reveals the personal stories behind the music of What It Took.
Hope Is Built
When we initially began compiling songs for this project, we thought
“Lead Me to the Rock” would be the obvious choice for
the opener. Then one day, Paul Sr. mentioned the idea of a verse of
“Rock of Ages” to open and take us into “Lead Me
to the Rock.”
We liked the connection
of the message between the two songs, as well as the idea of bringing
an old hymn back with a little different feel. So we discussed with
Kelly about having her play a very classical version of “Rock
of Ages” on the piano and we would throw some vocals on the
chorus (kind of a high church sound) to lead us into the beginning
of the “Lead Me” track. Kelly said she’d try to
work up some ideas.
few weeks later we got back together and, at that point, Kelly was
very apologetic in telling us she had simply just had no great thoughts
on what to do with “Rock of Ages,” but she had an idea
for “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”. We were in the
studio at the time, and I just remember her being very nervous, and
saying, “Please overlook my singing on this, but I hope you
can get the idea.”
Needless to say,
we were blown away by her creation, and we hope it blesses you in
the same way Kelly blessed us.
A lot of people can hear a great song even in rough demo form and
it hits them right away.
For me, though, most of the time I can hear a good demo, go through
the entire recording process, get through most of the mix down process,
and the song's full impact STILL won't hit me until the last stage
when everything comes together.
This is one of those songs.
I guess it was the combination of Kelly's poignant arranging and playing
coupled with PD and Ben's soothing rendition of a beautiful melody
and message of reassurance that brought to me a sense of peace and
joy like few songs I can recall. I felt compelled to let the three
of them know how their gorgeous work had affected me.
If I were ever to burn a CD of the favorite things I've ever worked
on this song would definitely be on it. It might even be the opener.
"The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and
beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation
on the rock." Matthew 7:25-26
Like shelter during a storm, we hope this project won’t be just
another CD to listen to; but an experience to change lives.
Me To the Rock
David: We had the opportunity of meeting Mencer, White,
and Cheney in September, 2004. Until that time, we hadn’t known
very much about MWC except for Steve and Sheldon's notable gift of
writing and Jonathan's amazing voice. Thankfully for us, our relationship
with them would evolve quickly.
We listened to
several of their songs and realized that these guys were our new best
friends. You will see their names on several of the songs on this
and future projects. Thanks John, Steve, and Sheldon for sharing God's
gifts with us.
John, Ben, and
I are all big fans of Gaither Vocal Band so when we heard “Lead
Me to the Rock,” we thought GVB. With a high-energy track and
great message, we thought this could be something special. So we jumped
into the recording process of this song first. When John was done
with the mix, we loved it. We trust the song contains a combination
of message and music to make it past your ears and into your heart.
David: Music has been a constant thread throughout
my life. As a child, I remember going to my grandparents’ house
for "singings.” They might have 50 to 75 people over just
to sit around with hymnals and sing gospel music - and my grandfathers’
quartet might sing a few songs, too.
used to teach singing schools and was recruited by the Stamps-Baxter
School of Music in Texas. The Suwannee River Boys also approached
him as a bass singer when Merle Abner was called into service during
WWII. His voice always made me think of a pipe organ. He and my grandmother
Irene loved to sing gospel music. They built this into all their children
and, in turn, into me. It was not uncommon for my family to listen
to 8-track tapes of his group while traveling, but, even more fascinating
to me, were those old LP recordings of his earlier quartets.
of those recordings, I thought we could try to re-create the special
sound that I, and maybe some of you, grew up hearing. The first time
I remember hearing this particular song was on an LP my dad owned
- recorded in the early seventies - of a group called the Alabamians
Quartet. I know the song pre-dates that recording by several years,
but this is where I learned it. I can remember singing along with
that album - it would have been around 1979-80. I loved the traditional
When it came to
this song, we changed our vocal recording approach from the rest of
the project. Everyone in the recording industry has different methods
of recording vocals, but typically we choose to lay down a tenor line
on one track, then come back on another track and lay the same part
down again--making it as tight as possible to the first track. This
creates a bigger sound and a lot of people call it “stacking.”
But on this song,
we went with single track, no stacking, which simply means that each
singer laid down the part on one track only. We hope this creates
a little different sound for us, but fits the nature of the old quartet
style. I also should add that Milton and Wes put together a great
new track perfectly in line with the nostalgic feel we wanted to create.
one of those great old songs that we love to remember.
