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The Fairfield Four

The Fairfield Four Forge Ahead Into 21st Century
The Fairfield Four, who are one of USAGEM's most well-known groups, are keeping alive a huge legacy of African American a capella gospel music by recording their first CD in more than 20 years.
The legendary group been in the studio the last two months and have come up with an album that features some new, unheard material and some old classics (one that's been in the Library of Congress since 1939). These are songs that have inspired the civil rights movement and legendary rockers like James Brown and Elvis Presley.
In addition to the new CD, the group has a lot happening in the coming months and plan to do some real touring.
The new CD will be released on March 10 in conjunction with a major PBS TV Special called "Rock My Soul" with special guests, The McCrary Sisters, Lucinda Williams, Lee Ann Womack, Amos Lee, Van Hunt and Buddy Miller. Stay tuned for airing in your area in the first two weeks of March.
Following the release of the CD, a live concert tour of the same name will be organized for the second half of 2015 which will feature The Fairfield Four and the McCrary Sisters.  Expect appearances at major music festivals like Telluride, Edmonton Folk Festival and many more.
The group has started our own record label, Fairfield Four Records, and with that added responsibilty come new challenges in working with publicists, distributors, tour managers, manufacturers and so many others.
 The legendary group is best known from their appearance on the soundtrack and on screen of the popular movie, "O Brother Where Art Thou."  Today, they continue to perform a cappella and have been singularly important in revitalizing and preserving the oldest style of traditional spiritual and gospel singing.
Be sure to congratulate USAGEM member Larrice Byrd for his tremendous work with this great group.  Because of his efforts, the future looks very bright for The Fairfield Four - a group that will celebrate its 100th birthday in just six years.

11th Annual Convention & Awards Show

Music was in the air as The 11th Annual USAGEM Banquet & Awards was underway on Saturday November 22, 2014.  The show was held in the luxurious Cumberland Ballroom at the Opryland Marriott Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.  The show began immediately following the banquet, which started at 6:00 PM.

Mending Fences, a group formed from the band of the Nashville Cowboy Church, opened the program and set the tone for the evening.  They performed a Paul Overstreet penned song, “God Is Good All The Time”.   

The event was hosted by Roy and Lynn Fox of The Fox BrothersRoy Fox, who underwent heart surgery earlier this year, was greeted with a standing ovation from the audience.  After his introduction, Roy thanked everyone and then joked “You know, my doctor has one of the best stress tests I know of.  It’s called the bill!”

Throughout the evening, The Fox Brothers intertwined their homespun humor as they introduced segment co-hosts and performers.  The brothers were presented top honors for Gospel Entertainer and Vocal Group.  They also picked up the Song Of The Year trophy for “It’s Time For Love”, a song written by Nashville songwriter, Dwight Liles

Segment co-hosts for the event were The Gardners, Tank Tankett & Ann Hartmann, Dwayne & Tommie Lewis, Randy & Wendi Pierce, and Daniel & Teresa Johnson. Tank Tackett received The Male Vocalist Of The Year award while Daniel and Teresa Johnson, also known as The Pearly Gates, garnered the trophy for the USAGEM Duo Of The Year. 

There were five Crown Jewel Awards presented earlier during the USAGEM Convention. The Reed Brothers, one of the organization’s new groups, announced the winners during the awards ceremony. Recipients were: Rockin’ Reggie Vinson for the Contemporary Christian Crown Jewel; Bev McCann for the Christian Country Crown Jewel; NYU Testament for the Black Gospel Crown Jewel; Leipers Fork Bluegrass for the Bluegrass Crown Jewel; and Tank Tackett for the Southern Gospel Crown Jewel. 

During the show, top nominees Jim Sheldon and The Kent Smith Family both performed very powerful and moving songs.  Sheldon performed “Even After”, a song he wrote as a tribute to his sister who passed away last year; and The Kent Smith Family performed their top nominated song, “He Is There With Me” written by Deborah Jones, who is the mother of the group’s lead singer, Eddie Jones.  

