Home Free: Roger Bennett

The chills are going up and down my spine and I cannot believe my eyes. A few seconds ago, I opened an email from the Singing News which said that Roger Bennett just passed away. I simply cannot believe that this has really happened.

When he joined the Cathedral Quartet as a young kid in 1979 or 1980, nobody dreamed that he would be the first to join George and Glen in glory. But what a homecoming they must be having right now…

I just started playing his solo on Legacy Five’s song “Home Free.” That song is
now more poignant than ever, and expresses my feelings more than anything I could say.

Home free, eventually
At the ultimate healing we will be home free
Home free, oh, I’ve got a feeling
At the ultimate healing we will be home free

UPDATE: Debbie Bennett has posted an update to Roger’s blog. What really got to me about this post is that she quoted “Home Free,” too.

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7 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. Of the 3700 or so songs on my iRiver portable audio device, Legacy Five’s “Home Free” came up at random twice this past week, including once last night. I was in the car a couple of hours yesterday and had it limited to the Southern Gospel genre, but that’s still 69 hours of music.

  2. Even though we realilzed that Roger’s death was a very real possibility, it’s still hard that it has finally happened. He will be sorely missed by so many people. He was a great inspiration as a person and incredibly talented as a musician.

  3. We are very sad that one of our most beloved “Favorite Son’s” of Arkansas has left us at such a young age. Our lives were greatly enriched by
    his talent and his “mighty spirit”. Hundreds of Pastors will speak his name in Arkansas churches tomorrow…
    thousands of us will be praying for his family.
    Thank you Daniel for your touching tribute.

    PJ / The Prophets

  4. I can relate so well to the feeling of disbelief that you expressed in the post. The other song that I keep playing is the one that Roger wrote, “We Are Home”

    Laughing like children at the foot of the throne
    Praising the Savior Who brought us safe home
    Raising and adoring His everblest name
    The great Lamb of Calvary forever the same!

    We are home, safely home……

    Thanks for your comments. He truly was a hero to me.

  5. Daniel,

    Those words to “Home Free” could never be more true. It caught me completely offguard when I opened up my e-mail from Ernie Haase and read of his passing.

    This has been a rough few years for Southern Gospel as it has lost way too many legends from the past and the present. Right now I can just hear that Heavenly Choir with one more voice to add to those who have gone on in recent years.

    If I may offer a Thank you to Debbie and the Bennett family, Thank you for sharing Roger with the Southern Gospel community and just remember that we all love you and you will always be in our thoughts.

    In Him,

    Jerry Butler

  6. Several years ago, the radio station I was working at sponsored and promoted a concert with the Cathedrals. It was their farewell tour, and we knew it would be a sell-out. The concert was held at what was then Temple Baptist Church, in Redford, a suburb of Detroit. Every seat in that 38-hundred seat auditorium was filled.
    After the concert, I interviewed members of the group. We sat on their tour bus and talked and laughed. Then, Roger asked me a few questions. I told him about my wife, Vanessa, who was suffering with multiple sclerosis. Tears began to flow from Roger’s eyes and down his cheeks. We both cried. We prayed together.

    On August 13, 2005, the Lord called her home. She no longer needs a wheelchair or a walker or a cane. She is running on streets of gold.

    And Roger Bennett is playing a beautiful Steinway. And Anthony Burger is there, and Glenn Payne and George Younce.
    And the music is simply heavenly!!

  7. I was in a Navy school in 2002 when my wife and I saw Legacy Five and Greater Vision at Shadow Mountain. They were filming a DVD and when Roger mentioned Strawberry Arkansas (My wife and I are from Newark) I whistled as loud as I could and she yelled. He stopped and was surpised that anyone would know about Strawberry. At the break the three of us talked for a good ten minutes, you would have thought we were old dear friends. I write this in tears at the news of his death but also I am happy that he is finally “In His Grip” for eternity.


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