New Year’s Eve…the day that transitions us from one year to another, where you stay up late, drink punch and eat popcorn. It is a day that we spend celebrating. How do you spend New Year’s Eve? Is there a concert near your area that you attend annually? After a stellar Bible Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina (which I plan on writing a post or two about all that we learned – so keep an eye out for that in the Devotionals column) we drove to Nashville, Tennessee and checked into the beautiful Gaylord Opryland Resort for a night full of music, fun and laughter with Legacy Five, Greater Vision and the Booth Brothers! Legacy Five hosts the New Year’s Eve Celebration at the Gaylord, and I know from first-hand experience that it truly is a wonderful event! This will be my second year to attend, and I had been looking forward to all the music that I’d be witnessing live. The event is a perfect way to kick off the New Year – there is no better place to be than with other Believers!
Most of the time at concerts, I find a seat as close to the front as I can, but this time, as I made my way into the ballroom among the low hum of excited chatter, I made my way to the very last row. Scott drew attention to where he was standing on the stage and welcomed all the NYE attendees with a “Hey!” and told of how he appreciated the audience spending their New Year’s Eve with them. With a mischievous smile he added, “Sorry about the weather.” (Once again, it was 65 degrees outside –absolutely beautiful!) A few announcements were made, and I just have to mention one that made the weekend very exciting. Legacy Five put on a “silent auction” to raise money for the Legacy Five Foundation! They brought out things from personal collections and other groups donated items to the auction as well. The Crist Family donated one of their older backdrops, Gerald put up a pair of cowboy boots he wore with the Cathedrals, the Isaacs all signed a RC Mic they used to record a project with, a Jubilee banner was signed by all the members, L5 set up a SGMA Award from 2002, Jim Brady wrote out the lyrics to A Wonderful Life and signed it, and much more! That was something fun for everyone to keep their eyes on all weekend! And for a GREAT cause too!
Opening the event with prayer, Scott prayed for those who’ve had their greatest joys in 2011, and their greatest sorrows. Then it was time to begin! A Wonderful Life was L5’s opener, and I Found Grace followed. “Well,” Scott announced after the song, “Tomorrow Legacy Five will celebrate their 12th year as a group. I’m not one to brag, all be to the glory of God, but three of the five members in this group have been here since day one, and if it weren’t for the passing of Roger, it would be four – that’s unheard of in this day and age!” Turning to the L5 guys, he added, “Happy Anniversary guys!” The next ballad was very special, he told us, because it was one of the very first songs for them to record. Scott Howard sang the ballad, That’s What Grace Is For. Once again, at the close of the song, the guys jumped on the opportunity to comment. “That’s a classic,” Scott Fowler said, “and so is Scott Howard…aren’t you glad for Scott Howard for being here?” Howie added with a grin, “Yeah, I mean, if it’s over 50 years it’s a classic!” Scott (Fowler) picking on him even more, said, “Look out to the audience, there are some who haven’t seen your face yet, what do you think they think?” Howie answers without a seconds hesitation, “They’re thinking, ‘Is there a nursery in here?’” Scott’s face expressed that Howie didn’t get the joke, and turned to Trey and asked when his anniversary with the group was coming up. They came up with February, and Scott gave his little talk to Trey concerning what he would then play for a piano solo. Trey, who has a Classical Education, was asked to play something for the Southern Gospel “lovers” in the crowd. Well, if you’ve seen Legacy Five recently, you know the story. If you don’t, let’s just say that Trey did the exact opposite! (Though at the end, he turned his solo from Scarlatti to Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.) After that piece, Howie just had to walk up and speak to Trey, “There’s the lesson right there, listen to your elders…even though you began with that…that…well, when you were stumbling trying to find the melody, you ended up with what they wanted to hear.” Trey and Howie went back and forth a little, giving each other a hard time, but after another punch line and Fowler informing Howie to, “behave,” Feeling Fine was sung. Anyway, just when the music began, so did the clapping! “Long after the naysayer and the skeptics are gone, the truth in God’s Word will remain – it will stand the test of time,” Scott said softly, yet firmly for the next song. The one to receive such an introduction was Truth Is Marching On. The second verse Scott extended his arm and introduced, “Jim Brady,” who entered the stage and sang the second verse. Half-way through the powerful ballad, Scott exclaimed, “And if you believe that say, ‘Praise the Lord.’” The crowd shouted, “Praise the Lord,” and rose to their feet. Applause and raised hands in praise completed the song. Scott informed, “Jim Brady wrote that song!” Scott asked us to keep the enthusiasm as Jim, Michael and Ronnie came to the stage.
