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For over forty years Mark Trammell has been blessed to sing Gospel Music. Something he says, “evolved from a dream to a life’s call; from just singing to ministry.” Many long time observers and followers of Gospel Music consider him to be one the greatest baritone singers of all time. He has won multiple awards as a singer and producer, and has been a member of four of Gospel Music’s most acclaimed groups – The Kingsmen, The Cathedrals, Greater Vision and Gold City. For most people, just being with one of these legendary groups would be the pinnacle of a career and justification for resting on your laurels. But for Mark now is not the time to kick back and relax. Instead, it is time to step into a fresh mission that focuses on evangelism through the seamless integration of Gospel Music and preaching – The Mark Trammell Quartet.
If surrounding yourself with the right people is one of the keys of success, then Mark Trammell might be considered a ‘master locksmith’. Since he was 15 years old, Mark has literally been surrounded by and sung with some of the most respected men in Southern Gospel Music including Ray Shelton, Eldridge Fox, Jim Hamill, Squire Parsons, Ray Reece, Tim Riley, Glen Payne, and George Younce.
Mark states that the major reason for turning this trio into a quartet is the fact that he desires to help perpetuate the craft that he has given his life to, and to present every aspect of pure gospel quartet music to the best of their ability. In April 2012 MTQ celebrated 10 years of watching God take the unlikely and do the abnormal with only two ingredients involved in its success. Man’s obedience to the call of God, and God’s supernatural power to do the impossible thru those who are stubborn enough to simply believe He can.
Blake Buffin grew up in Stow, Ohio and first sang in the church choir at age 18. He took private voice lessons from a teacher at Kent State University and became a part of the Stow Symphony Orchestra Chorus. With the Chorus, Blake sang classical pieces such as Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Mozart’s Requiem and was the featured tenor when the Chorus performed Handel’s Messiah. Classical artists like Andrea Bocelli, Alessandro Sofina and The Tenors developed Blake’s love for music, but it was David Phelps of the Gaither Vocal Band who inspired Blake to sing the tenor part. “I love the classical flair to his voice,” says Blake. Blake also sang with the quartet at his church and performed as a soloist or special guest at churches and events in the surrounding area.
In August of 2014, Blake proposed to his future wife, Lauren, on their way to a Southern Gospel concert. The weekend before their wedding, Blake drove to Alabama to audition for MTQ. Mark offered Blake the position and he accepted. Blake and Lauren were married on July 18, 2015 and after their honeymoon, the couple moved to Rainbow City, Alabama where they now reside.
Nick Trammell never had a doubt that it was God’s will that he follow in his father’s footsteps onto the Southern Gospel stage. The only son of Mark and LaResa Trammell, brings to the MTQ table rich vocals honed and polished by years of singing with the Perrys, the Trammells, and most recently, the Browns. While with the Perrys, Nick was the recipient of the Singing News Fan Awards 2007 Horizon Individual Award and 2008 Favorite Young Artist. He is also an accomplished songwriter, and has shared co-writing credits with his father, his sister-in-law Michaela Brown, his multi-talented wife, Jessica. In 2012, Nick and Jessica became proud parents when they welcomed their first child, Tessa Nichole, into the world. In September of 2015, a little boy, Charles Mark, joined the family. “His name is, of course, a family name,” Nick explains. “My Grandfather was Charles Ray, Dad is Timothy Mark, and I am Nicholas Mark. God has blessed me with a family rich in ministerial history, and I am honored to pay tribute to that in my first born son’s name. I hope he is one day as proud of it as I am.”
Nick, who fills the position of lead singer states, “God has blessed me and my family far beyond what we deserve. I was also privileged to get to join Dad on stage after 28 years of watching him from the audience. I’m thankful for my beautiful wife, my family, my friends, and all the people who support us in our ministry. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them.”
Mark Trammell has been married to his wife LaResa for thirty nine years. They have one son, Nick who graduated from Gadsden State Community College with an Associates Degree in Music and from Jacksonville State University with a bachelors degree in accounting. Nick and his wife Jessica are settled into married life with their daughter Tessa and son Charlie in Gadsden, Alabama.
