NQC 2009: Wednesday

A fairly extensive photo gallery is here.

I am typing this post as I wait in line for the Gaither Vocal Band / Ernie Haase & Signature Sound showcase. To get a seat anywhere closer than the nosebleeds, you have to be there over an hour before the doors open–that is to say, two hours before the show starts.

Last night, I spent less time than I wanted in Freedom Hall; however, I did attend several showcases, and, during the time I wasn’t in Freedom Hall, got some fascinating footage for the site.

The first item on the day’s schedule was Bill Gaither’s “World’s Largest Sing-Along.” Probably about 75 artists joined him on stage, and several thousand fans joined in the singing. Different artists would sing solos on the verses of a song. This made sense, since there were no words on a teleprompter or projection screen, at least for the audience, and while audiences typically remember the first verse and chorus of a song, many will not remember second verses.

  • Just a Little While – Josh Garner had an amazing solo on the second verse, and received a standing ovation.
  • I’m Saved, and I know that I Am – McCray Dove sang a solo.
  • Goodbye World Goodbye – Ronny Hinson and Ivan Parker both sang solos. There was a rousing round of applause when Parker stood up.
  • Wait Till You See Me in my new Home – Ben Speer and Devin McGlamery both sang solos. Speer was sitting in front, and there was a round of applause where he started. McGlamery was sitting in or near the back row, and it took several seconds for the fans in several off angles from stage to figure out who it was.
  • When God Dips His Pen – Jessy Dixon started the song, and was joined by Stephen Hill. John Rulapaugh did a verse with a high ending and receiving a standing ovation. He ended up doing several encores, each time getting more solid.
  • He Pilots My Ship – Mike Bowling and Ronny Hinson both had solos.
  • Jesus Hold My Hand – This was sung by a trio of Sheri Easter, Ben Speer, and Wesley Pritchard (I think).
  • I’ll Meet You in the Morning – The Speer sisters (Mary Tom and Rosa Nell) sang the song and received a strong response from the audience. It wasn’t because it was breathtaking musically as much as the audience realized that it may be one of our last opportunities to see those legends.
  • Canaanland is Just in Sight – There was a round of applause when Jason Crabb stood, and he did not disappoint.
  • Give the World a Smile – The entire bass section – led by Tim Riley – was featured on the song; Ben Speer sang the lead lines. Tim Riley provided a depth to the bass section that added a rich texture that enhanced the overall sound of the rest of the Homecoming Choir.
  • Up Above My Head – Ronny Hinson and Ivan Parker started the song, before Gaither cut to a video of George Younce and Jake Hess. More thoughts later.
  • Joy Comes in the Morning – Jeanne Johnson(?) sang the solo on this song. Not too many of the artists knew it–a number of artists who held microphones for the rest of the concert handed their microphones to the few who knew the song.
  • Till The Storm Passes By – Bill Gaither introduced Mosie Lister before featuring Ben Speer on the Lister classic.
  • Rock of Ages – A trio of Charlotte Ritchie, Wesley Pritchard, and someone who is presently slipping my mind (Sheri Easter?) sang the first verse. Then Gaither cut to a video of Vestal Goodman singing the last verse. As with the Younce / Hess video, it sent chills down my spine, and, based on the audience response, probably most of the last of the audience. In fact, the audience response to the video clip was so strong that it would hardly have been any more had Goodman still been alive and delivered the solo in person. Could this be the future of the Homecoming events? As more legends pass on, could we see a higher percentage of video guest apparances? For that matter, might Bill Gaither himself prepare video for such future uses?
  • Sweetest Song I Know – This started with a solo by Howard Goodman. It didn’t get quite the response the first two did, probably because it immediately followed a similar video appearances. TaRanda Greene, Mark Trammell, and Jason Crabb sang later in the song.
  • Sho’ Do Need Him Now – This featured the bass section, particularly Tim Riley, Ronnie Hinson, and Jeff Chapman. Lauren Talley, Kim Hopper, TaRanda Greene, and Charlotte Ritchie were featured for the soprano part.
  • Eastern Gate – Ann Downing was featured.
  • What a Day – Jim Hill, who wrote the song fifty years ago, delivered a rousing rendition of his classic, and received a standing ovation.
  • What a Lovely Name – This featured 11-year-old Logan Smith, a cute little kid who sounds amazingly like Vestal Goodman. He received a standing ovation and had to do an encore or two, which also received standing ovations.
  • Feelin’ Fine – I don’t believe there were any solos on this one.
  • If That Isn’t Love – My memory is slipping on this one, but I seem to think Jeanne Johnson was again featured.
  • Holy Hills – Kim Hopper turned in a solid rendition of this Dottie Rambo classic.
  • What a Meeting – This featured a trio of Frank Seamans, Josh Garner, and Ben Speer. They sounded fantastic together.

