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Canaan Land is Just in Sight



….how this musical group evolved

The early sounds of gospel music were dominated by the harmonies of male quartets.  High tenors and low basses filled the sacred airways.  Few were the groups that broke this mold until the late 1950’s when a male trio bearing the name of a classic gospel quartet hit the gospel music stage…the Rangers Trio.

David Reece went into the archives and retrieved the Rangers name and formed the then Rangers Trio.  The trio was known for their interesting arrangements and song selections unlike any other group in the business.  David was one of the consummate entertainers.  He later became a comedy writer for Minnie Pearl, thus; retiring the Rangers name.

In the 1970’s, Sherrill was singing with the Statesmen Quartet and decided to do something totally different from the structured four-part harmony and formed a trio.  He brought Tim Baty (who was traveling with him during his Statesmen days playing bass) and moved to Nashville TN.  Looking for a third singer to form the trio, he brought in Donnie Sumner.  Donnie had left J. D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet.  He now had his trio, but he needed a name, so he did his research and brought the Rangers Trio name out of moth balls.   

The Rangers appeared on the Grand Ole’ Opry, did back up work with the Carol Owen singers, filled in for the Four Guys until Sherrill received a  telephone call from Elvis Presley.  When Elvis found out that he had a group, he asked them to fly out to Las Vegas and try out for Tom Jones.  Tom was having The Rangersproblems with his backup group…the Blossoms.  However, due to contract issues, Tom could not hire them so Elvis decided that he would put them under contract with him and have them open his shows, write music, travel with him and do backup singing.   Once the Rangers were on board with this, Elvis changed their name to VOICE after a Christian Periodical that he had subscribed to.  Elvis was so excited about his new group that he called his dad, Vernon and said:  “Dad, I have my own vocal group”.  We know that the Colonel was not happy with this executive decision on the part of Elvis.  So, henceforth and forever the group was known as VOICE. 

Over the years after Elvis’ death, the personnel in the group changed.
When Elvis first drew up the contract, it was with the trio.  Later, during the years of Elvis’ failing health, Elvis let Tim and Donnie go and kept Sherrill to sing backup and do duets with him.  Sherrill stayed with Elvis up until his death.

Sherrill put together many backup bands after Elvis death.  He had Sean and the “Good Ole’ Boys”, SherrillShaun and the Angel’s Band and later Sherrill and VOICE.  The sounds were different, the styles changed dramatically but Elvis’ music was always a part of what they performed.

When he moved to Europe in 1990, he put together a band to back him made up of all Danish musicians.  So, it didn’t matter what country or what language was being spoken, everybody associated with the word ELVIS and everyone related to his music.

In 2004, when Sherrill moved from Denmark to Houston TX to VoiceVoiceremarry his first love and the love of his life, Brenda Hall, he put together VOICE again.  At first it consisted of three voices then later became two (Sherrill and Brenda).  Throughout Sherrill and Brenda’s time together they traveled all over the world as Sherrill Nielsen and VOICE…what an amazing duo.  But his greatest accomplishment happened shortly before his untimely death.  Sherrill was determined to go back to his roots…that of Southern Gospel Music. Voice

So, in 2009, he hand selected the singers for his Sherrill and Brendanewly formed group called “Sherrill Nielsen and VOICE”… Mike Martin (lead), Nick Fike (baritone), Sean McCaw (bass) and, of course Sherrill as tenor.  They rehearsed, hand selected songs and was ready to hit the road, when Sherrill was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.  They were able to capture his hard work by cutting a CD entitled “Shout Hallelujah”, a song written by Sherrill.

This is one of the last songs sung and performed by Sherrill with
his newly formed group.  The song is “Canaan Land Is Just In Sight”…. How appropriate…”there will be no sorrow…there in that tomorrow…that is where I’m going …“Canaan Land is
Just in Sight”



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