Tonsil-singing and too much vibrato

Reader Bryce on Triumphant:

Some of [Sutton’s] placement here sounds as though it’s focused directly behind his tonsils, which may be his trademark. Inman still has the vibrato that made it possible for Won By One to sing in multiple keys at once.


But there’s more to this than snark, I think. At least when I read it I felt like it helped explain key parts of what makes Triumphant’s sound just too much for me to take most of the time, like listening to a telemarketer who won’t stop trying to sell you something. It’s just so unrelenting. Everyone at every part seems to be singing for the cheapest seats and at least the first few rows of the parking lot all the time. I mean, compare Eric Bennett’s first verse of “Whiter than Snow” with Gene McDonald’s rendering of a very similar song, “God’s Grace Reaches Farther” (on GV’s Quartets album). Very similar songs, very similar voices, very similar abilities. And yet with Bennett there’s an unmistakeably aggressive element to the sound, even in the moments when he seems to think he’s backing off the notes, or letting up a bit. It’s not his singing ability (which is fine to often really good). But a question of delivery, inflection, and of course oversinging into really really hot mics.

And it’s not just Bennett. It’s all of them. I assume a lot of these particular tics are either intentional, or unconsciously symptomic of a larger strategy that probably has something to do with their time holding down the anchor spot at a theater. Those audiences don’t pay for subtle. And too, maybe it’s just what happens when guys sing together for long enough, they start adopting each other’s habits, which in this case seems to be to oversing together … covering tones with your tonsils and yodeling your vibrato and sticking every note to the back wall.  

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  1. DARREL PEATON wrote:

    I believe ,Eric was voted one of the best base singers by the readers of SINGING NEWS. Whats up with that if you are right.

  2. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    I’m the sort of fan who enjoys dramatic music. I can enjoy it if it’s subtle or virtuosic as well, but just please don’t bore me with a sound that’s just like everyone else.

    Triumphant doesn’t bore me at all. They have a solid quartet from top to bottom and Stice is both flashy and creative at the keys. For years, I’ve been surprised that some people consider Sutton’s voice to be a polarizing factor. He has an expressive voice, for sure. I wish more groups had distinctive vocals to set their sound apart from the pack. I like the variety (the harmonica and the nods to CCM and the Oaks). Triumphant brings a certain degree of flash to the table, but there’s more substance there than you’re giving them credit for bringing.

  3. sgoldy wrote:

    Not only that, Darrel #1, but he’s a pretty darn good bass singer as well!
    And DBM, I like a little flash, too.

  4. AJFerguson wrote:

    #1- Eric may have been voted best bass singer, but that does not mean that what Doug said isn’t true. Just because the majority agrees on something does not mean it is correct.

  5. Bill Bailey wrote:

    Nobody likes it but the people. Can anyone say “Male Quartet of the Year”?

    I know the aforementioned was not a commentary on their character. However, let me say that Triumphant Quartet is probably the nicest guys in the business today. They act like they actually enjoy what they are doing. Quite refreshing.

  6. Michael Davis wrote:

    What Bill (#5) said!!!

  7. Wade wrote:

    If SGM paid anything I would really go take a few singing lessons… if that is Top 5 Bass Singer.

    Anybody have a TAKE Home or Internet Site for Bass Singing Lessonz???

  8. Stac wrote:

    Those who can’t,teach or over analyze. Those who can, sing like Triumphant!!!

  9. Kevin Womble wrote:

    I just don’t get your mild disdain for this quartet but especially Bennett. I don’t hear the “aggressiveness” you so lament. I just hear a guy who sings well. I love the emotion and feel in his lead voice. The fact the he happens to be a bass makes him that much better because I don’t here anyone out there at the bass position that can sing a lead like him.

    I’m sorry but it sounds like more snark than not to me.

  10. DARREL PEATON wrote:

    REPLY to AJFERGUSON–the people that go see the artists, and buy their music are the one to decide who is good or not.

  11. Janet B wrote:

    #9 Kevin - Well…Tim Duncan comes to mind, just for one. And there are several more that I won’t list (lack of time).