One general observation. Where I was sitting was particularly close to the bass section. Dixie Echoes bass Pat Barker was a lot of fun to watch. Though from a quite traditional group himself, he was enthusiastically cheering on singers of every style. He was the first on his feet for the standing ovations, and the first to shout a word of encouragement after a particularly strong solo. Russ Taff, known for being the unofficial Gaither cheerleader, wasn’t there…but after watching Pat, I decided he wasn’t needed.

I caught part of the Inspirations’ and McKameys’ Family and Friends showcase. SouthernGospelBlog.com contributor Sony Elise attended the entire event and sent me a set list. I’ll make comments on the part I caught.

The showcase started with both groups singing “How Beautiful Heaven Must Be.” Then the McKameys sang:

  • Walked on a Little Longer (featuring Peg)
  • The Good News (featuring Sheryl)
  • That’s How I Got Saved (featuring Reuben)
  • You’re Still God (featuring Peg)
  • What Would I Do Without Jesus (Eli, Roger, and Connie)
  • Between 12 and 33 (featuring Peg) – this was when I came in the room; the audience seemed to be really enjoying it.
  • I’ve Made Up My Mind (featuring Cheryl)
  • Do You Know How It Feels?
  • God on the Mountain (featuring Peg) – the song got a very strong response.


  • When I Wake Up to Sleep No More – Mike Holcomb shocked the audience with some rather high lead notes as part of an encore.
  • Dealing with Gold (featuring Dallas Rogers) – Unlike when I saw them a few weeks back, they only did one encore. But the song still got quite a strong response.
  • Stepping on the Clouds
  • How Great it Is (featuring Melton Campbell)
  • It’s Still the Blood (featuring Dallas) – standing ovation and an encore. Very strong performance.
  • I Have Not Forgotten (featuring lead singer David Ragan)
  • The Son Came Down (featuring David and bass singer Mike Holcomb)
  • If You Only Knew (featuring Mike)
  • Thank God I’ve Made It (featuring Dallas)

The McKameys and the Inspirations closed the showcase singing “I’ve Got My Mind Made Up” together.

I made it over to Freedom Hall in time to catch the two Kims, Kim Collingsworth and Kim Hopper, do “Blessed Assurance” together. (Kim C. played piano and Kim H. sang.)

The Collingsworth Family, in their first main stage appearance ever, performed four songs. They started with “Not the Same,” featuring oldest daughter Brooklyn. Then a ladies trio of Kim and daughters Brooklyn and Courtney sang a song off their brand new project, The Answer, “Fear Not Tomorrow.” This song received a standing ovation. Then Brooklyn and Courtney did a violin duet, “No One Cared For Me Like Jesus,” before closing with “Jesus is Still the Answer.”

On the instrumental, the violins were not amplified as much as one might expect; in fact, Phil went over to the sound techs and tried to get them to increase the amplification. They did seem to increase it a little, but the sound was still a lot quieter than it was for the rest of the night.

Yet the song received a standing ovation. In fact, it was the most unanimous and prolonged ovation I heard all night (except for perhaps the final ovation at the finale).

But perhaps the right transitional word for the previous paragraph is not “yet.” Perhaps it should be “therefore.” In an event where it can seem like every group is trying to be louder than the previous group, the quiet simplicity of a violin duet stood out. It was so different that the audice paid attention, and they liked what they heard.

I have heard the duet several times live in regular concerts, and I have never seen it receive a standing ovation.

I only dwell on this poin for so long because I think its point that is worth heeding by groups in multi-artist events, particularly those that include instrumentals. Louder is not always better.

Karen Peck and New River, the Talley Trio, and the Booth Brothers sang “I’ll Fly Away” together. Then Karen Peck & New River did a set consisting of “Hold Me While I Cry,” “Hey,” “I Want to Thank You,” and (what for me was the highlight), “I’m Gonna Wear a Robe.”

