Soul'd Out

Soul’d Out Really Is… Sold Out

Soul'd Out
Soul’d Out

Soul’d Out has been making great gospel music for twelve years, scooping up the 2010 Singing News Magazine Horizon Group of the Year Award in the process. The Ohio-based, Crossroads artist released What The World Doesn’t Know in early 2012, with the singles, “Through The Blood”, ‘All Things Are Possible” and “Go Out And Get Him” doing well on the gospel charts. However, what made Soul’d Out the talk of the town this year was the acquisition of two of gospel music’s leading vocalists, Bryan Hutson and Ian Owens.

 

People laugh about the revolving door of gospel music groups, referring to the number of changes in personnel that are experienced by this genre. However, in comparison to the national statistics of people with average secular jobs, Southern Gospel really isn’t much different from the norm. The Department of Labor statistics say that the median number of years that workers had been with their current employer was 4.6 in January 2012. 1 Also, the average person held 11.3 jobs from age 18 to age 46.2

 

It is quite likely that persons born after 1964 will hold more jobs in their working careers than their parents did, decreasing that median number of years per job. So when gospel fans see personnel changes in their favorite groups every two or three years, it is really not surprising, considering the demands of road travel and financial considerations. Soul’d Out’s previous members who departed in 2012 were long-term veterans of the group, in relation to the general statistics. Tanner Stahl, the group’s previous baritone, left the group after a five-year tenure. Bass singer Matt Fouch departed after eight years. The length of stay for both of these gentlemen is a tribute to the type of group Soul’d Out is and the bonds between the members.

 

Bryan Hutson came to Soul’d Out from the Kingsmen, having been with the group for ten years total, in two separate stints. Ian Owens arrived from Ernie Haase and Signature Sound (EHSS), where he traveled with the group for two years. Prior to EHSS, Owens had been with The Imperials for over seven years. These two gentlemen are both still loyal to their previous groups and knew that when God said it was time to move on, they needed to obey.Sould Out three

 

“I joined Soul’d Out in December of 2011,” says Hutson. “I recorded 2 CD’s with them before I actually sang on stage with them. My first official concert was in January of 2012.  I became friends with Matt Rankin in 2007 and The Kingsmen worked with them a few times and I began to get to know the other members of Soul’d Out. I was impressed with their talent but their desire to see souls won for the Kingdom of God inspired me. When the opportunity came to come on board with them, Yvonne and I contacted our spiritual mentors and our prayer wasn’t, “God let this happen,” but instead it was, “God if this is Your will, open the door; if it’s not, close this door.” He opened it and we couldn’t be happier.”

 

Dusty Barrett sings tenor with the group and is thrilled with the new additions. He agrees with Hutson that the quartet’s main desire is to have people drawn closer to the Lord. “Without question, Soul’d Out is a ministry-first group,” says Barrett. “Although we absolutely love Southern Gospel, the guys of Soul’d Out are focused on seeing souls saved through our music. We also take the opportunity of being out on the road to witness to people at restaurants, truck stops and anywhere else the bus stops during the week. I know that there are a lot of other groups like that, but as I watch the lives of the guys I sing with, I’m so proud to be singing and traveling with them. I know that in the shadows, when there is no way anyone would ever know if they slip up, these guys are strong men of integrity; they truly sing and minister with all their hearts. The guys I share the stage with are not only my coworkers, but they’re my prayer partners, my accountability partners, and my brothers.”

 

When Matt Rankin, Soul’d Out’s manager and lead singer, was asked to comment upon the current line-up, he found it difficult to express everything in his heart. “You don’t have enough time for me to tell you all about my guys,” Rankin says. “I love them dearly. They are each unique, yet all on the same page. I love the closeness. I love that I can ask them to pray about something and they do it! I love that they push me to be a better singer, songwriter, emcee, etc. I love that each one is excellent at what they do, yet so humble. God truly has blessed me to allow me to be able to do what we do with such quality people.”

 

“The guys all have such a heart for ministry,” agrees Hutson. “So many times, we use the term heart for ministry and don’t really mean it. However, these guys live it.” Hutson continues, “The best part for me is that we are all of the same mindset; we give God our best, honor our family, focus on ministry and make good quality music. Also, Soul’d Out’s schedule allows me much more time to be with my family.”

