Okay, I’m just dying to know! How many SGM fans forfeited shopping to go to a concert on Black Friday? Or…How many attended a concert and went shopping? How many did neither? Well, I fell into the first category – didn’t brave the crowds in the stores, but I did mingle in with the traffic to go see the Kingsmen Quartet! I’ve mentioned before that Wayne Truelove brings in a variety of SGM artists to Lebanon, Missouri, and this month, it was the mighty Kingsmen! It has been too long since these guys have been to the southern region of Missouri, and I couldn’t wait to see them again! (Especially to hear some of the new songs from their recording Grace Says!)
Truelove Quartet opened the evening with I Love Loving Jesus, a song made popular by the Crist Family not too long ago. The old hymn There Is A Fountain (filled with blood) followed. These poor guys were plagued with sound issues the whole time while they were singing – Chris’s mic wasn’t on – and wouldn’t you know that he was featured on the next song, Saved By Grace? He handled the situation very well while singing the verses and soon the problem was solved and they went into the next song, Satisfied With Jesus. In recognition of the season that we are heading into – Truelove sang a ballad about the birth of Christ called, It’s Still the Greatest Story Ever Told. Jesse took the lead on the first verse and Darrell sang the second. The next song, I Will Glory In The Story, was Chris’s solo, then afterwards, Darrell began telling the crowd about a new song they just added to their set called Faces. “This song is a new one we started singing called Face’s,” Darrell explained, “it’s a great song for ministries. Truelove Quartet is a ministry, we sing for Jesus…we like to sing for you too, but we’re about the Lord.” Darrell went on to tell that everything we do can be an opportunity to witness for Jesus Christ, and though we may not always see the fruit produced, the Lord does and will one day reveal it all to us. “We love this song,” added Darrell before singing the first verse. This one kind of featured the whole group, Jesse sang the second verse and Chris took the lead on the third. Wayne introduced the group next, when he came to Jesse he said, “Now for the pretty one.” Joking, Darrell interjected, “You’ve already introduced me!” The crowd giggled at the joke, and then Wayne replied, “The prettier than he is!” The next song featured Darrell and is a well-known classic, Midnight Cry. Their final song was Saved By Grace. They did this one earlier in their set, but had some sound issues – so they did it again! Everyone was on their feet!
Before the Kingsmen came up, Wayne explained to the audience how they can afford to do all of these concerts for free. The story is definitely worth repeating! About five years ago, Wayne led John Boswell to the Lord. In Wayne’s words, “He got saved the right way.” Now, John carries Bibles with him where ever he goes and is always ready to stop and talk to somebody about the Lord. Through John’s generous contributions, these concerts are made possible.
The Kingsmen kicked off their set with a snappy quartet tune called When I Step Inside the Gate. Randy was featured on the second verse and I loved it when they dropped the dynamics down to a soft harmony on the second to last chorus, then brought it back up to full voice for the end. “This is an old Kingsmen song that was big Jim Hamill’s signature song,” Bryan said as he introduced his solo, a lovely ballad called, I Owe It All To Him. This was performed back to back with a song from their new project that features Harold, I Can Hardly Wait. This up-beat number had everyone clapping along the whole way through the song! (The crowd really enjoyed their traditional style.) Bryan stepped up to the front and had everyone give another round of applause for the Truelove Quartet. He expressed how glad he was to see young people in Southern Gospel Music! Especially a seventeen year old, then lightheartedly mentioned that old quartet joke that says, “I have socks older than that!” Through the next couple of songs, Bryan introduced the quartet, starting with bass singer Ray Reese. Ray is battling cancer and recovering from recent surgery. Bryan said that night he was feeling exceptionally well though! Praise the Lord! Ray has been with the Kingsmen for 46 years, but that night he was celebrating for a different reason, which Bryan let Ray tell us himself. Ray proudly announced, “Tonight, I’m a brand new Grand-Poppy!” His son, Brandon, received the long awaited call when they were around Nashville and jumped off the bus to get back home and be with his wife, Shannon, for the birth of their first child – a baby girl! They named her Ava Bentley (how precious!) – she was eight pounds and eleven ounces, and twenty one inches long! The audience applauded for this wonderful news, and then Ray introduced his own solo, Healing Stream, and took a minute to share what it meant to him. In Ray’s own words, “This song means