The Talley Trio sang “He’s So Good to Me,” “The Promise,” “Broken Ones,” and “His Life for Mine.” The first two songs were from their current project, Songs You Know By Heart; the latter two were familiar favorites. All were well received.

Now there were quite a few sets I wanted to catch, but I had several things come up (one of which resulted in a video going up immediately after this post is up). So I wasn’t back to main stage until the finale, featuring Gold City. They started with “I’m Not Giving Up.” Then, they featured tenor Chris Cooper on “When I Get Carried Away” and bass singer Tim Riley on “Under Control.” They closed with “When He Blessed My Soul”; the ending, with Chris Cooper hitting through-the-rafters high notes and bass Tim Riley rattling the (concrete) floor, was pure, classic Gold City.

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17 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. In the Facebook photos from Wednesday, I saw some pictures of the Inspirations during the Family and Friends showcase. Do you have any of the McKameys? I have looked the web over to see some shots of them from the showcase.
    Thanks, CJ

  2. Am very glad that good gospel music is going strong and will look
    forward when they are near Toledo when they are on the road…
    Gaither has good singers but I wish Guy Penrod and Marshall Hall
    where still with him…I guess at 85 we get set in our ways but
    sincerely bless you all…In his name I am Joe Sahadi

    • I saw the last three or four songs from their set, but if I took any pictures (and I think I may have), they didn’t turn out well enough.

  3. We were at the HC concert in St Louis at the end of May – Courtney & Brooklyn played “No One Ever Cared For Me” then. They had the audience spellbound – you could hear a pin drop. There was an audible collective gasp at the exquisite beauty of the ending…followed by an enthusiastic standing ovation. It made me cry, it was so moving.
    I’m enjoying your reporting, Daniel. 🙂

  4. Daniel,
    Sorry, but Jessy Dixon and Ronnie Hinson were not at the Gaither Sing a long. One would wonder if you were? Seriously, I don’t know who you thought was Jessy, because Stephen and John Rulapaugh sang that one, and who you thought was Ronnie was Gene McDonald. I hope Gene doesn’t find you! LOL!

    • I was sitting in the front row.

      I’m not going to back down in my assertion that Ronnie Hinson was there, and at least sang the verse to “He Pilots My Ship.” There’s just no way that Gene McDonald has that much of a twang, or looks like that.

      Now I didn’t have quite so clear a view of where the black man in the white suit sang Jessy Dixon style, so I won’t assert unequivocally that it was him. But the man looked and sounded like him.

  5. Front row??? I thought that your excuse could have been that you were in the cheap seats!!!

    I assure you, that was not Ronnie, it WAS Gene who sang the second verse after Mike Bowling stuttered through the first verse. Stephen Hill wore the white suit. He does favor Jessy a bit, cause he wears glasses. FYI, Walmart has a good price on spectacles!

    Sorry Daniel. . . ask around, or go back to the video truck and hit rewind. You will find that what I say is true.

    Love your blog though!


    • Sure looks like Ronnie Hinson to me, not Gene.

      • In the pictures Daniel posted, I think that is Gene McDonald. But there’s no reason for this Lowell guy to be so mean-spirited. How about some appreciation for the wonderful and thorough reviews of the convention?

      • Amen.

      • Thank you so much! And I’ll be the last one to claim perfection.

    • Stephen Hill & Jessy Dixon…two totally different men…no?

  6. Okay. Whatever.

  7. I was on the stage and in Daniel’s defense He was sitting as far to the side as you could sit in the front row. Gene has grown a small beard and doesn’t look the same. Stephen dresses and sounds like Jesse but one is more “tanned” than the other. It was a great day and you captured it wonderfully. Thanks for all that you do to keep everything positive.

    • Thanks, Pat.

      I’m willing to concede both points now. I saw Gene again tonight and I’m willing to concede it was him.

  8. Thanks for the kind words! I’m really glad that my little solo made it off the stage better than it seemed on stage! LOL From where I stood it was pretty rough to begin with…Thank goodness Bill gave me the opportunity to get it right!

    • You’re welcome!

      Sometimes the sound on the stage in Freedom Hall can unnecessarily lead performers to under-estimate the quality of their work.