singer spends more time away from their families in 1 year (maybe in 6 months) than you did in the entire 31 years you have worked for GM. Just thought I should provide you some context. All of these guys are very talented and the combination will bring one of the best sounds in SG today. I would put this line up vocally against nearly any group you can point to in SG today. I challenge you to present proof that any of these guys have commitment problems as you and Avery suggest. Instead of shooting off at the mouth (or in this case the fingers), bring something of substance if you want to start an argument.

  11. Mark Crary wrote:


    Learn to spell, the name is Mark. . . no c.
    I brought up GM to make a point, “that being integrity.” So let me put it in terms that you’ll understand. If you’re climbing on another mans bus and you’re on his payroll don’t cause dis-harmony. Is that simple enough? You are right, these guys are talented. I have worked with two of them, I’ve booked dates for them, promoted concerts and spent time with both. I have their phone no# in my cell phone, so I’m no stranger to them. I still stand behind what I’ve said.

    PS, GM don’t make Turnip trucks

  12. dortie wrote:

    #11..Mark Crary. So big deal you have their phone # in your cell phone, well so do I. (Dortie by the way has nothing to do with my Mother as you referred in an earlier post, let’s keep our Mothers out of this!) Read #7’s post again, he pretty much is dead on with facts. As far as climbing on another man’s bus and causing dis-harmony, well I guess that all depends on who you ask! There are two sides to every story. So before you run your mouth make sure you know the facts for REAL…..

  13. Mark Crary wrote:

    #12. . . Mr. Dortie “I guess that’s your real name” The part that disturbes me the most in your last post was “before you run your mouth” that’s a pretty big statement. I guess I was unaware that you know everything and I know nothing. You made no mention of working with them in the past and that’s where and when I formed my opinion.
    Still standing on what I said.

  14. SGfan wrote:

    #11 Mark,

    The c was a typo, but let’s not get started on mispellings. I am afraid you will loose that fight. Also, like Dortie said. Big deal if you have their phone numbers. Ooh, that must make you feel important. Finally, I still don’t see how your time spent with GM represents any form of “integrity”. It only represents longevity. There is a big difference. Might I suggest you look up the definitions. You also did not answer my assertion that you can not compare the two. So let me ask you directly. In the 31 years you were with GM, how many nights did you spend away from your family? You see, it is real easy for you to go work and come home to your family even in a job that seems from your tone you had a dislike for, but because you remained there for 31 years you are some kind of sacrificial saint or model of “integrity”. Try being on the road 200+ days a year and not seeing your family at all on those days. Then let me know if the problem is “integrity” with these guys. I don’t see it.

  15. dortie wrote:

    #13..and I still stand on what I said..so I guess it’s a stand off…let’s move on!

  16. Tad Kirkland wrote:

    back to the nelons…
    imo, the new album is the first attempt at them being who they are now and not trying to recreate their sound from the 80’s (”peace within the walls” from the late ’90’s being somewhat of an exception). call it p&w or whatever, but the sound is current, the lyrics are God-focused (as opposed to valley or Heaven songs [not that there’s anything wrong with that]), and not too far removed musically from today’s sg. the music will work in churches that don’t “get” quartets and their work in the church over the last few years should give them insight on what is needed in churches today–musically and spiritually.
    i could jump on the nelon past controversy band wagon, but (and i am a nelon fan boy) i’m giving them the benefit of the doubt that this sabbatical has given them focus.
    and i’ll try to let jason know that although it’s more aesthetically correct to put the guy of a 1 guy/2 girl group in the center, he obviously has an ego problem. i do believe this is the only disc cover with jason in the center. if he does indeed have an ego problem, perhaps he could form a support group with his thread-mate, shane.

  17. Brett wrote:

    I think Kelly should be in the middle since her name is the only one with Nelon in the name. I liked their new cd. I wonder thought how the Nelons would sound today if it were Kelly, Amber & Jerry though.

  18. Eric Melton wrote:

    Mark Crary wrote:

    That’s just it. . . Avery was right.Commitment is a problem with the men in that group and that’s a FACT. Maybe you need to check the facts.

    Is it hunting season?


