Gloryland Southern Gospel
For a “too-long” period of time in 2009,
Gloryland performed as a trio while
working to find a new lead. It was
during this time that the first recording
effort “The Sweetest Song I Know” was
completed in mid-2009, with Bill and
Kerry doubling up on several vocal
arrangements. This recording remains
the favorite of many fans, due to the
time-tested classics included on the
project. If the group had to agree on
their favorite thing about the project, it
would be the harmonies. Several
selections from this project are still
included in the on-stage program each
Pictured are Bill Kienbusch (tenor), David
Dodd (lead), Kerry Pugh (baritone), Steve
Conner (sound), and Keith Hutchison
(bass). This group performed until early
2009, when David left to pursue an
Gloryland Quartet was organized in Paragould, Arkansas in late 2003, by four men who loved Southern Gospel Quartet music.
From the beginning, the group has dedicated itself to the traditional model of male quartets and styled itself after some of the
greats such as the Cathedrals and the Kingsmen. Other influences came from groups like the Happy Goodman Family and the
The original members were Kenny Ellington, Bob Mitchell, Tracey Archibald, and Mike Wilburn, who began to sing in the local
Northeast Arkansas area. For various reasons, by the end of 2005 the original members had all left the group, and most of the
current line-up was in place. David Dodd was singing lead, along with three of the current members - Bill Kienbusch on tenor,
Kerry Pugh as the baritone, and Keith Hutchison had replaced Kenny Ellington singing bass.
In 2010-2011, Gloryland was blessed to
spend about 15 months with Blake
Howerton providing lead vocals. Blake
was a rare talent who could have been
on any bus out there singing for a ‘big’
group. “Heritage”, the second Gloryland
recording project was completed during
this time. This CD also features piano
stylings by a local favorite, Rheta
Carroll. Rheta learned to play for her
dad, Rudy Sanford, who sang at every
local Sunday afternoon singing he could
find. In many churches where Gloryland
sings, we find people like Rheta, who
stay close to home, bringing pleasure to
the people fortunate enough to know
and hear them. For good old-fashioned
quartet music around-the-piano,
“Heritage” is a good choice. You are
sure to hear some songs you may have
never heard before, and some you know
Over the years, Gloryland has been
fortunate enough to sing with several
awesome groups, not all of which are
professionals travelling in a large bus.
But some of those too. One of the
neatest times we had was singing with
Naomi and the Segos in Pocahontas AR.
At the time, Naomi had been singing
professionally for over 50 years.
Gloryland has also hosted singings with
or shared a stage with the Perry’s
several times, the Martins, The
McKameys, and The Hoppers. We have
also enjoyed singing events with the
Blackwoods, the Kingsmen, The
Chuckwagon Gang, Gordon Mote and
Gloryland with the Perrys
Bill, Kerry, and Keith remained steady
through all this time, and were joined in
2012 by Nick Alsbrook. Nick did not have
the background in Southern Gospel that
the other members had, but had quickly
learned to love the style, and brought his
own talent to the lead vocal position with
Gloryland, and is a part of “Ready to Go”,
released in 2012. On this CD, the group
tried to bring more upbeat, convention-
style music and continued to major on
songs about heaven, starting out with the
fast-paced Come and Get Me. Nick’s job
eventually relocated him to another part of
the country in early 2014.
Also seated, on the left, is sound man
Steve Conner. Steve has been running
sound for Gloryland since 2009, and has
played a big part in upgrading the group's
equipment and mix. Steve has added a
mini-studio in his house and is working to
learn Pro Tools. His bio can be seen here.
In 2014, Gloryland was singing about 80 dates per year. The group had never asked for money to sing, and still doesn’t.
For Gloryland, it is about spreading God's word, and sharing the joy of heaven through song. When someone calls we
check the calendar, and if the date is open, we go. A love offering is appreciated, but we do not ask for it. For some
reason, by 2014, it seemed like we the group had been adopted by Missouri, and sang more dates in SE Missouri than
Another thing had happened by 2014. The group was 10 years old, and had begun to develop long relationships with the
people of many churches. There are churches where Gloryland has come to feel it is as much a part of the homecoming
as the church itself. Several churches have hosted the group for 6-7 years in a row, and we love going to those places to
see our old friends at homecomings or Saturday night singings.
By this time, Gloryland had migrated even more solidly toward convention-style music, and would not be happy as a trio, so
after Nick left, and while looking for a new lead, the group had some capable stand-ins, including Bob Mitchell, one of the
founding members of the group. In mid-2014, Ky Pugh, Kerry’s oldest son joined as the lead singer. Ky had been raised
singing parts as he calls it, in a small country church. His biggest hurdle was learning to carry the lead, which he had never
sang, having always migrated to a harmony part, either alto of tenor.
The fourth Gloryland project is called
“Quartet Style” and leans even more
heavily toward convention-style music.
Happy Rhythm, and Heaven’s Joy
Awaits are two of the favorites from this
CD. Also contained on “Quartet Style”
is Keith’s funeral song, First Day In
Heaven, which he insists the remaining
group members will sing at his funeral.
The fifth project, Jubilee, Gloryland revived some old
memories of Sunday mornings, when while getting
ready for church, we would hear Vestal Goodman
sing "Jubilee! Jubilee!". So, we filled the CD up with
songs one might have heard back then, as well as a
few newer tunes, such as the Mark Trammel Quartet
hit That's Enough for Me To Know. But some of our
favorites are the old standbys, like The Happy
Jubliee, Well Done My Child, and a crowd favorite...
An Old Convention Song.
Gloryland enjoyed its longest period of stability
during this time form 2014 to late 2017. Keith,
Bill and Kerry had been singing together for
twelve years by the time the sixth project was
completed, and Ky had been singing lead for
almost four years. The group doubled down on
fast-paced heaven songs for this cd, and went
back to the old Red-backed Hymnal for several
favorites. I'll Be Happy, O'Glory Did Roll, and
He Wrote My Name are three of our favorites.
But Ky also brought in a Blue Grass version of
Won't It Be Wonderful There (not the one you
think it is), and after we converted it to
something more in line with our style, we
recorded a true convention version, with all the
various voices going to different places at
once, as it was originally written.
But change comes to us all, and at the end of 2017, the group saw another personnel change.
For health reasons, Keith sadly had to stop singing with Gloryland, and the group began looking
for a Bass singer. But Gloryland continues to sing as much as possible in the Northeast Arkansas
region, having travelled in eight states throughout the region around Arkansas. Keeping
Southern Gospel Quartet music alive is a part of our mission.