If you read the review of the morning session, Friday Morning Standing Ovations, you’re probably wondering what poor group had to follow in the evening! It couldn’t be just anybody…but, what do you think,… maybe the Collingsworth Family would do? Well, that’s exactly who we had for the third session and second night of Praisefest Branson. But first and foremost, we had some congregational singing with Gerald, Stan and Chris!
After a chorus of Sweet, Sweet Spirit, Gerald asked Chris to take his mic, run up the aisles and find someone who would tell him what their favorite hymn was…with the promise that they’d try to sing it. Following the first request, Chris found a gentleman by the name of Dan McDonald from London, Ontario, and his favorite hymn was Beyond the Sunset. Pleased, Gerald directed Stan to Db and off we went…somewhere in the chorus we missed a bar and Gerald stopped us, chuckling. Apparently, “the Baptists” messed up right where he thought they would! Next, Chris informed us that the lady next to him was from Monkey Island, Oklahoma. Before they even named the hymn Gerald stopped him, “Wait a minute Chris, there are no islands in Oklahoma.” Chris replied, “There are no monkeys either.” The request was His Name Is Wonderful, to which Gerald asked, “Didn’t we sing that this morning? Were you not in here this morning…be honest.” Chris responded with a shout, “We have one monkey in Oklahom!” LOL (Watch the moment HERE.) We sang a few more and then a gentleman who volunteers at a correctional center requested the Old Rugged Cross and mentioned that the men at the center love to sing that song. Taking a moment to meditate on the lyrics, Gerald asked the audience if we’ve ever taken a hymnal and read the words to that hymn. Without hesitation, he quoted the last verse of the song, “To the old rugged cross I will ever be true, its shame and reproach gladly bear; then He’ll call me someday to my home far away, where His glory forever I’ll share.” Asking us to think about what we just heard, the crowd sang those exact words with conviction. How Great Thou Art rounded out the congregational singing.
Before bringing the first group out to sing, Gerald slipped over to the piano and shared with the crowd the first time he heard Stan play. Stan was with the Nelons at the time – back then, they’d turn him loose on a convention song, and that’s just what Gerald wanted to do. “Play page 112,” Gerald said, then turning to the audience he added, “I’m gonna’ let you guess what it is!” So Stan played a good ole’ convention song…as for page 112, I had to go home and pull out my red back hymnal before I realized it was I’ve Got That Old Time Religion in My Heart. *smile*
The Collingsworth Family was the first group on stage, starting their set with Part of the Family. Right away, Kim played a good ole’ barn burner as a piano solo, Goodbye, World Goodbye, and back to back with that was Fear Not Tomorrow. After a robust, “Amen!” from Phil, he took a moment to honor the veterans in the crowd. “We love this country,” he said, “and we want it to forever remain one nation under God.” Then they sang a beautiful rendition of God Bless America acapella. Picking up his trumpet, Phil and Kim played a duet of the Hallelujah Chorus together, followed by a medium tempo song, How Big Your God Is. Phil took a moment to introduce the family, along with their newest member, a brand new concert grand. “The piano’s name is Lucille,” Phil informed. He shared a cute story from one of the first concerts they performed with it, a lady came running up to them afterwards with her camera and asked, “Can I have my picture taken with Lucille?” LOL Introducing the next song, Phil turned to his right and said, “Courtney, I love to hear you sing this sweet little song.” The feature was I Can Trust Jesus and they encored the chorus with just the piano. Picking up the pace a bit, Phil Jr. stepped forward and sang I Know – which they encored twice! By the second round the audience was on their feet clapping along. “Well,” Phil announced, “the girls have brought their violins.” This led into a flawless duet of The Prayer. (I may have mentioned this a time or two, but hearing Brooklyn and Courtney play is my favorite part of the Collingsworth’s program – just had to get that out!) Anyway, Kim followed that with another piano solo, Battle Hymn of the Republic and received a standing ovation. On this one the LED backwall had an American Flag waving on it – the idea was neat, but really distracted from Kim’s playing. When Kim finished, she stood up and encouraged everyone with these simple words, “God is awesome.” Briefly telling the audience a little about their family and how they began singing, Kim shared a promise that they’ve relied on throughout their ministry, and that is God saying, “You take care of what matters to Me, and I’ll take care of what matters to you.” They closed with At Calvary – standing ovation!