    Just what facts do you know? What you don’t know if the real person Shane. Shane Dunlap is one of the best friends that I have in Southern Gospel Music and in life period. He is a great family man and an upstanding Christian gentleman. When I started in Nashville in 1995 working then as the radio promoter for Zion Records and as an air personality on Solid Gospel Shane was one of the first people that became a friend to me in Gospel Music. We were roomates for a year. He sang at my wedding and I also have had the privledge of having N’Harmony on labels that I have worked for. First at Zion and then on Homeland which I work for now.

    Even when I was with Spring Hill records for 3 years, and could not do much for him in the industry he was still a friend.
    There are people in this business that will only scratch your back if you can scratch them too. When you can’t help them any longer, they wouldn’t throw water on you if you were on fire. Shane is not that kind of person.

    What you don’t know are the facts. You base your comments on mere opinion. Opinions are like ears everyone has them.
    Fact is he was never a full-time member of Mercy’s Mark. He only filled in with them during a time when Garry Jones needed to him to fill in. Secondly Brent was gone from the group way before Shane filled in, and thirdly noone mentioned that he too filled in a few dates with the Perrys either before Nick Trammell joined. So I guess since he did not join them he had a problem with committment too didn’t he?

    You need to base things on fact not opinion. Which Mark at this point your opinion wouldn’t even buy a cup of coffee. You owe Shane a heartfelt apology.

    On a last note I think they new sound is great. I have blown away by the cut they have on the 1987 Cathedrals tune “I Can See The Hand” which is the first song that our label ever released. Also one of finest albums that our company ever released was “Out of The Blue” by N’Harmony in 1999. I am confident that N’Harmony is going to reach souls with their music and be an encouragment to us all. Shane continuing to live his life to be a blessing to others and to honor God, now that my friend is committment!

  19. Eric Melton wrote:

    Part of that I did misqoute myself. What I meant was that Brent Mitchell stayed with Mercy’s Mark long after Shane filled in with them. Shane was never a full-time employee with Mercy’s Mark. So there was not some type of conspiracy from Shane and Brent to start their own group.

    And for that matter how many groups have started from others. There are several here at NQC this week that were spin-offs of other groups. But in this case that was not what happened.

    What I still don’t understand is those who think they are authorities on what should be and should not be. Who died and left us the Lord of Southern Gospel? I will agree that I don’t know it all but I have done a lot more for this business and work with men that have done a more for this business than some of the people that post on this board. Do I deserve credit, absoltuely not, I have a passion for this music and for the Lord and don’t want to spend my life publicly tearing down.

  20. Craig O'Dell wrote:

    I read this post only after having been directed here by a friend. I sang with N’Harmony “1.0″ (as you put it) for about 4 years. I don’t have a crystal ball so I can’t forecast the future of this new group. I can tell you that I know each of them personally and they’re all great men. That said, I have a hard time understanding why so many people are hell bent on tearing others down. Let’s say that your predictions are correct and in 6 months this group goes down the proverbial SG toilet. Then what? All those that predicted the demise of the group from the beginning can lean back with a smirk on their faces and give that “I told you so!” look. Does that bring satisfaction? I mean really?? Another believer finding joy in the hurt, pain, suffering and failure of another believer?? Wow. It isn’t so much that I am defending my friends, but I DO find it hard to believe that there are those who, in these last days, are so determined to tear down other Christians regardless of their motives, their past failures (which we all have BTW), and their weaknesses. It can be summed like this “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. The bottom line is this - These guys are human beings with feelings, egos, hurts, skeletons in their closets, bad choices, good choices and on and on we go. SO ARE THE REST OF US!! As far as Shane and his commitment - His dad died in his mid 20’s and left him a southern gospel quartet that was struggling at best. I joined the group 2 weeks before Steve’s death. During my four years with N’Harmony I never missed one paycheck. I never had one bounce. We were even paid for weeks when we didn’t work. I know for a fact that there were MANY weeks that Shane didn’t draw a salary at all. He sacrificed for the men that worked with him. So don’t go questioning ones commitment when you don’t have all the facts. You’re ignorant for doing so. There were many times when Shane and I didn’t see eye to eye, but I can tell you that 9 years later he is still my friend and I know that he’d be there for me day or night.
    For the love of GOD, just learn to keep your mouths shut. There is an old saying about “opinions”…….you know what it is.