David: We went to our first NQC, as a group, in 2004.
A bit nervous and none of us knowing exactly what to expect, we'd
been told that our music was a little edgy for the market.
Within that week we saw the Crabb Family perform two or three times
on the "BIG STAGE", which was one of our first opportunities
to see them live. Wow! They were incredible and very non-traditional
for the market (as we saw it).
Still wondering how the industry would embrace us, it was a highlight
to have a Daywind representative stop by our booth and pitch us some
material, one of the songs being "What it Took." The first
time we heard the song we were hooked.
Marty Funderburk told us it was his first time to work with Reba Rambo
McGuire. For us, it’s an incredible honor to be allowed to release
their first song.
The words tell again, in a beautiful, simple way, the story of the
cross. I think one of the ways Satan tries to keep us from being close
to God is to make us so conditioned to hearing about grace that it
doesn’t affect us anymore. We hear it, we know it, but it doesn’t
really touch us or change our hearts. Although I’ve been like
that in the past, I hope that I never again slip so far from the One
who brought me here that I can no longer connect to the message of
this song: A true story about my best Friend, who, without saying
a word, gave His life to protect me, shelter me, and let me live.
Nearly everyone agrees that this song was most popularized
when it was sung by Michael English as a member of the Gaither Vocal
Band. Wow, what a magnificently gifted singer!
When we decided to do this song I pretty much knew that I wasn't going
to be bringing anything to it... especially to Gaither fans... my
To me, though, the song is a good reminder of where we are going and
why we are here.
In one form or another, my dad frequently said to me: "Do the
right thing, no matter how tough it is."
Even if everyone around you thinks you're foolish, just do the right
thing. Even if all the truth about your decision doesn't become known
to everyone in this life, forget about it.
It'll be known to everyone in the next one.
The next life is reality. This one is just physical and temporary.
/ How Great Thou Art
Time and how it works is amazing to me. But to God, it's less than
nothing. It's just one more of His creations - presented to us as
On New Year's Eve 1968, I was seven years old and living in Downey,
CA. I had never heard of the Kennamer family from Grant, AL. But on
that particular evening, a recording was being made of 20-month-old
Paul David singing "How Great Thou Art."
Thirty-seven years later, I wish I could describe to you the fascination
that comes while sitting in my living room and hearing this recording
of a little toddler with an amazing voice and incredible pitch control.
Combine that with the fascination of hearing that SAME voice shake
that SAME living room by landing four octaves below middle C in that
very SAME song.
We hope you'll marvel at the God who gives the human race these awesome
gifts - gifts like time and like a one-of-a-kind voice.
David: Jonathon White sent us this song. When we first
listened to it, I remember thinking that we might be able to do some
fun vocal stuff with it but, over all, I had mixed thoughts.
We went ahead and messed with some arrangement ideas and that’s
when I really began taking in what the song was pouring out.
As a child I had
always heard the story about Jesus at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5),
but I’d never really given thought to it the way the writer
of this song illustrated. On our first project we did a song by Gary
Paxton called “He Was There All the Time” which seems
to speak to a similar thought.
The idea that,
every minute of our lives, He is right there. In the valleys--and,
maybe even more difficult times--the mountain tops, where I can lose
focus and forget that He brought me here. He is the Living Water walking
up to us saying, “I will give you everything you don't even
know you want, and don't even know you need, because I love you to
death. So no matter whether you are sick in a bed or while standing
in a pulpit, the Water can come walking to you--and to me.
David: We began learning this song as a group several
years ago when we were booked into a small church named Solitude Baptist
in Albertville, AL. We were asked to learn the song especially for
their program because it was very special to one of the members of
He was a former
pastor of over fifty years and his name was L. A. Traylor. I knew
it was best that I set up the song during the program that evening,
even though talking from the stage is not really a comfortable thing
for me to do. However, I did my best, and Mr. Traylor seemed to appreciate
that time, his heath began to decline, so we visited him in the hospital
a few times and would sing for him each time. He passed away in September,
2001. I seldom sing the song now without remembering him.
He spoke warmly
of people giving their lives to ministry. He was very much a fan of
Squire Parsons, and because of the gift God gave to Squire in this
song, I was brought into a deeper bonding with Mr. Traylor, my grandfather.
