Southern Gospel’s best Live Moments: Nominations

What were Southern Gospel’s best live moments? Whether musical or comedic, what were impromptu moments, unexpected (at least on the part of the audience), that epitomize the best of this genre?

I’ve considered making a list for some time,  but (thanks to the advice of a wise friend) decided that it would be more interesting if I got your input first.

Especially focus on moments that are known to a decent circle of Southern Gospel fans, whether it was at a concert such as the NQC where may SG fans were in attendance, or whether it made its way onto a live recording.

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49 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Although I don’t know specifically what they were laughing at, one such moment must be the live performance of Gold City singing “Ezekial Saw The Wheel.” This goes back many years, but I have heard others discuss it, also wondering what the subject of the audience laughter was. Anyone know?

    • I Remember seeing them back in the 80’s. I am not sure if it was the song you mentioned but it could have been. The bass singer was acting silly when he was singing. If you can find a video of it watch the bass singer to see if that was it.

  2. It was about 15 years ago at the Quartet Convention. Teddy Huffam & The Gems performed for what I believe was their last at the Convention. The set started out sort of normal but with each song the excitement increased. By the time the finished with their well-known version of “Gone” the place was going wild. One thing I specifically remember was how the stagehands were going crazy. They were jumping, smiling and clapping, unlike their response to other groups. In my almost 40 years of concert attendance, this moments sticks out in my mind above all others.

  3. I think the passing of the torch from the older generation to the newer generation at NQC last year was very touching.

  4. “Nudge the person sitting next to you and say “you ain’t making fun of me are you?”…and if you think they are…tell’em that’s alright …you can call me anything you want to for serving the Lord but when Jesus calls me you can call me gone…”
    (Done from memory so it may be a little off – but it’s close)

    -Ronnie Hinson introducing “Call Me Gone” on The Hinson’s Live album “Lift the Roof Off”

  5. Glen Payne’s call-in to NQC 1999 should be considered for your list.

    J.D.’s rendition of “He Means All the World to Me” on the Blackwood Brother’s On Stage album would head my list. He was sliding down to the bottom of the scale, a baby cried, and J.D. said “bless his heart”. Then, after the song, he attributed it to Big Chief.

  6. I rolled in the aisle at NQC 2007 when Dino was talking about the kind of music being highlighted at the convention. Dino asked, “what do you call this kind of music….country?” to which Gerald Wolfe very dryly responded….”SOUTHERN GOSPEL.” The fans went crazy. Only Gerald could have pulled this off so well!!!

  7. Gold City’s performance of “After I Bow” on Double Take. One of the most powerful concert moments ever captured.

    It isn’t a “best”, but one of the most famous is the encore of “Boundless Love” on the Travelin’ Live video by the Cathedrals where they all start singing different verses. Even the mighty Cats were human.

    The medley of hymns from the Statesmen “On Stage”, and the Statesmen singing “Old Country Church” with the Blackwood Brothers on the BB album “On Tour”. Both are classic moments.

    Sherman Andrus taking the lead on “Oh Happy Day” from the Imperials 1973 live album. Wow. Just wow.

    “Saints Will Rise” by the Kingsmen. Enough said.

  8. Good suggestions!

  9. To comment #7.

    I have in my possession an EP (Extended Play) 45rpm record (six songs) of Dino and the Gospel group he sang and played for in the 1950s. He’s not ignorant of the Southern Gospel crowd. He’s just acting.

    But your story is truly a “Gotcha” exchange.

  10. I hope that makes the cut onto the Pianorama DVD.

    By the way, one of my personal favorites is one I heard on Solid Gospel’s live coverage of the 2004 NQC, which was the first NQC I heard. Roger Bennett closed Legacy Five’s Saturday night set with a testimony and a powerful rendition of “Whispers in the Night.” They got a prolonged standing ovation. Signature Sound was up next. Instead of starting with “Happy Rhythm,” which is what I think they had planned, Ernie Haase called Legacy Five back on stage and did “Oh What a Savior” with Scott and Roger. I think it may have been the only time (at least at NQC) where Ernie, Scott, and Roger performed together after the Cathedrals retired.

