The Essential Songwriter Collection series lists ten songs each from legendary songwriters that every Southern Gospel fan should add to their collections.

  • God Handled It All: Gold City, Walk the Talk, 2003. This song was Jay Parrack’s final big solo during his years on the Gold City bus, a fitting capstone to an era of indisputable greatness for the group.
  • He Will Roll You Over the Tide: Inspirations, Something to Sing About, 1979. Honorable mention goes to the Florida Boys’ 1978 version featuring Buddy Liles and to the Cathedrals’ 1979 version featuring Glen Payne and George Younce, but the Inspirations’ Archie Watkins feature is the strongest by a hair.
  • Holy Shore: The Perrys, Look No Further, 2007.
  • I Made it By Grace: The McKameys, Joy in the Journey, 2011. Even though the CD version is the one listed here (for consistency), it’s doesn’t quite capture what the group does with the song live. This song is a highlight of current McKameys sets.
  • I Rest My Case at the Cross: The Perrys, Changed Forever, 2001. This rendition of this song didn’t only become one of the Perrys’ signature songs—it also played a major role in redefining their sound as they shifted from soprano/alto/tenor/bass to alto/lead/baritone/bass, the configuration which took them to the top of the genre.
  • Loving The Lamb: Mark Trammell Trio, Always Have a Song, 2008. Perhaps a mediocre rendition of this song would not have made a top-ten definitives list, but the passion with which Trammell delivers this lyric has made it a live concert staple for the group ever since.
  • One Scarred Hand: Gold City, Windows of Home, 1990. If there was ever an obvious choice that requires no deep reflection, it is this one!
  • Something’s Happening: Mercy’s Mark, Something’s Happening, 2006. Though the Hoppers would also do a strong version four years later, the pathos Josh Feemster brought to his solo here both makes that version the definitive and earns the song a place on this list.
  • There Rose a Lamb: Gold City, Pillars of Faith, 1992.
  • Until I Start Looking Ahead: The Perrys, This is The Day, 2003. Though perhaps the most overlooked song/rendition on this top ten list, it fully deserves to stand with its counterparts in this list. The Perrys capture and convey the sweeping drama of their lyric and melody with their trademark aplomb.

What do you consider to be the definitive versions of Kyla Rowland’s songs?