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View June 2009 Issue >>
 

Ernie Haase and Signature Sound

 

Combining 21st century ideas with the timeless quality of great quartets from the 1950s, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound have truly made their mark in the music world with an unconventional approach to communicating the Good News with ground-breaking originality.

The group’s founder and leader, Ernie Haase, was a long-time member of the famous Cathedral Quartet. His roots are deeply planted in the rich legacy of music that is both meaningful and thoroughly entertaining.

After the Cathedrals bid farewell to their five-decade platform in the music industry, Ernie’s passion for Gospel music led him to begin a new era in Gospel music. He gathered a group of like-minded men who shared his love for great harmonies, time-honored songs and energetic performances...and together they are an unstoppable force.

Inspired by their heroes, loved by their audiences and blessed beyond their wildest dreams, Ernie (tenor), Ryan (lead), Doug (baritone) and Tim (bass) share a deep love for Gospel music. That passion, along with an intensely strong work ethic, has launched them to the forefront of Southern Gospel music. JOY! caught up them just before their tour to South Africa in June.

 

When did you give your life to christ?

Ernie: That is a loaded question…our paths to Christ started early and have many different turns. We talk about this very thing on the bus all the time. We all have salvation experiences where we prayed and asked Jesus in our hearts at an early age, but through the years we have all doubted that young decision. One reason we pick the songs we sing is we are sure that giving your life to Christ is so much more than a “calendar” date. It is even more that an “experience” that we can hang our hat on.

Doug: I was raised with parents who lived to honor God. My father played a huge part in my coming to know Christ as a child. I think the biggest thing I have come to realise since then is that He died for me so that I could live. Jesus rose from the dead, and He loves me. Tim: I was raised in church and have always been around the Word of God; it was something instilled in me at an early age.

I believe in Him with all my heart. Ryan: Through those early experiences I came to realise who Christ is and I wanted to be apart of a bigger family. I want my children to have that same personal experience. and I feel it’s up to me to show them God’s love.

 

When did you discover a musical talent?

Doug:  At an early age; my mom and dad are talented and played and sang in church every week. I am an child and was blessed to have parents who invested everything in me - from music to sports, they gave and gave - and I am here today because of their joyful sacrifices I have a foundation given to me from my parents that some kids are not afforded and I am deeply grateful to God.

One of the motivating factors of Ernie Haase and Signature Sound (EHSS) is to reach out to children who may not have receive any encoutagement to dream and pursue their God given talents.

 

Have you had any formal musical training?

Ryan: I have never had formal training but my mother has been trained in singing and she gave me lessons. Infact she still does!  Not a concert goes by that she attends that I don’t get a call the next day telling me all the things I did wrong!  She is a hoot and she is always on the money with her comments. Being on the road with EHSS has taught me things that I could not have learned in any music school! I often wish I could have furthered my education, but when Ernie called me and offered me the opportunity to  join EHSS, I just knew it was right thing for my career.

I think I made the right choice and I am still learning so much; soaking up all the experience and information..I am like a sponge just absorbing it all - but no where close to being full!

 

When did you decide to pursue a music career?

Tim: I was raised in the South where Gospel quartets came by my church all the time. I can’t remember the first time I got bit by the quartet bug, but ever since I can imagine, all I have ever wanted to do is sing in one.  I lived near a Gospel bass singer named London Parris (who’s was a pretty big name in the business). One day I called him and asked him for some pointers on singing bass. London decided to help me and so every week I would drive for two hours to get lessons. He has since gone to be with the Lord, but I think he would be really proud of my success. I am so grateful to God for bringing him across my path.

 

How often are you on the road?

Ernie: We travel a lot. We do about 120 shows a year but with studio time and travel time it adds up to more like 150 days away from home. This is still less than we use to do with The Cathedral Quartet back in the 1990’s. Back then we would travel over 200 days a year! Because of The Cathedral’s success, we are benefiting from all their hard work., thus, we do not have to travel as hard and long as they did. 

 

Where have you travelled on your tours?

Doug: We have been all around the world.  From every state in the USA to Canada, Isreal, Europe and of course South Africa.  We have seen a lot of interesting places and met all kinds of people. We are looking forward to adding South America one day to our touring schedule. EHSS is very interested in being a global group and one day we would like to look back and see the impact of our music on the world. We are even consdering a tour in Japan.

 

Being away from family and from a church community is tough. How do you cope being so far away from your wife and kids?

Ryan: We could not do what we do if our family did not support us. I speak for all the guys in saying that we would be nervous wrecks if we had to leave home and not have their trust, love, and prayers.

 

How do you keep your Christianity alive being out of church so often?

Ernie: I believe God is with us everywhere we go; it also helps traveling with guys who are like minded. We pray, share, worship, cry and rejoice together - it’s like having your own small church on a bus! We have been through a lot together, so it makes our bond pretty tight...God is always at the centre of this bond and we invite Him into everything we do.

 

Do you only sing Gospel?

Doug: Our first and true love is Gospel Four Part Harmony. We all love that kind of music and it is what drives us. Occasionally we have ventured out and there and grabbed a secular style song, but it has to fit our program and the message we want to get across to the masses.

There are a lot of good songs out there. and infact some songs that are considered secular by the church, have been the most  moving  spiritual songs I’ve heard. Our goal is to reach people with a message of hope and encouragement. We take pride in producing fun, meaningful music that people enjoy.

 

What type of people attend your concerts?

Ryan:  Well the age range of our audience typically for a quartet is probably 35-80.  We have seen a huge increase in that range.  Young couples,  teenagers, and a lot of little kids have been falling in love with our music.  Thats good to see.  I think we have created a style and program that everyone can enjoy.  We see a lot of families from babies to great grandparents coming to our shows and they all enjoy it.

 

How many records have you made and on average  How long does it take to put a record together? 

Tim:  We have been in the studio quite a bit with this group in short five years. Dream On (our latest CD) is the fourth major release from the Gaither Music label. It takes between 18 months and 2 years to put a project together as first you have to come up with a concept and then write for that. This is followed by picking the songs that best fit.  Then tracking, rehearsal and vocals start, it’s a process that we take our time with so as to put out the best product possible.

 

Is this your first time in SA?

Ernie: This is actually our third time in the country. We have been here before with the Homecoming group and the Gaither Vocal Band. The response to our group was overwhelming; we are taken back by your love and your appreciation! So it was only natural to return. We are thrilled to be bringing our show back ro your shores, and I believe this tour is going to be very memorable!.

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