Kingdom Heirs

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The Kingdom Heirs Quartet
Origin Knoxville, TN, now Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Genres Christian, Southern gospel
Years active 1971 (46 years ago) (1971) –present
Labels Sonlite Records
Associated acts Dolly Parton
Website www.kingdomheirs.com
Members Jerry A Martin
Arthur Rice
Jeff Chapman
Loren Harris
Andy Stringfield
Dennis Murphy
Kreis French

The Kingdom Heirs Quartet is a Southern gospel quartet based at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

The Kingdom Heirs formed in 1971 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Original members included Patty Wilson (alto), Jim Bluford (tenor), Gene McKinney (lead), Raymond Parker (bass), and a 13-year-old Gary Bilyeu (piano). Gary Arnold was added on bass guitar and 13-year-old drummer Jim Ford came close behind with Tom Bailey on Rhythm. The name Kingdom Heirs was chosen by the group from James 2:5. After they began expanding their singing beyond local churches, Wilson, Parker, and Arnold left the group for various reasons, and Steve Gouge replaced Arnold on bass guitar in July-1971. Mike Shuemaker joined to sing baritone in August of that same year. [1][2]

After learning of a group from near Sparta, Tennessee who was using the name Kingdom Heirs, rather than checking legal availability for Kingdom Heirs, the group simply added New and became the New Kingdom Heirs. In 1974 they incorporated as a non-profit under that name. That same year Larry Hutson joined the group on lead guitar, Duane Wyrick became Bass vocal and in 1975 after short stints by Johnny Trott and Mark Nipper, Buddy Mulkey took tenor vocal, while Tommy Rowe assumed baritone vocal. Larry’s father, Bill Hutson, began managing the group. From 1972 to 1982 their ministry grew substantially and their booking schedule began to expand. Manager Bill Hutson arranged TV, radio, church and concert appearances from Michigan to Florida. Along the way, well known gospel music promoter and host of the widely syndicated Mull’s Singing Convention television show Rev. J. Bazzell Mull took note and started using the New Kingdom Heirs in concerts and television. Now they were appearing with top names in gospel music like The Chuck Wagon Gang, The Kingsmen, The Hinsons, The Hemphills, Windy Bagwell, Jerry Goff, The Cathedrals, The Nelons, The Singing Cookes, The Primitive Quartet and many more.

Rev. Mull's recommendation in 1977 opened the door for an audition and their first performance and long association with Silver Dollar City in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, now Dollywood. They first sang at the October Craft Festival, then the spring Young Christians Day and mid-summer Mountain Music Festival, which all became annual appearances. In 1979, at the prompting of promoter Rev. J. Bazzell Mull, they secured a registered trademark for the name Kingdom Heirs, and dropped the word "new" from the group name and began recording and appearing as The Kingdom Heirs. The late’70s saw 3 new albums recorded on Trail Records and produced by Jim Hamell, of The Kingsmen, and Bobby All. By 1981, The Kingdom Heirs, with band, had expanded to a total of 12 members (including manager Bill Hutson) and recorded their 10th Anniversary Edition in Nashville, with acclaimed producer and musician Gary Prim. In late 1982, after the departure of 8-year veteran bass singer Duane Wyrick earlier in the year, six more members of The Kingdom Heirs decided to retire to raise families including founding members Gene McKinney, Gary Bilyeu, and Jim Ford along with Steve Gouge, Buddy Mulkey and bass Jeff Crisp. With Wayne Mitchell who had replaced Tommy Rowe, Larry Hutson, George Beeler (who had replaced Jim Ford), steel player Ron Ward and manager Bill Hutson remaining, they brought in David McGill (lead), Steve French (baritone), Kreis French (bass guitar), and Randall Hunley (piano).

Musical career[edit]

The Kingdom Heirs perform multiple shows daily at Dollywood during the months that the park is open. While the park is closed, they tour just like any other group. The group has been at the park since 1977,[1] when it was known as Silver Dollar City. It is estimated that they sing to over 2 million people each year - more than any other Southern Gospel group. Despite a short travel schedule, the guys always take time to join in the Gospel Celebration at The National Quartet Convention.

The Kingdom Heirs have also had many top ten songs, and currently have had 31 top 5 songs in a row and 10 number 1 songs including their latest number #1 song, "I'll Know I'm Home" along with "The Borrowed Tomb" and "Just Beyond The Sunset" which is off of the same cd "Redeeming The Time". Many other #1's include, "Just Preach Jesus", "Tell Me Why" and “He Locked The Gates”. Over the past years they have had 26 songs nominated for Song Of The Year, including songs like - "Just Beyond The Sunset" "Just Preach Jesus", "The Joys of Heaven", "That's Why I Love To Call His Name," "I Know I'm Going There," "Forever Changed," "What We Needed"- which reached #1 on the Singing News magazine charts. The Kingdom Heirs have been nominated many times for industry awards such as The SGMA Awards, Dove Awards and The Singing News Fan Awards. Winning Newcomer Group Of The Year in 1989, the group has been a constant favorite. The latest award is 2014 Band Of The Year, which the band also won in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2013 and 2014.

