2013 SouthernGospelBlog.com Awards: Voting for Best Southern Gospel Concept Video

Quite a few Southern Gospel magazines and websites offer “best of” contests and awards shows. But they often cover much the same ground: Favorite artist, song, album, male singer, female singer, soprano, alto, tenor, lead, baritone, bass, and the like. Let’s do something different. Let’s honor the best Southern Gospel videos—concept videos, behind-the-scenes videos (including studio videos), and live concert videos. For each category, we’ll do a nominations post and a follow-up post with a poll featuring the top nominees.

The original intent in this category was to list the top five nominees, but since there were only nine overall nominees, and I would have had to cast a decisive tie-breaking vote to choose the fifth spot, let’s just add them all to the poll.

Let’s start with concept videos. What were the best Southern Gospel concept videos posted this year? We accepted nominations on Monday; now, it’s time to vote! Here are the nominees; pick the one you think is the best.

Final results:

  1. “Sometimes I Wonder,” Ernie Haase and Signature Sound: 32.85%
  2. “Cookes and Hinsons,” Zach and Rodney: 23.34%
  3. “While I Still Can,” Devin McGlamery: 14.18%
  4. “Something To Say,” Dills: 10.95%
  5. “Excuse Me, Are You Jesus,” Nelons: 8.62%
  6. “Love is Stronger,” Jason Crabb: 6.1%
  7. “Lead Me Home.” Freemans: 2.51%
  8. “Kneel,” Akins: 1.08%
  9. “The Scarlet Cord,” Southern Raised: 0.36%

There were 557 votes cast.

Links to nominee videos:

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NQC 2013, Day 2: Live Blog

Are you watching in person or online? Jump in; join the discussion and share your thoughts in the comments section!

Highlights

In no particular order.

  • The webcast quality was greatly improved from last night. There was only one point where there were any significant interruptions—though, sadly, it was…
  • The Cathedral Family Reunion appearance—Danny Funderburk, Ernie Haase, Gerald Wolfe, Mark Trammell, and Scott Fowler, joined by guest bass Paul Harkey—singing their new radio single, “We’ll Work.” I could only catch a few seconds here and a few seconds there, but it was enough to confirm that it was one of the evening’s highlights.
  • Even though Legacy Five’s set had the somewhat odd pacing of three bass solo songs to open, it showcased Matt Fouch’s growth into his role as a Legacy Five-style bass singer within the past year.
  • I was prepared to describe the Kingdom Heirs set much like I described one or two sets from yesterday: Solidly paced, and so great as a whole that it deserved mention here, even though there wasn’t one song that stood head and shoulders over the rest. But then they closed with their current #1 hit, “Just Beyond the Sunset.” They gave it the all-our barn-burner treatment that they’ve given to previous favorites, “He Locked the Gates” and “I Know I’m Going There.” 

Highlights of their respective sets include: “Homecoming Day” (Tribute Quartet), “Searchin'” (The Talleys with Jason Crabb), “When He Spoke” (The Perrys), “That’s What The Blood is For” (Jason Crabb), “Calvary Conquers It All” (Gold City), “Goodbye World Goodbye” (Penny Loafers), “When We Meet to Part No More” (Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver), “When I Wake Up To Sleep No More” (Inspirations), “Reason Enough” (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound), “What Remains of Me” (Dixie Melody Boys with The Isaacs), “Hold On” (The McKameys), “Four Days Late” (Karen Peck and New River), “I’ll Trust The Potter’s Hand” (The Whisnants)

Live Play-By-Play

Click “Read More” to read the live blog; it is hidden from the home page for space considerations.

