NQC 2013, Day 6: Live Blog

If you’re at NQC in person or watching on the live webcast, jump in and join the discussion in the comments area!

Highlights

In reverse chronological order:

  • “Till We Meet Again,” Legacy Five. It was fitting that the final full set at NQC was by the group that came directly out of the Cathedrals at their retirement.
  • “Burdens Are Lifted at Calvary,” The Collingsworth Family. There aren’t many singers or songs that could follow the emotional moment Freedom Hall just experienced. Perhaps the Collingsworth Family themselves, as good as they are, would have struggled prior to starting to sing this song earlier this year. But the song and the moment came together!
  • Freedom Hall came unglued again at the end of the Perrys set. There was an emotional and prolonged standing ovation for Libbi Perry Stuffle as she walked off stage. It’s one of the longest I’ve heard in convention history. Then, Libbi held up a cell phone with Tracy Stuffle on FaceTime, watching live; when the camera picked up Tracy live, there certainly could not have been a dry eye in the house.
  • During the Perrys’ set, the video crew played a video greeting from Tracy Stuffle, thanking everyone for their prayers. He closed with, “I’ll see you next year in Pigeon Forge. I love you!” At that, Freedom Hall came unglued.
  • The Mark Trammell Quartet’s entire set was perfectly paced. This time, it wasn’t a song that stood out—it was Mark Trammell’s classy and elegant introduction to “Too Much to Gain To Lose.”
  • “Movin’ Up to Gloryland,” The Voices of Lee. Verse one was performed like you’ve never heard it before; a young African-American man delivered the solo as a slow, jazzy, spectacular high tenor solo. The tempo kicked into the familiar high gear for the chorus and second verse. Another young man (this one Caucasian) did verse 2 as a bass solo. After a medley segment with “Just Over in the Gloryland,” the young man from verse 1 nailed the classic “Mo-ooo-ooo-vin” tenor feature on the final chorus. This young man, who was also featured on the following song, has a tremendous vocal talent and on-stage charisma. It would be an unexpected move, but it sure would be nice if one of the genre’s leading quartets hired him on board as their tenor after he graduates college.
  • The Kingdom Heirs’ set was strong beginning-to-end, with three recent #1 hits and the strongest slow song on their latest CD. They ended with all cylinders firing—the sort of ending that the Kingsmen loved to pull off when their live band was at its very finest.
  • After The Talleys’ set, Roger Talley stayed at the piano as Michael English walked on stage, singing “Going Home.” Dean and Kim Hopper walked on stage for chorus harmonies. After verse and chorus 1, Michael talked about losing his father three weeks ago, and how much the song meant to him at that point. He then sang verse two, going through the roof on the verse ending. 
  • The Talleys’ entire set. After one song with tracks, Roger Talley went to the piano for the next three. The piano-and-vocals-only portion of the set was a welcome change of pace from the rest of the evening. The high point of the night was “The Broken Ones,” The Talleys. Lauren Talley introduced it with an incredibly moving story a fan told her this week of how the fan shared it with a girl in an abusive situation, and how that girl learned the song and even sang it for her church.
  • “All is Well,” The Whisnants; Melissa shared how, about the same time the Whisnants recorded it, both her parents were diagnosed with cancer. The song came full circle, as the Whisnants’ version ministered to her. (Thanks be to God, both her parents beat cancer.) Melissa sang the song with them.
  • The Taylors’ set was strong beginning to end. It takes no small level of vocal confidence to attempt a complicated acapella arrangement to kick off an NQC set, and no small level of vocal talent to pull it off.

Live Play-by-Play

11:38: Dean Hopper closes by saying: “We love you very much. All these artists love you very much. Keep us in your prayers. See you at Pigeon Forge in 2014!” And with that, the Louisville era of the National Quartet Convention is in the history books.

11:08: The Finale begins with The Talleys singing “Testify.” Song 2: The Mark Trammell Quartet, “I Want To Know.” Song 3: The Perrys, “I Wish I Could Have Been There,” with Libbi FaceTiming Tracy as she sang. Guests, including Jeff Chapman, joined in by the end. Song 4: The Kingdom Heirs change up the pace completely with a piano-and-vocals rendition of “How Great Thou Art,” featuring Arthur Rice doing his signature hold-a-note-forever ending to the final verse. Song 5: “Show a Little Bit of Love and Kindness,” Collingsworth Family. Final song: “Statement of Faith” (Hoppers, Greater Vision, Booth Brothers, Legacy Five).

10:50: Legacy Five begins their set with “He Loves Me So.” It’s a good choice; after the emotional high point we’re still on after the Perrys moment and the Collingsworths’ solid set, most songs would have been jarringly out of place. That one fit. Song 2: “Ask Me Why.” Song 3: Scott Fowler shares memories; he was on the main stage (with the Cathedrals and then Legacy Five) at every single Louisville NQC. He uses those memories to introduce “Till We Meet Again.” Song 4: “Boundless Love.” And Michael Booth is on drums, which means things are about to get really good. (Let’s revise that. They were already really good. They’re about to get better.) They did.

10:50: We’re fourteen minutes behind schedule at this point, but given the sort of unforgettable moments that led to the delay, I doubt anyone minds.

10:29: The Collingsworth Family begins their set with “Burdens Are Lifted at Calvary.” See the highlights section! Song 2: “The Lord’s Prayer,” featuring Phil Jr. It was wise to do another piano-and-vocals song, I think, before bringing the energy level back up. Song 3: “At Calvary.” Another standing ovation! Song 4: “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” A Kim Collingsworth piano solo was listed in the schedule for the start of the set. But it just didn’t make sense to put it there, so it was moved to this slot. Song 5: “Hallelujah Chorus,” a piano solo; part of a medley with the previous song.

