by Max Jackson,
Edmonson Voice Arts and Entertainment
photos courtesy of Facebook
If you know anything about today's current popular southern gospel music artists, then you know all about the chart-smashing Ernie Haase and Signature Sound. If you're not familiar with the genre or the group, well, they're a really big deal. Haase was the final tenor singer for The Cathedrals, one of the most popular groups in the history of gospel music, then founded his new group, Signature Sound, as The Cathedrals retired. Signature Sound recently went on the search for a new lead/baritone vocalist, one that ended with naming Dustin Doyle, 30, a former Chalybeate resident, the man for the job.
We sat down with Dustin, now a resident of McKenzie, TN, and asked him about his new job. "Being that I've been around southern gospel music my entire life, and with my older brother having done it professionally, it's obviously always been important," he said as he fiddled with the shoe strings of his tightly-laced Chuck Taylors. "Being able to have that first real opportunity in college, and then getting the gig with Beyond The Ashes (the group he's just moved on from) it always seemed like an awesome hobby that I got paid for, but it's never really felt like work. Being with a group of the caliber of Signature Sound, I feel like this job is finally more than a hobby, it's a serious career."
click the video above to watch the founder of Signature Sound, Ernie Haase, make the official announcement
Dustin said that even as a little kid, he knew he wanted to be a professional musician when he grew up. Whether that was as a guitarist, vocalist, in a band, or a song writer, he knew that music was the part of his life he wanted to share with everyone. When he got the opportunity to go to Bethel University in Mckenzie, TN to be part of their accredited music program, he began to meet the right people, one being Matthew Holt, who is the current pianist for The Gaither Vocal Band, the most successful southern gospel group in the world.
At the time, Holt, who worked in Bethel's music program, was trying to incorporate the school's first southern gospel branch and put together a traveling group. Dustin was one of the first recruits into the newly formed group. "He (Holt) was so good, so respected, and so sought after as a pianist, I knew that if we could become friends, I could prove to him that I could do this. If I could do that, I felt like I'd be able to have access to opportunities through him that I wouldn't have otherwise," Dustin said.
He was indeed correct. Holt became a mentor to Doyle, teaching him about the ins and outs of professional music, and Doyle soon blossomed into his own. "Every opportunity I had always seemed to come through Matthew," he said.
Dustin, who graduated from ECHS in 2003, said that even though some of his teachers remained frustrated throughout some of his school troubles, there where a couple that never gave up on him. "There was one person who always continued to encourage me throughout my troubles, knowing I had a vested interest in music, and that was Mrs. Stacy Raymer." He said he's not sure that he'd have gotten through high school without Raymer, who was the guidance counselor at the time. "Also my English teacher, Mrs. Corentha Whittinghill...both of them just saw more out of me than I was putting down on paper. They worked really hard to give me second, third, and fourth chances. They just saw more in me than I saw in myself."
Doyle lives with his wife, Aubrey, and 1 year old son, Dawson. The couple has a girl on the way (Lana Lynn Doyle, pronounced 'Lonna') who is scheduled to make her arrival in October.
His first official date with Signature Sound is set for July 15th in Jackson, TN at the Carl Perkins Civic Center. A larger group such as SS, also requires less touring than most professional gospel acts. This, he says, takes a little of the stress away from being separated from his family while on the road. He said his family has fully supported him throughout all his music and continues to do so today.
"I'm very grateful to my family and the people back home in Edmonson County who have supported me over the years," he said as he chomped on another handful of Sweetarts. "So many have supported my decision to pursue this career, even at times when it didn't feel like a sure thing. My family has supported me in these decisions 100%, and I will always be thankful for where I came from, how I was brought up, and the way I was brought up. I was taught to fear and depend on the Lord, and I'm going to continue to do that."