The doors opened at six o’clock for the Girls and Guitars concert in Greenwood, South Carolina at Rice Memorial Baptist Church. Though the sky had darkened and the temperature turned chilly, it didn’t keep folks from lining up around the building. And it’s no exaggeration to say “lined up.” The line ran the length of the parking lot and when the doors opened, folks poured through the doors until the church sanctuary was almost full…and that was an hour before the concert began!
It was a rare sight, but as the hour slowly passed, Roger Talley and Greg Cook kept coming on stage to encourage folks to squish in (a good ole South Carolina term) to fit as many folks as possible in the pews. After three times, Greg invited people to come sit in the choir seating on stage. Once they filled that, the balcony and set up chairs in the aisles…we had a full house!
When the clock read 7:00 PM, Rodney from Life FM came on stage, welcomed the crowd and brought Ray Flynn up to speak to the audience. After an opening prayer, Ray said, “Welcome to The Gospel Through Girls and Guitars!” Each artist – Karen Peck & New River, Emily Ann Roberts, The Talley’s and High Road – stood on stage and kicked off the night with an incredible ballad called, “We Believe.” This power ballad goes through a list of the things that are foundational to our faith; and with ladies like Karen Gooch, Lauren Talley and Emily Ann stepping out for a solo on certain lines, there was quite the energy in the house.
The first group on stage for the tour was High Road with the classic, “I’ll Fly Away.” These ladies play a Bluegrass/Country style with live instruments and I love how their sound makes you feel like you’re right at home. Speaking of home, their next song is their current radio single and goes by that title. Sarah explained, “Sometimes we think of home as just the place we grew up, but it’s more than that, it’s also where we’ll spend eternity.” Their song, “Home,” and an upbeat Bluegrass tune, “Two Coats,” followed. After that song, Sarah shared with the crowd that they just released a new Christmas album. “I know it’s not even Thanksgiving,” she laughed. Then, “Yes, we’re those kind of people…” On their new Christmas album is a duet with the fiddle and upright bass, which they wanted to perform for the crowd that night. So Lauren and one of the guys played “For The Beauty Of The Earth” and my, oh, my – the arrangement was incredible! Up next was “We Are Broken” and “Come, Walk Beside Me,” then the ladies launched into the jig, “Squirrel Hunter.” They closed their segment on stage with a song that Sarah wrote, “Christ My Hope, My Glory.” She shared how recording this song came about and said, “At the time I didn’t know how God would use this song, but I wanted Him to. He is above anything this world throws at you. If your house is built on the Rock no storm can take it down.” After an intro like that, you couldn’t help but worship…and everyone did!
The Talley’s were second on stage and began their set with “After All This Time” and “Mountain Mover.” After the last note was sung, Lauren said, “I couldn’t wait to get up and sing – you all are ready to worship! I love that.” Group introductions were next and they ended with Roger, who just happened to have a new Christmas solo project out. So Roger played the second Christmas instrumental that evening – “We Need A Little Christmas.” As far as I could tell, the folks didn’t mind hearing Christmas music so early in the season! After the piano solo, Debra introduced her song like this, “If I had only one more message to sing or one more song, it would be this…Give Me Jesus.” Debra sang the ballad and then the intro of “People In The Line” began. I love watching Lauren sing this one with their music video playing on the screens in the background. Afterwards, Lauren said, “I’ve never had a song that hit me as hard as that one does.” She shared how the part she played in the video was “acting,” except when they were in the car. “If we got in the car and went to Wal Mart,” Lauren explained, “that’s what would probably happen!” Their closing songs were, “His Life For Mine” and “He’s Alive.” Both are favorites!
Emily Ann Roberts, runner up on Season Nine of The Voice, was introduced by Ray Flynn. He explained how a friend encouraged him to watch The Voice the season Emily Ann competed. He shared how Emily Ann didn’t back down from sharing her faith on television and how that impressed him. When Emily Ann came on stage, she began with an accapella song called, “House Of Gold.” On the second verse, Karen Gooch and Ricky Braddy joined Emily Ann and added the Bluegrass harmony. Up next, was a fun original song with a Country beat, “Rich.” Before going on, Emily Ann shared about a time she suffered with anxiety and how the ballad, “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow,” helped her overcome those feelings. Next, was the popular Hillsong ballad, “Oh, Praise The Name.” Emily Ann shared how she heard the song for the first time in Los Angeles while on The Voice. Herself, along with other contestants, were taken by bus to Hillsong Church in LA where she heard the song in a service. After that, the ballad was the lyric she returned to again and again for strength. As she sang this powerful song, you could feel the presence of the Lord in the room…and you couldn’t help but praise Him. An upbeat tune, “Bless This Mess,” followed. Emily Ann’s last song was, “This Blood,” another powerful ballad that ushered the Lord’s presence in the room. On the last chorus, Karen Peck and New River joined Emily Ann on stage singing the choir part, bringing the song full circle.
At this point in the program, Ray came on stage with his Bible ready to preach a short segment on the blood of Jesus. During the time of invitation, 24 souls were added to the Kingdom!
Karen Peck and New River were last on stage and closed the evening with a combination of their hits and most current songs. A ballad from their new CD, “The Reason,” opened their set and went right into “I Wanna Know How It Feels.” That popular hit called for an encore, which they sang with just Matt accompanying them on the acoustic guitar. Karen introduced their next one as, “One of our most requested songs.” It was none other than “I Am Blessed.” That one, along with the next few songs, could probably be dubbed “ballad row;” but gauging the audience’s response, that’s what they wanted to hear! This included “Hope For All Nations,” a quick intro of the group, “I’ll Keep On Praying” and Ricky Braddy’s solo, “I Bowed On My Knees And Cried Holy.” When KPNR went into “Robe And Crown,” all the artist joined them and created a stellar finale with a few encores. It was time for the evening to close, but there was one song they couldn’t leave without singing; and if you thought, “Four Days Late,” you were right!
The evening was ready to come to a close when Ray came on stage and said, “In every genre of music there are men in Country music, Pop music, Rock music and even Gospel music where man will take the glory. But tonight, there are some women who God has a touch on.” The audience applauded their approval and Ray went on to encourage us to visit these ladies at their product tables and tell them how they’re appreciated.
Conclusion: The Gospel Through Girls and Guitars Tour in Greenwood was a stellar night. Then again, with artists like Emily Ann Roberts, Karen Peck and New River, Talley’s, High Road and a full house of energetic fans, how could you expect any less? Each artist brought their hearts to the platform in an attitude of worship that made the evening not just a concert, but a service. And twenty-four people coming to Christ is a confirmation of that! Thank you, Abraham Productions and all the artists for a wonderful night in the presence of God!