National Quartet Convention 2011, Day 1

This live blog will be updated throughout the evening.

Moment of the Night

The Perrys’ “Plan of Salvation.” It would have been one of the evening’s strongest moments with no introduction, but with Tracy Stuffle’s introduction (see below) tying it to the one-year mark of his return to the stage, it was an incredibly emotional moment.

Runner-up: Collingsworth Family, “At Calvary.”

Brian Free & Assurance (10:38)

Set list: What a Beautiful Day, Anything is Possible; I Believe; God Will Close the Door; Long as I Got King Jesus.

Highlights: “Long as I Got King Jesus,” of course. The Collingsworth Family came back up for the encore, and the groups left the audience on their feet.

Collingsworth Family (10:18)

Set list: I Feel Like Traveling On (with Brian Free & Assurance), Part of the Family; Joshua Fit De Battle of Jericho; I Found It All (When I Lost Everything);  At Calvary.

Highlights: Kim’s piano solo on “Joshua Fit De Battle of Jericho” got a standing ovation—despite the late hour.

“At Calvary” was utter magnificence. The hymn has quite possibly never been done better. It, too, got a standing ovation.

Click “more” for the rest of the coverage: 

Freedom (10:12)

Josh Garner’s and John Rulapaugh’s group Freedom sang “If It Wasn’t For the Cross.” This is the second consecutive year they have done so well in the showcases that they have been invited to sing a song on the main stage. This is one of those groups that, provided they keep pressing on in these troubled economic times, a slot of their own on the main stage is more a matter of “when” than “if.”

Gold City (9:54)

Set List: Where is God?; Peter James and John; When He Blessed My Soul; It Won’t Be Long; God’s Building a Church.

Highlights: “Peter, James and John,” a new song penned by Wilkinson. It’s about time that Gold City had some new material to sing, and this one’s worth the wait.

To those wondered if Craig West is still singing lead with Gold City: He is.

Hoppers (9:30)

Set List: Marriage Supper of the Lamb; He Remembers to Forget; Jerusalem; If I Can Help Somebody.

Highlights: “He Remembers to Forget” was a new song from their last album, Something’s Happening (good catch, Nate!) Jim Brady, who wrote the song, came on stage and joined them for the second verse.

Perrys (9:00)

Set List: Blue Skies Coming; Damascus Road; Plan of Salvation; If You Knew Him. 

Highlights: Seeing Tracy. To go from heart attack patient this year to the skinny bass singer this year is an inspiration and a testimony to God’s grace.

And, I’ll say this in public: I don’t cry often, when Tracy Stuffle sang “Plan of Salvation,” I cried through the whole song. He set it up by saying that last year’s NQC was his first year back after open heart surgery. He said that he felt so defeated vocally after that week that he had a conversation with God and came to terms with the fact that he wasn’t ever going to be the best bass singer in the world. But, he added, there was one song he had always wanted to sing. He said he wasn’t even worthy to hold the microphone for the man whose song it was, but this was a song he had always wanted to sing. After he had set expectations about as low as he possibly could, he turned in a magnificent rendition which received a prolonged standing ovation.

Naturally, the set closer, “If You Knew Him,” got the Perrys a second standing ovation.

Greater Vision (8:28)

Set List: He Didn’t When He Could’ve Passed By; No Longer Chained; I Know a Man Who Can.

Highlights: “I Know a Man Who Can”; need any more be said? Last year, the NQC audience was happy to have Chris back. This year, they were thrilled. Three voices and a piano, no tracks, no stacks, and an enthusiastic standing ovation. This is what Gospel Music is supposed to be.

Lowlights: It took the whole first verse of the first song for the sound engineers to get the microphones on!

Talleys (8:06)

Set List: God is Great, Good and Merciful (with Greater Vision), The Promise, Searchin’; Who Will Pray; God Bless America / America the Beautiful Medley.

