Ernie Haase & Signature Sound Talk about Their New Album

Josh Bechler Writer for Rocking God's HouseErnie Haase & Signature Sound are making gospel quartets cool again. The new album Oh, What a Savior proves just that. The all-new live release CD/DVD combo was recorded in Paducah, KY, and it has an array of gospel songs that everyone can easily sing along to. The project features several very special guests, and it showcases some of the group’s biggest songs, including Ernie’s signature rendition of the title track “Oh, What a Savior.”

They have a very unique and unconventional approach to sharing the “Good News” that has made them very popular in the gospel music scene. So much so that in 2010 the band debuted a DVD at number one in the Billboard Music Video Charts. Behind them at No. 2 and 3 were none other than the Rolling Stones and The Beatles. Not bad to be hanging with those groups. Known world-wide for sharing their like-minded love for God in Europe, they have been nicknamed the “Ambassadors of Joy.” Fans have cited the group’s message of hope and joy in live performances as the reason for the nickname. The group’s founder and front man, Ernie Haase, was a long time member of the famous Cathedral Quartet that was headed by the late great George Younce.

In 1999, the Cathedrals decided to retire from performing after five triumphant decades. Ernie pressed on and in 2003 started assembling a group of men with the same passions and love of gospel music, and he formed Ernie Haase & Signature Sound. To their credit they are now one of the most influential forces in southern gospel music. They have unbelievable harmonies, songs that are time-honored, and energetic performances. Ernie is a great guy to get to know (and interview, as you’ll read below) — very humble about his talents and the accomplishments in his storied yet (amazingly) young career.

Could you give us the scoop on the new album?

It’s called Oh, What A Savior. That is a song that I have been doing ever since I was 10 years old. I guess you could say it is my signature song. I consider it a career song. It brought me to the party. So after all these years of making records and recording videos and projects and touring I have finally decided to name a project Oh, What A Savior. This CD/DVD project is a lifework of almost 28 years now of performing, so it made sense to call it that because that is what the heart is crying. We are in a really good place.

(Ernie Haase music available through iTunes — interview continues below)

How is the tour so far? Are you guys excited for Canada?

We head out this Thursday to go to Florida to perform. Then we head out to North Carolina, then we go pretty heavy promoting this new CD with touring. We are doing eight concerts in nine days in the state of Florida, and then we head to Canada. Its definitely an experience going from Florida to Canada — from one extreme to another.

[Note: this interview was published several weeks after the time of the interview, please check Ernie Haase & Signature Sound official website for updated tour dates]

Are you one of the youngest people ever to be inducted into the Gospel Music Hall Of Fame?

[laughs] You know at the time when we (The Cathedral Quartet) where inducted in ’99 I was. I don’t know for a fact that I am the youngest ever. But I can safely say I am probably one of the youngest people to be inducted in the Hall Of Fame.

Who are some of the Gospel musicians that inspired you to pursue music as a career?

I would have to say The Cathedral Quartet. I was definitely a fan long before they ever invited me to sing with them. I grew up in a church that was full of music, hymns, and stuff like that. I was not aware at the time that there was a Christian music industry so to speak. So the first quartet I ever heard I was probably 13 or 14, and it was the Cathedrals; and not too far after that I discovered The Imperials. That music just put me on a quest. Whatever I like I want to learn everything there is about it. When I heard The Cathedrals and The Imperials, man, I just started doing research. We didn’t have iTunes or Google to look stuff up so I would go down to the local Christian bookstore and order things, joining and reading newsletters, and I was just fascinated with it all.

You are a huge basketball fan; who’s your favorite team and player?

I have had several through the years, but I am a Hoosier — born and raised in the state of Indiana. My favorite of all time without a doubt is Larry Byrd. He is from Indiana. I always followed his career from Indiana State all the way to Boston, and now he is one of the GM’s with the Indiana Pacers, and they are having such a fantastic season. Right now I live outside of Cleveland, so I pull for the Cavaliers. I always will. And I am glad to see Indiana University getting back to prominence. As a matter of fact, just before this interview, if I am available every Monday and Wednesday I meet a bunch of guys and we meet at lunchtime and play basketball for an hour. It is fun and, thankfully, I still get to play.