Throughout his career, Mark has been privileged to perform in some very prestigious venues including Radio City Music Hall, Brooklyn Tabernacle, and the South Lawn of the White House. He has performed for the President of the United States, and noted pastors/evangelists such as the venerable Dr. W. A. Crisswell, Dr. Charles Stanley, Dr. Tom Eliff, Dr. Bailey Smith, Dr. Adrian Rodgers, and others. It was on the Isle of Patmos that Mark initially began to understand God’s call of evangelism. “For many years I literally fought the call of evangelism,” explains Mark. “I’ve enjoyed these years of helping others fulfill their dreams while living out my own dream of being a gospel singer. But now, God has given me new dreams built on His calling on my life to combine singing and preaching as the venue warrants. I came to the realization a few years back that God doesn’t want me to be someone else. He wants me to be who He made ME to be, and that was the goal for this trio when we started and now for the quartet. We are to be ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to live, preach, and sing in such a manner that no one feels or thinks we’re trying to be something we’re not. We are to be trusted stewards of God’s blessings in our lives. We are to be faithful and obedient to God’s leadership and to administer our ministry with integrity on sound and godly principles. The bottom line is for our families to be able to say, “we’re glad we lived in the home of a Gospel singer.”
Randy Byrd inherited his love for music from his mother, Alice Byrd and at the tender age of five he stood up in church and sang his first song in front of an audience. A few years later, his Sunday School Teacher, Ernest Chamblee, introduced him to quartet music. “He took me to a singing in Little Rock, Arkansas when I was about twelve,” says Randy, “I heard the Cathedrals and was hooked!” Years later, Randy would find out that Mark Trammell was at the same concert…
With the love of this music running through his veins, Randy began his career by singing with a few local groups before joining his first male quartet, Majesty, based out of Des Moines, Iowa. It was during his time with Majesty that he had the opportunity to join the Blackwood Gospel Quartet and bring the name out of retirement. Randy stayed with them a little under eight years. When it was time for Randy to move on he joined The Anchormen for a brief period but came to find that he was situated too far away from his family, so he moved back to Tennessee and took a job singing with the LeFevre Quartet. “I enjoyed my time with these groups but I knew in my heart that God had something special for me,” Randy shares. “When I left LeFevres I really began to seek God for the right place.” More specifically, he desired to be involved in a full-time ministry. Meanwhile, he was singing part time with The Songfellows Quartet and became engaged to his future wife, Tracy Kelley, when the door opened to fill in for MTQ while they were accepting auditions for the bass position. “It was a dream come true to sing with Mark,” says Randy. During that time it became obvious that Randy was a perfect fit for the quartet; he and Tracy began to ask the Lord for three specific things that would determine if this was where He wanted Randy. Little did the couple know that Mark was praying the same prayer! The Lord answered their requests and exceeded their expectations when in July of 2014 the official announcement was made, Randy was the Mark Trammell Quartet’s new bass singer. Randy and Tracy were married in August. Randy concludes, “I’m grateful to my daughters, Misti, Tiffani and Kristin, for sacrificing so much to allow me to pursue my calling! I’m excited for our future with the Mark Trammell Quartet!”
Trevor Conkle was only three years old when his parents put a childs keyboard in wrapping paper and placed it under the tree for Christmas morning. Not long after, Trevor was picking out melodies like “Jesus Loves Me” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” on his new toy. At age seven, his parents took him for lessons where his teacher, Gail Smith, would struggle to instill the importance of reading the music without adding his own arrangements to it! Trevor explains, “I would get my lesson for the week and come back playing it a little different from the sheet music, I just liked to jazz it up.” At age eight, Trevor began to fill in for the pianist at church, but the best thing that ever happened to the young man was when he accepted Christ as His Savior two years later.
As a pre-teen, Trevor began played with a local group, New Union Quartet, a few times before he had the opportunity to go on the road full-time. In 2014, Union Hill was getting ready to begin a revival and booked Kim Hopper to open the week with a solo concert. After hearing Trevor play, Kim put together an impromptu try-out where he accompanied her on “The Holy Hills Of Heaven.” The rest is history. Trevor began traveling with the Hoppers in October of 2014 and stayed with the family until he heard that Mark was looking for a pianist for his quartet in 2017. “While I am truly grateful for the Hoppers and the daily investment they have made in me, my first love is convention style and quartet music,” says Trevor. “Upon hearing of The Mark Trammell Quartet genuinely looking for a keyboard man, I began to enquire and that enquiry led to my gaining this position. I couldn’t be more pleased, and look forward to traveling with this great quartet.”
Trevor joined the Mark Trammell Quartet on July 20, 2017 and lives in his hometown or Arab, Alabama. Mark says, “We are thrilled that Trevor expressed interest in being an active part of our ministry. We believe this young man has a bright future in Gospel Music, and we are pleased that he wants to grow with us!”