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REVIEW: The Hoppers – Believe

Producer: Wayne Haun, Michael Sykes, & Lari Goss
Record Label: Gaither Music Group
Website: www.thehoppers.com

Sixty-five years is a long time for anyone to be in a ministry. The Hoppers will be celebrating just that this year. In 1957 Claude Hopper, and his three brothers, began singing as the Hopper Brothers. In 1958, Connie Shelton joined the group as their pianist. The group soon became known as the Hopper Brothers & Connie. Claude and Connie married in 1961, and the group would start singing full time in 1970. In 1989, after Dean Hopper (the oldest son of Connie and Claude) married Kim Greene (of the Greenes) and Kim joined the group things took off. Rounding out the current group lineup is Claude and Connie, Dean and Kim, their oldest daughter Karyle, and Michael, Claude and Connie’s youngest son.

Believe is the first main release album from the Hoppers since Life is Good in 2016, so it has been long overdue. Believe is a triple joint effort of producers from Wayne Haun, Michael Sykes, and the late Lari Goss. With such a trifecta, there’s no way that this album won’t be powerful. Without further ado, let’s get into this album.

“Glorious Appearing” opens the project. Phil Cross has written some of the most iconic songs in Southern Gospel music, and when it comes to the Hoppers he wrote their mega hit “Yes I Am” back in 2000. Here 22 years later,he has written another masterpiece. This song features Dean on the first verse, and then Karyle on the second. “I Will Sing” is a beautiful lyric from Reba Rambo, Regi Stone, and Jeff Ferguson. Kim delivers this song as only she can. It has a beautiful soaring bridge. Such a great track.

“Glory Up Ahead” is such a “Hoppers” uptempo when I first heard it I though this might have also come from Phil Cross, but it turns out this is from the pen of Lee Black and Sue C. Smith! It’s an ensemble song, and the Hoppers have been using it as their concert opener. Fantastic song! Our very own Matthew Lawson along with Adina Benton Bowman have the next song that features Karyle, “If I’d Known You Better.” It has some of the most lyrical imagery in a song. Karyle really shines on this song. I can’t wait to hear it live, and congrats to Matthew for the cut!

CeCe Winans is a giant in Gospel music! So when a song from her is included, well there’s only one voice who could tackle something like that. Kim does just that on “Believe For It.” It’s a great moment when that bridge hits and then when the ad libs on the final two choruses come in. Amazing! It’s a moment for sure. While this album is somewhat of a more progressive sound for the Hoppers, the next track features Mrs. Connie, and it’s such a fitting song for her. “The Climb” is a song all about how life is not about the end and the beginning but the in-between. Gary Casto of Tribute and Barbara Huffman have written such a gorgeous lyric and melody. Mrs. Connie puts her heart and all into it.

The tempo then picks up for “Daniel, Open Your Window.” This Dean feature is written by Paula Stefanovich who has written songs like “Yahweh,” “The Applause,” “Jesus the One,” “Song of Moses,” and of course “Jerusalem.” It’s nice to hear an uptempo song from Paula rather than a big ballad. The diversity is nice. This is a good “driving” song you’ll definitely be singing along to. Speaking of big ballads, time for one of those. Back in the mid 80s, Joel Hemphill and the late Lari Goss wrote a song recorded by the Hemphills called “Can You See the Clock.” The Hoppers have brought it back, and Kim paints a picture with the lyrics, and of course by the end of it gives us yet another reason why she is the most awarded female singer in Southern Gospel music!

“Worth a Million Words” is a song from Rodney Griffin. I love this song. Just as the opening song, it features Dean on the first verse and then Karyle on the second. When you listen to this lyric, reflect on it quietly and let the lyrics “paint a picture, worth a million words.” Throughout the Hoppers storied history, there have been many great songs to come through from “Here I Am,” “Heavenly Sunrise,” “Shoutin’ Time,” “Yes I Am,” “I’ve Come Too Far,” “Jerusalem,” “Yahweh,” “That’s Him,” and “Something’s Happening.” There is another song that was recorded in the early 90s from McGruders member J. Michael Wilson – “Mention My Name.” Well, the name J. Michael Wilson is making a way back into the charts, (with the song “Address Change Notification” for the group Southbound), but here on the Hoppers album is possibly one of the best songs lyrically the Hoppers have ever recorded with “God of a Second Chance.” I have been a fan of the Hoppers for as long as I can remember. This song is amazing. I have heard it live, and live is even better, but this recording is so good. Kim gives a brilliant performance and that final verse is so good! It closes a fantastic long awaited album!

Believe is a changing of the guard in the history of the Hoppers. There is no Claude feature and all of these songs with the exception of “The Climb” have a configuration of Kim, Dean, Karyle, and Michael. Due to health issues, Mrs. Connie hasn’t been able to travel, but very few times. So as a new era begins, Believe is a new season in the Hoppers ministry. Be sure to check out this album – buy it, stream it, download it.

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Shane Sparks
Contributing Writer/Reviewer