10:06: The Perrys start their set with “If You Knew Him.” This is their first time to stage at NQC after Joseph Habedank’s departure. Well, they pulled it off to a standing ovation! Song 2: “I Know It Was The Blood.” Song 3: “Celebrate Me Home.” Libbi Perry Stuffle nails her feature, as always. Then, there’s a video clip from Tracy Stuffle, thanking everyone for their prayers, and closing with “I’ll see you next year in Pigeon Forge. I love you!” That video clip got a standing ovation! Song 4: “This Old Sinner Testifies.” Leah Page, who has been filling on alto all year, came up for the final chorus. There is an emotional and prolonged standing ovation for Libbi as she walks off stage. See the highlights section!

9:48: The Mark Trammell Quartet begins their set with “How Long Has It Been.” Song 2: “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.” Song 3: “Way Past Ready.” Song 4: After some heartfelt testimony and recollections, song 4 is “Too Much to Gain To Lose.”

9:47: Clarke Beasley pays a heartfelt tribute to NQC’s twenty-year run in Louisville, mentioning some of the greatest moments in Convention history.

9:21: The Voices of Lee start their a cappella set with “The Old Rugged Cross.” A young African-American man offered an excellent solo on the final verse. Song 2: “Movin’ Up To Gloryland”; see the highlights section! The choir director shared that the young man who sang the first verse lost his sister to brain cancer recently, introducing him on another song, the Chris Tomlin top 5 CCM radio hit “I Will Rise.” He did an excellent job on both.

9:16: Showcase winners: The Stevens Family, singing “Unclouded Day.”

8:59: The Kingdom Heirs begin their set with “Tell Me Why.” Song 2: A second #1 hit, “Just Preach Jesus.” Song 3: “That’s When I’ll Know I’m Home,” one of the strongest songs from their current CD. Song 4: They close with their current #1 hit, “Just Beyond the Sunset.” Watch for a big ending! Afterwards: The video cutaway to Josh Singletary absolutely beside himself in excitement at the power ending was really neat.

8:58: Clarke Beasley came on stage and noted that attendees of the 2012 NQC reserved 2,600 hotel rooms that week for NQC 2013. He said it would interest anyone wondering if the move would be a flop to hear that, this year, over 5,000 rooms were reserved for NQC 2014!

8:52: See the highlights section!

8:35: The Talleys begin their set with “The Promise.” Song 2: Debra Talley sings her signature song, “Thinkin’ ‘Bout Home.” Roger Talley went over to the piano for this one; it’s a simple piano-and-vocals-only rendition that’s a welcome change of pace. In fact, it’s been two hours since the last piano-and-vocals-only song (and I’m not even really sure if we should count that one, since it was Susan Whisnant singing “Happy Birthday” to her son!) Song 3: “The Broken Ones.” (See Highlights section.) Song 4: “Orphans of God,” performed as a medley with “The Broken Ones.”

8:31: A video is played of highlights from the week. At this point, it looks like we’re now seven minutes behind. (A video clip from a past NQC, scheduled for 8:06, was bumped to bring us closer.)

8:17: The Down East Boys start their set with a medium fast song, “Every Word in The Word.” Lead singer/manager Ricky Carden has the solo. Song 2: “I’ve Got That Old Time Religion.” Song 3: Tenor Tony Jarman is featured on a strong slow song, “I Won’t Trade My Crown.” Song 4: “Waiting For The Day.”

8:02: The Crist Family begins their segment with “Where it All Comes From,” from their CD that (officially) releases next Tuesday. Song 2: Their new radio single, “The Closer I Get To The Cross.” Song 3: “Great Beyond,” from their debut recording. Song 4: The Crist Family closes strong with “Lift Up The Cross.”

7:57: An ad for TBN. We’re now twelve minutes behind schedule.

7:53: Showcase winner: High Road III. This isn’t the first time they’ve been on the main stage; I seem to think they’ve been a showcase winner before, and they also provided instrumentation for the Grassroots Rambos set a year or two back. They’ve never disappointed, either.

7:34: Tribute Quartet takes the stage, starting with their signature song, “Good News From Jerusalem.” If this is the start, then they surely must have something pretty incredible planned for the ending! Song 2: They do their version of Greater Vision’s classic “God Wants To Hear You Sing”—but as an Anthony Davis bass solo instead of Greater Vision’s tenor solo. Song 3: “Outside the Gate.” They went into the audience for an a cappella encore. It was quite the challenge for the camera crew (filming in the dark) and the audio crew (avoiding feedback), but it was effective for the audience.

7:17: The Kingsmen start their set with “Meet Me At The Table.” Les Butler is making a guest appearance on piano. Song 2: “I Will Rise Up From My Grave.” Song 3: “Land of the Free.” Song 4: “Stand Up”; an energetic ending.

6:57: The Primitive Quartet starts with “You’ve Been So Gracious To Me.” Song 2: “God Can.” Song 3: “I’ll Be Waiting At The River For You.” Song 4: “I Wonder What They’re Doing In Heaven Today.” Song 5: They close strong with “No Longer an Orphan,” quite possibly their most-beloved song.

6:51: Penny Loafers sing “Ain’t Got Time to Die” (? on title). The Primitive Quartet evidently isn’t set up yet, so Dean Hopper asked for a second song, “That’s When the Angels Rejoice.” At this point, we’re about seven minutes behind schedule.

6:35: The Whisnants begin their segment with “I’m In The Gloryland Way.” Song 2: It’s Ethan Whisnant’s 16th birthday today; he stands as Susan sings “Happy Birthday” to him. Song 3: The Whisnants bring up Melissa Brady to sing “All Is Well” with them. (See the highlights section!) Song 4: “New Day Dawning.” Encore: Melissa Brady, Kim Hopper, and Jim Brady join on stage. The audience is on their feet!