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Saturday News Roundup #187

Worth Knowing

  • Phil Cross’s doctors have discovered that he has a mass on his right kidney. There is enough of a chance that it is cancer (85%) that they are skipping a biopsy and scheduling surgery in October to remove it. Prayer is requested!
  • Jack Laws passed away on Tuesday; his funeral is tomorrow. Here is a detailed obituary with funeral plans.
  • DISH is launching a 24/7 all-Gaither channel on Monday, September 16. It will be available on DISH Channel 255.
  • Mercy’s Well lead singer Kyle King is leaving in mid-September and will be replaced by Dustin Simmons.
  • Michael W. Smith announced that Jason Crabb will be joining him as a special guest for selected dates of the final leg of his “Worship Around the World” tour. It will be the first time the two have toured together.
  • In a Musicscribe interview, McCray Dove confirmed that, as had been hinted on Facebook, David Cable was the new Dove Brothers bass singer.
  • UPDATE, 9/2/13, 11 AM: Over the weekend, Libbi Perry Stuffle posted an update on her husband Tracy Stuffle’s stroke recovery: “Been a quiet few days. Tracy had a little bit of depression after going back to rehab on Monday evening. For about three days he wouldn’t do any of his therapy. I think he felt weaker and knew all the pneumonia stuff has set him back about 2 to 3 weeks. We have all talked to him and encouraged him that he is gonna get better. Friday, he had a great day. Did pretty much everything he was ask to. So, I think he’s beginning to pull out of it. Dr said this was all normal.”
  • UPDATE, 9/4: Last night, Libbi posted: “Pretty good day with exception of Tracy having a absent mild seizure. He’s been fine since. Praise God! They had cut his med half at hospital but had to up it a little after today. We napped this evening and then spent rest of evening talking! Love it!”

Worth Watching

Gene McDonald has become our genre’s de facto bass who is called up when a trio wants to make a special appearance as a quartet. With performances like this one, nobody is wondering why!

Worth Discussing

It’s open thread Saturday—you decide!

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Tracy Stuffle Benefit Concert: Live Blog

As we discussed this morning, many of Southern Gospel’s leading artists are putting on a benefit concert this evening for Tracy Stuffle. Video is streaming at www.tracystufflebenefit.com; an audio-only feed is also available at www.southerngospel.com. Let’s discuss it live!

7:08: The evening begins with a prayer, introduction of hosts Jason Crabb and Joseph Habedank, and with all participating artists singing “We Need Each Other” together.

7:16: The concert is being hosted at Christ Church Nashville; its pastor, Dan Scott, is singing several songs. He’s a surprisingly good singer.

7:21: The first headliner artist up is The Bowlings. Mike Bowling sings a classic, “I’ll Be All Right as Soon as I Touch Calvary.” It looks like group’s vocal lineup now is Mike and Kelly, their daughter Hope, and Troy Peach. Mike and Troy are both Perrys alumni.

Kelly shares some heartfelt testimony about how the same community on stage and in the audience rallied around them in 2010. (If you weren’t following the genre then, here are two posts about their bus accident.) She uses this to set up “Your Cries Have Awoken the Master.”

7:34: Gold City is up next, singing “Cast My Bread Upon the Water” and “I’m Not Giving Up.” Jerry Pelfrey is singing lead, Danny Riley is on baritone, and Tim Riley is raising the roof on bass. I’m assuming Bryan Elliott is on piano, though I haven’t seen shots with the piano in view yet. Is that former Palmetto State Quartet tenor Robert Fulton on tenor?

7:45: Karen Peck & New River starts off with “Four Days Late,” and the place comes unglued pretty much instantly. She goes down into the audience to sing “My God Will Always Be Enough”; her delivery is so heartfelt that she chokes up at several points. She nails the ending and gets a standing ovation.

7:56: An unusual configuration of The Hoppers takes the stage. Kim Hopper is on bed rest for several weeks with sinus issues so bad that she may face surgery, and her husband Dean is at her side. So Claude and Connie are holding down their usual parts; TaRanda Greene is pinch-hitting for Kim Hopper, and, none other than Joseph Habedank is filling in for Dean! Claude is featured on “If I Could Help Somebody”; Connie and (oddly, given the earlier announcement) Jason Crabb provide harmonies. Claude takes a drink in the middle of his solo; is it an intentional Marco Rubio moment? Is that why it gets the response it gets?