Highlights: The set was anticipated more than usual, as it was Brian Alvey’s first NQC appearance with the Talleys—and, now that the Talley Trio has turned back into the Talleys, the first time the ensemble has appeared at NQC as the Talleys in about two decades.

Intriguingly, the Talleys chose “Searchin'” as the song to introduce Brian. It makes sense in one way, since it originally featured a guest vocal from Jason Crabb. It’s surprising in another way, though, since saying that Alvey’s and Crabb’s voices are totally dissimilar is an understatement! It was, however, well-received.

For “Who Will Pray,” Roger moved to the piano, until the bridge and the big mod heading into the chorus. Standing and joining the singers there provided a dramatic moment.

New Gospel Singing Caravan (Blackwood Brothers, Chuck Wagon Gang, LeFevre Quartet, Nelons) (7:45)

Set List: I’m Too Near Home; Crown Him King; I Always Have a Song to Sing; Old Camp-Meeting Days; How Great Thou Art.

Highlights: The Nelons made an unannounced, surprise appearance. (It even surprised emcee Gerald Wolfe!) Intriguingly, the LeFevre had six singers on stage, with outgoing lead singer lead singer David Staton and bass singer Mike Allen, and incoming lead singer Jordan LeFevre and Brandon Barry. “Old Camp-Meeting Days” permitted each group to be featured for a verse, a nice touch.

Squire Parsons (7:25)

Set List: I’m Still Singing For My Lord; I’m Still Here; He Came to Me.

Highlights: Squire’s son Samuel joined him on stage half-way through the second song. The acapella rendition of “He Came to Me” was a strong acapella moment.

Squire closed, naturally, with his all-time greatest song, “Sweet Beulah Land.” The Booth Brothers, the Hoppers, Karen Peck & New River, the Whisnants, Gerald Wolfe, the Nelons, the Kingsmen, and the Mark Trammell Quartet joined him on stage for the closing number. Squire asked Jim Brady, who produced the recent Squire Parsons tribute project, to sing the second verse. Naturally, the song got the audience onto its feet.

The highlight, though, was when Squire said that his father, who passed away in 1997, had never been able to make it to NQC. One of Squire’s sons brought up his father’s hat, and Squire put it on for the closing song in his father’s honor. 

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver (6:50)

Set List: One Of These Days; I Have Found the Glory Way; Precious Memories; He Made it All Right; On the Sea of Life.

Highlights: Quicksilver’s 2010 set was criticized as lacking some of the energy and tightness they had brought in previous years. No question: That energy and tight sound is back. The exquisite rendition of “Precious Memories” was the set’s highlight.

(Full disclosure: I’m their webmaster, so I might be biased. But this set does have more energy than last year’s.)

Triumphant Quartet (6:26)

Set List: Amazed at the Change; When the Trumpet Sounds; Goodbye World Goodbye (harmonica/piano duet with tenor David Sutton and pianist Jeff Stice); Somebody Died for Me; Let’s All Stand For America.

Highlights: Triumphant did “Somebody Died for Me” with only a piano; a nice change of pace. The closing song was the only new one; thanks to Nate in the comments section, it was penned by David Sutton and is found on their brand-new table project, From the Heart.

Instrumental interlude: Collingsworth Ladies (6:18)

Set list: No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus.

Highlights: Brooklyn and Courtney played violins; Kim, naturally, was on piano. The violin microphones were completely off for the first verse. While a stagehand ran a microphone with boom up to the stage, Kim provided some spontaneous fills, seemly seguing into a re-start of the song. It was done so professionally that the Collingsworth ladies earned an appreciative hand of applause as they re-started the song—and though it was hard to tell in the low light, it looks like they got a standing ovation from the artist circle.

Karen Peck & New River (5:56)

Set list: I’ll Fly Away (with Gerald Wolfe on guest bass vocals); Last Night; I Want to Thank You; On the Banks of the Promised Land; National Anthem.