6:33: Several minutes of recording audience applause for later editing. This always a fun segment.

6:14: The Taylors begin their set with “I Can Call on Jesus Anytime / Operator,” performed acapella. There were some microphone feedback issues; they worked past those flawlessly, like the true professionals they are. Song 2: “Oh, I Want to See Him.” The Taylors are performing a very strong set. Song 3: “I’m Gonna Make It.”

6:09: The Browns had another instrumental feature; they performed “I Sing the Mighty Power/Canon in D” with three fiddles. They have had a number of instrumental features this week in addition to their mainstage headliner slots, and I believe they have performed this in three or four of them. In past years, the instrumental showcase slots were spread between a half-dozen players, most of them pianists. Most of those slots were given to the Browns this year; perhaps it is because fewer groups carry a pianist than in past years?

5:57: 11th Hour starts their set with “Steppin’ Out.” Song 2: Outgoing soprano Candice Jordan, who recently announced her upcoming departure from the group, sings the solo on the group’s biggest song so far, “Room With a View.” Song 3: “Adam’s Fall,” featuring alto Amber Eppinnette. This was a professional, nicely-paced set; the group acquitted themselves well for their first headliner (i.e. non-showcase-winner) appearance on the mainstage.

5:55: Dean and Kim Hopper will host this evening.

5:51: Dean Hopper leads an audience singalong, with Gerald Wolfe on piano.

5:46: Greater Vision sings “My Name is Lazarus.”

5:39: Tim Lovelace talks with audience members via the fan cam.

5:37: Showcase winner: The Erwins are singing a song you may have heard the Kingdom Heirs do twenty years ago, “That Very Moment.” There are three brothers and a sister; the sister, who is the youngest, isn’t merely good for her age; she’s good, period, and exceptional for her age. Tim Lovelace talked with her after the song and found out that she was twelve.

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NQC 2013, Day 6: Blazing Pianos

Daniel’s Siblings are live-blogging the afternoon showcases!

3:01 Kim Collingsworth will be closing out the Piano event. She started with “I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked.” She ended with “My Tribute” and the crowd responded with a prolonged standing ovation.

2:54 Roger Talley started with “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” His second song was “Take it to the Lord in Prayer/ Everybody Ought to Know.”

2:43 Stan Whitmire was next and commented he never heard “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in his church.  His first piece sounded like “The Lord Prayer.” He talked about going to a Baptist church which used the Church of God hymnal, than a Church of God that did use it, and then a Church of God which had never used the red back hymnal. He started receiving piano lessons from Eloise Phillips when he was 4, and continued for 15 years. He concluded with “Do Right and Come Smiling Through.”

2:27 Gordon Mote sits down at the piano and is talking about music glorifying God. He is talking about Hymns in churches. His church did a hymn sing and he slipped in the back. The pastor saw him and called him up. He said wondered if anyone heard the lyrics he changed…”I once was lost but now am found, was blind…..and I still am.”  He talked about how the hymns were played in the church he grew up in, and led into “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.” He then talked about how all the different denominations handle their music in different ways. He said he’d play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in ways the different denominations do. He started with the Baptist version–so well disguised that one wouldn’t know that was what the song was! He followed with a small country church sound with jerky halts between the lines. Next he did a Church of God/ Pentecostal version. It was much faster.  He said the reason he was so confused musically is that when he was young, he thought all songs had to have one of two introductions, which he demonstrated. He then played “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in a Catholic/ Episcopal style. He had Gerald Wolfe laughing! His Black Gospel version was influenced by the “AOH Church of God in Christ” he heard on the radio when he was young. He had the crowd do answer backs. His last was Church of Christ, the easiest one to do…and he left the piano!

2:21 Channing Eleton played something which sounded like “We’ll Understand It Better By and By.” His second song was “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”

2:20 Gordon Mote thanked the various NQC crews and the crowd gave a round of applause.

2:11 They called up Josh Singletary, but before he had a chance to start playing, Gerald Wolfe said, “Your tie and your socks don’t match.”  He is wearing what looks like lime green socks with blue polka dots and purple heels and a bright blue bow tie. His first song was “I’ve Got a Mansion Over the Hilltop.”  His second song sounded like “He Hideth My Soul.”

2:00 Jeff Stice said he had been wondering all week what to play and would play one just for his wife.  It sounded classical and hopefully she knew the name of it!  Then Gerald Wolfe asked him to play a gospel tune. Gordon added, “You made your wife happy, now why don’t you make the Lord happy too!”  Stice informed Wolfe that he, like Trey Ivey, grew up listening to Gerald Wolfe. Stice sat back down at the piano and played a tune neither we nor Gerald Wolfe knew. Stice claimed it was “A Sinners Plea.”

1:53 Gerald Wolfe brings on a 14 year old pianist, Timothy Noble, from Howard, Ohio. He played “Great is Thy Faithfulness/ How Big Is God/ How Great Thou Art.”  We believe this may be the 12 year old pianist we heard a few years ago in Green, Ohio, at a Mark Trammell Quartet concert. He is a young man whose name precedes him! Gerald Wolfe said he had been mentioned yesterday and that upon thinking about it, Wolfe had heard of him before! Gerald Wolfe asked Timothy Noble who his hero was, and upon hearing “Jeff Stice,” Wolfe called Stice up next.