Connie is up next, singing “I’ve Come Too Far to Look Back.” Trust Connie to tear up the building, with testimony and singing alike! “God has never seen a hopeless case.” Tim Riley comes up for the encore.

8:15: The Booth Brothers kick off their set with an exquisite piano-and-vocals-only version of “I Will Serve Thee.” It looks like their erstwhile producer Nick Bruno is sitting in on piano. After the song, Michael Booth takes a minute to testify to God’s faithfulness in our storms. Jim Brady sings the group’s second song, “Every Cry is Heard,” another exquisite piano-and-vocals version.

8:27: Libbi Perry Stuffle is welcomed with a prolonged standing ovation. She gives a heartrendingly powerful rendition of “Through the Night.” The audience is to its feet by the bridge. This is easily the moment of the evening.

Former Perrys pianist (current Gaither Vocal Band pianist) Matthew Holt is filling in on piano. He plays a soft musical accompaniment while Libbi testifies to God’s faithfulness and gives a current update on Tracy’s health.

Then, Libbi, Joseph Habedank, and Perrys baritone Bryan Walker sing harmonies with a track of Tracy’s pre-recorded voice on “Plan of Salvation.”

8:39: Looks like this crashed the servers for the live stream again.

8:42: Looks like the traffic from Libbi’s surprise appearance was enough to crash not just the stream, but the whole site. I did get the feed back for about three seconds, to see that Leah Page (Libbi’s fill-in for the last two months) was on stage, and that the intro to the track for “If You Knew Him” was playing.

8:45: The stream is back up.

I’ll mention, in passing, that I had the chance to catch the Perrys live two days ago, last Sunday evening. Two things struck me, in particular: First, Joseph Habedank exceeded my expectations as an emcee. Though there was humor, there was maybe a little less than Tracy would bring to a live program. But, on the other hand, Joseph brought a unique songwriter’s perspective, sharing insightful insights about songs he’d written and songs he didn’t write when setting songs up. Second, the implications of the Perrys’ 2010 Song of the Year win for “If You Knew Him” had blessings for the group far beyond what they could see at the time. Since Joseph Habedank co-wrote the song and sang the feature vocal, the win for this—as well as Joseph’s other #1 hits and radio hits—gave Joseph a stature in the industry that enables him to carry the group forward in a way that someone who had just joined the group couldn’t do.

8:51: Phil Hoskins came forward to anoint Libbi and pray for Libbi and Tracy. Libbi shared that a nurse told her that, amidst all the health crises Tracy has pulled through so far, most people don’t make it as far as he has. Within a few days, the doctors will determine if Tracy will need a permanent shunt. The procedure to implement it would be very high-risk; prayer is requested that it will not be needed.

9:09: Libbi is leading the audience in “‘Tis So Sweet.”

9:15: Phil Hoskins gives an altar call.

9:23: Jason Crabb shares Perrys memories and encourages donations to help with their expenses. Online donations can be made here: http://www.tracystufflebenefit.com/donations.html

9:31: During the offering, Matthew Holt plays “Great is Thy Faithfulness” while a slideshow of classic pictures of Tracy plays on the screens. 

9:40: The Isaacs kick off their set with “Walk On.” Rebecca Isaacs Bowman introduced their second song, “Waiting in the Water.” Song 3: “I Will Praise Him,” acapella.

9:55: The Collingsworth Family begins with “Fear Not Tomorrow.” They used to stage this as a ladies’ trio of Brooklyn, Courtney, and Kim Collingsworth; since the last time I saw the group stage this song, Olivia has joined to make it a foursome. If I’m not mistaken, Olivia is doubling Brooklyn’s part. Song 2: Phil Jr. sings the lead on “Just Another Rainy Day.” They closed their set with “The Healer is Here.” Though it’s an older part of their repertoire, it is such an obvious thematic fit that it made sense to pull it out for the occasion.

10:10: Dailey and Vincent brought out a special, surprise guest for their set: Ricky Skaggs. They started with “Noah Found Grace in the Eyes of the Lord.” Christian Davis was on bass. Song 2: “I Believe He Gave His Life for Me.” It’s a little weird to hear a bluegrass band with an electric bass guitar and a piano.