After intermission, Legacy Five walked out on stage to sing us a few numbers. Realizing their bass singer was momentarily absent, Scott made a joke about being “Legacy 4.” That issue was quickly remedied and the quartet began singing Strike Up the Band. “How many of you have seen the Jubilee concerts?” asked Scott, and then explained that Jubilee 3 was the first recording Trey sang on. “So here’s Trey’s debut performance as a vocalist.” The song was Gettin’ Ready To Leave and the second verse Trey’s solo lines. The crowd cheered him on too! “If you’ve enjoyed the Jubilee series,” Scott added, “No doubt you’ve heard Howie sing this great hymn.” Had It Not Been was Howie’s solo from the same project. Their next song featured Gus, and Scott introduced it with a story about the first time he heard the Cathedrals sing it in St. Louis, Missouri at the Lester’s Homecoming. In his opinion, no one could sing For What Earthly Reason better than Danny…but then, Gus came along and proved him wrong! We tasted a sample of that ballad as Gus sang it for us, and I happen to agree with Scott’s newfound revelation, Gus is the only tenor in our industry that can sing that song today! Truth Is Marching On came back to back, and with the response the crowd gave during the first few lines, it wasn’t a surprise that they received a standing ovation.
“Make welcome Greater Vision!” Scott exclaimed. Gerald, Rodney, Chris and Stan ran out on stage and kicked off their set with My Name Is Lazarus. Ready to give the crowd a special treat, Gerald asked, “Hey, you want to hear another new song? It’s the opener for our new CD.” A medium tempo track began and they began singing this song Chris wrote called, Come Unto Me. (Hearing these new songs gave me a glimpse of how awesome GV’s new CD that’s coming out in April 2013 is going to be!) With a big smile on his face, Gerald asked, “You like that?” Let me assure you, we did! Getting down to business, Gerald turned to Stan and said, “She was serious about you playing the grand…so get up.” As Gerald chased Stan to the other side of the stage, he explained to the audience that Kim told Stan she wanted him to play on her new grand this evening. After a little prodding – he did! So GV had to arrange their next song to be something that they could do with just the piano backing them, and once Gerald selected a song, he used this opportunity to tell a little story… “The first time I heard this song was on a cruise ship – a Carnival cruise ship – we were just floating around out there for a few days, so we decided to work on some songs.” (If you’ve followed the news on some of those recent Carnival stories, you could imagine the laughter at this point!) The chuckling audience did nothing to help Mr. Gerald stay on topic either! He went into a completely different story that began at their table with a fan asking him what they’d do if that happened on one of their cruises…and I’m sure you can imagine his answer! Anyway, they were in their cabin when he heard this song for the first time and then Gerald began talking about the message. He said it can relate to everybody. “We all have a past,” he said, “but God chooses to forget it, wouldn’t it be good if we could? Satan uses that memory against us and reminds us of those things in the past against us. But this song says that tonight, you can start living like you wish you lived.” Chris began to sing Like I Wish I Lived and the guys filled in the harmony accompanied by smooth, clear notes from “Lucille” and Stan. Afterwards, Gerald said, “That’s beautiful Stan, you sound really good on that piano.” Speaking of the piano, Gerald mentioned that Kim didn’t say he could play her grand…yet, even with the risk of making her “mad,” he was going to! He slid next to Stan on the bench and the two began a duet of Just Over in the Gloryland. Towards the end of the solo, Kim sneaked up on them and pushed Gerald off the bench and finished the duet herself! Both the audience and Gerald were laughing so hard! When the solo ended, Kim whispered something into Gerald’s ear and he told the audience that Kim said, “They dared me!” LOL
