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Monthly Archives: September 2011
This Friday I’m planning to go see the Kendrick brothers’ latest movie, which some of you may already have heard of. It’s called Courageous, and much like Fireproof it explores the real-life tensions of first responders and their families. Last time it was firemen and marriage, this time it’s policemen and fatherhood. Inventive? Maybe not, but I can’t fault the Kendricks for using a formula that works well and that they’re familiar with. Here is a clip from the film, in which a character confesses a secret from his past, and the gospel is clearly presented to him. As the Church is corrupted, the gospel is watered down to the point where it’s treated as something dispensable. It’s refreshing to see people who are still willing to present it directly and unvarnished. (Note: This clip does contain a plot spoiler, so if you really want to be surprised, wait and see the movie.)
Now to get technical: Critics of the Kendricks’ movies, and of the Christian film genre in general, have made some fair points. Script, acting, and directing in Christian films virtually never matches the best that the mainstream has to offer. But what I like about the Kendrick brothers is that they’ve never pretended to be the Nolan brothers. They’re under no illusions about the greatness of what they create. Instead, they understand their limits and work within those limits to be the best at what they can do, and that’s making engaging, wholesome, family films that will present the gospel while presenting a good story at the same time. I know what a great movie looks like. I can tell when a piece of directing or a piece of acting rises above merely being good to sheer brilliance. But that doesn’t keep me from not merely enjoying, but appreciating what the Kendricks have to offer. In this way, I hope that I can walk a middle road between the Christians who consider themselves too sophisticated to enjoy anything the Christian film world provides and the Christians who insist those are the only movies that are any good. So I can marvel at the dazzling brilliance of a Christopher Nolan film on one day and eagerly look forward to a piece of evangelical movie-making on the next, intending to enjoy them equally. (However, I should probably add that I am far less forgiving in the realm of novels. Literature is a wholly different world from cinema.) Having seen all of the Kendricks’ previous movies, I truly can’t wait to see how they’ve grown in their craft. Because of the multiple stories Courageous tells, it’s more detailed than anything they’ve done so far, and if the preview clips I’ve seen are any indication, it’s their most mature work yet. I will see if I can offer some thoughts on the blog after watching it.
Now, for the second thing that’s coming up: A Booth Brothers concert on Saturday! Though I anticipate few surprises in the set list, I’m eagerly looking forward to watching these guys live and in the flesh, and hopefully getting to meet them in person. I’m particularly looking forward to shaking Michael Booth’s hand, which I’ve wanted to do for a while. I mean who doesn’t love Michael Booth? Review and possibly some pictures to follow.
The other day I was thinking about the mysterious process by which certain artists are invited to perform on mainstage and other artists aren’t. And a question occurred to me: Does it not seem strange that you basically only perform on mainstage if you’re either a really big name or a no-name?
I just don’t understand how it is that a group like the Erwins (who seem like sweet kids, so this isn’t at all intended as a personal slam), can get two spots on mainstage, while Beyond the Ashes, for example, gets zero. And Wilburn & Wilburn get a measly one song with a choir at the very beginning of the program, plus being on stage during the encore of a Perrys song. And don’t even get me started about a group like Paid in Full, who just celebrated 20 years of quality music.
Bottom line is, I get the idea of giving people nobody’s ever heard of before an opportunity of a lifetime and a chance to be heard, but I think that for the sake of quality it’s not fair to exclude other artists much more deserving of that time. Many times the showcase groups that “win” a spot on mainstage have little or no talent at all. I’m not saying this is the case for everyone—I named the Erwins because they appeared twice, but they’re not even the worst example. I won’t specifically name all the worst ones because I don’t think there’s any constructive point to it. Suffice it to say that I think anyone with a moderately critical ear who sat through the entirety of NQC would agree with me. And for that matter, there were big-name groups who didn’t impress me musically either.
But now I yield the floor. What are your thoughts, gentle readers?
A while back I found this video on Youtube of Wes Hampton leading worship and singing “It is Well.” I wanted so badly to embed and share it, except the audio and video were out of sync. So I decided to synchronize it and upload the fixed version to Godtube.
Most people have heard Wes sing this song as a duet with Steve Green, and that’s the arrangement on his solo album. But this is the only time I’ve heard him sing it by himself a la David Phelps, with the high note on the phrase “as a scroll.” Watch him take it and nail it here. (Note: The second verse is sung by a different guy I don’t recognize—his style isn’t my cup of tea, but it doesn’t really matter. Also, Wes and the choir aren’t quite on the same page all the time, but again, doesn’t really matter.)