Rick Alan King performed “An Unfinished Task” to a standing ovation. Rick and his wife Lana were also presented the USAGEM Ruby Award.  Russ Murphy performed his nominated song “Stand Up For Jesus” with his friend and co-writer Robert Jason.  Murphy took home the Emerald Award.  

Peggy Inks accepted the Sapphire Award in behalf of her friend David Smith; and Tommie Lewis accepted the Pearl Award in behalf of  Brenda Ivy Robertson.  The USAGEM Diamond Award was presented to David & Carrie Smith who performed their powerful song “On My Father’s Side”.

Rene Jones performed his latest single, “Thank God For Mama”.  Although this song received two nods for Video and Song Of The Year, Jones took home the honor of  Video Of The Year for his previous single, “Bible By Her Bed”.  Ann Hartmann was acknowledged by Jones for writing this song and was brought up to the stage during the acceptance of the award. 

The award for USAGEM New Artist Of The Year went to NYU Testament. This group had the audience on their feet during their rousing performance of  “It Pays To Wait”.  Sandi Kay Shupe won the accolades for Female Vocalist Of The Year and this was a first time win for her in this category.  Her group, Sandi Kay & New Hickory performed the upbeat “I Can See Clearly Now”.  

Shelton Bissell won the award for Musician Of The Year for the second time and Jimmy Jack Whitaker received the USAGEM Singer/Songwriter Of The Year award for the first time. Whitaker closed the show with his very moving song, “Called”.  

Other performers on the show were The Waymasters, Debbie Bennett, Roger Revette & UR1, For Heaven’s Sake, Danny Jones, Rockin’ Reggie Vinson, and Southern Faith.  Award presenters included Reggie & Kat Vinson, The Reed Brothers, Rene & Edie Jones, Don & Joy McCloud, Cherie Brennan, Sheila Berry, Sandi Kay & Jay Shupe, Journey Of Faith, Laura Mathy, Cassidy Taylor, Marty Merchant, Peggy Inks, Chuck & Candace Kuykendall, and Mariah Neff

Summer & Autumn Ryan, beautiful daughters of Cassie Cornish, presented the trophies to the award winners. Band members were Jay Shupe, Bud Rawles, Tom Campbell, Kevin Kathey, Rick Otis, Bobby Kay, and Jack Rollier.  Backup singers included Sandi Kay Shupe, Cassie Cornish, Rene Jones, and Jim Sheldon

During the pre-awards ceremony,  Michael and Ann Gardner was presented a special plaque by the USAGEM Board Of Directors for their service to the organization. Michael Gardner has served as president for the past four years and he stated that he plans to step down after this year.  Before being president, Gardner served on the USAGEM Board Of Directors and as the treasurer for the organization. 

The USAGEM Awards Show was filmed in its entirety by Jimmy Adams Media and iTube 247. The show will be streamed at at a later date. 

Below is a list of this year’s USAGEM award winners:


Diamond Award - David & Carrie Smith

Emerald Award - Russ Murphy

Pearl Award - Brenda Ivy Robertson

Ruby Award - Rick & Lana King

Sapphire Award - David Smith

Gospel Entertainer Of The Year - The Fox Brothers

Male Vocalist Of The Year - Tank Tackett

Female Vocalist Of The Year - Sandi Kay Shupe

Duo Of The Year - The Pearly Gates

Singer/Songwriter Of The Year - Jimmy Jack Whitaker

Video Of The Year - “Bible By Her Bed” by Rene Jones

Song Of The Year - “It’s Time For Love” by The Fox Brothers

Musician Of The Year - Shelton Bissell

Vocal Group Of The Year - The Fox Brothers

New Artist Of The Year - NYU Testament

Southern Gospel Crown Jewel - Tank Tackett

Contemporary Christian Crown Jewel - Rockin’ Reggie Vinson

Black Gospel Crown Jewel - NYU Testament

Bluegrass Crown Jewel - Leipers Fork Bluegrass

Christian Country Crown Jewel - Bev McCann

Non-Performing Member Award - John Young

Radio Servants Award - Dewitt Johnson

Media Award - Double E Promotions

Watch the 11th Annual USAGEM Awards Show on


Find more photos of the 11th annual convention and awards show on the USAGEM Facebook.

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