“The Exhibit Hall opens at four o’clock,” the announcer said over the intercom, “if you are in the exhibit hall, and you are not an exhibitor, please exit immediately. Thank you.” I smiled to myself while vacuuming the carpet in my sister’s booth. Every year the same thing would be announced. Fans were simply too eager for the National Quartet Convention – they couldn’t even wait for the doors to open to without sneaking in!
Karen Peck and New River came on Main Stage at six o’clock as the first “official” group to sing on the evening program. Their #1 song for 2012, Mighty Big God, opened their set. Singing their first two tunes back to back, Jeff’s solo, He Set Me Free followed. “Thank you so much,” Karen said greeting the crowd, and then quickly introducing the group said,“this is Jeff Hawes, are you glad to see Jeff at the National Quartet Convention?” Then she introduced Susan.While introducing her, Karen shared a little revelation they figured out. “Susan is a lot like Daddy, she talks when she has something to say. But I’m a lot like Mama, she talks until she has something to say!” LOL Then Karen dedicated their program that night to one of their special friends, Marlene.Up next, she also noted that the later song fits the church, and encouraged us to sing along if we knew the words. The song was an older song, Bright Sunshiny Day. During the chorus, towards the end, Karen announced, “Now it’s your turn” …and let the audience sing. It took the crowd a line or two to get into it, but they did! “How many are looking forward to seeing Jesus face to face and reaching out for that nail-scared hand?” asked Karen before On The Banks Of The Promised Land. On this popular radio tune, they sang the encore of the chorus acapella. Then they motioned for the audience to clap as the music for Robe and Crown began. Half way through, two little old ladies stood up on the front row. Stan Whitmire skipped on stage to the piano and by then everyone was standing. The trio encored it once more before they excited the stage with applause all around them.
The Browns followed KP&NR at 6:19, beginning their set as a trio of violins with the hymn, I Sing The Mighty Power. What began as a mezzo-forte arrangement, built with intensity as the bows were slid across the strings every measure. By the end of the solo, the music reached its climax and closed out with a powerful ending. If Adam, Andrew and Michaela didn’t move your soul with that stirring instrumental…there’s something wrong with you! After a standing ovation, the announcer said, “Would you please welcome the incredibly talented – The Brown Family.” Shelly stepped on stage and joined her family with a song that the group wrote – Now And Forevermore. Both that song and the one that followed were up-beat, happy tunes. The later was written by sixteen year old, Andrew, called What A Beautiful Day. The siblings sang this one as a trio, and Andrew was featured on the verses. The audience clapped along as the family encored it. All too soon, their final song began, and for the rest of the evening, I couldn’t get the chorus out of my mind – it was Everywhere I Go. After an encore, the family stepped off the stage.
It wasn’t until a little later on in the evening that I found myself back in Freedom Hall. At 8:29 p.m. The Whisnants were singing their set, and once Jerry Goff introduced them mentioning their 12 number one songs, the trio kicked off their set with King Jesus Is Coming. Be Not Afraid, a medium song featuring Aaron Hise, was done back to back. “It is a joy to be back at the National Quartet Convention,” said Jeff Whisnant, “I know you’ve already heard that, but we mean that from the bottom of our heart,” and then introduced the group quickly. Susan introduced her solo, “Have you ever just felt broken? I need a sign on my head that says, ‘still under construction.’ But the good thing is that He will put us back on the Potter’s wheel, and He will mold us and make us what He wants us to be.” After those words, she sang I’ll Trust The Potter’s Hand. In contrast to the ballad, a fast song kicked off next. “Alright! Here are some old songs, if you know them, sing along with us,” Jeff exclaimed as introduction to their Ready Medley. The medley involved three classic songs: Goodbye World Goodbye, Ready To Leave, and I’m Getting Ready To Leave This World. “I have a lot to be thankful for tonight,” Jeff began, “but more than anything, I am thankful for the love and mercy of Jesus Christ, listen.” Then he began singing I Thank God For Grace. A slow to medium tempo song that sent chills up my spine from the passion in which this trio sang it. Just watching them sing with the fervency they did was breathtaking. That final ballad received a standing ovation…and I’m sure if you were there, you would have stood too!
Jerry Goff introduced the quartet to come on at 8:51 p.m. like this, “One of the greatest complements that could be given to a Gospel
group, I am happy to give it to this group now…” – and told of a phone call that he received from a good pastor friend in Cape Gerardo, MO. This quartet sang at that church and three souls came to know the Lord as their personal Savior. “Give it up for Soul’d Out!” The quartet climbed the steps to the square stage and Bryan Hutson’s solo began their set with Unclouded Day. Slowing the atmosphere down, lead, baritone and bass singer slipped off the stage as their pianist provided the accompaniment for their tenor’s solo, Maker Of The Rain. After all of the barn-burners we heard that night – this clear, soft ballad was like a cool breeze drifting through the crowd. “Ah c’mon,” Bryan engaged the crowd afterwards, “You’re gonna’ recognize this one.” The familiar song was We’ll Soon Be Done, (with troubles and trials), this one closed their set…but not without two encores and the crowd on their feet!
“We have a special guest,” Jerry announced when Soul’d Out left the stage,“and the board is so excited that she is passing through Louisville – make welcome Lynda Randle.”Lynda came on stage and sang one special song for us – Till The Storm Passes By. After a heartwarming rendition of that song, Mr. Goff asked the crowd, “Aren’t you glad that Lynda stopped by?”