Highlights: Perfectly paced set. Karen Peck knows that you just don’t kick off the opening set of the National Quartet Convention with untested songs. The only new one was song four of five, “On the Banks of the Promised Land,” a song catchy enough to grab listeners on the first spin. Great delivery, but the acapella encore was even better. Karen closed the set citing 9/11 and saluting the veterans by singing the National Anthem acapella. That might be the only way to get the audience on their feet during the first set of the night, but it worked—and the rendition was so spot-on that nobody was inclined to complain.

Opening (5:45)

Greater Vision kicked the night off with the title track to their latest CD, The Only Way. Gerald Wolfe then led the audience in a sing-a-long of “He Keeps Me Singing,” and opened in prayer.

If you’re watching tonight, feel free to join the conversation in the comments! And if you catch this after the fact, jump right in and share thoughts on highlights.


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87 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Scotty Inman has really matured into a VERY good singer.

    • Boy, you aren’t kidding! He’s the best singer in the group, and that’s saying something in the most popular quartet in the country!

      (And the baritone, no less!)

      • O for sure he is the best in the group. I would go as far to say he is one the best singers in SG right now.

      • Easily one of the five best baritone singers, probably one of the three best.

      • So, who are the others? 🙂

      • Well, pretty much nobody would dispute that Mark Trammell is one of them!

      • I agree, and I would’ve really questioned your judgment had he not been. I think Daniel Riley is a great one too. Mark Lowry is also very good although he admittedly has trouble hearing the part on his own.

      • Mark Lowry is often overlooked as one of the genre’s best baritones because of the progressive nature of the music produced by the GVB. At the end of the day, though, one cannot dispute that his rich and smooth baritone vocals are among the best in the genre.

      • I wasn’t happy when he first joined, but after some experience and lessons from English, he improved. I think he is even better still since he has come back. His voice is fuller still I think.

      • Doug Anderson, anyone?

      • I knew I was forgetting someone incredibly obvious!

      • I’d say that Inman, Trammell, and Anderson are easily three of the top five. They may be the top three, but there may be others not coming to mind.

  2. Yes that is a new song written by, I believe David Sutton. Its on their new CD “From The Heart”

    • Thanks! (I don’t have that CD yet.)

      • Neither do I. I will be picking it up when I arrive tomorrow.

      • OK!

  3. Can’t wait to hear how Brian Free and Assurance does. Jeremy Lile is my favorite current bass singer. Hope he reads this. And I’m looking forward to hear how Gold City does. I’m going to see them in less than a month. YAY!! Tim Riley is my favorite legendary bass singer. Also hope he reads this

  4. Didn’t know you were DLQ’s webmaster. How long? Their website is much improved from what it used to be, IMO.

    • Also love that they did “He Made It Alright”. One of my favorites.

    • Since the re-launch, which is the point at which it started looking better. 🙂

      I didn’t do the graphic design, though—I did most of the rest – the technical back-end, etc.

  5. Are the Talleys going to be the next generation’s Hoppers?

    BTW I am lovin’ Brian on “Searchin'”!

    • If they can talk Roger into singing Claude-style bass! 🙂

  6. I used to run sound at my church…how can you have this many problems with microphones and sound at such a high profile event that happens every year. Surely this isn’t a one man sound crew with no help. Shockingly sad…

    • No, it is a multi-person sound crew. I’ve been told that it’s so complex that it’s a wonder they get as much right as they do!

      • Rightly said, Daniel.

        There is no telling how many cordless mics that float around the main stage each night. It’s always interesting to see groups with multiple instrumentalists involved (Isaacs, DLQS, Daily & Vincent) to see which instruments will NOT have sound the first go around. It is an extremely complicated system to manage.

        It’s common to see some of the industries best sound technicians around the main sound board throughout the week. Ben Isaacs, Troy Peach, David Sikes… and their help is always sorely needed.