    I also like the moment on Brian Free & Assurance’s Live in NYC project where Brian Free asks if any Floridians were present. 🙂

  11. There are so many to choose from…

    The Kingsmen from Live Naturally with Little Ernie singing “Love Lifted Me”

    JD Sumner calling Michael English on stage at NQC with The Stamps after some of his personal problems.

    Gaither video moment when Mark Lowry goes through his whole routine and then an audience member jumps in and steals the show. Mark never misses a beat. He ends up imitating Jake Hess with Jake standing there loving every minute of it.

  12. #3: Man, that was incredible! I loved it!

    #8: I believe that is on L5’s Live At NQC video, the first one featuring Frank Seamans on tenor.

    Now for mine: on L5’s Live In Music City album/video when they encored “I Have Been Changed.” Every time they sang “All” with each part coming in after another, the audience roared with increased volume. That was incredible!

  13. Every one of those suggestions is great! I haven’t heard “After I Bow” yet, but I’m hoping to find that GC project one of these days.

  14. Nothing like seeing the look on Libbi Stuffle’s face when she won Favorite Alto and Favorite Female Artist on the same night!

    The Dove Brothers singing “Get Away Jordan” at NQC 2005 and McCray Dove launched right off the stage!

    The Inspirations at NQC all-of-the-sudden jumping up and pouncing on Tim Lovelace (who was emceeing and making fun of spiked hair) and gelling him up good! The funniest thing was that it was the Inspirations – the anti-spike stereotypes. 🙂

  15. Another good NQC moment is the presentation of flowers to the Speers at NQC ’98 by many other artists. A touching and very fitting tribute.

  16. One of my favorites is JD’s introduction of Hovie Lister from the _Live At The Joyful Noise_ album by the Master’s V.

    Then there’s “Old Ship Of Zion” by the Kingsmen.

  17. Yes, come to think of it, it is. But didn’t they cut out before Ernie Haase came on stage and they sang “Oh What a Savior” together?

  18. Those were neat! That reminds me of another great moment, when the Perrys won mixed group of the year for the first time; I saw the video clip of that (they’d posted it on their website for a while), and it was quite a moment.

  19. #14: Yes. That’s a shame; I would have liked to see it.

  20. Yes. Aaron, #13!!! I was there and it WAS incredible. In fact, that whole weekend was wonderful!!

  21. Amen!

  22. I LOVE the end of the Cathedral’s farewell video with the Oaks and the Statlers doing “I’ll Have a New Home/Everybody Will Be Happy.”

    I also think that JD Sumner inviting Michael English onstage to sing “I Bowed On My Knees” should be on there, as well as Glen Payne’s phone-in performance of “I Won’t Have To Cross Jordan Alone” (THAT should be number one!).

  23. George Younce last appearance on the stage at NQC sitting in a chair with Bill Gaither and some of the Homecoming Friends.

    Every story that Gerald Wolfe tells is an highlight. (Those southerners are crazy hoping for snow these days)

    On a personal note, I have highlight that I will never forget.
    One of Gaither Homecoming concert in Fairfax, VA during the Homecoming session, one of the artists was singing “Til the Storm Passeth By.”
    Ben Speer was next to a screen just off the stage.
    He twisted the screen around so Marc Speer, sitting on the same end of the stage, can see Allison Durham Speer with Brock Speer.

  24. When Roy Acuff introduced the Kingsmen as the Statesmen on the album that they recorded live in Nashville.
    It took a lot of class and a good sense of humor for him to allow them to run that uncut on the album.

  25. Both Glen and George’s last NQC performances were incrediable. Listen very closley to the NQC 2004 CD. You may have to hook up a compressor into your audio system and tweak it’s settings, but you can actually hear in the background Ernie saying “Get a chair”. You’ll hear the chair when it hits the stage floor also. The background audio really enhances the experience of hearing George do “Suppertime”.