Hope that made your Sunday a little brighter. Click here to rate (if you’re a Godtube member), comment, share, etc…
Stuff I thought was interesting this week, southern gospel-related or otherwise:
*Those of us who purchased the NQC webcast are still having to be patient as all the performances are slowly uploaded On Demand. Parts of Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday are still missing. This includes two of Brian Free & Assurance’s appearances and the Booth Brothers’ last appearance, among many other things. Get this fixed, please? I can understand slowness on the Friday and Saturday stuff, but Monday and Tuesday, still? Come on!
*Our anonymous artist is starting to get specific with his critiques. Whether or not you agree, they are certainly interesting. Here are his random musings on “the ladies’ part” (in which he confesses that he would choose Wes Hampton over David Phelps if he were putting together a quartet). Suffice it to say that he is confusing all of us as to who he really is, which is probably just as well.
* Recently I read two CD reviews that convinced me to get the projects being reviewed. They are Brian Fuson’s take on the multi-artist Squire Parsons tribute project and Eaton & Murray’s Must Buy Or Not double-take on the Wilburns’ major debut (read it either here or here). I hope to offer my own take on both albums if I can find the time once I get them.
*A word on hymn-writing from Fernando Ortega. Valuable read. Plus you can hear the title hymn of his new CD Come Down O Love Divine. What’s not to love?
*Photo of the week: What happens when you give a bored Star Wars fan a set of crayons…
Come to think of it though, isn’t the white one a little short for a Stormtrooper…?
And finally, our anonymous artist said in his random musings on bass singers that Pat Barker could be the best on the road right now. I agree. Here’s a little proof for anyone who still needed convincing. (And by the way, just so nobody looks at any of the artists in this particular clip suspiciously, I very much doubt that Mr. Anonymous is among them. ):
This past week, I set two new records for blog views per day. Obviously it was because of NQC and the fact that I was providing regular reports. While it would be cool if I could continue keeping up that rate of hits, I fear I’ll have to wait before I get that kind of activity again. So far though, I’ve maintained an average consistently higher than what I had before. So it may be that I picked up some new readers.
With all that in mind, I thought now might be a good time to do something I’ve wanted to do for a while: Take a poll to see if I can get a rough idea of how many of the people who read this blog are southern gospel artists, people in the industry, and simply fans. You don’t have to be a regular follower to take part in the poll—if you’re reading this because you like southern gospel, that’s all that’s required. I haven’t decided how long to leave it open—perhaps until I get a sample I’m happy with. Meanwhile, pick the description that best fits you:
I see that in my NQC reporting I failed to make any mention of the GVB Reunion showcase. Others fortunately caught it live and provided a set list. I’ve finally finished watching it on-demand. Basically it felt very off-the-cuff and informal, which meant there were some mix-ups and goofs, but it was real. You could tell they hadn’t had much time to run through everything. I actually like that sense of making things up as you go along. The biggest problem was (surprise, surprise) sound. Members would pick up their mikes for key solos and find them turned off—just had to manage as best they could. The mix was also very uneven. Often parts would stand out over the melody. But again, I liked the real feeling, and there was some wonderful singing anyway. Mark Lowry was as crazy as ever and pulled out his old “Jesus On the Mainline” routine for a hilarious walk down memory lane, plus of course his classic “Mary Did You Know.”
Yes, like everyone else I am puzzled by the fact that Guy’s absence wasn’t even mentioned or explained in any way, but good singing was still done and good music still made. Larnelle Harris essentially stole the show, as others have said. Even when he wasn’t being featured and bringing the house down (“Amen,” “I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked”), he would time and again be chiming in with some bit of improv, waving the microphone about in that delightful way of his and just being generally brilliant. However, Wes Hampton also offered some wonderful moments (“The Love of God,” “I’m Free,” “Something About That Name,” “Daystar,” others I’m probably forgetting where his voice was heard… and I mustn’t forget to mention his little dance moves on “Build An Ark” — priceless). Also, Steve Green did a brilliant job with “No Other Name But Jesus,” setting it up with a great mini-sermon on how both the legalists and the relativists fail to grasp the gospel of salvation. It was his only feature, but it touched me deeply, like Michael Booth touched me on Saturday night with “Look For Me At Jesus’ Feet.” For some reason, those two moments both stand out in a special way for me out of all the great music that was performed last week. I think it’s because both Michael and Steve have a rare gift for communicating a song and sending the message straight to the heart, and when that gift is joined with a great lyric, you have something special. I realize that’s not an original thought, but it’s true.