the world to me – this is truly a wonderful song.” He sang with the hope of the Lord’s faithfulness in the past, and let that emotion flow out through the song of renewed hope for the future. “Here’s another old song,” said Bryan – After The Sunrise was it, and Bryan reminded us that in 1928 the Chuckwagon Gang cut that one on one of their recordings. Ray interjected, “I remember that!” (Everyone giggled at the implied joke. LOL) Bryan went on to say that Jim Hamill told a joke on one of their live albums that Ray was at one point a member of the Chuckwagon Gang, and down through the years all their fans believed it. Ray interrupted Bryan and told him that it wasn’t really a joke, he really did sing with the Chuckwagon Gang. Bryan, a little confused, asked, “You did? When?” Ray replied, “Well, there was this one time the Kingsmen sang a program with the Chuckwagon Gang and they asked me to sing a song with them.” Bryan argued that that wasn’t really being a member of the Chuchwagon Gang, and Ray said, “I was for five minutes!” Bryan added, “Well, we’ve had bass players for less than that!” When they finally decided that “Ray did sing with the Chuckwagon’s,” he introduced Randy Crawford, their baritone singer. Since it was Black Friday and all, Bryan just had to tell a little story about his family. He said that Randy’s wife and kids braved the early morning crowds to go shopping, and sometime around noon, Randy’s wife called him and said that her credit card was stolen. So he checked it out and all, then all the guys were asking him what he was going to do about it. Randy said, “I’m not going to do anything…whoever has it is spending less money than my wife!” The crowd really thought that was funny and laughed along, then after all that, Bryan admitted that none of it was true and he just made the joke up! LOL! “We just came through the Thanksgiving season,” said Randy, “and I’ll tell you what I’m most thankful for church, it’s the love of Christ.” This introduced Randy’s feature on the first verse of, If Not For The Love Of Christ, another great ballad from their new CD. Bryan took the lead on the second verse, and when the song finished he introduced their tenor singer, Harold Reed. Bryan announced that Harold’s oldest son was on the road with them that week, and pointed him out sitting on the front row. After naming the notable artists Harold has been with, Bryan said, “He’s had signature songs down through the years, and this next one will be one of them, if it’s possible to have more than one. Real quickly, before they started singing, Bryan told everyone a little of what the song is about. “The first verse of this song tells about the woman with the issue of blood,” Bryan said, “and for 12 years she went from doctor to doctor, and each one of them I’m sure told her, ‘there’s nothing we can do for you.’ But she knew, that if she just had the faith, she could just touch the hem of Christ’s garment and she would be made whole. Then the second verse talks about Jarius, that’s a story that sometimes gets overlooked in God’s Word. Jarius had a daughter that was 12 years old, and she had died. When Christ came that day and He walked into that room, the situation changed. You know what? When we let Christ into our everyday life, situations will change in our life. Amen? Christ raised that little girl from the dead that very day. But then, the third verse, it’s my favorite verse, it talks about the day that Christ came in His grace and broke my chains and erased my yesterdays…listen to a beautiful song called, That’s When I Knew It Was Him, let this song bless you.”
When Harold began singing That’s When I Knew It Was Him, his whole being expressed the message of the song. I loved all the gestures he made demonstrating the lyrics – it also enhanced the emotion with which he sang. This song was truly a special moment in the set! The guys must have thought so too, because immediately after the song ended, Bryan led the whole congregation in singing God Is So Good. “Thank you so much,” Bryan said, “this song is #2 all across America this month, it’s called That’s All I Need.” There was a lot of energy in this song; the guys were interactive with each other, no wonder this song has done so well for them! Then Bryan told us a little secret, “That song was also written by Joseph Habedank – and that song will be #1 next month!” They “weren’t allowed” to tell anyone until December 1st, but excitement got the better of them and they decided it was close enough! LOL! I’m so excited that this song reached number one! The Kingsmen deserve it! Next, the guys did their Cd pitch and told about all their product. They made sure that everyone knew of their very own Black Friday deal! The highlight of which, was an item that they added absolutely FREE…drum roll please…a white “thank you” bag from Sam’s Club! Bryan added, “Ladies, if you carry this as your new handbag, I guarantee you’ll get noticed.” (Ok, maybe that wasn’t so funny, but it was at the time!)