      • Hopefully Ben Harris will weigh in on that.

      • I’d be very surprised if there were no missteps, but there’s no excuse for some of it.

        When Brian Free went up with the Collingsworth Family and sang a song, then left stage for the family’s set, then came back…they STILL didn’t turn on their mics. They should have had the levels set by the end of that first song, muted the mics while BFA was off stage, then been ready to go from the very beginning of BFA’s set.

  7. I would like to also throw scott howards name in the hat for 5 best baritones.

    • Howie is a very solid baritone.

  8. Allman raised the roof for sure!

  9. how did Gerald do on bass?

    • Like he always does on bass! 🙂

      • Can’t say I’ve ever seen/heard him sing bass.

      • Heres a sample: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSQX4lWaeyI

        I’ll be honest, the few first notes I thought either (Jeff?) Hawes had a lower voice than I thought, or some random bass singer joined them.

      • (Just a clarification to the NQC staff, because they have taken me to task before for links to YouTube videos during NQC week, this is a link to a non-Freedom-Hall video.)

      • Its not even from NQC

  10. I thought the Perrys set was the best set of the night (so far anyway). Great job!

    • Agreed, and it’s not just because I think they have some great songs right now. Tracy connected with the audience in a very real and personal way.

  11. Actually “He Remembers To Forget” was on their “Somethings Happening” album… 🙂

  12. And I agree The Perry’s have had the strongest set of the night, I don’t see anyone topping them.

    • Well, it isn’t over till it’s over, and don’t count out the Collingsworths from blowing everyone away – but even so, that was just one of those special moments, and I’d have to agree that it will probably be the moment of the night.

      • Well, the Collinsworth’s did blow things away. Phil Jr has really blossomed. Fantastic stuff.

  13. I really like “Peter James, and John” Gold City really needs to get that new album out whether West is leaving or not…

    • Preach it, brother!

      They need new material, and there’s some stellar new material on there!

      • I wish they would offer it in a box set with the different versions (or at least downloads of the versions with other members). They could make extra money and recoup some of the investment in all the re-recording and give the fans some cool stuff. I mean we have waited around a year from the time it was supposed to be released to get the stuff.

  14. Well Daniel just stated from stage that the new Album would be out in a couple of weeks. I don’t think he would say that if they were going to put it off again (as some were saying)

    • When I heard them recently they said they had worked on it for a long time and it would hopefully be out soon.

  15. So why don’t you all ask Danny and see if Craig is leaving?

    • I may do exactly that tomorrow night.

  16. On Gold City: I said this on another blog, but I don’t know that this stuff about Craig West leaving isn’t just a rumor started by GC skeptics who are still mad about all the changes that have happened since Jonathan Wilburn’s departure. I suppose we will see, though; if it is true, what a big blow to the group. West is a phenomenal talent. I really liked his solo on “Where Is God?” tonight.

    • It’s true.

  17. I thought Gold City’s set was the second best set so far (after the Perrys). I’m dissapointed that the new cd will not be available this week. It was number one on my NQC wish list.

  18. I believe Phil Collingsworth may be one of the very best Emcees in Southern Gospel.

    • He has grown into it; he wasn’t eight or ten years ago. But he is certainly on on his way there now, at the very least.

      • You should have heard him 20 years ago. 🙂

    • Hmm…can’t agree there. I thought he looked rather awkward on the webcast.

      • Different strokes for different folks, I guess! 🙂

      • Their set was outstanding in terms of the songs they sang. I’m just surprised Nate noted his emcee work as a highlight amongst all that stellar musical talent.

      • Oh I thought he did a great job emceeing… And I thought their set was probably the best of the night musically. “At Calvary” was STELLAR.

  19. Oh, and for those who are wondering—yes, in some of the sets tonight, I have been doing my best to get the post updated with the song title before the vocals even start. 😛

    • You are the greatest!

