News and Updates

Press Releases and Newsletters posted below are in chronological order with the latest information at the top. This is an exhaustive library of press releases and newsletters from the earliest inception of the group all the way thru current events. Be careful to notice the release date posted below each headline.

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Freedom Quartet Nominated a Top 10 New Traditional Quartet! 

East Tennessee’s Own “Freedom Quartet” Nominated Top 10 New Traditional Quartet
Sevierville, TN, March 13, 2014
The Singing News Magazine has announced the results of first round of voting for their 2014 Fan Awards. The list of nominees is a "Who's Who" of the most popular artists performing in the Southern Gospel genre today. Awards categories include a breakdown of the most common types of groups performing in the genre. Nominated in the Top 10 NEW Traditional Quartet's is East Tennessee's own "Freedom Quartet" from Sevierville, TN. Group manager, John Rulapaugh, states "It is an honor for us to be named among what we feel are not only the best NEW Quartets, but really some of the VERY best quartets on the road today."

Freedom Quartet made their major concert debut at the National Quartet Convention in September of 2013 where they performed during a matinee showcase. The result of that showcase was an invitation to perform on the Main Stage during that evening’s concert. Since their concert debut the group has released their first full length recording "It Made News" which has received rave reviews from fans and music industry insiders alike. Former Oak Ridge Boys Tenor "Little" Willie Wynn said of Freedom Quartet "If you get a chance, go out & see them. They are great."

The Singing News Fan Awards will be presented during the National Quartet Convention on Friday, September 26, 2014 in Pigeon Forge, TN. This year marks the first time that Tennessee has played host to the National Quartet Convention in 20 years. Originating in Memphis in 1957 the Gospel music festival moved to Nashville in 1973 where it remained until moving to Louisville, KY in 1994. The convention kicks off September 20th, 2014 at the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge and brings the festival full circle having been held in West, Middle and now East Tennessee.

Freedom Quartet is an All Male Quartet which performs Traditional and Southern Gospel Music. Its members are Tenor, John Rulapaugh, who also serves as the groups manager. John resides in Seymour, TN with his wife, Jennifer, and their two daughters, Jaydon and Joscelyn. They are the owners of Vacation Valley Cabin Rentals in Sevierville, TN and John is a candidate for Sevier County Commissioner in the upcoming Republican Primary. Lead Singer, Dale Shipley, hails from Memphis, TN where he performed regularly as a soloist at Bellevue Baptist Church and on the internationally syndicated television program "A Love Worth Finding" with Dr. Adrian Rogers. Dale was the original Lead Singer for the group Perfect Heart which took the Gospel Music world by storm in the early 1990's. His earliest days in music were spent with his family group The Song Masters. He has also performed as a member of Bob Wills and The Inspirationals, United Sound, and The Blackwoods. Baritone, Preston Garner, is the Minister of Music at Thorn Grove Baptist Church in Strawberry Plains, TN. He is a relative newcomer to professional gospel music, but performed as a member of his family group, The Supernals for many years. Preston and wife Kellie along with their 3 daughters make their home in Strawberry Plains, TN. Bass Singer, Burman Porter, has performed with groups such as The Dove Brothers Quartet, Palmetto State Quartet, and The Blackwood Gospel Quartet. He is well known among Gospel Music fans for his humor and relaxed personality and can often be found visiting with friends and fans before and after concerts.

The Singing News Fan Awards are voted on by subscribers of Singing News Magazine, a monthly publication recognized as the "Printed Voice of Southern Gospel Music." The nominating ballot appears in the March issue, the semi-final ballot (Top 10) appears in the May issue, and the final ballot (Top 5) appears in the July issue. Voting ballots are managed, counted, and verified by a third party accounting firm, Rayburn, Bates & Fitzgerald, located in Brentwood, Tennessee. Subscribers will soon be able to vote for their favorites among the nominees when the second round of voting begins. If you would like to vote in the second round, but are not yet a subscriber to Singing News Magazineclick here to see multiple ways you can subscribe and be eligible to vote before it's too late!

The National Quartet Convention is Gospel Music's largest annual event drawing nearly 40,000 people from 40 states and a half dozen foreign countries to its annual event that showcases the premier talent in the world of Southern Gospel Music. The event moves to Pigeon Forge, TN this year and offers a full week of Gospel Music ministry and entertainment. The “kick-off” concert will be held at The LeConte Center on September 20th, 2014.
Freedom Quartet will appear locally on Sunday March 16th at Calvary Baptist Church in Alcoa, TN. The concert is FREE and begins at 6:30PM.
To learn more, go to, or
John Rulapaugh
1762 Winfield Dunn Pkwy
Sevierville, TN 37876

Freedom Quartet's Kickstarter Campaign has Launched! 