10:21: Ricky Skaggs testified about his faith, and then sang “A Work of Love.”

10:25: Dailey & Vincent close out their set with “The Fourth Man.”

10:29: Mark Lowry takes the stage.

10:30: I stand corrected. Due to a broken femur, he’s standing in front of the stage. He sits on the stage stairs and launches into a comedy routine. He has a talent for making even the jokes we’ve heard a half-dozen times funny again.

He introduced “Mary, Did You Know” in a way I’ve never heard him introduce the song before. He said that one day, his mother shared with him that one of the greatest proofs that the Gospel story is true is Mary’s silence at the cross. His mother told him that if Mark’s hometown decided to crucify him, she’d be raising a storm. If Mark was claiming to be God, his mother said, she’d be the first out there to say, “He’s a liar! He might be a lunatic, but he’s not God! Don’t kill him!” But when Mary stood at the foot of the cross, as Jesus was being crucified for being God, she didn’t say a word—even if it would save His life, spare the cross—because she knew it was true. She, of anyone on this planet, was the one in a position to know the truth of the virgin birth. And she stayed silent.

He closed out with “Mary, Did You Know,” and got a standing ovation.

10:56: Clarke Beasley (NQC Executive Vice President) and Jackie Patillo (head of the Gospel Music Association) shared heartfelt words of encouragement for Libbi.

10:58: Ernie Haase & Signature Sound started their set with “Someday.” Song 2: “Glory to God in the Highest.” They must have figured out that the program needed some energy at this late hour. Song 3: “Get Away Jordan.” Lots of energy here. Signature Sound doesn’t do a huge number of dates with other Southern Gospel groups; this could be the first time that a fair chunk of the industry has seen this lineup live. I think their set tonight will help the buzz spread that this lineup has something special going.

11:09: Les Butler came up on stage to give Libbi gifts from the Predators sports team to pass along to Tracy for his birthday tomorrow.

11:11: The Oak Ridge Boys kick off their set with “Where the Soul Never Dies.” Song 2: Farther Along.

11:26: Jason Crabb began the final set of the night with his new single, “That’s What the Blood is For.” It’s a very strong song, and got a standing ovation at least from his fellow artists. Then he sang another new song, “Love is Stronger,” another very strong song.

He closed with “Through the Fire.” He stopped halfway through the chorus to preach a little. What a closer for the night! Karen Peck & New River, Joseph Habedank, and Ernie Haase & Signature Sound joined him for the closing. Libbi Perry Stuffle also came up on stage to sing it with him.

Libbi testified about how much the song had been ministered to her recently: “This too shall pass. We’re just going through the fire. It didn’t come to stay.”

Jason closed in prayer.

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The Old Rugged Cross and Tent Revival Homecoming: How a Taping Became a DVD

You’ve seen reviews of Gaither Homecoming DVDs. You’ve even seen occasional reports from news websites allowed into Gaither Homecoming tapings. But you probably have not seen coverage that starts with reporting from the live concert (found in its original form here) and focuses on the transition from the live event through the final product.

  • Daddy Sang Bass (#15 on Tent Revival Homecoming): The requisite fixes to the live performance were made. The humor in the live skit translated well to DVD.
  • On the Other Side of the Cross (#7 on The Old Rugged Cross): The intro was replaced by a post-production voice-over.
  • Yes, I Know (#1 on Tent Revival Homecoming): Unlike the other opening track, this one did feel like the start of a concert on the DVD. (Dailey & Vincent’s songs were taped ten or fifteen minutes before the main program began, to allow time for instrument set-up and tear -down,
  • When the Saints Go Marching In (#2 on Tent Revival Homecoming).
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National Quartet Convention 2011, Day 2

This live blog will be updated through the night.

