NQC 2010: Wrap-up and Highlights

Last night, I spent thirty minutes reading commentary and discussion from several individuals who heartily disliked last week’s National Quartet Conclusion and came to the conclusion that Southern Gospel was nearly dead. For a moment, I wondered if they were right.

But then I remembered: Wait a minute, I was there. I know what I saw, and I know how the audience responded. Granted, a few mainstage groups and singers are past their peak, and a few at their peak had off days. (That happens to everyone, especially with horse stables right outside to aggravate allergies.)

But there’s no way Southern Gospel is dying. Even if several artists we have enjoyed in decades past have passed their peak, others are peaking now. Between hours rehearsing and a full-time live band, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound can be counted on to deliver a show that leaves NQC buzzing. The Collingsworth Family brings a special anointing to each set, nicely complemented by sheer musical brilliance. Mark Trammell, TaRanda Greene, Courtney Collingsworth, Lauren Talley, Scotty Inman—these and a dozen others could be put side by side with any rock, country, or CCM singer and hands-down sing them off stage.

Speaking of a singer that I would put up against any CCM/rock/country vocalist, I need to correct a mistake I made; Pat Barker was not imitating Big Chief Wetherington on “I Wanna Know.” Inquiries at the Mark Trammell Quartet booth revealed that he was sick / congested throughout the week and compensated by singing a more rhythm-style bass. Certain bass singers of yesteryear would wish they could sing that song as well as Pat Barker does on an off day.

Even if we miss the greats of yesteryear, we have greats today. And most of them hit home runs this year at NQC.

For those of you who were there—or watched the live video feed—what were the highlights? Aside from your favorite group’s current single, a moment we all enjoy, what moments or groups surprised you this year?

Side note: If you are making comments with the NQC highlights video in mind, keep in mind that video selections are drawn from mainstage performances on the final three days, since those are the only sets filmed with a full video crew.

For more about —and other Southern Gospel news and commentary—follow our RSS feed or sign up for our email updates!

49 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. Daniel, thank you so much for keeping it positive! I know that there is a place for criticism, but some sites go way too far with it, and it just isn’t helpful! I enjoy your encouraging and positive perspective!

    • Me too! 🙂

      (stupid filler…)

      • You’re welcome, SGF and NSGF! (And yes, these are two different people!)

      • I’m beginning to think I should change my name from quartet-man to OldSoGoFan. 😉

      • That would be funny (but confusing!)

      • This filler text finds the above quite funny. 🙂

  2. Daniel, this was my first time to spend all week at NQC and it was the first time our quartet has been able to sing there. I thought it was an awesome week. My highlight of the week on stage was the Blackwood Brothers. Randy Byrd is one of my favorite bass singers and he is such a humble Christian man. He is just living his dream. Also, the Kingdom Heirs were awesome as usual. There were so many things that I could name as my favorites because it was that jam-packed. The Inspirations acapella song was out of this world too. All in all, it was a great week!

    • I love Randy, too! And the Kingdom Heirs and that Inspirations song were both also great.

    • What was the name of the Inspirations acapella song???

      • “That’s Why I Call it Home”

  3. Looking at a lot of the pictures, I have to admit, I was a little alarmed at the amount of empty seats even on Friday and Saturday nights. I certainly don’t expect a full house every night at NQC, but I can remember attending a few years ago and seeing the hall at least 90% full. The corners seemed to look barren even on the biggest nights. I know the economy plays a role in a lot of it, but it still leaves me scratching my head just a little.

    • Singing News’ Fan Awards pulling out undoubtedly hurt somewhat. That said, I would guess that actual people in seats during highlight moments (e.g., Gaither sets, which were packed as always) were down maybe 5% from last year.

      • The concert attendance did seem to be down a little bit this year but the Sunday night binus concert with GV, BB, and L5 was standing room only – much better attended than last year. The exhibit hall also seemed busier and more crowded this year as compared to last year, except for Saturday night.

    • I had heard some NQC staff saying that ticket sales were up this year. I did see a lot more people lingering in the exhibit halls during the evening performances this year.

  4. Thanks Daniel. I was there for the first 3 days during the Convention, and i loved it. I found it to be one of the most enjoyable times i have had. We can’t dwell on the past, what once was, that was then, and this is now. I think there is plenty of talent in Southern Gospel Music today.

    • I’ll just say that I think CCM is much farther gone than SG. Much, much farther gone. As Daniel said, thanks to artists like EHSS and the Collingsworth family, plus many more, this genre is not anywhere CLOSE to being “dead.”

  5. Daniel, is it really over? I can’t believe I’m back home! It was all wonderful, but the most emotional moment for me (and this will not surprise anyone) was seeing ALL my Cathedrals’ boys on the stage at the same time during Ernie’s stand. It brought tears to my eyes…of joy at what I was seeing, but also of remembrance – because I will always miss the precious three who have already gone Home. I join the others in thanking you again for the way you present your thoughts and opinions. I think what sets you apart from some is that you passionately LOVE Southern Gospel music. Duh! You’re the best, Hon! Dianne.