He Calls My Name
David: When we first heard this song, we were actually
looking for up-tempo material. So this one went into the “This-is-an-incredible-song-but-we-don't-really-have-a-place-for-it”file.
However, as the recording developed, we reconsidered. This wound up
being the third song we recorded for the project and I fell in love
with the message.
I've always been
a big fan of "The King is Coming,” (by a writing team named
Bill and Gloria Gaither, for those uninformed that the world is now
round), but we'd not had opportunity to record a song quite like that.
This song impacted me in a similar way.
I believe that,
as a Christian, the desire to go home is at least one selfish desire
that is pleasing to God. I think that Christians who truly understand
the struggles in this life, know that trouble actually comes when
we begin to focus in on the issues of this world instead of remembering
that our time here is not to be about this life, but about the life
that will come when He calls us home.
Thanks Steve and
Sheldon, for letting us use your gifts.
Me To the Rock - Reprise
David: John, Ben, and I come from different backgrounds,
however, each of our lives have been heavily impacted by a cappella
music. This includes a cappella music of all kinds from southern
(Cathedral-style) to Jazz (Take 6, Manhattan Transfer) to Contemporary
(A Cappella) to Barbershop (Boston Common), and everything in between.
So when we finished “Lead Me,” we began thinking of what
we could do beyond the style of the track. We wanted something southern,
but also to draw on some of our other influences. This is the result
He Will Fix It
I've worked with Paul David for a lot of years and I'm constantly
reminded of what a gift God created in PD's voice. His range as a
bass singer is incredible but what I find most impressive is simply
his ability to sing.
Paul David would be the first to tell you how dramatically influenced
he is by the work of legendary bass singer, J. D. Sumner. I can remember
sitting with PD and his dad on J.D.'s bus, listening to him speak
of PD's talent. I was so proud for my friend and for this confirmation
from one of his biggest influences of the blessing God gave him.
I like what a rich low voice brings to the mood of a traditional old
spiritual like this - then comes the contrast of hope being driven
home by Ben's gutsy tenor reminding us of the power existing in the
source of all solutions to every problem.
David: The Cathedral Quartet released this song on
their project titled “The Prestigious Cathedral Quartet.”
I know this because I purchased the cassette during my senior year
of high school. I sang along with it unendingly. My dad use to joke
that I may be the only person who sang with George Younce more often
than Glen Payne did. For those who may be reading this, and are somehow
unaware of these two names, George was the bass singer and Glen was
the lead singer.
These guys sang
full-time together, for well over fifty years. Needless to say I was,
and still am, a HUGE fan. So for me, this was a great opportunity
to record a great song, originally done by some big influences in
We had actually
recorded this song for Valor’s first project, but ended up not
using it because of some track issues. So this time, I was personally
very anxious about this cut. And I had an idea I hoped would work
few years back, a friend of ours, Martin Butler, introduced us to
Larry Ford. Of course we, as many, were aware of Larry's amazing tenor
voice, but had never had the honor of working with him.
Now, for anyone
who knows Martin, his is a special servant’s heart, and when
he sees a way that he can be of help, he'll put himself out to make
things happen. In this situation, he began lining up some joint concerts
for Larry and us, providing an opportunity for us to get to know each
Since that wonderful
beginning, we've done several programs with Larry. He and Cheryl,
his wife, have been great to us, including putting us on the "Big
Stage" at NQC.
So when we began
work on this song, we asked Larry if he would be willing to do a lead
vocal, and he agreed. I might add, there nothing quite like hearing
Larry hit a C in a 10' x 10' room. That’s a true gift from God.
Larry, and Cheryl.
Almost Over (Inspirational)
In my note on the other version of “It’s Almost Over,”
I wrote about how much I love this song – both the message and
the music. I also mentioned my following of the Cathedrals, and that
also goes for J. D. Sumner & the Stamps, Gold City, Masters Five,
However, I'm also
heavily influenced, as many people have been, by Michael English,
Bebe Winans, Smokie Norful, and so on. Music is like beauty - it’s
in the eye (or ear) of the beholder. In addition, I'm still very much
like a kid, when I hear a great singer having a great performance
- I'm in awe.
This would definitely
be the case for me on this song. The beauty, power and finesse that
Ben pours into this song speak again to God's amazing gifts.