Current members[edit]

The current group consists of Arthur Rice (lead), Jerry A . Martin (tenor), Jeff Chapman (bass), Loren Harris (baritone), Andy Stringfield (baritone/pianist), Dennis Murphy (drums), and Kreis French (Owner) (bass guitar).

Tenor
Lead
Baritone
  • Mike Shuemaker (1971-1975) [1]
  • Tommy Rowe (1975-1982) [1]
  • Wayne Mitchell (1982) [1]
  • Steve French (1983-2014)
  • Andy Stringfield (2014-2015, 2016-present)
  • Brian Alvey (2015-2016)
  • Loren Harris (2016-present)

Bass

Alto vocal
  • Patty Wilson (1971)
Piano/Keyboards
Drums
  • Jim Ford (1971-1982) [1]
  • George Beeler (1982-1983) [1]
  • Rich Wilson (1984–88)
  • Stephen Arant (1988–90)
  • Dennis Murphy (1990-today)
Bass guitar
  • Gary Arnold (1971) [1]
  • Steve Gouge (1971-1982) [1]
  • Kreis French (1982-today) [1]
Lead guitar
  • Larry Hutson (1974–1983) [1]
Steel guitar
  • Dale McPhearson (1978-1979) [1]
  • Ron Ward (1979-1983) [1]
Rhythm guitar

Tom Bailey (1971-1972) [1]

Manager
  • Bill Hutson (1975-1983) [1]

Members[edit]

Line-ups[edit]

1971

(Under the Name "The Kingdom Heirs")

1971-1974

(Under the Name "New Kingdom Heirs")

1974-1975
  • Patty Wilson – alto
  • Jim Bluford – tenor
  • Gene McKinney – lead
  • Mike Shuemaker – baritone
  • Raymond Parker - bass
  • Gary Bilyeu - piano, keyboards
  • Jim Ford - drums
  • Gary Arnold - bass guitar
  • Tom Bailey - rhythm guitar
  • Jim Bluford – tenor
  • Gene McKinney – lead
  • Mike Shuemaker – baritone
  • Raymond Parker - bass
  • Gary Bilyeu - piano, keyboards
  • Jim Ford - drums
  • Steve Gouge - bass guitar
  • Tom Bailey - rhythm guitar (1971-1972)
  • Johnny Trott – tenor
  • Gene McKinney – lead
  • Mike Shuemaker – baritone
  • Duane Wyrick - bass
  • Gary Bilyeu - piano, keyboards
  • Jim Ford - drums
  • Steve Gouge - bass guitar
  • Larry Hutson - lead guitar
1975 1975-1978 1978-1979
  • Mark Nipper – tenor
  • Gene McKinney – lead
  • Tommy Rowe – baritone
  • Duane Wyrick - bass
  • Gary Bilyeu - piano, keyboards
  • Jim Ford - drums
  • Steve Gouge - bass guitar
  • Larry Hutson - lead guitar
  • Bill Hutson - manager
  • Buddy Mulkey – tenor
  • Gene McKinney – lead
  • Tommy Rowe – baritone
  • Duane Wyrick - bass
  • Gary Bilyeu - piano, keyboards
  • Jim Ford - drums
  • Steve Gouge - bass guitar
  • Larry Hutson - lead guitar
  • Bill Hutson - manager
  • Buddy Mulkey – tenor
  • Gene McKinney – lead
  • Tommy Rowe – baritone
  • Duane Wyrick - bass
  • Gary Bilyeu - piano, keyboards
  • Jim Ford - drums
  • Steve Gouge - bass guitar
  • Larry Hutson - lead guitar
  • Dale McPhearson - steel guitar
  • Bill Hutson - manager
1979-1981

(Under the Name "The Kingdom Heirs")