This afternoon we officially launched our Kickstarter Campaign with a goal of raising $5000 to aid in the completion of our innaugural recording. The campaign is set to last a total of 7 days. Any funds pledged over and above our goal will be used in the promotion of our music in places where we ordinarily wouldn't be heard. We sincerely appreciate your support of this campaign. Please take a moment to view the video on our website or click here to go directly to our page at

A formal press release will be broadcast later today.

How we came to be Freedom "Quartet" 

Here's the deal...Freedom Quartet is a complete surprise. Not just to quartet fans, but also to the quartet MEMBERS. A little over two months ago no one in our group had any idea that we would be embarking on this journey...certainly not me. I'm John Rulapaugh, tenor singer and de facto manager of the newly formed Freedom Quartet. When my former singing partner, Josh Garner, informed me in early August that he would be departing Freedom (Trio) to join The Dixie Melody Boys I thought maybe my days of singing were coming to an end. Over the past several years I'd come to rely on Josh to "drive the truck" with Freedom while I actively pursued a career in real estate and vacation rentals. We sang occasionally...but honestly, just enough to keep either of us from going crazy – certainly not enough to satisfy our needs (financially, emotionally, or spiritually). So when Josh informed me that he was leaving Freedom I understood why. I must also add here that Josh is and always will be one of my very best friends. If this is where God wants him, who am I to stand it the way or be upset about it? I miss working with him, but I'll not stand in his way of making a living or satisfying his itch to sing more often.

One of the unfortunate things about the timing of Josh's departure was the fact that we had just finished recording Born With A Song (for which we'd had to enlist Arthur Rice to sing baritone - our third singer had departed the group in the midst of the recording). We literally wiped out our savings in the production of that recording and had only two or three weekends worth of singing together in which to attempt to recoup some of that expense before Josh started in his new position. In the mean time, my mind was reeling over what to do - continue on, or shut it down and go sell houses? My mind told me that life would be easier if I'd commit myself to realty and rentals - believe it or not, real estate is more predictable than music as a profession, even in times like these...but my heart would not allow me seriously consider shutting it down and just quitting without at least giving it a go. A calling is impossible to quence. At that time there were a few really great singers that expressed an interest in singing with a re-formed Freedom, but there was uneasiness about making the decision to invite them to join the group, so I waited. And waited.

Now, here’s a little backstory that you need to know. Burman Porter’s wife, Robin, and my wife, Jennifer, have been friends since he and I first worked together in the original Dove Brothers Quartet some 15 years ago. When life situations found Burman and Robin seeking better circumstances for their family they reached out to us to see if there would be an opening for them to come work with us at Vacation Valley Cabin Rentals  here in the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. The only potential opportunities would be for them to work in housekeeping and maintenance - but we’d had the same crew for several years and they were the best we’d had since opening our business. There was no way we would even consider letting them go. But, we promised to call Burman and Robin if the positions ever came available.

One of the last weekends that Freedom sang together as a Trio was during the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion in Greenville, SC. I’ve been a longstanding member of the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion Quartet (comprised of members of other groups – we sing together for fun each year during the “Grand Ole”). Charles Waller had tapped Burman to sing the bass part for this quartet again and we were rehearsing, preparing for the nights concert, when Burman began suffering chest pains. Robin rushed Burman to the hospital, but “the show must go on” so the rest of us stayed behind in order to carry on…but we stayed in constant contact for updates and information about his condition. The doctors released him hours later with orders to not be far from a hospital for the next few days. His diagnosis of “stress” was based upon the absence of blood enzymes indicative of a heart attack. The Dove Brothers Band (with whom Burman was singing full time) was to begin a 10-day tour the next day and Burman was not up to the trip, so they left without him. Later that week Burman felt the need to tender his resignation.
Then, just a day or two later, the husband and wife team that handled our housekeeping at and maintenance at Vacation Valley Cabin Rentals  came to the office to inform us that they had accepted an opportunity to move back home to Alabama. WOW!...what a timely development!  TOTALLY unexpected and unannounced. So, I immediately called Burman to inform him of this development and within hours he and Robin, along with their daughter Jessica, were actively preparing to move to Tennessee to fill those positions. I’m not sure we ever really even discussed the idea of singing together again…it just seemed like the natural thing – but we still had no lead or baritone singers, and by then there were few prospects. The one guy who had expressed the most interest had just accepted a position with another group – It seemed I had waited too long.

While perusing the Facebook comments that had been left in the wake of the announcement of Josh’s departure from the group I came across a message from Dale Shipley – “Blessings on you Josh!!! Does John need someone to fill in until he finds a new lead singer?” - Another WOW! Indeed, I did! - Now, back to that recording that had drained our savings…it included the song “Somebody Touched The Lord” that became synonymous with Dale’s voice when it was first release by Perfect Heart. It was their first single, which climbed to and maintained the #1 position on the Singing News Charts long enough to also be named “Song of The Year.” The idea of having Dale stand in as we searched for a permanent replacement was an enticing idea. So I sent Dale a short message and asked him to come over to rehearse and join us for Josh’s last weekend just to get a feel for what we’d been doing.

