The Dixie Melody Boys will be appearing at First Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in Ward on Thursday, June 20, at 7 p.m.

"We are very excited about coming to Ward and getting back to Arkansas. That is a great area for Southern Gospel music. We’re definitely looking forward," group member Matt Felts said in a recent phone interview.

For more than 50 years, the Dixie Melody Boys have been one of the top names in Southern Gospel music. At the forefront of the group is Ed O’Neal. He is one of the all time great bass singers and hosts the weekly television program "Great American Gospel." O’Neal is one of the most recognizable and respected individuals in gospel music.

"Ed is one of a kind," Felts noted. "I can’t imagine being out on the road singing and just having fun with anyone more than I have with Ed. He treats all of us extremely well. He is a tremendous boss."

In 2011, the group released "The Call Is Still the Same." Aside from the title track, the album produced the gospel radio hits "Jesus in My Boat" and "I’ve Got Family There." Additionally, the accompanying video that celebrated the groups 50 years has been bestowed with countless awards accolades.

Recently, the group has undergone some personnel changes. Aside from Felts and O’Neal, the group currently consists of Aaron Dishman and Austin Foster.

"We are thrilled about the new direction of the group," Felts stated. "Due to some vocal problems, one of our longtime vocalists, Steven Cooper, is moving to play bass guitar. The addition of Aaron is great because he is also a fine piano player. Austin is 18 years old, but he has all of the tools to be a great lead vocalist."

Although the Dixie Melody Boys are known for such songs as "Antioch Church Choir," Too Much Thunder" and "Good Ole Boys," they are very excited about their next project.

"Our upcoming album is going to be great," Felts said. "From song selection to production, we’ve spent more time on this record than on any in the past. We have really taken our time with this one, and it is going to be great. We have some amazing material on there."

Any fan of gospel music or just a music lover in general should mark their calendar for this concert. It isn’t every day a legendary figure like O’Neal brings a top notch group to town.

First Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in Ward is located on the corner of Markham and Church Streets. There is no admission, but a love offering will be received. For more information, call 501-843-3336.

Beebe native Charles Haymes is a member of the Country Music Association and the International Bluegrass Music Association. Email him at