  20. Collingsworth have my vote for set of the night..

    Wow…

    • They are always this good. The only reason I might go with the Perrys, by a slight edge, is that they were as excellent as they usually are, and then some. 🙂

    • Unfortunately, I missed their set

  21. BFA have great songs and a great sound…they are consistent…great stuff

  22. What is cool, is I believe “Plan of Salvation” was the song George insisted on singing after he put the fleece out that if he couldn’t sing it, he would quit singing and find something else to do (after his health problems).

    • That is neat!

      I do know that it was the first song he sang in the first concert back with them, after his absence.

  23. I have to admit that Tracy Stuffle is one of my favorite vocalists (not just bass singer) in Southern Gospel just for one reason alone: His heart’s ability to connect with the audience.

    Sometimes, it’s not the matter of how high a tenor can sing, or in Tracy’s case, how low a bass singer can go. Sometimes all it takes is a willing heart that wants God to minister through. Kinda reminds me of an old saying that my old pastor had: God doesn’t call the Perfect…..He calls the Willing.

  24. By the way, are you going to bring an Erhler’s butter pecan cone of ice cream back to North Carolina for me? I appreciate it!

    LOL

    • 🙂 It’s still September; it wouldn’t survive the trip in that heat!

  25. I wrote down thoughts as I watched the cast but didn’t publish them all on my blog until this morning. I should probably start doing it this way instead…

    By the way, please someone confirm: A friend just got a message from tech support that there will be NO video on demand until after the ENTIRE week. This doesn’t seem to line up with what a moderator said in chat. Also I couldn’t get a clear answer as to whether we’ll see afternoon showcases on the cast. I’m already resigned to the fact that I won’t be able to blog about the GVB Reunion since it’s right on top of class time, but I’d like to see it SOME time.

    • Last year, it was available, rolling throughout the week, but that may have changed this year. Last year, the showcases were streamed live, but that may have changed this year.

  26. Thanks so much for the reviews I really enjoy reading them!

  27. In regard to Triumphant’s set…did you mean “Someone Died For Me” rather than “Someone Had To Die”? Just curious.

  28. Thank you for the in-depth review. I really enjoyed reading it.

    Quick question: Does Kim Ryan White have the typical Thursday-Saturday cameras all week? The feed seemed much higher quality than normal.

    • Not sure. Kim, by the way, isn’t the #1 person in charge of video feed – at least as of last year – but she’s one of the higher-ups, and she’s certainly the one in the video trailer who knows the genre, the artists, and what to look for / prepare for / focus on.

  29. I thought last night was good…I really enjoyed the Perry’s, Tim Riley is without question the dominate bass in the industry (as he has been for sometime)…but I also really enjoyed hearing Claude Hopper sing “If I can help somebody”…after singing for 54 years…just thought that was good!

  30. ON DEMAND is up. Just go to main webcast page, and click On Demand

  31. I was there. Was relatively pleased. Still miss Monday being “male quartet night.” Perhaps others do too…that was the smallest Monday night crowd I’ve ever seen. Sign of the times or wake-up call for Clarke?

    • Was this the first year that Monday was not male quartet night?

      • No, it’s been this way for about 3 years. They went away from it 5 years ago, came back a year, then it’s been mixed for the last 3, with steadily decreasing crowds I’ve noticed.

  32. Finally watching some of the video on demand that I missed earlier. You are right that Doyle Lawson’s set is much better this year. It looks like an entirely different group aside from Doyle, which could have something to do with it.

    I like the drums. I’m sure bluegrass purists don’t.

    • Not entirely different – the fiddle player is the same, the drummer was on a different instrument, and I think the dobro player was there. The guitarist/lead singer and the banjo player are new. Not sure about the bass player/tenor; he’s kinda new.

      That said, the new guitarist is kind of the anchor of their vocal sound, so it would seem that way!

  33. WE were watching Jeff Sikes play the hallelujah chorus and were so blessed. How do we find out more about his life.