The Booth Brothers kicked off their set with See What a Morning. (When you consider this song, and the theme of hope it has because the dawning of a new day, and that New Year’s Eve is the dawning of New Year… well, the song was perfect and sent a message of hope off the stage into the audience.) When that song ended the music for He Came to Me immediately began, and Jim delivered it with a tenderness that matched the lyrics. “Here is a new song penned by Jim Brady and Rodney Griffin…listen to Masterpiece of Mercy,” said Michael. Ronnie took the lead on this ballad, which outlined the similarities of an artist painting a beautiful scene and the Lords work in the life of a person who surrenders to Him. “Alright guys!” Michael shouted with enthusiasm, “If you’ve never heard a Southern Gospel Samba – this is what it sounds like!” and the Mexican style music began. Once again, Jim sang the verses to the snappy music. (I never get tired of hearing that one live!) Michael has officially brainwashed the other guys, because Jim and Ronnie were dancing just like Michael! The encore had the whole building clapping, it was quite infectious actually, and was hard not too! “Isn’t that fun?” Michael asked. After a short intro of the group, “Oh by the way, I’m Michael, this is Ronnie and that’s Jim.” A few nights ago after one of their concerts, a lady came up to Michael and informed him that he didn’t introduce the group during the concert – so there it was (just in case that lady was there!). He told of a song that brings hope, yet, is a tough one to deliver because it addresses the issues of Alzheimer’s. As Michael says in introduction, She Still Remembers Jesus’ Name, brings hope to the loved ones who have a family member in that situation. “Well, we sing so many songs about heaven, and streets of gold, but that is not what makes it heaven,” Michael declared. A song illustrating just that was next on the set, There Is A Higher Throne. Afterwards, Michael whispered, “Praise the Lamb”, and in tears added, “I love that song because it puts everything in perspective. It doesn’t paint the picture that Jesus is an ornament in our ‘already’ good life. The truth is that there is none righteous…people talk about self- worth, when you’re born again, the righteousness of Christ dwells in you!” (How about that for self-worth!) On a funnier note, Michael said, “Listen to a song, we haven’t sung it in a while and we might forget the words, so Jim, if it’s on your i-Phone…” Ronnie cut him off and added, “And order a pizza while you’re at it!” When the joking was through, Michael concluded the introduction for the song with this statement. “You can’t appreciate grace until you know what it is for. – This is the song that puts it in perspective…Before the Cross.” While the subject of grace was in the air, they kept it going with I See Grace, another up-beat song penned by Jim Brady.
Michael Booth introduced Greater Vision, and as Chris walked across the stage to get ready for their first song, Michael caught him in a hug and said, “This here is one of the greatest tenors in SGM…”and after a pause added, “and my best student!” LOL Michael pointed out GV’s 21 year heritage and how it is still going strong. After a thunderous applause, GV began singing, the first of which was a great up-beat number called He Could’ve Passed By, one that features Gerald and Chris on the verses. “It is a joy to be with you tonight, we’re going to have a ball for the next four hours,” Gerald expressed looking for a positive reaction from the crowd. After a very weak applause, Gerald remarked in a slightly rebuking manner, “Well, that wasn’t very enthusiastic, was it?” I Could Never Praise Him Enough followed. After another round of applause, the music for He’d Still Been God started and stirred up energy in the audience. The crowd enjoyed clapping while Rodney sang the verse he was featured on. From the activity around me – rocking back and forth on the seats and bobbing heads – the song was definitely a favorite! After a thunderous applause, shouts and screams, Gerald exclaimed, “That’s more like what I’m used to hearing!” He explained how they’d sing old songs that night, but then some new ones too. The next, was one of the new ones Rodney wrote, No Longer Chained. I love watching Rodney sing this one! He expresses every word! Gerald told that he remembered the first time he heard that song, he was on the bus and thought, what a song! Then he entertained us with some humor. Something about enjoying the beauty of the Gaylord…walking around trying to find your room! LOL! “I want to focus on the blessings of the Lord for the next few minutes,” Gerald mentioned just before they sang the ballad, We Are So Blessed. “While I’m thinking about my blessings, let me say that we are so blessed to have Chris Allman back on the stage,” Gerald stated. While sitting