NQC 2009: Five [Ten] groups that should be on the mainstage

This is about the time of year when the directors of the National Quartet Convention start putting together the following year’s mainstage lineup.

They had a great lineup last year. Virtually every group I heard on mainstage belonged there (and I’ll keep my thoughts on the few exceptions to myself).

But there are a couple of groups that I think they would be wise to add this year that weren’t on last year’s lineup. Here’s my top 5 [edit: 10]:

  1. The Collingsworth Family. Each year it gets a little harder to believe that they’re still not on mainstage. Though they did leave a day early for a concert this year, they have been faithful to the fans and the convention, manning a booth for at least the last several years and doing those little two-song sets in the regional artist showcases.
  2. The Chuck Wagon Gang. The rationale is simple. They’ve been there for years, there’s a good chunk of fans that love ’em, and their sound is unique. They don’t sound like anyone else on the program, and some variety is nice.
  3. N’Harmony. I’ve heard rumors about a one-year-rule, that groups have to be going for at least a year before they’ll get an invitation to the mainstage. The group had formed several months before NQC, though their first concert wasn’t until a little while afterwards. This group’s sound is solid and they are worthy of a mainstage spot.
  4. The Blackwood Brothers. Even if you set aside the fact that this is the group that started the convention, this group is worth giving at least one slot on their own merits. Jimmy Blackwood has built a group with the classic Blackwoods sound, anchored around a voice which sounds so much like his father James Blackwood’s voice that hearing them is almost like stepping back in time. Plus, they are one of a very few groups to do the two-microphone gig (the Dixie Echoes being the only other major group that comes to mind). It’s rare enough that it sets them apart.
  5. Liberty Quartet. They did so well in the showcases this past year that they got an invitation to do a song on the mainstage Saturday night before the Fan Awards. This year, I’d love to see them get a direct invitation.
  6. The Ball Brothers. I simply can’t believe that I forgot the Ball Brothers and the rest of these five.
  7. Old Paths Quartet. They stand a serious chance of being one of the new hottest groups around. Especially with their live band.
  8. Diplomats.
  9. Weatherfords. Even if their past wasn’t enough, they are good enough now that they’re worthy of mainstage on their own merits.
  10. The Melody Boys Quartet.

The danger of listing only 5 is that there a number of other worthy groups that I didn’t name. I would agree that many of them are deserving of getting at least one set in the mainstage. So…who are your top 5?

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24 Letters to the Editor

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  1. 1) The Old Paths Qt – one of the best quartets out there.
    2) Crabb Revival- they may be a lil’ “progressive” for some, but they are awesome

    i’ll have to think on 3-5 at a later time

  2. The biggest omission this year, and would be another one next year if they let them go ANOTHER year off, is Mike & Kelly Bowling.

    Come on – they sell well, two #1 songs with a third on the way, and a rich history in the genre.

  3. I agree that the Old Paths one of the top quartets going right now. They are awesome.

    IMO, there is no excuse not to have the Old Paths and Mike & Kelly Bowling on the main stage.

    The history of the Blackwood Brothers alone should get them on stage. (The same could probably be said about the Chuck Wagon Gang… but man, they are just not my style.)

  4. my top 5 is as follows:

    1. the diplomats
    2. the collingsworth family
    3. driven qt
    4. mike and kelly bowling
    5. the ball brothers

  5. The Melody Boys Quartet were at the first NQC, and continue to sing today. With the exception of a few years as a semi-professional quartet, they’ve been an on-going quartet since 1949.

    Although the group isn’t much for self-promotion, their Hall of Fame bass singer Gerald Williams has been singing gospel music on a professional basis for more than fifty years. Even though Mr. Williams is in his 70s, he’s still one of the finest bass singers on the road today.

    I can’t imagine how anyone could leave them off the main stage at the National Quartet Convention.

  6. By the way, I’m not being cynical with the above post!

  7. I’d been wondering! Thanks for the clarification.

  8. I think Mike & Kelly Bowling, for sure….
    We went this year 08, & couldn’t beleive they were not in the line-up….

  9. Of course, my vote also goes for Gerald Williams and The Melody Boys Quartet of Little Rock, AR. 2009 is Gerald’s 60th consecutive year in the professional “Quartet World”. I truly hope the NQC Board will once again bring Gerald Williams and TMBQ to the main stage in 2009!!

  10. Gayla, somehow I just knew who your #1 would be. 😉

    Who would be your #2-#5?

  11. Thanks Daniel,
    I apologize I forgot to state my other choices. I am rather emphatic about TMBQ!

    1.Gerald Williams and The Melody Boys Quartet
    2. Lily Fern and the Weatherfords
    3.Chuck Wagon Gang
    4.Blackwood Brothers
    5.Palmetto State Quartet

  12. I can’t believe I forgot the Weatherfords! 😮

    And here I interviewed Cody Boyer mere weeks ago… 😕

    All right, this post is up for another edit. 😆

  13. Without doubt the Collingsworth family should be on featured on the main stage. Some of the groups I heard on the mainstage this year left a lot to be desired. The Collingsworth family are first class and one of the most talented gospel groups on the road today. It is a shame the NQC powers that be don’t get it! The Collingsworth family sang at our church in Illinois a couple weeks ago and the crowd loved them.