Moment of the Night

Jeff & Sheri Easter, “Thank You Lord for Your Blessings on Me.” Jeff Easter’s mother passed away five weeks ago; it was already a special moment when Jeff dedicated the song to his father, but when his father came on stage to sing the second verse . . . there aren’t quite words to capture the moment. It takes a deep faith to sing those words in public just a month after losing a wife of more than fifty years.

Runner-up: Mark Trammell Quartet, whole set. A delightful and perfectly paced tribute to the Cathedral Quartet. Mark didn’t say it was a tribute, but he didn’t need to—it stood on its own.

Second runner-up: Chris Allman’s unflappability (see Christmas segment).

Christmas Segment (10:22)

Set List: Love Me Some Snow (Crist Family); It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Greater Vision); I Wonder as I Wander (Matthew Holt); Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child (Triumphant Quartet); Away in a Manger (Talleys); I Wanna Hear the Angels (Hoppers); Joy to the World (Legacy Five); Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel (Greater Vision); Hallelujah Chorus (Jeff Stice piano solo); Silent Night (audience)

Highlights: The gigantic red Santa Claus hat which one of Gerald Wolfe’s sons slipped onto his head mid-song! It was also amazing to see Chris Allman sing a pitch-perfect performance of his song despite holding a stack of brightly presents stacked so far above his head that one slipped off and hit his head toward the end. That’s how good he is.

The acapella rendition of “Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel,” also by Greater Vision, was perfect.

Booth Brothers (10:02)

Set List: Look For Me at Jesus’ Feet; Welcome to the Family; She Still Remembers; Since Jesus Came; Trading This Old Cross for a Crown

Highlights: An all-live rendition of “Look for Me at Jesus’ Feet” with Whisnants pianist Eric Ollis on piano.

Whisnants (9:39)

Set List: King Jesus is Coming; Be Not Afraid; Ready to Leave; All is Well; New Day Dawning.

Highlights: Consistently strong throughout; it’s hard to pick a moment that stood head and shoulders above the others.

Showcase Spotlight (9:37)

Voices Won sang “I Was There When it Happened.” They haven’t had a breakthrough hit to move them into the top tier, but they have the tight sibling harmonies to stand out if they get that big song.

Mark Trammell Quartet (9:09)

Set List: Wedding Music; Old Convention Song; Gentle Shepherd; It’s Almost Over.

Highlights: They walk on stage to the strains of “Wedding Music,” and the audience goes crazy. Well, okay, this is NQC, and given the average age, they don’t go crazy, but they definitely welcome it appreciatively! Gerald Wolfe joins on piano for the set.

It was a brilliantly paced and delivered set of Cathedrals songs. Much like a Cathedrals set, almost all the songs were completely live; the closing song had a track. It left the audience on their feet.

(Pat Barker: As to your looks, you look better than I do, but you sing better than you look!)

Click “more” for the rest of the coverage:

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Concert Report: The Homecoming that Nearly Sunk (Charlotte, NC)

Last night, I attended a Gaither Homecoming concert and videotaping in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was held in an open canvas tent on the grounds of the Billy Graham library.