There were others who did great too, like Jimmy Murray and Buddy Mullins (who had a much better haircut than he did a couple years ago on the reunion video set). Just a really enjoyable showcase. You could tell everyone had a great time. The song selection wasn’t as strong as it could have been, but they had to work around the fact that they didn’t have Guy with them so that may explain some of it. One thing I wish they would have done is have Steve Green and Wes Hampton sing their duet version of “It is Well.” It would have made perfect sense for many reasons, one of which is that Wes’s solo project, from which that arrangement comes, has just been released by the Gaither company. Anyway, it was still fun, still good, still worth watching. Don’t miss it if you got the webcast. No videos from it have surfaced on Youtube, but while we’re talking about the GVB, here’s a taste of Wes Hampton’s brilliant Friday night performance of “He is Here.” This isn’t the whole thing, but it’s still great:
Hitherto, I have made use of Rapidshare as the site I use to share audio and video. However, I’ve been getting e-mails that my files are not going to be stored permanently unless I pay money to upgrade to RapidPro. I have therefore decided to open a 4Shared account, whose only restriction is that I visit the account once every thirty days, otherwise the account will be deleted. That beats Rapidshare.
The first file I’ve uploaded is my piano arrangement of “Jesus is Holding My Hand,” which some of you downloaded from Rapidshare when I shared it in my review of Doug Anderson’s project. Now that it’s much easier to get access to, I thought I’d embed it right here in a player for those who haven’t heard it yet. Ignore the pointless shapes show. I never could figure out the purpose of that stuff. Minimize if necessary and enjoy:
Well folks, here we gooooooo! Last night! Enjoy my hasty notes…
They are repeating a couple of showcase groups at the beginning. I walked in to catch the last part of Omega’s song. The group as a whole doesn’t impress me so much, but the lead singer has a strikingly powerful and mature voice! Others have made a comparison to David Phelps, and he’s definitely been influenced by David. Keep your eye on that fellow… then the Irwin brothers came up and sang again. For such a young group, they have a nice sound. Still green of course, but promising.
Now Michael Booth and Susan Whisnant are doing congregational singing. Michael took the drums for “Victory In Jesus.” I am prepared for a wonderful and wild night of Michael Booth emceeing!
He just set up the Dixie Echoes by saying “If any one has preserved the heart of southern gospel quartet singing, it’s these guys.” (Of course, then he leans over and asks Randy Jr., “Uh, what’s your name?”) They opened with “I’ll Shake the Hand of the Lord Some Day.” Michael Helwig did some great singing, even though he faltered a bit at the end. Now Randy Jr. is singing “Crumbs From the Table.” A truly beautiful song I hadn’t heard before. Stewart Varnado is playing a fast one now per Randy Sr.’s command. Oh Hallelujah, Michael is launching into “Hide Thou Me” now! This is going to be goooood. He sang terrific, but again, kind of holding on for dear life on his last note. Could be he’s having allergies like everybody else. Same deal on “Miracles Will Happen.” I feel kind of bad for him, but it is punishing to sing at NQC. Then Randy Sr. did a big vocal on “How Great Thou Art.” We were praying in the chat for Michael to hit his note on there, and he decided to go falsetto… hey, you do what have to! You know what I really appreciate is that this group is doing all of this 100% real. No stacks, no tracks, no security blankets whatsoever. Yet they still have a quality sound, even with the fatigue or pitchiness that creeps in on them like it can for any group.
The Kingsmen opened with a fast one, now Ray Dean Reese is singing “Loving Shepherd, Gracious God.” This is a great new lyric by Dianne Wilkinson. Ray Dean and Bryan Hutson stood out. Now Harold is singing “God Saw a Cross.” I’d forgotten how good this song is. Harold seems to do better with this style than the very high stuff. He really has a nice voice.
Next they did their latest single “That’s All I Need,” which is a solid song. Always draws a response. They just drew another good response with “Stand Up.” DBM just cracked me up telling me what this song’s lyrics originally were when it was a country song. LOL.
[Insert pointless video here. This one is downright blasphemous. I'm not kidding.]