  21. Eric Melton wrote:

    Craig O’Dell wrote:

    I never missed one paycheck. I never had one bounce. We were even paid for weeks when we didn’t work. I know for a fact that there were MANY weeks that Shane didn’t draw a salary at all.

    Craig you are absolutely right. Shane takes care of his business. He always has. As his roomate for a while and his friend, I can remember times when Shane and I would sit up late night and he would talk to me about not taking a paycheck sometimes and wondered how the group would continue to survive. But I saw his heart and his love for God and gospel music.

    You guys did some great records when you were with our label at Homeland. I still love “Out of The Blue” That was an outstanding project and Craig you contributed a great part in the quartet during your four years. Shane made a good choice when he hired you and I am glad that you are still good friends with him and like myself will stand up for him till the day we die.

  22. Shining Star wrote:

    To all of you people that apparently think they know so much about the Nelons, First PianoMan you are obviously so bitter that it are ridiculous. It is a wonderful thing that Lord has blessed your brother with two recordings, but when you are in this business you can’t take songs from every Tom, Dick and PianoMan. Get over it. It is obvious that you are not a Christian because you have no idea what Forgiveness mean. You couldn’t wait to make a bad comment about Jason. Now to the others what difference does it make where Jason stands…. you all need more to do with your lives. What you should be asking is, Does the music glorify God? End of story. If you think they have big egos, then pray for them, stop tearing people down, because after reading the comments is sounds more like jealousy. Every time I’ve seen them they have been very hospitable. I couldn’t imagine being in the spot light, with these hypocrites standing in the wings just waiting on me to make one mistake. You all are a piece of work……I just changed my mind rather than praying for the Nelons, pray for yourselves, it obvious you need it more:) God sees what you blog also, some of you all are going to have to answer to Him one day so be careful

  23. Terry wrote:

    I am a fan of the Nelons and have been for many years. I love, enjoy, and appreciate the group’s contributions to Christian music. I began listening to Nelons’ music in the late 80’s, and I’ve never ceased to be amazed at their ministry. I don’t feel that there is any question about who this group really is. The Nelons are about acknowledging and appreciating their rich history in gospel music, but they are also visionary. I love the fact that their newest project, You Are God, is a complete focus on God’s power and goodness. It is one of the most comforting and reassuring projects that I own. I believe they had a vision with this project as the group has always had with each project.

    I just returned from a Nelons concert this evening and attended another one last week. In fact, I attend as many as possible and have also visited their church on numerous occasions. They have done and continue to do some of the most powerful work in Christian music. Their song selection is always amazing to me. They sang several of their new songs, including “We Speak Your Name”, “You Are God”, and “Lamb of God. However, they treated us to “The Sun’s Coming Up”, “We Shall Wear a Robe and Crown”, and “O For a Thousand Tongues”. They also sang one of the most beautiful and powerful acapella versions of “It is Well” that I’ve every heard. They provided a perfect mix of the old and new songs, as well as a great mix of SG, CCM, and PW music.

    I have an incredible amount of respect for The Nelons as they have taken time to work in their home church. It had to be a huge sacrifice in so many ways, but they have been completely dedicated to this endeavor. As they embark on the next phase of their ministry, I applaud their efforts. This group has always been adept at integrating different styles of music with SG. I believe this is a gift that sets them apart from many other musicians and singers. What sets them apart most, however, is the fervor for Christ that is evident in their singing and their testimonies. I have watched them sing their hearts out with beautiful songs from their new projects and classics from their earlier years. It doesn’t matter what they sing, they sing spiritually and beautifully every time I see them.

    We are living in a difficult time, and people need to hear about the love of God and need to know how to seek his comfort and peace. The Nelons genuinely and skillfully spread His message with a level of humility that is unparalleled. On a side note, I don’t feel that who stands in the center of their photographs is nearly as important as Who dwells in the center of their lives and their ministry.

    Kelly, Jason, Amber–your gifts amaze me, and I applaud you for your willingness to share them with congregations and audiences everywhere. You are my friends and my brother and sisters in Christ.

    God bless and keep the faith!


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