1:42 Gerald Wolfe explained that he had requested for there to be just one piano, so the audience can better hear what the pianists are doing. Introducing Trey Ivey (of Legacy Five) who is classically trained. Ivey played “Jesus Loves Me.” Gordon Mote told a story of when Trey Ivey came over to his house and Mote’s 5 year old Ashton “interviewed” Trey Ivey. Then, Mote and Wolfe asked Ivey why he chose to be a classically trained pianist, and why he went Truett-McConnell music school. Ivey closed with “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”

1:39 Gerald Wolfe kicking off the Blazing Pianos with Gordon Mote. Gordon deferred to Gerald Wolfe doing the first song (Great is Thy Faithfulness), since Gerald “has more experience.”  Gerald Wolfe said that his piano solo CD is the #1  in funeral homes across the country, to which Gordon Mote replied, “They’re just dying to get your music!”

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NQC 2013, Day 6: Congregational Sing-A-Long

Daniel’s Siblings are live-blogging the afternoon showcases!

1:04 Gerald Wolfe lead the congregation in a prayer. In closing, he thanked the crowd for making the sing-a-long a success. They ended with #333, “I’ll Fly Away.”

12:56 Gerald Wolfe introducing a song he didn’t think had ever been sung from this hymnal at the quartet convention. Billy Graham ended his crusades with it and the church in which Gerald Wolfe grew up sang it for invitation. He encouraged the audience to think about the words: “Just as I Am without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me”–those lines say a lot.

12:51 #57, “Amazing Grace.” Pat Barker was heard distinctly! Is Karen Peck Gooch the only soprano present? (Or maybe they are the ones with the microphones?) Gerald Wolfe had them skip to verse four and said to “lift the roof off this place!” The audience stood by the end. Ben Speer tagged “I Just Began to Live” to the end. People were putting their books away, so either it wasn’t in there, or they all knew it!

12:48. Gerald Wolfe picked #265, “Love Lifted Me.”

12:45 The audience is really getting into it and yelled #12 and several others. Gerald Wolfe picked #98 (Land Where Living Waters Flow) and said, “Let’s see if you can sing this song.” He described it as a Wednesday night song since it only has two verses.

12:43 The audience requested #10 (Meeting in the Air) and Gerald Wolfe said “Oh, that’s a hard one. Are you sure you want page 10?” The audience roared back, “Yeah!”

12:40 A man came out from the audience and requested two songs. Gerald Wolfe picked #180 “Everybody Will Be Happy Over There.” A bass trio (Matt Fouch, Pat Barker, and the “guy between them”) took the lead.

12:32 Rodney Griffin sang the first verse of “Old Rugged Cross.” Gerald Wolfe then sang the “so despised by the world” verse and the congregation sang the last verse.

12:23 #181, “Blessed Assurance” in the key of  C. This song was requested by a lady who attended the sing-a-long. Gerald Wolfe talked about the line “perfect submission” and how a lady had complained that he had the ladies only sing that line previously in the week. He talked about how it wasn’t politically correct, but scriptural that everyone must submit to the Lord and let him do the leading and we follow. But, he had the men sing that line this afternoon and had the ladies pick up at the “watching and waiting” line. The encored with an A Capella chorus (it looks like Matt Fouch was taking a video!).

12:20 Gerald Wolfe called the Mark Trammell Quartet sang “Leave Your Sorrows.”

12:13 #401 “The Unclouded Day.” Ben Speer sang a verse

12:09 Gerald Wolfe told Stan Whitmire to play page 112, and “if you do it good, we might sing some of it.” He must have done it well enough because they joined him singing “I’ve Got That Old Time Religion”

12:04 Victory in Jesus (128). Sometimes it seems the soprano section either doesn’t have microphones or have them on very loud!

11:59 Gerald Wolfe introduced the Mylon Hayes Family who will be singing #144 (“Rock of Ages, Keep My Soul)  both with words and as shaped notes! That brought the audience to their feet again! Ben Speer said he tried to catch a mistake, but couldn’t find one.

11:53 #114. Picking up the tempo with “I’ve Never Been Sorry.” Gerald Wolfe had Stan Whitmire start in G and take it up a half step.

11:45 Page 14, “I Will Meet You in the morning.” Mark Trammell stepped forward to sing the second verse. Mark told how this song was his Mom’s favorite song. His Mom was a church pianist for many years. Gerald had Mark sing the verse again. Ben Speer then stepped up to sing “the verse that was left out” bringing everyone to their feet.

11:39 Gerald Wolfe introduced Ben Speer, “the living legend.” Ben Speer’s dad wrote #110 the second song of the sing-a-long, “Heaven’s Jubilee.” Ben Speer sang the final verse, and also sang shaped notes.

11:34 Hymn 52. Albert Brumley classic “Blessed Jesus Hold My Hand.” Stan Whitmire is playing piano, Mike Hopper is playing drums. Gerald Wolfe did announce the guitarist, but we didn’t catch it and haven’t seen yet!

11:32 Gerald Wolfe and Phil Brower are kicking off the congregational sing-a-long with a crowd countdown. They will be using Wolfe’s favorite old red-back Church of God hymnal.

 

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NQC 2013, Day 5: Live Blog

Highlights of the Night

The evening kept getting better and better; it is safe to call the five-song finale the strongest part of the evening. 

  • Greater Vision kicked it off with “I Know a Man Who Can.”
  • Karen Peck and New River followed it with “Four Days Late.” It’s one of the strongest renditions I’ve ever heard them offer.
  • The Booth Brothers sang “Still Feeling Fine.” 11 PM or not, I’m not sure the audience will sit down at all between Greater Vision and the final notes! (Was that Gene McDonald who came up by the end? I had to look away for a couple of minutes.)
  • Mark Trammell Quartet, “I Want to Know.” I was surprised they didn’t sing it earlier; this was why!
  • To top it all off, there was an unannounced appearance by the Gaither Vocal Band, singing “It is Finished.” Wow! Talk about a strong ending!