Now the Primitives are out! Hot pickin’! All instrumental for the moment. But we’ve noticed one chap is standing back and just watching. DBM just said you’d think someone would at least give him a cowbell… Next, “He’s the Same God,” now “I Don’t Have to See the Tomb.”
I think I may have missed a song in there, but now they’re singing “You’ve Been Gracious To Me.” It was set up with a great story about how a disabled kid wanted to sing it with them in concert one night. Then they closed with “Walking On the Highway,” before which one of the singers shared an emotional testimony.
The King’s Heralds did yet another stunning a capella number. Then Susan Whisnant just said they had another quartet coming up, and Michael started going, “Quartet, quartet, quartet this, quartet that… it’s not that I’m bitter, I’m just SICK OF IT!” And it’s the Dove Brothers, and they’re opening with “King Jesus.” Did I mention that Burman Porter is the cat’s meow? Tremendous bass voice. The tenor is kind of shrieky on this one though. They’re encoring it. And encoring it. And encoring it. Okay, finally done now. Now McCray is singing a new one called “He Made a Change In Me.” This is very sweet and country—I like it. McCray just made it more powerful by saying it’s his father’s life story. He was an alcoholic, and he actually pleaded with his wife to leave him and take the kids with her. She stood with him and kept praying, and God turned his life completely around. Closed with “Get Away Jordan,” and this time McCray’s coat flew off. Unfortunately I missed the actual moment of the coat shed (I’ll catch it later though).
Now this is a surprise… Gerald Wolfe is up saying he’s written a song! And he’s going to pass out the lyrics to an impromptu quartet… John Rulapaugh on tenor, Arthur Rice on lead, Mark Trammell on baritone, and Gerald on bass. He’s campaigning to be songwriter of the year for this. We’ll see. He says it might be song of the year too. Oh how funny, it’s a take-off on “Looking For a City” called “Looking For a Tenor.” I’ll post the lyrics later. Let’s just say it went over well.
The Rambos are up next and we all just remembered that we have some very important things to do. Be back in a bit.
Okay, now Michael Booth is leading the crowd in different kinds of applause: “This is your opportunity to make things look better than they really were.” HA! It’s so true though, this is exactly what video producers do. First, polite applause. Now, more enthusiastic (“This is gonna be good for the Baptists here.”) Okay, now “Stay seated, but love it a little more.” Some whistles and cheering now. This is getting good. Finally, a popcorn standing-ovation. “Okay, um, everybody 40 and younger start first, and then if you’re over 50 you start after them…” How funny. This beats the socks off of filler video. Funniest moment of the night so far.
Now Triumphant is up with “Saved By Grace.” Still a solid tune. Then David did “Mercy, Forgiveness and Grace,” very pretty new one. Ha, “Old White Flag” up next! Jeff Stice just banged on the piano and started texting. As we know, he hates this song. I grabbed a tissue and waved it… close enough. Live mandolin, sweet—added a LOT. Now “Almost Home.” I’ve heard this three times now this week, and I still think it’s cool.
Talleys are up now. Brian just sang Stephen Hill’s “Jesus Saves,” which is a beautiful song. They had a very smooth blend on that one. However, there was a brief track goof towards the end… it skipped ahead for a moment to their next song, “That’s Enough.” That was fun, and now Lauren is singing an acoustic version of “The Broken Ones.” She sings this beautifully. Roger is playing and not singing—like the trio sound with Lauren, Debra and Brian. Now that same lineup is singing “His Life For Mine.” Another strong number. Lauren got the audience on their feet by the end. She has a very present voice, and there’s just something special about the the way she delivers a song. Leaving on a bang with “Testify.” Wow, Debra just sang some HIGH harmony on top of Lauren’s melody! That was a great set.
And now, the Mark Trammell Quartet is up. Mark is opening with “God Knows How Much Mercy I Need.” Then they did “Boundless Love.” Honestly, this is one of the weaker versions of this song that I’ve heard. Dustin and Joel are decent vocalists, but just a little weak on this one. Mark and Pat are obviously the stand-out half of the group. Now it’s a “Calvary Medley.” Mark did a great take on “I Believe In a Hill Called Mount Calvary,” now they’re ending with “The Old Rugged Cross Made the Difference.” No wait, I think that was just a pause, now “At Calvary.” I heart Pat Barker… he just did a tremendous solo! Oh man, now he’s singing “That’s Enough For Me to Know.” Yes, finally, a whole song featuring Pat! He is my favorite bass singer right now, hands down.