“Are you ready for some more Collingsworth family tonight?” asked Gerald with a shout. Turning to where Phil walked out on stage, Gerald paused, “You weren’t ready yet?” Phil answered and Gerald said, “Oh, are the girls out smoking again?” Phil replied, “Yeah, they had to put out a cigar to come in here.” LOL (Of course, we know they were just teasing!) The Collingsworth Family began their second set with I Will Serve Thee. Afterwards, Phil mentioned, “We love teaching these kids old songs that they think are new.” Another one from the hymnal followed, Since Jesus Came into My Heart. “Earlier you heard these girls play those violins as violins,” Phil pointed out, “would it be legal in Branson, Missouri to play them as fiddles?” A whoop and holler was his reply! So the girls picked up their fiddles and leapt into a “grass” rendition of Power in the Blood. After a round, they began speeding up the chorus. This had the crowd clapping along and cheering for more…but what we weren’t expecting was Rodney Griffin sprawling a jig across the stage in the background from one end to the other! The crowd exploded in laughter – it even made Brooklyn and Courtney laugh as they played! Another up-beat number by the name of Just Another Rainy Day followed. Taking a moment to reflect on a very special place they sang at recently, Phil shared how they had a concert at the Lighthouse Children’s Home in Tallahassee. This home houses 23 girls (teens) who’ve come out of deplorable (in Phil’s words) backgrounds. Those girls sing together as a choir and there is one song that the Collingsworth Family recorded that’s their favorite to sing – That’s the Place I’m Longing to Go. When the Collingsworth’s did their concert for the children’s home they sang that request for the girls. With that story in mind, hearing them sing it at Praisefest, put it in a whole new light. They encored the ballad, gathered around one mic, singing acapella. With the atmosphere still mellow from that moment, Phil went on to tell another story…Kim’s story. At three years old, Kim sat in church and heard the preacher speak on the gift that God gave King Solomon – later that night, she knelt by her bedside and prayed that God would give her a gift too. She ended her prayer by saying, “Please,” but not just one please, but ironically, ten. Her older sister was taking piano lessons at that time, and when Kim heard her practice, she decided she wanted to do it too! When her sister left the piano, Kim quietly slid onto the bench and found the notes her sister just played…only, Kim did it without the music! When her mom found her at the piano, she asked, “Kim, how did you know how to do that?” Kim’s answer? “I wanted to do it too.” By age seven Kim was the pianist at their church. (Phil mentioned how the music minister was 56 and the pianist 7!) Anyway, he went on to say that God did bestow a special gift on Kim, and that’s her music. To close out the evening, Kim played her arrangement of How Great Thou Art. It didn’t take long for the crowd to get on their feet with those notes floating in the air! While everyone was still standing, Phil dismissed us in prayer.
Conclusion: If we had not had such a great morning, I would say that this was my favorite session from the weekend! The Collingsworth Family sang the best program I’ve ever heard them perform live. I would say that the instrumentals compared to the actual singing were half and half, but I enjoyed it. It worked well. As for Greater Vision, well, they’re just full of surprises, aren’t they? There’s something special to hearing a brand new song live as you’re waiting for the CD to be released. On the other hand, I loved how they arranged their set. All the other times I’ve seen GV do a set like this in a sing setting (like NQC, Brumley, SDC, etc.) My Name Is Lazarus usually ends their program or is in the middle somewhere, so hearing that one as an opener was really neat. I like how GV and L5 shuffle the songs they sing so you don’t know what’s coming next. Legacy Five’s set is another example of that, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard Truth is Marching On, Had It Not Been, Strike Up the Band and For What Earthly Reason within 20 minutes of each other…and that made it different and unique, something I’ll always remember…leaving a legacy of faith.