    As for other live moments…

    My all time favorite is hearing the Kingsmen’s rendition of “The Judgement” on the 1990 recording “Live In Dayton”. There’s one word to describe it……POWERFULL!!!!!!!!

    a Singing Americans live cut of “I Bowed On My Knees”. I can’t recall the name of the album now, but if I remember, it came out in either 1986 or 87.

    Jim Hamill introducing “The Little Giant” Ernie Phillips on “Chatanooga Live” , then Ernie singing “We Do Not Die”.
    I love Jim’s line about calling Ernie on the phone in the generall store of Coolridge, WVA. And seeing Ernie use a stepstool to get out of the car.
    Jim sure knew how to set up an intro.

    Glenn Payne singing “The Prodical Son” on “Live With The Cathedral Quartet”. Glenn gets excited while testifing, and George says something in the background like “Yeah, come unbuckeled”.

    Again, the Cathedrals. This time they sang back to back “I’m Getting Ready To Leave This World” , “I’ll Have A New Life” , and “Everybody Will Be Happy” on “Live In Concert”.

    The Perrys singing “I Rest My Case At The Cross” at the First Luthran Church in Shelby, Ohio on October 6th. What had been up to that point a reserved audience “exploded” with excitement during the line “Every Time I’m In Troublded, My Case Will Be Heard”, and through the rest of the song. After that the Perrys went straight into ” I Wish I Could Have Been There”. That was great!

    Gold City singing “I’ll Say Thanks” on their “Walk The Talk Live” video. They raised the roof with that, and “God Handeled It All”.

    Kingsmen doing “When I Wake Up” on “Big And Live” (?????). It’s been awhile since I’ve heard it, but I think that I counted 3 or 4 reprises. The Inspirations had a simillar experience with that song on “Warner Robins Live”.

    The Gaither Homecomming video “Live In London”. A day or two before the taping, Rex Nelon had passed away. The GVB sang “The Old Rugged Cross Made The Difference” in his memory.

    I could go on and on and on. There’s just too many to remember and list at one time.

  26. JimT,
    Tim Riley was doing severall comical facial expressions during the live recording of “Ezekiel Saw The Wheel”. If you want to see some commentary about it, purchase or borrow a copy of Gold City’s compilation “24K Gold”. The CD was packaged with a bonus CD-Rom, on which Tim is describing and showing what he was doing during that live performance. I think that it was at 1982’s NQC.

  27. Yes, that’s right Daniel. I forgot about that.

  28. Quaid, the Perrys concert you referred to was incredible. (I was there, too.) I would add, though, that the audience was pretty excited (and responded with a prolonged standing ovation) after their acapella encore of “Who am I” earlier in the program.

    But the moment you referred to definitely brought the concert to a dramatic and big end.

  29. #27: There’s a video on Youtube of Gold City doing that song. I couldn’t hear any audience laughter, but Tim’s facial expressions had me rolling!

  30. But I’d have to agree with your main point–the conclusion to the concert was one of the most powerful concert moments I’ve experienced.

    If I had any doubts that Joseph Habedank was good enough to be the lead singer for a group of this stature (and I didn’t), this concert would have erased them.

  31. Re #30.
    I thought some of you may want to see Tim’s facial expressions which caused the laughter on the “Live” LP.

    Dean Adkins

  32. #31: I thought that may have had something do to with it. I said to myself, “Man, we were just talking about that over at Daniel’s blog today! Wild coincidence!”

  33. Some more live moments…..
    A Cathedrals’ performance of “Hide Thou Me”. I don’t know what record it came off of. But it’s piano and 4 vocals. Bobby Clark does an excallent lead.
    But the best version of “Hide Thou Me” that I have heard came from the Dixie Melody Boys, featuring Dan Keeton. I’ve heard the DMB’s sing it live twice, what a joy that was!

    The Happy Goodmans singing on the “Live In Texas” DVD rereleased last year. Hilights are “How Much More”, “Looking For A City” (Johnny went way higher than Vestal), “I Was Nothing”, (another great Johnny feature), and especially “Living In Cannan”. During the tag Howard joins Eddie Crook on the piano, and he flies off those keys.

