When speaking of the greatest southern gospel groups throughout history, many names get tossed about. Groups such as The Stamps Quartet, The Cathedrals, and The Kingsmen Quartet are among those bandied about and their influence is not to be denied. But the one group that consistently receives a mention, and rightly so, is none other than The Happy Goodman’s. Helmed by Howard and Vestal Goodman alongside noted songwriter Rusty Goodman, the Happy Goodman’s sang themselves into the hearts of listeners worldwide and their signature songs still resonate today.
Set on ensuring that her family’s legacy continues, Tanya Goodman Sykes (Rusty’s daughter) has teamed with her husband and noted performer/producer Michael Sykes and former Goodman group member Johnny Minick to form the Goodman Revival.
Speaking to the heartbeat behind the trio, Goodman Sykes shares, “This music has become the fabric of our lives. The legacy of my family has contributed to each of us. They were our mentors. They taught us to not do what everyone else does…but to be true to what you are. So we chose the songs we loved and put our fingerprints on them. If we can honor our roots and sing with the same spirit that inspired us, we will feel accomplished.”
And that’s just what listeners will find here on the group’s debut recording, Songs In the Key of Happy.
The record is a treasure trove of southern gospel classics, boasting favorites like the album opener “What a Happy Time,” which instantly finds Goodman Sykes’ vocals recalling Vestal’s celebrated sound, “The Sweetest Song I Know,” infused with a nice country flair, and “Look For Me,” showcasing not only tight harmonies but lyrics both familiar yet still powerful. Each track finds the trio serving the track faithfully while leaving their own touch alongside, creating a listen that honors the tradition while carving some new roads as well.
A weeping lap steel and gently plucked mandolin lend “Eves of Jesus” an emotive tone, the trio blending seamlessly while “This Is Just What Heaven Means to Me” resonates with a mid-tempo shuffle. “I Don’t Want to Get Adjusted” brings some bright energy to the proceedings, Minick’s rich, nuanced vocals holding sway while some rich keyboards buoy the arrangement and set the table for the Happy Goodman classic, “I Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now.” It’s a bright homage to the gospel legends, the vocals tight and bold while hits of fiddle, pedal steel, and more run rampant.
“It Happened” is more southern gospel foot stomping fun while “I Hold a Clear Title to a Mansion” will have heads turning with Goodman Sykes’ powerful vocal delivery. The same will be said for “Who Am I,” the trio’s harmonies bridging the past and future alongside a lyric that truly cries from the heart, celebrating the glory of the Savior.
The Goodman Revival’s Songs in the Key of Happy is both an enjoyable homage and reintroduction to these great artists whose collective work speaks for itself. With great harmonies, warm compositions, and a songbook that speaks for itself, the Goodman Revival are off to a roaring start, one that will hopefully be the first of many.