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 ovationsโ€”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 programโ€”to my shockโ€”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.

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33 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. I think you mean Kelly’s father-IN-LAW. Also, Michael didn’t have voice surgery did he? I thought some neck or something that might affect the voice.

    • Yes, and thanks for both catches.

      • You’re welcome. I still enjoyed reading it and know myself how easy it can be to miss something while typing a long post in particular. ๐Ÿ˜€

      • Yes. My time is so restricted today that, for once, I put an unedited first draft up. Typically I look through at least once first.

      • The other member of the Nelons was Kelly Benton. She sang with them in the 1990’s. I was surprised there was not Janet Paschal or Charlotte Ritchie

      • We did ask Janet and Charlotte, but they had other appearances already scheduled. We hated that hey couldn’t be there with us. We also tried to get Rodney Swain there.

      • Kelly – thanks for letting us know!

      • Thanks Kelly for clearing that up. I think you had plenty of sopranos. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. So any videos of the GC performance?? I wanna see that bad!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. Daniel, I loved reading this over-view-summary-round-up-whacha-call-it ๐Ÿ˜€ We had to leave early this morning and we didn’t get to see the showcase, but reading it here made me flash back to my childhood. Thanks for taking the time to post up a summary!!

  4. Although I’m at NQC, I watched most of the showcase via webcast due to other commitments. I tuned in during one of the encores of “We Shall Wear a Robe and Crown”.

    On the webcast, the Singing Americans sounded much better than Gold City, Rick Strickland’s screech/crack notwithstanding. I don’t know if it was the audio mix or the vocal blend, but The SingAms seemed to still blend well together and still had “it”. The blend for GC wasn’t really there, in my opinion.

  5. I wish I could see the Singing Americans. I did see Gold City on You Tube and would have rather remembered them as before. Lefevre still has it as well as Riley. Brian Free did okay, but sounds different (which of course is understandable with the number of years). Parker just doesn’t have the range anymore (or at least that day). He still has a good voice, but in a lower register. Gold City arrangements had him hitting A’s or so back in the day. Maybe he could still do that with practice and vocalizing, but it just wasn’t there yesterday. From what I was able to hear, the first song was by far the best.

    • I agree… the first song was the best. Ivan def. was struggling…. but it could have just been a bad day. Gotta remember guys…. there wasn’t any practice beforehand. You imagine if you gave them a few weeks together?? I really think they’d be back.

      • Yeah. For rough and unrehearsed… not bad at all. First song went smoothest. Is it just me, or did Brian seem to be having some pitch issues on “Read It Again?” Anyway, cool idea to bring them together again.

  6. Daniel,

    I also wanted to say how much I enjoy your columns. I was wondering if you felt with the 100 years of SG if you think they should have done a longer set or maybe an evening of reunions of groups.

    Also what are your feeelings if the Singing News awards not being there this year. Was NQC better or not better without the awards program?

    • I was actually pretty happy with the 2 hours 15 minutes or so. There were some groups I would have wanted to see more of, and one group (not Gold City) that simply looked uncomfortable onstage together and could have been skipped for more Singing Americans or Gold City or Cathedrals music. But someone would have probably preferred to skip a separate group.

      NQC was about the same without the awards. I’m more concerned at this point about if the awards will be OK without NQC. I would like to see them come back, of course, but it’s not my call!

      • Whose call is it? I also hope to see the awards back at NQC.. That was always such a draw for me to know who was voted the “best”. I spoke with Les Beasley and he said not to voice my complaint to him but to Singing News, I mean if you can’t complain to a board member.. then Who?

      • Les would be correct – Singing News made the decision to leave, so it would be their call whether or not they come back (provided, naturally, that NQC was still willing).

      • I posted this on my blog but it is worth repeating here. I cannot reveal who told me this but a very reliable source told me that the Fan Awards will be back at NQC. This source also said that the decision to move the awards show was made by one person at Singing News without the knowledge or approval of the Singing News owners. In fact, my source said that the owners did not know about it until the decision was announced and everything had been finalized. The person who made the decision to move the awards no longer has a say in the decision making process and the details are being worked out to move it back to NQC as soon as possible.

      • Neat – thanks!

  7. I know this was the “100th Year for Southern Gospel”, and all the groups they had on the stage were great, but I think they totally missed out on a group that has been a mainstay in the industry going on 86 years, the Lesters. I know they haven’t been always “in the spotlight” but still gotta give respect to the oldest group in Gospel music, and it being a FAMILY, that says a lot in my opinion.

    • Have the Lesters been going longer than the Nelons/LeFevres?

      • LeFevres: 50 years, Nelons: 60 years.

    • I don’t know but if you are going this route, then the Hemphills should have definetly been on the stage.

      • I totally agree, they missed a lot of groups.

      • But I also think that, given the 2-hour time constraint, they did a good job at getting the ones they could, the ones with the widest appeal.

      • Hellooo … it’s morning … did WordPress’s scheduled posting system break down? ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ˜€

      • Ha! ๐Ÿ™‚ I was working on a post just now.

      • Now I see it … You know you have a pretty good track record when people miss you.

      • I know – it is really nice to be predictable enough that people notice and ask if they don’t see a post. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I watched the video from the Downings Reunion, and I thought it was good. We have to remember that one of the group members Ann’s husband Paul passed away, and I noticed they had to change some of the parts because of him being absent. I think they did pretty good seeing as they haven’t sang together for a very long time! The reason I give the Downings alot of credit is because they were the first contemperary group to hit the charts, one thing you will find said alot about The Downings is that they were before their time. They may have been but their stuff was awesome then, and all of them are well accomplished vocalists to this day!


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