Other highlights, in reverse chronological order:

  • Gold City’s set: Three classics and a recent favorite that unleashes the greatest legend amongst current Southern Gospel bass singers makes for a strong set! (And a cameo appearance from Jonathan Wilburn is never a bad thing.)
  • “The King is Coming,” Mark Trammell Quartet. A rousing standing ovation!
  • The Booth Brothers brought Bill Gaither up for the final song of their set, “I Played in the Band.” Before the final encore, Gaither had everyone who had sung in a choir, driven a bus, and done several other specific things he acknowledged, stand. Most of the room was standing.
  • “He’s Alive,” David Phelps with the Gaither Vocal Band. It deserves its own mention!
  • The Gaither segment. (Of course.) “That Sounds Like Home To Me” was particularly strong.
  • Canton Junction’s surprise appearance at the start of the Gaither set was very well-received.
  • The entire Karen Peck & New River set. It’s been their strongest of the week. They started with their current, catchy single, followed with two of their #1 hits, and left the audience on their feet with “We Shall Wear a Robe and Crown.” They did their two biggest hits (“Four Days Late” and “Last Night”) earlier this week; that they could do a set without either song and still turn in their strongest set of the week speaks both to their ability as performers and to strength of their repertoire.
  • “If That Isn’t Love,” Isaacs, with Bill Gaither on the piano. We’re used to the Isaacs with Bluegrass arrangements; it’s nice to see them with Southern Gospel accompaniment once in a while.
  • “The Living Years,” Isaacs. As Bill Gaither walked on stage for the next song, he talked the Isaacs into doing an acapella chorus and tag of this one. Nobody can touch Gaither’s masterful touch at making a good moment unforgettable.
  • “Something’s Happening,” Hoppers. It was good throughout, but kept getting better and better. Then, when TaRanda Greene walked over to Kim Hopper and started singing a third above Kim’s soprano part, the raw musical power was simply too much for even Freedom Hall to contain.
  • The Nelons’ entire set was incredibly strong. They started with their recent radio single, “Excuse Me, Are You Jesus.” Then, they took the daring and risky move of singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” a cappella. The set just kept getting better and better; song 3 was the Sandi Patti song “More Than Wonderful.” Soprano Amber Thompson nailed Patti’s high ending, hitting notes I’ve never heard her hit before. Then, with the Gaither band backing them up, they pulled off an energetic rendition of “I’m Going Home With Jesus.”
  • Freedom’s Showcase Appearance: If this is any indication, John Rulapaugh’s new lineup is off to a spectacular start. But get Rulapaugh, Dale Shipley, and Burman Porter all into one group, and what do you expect?

Live Play-By Play

This post got so long that we’ve hidden the live play-by-play from the home page. Click “read more” or the post title to read the complete coverage.

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NQC 2013, Day 5: NQC Music Awards

Daniel is at work, so Daniel’s Siblings are live-blogging the afternoon showcases.

For all those who signed up, remember the Friday NQC coverage is free!

3:25 Favorite Male Group: The Booth Brothers. Ronnie: “This is called a Quartet Convention award…” Michael, “We did a quartet album this year, so we’re okay.”

3:19 Les & Clarke Beasley brought on stage to explain that a CPA firm validates the results. They introduced the individuals representing the firms. The Southern Gospel Music Guild chooses a business who has made an impact on Southern Gospel. This year’s winner of the Les Beasley Impact Award is Herschend Properties, the parent company of Silver Dollar City and Dollywood.

3:16 Favorite Song: “I Played in the Band” by the Booth Brothers. Michael Booth talking about Bill Gaither believing in the body of Christ and each person doing there part to honor the Heavenly Father.

3:12 Booth Brothers singing “I Played in the Band.”

3:07 Favorite Album: Through the Night! The Perrys.  Libbi, “I’m totally blown away.” David Ragan has his baby on stage with him! Bryan Walker and Leah Page are up there with Libbi. She is saying how Tracy usually is the one who accepts the awards and has something to say. She never dreamed they would live every song of the album. Every song needs to have a message and say something and be scriptural. Someone will need it. This year she was one of those people who needed the songs (and songs from other artists). Libbi thanking Leah for helping and being her right arm and doing an incredible job. She’s thanking the guys in the group and is asking for prayer. Libbi said “Next year, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Tracy Stuffle will be there.”

3:05 Radio Stations of the Year: WGUS & FWFC.

3:05 Promoter: Landon Beene.

3:05 Producer of the Year: Ben Isaacs.

3:04 The Hosts are introducing Autumn, the award girl.

3:00 Favorite Songwriter: Dianne Wilkinson…and the feed went down! She didn’t expect it. She is saying how she feels such a responsibility. “Sinners need to be saved. Christians need to be encouraged, The Church needs to be awakened, and God needs to be Glorified.”  Thanking the singers and studio players, who do her songs. She is overcome!

2:55 Hoppers singing, “He Didn’t Just Carry the Cross, He Carried Me.” Claude was absent, but Mike and Karlye were singing, making the Hoppers a five part group.

2:53 Video of the Year: “I Wanna Be That Man” by Brian Free and Assurance. BF&A were not in town, touring in North Carolina. The producer accepted the award for them.

2:50 Presenter Gordon Mote brought on and said his trick worked. “I swapped glasses with Kim Collingsworth and it worked!” referring to when she said she couldn’t see to read what was on her card. They continued with a series of humor as would be expected from Mote, Williams, and Easter. The crowd was laughing!

2:46 Favorite Bass: Eric Bennett. Says he’s amazed. Every bass loves to do what he does. “All of them deserve to be up here.” He hopes to never let the fans down. He’s thankful for his wife, the super guys he travels with, and to God.

2:43 Kim Collingsworth’s card didn’t say who was to sing next, so she said, “Whoever is supposed to sing now, come out and they’ll welcome you.” Greater Vision appeared and sang, “He Didn’t When He Could Have Passed By.”