When we first put Freedom together I’d asked Preston Garner if he’d be interested in joining us. Preston has been working in church music here in the Knoxville area as well as Upper East Tennessee for some time now. He is a great singer and tremendously talented guy. Due to employment circumstances he graciously declined the invitation…so I was taken entirely by surprise when he called and inquired about what was going on with the group. We met for lunch that Friday and I was excited to learn that he was interested in the position…so, I asked him to join Dale and myself on the following Thursday to rehearse and just spend a little time together.

When we met that Thursday morning I had no idea where to begin. We’d never even been in the same room together! I told the guys that every other group I’ve ever sang with got together and just went to singing…but if anything was going to come of our meeting together it would have to be God’s doing. So we spent a few minutes together in prayer asking God’s blessings on whatever it was we were about to do. Burman wasn’t able to join us that morning, he was moving into his new apartment here in Sevierville that day…but by that evening we had (quite literally) been fitted for suits alike! We were a quartet! I think the guys all thought I’d fallen on my head…but I was ecstatic! I couldn’t have imagined putting together a stronger group of voices, personalities, and talent. In my wildest dreams I’d have never dared to come up with such a scheme!

The National Quartet Convention was just a couple VERY short weeks away. I hurriedly scheduled a photo session ($) so that we could have banners ($$) and fliers ($) made and then sent my graphic designer ($$$) friend (-$) an impossible to-do list that should have been prepared months in advance. She came through like a trouper just in time for me to order new business cards ($) and other necessities ($) for NQC ($$$$). (In case you missed that, NQC is one of the most costly weeks a group can incur, lodging alone costs a group into the thousands of dollars).

When things wound down for the trio I agreed to allow “Revelation” from Northern Ireland to use our mini-bus for their annual tour surrounding NQC week. What I failed to notice was that we had also scheduled an appearance for the preceding Friday night in Northern Virginia…and we were now without transportation! In desperation I reached out to Gerald Wolfe who graciously offered the use of his Sprinter Van for the trip…and it was a blessing beyond words. The Press Release announcing the formation of Freedom Quartet was disbursed en route, and our first official performance as “Freedom Quartet” occurred at Mount Calvary Community Church in Alexandria, VA on Friday September 6th, 2013. By the time the National Quartet Convention kicked off the following Monday, Freedom Quartet was on the lips of many attendees and participants. The excitement was electrifying. We received an incredibly gracious reception during the Featured Artists Showcase Friday afternoon and were invited to perform on Friday Night’s Main Stage concert…quite an honor for a group who had been together for less than a week!

During the week of NQC our booth was positioned on the same aisle as Beckie Simmons Agency. Burman and I had worked with them previously during our tenures with Dove Brothers and Palmetto State. We visited with them as the week ensued and before long had reawakened dormant friendships and forged a tentative booking representation agreement. It just felt like going home again, and we have since been blessed with an agreement that supports both of our interests. It is an honor to be named among the Prestigious Family of Artists represented by BSA.

So, that brings us to today. Here we are some two months later, more excited than ever to get out there and share the good news of The Gospel through song…but we are, for the lack of a better way to put it…BROKE. There was absolutely no time for financial planning, saving, or preparing prior to the formation of this group. There are no “sugar daddies”… and neither of us is independently wealthy.

Now, I must admit, I am a bit proud. I’m too proud to ask for help even when I need it badly. However, when I saw Legacy Five post an announcement asking for financial support for their next recording there was a small voice within me that said, “You have not because you asked not.” Now, I know that is taking the scripture out of context and I’m not prepared to defend the theology of that thought…but here is what I am convinced of…as much as I know The Lord has put this group together for this moment in time, I also know that He will complete that which He has started. So, we are praying together that He will lay it upon your heart to help us financially as we launch into this endeavor. We find ourselves with an immediate need of at least $5000 to help with the remaining expenses of completing our first recording.

The majority of the instrumentation and vocals have been completed, we’re just about ready to mix, master, and replicate the CD’s. We have replaced the vocals on a majority of the songs originally recorded and released by the trio back in July on the “Born With A Song” album, however, we’ve removed one of the songs and replaced another leaving a total of 10 songs to be released on the Open Edition CD. However, we will also be using these funds to produce and promote an original song for our inaugural Single Release that will be sent to Gospel Radio around the world. The “single” will be included as a “Bonus Track” on the Limited Edition CD that you'll learn more about soon.