    The NQC Hilights Volume 2 DVD.
    The Talley Trio gave a commanding performance of “His Life For Mine”.
    Dixie Melody Boys’ do great with “When I Cross To The Other Side Of Jordan”. You’d never know that they sang at 11:30 that evenning by how good the performance was. ( I stayed up and listened to the broadcast live on radio) Dan soars high on the end, but never became shrill. He’s amazing.

    Of course, the Doves really built up the excitement with this cut of “Didn’t It Rain”. They came on right after the Dixie Melody Boys that particular night. They were still getting encores after midnight as the live broadcast was being cut off.

  34. #33: I believe the Cathedrals version of “Hide Thou Me” that you’re talking about is on their live “Reunion” project. Bobby blew the roof off of it!

  35. Aaron, you’re right–they did record it on that project.

  36. Glen Payne’s live call-in to NQC

    JD and the baby cry

    The reunion of the Original Cathedrals at the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion

  37. Thaks, Quaid, for the information about Tim Riley and “Ezekial Saw the Wheel.” I have the 24K Gold bt never took time to watch the DVD. I guess I’ll have to.

  38. The whole Cathedrals “Reunion” CD/video can quallify for this list. To name a few…..

    Kirk Talley’s performances of “I Know A Man Who Can”, and “Sweet Hour Of Prayer”.
    Gerald Wolfe’s rendition of “Champion Of Love” is almost legendary. Think about it, you hardly ever hear the original studio cut from “Symphony Of Praise” on the radio. What you hear is this live version.
    Danny Funderburk singing “Somebody Touched Me”.
    George Webster doing “He Loves Me”.

    I don’t think that this was on that video, and I don’t know what project it was on, but the Cathedrals had a very excited crowd during a live recording of “What A Meeting”.

  39. #38 – “What A Meeting” was on “Camp Meeting Live”

  40. Thanks, Matt.

  41. One that comes to mind is on one of the Gaither Homecoming videos – JD and the organ player.

    But actually all of the Gaither Homecoming videos are special to me because that’s about the only way I’ll see these artists perform. I especially like the tapings including the audience (i.e. Together taping, EHSSQ Get Away Jordan, and the EHSSQ prior to that (their first Gaither video)).

  42. I realize this goes back a long time, but one of the greatest concert moments was “Go Out to the Program” by the Oak Ridge Boys. They would imitate the great groups of the day. It would tear the crowd apart!

  43. Quaid (#25): “I Bowed On My Knees” was on the album Live & Alive by the Singing Americans.

  44. There is a Primitive Qt video from the late 80’s/early 90’s of them singing a song- don’t remember the title off the top of my head, but the theme was “The Only Fire I’ll Ever Feel is Burning in my Heart”… what a moment! The 4th or 5th time they did the chorus, you couldn’t even hear them sing the people were shouting so loud!!!!

  45. Pardon me for cross posting. My name is Mdu Mzimela from South Africa and I have just experinced some lows in my life. I was reminded of music by Teddy Huffam I used to listen to in the 80s. I tried going to the net to order some but I could only find the greatest hits and cookin. Again the exchange rate is a bit heavy for me I ended up spending about 10% of my salary just on gospel cds. If anyone could have music particulary standing room only and souled out i will be blessed. I remember the songs Ï saw God last night and How I love Jesus and I think I need them now.

  46. If anyone here has a legit copy (no bootlegs!) that they are willing to mail to Zambia, post here and I will put you in touch with him.

  47. TEDDY HUFFAM and the Gems lovers. His last live DVD, etc.,
    may be found on my website. In addition, for a listing of
    all of his LP’s that have been released on CD’s please contact
    our office at the above website. Teddy was my mentor and
    co-producer of my first national release in the early 80’s

  48. One of the greatest live songs ever recorded is “Praise God, It’s Settled, I’m Saved” with Nicole Watts-Jenkins. The group does 3-4 encores. Simply incredible.