When a new Gospel Sing locates itself in a place that honors the history and memory of the genre itself, it’s only fitting to add a little something here and there that brings back memories from those golden days and relive the atmosphere of days gone by. On Friday evening the Memphis Quartet Show did just that with their “All Night Sing.” Lasting into the wee hours of the morning, MQS kept the quartet singing coming and coming – I heard it wasn’t until 2 AM when the fans ambled back to their hotels. This blogger was sound asleep by then, but below is a sneak peak at the groups that sang earlier in the evening.
When I walked into the convention hall and slipped in my seat Archie Watkins and Smoky Mountain Reunion were on stage singing Wonder Of Wonders. Immediately, an acapella rendition of Roll On Jordan followed. The audience must have loved that old song done the “old way” cause they gave the group a standing ovation and then the song was encored. After introducing the group, Troy Burns was featured on another acapella hymn, Sweet Hour Of Prayer. This one was also encored. They went on to sing the classic I’ll Fly Away and a tune called I Just Want To Thank You Lord, then their lead singer said, “We celebrate something the world didn’t give us and the world can’t take away, we are a blessed people.” This introduced their closing song, one called Worthy Is The Risen Lamb. I heard this song on the radio for the first time a little while ago and really, really enjoyed it. The message is truly powerful. No wonder they received a standing ovation!
“When I was a kid,” began Duane Garren, Friday night’s emcee, “an album came out called ‘Big and Live’ by the Kingsmen Quartet. They were a group made for live recordings and they are a group made for quartet singers, make welcome the Kingsmen Quartet!” Kicking off their program with One Way Trip and When They Call My Name, Randy greeted the crowd and explained how excited they were to be at MQS. “The Kingsmen are so honored to be here for the very first Memphis Quartet Show! Are you having a good time tonight?” He’s All I Need and After The Sunrise followed. On that last one Randy turned to Ray and said, “You’re sounding good on this one!” Ray answered, “I like old songs,” to which Randy replied, “It’s an old song!” After that song Randy turned to the crowd and teased, “If you weren’t awake, you are now!” Introductions were next, and Ray took a moment to tell everyone that his cancer is now in remission. (Praise the Lord!) He said, “We don’t always understand all these things we go through in life, but He has blessed each and every one of us. Though we don’t understand, we follow along and we’ll understand it bye and bye.” That was Randy’s cue, and he began to sing Farther Along. Upon reaching the chorus they asked the audience to sing along with them and when the crowd lifted their voices, the sweet sound filled the room. Go And Tell Somebody, Meet Me At The Table (which received a standing O) and Look For Me At Jesus Feet were sung next. (Jesus Feet really had the crowd up and out of their seats!) As they prepared to sing their closing number, Randy said, “Our nation may have some problems but we are still the land of the brave and the home of the free.” That introduced Bob’s solo, We Stand For the Land Of the Free. (Another standing ovation!)
The Kingsmen left the stage and the Dove Brothers Band was scheduled next. While the band set up Duane brought Andy, Allie and Macy up on stage and introduced them to the crowd. He said, “They are like American Express – we don’t leave home without them.”
Four microphones stood silent as the Dove Brothers Band began playing Amazing Grace. With the harmonica taking the lead, the melody of the hymn drifted over the crowd and set a peaceful tone. After a verse, the quartet slowly walked on stage and began singing the next stanza of the same song. (That beginning really brought a neat atmosphere to the evening. A very good one too.) “Are you glad to see the Dove Brothers Band?” asked McCray. “I can’t hear you! Are you glad to see us?” A larger cheer came in answer and then the band kicked off a song I think is titled All I Have To Do Is Call. The crowd was very active on that number. “Tonight,” McCray began, “this song talks to the Christian, it simply says They Wouldn’t Forgive Me.” After singing that ballad, he went on to talk about how he doesn’t want to stand before the Lord and hear Him say, “McCray, you wouldn’t forgive them – you said they weren’t worthy.” Encoring the chorus, he altered the lyrics to make it sound as if the Lord were speaking (it was a very touching, serious moment both on stage and off). As they were getting ready to start their next number, McCray said that they had many people come up to their table before the concert and ask if they still sang songs like Operator and Didn’t It Rain. They do, and those exact songs: Operator, Didn’t It Rain and Get Away Jordan were next. (Get Away Jordan got a standing O!) The closing song was a powerful ballad called I Will Stand By You and featured their tenor, Jonathan. The lyrics talked about how the Lord is always beside you and won’t let you fall. After encoring it acapella (which was BEAUTIFUL!) the crowd stood to their feet.
Intermission broke when the Dove Brothers Band stepped off stage and though we heard the Dixie Echoes begin their set with What A Wonderful day and Devil and His Ole’ Suitcase, I just knew I wouldn’t make it “all night” for the all night sing. Slipping out of my seat, I found the others in my group and we trailed back to the Crown Plaza where it didn’t take long for the Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz’s to begin!