down at the keyboard, Gerald told of their Southern California tour, where the Beene Family booked them, and how the next song came to be included in their set because of that tour. I Know A Man Who Can, was that song and sung by Chris Alman. And if you’ve really wondered if this song is their most requested…the standing ovation they received would be a suitable answer! Another new song came next, The Only Way. This up-beat number declared the everlasting truth that “He’s not a good way to get us to heaven, not a best way to free us from sin, but the only way.” Gerald told of how they heard a preacher speak on that very subject a few months ago, and that is where the inspiration for that song came from. Gerald then told a joke of how they had lunch in Knoxville at a Chinese restaurant that afternoon, and in this restaurant they had a mirror that covered one of the walls. “I was sitting next to Rodney,” Gerald began “and suddenly he said, ‘Hey! Don’t look over there! There are two guys who look just like us!’” (He didn’t see the mirror.) “After a few minutes,” Rodney said, “I’m going to go over there and talk to them.” He got up, walked four steps, turned around and came back.” Gerald said to him, “Hey look! They’re coming over here!” The fans laughed at the joke. Introducing the second to last song, Gerald reminded us something about the New Year that we were celebrating that night, “You can go into next year and live the rest of your life like you wished you’d lived.” He said he had gentlemen come up to him one night and say that he wouldn’t change one thing in his life. Gerald said that he didn’t believe that – there is always something that you wish you wouldn’t have either said or done at least once. If you deny that, it’s hypocritical or fake. But the hope is this, that you can start living different right now. Chris came and sang the ballad, Like I Wish I’d Lived, a piece that talks about regrets and things that we wish we would have done different in the past. Nothing but GV’s signature song would do to close their set – My Name Is Lazarus!
Before our thirty minute intermission, Scott gave the groups time to tell about their product. Gerald, from Greater Vision, was by far the most entertaining! Advertising his new piano solo recording, he held it up and said, “And this Cd, is already the most popular instrumental project across America… (here the audience began clapping)…in funeral homes.” (Immediately, the crowd STOPPED clapping!) LOL Picking up on that, Gerald went on, “I’m serious. I said that the other night and a guy came up and bought one – he was the funeral director for that town.” (Then the crowd began laughing again!)
“Welcome, Jubilee!” Scott Fowler exclaimed as Greater Vision, Legacy Five and the Booth Brothers began singing Jesus Is Coming Soon together. Of course, you can’t have a “jubilee” without singing Jubilee! So that was the next number! Slowly, Michael scooted himself down to where the other two tenors were singing together. LOL Gerald indicated the first group to perform a “Jubilee song” by introducing, “Welcome, Legacy Five!” who proceeded to sing I Never Shall Forget the Day. All the groups sang together on Sing Me A Song About Jesus, and the “three tenors” were featured on the verse. Trey slipped a little piano solo in as well. (And a very traditional one at that! ***BIG SMILE***) “Thank you so much,” Gerald said, then with some humor added, “You would think that as much as we’ve done this we’d know the words by now.” Gerald couldn’t help but tell a story just then, and this time, the “victim” of his picking was Trey. For the few times that Trey has been with them for a Jubilee concert, he always approached Gerald and asked if he could give him a program that he could follow along with. Gerald mentioned that in a setting like that, they usually know the first song or two, but then they just “feel it.” So he very kindly told Trey, “No,” they just “go” with it! The next song was one that was like that, When They Ring the Bells of Heaven. On Gerald’s line at the end, he stepped over and offered the mic to Trey so he could sing – which he didn’t! At the end of the song Gerald asked Trey why he didn’t sing, and then asked the L5 guys if they’ve ever let him sing. Howie said, “He knows Wedding Music!” Gerald played into it and said, “Really?” Howie added, “Trey! Show them your Elvis thing!” Blushing, Trey refused. Gerald said, “Ah, he doesn’t want to do it, I guess we’ll have to let the Booth Brothers sing…” The crowd gave a disappointed sigh. The guys were laughing so hard they had to restart the track for Don’t Hang Your Head and Cry before singing it! After teasing Jim about writing songs, Gerald announced that in January they would start Jubilee 3! Howie asked if they knew what songs they were going to cut, Gerald said, “No,” and that was why he was bringing it