2:41 Favorite Lead:  Ronnie Booth. He said, “I don’t know what to say.” He talked about growing up in Florida, hearing his dad sing for the Rebels Quartet. He talked about the day when there will be an award show like no other and we will lay our awards at Jesus’ feet.

2:40 Presenter Kim Collingsworth introduced. She will be presenting the Favorite Lead award.

2:36 Triumphant Quartet singing “Take it From Me, Meshach.”

2:32 Favorite Tenor: David Phelps. “I’m just amazed by this.”  He’s thanking the fans. “I have nothing other than great appreciation for this.” He loves singing for the people in the seats.

2:29 Legacy Five singing “I’m Still Amazed.”

2:26 Favorite Soprano: Kim Hopper. Saying thanks to the fans. It has been a wonderful year, but one of the most trying years of her life. She was sick at the beginning of the year and enjoyed being at home with her kids, but became homesick for being on the road, doing what God has called her to do, encourage the Christians. She is thankful for God’s sustaining grace.

2:24 The Hosts brought up Josh Singletary as the next presenter.

2:14 Favorite Musician: Kim Collingsworth. Kim’s says she’s at a loss for words. Before she is a musician, she is a wife and a mama. Thankful for parents who introduced her to music and taught her to love God with her heart, soul, and mind. Thankful to her visionary husband. Matthew Holt asked her to play a song.  Kim played “His Eye is On the Sparrow” with just the piano–no tracks! She got a partial standing ovation.

2:09 Kingdom Heirs singing “Just Beyond the Sunset.”

2:07 Favorite Baritone: Jim Brady. “This music is all I ever wanted to sing.”  Psalm 37:4 is true. He is doing the desire of his heart, singing for the Lord. Thanked Booth Brothers, his wife, Melissa Brady, and NQC.

2:05 Presenter Matthew Holt introduced.

2:01 Favorite Alto: Sheri Easter. Sheri saying how she watched Libbi and was thinking of the Grace of God that it takes to sing on stage after 30 years of it being different. “We are blessed.” Sheri thanking fans.

1:57 The Perrys sang “I Got A Hold of God.” (Libbi Perry Stuffle, David Ragan, Bryan Walker)

1:53 Favorite Mixed Group: The Collingsworth Family! Phil Sr. saying 10 years ago, they never envisioned standing here.  He thanked fans for their support and prayers.

1:49 Presenter Jeff Stice brings on the Gaither Vocal Band to sing their top ten nominated song “Glorious Freedom.”

1:47 Favorite Soloist: Guy Penrod! Guy Penrod is in Canada so Jeff Easter held his award for him.

1:45 First hosts: Kevin Williams and Jeff Easter.

Dixie Stampede sponsored the Gaither Sing-a-Long, and it looks like Dollywood is sponsoring the Awards show.

1:42 The NQC Music award show was kicked off by Gordon Mote. There was no microphone at the piano and he shouted something about someone saying he didn’t need a microphone. A microphone promptly appeared at the piano and he started with “Ain’t It just Like the Lord.”  As long as the feed stays up, we plan on bringing you play by play coverage of the award show!

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NQC 2013, Day 5: Homecoming Sing-A-Long Showcase

Daniel is at work, so Daniel’s Siblings are live-blogging the afternoon showcases.

For all those who signed up, remember the Friday NQC coverage is free!

11:02 “When the Saints Go Marching in” featuring Three Bridges’  Shannon Smith on verse 1, Danny Riley sings out for verse 2. Les Beasley crossed the stage (marching in?). Matthew Holt and Stan Whitmire closed it out with a piano duet.

12:58 Bill Gaither says they are closing the set with Glorious Freedom. David Phelps steps forward. The Gaither Vocal Band was joined by Jim Brady, Wesley Pritchard, Gene McDonald, Tim Duncan, and Jason Clark.

12:52 “My Savior’s Love,” featuring Amber Nelon Thompson on the first verse and Charlotte Ritchie and Jason Clark on the second verse. David Phelps sang verse three. Bill Gaither had the crowd sing an encore.

12:47 Mark Lowry was joined by Becky Bowman and Charlotte Ritchie for “I Call Him Lord.” Bill Gaither led the choir in another chorus.

12:43 Wesley Pritchard, Libbi Stuffle, and Mark Lowry sang “What a Lovely Name.” When Libbi had a feature, the fellow singers cheered.

12:39 Sue Dodge sang “Tell Them When You Saw Me I Was On My Way.”

12:31 Willie Wynn, Woody Wright, Reggie Smith, and Gene McDonald sang “Jesus is Coming soon.” Sue Dodge joined for an encore.

12:25 Woody Wright steps back forward for “Back Home Again.” Charlotte Ritchie and Becky Bowman added harmony.

12:21 Charlotte Ritchie featured on “Down to the River to Pray.” Sonya Isaacs Yeary joined her later in the song. They concluded with an A Capella chorus.

12:16 A video clip of JD Sumner was played and led into Charlote Ritchie, Ann Downing, and Jeanne Johnson singing “I Know the Savior Heard My Prayer.”  They switched to an old homecoming video for a middle verse.

12:12 Bill Gaither described how he learned music by counting with his teeth–Mark Lowry & Kevin Williams provided commentary. Bill Gaither lead into telling about the Stamps-Baxter School of music.

12:09 Introduction of band by Kevin Williams and Bill Gaither. Kevin Williams is playing guitar, Greg Ritchie is on drums, and Matthew Holt was playing the piano. They called Stan Whitmire over to play a “I’ve Got That Old-Time Religion” in a “windshield-wiper style.”

12:02 “Heaven’s Jubilee” featured Keith Oxendine who sang with soul, and the singers rose to their feet! The song was encored…and encored again!

