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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John Rulapaugh Announces...Freedom Quartet! 


Nashville, TN (September 5, 2013) – John Rulapaugh, founder of a group known for its dynamic energy and prowess, Freedom, raises the bar even higher, as he introduces Freedom Quartet.

The quartet's new line up is the "creme dela creme" of Gospel music.

The new lead singer has an array of accolades and accomlishments and is best known for his days with the group, Perfect Heart.  He is Dale Shipley.

Filling the baritone position for the group is Preston Garner.  Garner is not only a notable vocalist with a vast array of experience. He is also a music minister and worship pastor and has a very clear understanding of leading an audience to the throne of God.

Taking the bass position is one of the most talented bass singers to grace a Gospel music stage.  He is none other than Burman Porter.

Along with the solid and seamless tenor singing of Rulapaugh, this combination is poised to be one of the most cutting edge and impacting Gospel music ministries of the decade.

"The departure of my friend Josh Garner from Freedom's lineup left a great void, one that could not easily be filled," shares Rulapaugh.  He continues, "Since the inception of Freedom, it was always our desire to have a great quartet. There have been several opportunities to make that move, but the timing was never right. Over the past few weeks the Lord has really made His plans evident in our lives and we are thrilled with the new starting place He has set for us. I couldn't be more happy than with the addition of my old friend, Burman Porter, to the lineup of Freedom. Many will remember that Burman and I worked together on two previous occasions; First with The Dove Brothers Quartet and, then, with Palmetto State Quartet. There's so much to tell about how this decision and direction unfolded…and not nearly enough space here to tell it all. Over the coming days and weeks I will share the details of how this all came to be. If you're interested in the "back story," visit and join our website.  You can sign up for free and receive all the latest news from the group."

The group is partnered with a premiere booking agency, Mountain Top Talent (one entity of the mutil-faceted Michael Davis & Associates).  Mountain Top will be heading up their scheduling.

Michael Davis expresses, "John Rulapaugh has done it again by assembling one of the strongest personnel lineups to come along in quite sometime.  The move from trio to quartet will be well received by John's fan base.  I am very excited about the future of the Freedom Quartet."

The quartet is looking forward to getting into the studio soon for their first full recording together.

To meet and follow the exciting happenings of this outstanding quartet, visit their brand new website at

You can find them on Facebook at and follow them on Twitter at

To learn more about all of the artists who call the Dominion Agency home, visit and To schedule the Freedom Quartet and other wonderful artists with Michael Davis And Associates, call 828-454-5900 or email

Pictured: Freedom Quartet (l to r) - Preston Garner (baritone),
John Rulapaugh (founder and tenor),
Burman Porter (bass), and Dale Shipley (lead)

For more information or a high resolution photo CONTACT:

Freedom Still Sings! 

Dear Friends of Freedom,

I'd like to take this opportunity to personally thank you for your fervent support of our group and our music. Freedom would not exist if it were not for your prayers and there is nothing that we truly need more than your continual intercession on our behalf.

Over the past week you likely have heard that my business partner and our lead singer, Josh Garner, has accepted the long available position and will be the new lead singer with The Dixie Melody Boys. While I am not happy to see him leave Freedom, I thoroughly support his decision and look forward to the great improvement he will certainly make in that groups lineup. Josh is a fabulous singer and remains one of my very best friends.

I have heard from a number of individuals who have expressed an interest in coming to sing with Freedom. I am encouraged and blessed with each new inquiry that I receive. I'm thankful that Josh has agreed to fill all of the dates that we have scheduled through the end of August. This gives me a few weeks to find, at the very least, an able "fill in" for the short term. Jonathan Sawrie has been "filling in" for the past several months and will continue in the Baritone position for the foreseeable future. The past few months have truly been a dream come true as this is the group that I had hoped to put together from the very beginning. Your response has been tremendous and we have really enjoyed presenting the music that we love. The right person for this position will allow us to continue to increase our repertoire of truly classic music...I will not permanently fill the position until I've found that man, and to that end I covet your prayers.

Immediately prior to Josh's departure announcement we announced the release of our latest recording "Born With a Song." This recording project is the brainchild of Josh Garner and will certainly have a lasting impact on the future of Freedom. There's more info below on the new recording.

In the past few days I've finalized an agreement that will take Freedom far beyond the confines of North America for the very first time! On March 22, 2014 Freedom will appear in Belfast, Northern Ireland. This will be the major concert anchoring the tour. I'll fill you in on the details as plans are finalized over the next few weeks and months. I'm thrilled at this development and excited to share Freedom around the World!

We've just returned home from the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion. Charlie Waller and all of The Florida Boys did an excellent job hosting one of Gospel Music's premier annual events. This is truly my favorite event of the year and I hope that you will consider joining us for the 2014 Grand Ole Gospel Reunion in Greenville, SC next August. This is gospel music's family reunion and it is always great seeing all of our friends old and new.