I stepped out during Jeff Stice’s piano solo, now this a capella college group called Voices of Lee is up singing an arrangement of “Amazing Love.” Very different sound—bit of an acquired taste, but they’re obviously talented. Great vocal percussion! Unfortunately, the girls’ slacks are kind of tight. Would look classier if they wore skirts or something, just saying… Now they’re doing “Just a Little Talk.” Somebody is one HECK of a bass singer! Black guy, wow, rich. They cut over to “When God Dips His Love” then back to “A Little Talk.” Wow, that was stunning. Popcorn standing-O for that. We’re wondering how many groups are going to approach him after tonight. Now “How Great Thou Art.” I’m in awe of the blend these thirteen kids have. With all the sloppy singing we’ve had this week, from groups of three, four or five, this is impressive to say the least. Only thing is, I’m not a huge fan of the SUPER high female parts. But that’s okay. They got a huge response tonight.
For an in-between vid, they played Steve Amerson’s version of “Blades of Grass and Pure White Stones.” Never heard of the song or the singer before. Quite nice!
Mark Bishop is up now. I like Mark’s stuff. Singing the Bishops’ oldie “You Can’t Ask Too Much of My God.” Great song. Now singing “Listening For the Call.” New song, enjoying it. Nice production! Then he did another old Bishops’ one, “Each Voice Another Chance to Reach the World.” “My Name is Jesus” now. Lauren’s mike wasn’t on for a moment, whoops. It’s on now, good. Ack, same deal for Bill Shivers. Whole group singing by the end. One of the worst mixes I’ve heard all week. No excuse. Somebody’s not doing their job.
Okay, now Brian Free & Assurance came up, and ALL their mikes were off. Ridiculous. Jeremy’s mike still wasn’t on last we checked. They’re singing “First Day in Heaven.” Okay, now they’ve finally got them all on. It only took a whole verse and chorus. Sheeeesh. And I’ve just confirmed that BFA doesn’t have a sound man, so now I’m wondering if it is the NQC team after all. Now Brian is singing “I Believe.” Sounding much better than the last time he performed this one. Excellent song. Oh sweet, Bill’s going to cut loose on “Prayin’ Man” now. Power singing. And Brian always slays me with that high harmony. Okay, now this is awesome, they’re going to do “For God So Loved.” Instant applause. Classic Terry Franklin-penned song. Brian is doing great. So, so classy. Whoops, my sound and video went out of sync at the end so I missed part of the finish, but needless to say it was HUGE and people were on their feet. Now they started up “Looking For a City.” Brian pretended he didn’t know and said, “Hey! No! Who told you…??” HA! This will be good if he gets someone up to duel with him… Nobody yet. They’re telling him to go higher. “You gotta go higher Brian. Higher!” This is hilarious…. Okay, so Bill kept pushing him higher and higher (“How bout it guys, you think he can do one more?”) and Brian was getting so mad there at the end (“And theeeere the sainted millions, never SING THIS HIGH!”) When he’d gone to the point where he had had absolutely enough (“Aaaaand, that’s ALL I’m doing!”), the crowd and the guys were screaming for just ONE final one. Brian growled “It’s Saturday night!” and then obliged them all. I love it! Supreme showmanship! And the icing on the cake was when Michael Booth came up and said, “Oh, I am so proud of him, because that is EXACTLY the way I taught him to do that.” (Before their set, Michael was saying that Brian had been his finest student.) Then there was still some residual cheering when Michael was trying to read announcements, and he snapped, “Hey that’s enough for Brian okay? Brian, get out of here! Well, I guess I know who’s winning Tenor of the Year.” What a hoot. Biggest crowd response of the night.
Okay, so after THAT, the Kingdom Heirs seem a little forgettable at the moment. Their opening song was pretty bad, now they’re singing “Heaven Is My Goal.” Now “It’s Real.” No wow moments yet. But Steve and Kreis French are making me laugh now with some great marriage humor. Now “We Will Stand Our Ground” again. I have to say, this is the third time I’ve seen them do it this week, counting the afternoon showcase, but it’s still one great song. It never fails to deliver. But Jerry is STILL getting drowned out by Arthur. I believe Jerry’s been having allergies this week—poor guy.