    • I agree, that was incredible. That would have to go down as my personal favorite moment of the week (with the Gold City reunion being a close second.) I’m not one to cry much, but I was so moved at that point that I didn’t even notice that Mark Trammell was on stage, too!

      • I always get emotional when either George or Glen’s face goes up on the screen and so all of our quartet was balling when during the EHSS/GVB showcase Glen sang the second verse of Mrs. Dianne’s song, “We Shall See Jesus!” No one will ever be able to do it the same but I loved the way that they honored Glen by Devin singing the first verse & Glen singing the second. Imagine what the Heavenly choir sounds like with George & J.D. singing the bass & Glen & Jake singing some lead. Wow, what a sound that is now and will be forever and ever. Thanks Daniel for your passion for Southern Gospel music. Keep up your great work!! Love you bro!

      • Thanks – I hope to!

    • It is too bad daniel doesn’t have a group…he has brownie points with diane wilkinson! Lol….I would cash those in for a song request! No one better than her!

  6. “Mark Trammell, TaRanda Greene, Courtney Collingsworth, Lauren Talley, Scotty Inman—these and a dozen others could be put side by side with any rock, country, or CCM singer and hands-down sing them off stage.”

    I have been saying this for years. I am glad someone else believes this as well.

    • I’ve heard a number of the best performers – while being humble/gracious enough to not name themselves – compliment fellow performers with similar words.

  7. Single song highlights:
    1. Take Time to Be Holy-Collingsworth Family
    2. If You Knew Him- Perrys
    3. I’ve Been to Heaven- Hoppers
    4. How Big Is God/How Great Thou Art!-Talleys
    5. Then I Met the Master- Booth Brothers
    6. He Didn’t Throw the Clay Away-Lesters
    7. For God So Loved- Brian Free & Assurance

    As far as the reunions go, the Cathedrals reunion on Friday was magnificent as was the Gold City reunion on Saturday. But I also enjoyed the Nelons reunion. That was a pleasant surprise.

    Those who normally say Southern Gospel is dead are those who critique the genre while listening to secular music.

    • Andrew – those were all great moments (I’ll take your word on #6, but I didn’t see it in person). But especially on #1 – I completely agree. That was jaw-droppingly awesome.

      • The jaw-dropping part of the Collingsworth Family’s performance was Kim’s pulling the notes out of the air!

  8. I cannot read the negative bloggers at all anymore. They just make me too mad! Constructive criticism and stating your personal preferences is okay, but when you single out an artist who has been sick all week and say that he can’t sing anymore and really trash the guy, well, that is going way too far! I would much prefer to read your blog Daniel! And David Bruce Murray’s, Nate Stainbrook’s, and Aaron Swain’s. You guys are fair. When you do not care for something, all of you are still respectful about it! I definitely appreciate that and I am sure the artists do as well!

    As far as SG being dead. As I recall, folks have been saying that for many years, probably since the Vaughan Quartet started it all! As long as we have youngsters around such as the Kitson’s, the Collingsworth kids, the Taylor’s, Trent Adams, Bryan Elliott, and many others, SG will not die. SG will be around for as long as God wants it to be around. He will continue calling folks into it as He has for the past 100 years!

    • Trashing folks like that is not only going too far, it is sin, pure and simple. Let’s all commit, like you, to stay away from that rubbish.

  9. I’ve got so many memories to highlight, I’m not even sure where to begin.

    -Gerald Wolfe should be the emcee every night. Easy to listen to, isn’t boring.
    -Tribute Quartet might be my second favorite quartet after listening to them this week.
    -Of course, the We Shall See Jesus moment.

    I could go on, but these are three things that really stick out in my mind.

    • Tribute is great – and “Calvary Wins Again” is a really solid song, too.

      • That was probably been the song of the convention for me, even ahead of WSSJ. Thats how much I fell in love with them.

      • That is a good song, and Riley did an amazing job on it!

    • Watching the archives again, I can’t believe I forgot Take Time to be Holy. I think they were better the second time than they were live.

  10. My highlights:
    -Gold City reunion
    -Tim Riley on mainstage
    -Mark Lowry on mainstage
    -seeing all of my favorite groups
    -once again cruising the exhibit hall and mopping up new cds

    EHSS’s set was also very impressive. It was a brilliant move by Ernie to have the former Cats up for WSSJ.

  11. 1. The Cathedral reunion
    2. Gold City Reunion
    3. Michael Booth pretending to be ‘shot’ when the speaker made a loud noise
    4. Dennis Swanberg’s set was especially funny this year
    5. Triumphant Quartet on stage

    But I really enjoyed the Hinson’s reunion! Chris Freeman is so great. I still miss Kenny, but it was so fun seeing that group again and remembering the electricitity that lit up the house whenever they walked on stage!

    I watched on the live feed this year. Not the same as being there, but fun anyway.

    • Yes – Michael Booth pretending to be shot had to be the funniest comedic bit all week!

      • Mark Trammell and Gerald Wolfe’s reactions were great.

      • Hey, cann you capitalize “Trammell” and change “greald” to “Gerald”?

