The last evening of the Truthseekers Homecoming was upon us. As people buzzed around the lobby chatting with artists and buying that box of popcorn, I couldn’t help but replay the events of the day. The Prayer Breakfast began with some amazing biscuits and gravy provided by Stonefort Baptist. Their pastor, Jeff Owens, brought the message during the worship time as well. When the service finished it was almost time for the luncheon ($10 ticket) and so folks milled around visiting. The lunch was delicious! You had the option of ham or fried chicken with green beans and the best scalloped potatoes you ever tasted! After lunch, there was a free concert at one o’clock in the sanctuary with the Mark Trammell Quartet. Time sure does fly at a Gospel Sing!
For the last several years, the Saturday night artists at the Homecoming have been Greater Vision and The Mark Trammell Quartet. This year was no exception! To put the icing on the cake, this would be the first year that the Second Half Quartet would officially sing at the event that group was invented at. To celebrate this occasion, the Truthseekers had t-shirts made that said, “Truthseekers Homecoming…Birthplace of the Second Half Quartet.” You may remember seeing a photo of the guys holding the t-shirts up on stage posted on the Singing News Facebook page back in March.
The Mark Trammell Quartet kicked off the evening. Their time on stage showcased a number of songs from their new CD, Full Sail. After starting with “Meet Me Over On The Other Side,” they went into that material. The first song from the new project featured Mark, and was an old Jake Hess song called, “God Will Take Care Of Me.” This was followed by an intricate arrangement of “He Hideth My Soul” and an upbeat song titled, “All The Way Home.” When Mark stepped up to introduce their next song, he said, “Our producer decided to completely revamp the song. He took it from one of these…” then, in demonstration snapped his fingers and counted quickly. “That fast!” Mark exclaimed, “But you can’t clap along with it the way we have recorded it, unless you really have a lot of soul. They took us back into those Foggy River Boys, Five Blind Boys from Alabama era back in the ‘50’s.” This song was called “Treasures In Heaven” and had just the kind of beat Mark spoke of. They went into two faster songs, “Guide Me, Oh, Thou Great Jehovah” and “Led Out Of Bondage” before closing their set with two ballads “My Faith Still Holds” and “The King Is Coming.”
Mark stayed on stage to introduce Greater Vision, who, ironically started their program with “My Name Is Lazarus.” The next few songs, delivered back to back, were like a list of hits from the trio. They sang “He’d Still Been God,” “For All He’s Done” and “Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is.” Gerald was going to begin introducing the group when a lady on the front row caught his eye. She was taking a picture of him on her cell phone. “Hey! Are you taking a picture of me?” Gerald asked. When the lady said yes, he posed for her, pretending like he was holding a long note at the end of a song. When she finished taking the photo he said, “Tag me.” Mobile users understand this as Facebook lingo, but still, Gerald added, “No, I’m serious! Tag me!” As the crowd chuckled, Chris took out his phone and announced, “I just ‘liked’ it!” LOL! Chris was featured on their next song, “I Know A Man Who Can” and then they closed their set with “Put Out The Fire” and “He’ll Carry Me.”
The most anticipated part of the evening came after intermission – when the Second Half Quartet would step on stage at the Truthseekers Homecoming for the first time as an official group. Though they sang the same program they’ve done since their inception, there seemed to be a little bit of magic in the air. The set kicked off with “Far Above The Starry Sky” and “Standing On Holy Ground.” After the third song, Gerald took a moment and shared how Jim and Mary had the idea to create a t-shirt for the Homecoming that said, “Truthseekers Homecoming – Birthplace of the Second Half Quartet,” to sell just for that weekend. Then, Gerald explained that they were each going to hold up the t-shirt for a picture and they wanted to get the audience in the background. Would that audience stand so they could be in the picture with them? Seats could be heard plucking upright before he finished the request! The picture was snapped and then appeared on the Singing News Facebook page that weekend, and also in the May Issue of Singing News on page 24 of the column “Noteworthy.” Back to singing, the audience enjoyed some favorites like “Cheer The Weary Traveler” and “Prodigal Son.” Perhaps one of the most unexpected songs of the evening was Pat’s solo, “How Big Is God?” Not one that the Second Half does often, but Gerald wanted Pat to sing it for this crowd since they don’t come up that way very often. Yet, the moment of the evening was the second to last song – “Going Home.” As Chris sang, the spirit fell and all over the auditorium people were randomly standing with their arms raised or shouting “hallelujah!” I’ve seen this song delivered in a lot of different venues, but there was something special in the room that evening. Never have I witnessed a response so genuine and full as how that audience soaked up those lyrics. It was a simple song with a powerful impact. A moment I will never forget. The quartet closed the evening with “Boundless Love” and, as you can imagine, several encores.
Conclusion: A truly special night. With the memories from 2014 tucked away in my mind of how this group started, seeing them perform like this on that stage was like going home to a family reunion. It was a great time! Everyone remembered the original night and I’m telling you, there was energy in that house! I think the crowd appreciated what was happening in a special way because of those memories; and this year, we made even more. Yet, you can only say so much about an event in words…so I encourage you to head over to the Truthseekers Facebook page and scroll through some of the videos and photos that were posted that weekend and enjoy some of these moments for yourself! To do so, click here —> Truthseekers FB!