    I think Doug is spot-on in his analysis here.

  12. Odeliya wrote:

    @10 - if it was so, then McDonalds should be considered good food, for lots of people go there and buy that stuff.

    While i like those boys singing , they are very pleasant to me, in general “it makes money = good” notion i strongly disagree with. People en masse are known to buy/listen to absolute dreck. Or, as Pres Bush’s former advisor Karl Rove used to say ” Masses are asses” ;)

  13. Lilly wrote:

    Nobody likes it but the people. Can anyone say “Male Quartet of the Year”?
    I have to agree with #5 … TQ is one of the nicest guys in the business today and they sincerely seem to enjoy what they do. The best part is that they share the Gospel through their songs. Their actions speak just as loud as their words when it comes to our Heavenly Father.

  14. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    I completely go along with the idea that popularity doesn’t necessarily equal great. There are some popular groups that set my teeth on edge, but for whatever reason, a lot of people like them anyway. I’ve just never picked up on anything that’s so “bad but popular” about Triumphant. From what I can see and hear, they’re popular because they’ve earned it.

  15. Dave Edwards wrote:

    I do read averyfineline often..Don’t always agree with it, but find what people write at times interesting and many times laughable!!! It’s like the professor with all of the “degrees” but no common sense… I never have written or commented, but your comments regarding Triumphant is just that…no “COMON SENSE”!! it brings to mind the phrase “nobody like it but the people!!!” I have worked with Gospel musicians, soloists, quartets, family groups, contempory, classical, educated and those that think the more ignorant you talk, the more people like you DAH!! However, your comments re: Triumphant Quartet could not go without comment!! After working with most of the major groups in all styles of music….seeing and hearing ALL styles, YOUR COMMENTS RE: TRIUMPHANT QUARTET have been the most ignorant posts that I have read….Vocally, note for note, BLEND, “selling a song with GRAND QUALITY”, over all talent AND PERSON for PERSON, you took on, in ignorance, one of the finest groups in Gospel Music..They are one of the most requested groups that we have EVER HAD!!!! They are one of the BRIGHTEST STARS with heads that fit through any doors in ALL of GOSPEL MUSIC!!!

    Dave Edwards

  16. quartet-man wrote:

    #15 Don’t hold back, Dave. ;-)

  17. Robert York wrote:

    I have promoted concerts for several years. Of all the groups I’ve had at concerts I would say that Triumphant stands on top. They style of singing appeals to more people that any other group that I’ve ever had at a concert. Their singing, love for Jesus, and presenting Him in their concerts are a the top of the tower. They have a way of doing in in the words they sing, the manner they sing them and the manner in which the act. I’ve never seen them come into a concert without first getting together for prayer before the concert. Can’t say that about all groups. I always like to use them to close the concert as Eric has a manner in closing, prayer request, etc., that will never offend anyone there. I believe you will find that again in 2010 they will remain # 1 Favorite Male Quartet in all of Southern Gospel Music.

  18. onemadeupmind wrote:

    I wonder if Gene MacDonald had been with Triumphant QT, if the appraisal of his performance would have been the same as Eric’s? Is it really the singer, or the group you don’t like.

    I’ve been in this bidness for 30+ years, first in a regional, then in as a pro. My assessment of Triumphant? For the particular style they sing (you know, throw down stuff), they cannot be beaten.

    Two Thumbs UP for Triumphant.

  19. Gary wrote:

    Does anyone think Michael Davis knows anything about gospel music?

  20. Robert York wrote:

    Gary, I don’t think that’s the question as it doesn’t matter whether he does or not. One thing he does know and that is how to book concerts. That is the important thing in his business. He keeps most of his groups completely booked. That’s the main thing in his field is keeping his groups busy and he does that. You can check some of their schedules. He has already book many dates in 2011. He is one of the nicest men in the business. I find he is honest, trustworthy and you can depend on what he tells you.

  21. Kevin Womble wrote:

    #11 Janet B. - Name them, I’ve got time. I’ll give you this Tim D. is certainly the best dancing bass singer out there. :)

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