        **hangs head in shame**

      • Yes, I cann. :roflol:

      • I didn’t get to see their reactions on the live feed. What did they do?

      • Yes, they were on the live feed. Gerald ran up and checked his pulse (I think that was GW) and you could see Mark in the background. It looked like he was lifting his hands rejoicing, but I can’t tell for sure from the angle. Its on there though.

  12. Stand out performance was by far The Bowling Family’s “Too Much to Gain to Lose!”

    • It was, Chris. I hope they put it as a “Bonus Feature” on the dvd.

  13. Thanks, Josh. I’ll take another look at it. The live feed is wonderful if you can’t be there in person!

  14. Thanks Daniel for the positive feedback.
    If anyone thinks Southern Gospel has reached its peak they should have gone to the showcases in the South Wing where the up and coming artist performed. There were some great groups that performed on that stage. One problem as I see it is that if it’s not a big name group people tend not to support the groups. Again I’ll say that some of the groups that performed were as good if not gooder (pardon my southern language) that many that performed on the Main Stage. Again I was glad to see NQC allowing some of these artist to perform on Main Stage in the pre-concert show. It allowed more people to see what great talent is at NQC.

  15. Great job, Daniel!

    Let’s put all this “gloom and doom” discussions in southern gospel music in perspective.

    On the internet, 90% are considered lurkers who observe and read the internet without adding to the discussions/ That’s OK.

    Breaking these numbers down further into an application to SGM, only 1% are considered very active in posting on the internet. This 1% influence can be magnified by repeated actions by the selected members of this 1%.

    You will find 9% will contribute from time to time based on the stirring in their souls about their ideals, passion or focus of their love from supporters to the leaders of southern gospel.

    The influences of the selected members of the 1% is small when you consider:

    1. Number of people attending the National Quartet Convention .
    2. Number of people who are subscribers to The Singing News.
    3. Number who watched the web cast of the National Quartet Convention.
    4. Number of people that attend southern gospel events.
    5. Number of people who are lurkers in the real world that observe SGM as purely an entertainment entity.

    Take an objective look at what is happening these days in southern gospel music:
    (no order of preference intended)

    1. An extra big week besides the NQC is next week in the Smokey Mountains with the Fall Jubilee Conference in Gatlinburg, Singing News Fan Awards, Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony plus the Triumphant Quartet Homecoming in Pigeon Forge, TN. Also, the start of the National Southern Gospel & Harvest Celebration at Dollywood.

    2. Over 30 southern gospel music cruises between now and the end of next year with more to come.

    3. Multiple nightly events are being expanded or upgraded by organizers across the genre.

    4. Surprising numbers of the much-maligned regional artists have compact schedules that would be the envy of any tour planner.

    5. The not so well known multiple night events are drawing good crowds despite the naysayer who say it is over.

    6,. The Brumley MusicFest is moving its event this year from the land to the sea.

    7. Some of the artists and groups are venturing into new territories with creative ideas and amazing results.

    So all is not lost if we just use the message about 212 degrees at the National Quartet Convention last week.

  16. We just attended our 23rd straight NQC. Sit on floor with permanent seating. I can’t compare it to all 23, but it ranks higher than many. There were new ideas and free afternoon concerts. I believe attendance is down a bit, but when you consider the economy it is not surprising. Also consider tha many 3-5 day festivals, ie Brumley, Seminole, Gatlinburg, Myrtle Beach, Dollywood, Branson, and Bill Bailey’s thing. People can only afford so many of these. If you would add all the above attendance numbers you would find great numbers of fans. The quality of groups is still there, the quality of songs is still there, the message still there. While I long for the days in Nashville, I enjoy this week and will return for the full week again next year. For those of you with comments, contact Clarke Beasley at NQC. He is always more than willing to respond as a gentleman.

  17. NQC was absolutely awesome! We took our five children and our 14, 12, and 10 year old daughters said it was the BEST thing they have ever been to. My husband and I went every year in Nashville, and we thought everything about the NQC had improved!(except the fan awards)
    We fell in love with the Collingsworth Family. When Kim finished playing “My Tribute,” I was literally crying from the anointing on her playing.
    “We Shall See Jesus” by EHSS was the best moment of all!
    Brian Free and Assurance tore it up on Saturday night.
    We can always find fault in anything, but why not focus on all the good? It was a wonderful week!!!

  18. I had a chance to go for the last half of the con…but I didn’t find out about it until the Sunday after! So all those griping that it wasn’t up to par and that the genre is dying should just be glad they got to go and enjoy what they did. I would have certainly been happy to take their spot! And my own listeners would be shocked to hear that they have suddenly become irrelevant because they couldn’t make a convention.

    Southern gospel music is alive and well, and will continue to do so, as long as there are fans to both feed it and be fed by it. The last time I checked, people are still being ministered to in a fashion that’s simultaneously entertaining, enjoyable, and endearing. So long as that’s happening, the industry will survive, the genre will continue, and we’ll all be blessed as a result.

    In the final analysis, I don’t know whether that equals ten years from now or another hundred, but I’m not planning on going anywhere in the interim 🙂