1981 1981
  • Buddy Mulkey – tenor
  • Gene McKinney – lead
  • Tommy Rowe – baritone
  • Duane Wyrick - bass
  • Gary Bilyeu - piano, keyboards
  • Jim Ford - drums
  • Steve Gouge - bass guitar
  • Larry Hutson - lead guitar
  • Ron Ward - steel guitar
  • Bill Hutson - manager
  • Buddy Mulkey – tenor
  • Gene McKinney – lead
  • Randy Miller – baritone
  • Duane Wyrick - bass
  • Randall Hunley - piano, keyboards
  • Jim Ford - drums
  • Steve Gouge - bass guitar
  • Larry Hutson - lead guitar
  • Ron Ward - steel guitar
  • Bill Hutson - manager
  • Buddy Mulkey – tenor
  • Gene McKinney – lead
  • David McGill – baritone
  • Duane Wyrick - bass
  • Randall Hunley - piano, keyboards
  • Jim Ford - drums
  • Steve Gouge - bass guitar
  • Larry Hutson - lead guitar
  • Ron Ward - steel guitar
  • Bill Hutson - manager
1981-1982 1982-1983 1983-1984
  • Buddy Mulkey – tenor
  • Gene McKinney – lead
  • Wayne Mitchell – baritone
  • Duane Wyrick - bass
  • Randall Hunley - piano, keyboards
  • Jim Ford - drums
  • Steve Gouge - bass guitar
  • Larry Hutson - lead guitar
  • Ron Ward - steel guitar
  • Bill Hutson - manager
  • Wayne Mitchell – tenor
  • David McGill – lead
  • Steve French – baritone
  • Jeff Crisp - bass
  • Randall Hunley - piano, keyboards
  • George Beeler - drums
  • Kreis French - bass guitar
  • Bill Hutson - manager
  • Wayne Mitchell – tenor
  • David McGill – lead
  • Steve French – baritone
  • Eric Hawkins - bass (1982)
  • Randall Hunley - piano, keyboards
  • David Hoskins - drums
  • Kreis French - bass guitar
1984-1985 1985-1987 1987-1988
  • Wayne Mitchell – tenor
  • David McGill – lead
  • Steve French – baritone
  • Eric Hawkins - bass
  • Randall Hunley - piano, keyboards
  • Rich Wilson - drums
  • Kreis French - bass guitar
  • Wayne Mitchell – tenor
  • David McGill – lead
  • Steve French – baritone
  • Jody Medford - bass (1986)
  • Randall Hunley - piano, keyboards
  • Rich Wilson - drums
  • Kreis French - bass guitar
  • Rick Strickland – tenor
  • David McGill – lead
  • Steve French – baritone
  • Bob Caldwell - bass
  • Randall Hunley - piano, keyboards
  • Rich Wilson - drums
  • Kreis French - bass guitar
1988-1989 1990-1991 1991-1992
  • Rick Strickland – tenor
  • David McGill – lead
  • Steve French – baritone
  • Bob Caldwell - bass
  • Randall Hunley - piano, keyboards
  • Stephen Arant - drums
  • Kreis French - bass guitar
  • Rick Strickland – tenor
  • Clayton Inman – lead
  • Steve French – baritone
  • Bob Caldwell - bass
  • Randall Hunley - piano, keyboards
  • Dennis Murphy - drums
  • Kreis French - bass guitar
  • Rick Strickland – tenor
  • Clayton Inman – lead
  • Steve French – baritone
  • Eric Bennett - bass
  • Randall Hunley - piano, keyboards
  • Dennis Murphy - drums
  • Kreis French - bass guitar
1992-1994 1994-1995 1995-1999
  • David Walker – tenor
  • Clayton Inman – lead
  • Steve French – baritone
  • Eric Bennett - bass
  • Jamie Graves - piano, keyboards
  • Dennis Murphy - drums
  • Kreis French - bass guitar
  • David Sutton – tenor
  • Steve Lacey – lead
  • Steve French – baritone
  • Eric Bennett - bass
  • Jamie Graves - piano, keyboards
  • Dennis Murphy - drums
  • Kreis French - bass guitar
  • David Sutton – tenor
  • Arthur Rice – lead
  • Steve French – baritone
  • Eric Bennett - bass
  • Jamie Graves - piano, keyboards
  • Dennis Murphy - drums
  • Kreis French - bass guitar
1999-2002 2002-2005 2005-2007
  • David Sutton – tenor
  • Arthur Rice – lead
  • Steve French – baritone
  • Eric Bennett - bass
  • Jeff Stice - piano, keyboards
  • Dennis Murphy - drums
  • Kreis French - bass guitar
  • Billy Hodges – tenor
  • Arthur Rice – lead
  • Steve French – baritone
  • Jeff Chapman - bass
  • Adam Harman - piano, keyboards
  • Dennis Murphy - drums
  • Kreis French - bass guitar
2007 2007-2011 2011-2014
  • Billy Hodges – tenor
  • Arthur Rice – lead
  • Steve French – baritone
  • Jeff Chapman - bass
  • Joseph Cox - piano, keyboards
  • Dennis Murphy - drums
  • Kreis French - bass guitar
  • Billy Hodges – tenor
  • Arthur Rice – lead
  • Steve French – baritone
  • Andy Stringfield – baritone, piano, keyboards
  • Jeff Chapman - bass
  • Dennis Murphy - drums
  • Kreis French - bass guitar
  • Jerry A. Martin – tenor
  • Arthur Rice – lead
  • Steve French – baritone
  • Andy Stringfield – baritone, piano, keyboards
  • Jeff Chapman - bass
  • Dennis Murphy - drums
  • Kreis French - bass guitar
2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-present
  • Jerry A. Martin – tenor
  • Arthur Rice – lead
  • Andy Stringfield – baritone, piano, keyboards
  • Jeff Chapman - bass
  • Dennis Murphy - drums
  • Kreis French - bass guitar
  • Jerry A. Martin – tenor
  • Arthur Rice – lead
  • Brian Alvey – baritone
  • Andy Stringfield – baritone, piano, keyboards
  • Jeff Chapman - bass
  • Dennis Murphy - drums
  • Kreis French - bass guitar
  • Jerry A. Martin – tenor
  • Arthur Rice – lead
  • Loren Harris – baritone
  • Andy Stringfield – baritone, piano, keyboards
  • Jeff Chapman - bass
  • Dennis Murphy - drums
  • Kreis French - bass guitar