  • Daddy Sang Bass: Bluegrass mega-group Dailey and Vincent wowed the audience and proved why they have been winning seemingly every award Bluegrass has to offer these last few years. They did a tenor and bass routine that featured tenor Jamie Dailey trying to sing bass and bass Christian Davis successfully singing tenor. This was taped before the main program commenced due to the setup time a bluegrass group needs, but the audience ate it up anyhow. It is tough on a group to sing a song this challenging first thing in the program, without any warm-up, and so they will probably do some vocal fixes later. But they got what they needed visually for what will probably be one of the favorite numbers on the DVD.
  • On the Other Side of the Cross: Dailey and Vincent, who recently recorded a Statler Brothers tribute album, did this song with Jimmy Fortune. Their vocals were much stronger here; the additional time warming up with the previous song helped. This was also warmly received.
  • Yes, I Know: This featured solos from Ivan Parker, Jason Clark (of the Nelons), TaRanda Greene, Reggie Smith, and one or two others whom I couldn’t quite pick out from the back row.
  • When the Saints Go Marching In: This featured Stephen Hill (I think) and Ivan Parker.
  • Jesus, Hold My Hand: This featured the Gaither Vocal Band and TaRanda Greene. The vocal dynamite of this interaction makes it quite likely this one will make the cut onto the final product.
  • When He Calls I’ll Fly Away: This didn’t get as strong a response from the live audience as later songs, due to live sound issues. Yet it appeared to be a visually solid performance and, perhaps with audio fixes, should play quite well on the videos.
  • Just Over in the Gloryland: This featured a verse from the Hayes Family—a strong rendition vocally, but again plagued by live sound issues.
  • Life’s Railway to Heaven: This strong and energetic arrangement featured Marshall Hall, TaRanda Greene, Karen Peck, Sue Dodge, and several others. (Sitting in the back row, with about 1/3 of the stage obstructed by the center video camera setup, limited ability to see everything.
  • My Savior’s Love: This classic hymn featured three singers; the second two were TaRanda Greene and David Phelps. Greene’s and Phelps’ powerhouse renditions brought strong reactions.
  • The Old Rugged Cross: Bill Gaither set up the song by saying that Franklin Graham had told them to sing whatever they wanted—but to be sure to include songs about the Cross. Gaither said that he’d replied that that certainly wouldn’t be a problem, with this bunch! The live sound was much better with this song—and remained better than for the opening songs from here through the end. Partially because of this, and partially because it was perfect for that moment in the program, Ben Speer’s solo got what was one of the warmest responses of the night to that point.
  • The Ninety and Nine: When this song was recorded on a Gaither Homecoming several years back, it featured Donnie Sumner and the Talley Trio. The Talley Trio was not there, and I didn’t notice Donnie Sumner (not to say that he definitely wasn’t there.) This time, then, the song featured Guy Penrod and the Nelons. While I consider the Talley Trio’s rendition of the “But none of the ransomed ever knew” verse to be one of the strongest performances of their career, if not the strongest, this rendition will certainly hold its own.
  • Then came the highlight of the night. Bill Gaither introduced George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows, and the audience came unglued. They got a standing ovation at their introduction, and the audience remained standing throughout the entire segment. George Beverly Shea—now 102—delivered a remarkably strong rendition of “The Love of God.” Even if his voice isn’t quite what it used to be, it is still as strong as probably any centenarian’s voice has been, at least since the advent of recorded music. Shea and Cliff Barrows sang “He Whispers Peace” together. Then Cliff Barrows led the audience in singing “Blessed Assurance.” It is hard to say how this will play in the more sterile setting of a commercially released video, but on the grounds of the Billy Graham Library, this was the moment that the live audience will never forget.
  • It wasn’t just the live audience that was moved by the Shea/Barrows segment. Before the program could proceed, makeup artists had to come on stage to fix many of the ladies’ makeup.
  • Down to the River to Pray: This featured a number of ladies—Charlotte Ritchie, Becky Isaacs, Karen Peck, Janet Paschal, and others—and Stephen Hill.
  • Greatly Blessed, Highly Favored: The Gaither Vocal Band and the Gatlin Brothers traded verses on the song, and got a huge response.
  • Heartbreak Ridge and New Hope Road: The Gatlin Brothers turned in a strong performance that had the audience on their feet.
  • I Need Thee, Oh I Need Thee: This featured Buddy Greene on harmonica and Jeff (Easter? not sure) on pump organ.
  • Precious Lord, Take My Hand: Marshall Hall kicked off the song. Jason Crabb took a verse, and Angela Primm—a black female vocalist whom I had not seen before—brought the song to a powerhouse ending.
  • I’m So Glad Jesus Lifted Me: Angela Primm was featured on the song; she did a dueling power soul vocal lick conclusion with Jason Crabb.
  • Heavenly Sunrise: The Hoppers pulled out a hit from way back. If my notes are correct, and I’m not mixing songs up, they were joined on stage by Gene McDonald, Reggie Smith, Kelly Bowling, and Charlotte Ritchie.
