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New Tenor Joins The Kingdom Heirs

As Dollywood opens for its 36th season, so does the park’s longest-running entertainment act, the award-winning Kingdom Heirs. Back to perform on the Showstreet Palace Theatre stage, this off-season brought a major change to the seven-member group.

With the recent retirement of long-time tenor Jerry Martin, Kingdom Heirs manager Kreis French shoulder tapped 24-year-old Jacob Ellison to fill the vacancy to maintain the signature four-part harmony and tight musical arrangements for which the group is known. “We are very excited to start our new season at Dollywood with Jacob. He is a very talented individual who loves the Lord,” Kreis said.

I got to see the Kingdom Heirs introduce their new tenor at his debut Dollywood performance.


To find their newest member, the search led the Kingdom Heirs to the prestigious ensemble Voices of Lee—an a cappella group from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee. “We reached out to Danny Murray [Voices of Lee director] and without hesitation he said, ‘I’ve got the guy for you!’” said Kingdom Heirs lead singer and executive producer Arthur Rice. “We sent Jacob two songs to learn and familiarize himself with; the next day he came up, we all got around the piano, and his voice just blew us all away. His experience in college and with the Voices of Lee prepared him and multiplied his abilities way beyond his 24-year-old age.”

Kingdom Heirs bass singer Jeff Chapman went on to say that Ellison has, “the salt and the seasoning of a 30-year pro in southern gospel music.”

A spot in the Kingdom Heirs lineup is one of the most-coveted jobs in all of Southern gospel music. “We had tremendous interest in the position. The last time we had an opening, we had more than 60 auditions that we went through to find the right fit,” Kreis told me.

With a home base inside one of the nation’s premier theme parks and a performing schedule that allows for maximum exposure, it’s no wonder why Jacob says he is humbled and thankful. “I dreamed of this. I prayed for this, but honestly, I never thought I would have the opportunity to share this kind of stage with this level of talent. The guys have been so good to me, and I’m humbled to sing with the Kingdom Heirs and glorify God through this platform.”


The student-singer is set to finish his degree in Marketing and Advertising from Lee University in May and will keep his full-time schedule with the Kingdom Heirs as he closes one chapter and begins the next.

A new era for one of southern gospel’s top groups has begun, and judging from the early returns, it looks like the Kingdom Heirs and Jacob Ellison continue to be on an upward trajectory.

 

Insider Tip

Make sure to download the Dollywood app to keep up with all the scheduled shows, including the Kingdom Heirs. The Dollywood app even has a feature to create your own list of favorite shows and rides for quick reference when planning your perfect Dollywood day.
By | 2021-03-16T17:21:07+00:00 March 16th, 2021|Entertainment|0 Comments

About the Author:

Tom Hodges (Dollywood Insider 2019-2021) is a Middle Tennessee native who currently resides in Christiana, Tennessee, with his wife Hillary and two children, Cooper (age 7) and Isabelle (age 4). Tom and his family make the three-hour journey to Dollywood once a month to enjoy the entire park. After fifteen years as a college basketball coach serving various universities, Tom recently transitioned into their family business of trucking and warehousing. Tom serves as the president of Goggin Cold Haul Services, LLC, a refrigerated transportation company based out of Smyrna, Tennessee, and a sister company to Titan Transfer Inc. and Goggin Warehousing, LLC. A thrill-ride enthusiast and lover of all things Dollywood, Tom would most likely be found riding on the front row of Wild Eagle, riding multiple times on FireChaser Express with his son Cooper (personal record of 17 times in one day) or enjoying a family lunch in Wildwood Grove at Till & Harvest. Dollywood is a special place to Tom and his family, as many milestones and family traditions have become sacred in their house because of Dollywood and the hosts who make it so special.
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