up. Howie interjected, “Ya’ better hurry up! It’s twenty minutes ‘til January!” Gerald then asked the guys if they received the e-mail he sent. Scott replied, “I didn’t read it.” So Gerald went on to explain that they’ve had requests to mix and match singers with all three groups, and informed the audience that if they had certain singers they wanted to hear together, just e-mail them. Then someone humorously added, “Don’t e-mail Scott! He won’t read it!” LOL Gerald put the audience at ease and said, “E-mail me, I’ll be the only one to read it…but then we’ll have to vote…and I’ll be the only one voting!” LOL again! Continuing on, they decided to try the idea out on a Cathedral song with Glenn, Jim, Chris and Fowler singing and Gerald on the keys. Because they have never done this before, and Gerald refused to let anyone in on what song it would be, Scott asked Gerald, “Did you get in to Michael’s medicine??!!” They took a minute and tried to plug in Rodney’s bass guitar, to which Gerald asked in a put-on, irritated tone, “How many baritones does it take to plug in a bass guitar?” They decided to start without it and let him join in when he could. Because Gerald refused to tell them the title of the song, he did have to tell everyone their part, then he played the intro and everyone knew, Wedding Music! At the end, Gerald jumped up from the keyboard and exclaimed excitedly, “That might work!” (Referring to mixing up the groups.) Scott remarked, “Well, that’s one, now we just need eleven more!” When I Wake Up To Sleep No More followed. As the guys all sat back down, Gerald began talking and mindlessly crossed his leg, then suddenly asked in regards to which way they were crossing their legs, “Is that the way we’re going?” Someone jeered, “We won’t have to pay for that Rockets show!” And the next few moments they crossed and re-crossed their legs perfectly in sync! LOL! When you get these groups together, they know how to let loose and have fun!
Next, Gerald suggested that they take requests from the audience…and if you can imagine, the other guys didn’t approve, but they did it anyway. Chris had the first one…Achy Breaky Heart! Yeah, they passed on that one. The next title I couldn’t hear for the laughter, but I sure heard Gerald exclaim, “You want us to do that one 11:39 at NIGHT!!!!!!” So, another request was made, which was a Booth Brothers song: Gerald was quite fine with that, but then it was Michael’s turn to exclaim, “WHAT?” The first request of the night that was actually sung was He Saw It All. Immediately after that song, hands went up. Someone shouted, “The Prettiest Flowers!” Gerald said, “Legacy Five does that one, don’t they?” Scott jokingly answered, “Not anymore!” So another request came, “Going Home.” Gerald looked perplexed by the implication of that song title. (No one was allowed to go home yet – they still had twenty minutes till midnight!) A lady from the back called out, “For God So Loved Me!” Without missing a beat, Gerald replied, “I’m happy for you.” Some requested a song before the second half, and they decided to sing that one, it was Faces. After that song closed, Gerald stood to pray, he said something like this:
Father, we look back on this year, 2011, and we want to thank You for the blessings, challenges, tough times, and disappointments, because they helped us to trust You. Not for a year that went how we thought it would go, but that we could learn more about You. We thank You that we can be a small part of the big picture – and we thank You, for being our undisputed Champion of Love.”
When the crowd heard those last three words, they began applauding. Champion of Love began at 11:56 P.M. – everyone rose to their feet, and some lifted their hands in the air. Scott Fowler sang the first verse and Gerald had the second. The song ended at 12:00 midnight on the dot! They counted down on the screen and shouted Happy New Year! Another round of Jubilee finished the set as everyone celebrated the official beginning to the new year …
Conclusion: This event is a special treat for me, and with the three top groups in SGM, (Legacy Five, Greater Vision and the Booth Brothers,) it was extra special. The Jubilee concert is extraordinary to experience, especially to celebrate the new year! The line-up of artists are top notch …The silent auction was a novel idea and was for a very worthy cause. The auction included many unique, personal items of sentimental value … items any southern gospel fan would treasure! Just one more aspect in which the “fans” benefit from the thoughtfulness of others while being given an opportunity to support needy children in poverty. Combine all the above with the accommodations of a five-star luxury resort … and you have one tremendous event! No wonder it’s a sell out! These words are true – “A three day event … A lifetime experience!”
Happy New Year Everyone!