Discography[edit]

  • 2015 A New Look
  • 2015 "From the Red Book". Vol 4
  • 2015 "30th Anniversary"
  • 2013 The Heart Of Christmas
  • 2013 Redeeming The Time
  • 2012 From The Red Book Vol. 3
  • 2011 By Request
  • 2011 We Will Stand Our Ground
  • 2010 It's Christmas
  • 2010 25th Anniversary
  • 2010 Live At Dollywood (DVD/cd set)
  • 2009 When You Look At Me
  • 2007 True To The Call
  • 2006 White Christmas
  • 2006 Off The Record
  • 2006 Live In Grand Style (video)
  • 2005 Give Me The Mountain
  • 2005 Series One
  • 2004 Going On With The Song: Live (video)
  • 2004 Lyrics Not Included (band)
  • 2004 Forever Changed
  • 2004 Spirit Of Christmas
  • 2003 Going On With The Song
  • 2003 Sing It Again
  • 2002 Anchored (video)
  • 2002 City Of Light (video)
  • 2002 Together In Song (video)
  • 2002 Gonna Keep Telling
  • 2002 N' Tune (band)
  • 2001 Classic Collection Double CD
  • 2001 Shadows Of The Past
  • 2001 Journey Home (video)
  • 2001 Live In The Smokies (video)
  • 2000 Impressions (band)
  • 2000 City Of Light
  • 1999 Talley Ho, Ho, Ho! (with Kirk Talley)
  • 1999 A Christmas Celebration (Christmas)
  • 1999 The Journey Home
  • 1998 Reflections
  • 1998 Anchored Live
  • 1997 Anchored
  • 1997 My Father Is Rich
  • 1997 Christian Family
  • 1996 Feelin' At Home
  • 1995 Forever Gold
  • 1994 Song Of Praise
  • 1993 Timeless
  • 1992 Telling The World
  • 1992 Extraordinary
  • 1991 Good Christian Men Rejoice (Christmas)
  • 1990 Live At Dollywwod
  • 1989 From The Heart
  • 1988 Live In Concert (video)
  • 1988 Classics
  • 1988 Steppin' On The Bright Side
  • 1987 Pure Gold
  • 1987 Favorites
  • 1986 Heirlooms
  • 1986 The Good Times
  • 1985 Southern Live
  • 1984 Special Edition
  • 1983 Just Arrived
  • 1982 The Kingdom Heirs (Later Changed To Vol. 5)
  • 1981 10th Anniversary Edition[2]
  • 1979 I'll Gain More Than I'm Missing[2]
  • 1978 Seed Sower[2]
  • 1976 Heaven On The Horizon[2]
  • 1976 Old Fashioned Gospel[2]
  • 1975 Especially For You[2]
  • 1973 All Aboard[2]
  • 1972 That Day Is Almost Here[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y http://www.originalkingdomheirs.com
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i http://www.sghistory.com
  3. ^ "Jodi Hosterman Resigns From Kingdom Heirs". SouthernGospel.com. 15 October 2004. Retrieved 26 December 2010. 
  4. ^ "Billy Hodges Resigns From Kingdom Heirs". SouthernGospel.com. 30 October 2010. Retrieved 26 December 2010. 
  5. ^ "Kingdom Heirs Announce New Bass". SouthernGospel.com. 14 October 2002. Retrieved 26 December 2010. 
  6. ^ a b "Kingdom Heirs Announce New Pianist". SouthernGospel.com. 19 January 2007. Retrieved 26 December 2010. 
  7. ^ "Kingdom Heirs Announce New Piano Player". SouthernGospel.com. 11 November 2002. Retrieved 26 December 2010. 

External links[edit]