A friend fairly new to Southern Gospel recently asked for a way to become more familiar with the genre. Here is a fairly simple way: Watch these 101 videos five to ten times each.

  1. Bishops: Lazarus Come Forth.
  2. Bishops: A Rose Among the Thorns.
  3. Blackwood Brothers: He Bought My Soul.
  4. Blackwood Brothers: Crossing Chilly Jordan. No good live footage seems to exist of this lineup – Bill Shaw, James Blackwood, Cecil Blackwood, J.D. Sumner, and Whitey Gleason – so this is the next best thing.
  5. Blackwood Brothers: Zion’s Hill. The list needs a London Parris video, and this is as good as any.
  6. Booth Brothers: He Saw it All.
  7. Booth Brothers: His Grace is Sufficient.
  8. Booth Brothers: Still Feeling Fine.
  9. Cathedral Quartet: Boundless Love. One of Southern Gospel’s all-time most embarrassing moments—yet you’re certain enough to hear it discussed that you might as well avail yourself of the opportunity to see it.
  10. Cathedral Quartet: Champion of Love.
  11. Cathedral Quartet: This Ole House. Yes, the infamous Dove Awards performance, and yes, you should watch it at least once.
  12. Cathedral Quartet: Sinner Saved By Grace.
  13. Cathedral Quartet: Somebody Touched Me.
  14. Cathedral Quartet: Step Into the Water.
  15. Cathedral Quartet: We Shall See Jesus.
  16. Chuck Wagon Gang: Echoes From the Burning Bush.
  17. Collingsworth Family: Holy Holy Holy.
  18. Collingsworth Family: How Great Thou Art. The list would not be complete without at least one Kim Collingsworth solo.
  19. Crabb Family: Through the Fire.
  20. Dixie Echoes: How Big is God.
  21. Dove Brothers: Get Away Jordan.
  22. Florida Boys: Goodbye, World, Goodbye.
  23. Florida Boys: Treasures Unseen.
  24. Florida Boys: When He Was on the Cross.
  25. Brian Free & Assurance: For God So Loved.
  26. Brian Free & Assurance: Long as I Got King Jesus.
  27. Gaither Homecoming: Going Home. The video that kicked off the series is too significant to have no representation on this list! The solos are from Michael English and George Younce.
  28. Gaither Homecoming: The Ninety and Nine. Featuring Donnie Sumner and the Talley Trio.
  29. Gaither Homecoming: Rock of Ages. Featuring Reggie Smith, Joy Gardner, Stephen Hill, and a magnificent final verse by Vestal Goodman.
  30. Gaither Vocal Band: Let Freedom Ring. The masters of the big ballad never had a bigger ballad than this one . . . and never a more powerful recorded performance than their Carnegie Hall performance shortly after 9/11.
  31. Gaither Vocal Band: Oh Love that Will Not Let Me Go.
  32. Gaither Vocal Band: The Old Rugged Cross Made the Difference.
  33. Gold City: Reunion at NQC 2010. This was the first time since they originally parted ways that the lineup which made Gold City a household name in Southern Gospel stepped out on stage together.
  34. Gold City: When He Calls I’ll Fly Away.
  35. Gold City: When He Blessed My Soul.
  36. Greater Vision: My Name is Lazarus.
  37. Greater Vision: There is a River.
  38. Greenes: Miracle in Me.
  39. Ernie Haase: Redemption Draweth Nigh.
  40. Ernie Haase & Signature Sound: Forgiven Again.
  41. Ernie Haase & Signature Sound: Reason Enough.
  42. Wes Hampton with Steve Green: It is Well.
  43. Happy Goodmans: The Eastern Gate.
  44. Happy Goodmans: God Walks the Dark Hills.
  45. Happy Goodmans: Looking for a City.
  46. Happy Goodmans: I Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now.
  47. Happy Goodmans: When Morning Sweeps the Eastern Sky.
  48. Heaven Bound: Canaanland is Just in Sight.
  49. Hinsons: Call Me Gone.
  50. Hinsons: The Lighthouse.
  51. Hoppers: Jerusalem.
  52. Hoppers: Shoutin’ Time. Featuring the Cathedrals on the encore, just months before Glen Payne’s death—one of his final recorded video performances.
  53. Hoppers: Miracle in Me. Greg Bentley, Connie Hopper, Dean Hopper, Claude Hopper.
  54. Inspirations: Jesus is Coming Soon.
  55. Inspirations: Touring That City. I’m open to a rendition featuring Archie if a really strong non-commercial performance is available.