Then for an in-between video, they rolled a little highlight reel of NQC moments and behind the scenes stuff. Well edited. Song clips featured, in order, were “Beulah Land” (Squire Parsons and friends), “Welcome to the Family” (Michael’s botched lyrics moment) “Mama’s Teaching Angels” (Rambos) “Wish I Could Have Been There” (Perrys, the one last night in honor of Andrew’s birthday), Michael Booth’s four great cathedrals story (from the funniest stories showcase, some of you caught that—hilarious), “Love You Through It,” the Isaacs, moment when cancer survivors brought posters on stage, and finally the McCray shuffle and the Dove Brothers tearing it up on the end of “Get Away Jordan.” Those were all good highlights, but they missed quite a few, most notably Kim Hopper’s tribute to her brother and the two soldiers who made it.
The Whisnants up now. Sang a heaven medley, then a different song whose title has slipped my mind, then “A Greater Yes,” now “I’ll Pray For You (You Pray For Me).” This is a nice trio. Closing with “I Can’t Wait to Be There,” which is a great barn burner. Swell, the Booth Brothers are up for the encore! This is WAY fun! Okay, so they just kept it going and going, and Michael jumped over to drums, Gerald came up and started doing dueling piano with their pianist, and it’s STILL going. Susan is so hoarse, she just said “I need a girl up here!” and Karen Peck came up with her.
Susan just gave the Brothers a sweet introduction by saying she’s so proud her 17-year-old son looks up to them. Then Michael remained seated by his drums and started singing “Look For Me At Jesus’ Feet.” Just singing very slowly, very tenderly, with the pianist accompanying him slowly and tenderly. Michael remained seated until the line “for saving a wretch…” He sang it, “A wretch… just a wretch… like me.” Then he stood, and he and the brothers slowly began moving together around the piano. It was the most moving performance of the song I had ever heard. I have never heard Michael sing this song like he did just now. I worshiped like I haven’t worshiped all week long. A small taste of heaven, right there. Just hard to put into words.
Then they did “He Saw It All,” which is a good song but just didn’t seem to rise to the same heights. Now they’re doing “Still Feelin’ Fine!” Hey, Tribute’s bass Anthony Davis is up with them. Pretty neat. Eric Ollis is playing piano for them and he just killed it. Then Michael pretended that Anthony was his son, funny. Apparently he has been mistaken for Michael’s son before. Then Ronnie and Jim teased him about his tie, trying to get him to loosen it or take it off. He said “No,” and when they asked why, he drew himself up and said, “Because I’m BAPTIST.” Huge laugh. Then he began talking and paused to turn over their timer. “They already gave us the check!” THAT got a REALLY big laugh.
Eventually he settled down and began talking some serious theology, setting up their new song “What About Now.” This will be good. Thought-provoking closing number. Michael delivers the lyric with so much feeling. You can tell he means it from the bottom of his heart.
I couldn’t tell exactly what was going on after that… Michael began leading the audience in “Nothing But the Blood,” then Karen Peck came up and joined him… Michael said something about the “machine” not cooperating with what had been planned. More a capella singalong, “Reach Out” and finally the “Doxology.” Then it was good night to all. Not sure what happened there, but I think there was some grand finale that was supposed to happen involving a track, and they couldn’t get the track to play and had to cut it off. That’s too bad! But in any case, it was a great night. Brian Free & Assurance and the Booth Brothers brought some amazing moments tonight, and there were other good sets too. But in the end, it was Michael Booth’s night all the way. His emcee work was sparklingly witty and brilliant as ever, and he delivered moving performances as well. Truly one of a kind. His touch may have made this the best night of the week.
Please leave comments. I am signing off and going to bed. It has been an awesome week, and I may try to do a post-NQC thing some time next week. Meanwhile, thank you to all the artists who made this week awesome, and to all of you in the chat room. You guys were great. Especially wanted to say to Mrs. Janice Allman and Mrs. Donna Wolfe that it was a pleasure to “meet” both of you! Blessings to all and good night.
This installment will be briefer than usual. I decided to just enjoy the showcase and not blog much. But I’ll provide a song list and brief comments here and there.
Up On this Ridge, written and performed by Channing Eleton: Inspired by his mother, who he would often see “talking with God” by the fireplace, this is an upbeat take on the mental picture of praying to God. Channing brought his accordion up on stage with him!
