Concert Review: Collingsworth Family (Mt. Sterling, OH)
A couple of days ago, when making my preparations for the National Quartet Convention, I noticed that the Collingsworth Family was doing a concert Sunday night in a town about halfway to Louisville. So I decided to tack the concert on to my trip.
This was the fourth or fifth time (Phil Collingsworth didn’t seem to be quite sure) that the Collingsworths had been to the Mt. Sterling First Church of the Nazarene. And whether it was the number of times they had been through the area or just more the group’s growing recognition isn’t quite clear, but there was an excitement in the air that I don’t recall noticing to that level since seeing Signature Sound on their home turf (Akron Baptist Temple in Akron, OH) several years ago.
More specifically, about 75 people were waiting in line to get in by about 15 minutes before the doors opened. By four minutes after the doors opened, I counted 170 people in a sanctuary that would seat about 400. The auditorium was at least half full ten minutes later. Room capacity was probably exceeded, and virtually every seat was taken (except the one next to me–and that reason may have to do with the fact that I was so close to the subwoofer that my foot was literally resting against it for most of the concert. I’m fortunate that there wasn’t a Mike Holcomb or David Hester in the group!).
Several of the Collingsworths were fighting colds or the flu. Olivia (the youngest) was in bad enough shape (with flu and a fever) that she stayed on the bus during the concert; Courtney and Phil Jr. were also under the weather but hung in for a nearly normal number of feature songs.
This was the most socially aware Collingsworth concert I’ve attended. Several references were made to current events, particularly the economic troubles, as several songs off the Collingsworths’ new project (The Answer) were chosen specifically with this in mind.
A set list:
- Tradin’ my Cross for a Crown (the whole family, featuring Brooklyn)
- Holy, Holy, Holy (the whole family, featuring Courtney) — despite her cold, she delivered a particularly strong a capella lead on this classic
- Ever Gentle, Ever Sweet (a ladies’ trio, featuring Courtney and Brooklyn) — this was the first of seven songs from the Collingsworths’ new project that they included in the program. They made the right pick to assign this song to the ladies’ trio of Kim, Brooklyn, and Courtney–the intricate harmonies were particularly pleasing in this setting.
- Come Into His Presence / Shout to the Lord / Trees of the Field (Phil Sr. on trumpet, Kim on piano)
- I Could Never Praise Him Enough (featuring Kim and Brooklyn) — another song from the new project
- Fear Not Tomorrow (ladies’ trio) — Kim mentioned how she had wanted to do this song on their 2005 project God is Faithful, and was voted down. Then she brought it back up for their 2007 project We Still Believe, and was voted down again. This time, when she brought it up for their 2009 project, the family was unanimous that it was the right time for the song. This song was exactly what I needed to hear, and evidently I wasn’t alone, since it received a standing ovation (the first of the night).
- Goodbye, World, Goodbye (piano solo featuring Kim) — another standing ovation
- I Shall Not Be Moved (whole family, featuring Brooklyn) — a third song from their new project. It’s probably the most progressive number the family has done, but did go over well.
- Lily of the Valley (fiddle duet by Brooklyn and Courtney, piano accompaniment by Kim)
- He Looked Beyond my Fault and Saw My Need (violin duet by Brooklyn and Courtney, piano accompaniment by Kim)
- I Know (featuring Phil Jr.) — this was Phil Jr.’s only vocal feature of the night, probably thanks to his cold. It was encored twice. This is a new song by Gerald Crabb, also touching on themes pertinent to the troubled economic climate. Phil Sr. commented, when introducing the song, that Gerald said he had written it especially for the group.
- Jesus is Still the Answer (mixed trio of Brooklyn/Kim/Phil, solos by Phil and Brooklyn) — this was the sixth song from their new project. Kim introduced the song by discussing how they had sung it at a county fair the previous Sunday night (an event, as she mentioned, that she wasn’t particularly keen on attending). It had been the first time they’d sung it publicly. After the Collingsworths sang the song (last night, in Mount Sterling), it received a standing ovation.
- Great is Thy Faithfulness (piano solo featuring Kim) — this is Kim’s new piano solo on The Answer, and they commented that this was the first time she has performed it publicly.
- The Lover’s Waltz (violin duet by Brooklyn and Courtney, piano accompaniment by Kim) — Phil Sr. introduced the song by saying that due to her sickness, Courtney’s voice was pretty much worn out, but her fingers weren’t, so he thought he would call another violin song.
- God is Faithful (mixed trio, featuring Kim)
- Piano Medley: Thank God I am Free / Wonderful Grace of Jesus / Majesty / A Mighty Fortress is Our God (piano solo by Kim Collingsworth) — except for A Mighty Fortress, this was based off of audience requests. I hadn’t heard her play “Wonderful Grace of Jesus” before–that song is particularly worth requesting in the future, as her three chords and a cloud of dust rendition gives the song a unique spin that fits it well.
- Hallelujah Chorus (piano solo featuring Kim) — The audience stood for the song, and there was a prolonged standing ovation at the end.
Even with one member out of commission and two struggling, the Collingsworth Family can put on a program that rivals any other group’s live concert experience with all members in full health. The songs from their new CD are a refreshing addition to their programs and should go over well later this week on the main stage of the National Quartet Convention.