NQC 2010, Day 6: 100th Year Celebration
Norman Holland (A&R director at Daywind) did Southern Gospel a huge favor by persuading numerous classic groups to reunite in their classic configurations for what is likely the most impressive 100th Anniversary Celebration any genre has had. Southern Gospel historians date the start of the genre to 1910, when James D. Vaughan sent the first male quartet out on the road.
The program included:
- Gospel Singing Caravan, featuring the Chuck Wagon Gang, Blackwood Brothers, and Mike LeFevre Quartet. They sang three songs, “This Great Caravan Keeps Rolling Along,” “Sinner’s Plea,” and “I’ve Found a Hiding Place.” The clean and precise enunciation of this twelve-piece ensemble was pretty remarkable; even the best choirs frequently have a muddy sound due to enunciation, even with members staying reasonably on key, but this ensemble had great pitch and well-matched enunciation and placement. Word from several people who watched the webcast is that this segment was not included, which is too bad since it was an excellent start to the night.
- LuLu Roman sang “Two More” and “The King of Who I Am.”
- Most of the Rambos segment was sung by Reba Rambo McGuire, her husband Dony McGuire, and their daughter Destiny. They sang a medley that included “When I Lift Up My Head,” “New Shoes,” “Mama’s Teaching Angels How to Sing,” “The Holy Hills,” “Sheltered in the Arms of God,” and “Remind Me, Dear Lord.” Then Reba brought her father Buck Rambo up on stage for the final songs, “Too Much to Gain,” “He Looked Beyond My Fault,” and “Tears Will Never Stain.” Buck’s voice isn’t what it used to be, but the set was still phenomenally strong and got a huge ovation at the end.
- Instead of going the medley route, the Nelons sang three complete songs, “Bring My Children Home,” “Oh for a Thousand Tongues,” and “We Shall Wear a Robe and Crown.” Kelly Nelon Clark held down the alto part, Dan Clark sang bass, Jason Clark and Paul Lancaster sang tenor, and, the soprano part was held down by Amber Nelon Thompson, Karen Peck, Katy Van Horn Peach, and a fourth young lady who was not introduced (and whose name I am presently not recalling). Each of the sopranos took turns leading the closing song, and the audience was energized and standing for the final several encores.
- The Downings set was the only in the mixed group segment where the response was warm but not over-the-top. Joy Gardner and Ann Downing stood on stage and sang, and Dony McGuire sat behind the piano and played for a majority of the set. The two songs that got the best response were the final two, “Operator” and “Greater is He.”
- The Speer segment had about twelve people on stage; I won’t even try to start naming names, since I would surely forget several. They sang three songs, “Ever Interceding,” “Heaven’s Jubilee,” and “I Never Shall Forget That Day.” The final song featured Ben Speer and Sue Dodge and received a standing ovation and three or four encores.
- The Hinsons sang three songs, “I’m So Glad He Found Me,” “I Know He Can,” and “The Lighthouse.” The final song received a standing ovation.
- To my astonishment, Gold City was not last. Jeff Easter introduced them and indicated that since Ivan Parker had been unable to make it to rehearsal, it was the first time that Brian Free, Ivan Parker, Mike LeFevre, and Tim Riley had sung together in nineteen years. The audience came unglued when those four men walked on stage, offering a standing ovation and remaining standing through the first song, “When I Get Carried Away.” Brian Free took the lead on “I Think I’ll Read it Again,” and, of course, the stand closed with Ivan Parker taking the lead on “Midnight Cry.” The applause could have continued for minutes had it not been cut short by the next group walking on stage.
- Lewis Tradition and the Easters had the unenviable task of following that. They sang one song, “Keep on the Sunny Side.”
- Cathedrals alumni Danny Funderburk, Gerald Wolfe, Scott Fowler, and Mark Trammell came on stage (with Glenn Dustin) to pay tribute to the Cathedrals. They sang “There’s Something About That Name” and “Champion of Love.” Both received standing ovations—the first time I’ve seen “Something About That Name” ever get a standing ovation, I think.
- The Singing Americans set closed the program. Rick Strickland, Michael English, Ed Hill, and Dwayne Burke sang “Home.” English said that due to his voice-reducing neck surgery, he couldn’t hit all his high notes, so he called up fellow Singing Americans alumnus Clayton Inman on stage for the final two songs, “Glory Road” and “I Bowed On My Knees and Cried Holy.”
With the Gold City segment placed 2/3 of the way through the program—to my shock—I figured that the emotional arc of the program would have to be downhill from there. But to my delight, though it never reached the peak of their stand again, the Cathedral reunion and the Singing Americans reunion together gave the program a conclusion strong enough to hold its own.
Other commitments will keep me from catching enough of this evening’s program that I’ll wrap up text coverage with this post. A few more videos are in the works, so be watching for those.