NQC 2008: Day 6
Day 6 got off to a strong start with the Parade of Pianos, hosted (as it was last year) by Gerald Wolfe. This year, perhaps due to Dino having his own showcase, most of the pianists (Josh Simpson, Roy Webb, Stan Whitmire, Janet and Sharon Hayes, and Tim Parton) played two songs. Channing Eleton, Jeff Stice, and Gerald Wolfe each played one (though Stice’s was an extended medley of several songs).
As always, there were several strong performances. Tim Parton’s rendition of “Wonderful Grace of Jesus” and Stewart Varnado’s “Just a Little While” seemed to go over particularly well. But the “moment” of the afternoon was Lari Goss playing “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” Gerald Wolfe took several minutes to set it up, and Lari took several minutes afterwards giving a testimony of how he had been healed from cancer. Even without the compelling personal storyline, the song would still have been the highlight of the afternoon; Goss used the orchestration from Greater Vision’s Hymns of the Ages project and was joined by the trio singing the last verse or two of the song. (For a second time this week, I found myself thinking that if Greater Vision had to pick any project to tape new vocals with the current lineup, Hymns of the Ages would be the one to do.)
A pre-Fan Awards program featured one song each from four groups, two talent contest winners and two groups that did a particularly good job in the artist spotlight showcases. The talent contest winners were Desiree-Jones, who sang “In Your Tabernacle,” and the Taylors, a brother-sister quartet from North Carolina. The two artists that the board deemed to have done a particularly good job in the showcases were Liberty Quartet and the Needhams. Liberty Quartet nailed a rendition of “I’m His,” featuring their tenor singer, Keith Waggoner. The Needhams delivered a well-arranged version of “Behold The Lamb.”
Singing News has posted a list of their Fan Awards winners, so it would be rather redundant to reproduce that list. A few general observations: It was a Booth Brothers sweep, to the point that they even won “Song of the Year” for a 35-year-old song they had recorded seven years ago and singled to radio to fill a gap between mainline releases. Mistake me not, “Look for Me” is a great song, and worthy of a Song of the Year award, but the 1974 award would have been about perfect.
Other than the Booth Brothers sweep, this year’s Fan Awards seemed to be rather predictable (results here). Ivan Parker won soloist, Rodney Griffin won Songwriter, the Hoppers won Mixed Group, Kim Hopper won Soprano and Female Singer, et cetera. There were few if any surprises. Jeff Stice was widely expected to win pianist, though there was some thought that if anyone else won, it might be Kim Collingsworth (edit: not Hopper, as I originally wrote!) Jeremy Lile was more or less expected to win Horizon Individual. (Speaking of Horizon Individuals, as an aside: Jacob Kitson will be next year’s Horizon Individual. Just watch.) The young artist seemed to be one of the more open categories, but a friend I was talking with before the Fan Awards was right on with his prediction that the Perrys’ onstage charisma combined with the Trammell name would have Nick be picked.
A side note: I talked with Danny Jones after the set, and asked about the success of making the online ballot available. He indicated that online ballots did form a significant part of the submissions, and the thinking seems to be towards keeping both forms available.
I stayed for the Talley Trio’s set; they sang, among other songs, “Winds of this World,” “Too Much to Gain to Lose,” “Orphans of God,” and “Testify.” After their set, I spent most of the rest of the evening in the hall, helping tear down booths and bidding farewell to quite a few friends I only see once a year at NQC. Via the live video feed, I did notice particularly strong sets from the Kingsmen and the Hoppers; in fact, the Hoppers’ set was so strong that after watching part of “Grace was Greater Than Sin,” I headed to the hall to catch the rest of the song and their finale, “Shoutin’ Time.”
It was an amazing week. The highlights are too many to recount. The evening mainstage performances are only part of the experience–perhaps even a small part. You can meet artists after concerts, but with the long hours the exhibit hall is open, NQC provides a unique opportunity for those willing to wait around an artists’ booth for a slow time to have exended conversations.
Groups put together their best NQC specials, and several tables always have old records, CDs, and tapes, sometimes at bargain prices. Just as an example, on Saturday night, an hour or so before all the booths were torn down, I found that someone who was selling 5 records for $10 earlier in the week was selling 20 for $20.
Artist spotlight showcases in the afternoons provide the opportunity to discover some of Southern Gospel’s next big acts.
There are always a few showcases, like Pianorama, that are only possible at NQC.
Words can’t quite capture exactly what it’s like to be there. It’s just something that has to be experienced to be understood.