For some folks, Saturday morning dawned early. Early enough to be at the clubhouse at Silver Lakes Golf Course at 8:00 AM where the Annual Golf Tournament was getting ready to kick off. Now keep in mind, I’m not a golfer…but everyone at Homecoming Saturday night heard how Randy’s team beat Mark’s team by two strokes. A first for Randy, which he was happy to share!
The MTQ wives hosted their annual Ladies Luncheon on Saturday for a mid-morning brunch. Tracy Byrd (Randy’s wife) shared a few songs while the ladies munched on a delicious meal and then Jessica (Nick’s wife) shared a few words from Psalm 23. This year was also special because Susan Whisnant was able to attend and sang a song with Jessica Trammell and Tracy Byrd. (The Whisnant’s stayed over night so the men could go golfing, so the ladies enjoyed Susan at the luncheon!) Before the morning came to a close, the wives presented a special “moving” gift to Lauren (Blake’s wife) and prayed over her for the move back to Ohio. It was one of those moments full of tears – both happy and sad – that will always be remembered.
Saturday evening, fans enjoyed a night of music with Greater Vision and the Mark Trammell Quartet. After emcee, Jay Parrack, opened the evening in prayer he brought on the weekends host group, MTQ. MTQ kicked off their set with “Leave Your Sorrows,” “I Know” and “Treasures In Heaven.” With a grin, Mark announced that they had many requests. So much so, that in the 30 minutes he was out in the lobby he received more requests than they had time! You know what that means, more singing and less talking. Their next song wasn’t just a request, but one fans would hear for the last time with Blake at the helm – it was “The Way In The Wilderness.” Up next was another request, “Wonderful Time Up There.”
Before they continued their set, Mark shared about Blake’s departure from the quartet and asked Lauren to come up on stage to stand next to Blake. He began, “As God grows us, it changes us and there’s something taking place tonight that some of you may not even know about – and that is our tenor is singing his last concert with us.” He went on, “These two are going back to Ohio this coming week. I have asked the Lord to give me the right words to say at this moment. In 45 years, I have never been around two people who I have enjoyed more than these two. They are some of the finest people I have ever known. While their departure grieves us it also thrills me that they took their time and prayed about this. I’ll tell you, I don’t like it but I applaud the kind of integrity they have to do what they’re doing and the reasons for why they are doing it.” Turning to Blake and Lauren, he said, “I want these folks to help me thank you all for the four best years of your life given to this ministry…” Mark didn’t even get to finish his sentence before applause broke out all over the room. After a tearful hug on stage from Mark and all the guys, Mark asked Blake to sing the song he auditioned with four years ago, “More Than You’ll Ever Know.” Not a dry eye was in the house! Long before the last note was held, the audience was on their feet. “Be Saved” followed and Mark hollered, “Amen!” as the track finished. If those two songs back to back weren’t enough to get the crowd going, MTQ finished their set with “The King Is Coming.”
Greater Vision took the stage next and kicked off with “He Is To Me,” “Song About The Blood,” “He’d Still Been God” and “For All He’s Done.” Gerald greeted the crowd and said how great it was to be back. “It’s even more special to us because it’s Blake’s last night,” said Gerald. He went on to explain that they were singing with MTQ when Blake sang his first night with MTQ four years ago and now they are here when he sang his last. “He’s turned into one of the finest tenors in Gospel Music,” continued Gerald. After a pause, he added, “Well, we have a tenor in case you haven’t seen him yet!” He introduced Chris, who sang “I Know A Man Who Can” and “Rolled Back Stone.” It wouldn’t be a real GV concert without “My Name Is Lazarus,” and so that one followed. With the release of GV’s new CD, Gerald introduced a song from it that’s the most unique one they’ve recorded. (And with Rodney behind the writing process, they have several that can fall into that category!) But this song is different because it ends with the word “fish.” Gerald claimed he doesn’t know of another song in Gospel Music that ends with that word. This introduced “Remember The Fish.” The first time the audience heard the last line of the chorus that had “fish” in it, they laughed! GV’s last song of the night was “Still,” and then the program went into intermission.
After intermission, MTQ stepped on stage to sing two more requests from the weekend and they were none other than “Your Walk Talks” and “I Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey.” Up next, Greater Vision took the stage for two songs as well, “Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is” and “I Know He Heard My Earnest Prayer,” which Gerald sang the last verse of. After each group sang those tunes, they all came on stage for a few songs together. Gerald took a few minutes out of the evening to give Blake a hard time about leaving and going back into the construction business. He said that maybe we could call Blake the “singing light fixture guy” or the “singing painter.” How they went from that to “Wedding Music,” I’m not sure, but they did! Chris and Blake both did a great job on sharing the tenor parts on the last chorus and then they sang “Jesus, Hold My Hand.” Before ending the night, Mark thanked everyone who came and shared how it impacted him every time someone asked for prayer. He said, “It reminds me that what we do is powerful.” Greater Vision and MTQ closed the evening with “Boundless Love”… and a few encores!
Conclusion: What an emotional night! Saying goodbye to one of your favorite singers isn’t easy, and Saturday night a whole room full of fans did so to Blake and his wife, Lauren. Though we wish them the best in their future, they will be missed a lot! I’m so glad the night went down like it did – hearing Blake sing “More Than You’ll Ever Know” one more time was the perfect way to close out his time with MTQ. Not to be looked over by Blake’s departure, Greater Vision did an incredible job Saturday night as well. I loved their new songs and how they interacted with Blake on his last night. Always classy! All around, it was a memorable night!