After telling about their product, the Kingsmen went right into their second set. Bryan said, “This song was recorded in 1973.” The song was Glory Road, and just after they began the verse, Randy turned to Bryan and exclaimed, (as they were singing!) – “I was 5 in 1973! Can you believe that?” Bryan didn’t acknowledge him, but waited a minute and began counting on his fingers, then said, “I was 4.” Not long after that, Harold had to throw in his age and said, “I was 2!” On the chorus, all three guys huddled up and looked at Ray, eagerly awaiting his answer. Finally, after a moment or two, Ray says, “I was 35.” Everyone laughed at the comedy. The crowd also loved Harold’s high notes and applauded him throughout the song. This went right into Missing People, which Bryan mentioned was a request. Before the last chorus there is a part in the song that allows for instrumental, and Bryan filled this in with saying, “Up in heaven there is no more separation, no more heartache, and no more pain. I won’t be missing you and you won’t be missing me…and you know what? Thank God, I won’t miss my Dad anymore.” The next song, There Is Coming A Day, continued the theme of Missing People, and featured Harold. When they reached the chorus Bryan asked the audience to sing along. When My Feet Touch The Streets of God followed, and the crowd clapped along with a renewed burst of energy. This number featured Randy on the verses and had the crowd on their feet on the encore. This crowd really liked those old Kingsmen songs! Introducing the next song, Bryan said, “This song went to #1 for us in 2000 – He May Be on the Next Cloud Passing By.” Next Cloud was the song, and also gave Randy another solo.
When the song closed, Randy stepped forward and said these words. “There have been a lot of songs sung tonight…enough Gospel to save the world.” Randy continued on, “But it doesn’t mean anything unless you do something with it. Third chapter of John, Nicodemus came to the Lord and said, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ He said, ‘You must be born again.’ He didn’t understand that, cause in his fleshly mind all he was thinking about was, how can a man be born of flesh again? But that’s not what the Lord was talking about. He was talking about being born anew of the Spirit. Unless this, this inward man, this breath of life that God breathed in us from the beginning of the world – unless that very spirit is born again of Christ, covered in His shed blood, there is no hope of heaven. That’s what my Bible tells me. There is only one way. I’ve heard Bryan say this a hundred times, ‘If I give you directions to my house, you’ve got to follow them to a T. If you make one wrong move, you’re going to somebody else’s, you may end up at the Wal-Mart, but you won’t end up at my house.’ There is only one road, there is only one way, and that is through the shed blood of Jesus. That’s why the Kingsmen travel 220 days a year, that’s why, when the Lord impressed on me, that it was time to be back in the ministry, I came back with this group that you see right here. I know Ray’s commitment, and I know that he is going to make sure that we are about ministry. There are times when a promoter will say to us, ‘We want a lot of singin’ – don’t get up there and preach.’ There are times when that has to happen and we know that – it’s a business to some people. But if it’s not about winning souls and or at least getting out there and telling people about Jesus, it’s a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal – it’s all for naught. I’d stay home with my wife and my kids. There’s a lot that folks are facing today – you’re facing job problems, you may have received a bad report from the doctor. Ray and I have been battling medical issues ourselves over the last few months, we’ve been in company with one another, he’s been fighting cancer and I have a heart condition that I have to have surgery for in just a few days. But I know my Lord has it under control. I don’t go into that, as the Bible says, as someone who has no hope. I have hope – I know that my Redeemer lives and I hope in Him, and Him alone.”
Then Randy called the pastor up on stage and let him give the invitation. They quietly sang Room At The Cross in the background, and in a few moments this concluded the altar call. Bryan asked Truelove Quartet if they knew any old Kingsmen songs, unfortunately, they didn’t, but Darrell mentioned that there was a favorite of his they didn’t sing. Bryan asked what it was, and when the answer came, they sang it for him. It was Harold’s solo God Saw A Cross. Nothing but a standing ovation could end the night with a powerful note held by this great quartet! Darrell dismissed us with prayer, and the night ended.
Conclusion: What a night! The Kingsmen sang their hearts out on every song and gave the simple gospel message. It was an absolute delight to see their new songs like “That’s When I Knew It Was Him,” “If Not For The Love Of Christ,” and “That’s All I Need,” performed live. The energy and power exhibited in those songs can’t be explained… you’ll just have to see if the Kingsmen are close to your area and go experience them for yourself! It was also exciting to see all the guys talk and interact with the audience – Ray shared why Healing Stream is such a special song to him, Randy gave the gospel at the close of the concert and Bryan explained the spiritual truths of his favorite song off the new project, That’s When I Knew It Was Him. When everyone in a group is spiritually in tune like that – you know their goal is ministry! Personally, I enjoy it when all the guys have the same opportunity to share as the MC – and the Kingsmen did just that! Thanks to all the Kingsmen for keeping the ministry in the music and reminding us where we would be if not for the love of Christ.