    I totally agree that the Liberty Quartet should also be featured. I admit to bias but they are one of the most under rated groups in the business. They have both the class and sound that remind you of the Cathedrals.

    I hope the NQC board comes to realize that legacy doesn’t necessarily equal quality. They need to freshen up the mainstage.

  14. I think the group that I would like to see is King’s Heralds – I just love the blend of their voices. I know they sing off to the side at times, but I think they deserve a whole set. As for 2-5, any of those mentioned above would be fine.

  15. definitely the Collingsworth Family. Then maybe The Rochesters???? they are tremendous.

  16. My Top 5 (in no necessary order)

    1. Melody Boys
    2. Chuck Wagon Gang
    3. Blackwood Brothers
    4. Weatherfords
    5. Diplomats

    The fact that the first 4 were not on the main stage of convention this year is simply a travesty.

    The Diplomats have certainly proven themselves as not just a good singing group, but as fantastic stage performers. They steal the show from many of southern gospel’s so-called “main line” acts.

    I could name about 3 or 4 of the one-shot groups that I was not impressed with, and sadly enough, I can name several 2 and 3 night artists that were just simply not that good. The talent would be there, but the quality would not.

  17. I’m really not sure it’s any of my business to tell the NQC what to do…but, hey, I’ll play along!

    1. Liberty Quartet-the West’s finest quartet and based on their most recent work, they’ve earned it!
    2. Old Paths-a fine quartet that has likewise earned it’s shot.
    3. Melody Boys Quartet-I’m with JTC, ABK, and Gayla on this one. Not just for heritage’s sake, but their current lineup is versatile enough to sing anything!
    4. The Blackwood Brothers-let’s face it, the name belongs…and so does this version of the quartet.
    5. Dave, Duane, and Neil-Granted, not likely to appear under the current situation, but only someone with tin ears would disagree that these living legends deserve to be there!

  18. 1. The new Melody Boys QUartet “Destination Heaven” is a CD that I just can’t stop listening to – for about 4 weeks now. I listen to almost all new CD’s but this one is truly wonderful and I’ve told Gerald that. Besides being a Hall of Fame member, Gerald is the most ‘real’ and kind man of integrity that I’ve ever met and I’m honored to call him friend. Bring this historic group back to NQC!
    2. Liberty Quartet deserves to be given the honor of the main stage. They have a ministry and a presence that draws people in to hear the Gospel. They have “arrived” in my opinion with their new CD “Amazed”. Between the MBQ and Liberty that is all I listen to – just ask my son!! He’s sick of them both my now. 🙂
    3. The Weatherford’s for sure deserve a spot. There’s not a sweeter lady than Lily Fern and she is a walking history of SG music!
    4. The Chuck Wagon Gang has a unique sound that leaves no one wondering who is singing and I love their stlye.
    5. For #5 I’ll pick N’ Hrmony. I just like their music.
    Just one last comment. There is so much more to a group than fancy moves and loud music but that is what seems to get the attention. Gerald, Royce, and Lily Fern are examples of what is still right with this music – the official music of Heaven!

  19. I’d love to see the Collingsworth Family, Mike & Kelly Bowling, Eighth Day, Hinsons, and the Dills on mainstage. These are groups that have had major success in their careers…and need to have some space in the evening lineup for a mainstage slot. I’d like to see Crabb Revival or Aaron & Amanda Crabb on mainstage as well.

  20. 1. Mike and Kelly Bowling
    2. Collingsworth Family
    3. Three Bridges
    4. Melody Boys
    5. Blackwood Brothers
    6. Chuck Wagon Gang
    7. Palmetto State Quartet
    8. Diplomats
    9. Old Paths
    10.Liberty Quartet

    This is my top ten in order. I agree with what everyone else has said so far, and I named many of the same groups. I think the only new group I added that no one has mentioned yet is Three Bridges. I know many consider them to be to “progressive”, but I love their sound. I also got to meet them at NQC, and they were really great to talk to. They have had several number 1 songs, their new CD is awesome, and I hope thay start to get more recognition soon.

  21. Andrew, I agree, the Hinsons should be back on the stage.

  22. Another excellent quartet of the week was Paul’s Journey. I am seriously looking for these guys to do amazing things in the coming future. They have had great chart action, and have a super new project “Transition” out right now.


  23. 1) Definitely the Collingsworth family. why exactly are they not already on mainstage???

    2) How about Mercy’s Well? they are a very “current” sounding group without being super progressive. Their latest personnel change has really taken them up a level as well.

    3) The Ball Brothers – they are also very current. and unique in the sense that they are a 3-part singing quartet.

    4) not trying to repeat, but I think mike and kelly bowling are fantastic. would love to see them on mainstage next year.

    5) The anchormen. all very young but talented singers – especially paul harkey the bass singer. he is an outstanding bass singer – one of the best in my opinion.

    those are my top 5 picks:)

    may God bless!

  24. Most all these listed would be a great addition to the main stage. One group that I did not see on here was Southern Sound. Have you heard these guys? Probably the best vocals and vocal blend that I’ve heard in a while.

    On a different note, why not have some of the groups that performed 3 – 4 times this week only perform, let’s say, twice at the most. This would free up spots for those that were left out. I know the board members groups will sing as often as they want, but let’s make this right.