  • I’ll Worship Only at the Feet of Jesus: The Hoppers offered a standout amidst an evening of strong performances with this one. Mike Hopper joined the group on stage, doubling Claude on the bass part.
  • How Beautiful Heaven Must Be: This featured Mitchel Jon.
  • I Don’t Want to Get Adjusted: While Mitchel Jon stayed in safe, mellow territory for much of the night, he let loose on this one. Before the song was up, he was joined by Larnelle Harris, Michael English, and Angela Primm.
  • His Eye is on the Sparrow: This featured Larnelle Harris; afterwards, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see it edited to be an intro, Bill Gaither talked with Cliff Barrows about Ethel Waters’ landmark performance at the New York City crusade.
  • At this point, the Oak Ridge Boys did some secular song. Since I needed to take a bathroom break at some point, this was the most natural opening. (Gaither said the cameras weren’t rolling; they were changing tapes, or something to that effect—seemingly odd, now that camera systems have rolled over to digital.)
  • Lead Me To That Rock: The Oak Ridge Boys engaged an enthusiastic audience with this one.
  • Bill Gaither brought Reba Rambo McGuire, her husband Dony McGuire, and their daughter Destiny on stage. He led the Homecoming choir in a Rambos medley that included “Sheltered in the Arms,” “Holy Spirit, Thou Art Welcome,” “Remind Me, Dear Lord,” and “He Looked Beyond My Fault.”
  • At this point, there was a probably unplanned interruption; Cliff Barrows said that there was a sweet, sweet spirit in the room, and volunteered to lead the audience in “Sweet, Sweet Spirit.”
  • Reba, Dony, and Destiny then sang “When I Lift Up My Head”; they were joined by Buck Rambo for “Too Much to Gain to Lose.”
  • Gaither brought Stuart Hamblen’s daughter and grandson on stage, and talked about his friendship with Hamblen and Hamblen’s connection with Billy Graham. The homecoming choir sang “It is No Secret,” and then Gene McDonald and Larry Gatlin sang what was evidently an unrehearsed version of “This Ole House”—made evident since Larry Gatlin forgot the second half of his verse!
  • At this point, a rain storm started coming in. Trust it to a stage full of lifelong performers to know how to kill time; Mark Lowry sang part of “It Won’t Rain Always” and did some impromptu comedy with Bill Gaither.
  • Returning to the Hamblen segment, Janet Paschal sang “Until Then.”
  • Do Right and Come Smiling Through: Stan Whitmire did a convention-style piano solo.
  • At this point, a thunderstorm came on in full force, and recording had to be shut down for a half-hour or more. Fierce winds started blowing the tent, shaking lighting and sound structures vigorously, and blowing in heavy rain to flood electronic equipment.
  • Trust it to lifelong performers to live it up; Ben Speer and Sue Dodge came down for a totally impromptu rendition of “Didn’t it Rain,” and, naturally, Sue Dodge’s “Rain rain go away come again some other day” got a soaked audience laughing.
  • It looked as though the taping might have to be scrapped, but after 30-45 minutes, it resumed with “Heaven’s Jubilee,” featuring Gordon Mote, Michael English, and Larnelle Harris.
  • Rock My Soul: Featuring one of the Imperials groups—it appeared to be the one with Terry Blackwood, Royce Taylor, Darrell Toney, and Joe Moscheo (hat tip, Dean).
  • Old White Flag: Triumphant made a triumphal Homecoming debut with their perennial concert favorite.
  • Since Jesus Came to Live Inside of Me: Booth Brothers
  • In Christ Alone medley: Booth Brothers – Michael Booth acknowledged Michael English when they got to his “In Christ Alone”
  • Consider the Lilies: Charlotte Ritchie led a ladies’ trio
  • This is Just What Heaven Means to Me: Tanya Goodman Sykes led this Goodmans classic; she was joined by Charlotte Ritchie and Becky Isaacs Bowman.
  • I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary: Isaacs
  • I’ll Meet You in the Morning: This was done by a quartet with Ben Speer, Gene McDonald, and two others whom I did not see
  • Old Camp Meeting: Les Beasley led a scrap-iron quartet (also including Gene McDonald) on his first-ever Homecoming solo.
  • Joshua Fit De Battle of Jericho: The Martins
  • Help Me: Russ Taff
  • Now More than Ever: Karen Peck and New River
  • Sometimes I Cry: Jason Crabb’s live band took over the band area, to give his song a distinctly different feel than the songs from the remainder of the program.
  • Then Came the Morning: Guy Penrod delivered a performance that would have gotten a standing ovation with a crowd with more energy. In a sort of odd symbolism, Guy began the song almost precisely on the stroke of midnight.
  • There Is a Fountain / The Blood of Jesus: Courtney Collingsworth did a violin solo on “There is a Fountain”—amidst an evening of big ballads and high energy, the stark simplicity was a perfect and memorable change of pace.
  • Before Jeff & Sheri Easter sang, Jeff Easter did a comedy monologue about his daughter, drama, and puppies. Though this is perhaps unlikely to make the final cut, there was some great impromptu humor here for the live audience; after the craziness of the evening, when Jeff Easter started talking about puppies, Gene McDonald offered a monster bark into his bass microphone. Jeff Easter looked back at the bass section and said “What?” – at which point Gene barked again, and assorted other performers began barking and yapping!
  • Sweet Bye and Bye: Jeff and Sheri Easter
  • That Sounds Like Home to Me: Michael English had the solo, with the rest of the Gaither Vocal Band (except possibly one of the two tenors) joining on the choruses.
  • He’s Alive: David Phelps hit a home run with this big finish.

