NQC 2006 Highlights
I listened to this year’s National Quartet Convention via the live Solid Gospel feed on my local radio station. For those who could neither attend nor listen, here are a few highlights.
Memorable New Songs
The anthem “Truth is Marching On” was introduced by no less than three grouls at this year’s National Quartet Convention–Gold City, the Talley Trio, and Legacy Five. Gold City will send it out to radio as their next single. That’s not a bad thing, because their rendition was probably the best.
Quite possibly the most memorable song debut was the Hoppers’ introduction of “The Dove.” They brought songwriter Ronny Hinson on stage to help them introduce and sing the song. Hinson, who has written classics like “The Lighthouse” and “Jesus Pilots the Ship,” said that this was the best song he had ever written–and he may be right.
Most Memorable Song Intro
The most memorable song intro this year was Roger Bennett’s introduction to “Truth is Marching On,” when Legacy Five performed it on their Saturday Night set. He talked about how the divinity of Christ was coming under attack, and specifically discussed Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. His concluding observation also provided a smooth segue into the song: “Long after those 52 million copies of the Da Vinci Code are dust, the Word of God will still stand.”
Fan Awards Ceremony
The Singing News Fan Awards ceremony was marked by the humbleness and graciousness with which Kim Hopper, the Perrys, and the members of Greater Vision accepted their awards. Kim Hopper said that she knew that one day the Female Singer and Soprano of the Year awards would go to other singers, and that when that happened, she would be content to sit in the audience and cheer them on.
Tim Duncan (of Signature Sound) won a well-deserved award for best Bass Singer for the first time.
The most memorable event of the fan awards, and quite possibly of the entire convention, would have to be a tie between the Inspirations and Signature Sound for Quartet of the Year. The Inspirations accepted their award in person, while Signature Sound accepted theirs via video.
In their Saturday Night set, the Dove Brothers did their rendition of “Stand By Me,” complete with choreography and short ties (after Tim Lovelace came on stage to cut the ties in half). But the most interesting part of McCray Dove’s setup for the song was his reference to Signature Sound as “the hottest group in Gospel music today.” From anyone else, that would be a nice compliment, but it was a classy move from the manager of the group that was probably the hottest act in Southern Gospel until Signature Sound formed.
Members of some Southern Gospel message boards have portrayed new Gold City bass Aaron McCune as singer with a stiff, dry stage presence. Jonathan Wilburn helped him overcome that image in Gold City’s Monday set, where he explained that McCune was a card-carrying native American and used an Injun joke to set McCune up for the least expected one-liner of the night. McCune pretended to be greatly offended by Wilburn’s joke, and looked at Wilburn with such an angry look that Wilburn asked him what was up. Aaron said, “I’m admiring your scalp.” The skit ended with Jonathan begging Gold City road manager Danny Riley to calm Aaron down.
During the Fan Awards on Thursday, an All-Star Quartet composed of Inspirations tenor Archie Watkins, former Rebels / Kingsmen lead singer Jim Hamill, Florida Boys baritone Glen Allred, Dixie Melody Boys bass Ed O’Neal, and pianist Eddie Crook performed the song “I’m Winging My Way Back Home.” Jim Hamill was in classic form, making Ed O’Neal repeat his bass lines until he thought O’Neal had done a good enough job.
During the Kingsmen set Saturday night, Tony Peace announced that it was bass guitarist / vocalist Jason Selph’s final night with the Kingsmen, and brought him up to sing the song “Wish You Were Here.”
During the Crabb Family’s final set, Jason Crabb reminisced about the days he would set in the “nosebleeds” (balcony) as a child, wishing that someday he could sing on the mainstage. As he did it for the last time as a member of the Crabb Family, he thanked everyone for fulfilling his dream.
One final special moment was Nick Trammell’s first NQC appearance as the baritone for the Perrys. After Tracy Stuffle introduced Nick as their new baritone, he described how nervous Nick was, and that his daddy was probably even more nervous. He said that Mark walked all around the stage taking photos during the sound check. Then he said he hadn’t told Nick he would do this, because he would have been even more nervous, but he said he was going to do a song that featured Nick. He had him step forward and sing “The Blood of an Old Rugged Cross.” He told him to step forward, smile big, and show the audience what he could do. Nick, to no surprise, hit the ball out of the park and did a good job.
NQC set their 2006 Main Stage schedule well before Nick joined the Perrys, so it had to be a coincidence that the Mark Trammell Trio was scheduled to follow the Perrys’ Tuesday performance. Coincidence or not, it was quite a moment for Mark Trammell, who did a song or two before he started talking.
He told how before his son made the final decision to accept the Perrys job, they met together and Nick asked for his father’s blessing. He said he’d tried everything he could to keep Nick off the road, but as they met in that room, Mark told him that he was grown-up now and could decide for himself. But Nick insisted that he didn’t want to do it without his father’s blessing. So Mark said that if Nick could look him in the eye and tell him that he believed God had laid it on his heart to do this, that Nick would have his blessing.