One Holy Lamb, performed by Tribute Quartet: Phil Cross told a great story about how his co-writer Cindi Ballard got the idea for this song in a dream, and Riley Clark turned in a PHENOMENAL performance. Standing ovation from all the writers and the audience.
He’s Everything I Need, performed by the Kingsmen: Joe Habedank introduced it. The Kingsmen encored it twice and got a great response.
Hear My Heart, performed by Sheri Easter: Sheri shared about how when she was going through chemo for her breast cancer, Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey went through her notes together with her and found two slips of paper with what became the chorus to the song. Joel, who had also battled cancer, came up with the beginning verse. Sheri performed it movingly.
Preach the Word, performed by Gold City: Writer Jim E. Davis set this up great, saying that when he brought the chorus to his wife, she said, “That’s good, I like that. Don’t mess up the verses.” He comes from a family of preachers, and the tradition has been carried on. Dan Keeton delivered a powerful vocal with Gold City. It was not as strong as it could have been, but he carried it well, and people were standing before the end.
Hands of Grace, performed by the Talleys: Tony Wood is one of my favorite Christian writers, and he got up to introduce this song. He said Jim Brady had the song title, and immediately Tony’s mind went back to some photographs his daughter had taken of Tony’s grandmother’s hands. It inspired the song’s focus on Jesus’ hands and all the people he had touched with them. Great story.
When You Bow At Jesus’ Feet, performed by Jim Brady: Jim wrote this song by himself and had the Booth Brothers there to back him up. Their mikes were deliberately turned down, and they stood back aways behind him to let him carry it. I wouldn’t have minded it if they had been a little more present, but it was nice for them to intentionally give him the main spotlight as the writer. I hope they do this on mainstage tonight.
We Will Stand Our Ground, performed by the Kingdom Heirs: Dianne Wilkinson came out and said: “I’d rather be an old-time Christian than anything I know.” She then spoke about how the devil “hates old-time Christians” because we have the truth. “So he’s scared of us, y’all.” She had everybody standing before the song had even begun! The Kingdom Heirs came out and knocked it out of the park. My one complaint is that Arthur Rice was miked so loud that he drowned out Jerry Martin, which means we lost the melody towards the end. However, everyone was on their feet before it was over. A tremendous moment.
Side Effects, performed by Tim Lovelace: “This’ll be in your hymn books next month.” Maybe not? Mark Bishop afterwards: “Wow what do you say? So many places you could go with that.”
My Name is Jesus, Mark Bishop: Something feels off about this song, but it was neat to see various guest vocalists up there to “play” the various roles in the song. Bill Shivers sang Ivan Parker’s part as Peter and did a great job, but it was Lauren Talley who really stole the show and got people standing by the end.
Fall On My Knees, performed by the Browders
Another Child’s Coming Home, performed by Chris Allman and Jeremy Medkiff: This may have been my favorite moment. Chris said that this was the song God sang over him during a time when Chris was wandering. He did it completely unplugged with Jeremy Medkiff—Chris had a guitar, and Jeremy had a guitar. Very simple and tasteful.
Almost Home, performed by Triumphant: Scotty said his wife told him to put this on the new Triumphant record, and we’re very glad she did!
Do You Love Me, performed by Sisters: Phil Cross introduced this powerfully by saying this was his heart’s cry at the age of eleven, when he wondered if God really loved him. He said that out of all the songs he’s written, this one means the most to him. I was unfamiliar with the song and was deeply moved by Sisters’ performance. Just wow.
No Longer Chained, performed by Greater Vision
Redemption Draweth Nigh, performed by Greater Vision: Gordon Jensen told a great story about how this song came to be. As a very young writer, he took it to a major group, and when they heard the line “war and strife on every hand, and violence fills the land,” they said it would never work. “People are trying to get their minds OFF of war and strife.” Gordon was totally crushed and almost threw it away. But when Duane Allen of the Oak Ridge Boys heard it, he told Gordon that even though it wasn’t an ORB song, it would become a timeless classic. They took another song Gordon had written and said it might be a hit for a few years, but this one was going to last and last. Duane was absolutely right. Gerald Wolfe sang it very powerfully, although my favorite version will always be the one Ernie Haase did for a Homecoming.
I was very glad I caught this showcase, and I’d encourage anyone who’s got the webcast to go find it and watch it On Demand. There were some great songs sung and stories shared. I actually enjoyed it more than I’ve enjoyed some of the NQC mainstage stuff this week!