A few general observations:

  • The parking situation was atrocious. The staff was going to start parking at 5:30, and they didn’t have either the capability or the infrastructure to handle the influx of cars. The cars backed up down their entrance, down the access, road, and quite a ways down the Billy Graham parkway. Meanwhile, they reassigned a number of the early birds (including me) to park in the other direction, facing out the exit ramp—leaving it to us to figure out how to work our way back into the line, much later, without any guidance.
  • Oddly, they didn’t have the infrastructure to check tickets, either. I came in the entrance by which about half the traffic was coming in—the entrance where people who walked across the grounds of the library from their parking lot, instead of taking the shuttle, came in. I eventually figured out where my seat was, but oddly they did not check my ticket at any point.
  • Also oddly: This was the first live taping I’ve attended where there was apparently nobody designated to enforce a no-cameras-or-video-devices rule. I saw several cameras rolling at points. This was completely understandable during the time period when the building was shut down and flooding, but it was rather irksome during the regular program. If you are sticking a video camera (cell phone or otherwise) over your head and obviously recording a video during a professionally produced live video taping, it both obstructs the view of those around and behind you and gets them thinking that you must clearly be too cheap to buy the real thing when it comes out!
  • It took about eight songs for the live sound crew to dial in the live sound. Since I was sitting in the back row, I could see the monitor for the sound crew’s Pro Tools setup, and they were recording all microphones—not the live mix—so this should not affect the final product. Yet as they were scrambling to find out who was on each microphone, several of the early songs had unamplified vocals for most or all of the verses.
  • If the extent to which she was featured tonight is any indicator, expect to see TaRanda Greene playing a role as one of the most prominent Homecoming soloists in the future. (That’s not a bad thing at all, since she was easily one of the most talented and versatile vocalists on the stage.)
  • There were about 124 performers on stage. Since they kept moving around practically every verse of every song, it was hard to get a precise count.
  • Though they will undoubtedly work fine on the video, several of the slow songs, particularly the second-to-last “That Sounds Like Home To Me,” were actually rather challenging in the live setting. At 12:30 AM, it was hard to focus on a song that mellow; my mind shifted to planning an escape route for a prompt and efficient exit walking across the grounds to my car, and then in the car out of the rather confusing complex layout!

A Homecoming live video taping experience is not for everyone. Five and a half hours—perhaps without a break, since the only one here was unplanned—is not for the faint of heart. Yet there are also sure to be numerous memorable moments you will never forget.

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