With all of this said, it should also be noted that while the $5000 will be an inestimable blessing to us, it will by no means satisfy the needs of the group going forward. Our prayer and expectation is that once the recording is released we will generate additional revenue from the proceeds. But realistically there are some financial needs beyond the album and single release that we are praying The Lord will supply through your pledges, gifts, and donations. There is a need for additional and replacement sound equipment that, if purchased at once would cost in excess of $10,000. We are also working toward a permanent replacement for our current transportation…and the sky is the limit as to what this could cost, but we are very practical and willing to travel in anything from a passenger van to a luxury coach. No matter what The Lord chooses to bless us with, we pledge to be good stewards. Please pray that The Lord will bless you financially to make it possible to give a gift that is beyond your capabilities so that it will be possible for The Glorious Message of The Gospel to be spread by Freedom Quartet through your generous support.

We will be launching a “KickStarter” campaign later this week. As soon as it is live we will let you know so that you can go directly to the website to make your pledge of support. In the mean time you can click here to make an immediate donation. We would also LOVE for you to go to, search for Legacy Five, and make your pledge of support for their upcoming recording project.

Until then, please continue to hold Freedom Quartet in your prayers. There is NOTHING that we need more.


John Rulapaugh

Freedom Quartet Signed By The Beckie Simmons Agency 

BSA World Thursday, October 31, 2013

Nashville, TN:  It was announced today that Freedom Quartet has reached a booking agreement with BSA/Beckie Simmons Agency of Nashville, TN, effective immediately.  Freedom Quartet consists of John Rulapaugh, tenor, Dale Shipley, lead, Preston Garner, baritone and Burman Porter, bass.

Concerning this new agreement, manager John Rulapaugh states, "From my earliest days on the road with the original Dove Brothers and later with Palmetto State Quartet, I have enjoyed a wonderful friendship and working relationship with Beckie and all the BSA family. With the transition of taking Freedom from a Trio to a Quartet, plus adding my dear friend Burman Porter, it makes this decision feel all the more like moving back home!" 

Beckie Simmons adds, "BSA welcomes Freedom Quartet to our family of artists. Since John and Burman have already been part of our BSA family, it feels like they are indeed coming back home! These guys have many years of experience collectively, allowing them to produce a great experience of Quartet music.  Our BSA staff looks forward to working with them and being a part of their bright future!"  For booking information contact BSA/Beckie Simmons Agency 615.595.7500 or visit

A Personal Note from John Rulapaugh 

I can't begin to tell you how excited I am about what we believe The Lord is doing in our lives. A few short weeks prior to the announcement of Freedom Quartet I honestly thought that my days of singing were drawing to a close. I knew I didn't want that to be the case, but with Josh leaving the group to join The Dixie Melody Boy's and considering the difficulty we had experienced over the past few years of keeping a group together and booking churches and concerts - I was just tired. I met with different mentors, pastors, and friends who all agreed to pray with me that The Lord would have his way - both in my life personally, and in the direction for Freedom. I had no idea then what was about to take place, the timing of certain events, and the plan that, it seems now, The Lord had put in place long before we recognized it for what it is.
I've promised to share with you the details of how Freedom Quartet came to be, and I hope to do that in the coming weeks and months, but I want you to understand where I am with all of this. Over the course of my life I've heard many people claim that God was doing something special in their life...only to see that thing which they claimed was ordained of God utterly destroyed as quickly as it sprang up. I've often wondered if they were mistaken and have cynically said, "Well, I guess God changed his mind!" That experience has caused me to be very hesitant to attribute The Lord’s will to anything specific in my life until after it has come full circle and His handiwork is evident. There are certain aspects of the re-formation of this group into a quartet that I personally, in the depths of my soul, KNOW are ordained of God. And, in the past few days, I’ve had experiences that tell me God’s plan is so much bigger than I could possibly understand right now. Because of that there are certain aspects of that I think are better left unsaid right now. I fear getting out ahead of what His plan is in all of this, so for that reason I am going to ask you to be patient and continue to pray with me that God will have His way.
That brings me to this. There are certain things necessary to the successful formation, foundation, and survival of every business, ministry, or church that applies directly to Freedom Quartet at this stage of our career. Specifically, it is very expensive to get everything in place (websites, sound equipment, recordings, transportation, etc) and the truth of the matter is that we have nearly depleted what little savings we had in place. As I mentioned earlier, this is not something that I had planned for…and with no plan in place, we certainly hadn’t budgeted for the enormous expenses that we’ve incurred within the past few months. With that in mind, I’d like to ask that you pray for us, very specifically, that The Lord will meet the financial needs of Freedom Quartet as we continue to seek his direction in every aspect of the ministry that He has lead us to. Pray that every business decision that we make is in accordance with His plan for our future, and that we will wisely utilize the resources that He has so richly blessed us with.
We love you, we’re thankful for you, and we’re praying that God will use Freedom Quartet to bring joy and light into your life sometime soon.
John Rulapaugh