The Hoppers were the next group to come on a little after nine o’clock, and started their set with Count Me In. Dean was featured on the verses of this upbeat song. “Thank you so much, it is so good for our family to be at the NQC in 2012.” Claude said. Then he told his
story about the “talking frog.”When he finished, Claude went to step off stage for a moment so Kim could sing her song, but she chased him around the stage and kept him on it by putting her arm around his shoulder and softly telling the audience, “This here is a good man…” then turning to Claude said, “I know we were going to do my song first, but I want you to do yours instead.” By way of introduction, she told of how this song is his life, to help people. So Claude sang If I Can Help Somebody. Fans popped up from their seats all over Freedom Hall. Afterwards, Claude said, “That should be the testimony of every Christian…to help somebody.” Then he told a story about something that happened at one of their concerts in Ohio. They have bracelets that say,“God loves you – He always has and He always will.” At that concert, Claude stepped off the stage during their concert and gave it to a girl. Afterwards, the pastor of the church came up to him and said,“You don’t know what you did,” and went on to tell of how the girl was saved in their church 3 months ago and baptized. But she also had a testimony – she was raped by her father and mother’s boyfriend – BUT, she has regained her self-esteem. So coming off the stage, Claude gave one of those bracelets to a lady in the NQC audience. Then Kim sang her song, a ballad called He Carried Me. “It feels good in here tonight!” Dean cried, and then introduced their closing song Yahweh. “Ladies and gentlemen,the Hoppers!” exclaimed Jerry Goff.
The next segment of the evening was none other than “Jubilee!” “Here’s the Booth Brothers, Legacy Five and Greater Vision,” Gerald exclaimed. All three groups walked on stage and sang, Sing Me A Song About Jesus. Matt did great on the bass parts! Michael, on the other hand, walked away from the tenor gang to wave at the only side of the square stage that had no one standing along it. LOL Gus and Chris joined him a few moments later, obviously giving him a hard time about breaking away from the group. When the song ended, Gerald walked over to those three and said, “The tenors are warmed up tonight!” – then went on to say that on the new Jubilee 3 CD, the tenors have a song they do as a trio, and since they felt so good that night, they were gonna’ change the program and do that song instead. So Treasures In Heaven came next. Gerald explained that the following song consisted of a brand new quartet they formed just for that song on Jubilee 3, and as he sat down at the piano, he picked out the group. Chris, Fowler, Brady and Matt. All the while, Michael was jumping up and down, raising his hand. When Gerald didn’t pick him, the most rejected look crossed his face. Gerald looked at him and asked,“Are you alright?” Michael answered, “Just a little bored.”So Gerald told him to “go sit over there” …and “there” just so happened to be on the drum stool! That made up a full band of Michael on the drums, Gerald on the piano and Rodney playing his bass guitar. The song this band played was none other than Wedding Music. As Matt took the verse, everyone applauded his solo. The crowdlovedL5’s new bass singer! Standing ovation!!! Back to back with Wedding Music, was Beautiful Home. Towards the end of the quartet song, Michael returned to the drums and Rodney to his bass guitar. Walking off stage, Gerald exclaimed, “We’ll see you Saturday!” (There will be a Jubilee showcase on Saturday.) Then turning to where the drums where, he shouted, “Mike! Mike!” – and Michael popped his head up and jumped on stage, “Oh, yeah,” he said,“Forgive me, I was feeling so spiritual playing the drums…well, I beat the devil out of em!” LOL.
Michael introduced Legacy Five only like he could, “Ladies and gentlemen,” he began,“here are some of the best…ah…Legacy 5!” -and walked off stage. (Silly, silly Michael!)Legacy Five’s first song was A Wonderful Life. Scott made a big introduction of Matt. He announced that (Monday) that night, was only his 6th time to sing with Legacy Five!The crowd applauded andMatt stepped forward to sing I’ve Been Changed. I’m Still Amazed followed. Howie was featured on the second verse, with Gus and Scott joining in a line later. “And that amazement will continue,” Scott declared, introducing their final song,“one day, every knee is going to bow and every tongue is going to confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord. And one day we will see Him just…as…He…is.” This foreshadowed the renowned We Shall See Jesus. Throughout Freedom Hall, people began standing until everyone was on their feet.
The last artist that I stayed to see on main stage was right after Legacy Five. Coming on at 10:00 was none other than the Talley’s! “Let him know you love them! Ten number one songs…The Talleys!” exclaimed Jerry Goff. We Want To Thank You, a meditative ballad, opened their set. Lauren’s solo, The Promise, followed. “Well good evening!” Lauren said, greeting the crowd. “Thank you so much, are you glad to see my parents, Mr. Roger and Debra Talley?” She took a moment and shared that her husband, Brian Alvey, is now taking college classes, and that keeps him at the house most of the time, but they’re going to try to get him there for Thursday so they can sing some new songs off of their Love Won CD. Until then, Lauren asked Roger to come sing this one – Every Scar. “Isn’t that a great song?” asked Lauren afterwards. She slipped her mic in its stand and their closing song, He’s Alive, began. The audience soaked up the fast number and many stood. There was at least one encore before the trio departed from the stage.
Conclusion: Wow. The first day of the National Quartet Convention of 2012! I can’t believe it has come and gone already, but it couldn’t have begun any better. I didn’t get to see every artist that was on main stage on Monday night, but every one that I did see, was such a joy! I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week will hold!