11:58 “When God Dips His Pen of Love in My Heart” featured Wes Hampton. The Martin sisters, Jeanne Johnson, and Charlotte Ritchie joined.

11:54 The Martins are featured on “Life is Like a Mountain Railway.”  TaRanda Greene came up for the second verse then Matthew Holt did a piano feature.

11:51 “After Awhile” featuring Ben Speer, Jeanne Johnson, Gene McDonald (Sue Dodge, Kelly Clark and Ann Downing stayed up for this song.)

11:48 “I’d Rather Have Jesus” featuring Becky Isaacs Bowman, Sue Dodge, Ann Downing, and Kelly Nelon Clark on the first verse. Mike Bowling stepped out on the second verse for a feature.

11:44 “There is a Fountain.” David Phelps stepped out for a feature on a verse and chorus. The feed started cutting out towards the end.

11:42 We see Libbi Stuffle made it!

11:38 A.M. Event kicks off with a stage full of singers singing “Just As I Am” and then “Jesus Paid It All” on which Woody Wright sang a verse.

 

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NQC 2013: A note for the uninitiated

A note to NQC webcast watchers, especially those who have never made it to Louisville in person: Don’t judge singers’ abilities based on their NQC sets.

Freedom Hall lies next to a horse barn. That aggravates numerous singers’ allergies. To make matters worse, add four to ten hours of talking to fans per day, and, this far into NQC week, voices are worn out. This seems to especially impact tenors.

I say that to say this: If you see one of the best singers in our genre have an off night, don’t read too much into it. It’s NQC week, and, to appropriate an over-used cliché, NQC week is what it is.

One other thought: This genre’s tenors have to be some of the happiest people in our little world about NQC’s move to Pigeon Forge. 

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NQC 2013, Day 4: Live Blog

Highlight of the Night

The Perrys’ set was one of the strongest sets of the week. They started with “Blue Skies Coming,” a song with an incredibly timely message given their struggles over the last eight months (as bass singer Tracy Stuffle recovers from a January stroke and five cerebral hemorrhages since.) Things got even better with another song appropriate for this trial, “Through the Night.” I was prepared to note that song as one of the highlights of the night, but the Perrys were just getting started.

Libbi told David Ragan and Bryan Walker that she was going to throw them a curveball and change up the program. She spent the time frame that would normally have gotten allotted to song three testifying to God’s faithfulness during these last eight months. She then talked about how the two most important things in our lives are God and our families, and offered a sharp rebuke to people who put expensive cars, houses, and boats at higher priorities. It was a passionate and timely reminder.

Libbi said that as she was leaving Tracy’s side this morning for the drive up to Louisville, she told him that they would use FaceTime to show him their set live. She asked if there was a song he wanted them to sing. He asked them to sing his all-time favorite song, “I Rest My Case At The Cross.” They did, and Louisville came unglued.

These are the sort of moments that capture the essence of the National Quartet Convention, the moments that make it feel more like a family reunion than just a big concert or a trade show.

Other highlights

In chronological order:

  • Southern Raised was one of the best performers in today’s showcases. Their rendition of “Angels, Swing a Little Lower” was incredible, both instrumentally and vocally.
  • “I’m Winging My Way Back Home,” Dixie Echoes, featuring Andrew and Alex Utech. Andrew was singing lead; Alex was singing bass. The audience responded with an enthusiastic ovation.
  • “He Ain’t Never Done Me Nothin’ But Good,” The Isaacs. 
  • “He’s Alive,” The Talleys. (The whole Talleys set was strong.)
  • “Grace Will Always Be Greater Than Sin,” The Hoppers.
  • Triumphant Quartet had an all-around solid set, with moments of heartfelt testimony, humor, and no-holds-barred big endings.
  • “We Believe,” Booth Brothers—both the song and how Michael Booth used humor and serious exhortation to introduce it.
  • “Tradin’ The Old Cross,” Booth Brothers. The Collingsworth Family, who also recorded the song, came up on the encore. Great energy late in the night!
  • “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” The Collingsworth Family. An acapella highlight!
  • “Oh, Holy Night,” Kim Collingsworth piano solo.
  • “Hope Has Hands (Grace Has a Face),” Greater Vision. Subtle brilliance; a highlight of the Christmas section.

Play-by-play highlights

We’ve hidden the complete play-by-play from the home page for space considerations; click “read more” or on the post’s title to read the detailed coverage.

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NQC 2013, Day 4: Gaither/Gatlin Showcase

Daniel’s Siblings caught the Gaither/Gatlin showcase and offer their thoughts. Daniel himself was at work and didn’t catch it.

The showcase started with a Gatlin Brothers song–“Alleluia,” followed by the Booth Brothers singing “Castles in the Sand.”

Gaither Vocal Band (excluding Mark Lowry) sang an A Capella rendition of “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.”

“Corner of Heartbreak Ridge and New Hope Road”–All Three Groups and Gene McDonald (Mark Lowry came up for this one.) They encored it twice.

All the groups did “Swing Down Chariot”–featured Michael English and Wes Hampton.

The Gatlin Brothers then did several country songs.

Then, Bill Gaither and Larry Gatlin told the story behind and with the Gaither Vocal Band sang “Greatly Blessed, Highly Favored.”

Michael English was featured on what we call the “Chiropractor Song” (“I Don’t Want to Get Adjusted”).

David Phelps sang a song that may or may not have been in English. It may have been titled “Come to Jesus.”

The Booth Brothers sang “If We Never Meet Again” in a Gatlin-inspired style.