 

Sould Out fourSoul’d Out is recognized in the industry as truly being sold out to their faith and their commitment to ministry. Greg Bentley, head of Publishing at Crossroads, respects these men greatly. “I appreciate that they are real,” says Bentley. “Their focus is not on being the top quartet in the industry, it’s on ministering to the people they sing to. I have known Matt Rankin since he was a teenager; I know where he is coming from and I admire that he has stuck with his beliefs as the group has grown. Would they like to be considered one of the top quartets? Sure they would, but that is not their focus.”

 

One of the industry’s favorite musicians, Dr. Jerry Goff, shares, “I can best give you a quote by quoting a friend of mine, Dr. Rhodes of the First General Baptist of Jackson, MO, who talked to me after Soul’d Out visited his church. ‘Jerry,’ he said, ‘we had Soul’d Out last evening. They entertained us with their talents and they ministered to us with their commitment. Three people accepted Christ after their testimonies. They are the ultimate gospel quartet!’”

Another industry fan is Aaron Wilburn. “Soul’d Out Quartet is always a great group of guys to work with!” Wilburn continues, “They love what they do and there’s always support from them for other artists. Not only that, they know how to connect with the audience and bring smiles and joy to people! I’m anxious to hear the new sound with the addition of Ian Owens…what a great voice!! And he’s short!” laughs Wilburn, who can relate to Owen’s stature. “My one on one conversations with the group almost always end up with the topic of ministering, not entertaining. I truly believe their desire is to touch and change lives.”

 

Continuing the legacy of touching lives while working through personnel changes cannot be an easy task for any Christian group. Bryan Hutson talks about former bass singer, Matt Fouch, who departed from the group this past Spring. “I told someone that ‘Legacy Five hired a good singer, but they got a great man,’” says Hutson. “I respect Matt Fouch for his stance for living a godly life.” Hutson says he will miss Fouch’s quick wit. “It is difficult filling any position in any group, however, finding the right bass singer is a task. We heard some fine singers and made some lifelong friends through out the process, but we wanted God’s peace about who to hire. I told the guys that I’d rather see us go as a trio than to just hire someone.”

 

Matt Rankin talks about the seemingly long transition period. “Anytime a group is in transition it feels uncomfortable and abnormal, especially for us since we had been without a permanent bass singer for two-and-a-half months.” Rankin continues, “However, our friends, fans and supporters who have been a part of the Soul’d Out extended family, have really shown us a lot of grace during these uncertain times. They have encouraged us and prayed for us.”Sould Out five

 

Prayers and encouragement are so important in times of change, especially as the search for a new member can be a daunting task for a quartet. Hutson explained part of the process of finding that perfect fit. “I am friends with Butch Owens of the Blackwood Brothers, who is also Ian’s Dad. He called Matt Rankin after Ian announced he was leaving EHSS. We all discussed him going with us one weekend. We all prayed for a few weeks before he ever got on the bus.”

 

Rankin fills in some of the details. “From the time of the resignation of our previous bass singer, we decided that we would pray and seek God for wisdom in hiring the right person, even if it meant not filling the bass position at all. We auditioned several great guys. Most of them fit us in a few ways, but not in all. With absolutely nothing negative toward any of those people who tried out, we just didn’t feel like it was the right fit with any of them. The same night we decided we were finished with auditions and that Soul’d Out would remain a trio, I got a call from Ian’s dad asking if we had filled the position. Ian’s dad, known as Butch, drove the bus for us before. Ian and I got in contact after that and it felt like the right thing. I felt like God was in it.”

 

Hutson agrees that God was in this change and says, “Ian is a quick study and is a great singer, who just happens to sing low. Glen Payne told me years ago, ‘Bryan, if you can’t sing a note every night, don’t sing it.’ I have tried to live by that rule. A lot of bass singers try to sing outside their limitations. Ian has a great range and great solo voice. I’m excited about traveling with him.” Hutson continues, “He strives to protect his integrity. I really respect him for that. Plus, he gets my humor.” When asked about unique characteristics about the new singer, Hutson adds, “He is a comic book guy and I am too. Also, he loves eating at Japanese Steakhouses.”

