The following are the Top Five fan-voted winners in the category of Local Southern Gospel Artists as voted on by way of Country Atlanta polling. The Light was a co-presenter of the 2011 gospel polls. Four rounds of polling took place from May through August, and these are the final round winners:
1. THE MAXWELLS. Mother and daughter duet The Maxwells are based out of Nicholson. Consisting of mom Tracy Maxwell and daughter Brittany Maxwell, they sing many dates throughout the year at churches and various venues across North Georgia. Their influence is spreading far, as this year they won Beacon Awards from the Lynn Haven, Fla.-based Emerald Coast Southern Gospel Music Association for Female Group of the Year and New Artist of the Year. Brittany has also had the honor of singing onstage with Jason Crabb. They cite some of their influences as the Happy Goodmans, The Isaacs, The Judds and The Martins. Coming up, The Maxwells will perform at the Community Chapel Annual Labor Day Singing in Jefferson on Sept. 3 and 4. You can find The Maxwells online at www.maxwellsgospel.com and www.facebook.com/pages/The-Maxwells/140004822956.
2. DREW PARKER. Atlanta-based Drew Parker is a 19-year-old singer/songwriter that is gaining new fans all of the time. Singing southern gospel music with a country vibe, he performs at churches and various venues across the area, including the famed Newborn Opry. Drew frequently performs with singing sensation Logan Smith, a 14-year-old based out of Covington whose voice is compared to that of the late group Vestal Goodman. Drew Parker can be found online at www.facebook.com/pages/Drew-Parker-Fan-Page/112730332083400.
3. STRAIT WAY. This trio, based out of Alpharetta, has been performing since 1999. They consist of Charles Gunter on lead and tenor; Jean Gunter on low alto; Pam Turner (Charles and Jean's daughter) on lead and alto. Wynona Persall works the product table for the group and is also their Webmaster. Charles Gunter is referred to as the 'Miracle Man,' as he suffered a stroke in 2001 and was told by doctors he would never be able to talk or sing again. They were wrong and Charles has a great testimony about how God has brought him through the ordeal. Pam is also a miracle, in that she suffered a heart attack in 1995 and had less than a 1% chance of survival. God brought her through that and she sings each weekend. You can find Strait Way online at www.straitwayofalpharetta.com.
4. THE BRIDGEMANS. For the fourth straight year, husband and wife duo Travis and Alecia Bridgeman, out of Cumming, celebrate a Top Five finish. Travis Bridgeman has held the title of senior pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Cumming for the past nine years. The duo has shared the stage with several top southern gospel artists including The Kingsmen, The Talley Trio, Greater Vision and Squire Parsons. Travis and Alecia's son, Lee, is gifted on the piano and in musical composition. One of Lee's songs, 'Sea Of Dreams,' is heard on their CD, 'Climbing Higher.' Find The Bridgemans online at www.thebridgemans.com, www.facebook.com/pages/The-Bridgemans/114509688577612and www.reverbnation.com/thebridgemans.
5. LISA HERALD. With a powerful, soul-filled voice, Dalton's Lisa Herald opens up her ministry singing for the Lord in church, homeless shelters and prisons when asked. She is also a multitalented instrumentalist, as she usually includes guitar and piano in her shows, and she can also play bass guitar and drums as well. Lisa has won an Entertainer of the Year award from the Georgia Country & Gospel Music Association, and was named North America Country Music Association International 2011 Rising Star Entertainer of the Year. Lisa Herald can be found online at www.lisaheraldministries.com and www.facebook.com/pages/Lisa-Herald-Ministries/167705946622622.