Bill Gaither told the story of how he and Larry Gatlin wrote “I Played in the Band, Wrote a Few songs, and Sang in the Choir,” from a Henry Slaughter line. The Booth Brothers sand the song and were joined by at least two Gatlin Brothers for the last chorus and encores. Following a Gaither “Why Not?” they encored it again! Matthew Holt was “tearing up the piano!”

Ben, Sonya, and Becky Isaacs came up and sang “Healin’ Stream.” Larry Gatlin seemed genuinely surprised and excited, like he had not expected to see the celebrity Isaacs.

Ronnie Booth sang “Through.” Michael and Jim joined him by the chorus. Bill Gaither led the crowd in “Through it All.”

Michael English sang his current radio single, “Stubborn (Psalm 151).”

Booth Brothers–“Let the Healing Begin.”

The Gatlin Brothers with another song Larry Gatlin wrote, “Help Me.”

David Phelps & the GVB sang “Glorious Freedom.” They were joined by everyone on stage by the end. They continued with “The Winds of the World” and the Martins, Isaacs, and Charlotte Ritchie came back out on stage. The crowd was on their feet, singing and clapping along.

Matthew Holt did a piano solo “Goodbye World, Goodbye.”

After Kevin Williams’ sales pitch for the Gatlin-Gaither music pack, Mark Lowry and the Booth Brothers and Bill Gaither did a song we presume was a love song. It may have been titled “Maybe.” Lowry & the GVB then sang “Sow Mercy” by Reba Rambo.

All the singers on the stage joined in closing with “I Then Shall Live” and “Greatly Blessed.” The crowd was on their feet long before the song was over!

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NQC 2013, Day 3: Live Blog

Far and away, this evening’s program has been the strongest so far. In fact, this evening has had so many highlights that it will be rather hard for the days later in the week to top it.

Perhaps a much better attendance has energized the performers. @jon_leighton posted this picture on Twitter, commenting: “ironically,  a huge crowd on quartet night at quartet convention!”

I missed the first three hours; I was at my church’s Wednesday night service. My siblings, who live across the country and don’t have a midweek service, provided our coverage of the first three hours. 

Highlight of the Night

The moment of the night was the retirement performance of The Couriers. It was the final time most of the people in the audience or watching the webcast will see these legends live and in person; they have announced that their final performance is later this year.

One song into their set, the Mark Trammell Quartet sang one of The Couriers’ signature songs, “I Sing the Mighty Power of God.” Mark then talked about how he had seen the Couriers for the first time at NQC 1974, and talked about the impact they had on their fellow performers, on the fans, and on his life.

Then Mark said that the Couriers—Duane Nicholson, Neil Enloe, and Dave Kyllonen—were there, and he was going to call them up on stage. The artists in the artist circle, surrounding the stage, stood for a standing ovation.

If the audience had any clue what was coming next, the audience would have joined them.

Gerald Wolfe and Jim Brady join Mark to present The Couriers with plaques from the National Quartet Convention thanking them for their years of faithful service and integrity and commemorating their retirement, coming later this year.

Mark Trammell introduced “Statue of Liberty” with these words: “As we pay tribute to the fallen heroes tonight on 9/11, I want to pay tribute to living heroes who show us how to do what we do with grace style character, and integrity.” The Couriers sang most of the song; the Mark Trammell Quartet joined them for the dramatic final choruses.

The audience stood throughout much of the song. Based on the video feed, it looked like there wasn’t a person in Freedom Hall still in their seat by the midpoint of the song. After the song, the standing ovation was enthusiastic and prolonged. It was as if the audience didn’t want to sit down because they didn’t want that moment to end.

Mark Trammell deserves credit for giving up most of his set for this moment. The Couriers deserved this moment—their NQC retirement, and probably their final appearance at a major venue. (Their retirement concert is in two or three months.) It was the final moment most of the people in the room and watching the webcast will get to see them live, and thanks to this, they went out in grand style.

This is one of those NQC moments fans will still be talking about in ten or twenty years.

Other Highlights

My siblings noted these highlights from the first three hours.

  • The Booth Brothers Quartet (see 5:56)
  • The Quartet Choir (see 5:53)
  • The Basses Quartet (see 6:51)
  • Quartet Gilead of Rio De Verde, Brazil (7:17)

I picked up around 8:30. These are the highlights from 8:30 on:

  • The Couriers’ final NQC performance (see above).
  • Legacy Five singing “We Shall See Jesus” (10:22). Of all the times I’ve seen them stage the song, this was easily the best. They had a tough act to follow—the moment of the night, the Couriers’ retirement performance. It’s hard to turn around from that into another evening highlight, but they pulled it off. For about a dozen years after Glen Payne’s death, no major group was willing to touch the song, but, as Fowler said, “the song is too good to die.”
  • The Confused Quartet (8:35): Jeff Easter on tenor, Scott Howard on lead, Arthur Rice on baritone, Mark Trammell on bass, and Gerald Wolfe on piano. This was a highlight for comedic reasons; Easter did a brilliant Kingsmen tenor impression.
  • All-Star Quartet (8:58): On the other hand, this was a highlight for musical reasons. Riley Clark, Clayton Inman, Mark Trammell, and Jeff Chapman did an outstanding rendition of “Glory Road.”
  • The Old Paths set: They’ve had two #1 hits within the last year, and those songs carried their debut NQC appearance.
  • The Kingdom Heirs set was perfectly paced.
  • Triumphant was a great pick to close the night. Their set just kept getting better and better, and they were tearing Louisville up by the last two songs. Clayton Inman reprised his classic Singing Americans feature on “Welcome to Heaven.” And when you thought it couldn’t get any better, they pulled their best fast song—a song a few too many fans have forgotten—out of their back pocket, “I Know I’m Going Home.”

Live Play-by-Play

Click “Read More” to read the entire play-by-play; it’s hidden from the home page for space considerations.

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