Until next time, please continue to hold us in your prayers. I will do my best to keep you informed as we move forward. I am anxious to introduce the new group to you as quickly as possible and I know you'll be pleased and excited by at least one of the major changes in our lineup.

All the best to you, in Freedom,

John Rulapaugh

Josh Garner Announces Departure 

 An Open Letter From Josh Garner

To my friends in Gospel music,

It is with mixed emotions that I confirm my departure from Freedom and my new position as lead singer for the Dixie Melody Boys. Please know that much thought and prayer went into this decision, as I sought counsel and blessing from all parties involved. That includes first and foremost my wife, Alison, who has stood by me and supported me through every life change since the retirement of the Florida Boys Quartet. She is my rock and I can honestly say that I could not and would not have made it through the last eight years without her. 
Secondly, I want to acknowledge and thank the man who, except for my wife, in the last five years has become my closest confidant and dearest friend, John Rulapaugh. I have said it from the stage and behind his back that John is the single greatest talent to come along in our field in a very long time. No disrespect to anyone else, but I can truthfully say that there is no one that I had rather sing with than John Rulapaugh. From the first time we sang together in a scrap-iron group at the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion to the last concert we perform as Freedom, there has been a certain “magic” that I cannot describe in words. My time singing with John has been some of the most enjoyable and rewarding in my entire career and I am thankful for the opportunity to have shared a business and ministry with him. 
For the first time ever, I want to publicly thank Bob Jones, Johnny Garner, Ron Halbert, Betty Walden, and Carolyn Cockrill for your belief and support in Freedom’s mission. The last four years would not have been possible without you folks, and we are eternally grateful. To the countless number of saints who have prayed for us over these last four years, thank you for your unwavering support. Also, I must acknowledge our dear friend, Jonathan Sawrie, who has been a tremendous joy to work with over the last several months. 
As most of you know, John Rulapaugh is a consummate family man and has a very successful career in the cabin rental and real estate market in the Smoky Mountain region. Likewise, I have stayed busy working towards my Bachelor of Science Religion Degree through Liberty University. Thus, we have purposely worked a limited schedule as Freedom. For the last several years, I have struggled with the idea of seeking a career outside of Gospel music. However, I have come to realize that my love and passion for it is just as strong today as it was the first time I walked on stage, therefore, I am grateful for this return to a full-time singing position. 
The Dixie Melody Boys’ place in Gospel music history is firmly established, and I am so thankful to finally be a part of their legacy. To explain, I must recall the first time I met their leader, Ed O’ Neal. I was 15 years old and my family group, the Garner Boys, opened a concert for the Dixie Melody Boys at the high school auditorium in Wayne City, IL. After the concert, Ed approached me in his unmistakeable way and said, “Hey buddy, can you play the bass guitar?” After I replied, “No, sir,” he said, “Well, how soon can you learn?” I’ll never forget that night, as I gained one of the biggest cheerleaders I’ll ever know in Mr. O’ Neal. To this day, he has encouraged me in my career as no other. He made the first official offer to me when I was 19 years old, but circumstances kept me from taking the job. After filling in with them for the last several weeks, I knew that the Lord was leading me to finally accept the offer. Not only did I want to sing with the Dixie Melody Boys, I felt that I needed to. Call me nostalgic, but just as I wanted to remind people of how great the Florida Boys were when I accepted that position, I want to remind Gospel music fans of the great heritage of the Dixie Melody Boys and their incomparable leader, Mr. Ed O’ Neal. He has championed me through my entire career and I want to honor him and the legacy of the group he has led for over 50 years. I want to thank Matt, Aaron, Steven, and Rayburn for their dedication to this group, as well. I pray that you will continue to support Freedom as they carry on the great tradition of Gospel music that we started out to preserve, and hope that you will join me now in honoring one of Gospel music’s treasures, the Dixie Melody Boys.

John Rulapaugh on the future of Freedom 

To quell the rumors and speculation concerning my future and that of Freedom - Josh Garner is and always will be one of my very best friends. It is with great sadness that I have to accept that he will be moving on to sing with the Dixie Melody Boys. Quite simply, Freedom does not keep a heavy enough touring schedule to allow us to make a living from it. The Lord has blessed Jennifer and I in our business, but anyone in business knows that you either run your business or your business will run away from you. For this reason my touring schedule has been and must remain limited. That does not mean that I am going to have to stop singing, or that this is the end of Freedom. I have been overwhelmed with the response and interest from those interested in coming to sing with Freedom! I am blessed and encouraged by those who have encouraged me to "keep on keeping on" and that is exactly what I intend to do.
I am not one for hasty decisions, nor am I compelled to issue a press release for the purpose of reporting that there is nothing to tell you. As I continue the search for someone to sing in Josh's absence I recognize the fact that there can truly be no replacement. I appreciate your continued support and covet your prayers as I carefully consider and look forward the future.