  56. Inspirations: When I Wake Up to Sleep No More.
  57. Isaacs: He Ain’t Never Done Me Nothing But Good. Most available renditions are either commercially released or with poor video or audio quality.
  58. Isaacs: I Will Praise Him.
  59. Kingdom Heirs: What We Needed.
  60. KingsGold: I’m Winging My Way Back Home.
  61. Kingsmen: Beautiful Home.
  62. Kingsmen: Excuses.
  63. Kingsmen: Glory Road.
  64. Kingsmen: Jesus is Mine.
  65. Kingsmen: Shouting Happy.
  66. Legacy Five: I’m Winging My Way Back Home.
  67. Legacy Five: Forgiveness.
  68. Legacy Five: We are Home.
  69. Legacy Five: Whispers in the Night.
  70. Martins: He Leadeth Me.
  71. Masters V: Just a Little Talk with Jesus. The song needed to be on the list, and the group needed to be on the list. Since they didn’t have any iconic original songs, this seemed like a good fit.
  72. McKameys: God on the Mountain.
  73. Nelons: We Shall Wear a Robe and Crown.
  74. Paid in Full: I Could Sing About Heaven.
  75. Karen Peck & New River: Four Days Late.
  76. Karen Peck & New River: Last Night.
  77. Perfect Heart: In the Sweet Forever.
  78. Perfect Heart: Somebody Touched the Lord.
  79. Perrys: Calvary Answers For Me.
  80. Perrys: I Rest my Case at the Cross.
  81. Perrys: Who am I. The audio and video quality are far worse than others of the same song—yet the rendition is too powerful to pass this one up for another. The Perrys are the masters of the live acapella encore, and this is perhaps their best.
  82. Perrys: If You Knew Him.
  83. Plainsmen: Dry Bones. This features a young Rusty Goodman, singing bass, prior to the Happy Goodmans days!
  84. David Phelps: No More Night.
  85. Rambos: He Looked Beyond My Fault.
  86. Rambos: New Shoes.
  87. Singing Americans: Welcome to Heaven to Stay. Though not among their top five greatest hits, it’s a solid performance from the lineup that needs to be captured.
  88. Speer Family: What a Meeting.
  89. Sunliters: Here Come the Rattlesnakes.
  90. Statesmen: Happy Rhythm. This is incredibly rare footage featuring Denver Crumpler.
  91. Statesmen: Heavenly Parade.
  92. Statesmen: Just a Little While. Most of the Statesmen footage that survives from this era is footage recorded for television broadcast in a sterile studio and comes nowhere near capturing the Statesmen’s live charisma. This is an exception!
  93. Talleys: Triumphantly the Church Will Rise.
  94. Talley Trio: The Broken Ones.
  95. Talley Trio: Searchin’. With Jason Crabb.
  96. Triumphant Quartet: Love Came Calling.
  97. Triumphant Quartet: When the Trumpet Sounds.
  98. Mark Trammell Trio: Love Lifted Me (featured here). This illustrates, perhaps better than any of their original material, the chemistry that gave this lineup an incredible on-stage presence.
  99. Various – Bass Singer Quartet: Just a Little Talk with Jesus.
  100. Weatherfords: Prayer is the Key. Lily Fern Weatherford, Glen Payne, Earl Weatherford, Armond Morales.
  101. George Younce with Ernie Haase and Signature Sound: Suppertime. A timeless, priceless moment as a legend bids farewell.

If you have the time and patience, you can watch all 101 videos at once, here: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=7AB59C1D4C81B790

Much of the credit for the strength of the list goes to all who offered over 250 comments. As outlined there, I sought significant songs by significant groups, with two additional criteria: (a) Wherever possible, footage never released on VHS/DVD, and (b) Wherever possible, live footage that showed the performer connecting with the audience and the audience responding.

The Cathedrals, Happy Goodmans, Gold City (assisted by a three-song video) and Kingsmen fully deserve their 5-6 slots, and the groups with 1-4 slots each deserve those. So changes are unlikely at that level. But I am open to changing renditions of individual songs posted, and in some cases changing song selection within a group’s slots. So suggestions in those latter areas would be welcome.