 

At the time of this interview, Owens had not been with the group very long. Dusty Barrett talks about the challenge to get to know a new member in a short span of time. “To be honest, we’ve only had one weekend to be on the road with Ian,” says Barrett. “After we knew it was a possibility of him joining our team, all of the guys started to interact with him via text and Facebook, trying to get to know him as well as possible to get a feel for his personality. As our press release stated, we had decided to go trio before Ian contacted us. In order for him to fit and change our minds, he was really going to have to impress us, not only vocally but in all the other areas as well. From the minute he was on the bus, Ian seemed right at home, and he definitely brought it vocally.  When we realized his heart for ministry and for people was right in line with ours, we all knew it was a perfect fit.  I’m so excited to get to know him more and to share the stage with him every night.”

 

Matt Rankin is thrilled with the fit of Owens within the team of Soul’d Out. “Ian is no doubt a great singer and I am excited about his abilities to communicate a solo verse as well as sing a rich bass line; however, that’s not what I am excited about the most.” Rankin continues, “The week he went on the road with us, I noticed him connecting with the audience before the program. He was shaking hands, hugging necks and loving on the people. I noticed it, because that’s what I do! Our duty is not to just sing songs, but to communicate messages as well as live out what we are singing about. We truly want to reach the lost and encourage the broken and Ian falls right in line with that.”

 

Ian Owens himself is enjoying getting to know the other guys in the group and learning how he fits into this strong team. “I am so excited about my future with Soul’d Out Quartet!” says Owens. “In my short time with them it is so evident that the men of Soul’d Out Quartet are fervently seeking God’s face and are fighting to see souls won into the Kingdom. The five of us: Matt, Dusty, Michael, Bryan, and myself, are definitely equally yoked in our desires to evangelize, to spread the Good News, and to be flat out goofy!”

 

Bryan Hutson says the first few weeks after a major change is a time of adaptation. “It is really just getting to know the new member.” Hutson explains, “We all have our little quirks and we are all on our best behavior for the first few weeks, so getting to know the real side of the new person is interesting.” The group itself needs to allow the new member to find his own place within the quartet. Hutson says, “Through my many years of being in gospel music, you always want to get the new person his own identity. You need to record something with the new person as soon as possible. Fans will automatically compare the new guy to whoever was last in that position. So, getting the new person their own songs to sing makes it easier on the singer and group.”

 

As Ian Owens adapts to his position in Soul’d Out and the current members learn all about his personality and comic-book quirks, he still retains good ties with Ernie Haase and Signature Sound. “My wife, Megan and I are expecting our third child so I needed a little bit milder tour schedule. I will miss my EHSS brothers. They are fantastic men and the past two years have been an incredible and invaluable experience, but I know my time with Soul’d Out Quartet is sure to be amazing!”

 

Dusty Barrett comments on the factors that cause singers to move to different groups and how quartets like theirs respond to these times of adjustment. “To be honest, nobody likes change,” says Barrett. “And no matter how much you don’t want it to happen and no matter how hard you try to avoid it, it’s going to happen. I’ve been in full time ministry for 12 years and I’ve been blessed to only have been with two groups, Crystal River and Soul’d Out. But you realize that there are four other guys in the group who have families and lives away from the group. Sometimes those lives veer in another direction than where the group is headed. Sometimes God tells you to move, and you better move.”

 

“There are a million different reasons for change, but in this business, flexibility and adaptability are good qualities to have.” Barrett continues, “I think the key to making a good change is doing your homework on the front end before you hire someone and make sure it’s right.  There are a lot of things that have to fit in order for it to work, and the voice is probably the least of those.”

 

Soul’d Out is privileged to have the voice and character of new bass singer Ian Owens, which rounds out the sound of a group that according to Arthur Rice of the Kingdom Heirs, have great potential for even bigger things ahead of them. “I’ve had the privilege to work with Soul’d Out for several years now,” says Rice. “I actually worked with Dusty when he was with Crystal River so I’ve known him a while. I appreciate the way Matt treats his guys and his commitment to staying true to a quartet sound. Bryan has a signature vocal sound and stage presence and Michael is a great pianist. It’s always difficult to replace a member who’s been with a group for a while but I think Ian has already solidified his place with the group.” Rice continues, “These guys are always a treat to work with in the studio. They know their chops and ability but are always eager to stretch themselves to become better singers. I’m excited at what the Lord has in store for Soul’d Out’s future.”

 

As Dusty Barrett looks at the future of the group and it’s direction, he says, “Soul’d Out is going to keep on the path we’re on. I think we’ve all developed a sort of tunnel vision, just trying to find ways to minister, find ways to encourage the child of God, and find ways to tell the lost about the saving grace of Jesus. Sure, we’d like to see blessings as far furthering our reach, i.e. radio, more promoters using us, etc. But we just want to be used. And whatever God’s definition of that is, that’s fine with us. I’ve never been around a group of more awesomely talented people who are so absolutely humble and not self-seeking. If people never know our individual names, or even the name of Soul’d Out, but find a personal relationship with Jesus because of something we’ve sung, said or done, we’re tickled to death with that, and it was worth leaving our families for that week.”

 

Jeff Collins of Crossroads says Soul’d Out is a great quartet to work with in the studio. “I mainly deal with Matt Rankin of Soul’d Out when it comes to the business end and I really appreciate Matt’s sensible approach to decision making,” says Collins. “He makes sure of costs involved before scheduling new releases and keeps his account current. That alone tells me a lot! I’ve known Matt for quite a while now and he’s a good guy with a heart for God and the Gospel through music. All of the members of Soul’d Out are ministry-minded and have their priorities in order, seeking God’s direction in what they are doing. They are a producer’s dream in the studio, as they actually let me produce, and have confidence that the Crossroads team and I will produce a first class recording for them.”

 

When asked about Soul’d Out’s new bass singer, Collins says, “It’s too early for me too comment on Ian yet, but I’m sure he will be an asset to the group as he is a fine bass singer. I’m sure it will take time for him to learn to blend with this group of singers, to discover what works best for Soul’d Out. I look forward to producing him in the studio and getting to know him.”

 

Greg Bentley agrees with co-worker Collins. “The guys are a blast to work with. On their latest recording titled What The World Doesn’t Know, I got to work with them from the photo shoot on through the finished CD. These guys love having fun and cutting up. They had the photographer bent over laughing at times and they are the same way anytime you are around them. You can tell they really enjoy what they do. At the same time, they have that serious side too, and we have had some deep conversations about songs, performances, and the personal side of ministering at each date they do. I guess if I tried to sum this up, it would be they are the Real Deal. I would not question recommending them to any church or promoter that I know.”

 

Sould Out sixBryan Hutson talks about Soul’d Out’s latest recording. “What The World Doesn’t Know was released in January 2012 and all songs were written by members of Soul’d Out. That’s pretty awesome. My favorite song is ‘Thank You Lord’,not because it features me, but because we so many times get caught up in asking God for this and that, that we fail to thank Him for what He’s already done.” Hutson says the audience’s favorite song from that recording is “Worthy The Lamb Is He”. Hutson explains, “It is a song of praise to God and people are moved when we all are praising God.”

 

Soul’d Out fans looking forward to some new recordings with the current members will be thrilled to know that there are some releases coming soon. “We are actually working on three new recordings,” says Hutson. “One will be a collection of classic quartet songs and hymns entitled Soulace 2.” Soulace was released in January of 2012. Hutson continues, “Then we are releasing two CD’s that will feature 20 Soul’d Out Quartet favorites from previous albums. The new guys, Ian and myself, will be on these recordings.” Fans can look for these new recordings in early 2013.

 

As Soul’d Out adjusts to the changes that have occurred this past year and move on into 2013 with a fresh sound, Matt Rankin says that some things just don’t change. Soul’d Out will remain sold out to Christ. “Our main goal is to reach more people, win more souls, and keep lifting the name of our Savior as high as we can; to be better husbands and fathers, better church members and just better Christians.” However, he says with a smile, “Our long term goals are classified.”

 

Soul’d Out on the web:

http://www.souldoutquartet.com/bryanhutson.cfm

http://www.facebook.com/SouldOutQuartet?fref=ts

Bryan and Yvonne Hutson’s blog: http://journeywithbryanandy.wordpress.com/

 

Article first published by SGN Scoops in December 2012. For current issue see www.sgnscoops.com

Written by Lorraine Walker

 

 

 

1. News Release of Tuesday, September 18, 2012. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/tenure.pdf

2. News Release of Wednesday, July 25, 2012. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/nlsoy.pdf