Another year of the National Quartet Convention came to a close on September 15th, 2012. It was a wonderful week, and even though a good night’s rest was sorely lacking, I was sad that the event had to come to an end. On the positive side, one of the best line-ups of the week was featured on main stage! So, after I helped disassemble the booth, loaded ‘er up and said farewell to my friends, my family and I found ourselves empty seats in Freedom Hall and watched the last six groups on the schedule perform.
Greater Vision kicked off their set after eight o’clock with It Means Just What It Says. Rodney Griffin of the group was featured on the verses of that fast number, and when he sang the lines that said, “I know I’m not the smartest of people, that you’ve been privileged to meet.” – Mr. Gerald chuckled into the mic, “You got that right!” LOL Gerald introduced their second song with some “East Tennessee logic,” as he called it. A man went up to him once and made a remark about all of the songs they have recorded about heaven. The gentleman was frustrated that there weren’t more songs about the here and now in SGM, they all seemed to point to a time that we haven’t experienced yet. You know what Gerald’s East Tennessee logic said? “Well, heaven is going on!” He also teased, “If you don’t like songs about heaven, you’re probably not going to like living there.” LOL GV’s next song was one called Pile Of Crowns. Also, it has been one of their most requested songs recently. “Beautiful song,” Gerald whispered as the track for He’d Still Been God came on back to back. By the last chorus, everyone was on their feet. When that one ended, Gerald walked to one side of the stage and let everyone know that was the “amen corner.” The precious people sitting there have occupied those seats since 1984, and Gerald knew them by name! The following song was a special one, one that Gerald doesn’t sing very often, but it was a special night, so he did – it was Till The Storm Passes By. At the very end, Gerald said with conviction in his heart, “Don’t be afraid to trust Him tonight!” The moment spurred a standing ovation and many shouts of “Glory!” from the audience.
Before the next scheduled artist came on stage, Gerald, who was also our host for the evening, brought TaRanda Greene up to sing a special song for us – I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked. This powerful ballad also brought the crowd to their feet, and tears to TaRanda’s eyes.
The Hoppers walked on stage and began with Count Me In, but Connie wasn’t there! So, as TaRanda was leaving the stage Dean said to her, “I don’t know where Mom is, stay and sing.” Therefore she did. A few minutes later Connie appeared on stage, but before TaRanda could reach the stairs to leave; Kim grabbed her arm and kept her up there singing with them. When the song ended, TaRanda slipped off stage as Claude desperately wanted to say something, but Connie cut him off! LOL “What I’ve got to say I think is important,” Claude defended, after the audience teased him with laughter. What he had to say was this, “I’m not a democrat – I’m not a republican – I’m an American.” This received a great applause. As they prepared to go on, Connie asked TaRanda to come up on stage and help sing the following song – Grace Will Always Be Greater Than Sin. This also received a standing ovation. The stage lights began to dance when Shouting Time In Heaven was sung by the five of them. Instead of everyone taking their seats for the last song, they just stayed standing for that one too! When the classic ended, Dean thanked the audience on behalf of the family and they left the stage. A music video of the Hoppers singing I Wish We’d All Been Ready drew our attention to the screens and officially closed the set.
The next segment that was brought before us was called “Think About It” with Michael Booth. As Michael stood on stage, he brought our attention to a Biblical principle. Here is a paraphrase of what he had to say: God is love – but as much as He is love, He is also just. We must not ignore the Scriptures that say we have sinned and those that speak of the existence of hell. “I don’t like talking about it either,” Michael said, “but it is, nevertheless, true.” On the other hand, he went on to encourage with these thoughts – If you have ever doubted that God loves you…think about this: Isaiah said that He crushed His Son. For those who have had children, could imagine crushing your own child under your wrath and fury? Michael went on to explain that the Father indeed did that to His own Son so we could have the privilege of knowing Him. That’s how much He loves us. Then he spoke of humbling ourselves before God, and how that is the way to be clean, holy and righteous in His eyes.
Tell Me The Story Of Jesus opened the Booth Brothers set. Melissa (Jim Brady’s wife) came up and sang the second verse with them. I really liked the way her voice complemented the BB’s. “Melissa Brady,” Michael exclaimed. Then he hinted of their next song with these words, “I bet the blind man knows all about the Gospel.” He Saw It All was that song, and Ronnie sang it well. Towards the end of the ballad, Ronnie cried out, “Muhammad can’t claim it, or Buddha, only Jesus can…he saw it all folks!” As Feeling Mighty Fine followed, fans popped up out of their seats left and right. Right in the middle of the tune, Ronnie asked the crowd for a good ‘ole “NQC yeehaw” – and he received one! On the encore, Melissa joined the trio on stage once more. A few lines later, Rodney Griffin jumped on stage and performed his “dummy jig” the whole way around the square stage. LOL “One more?” they asked. One more it was! When they finally stopped singing, Michael bent down to his foot and casually mentioned, “I stomped my sock down.” Then he was in search for his water bottle, and as he went to take a drink said, “Somebody testify.” Jim replied dryly, “Testify.” On the other hand, Ronnie was a little more creative. He said, “In our family tree, he’s from the fruit section.” LOL They then pointed out their Mom, who was sitting in the audience. It was her birthday today and they wanted to recognize her in honor of it. Nick Bruno was playing piano for them that night, and as Michael introduced the next song, he mentioned Nick’s involvement of bringing it to them. Michael introduced this ballad with these stirring words, “When you carry your papa’s casket, when you see Anthony Burger die before your eyes, when you have children that you would die for that (finger snap) fast…when I think of those things – I want some hope! When we keep our eyes on the prize, on the throne of the Lord Jesus Christ, how beautiful must the Creator be? So, I get to see Anthony again, and papa, Vestal and Howard, but if I don’t see you guys until then….look for me at Jesus feet. This ballad, Look For Me, was done with just the piano. The crowd loved it and gave them a standing O – and Michael let them sing the last line.
Our host, Gerald, came on stage to do some rumor squelchin’ before the night went any further. “There’s nothing worse among God’s children than rumors,” Gerald reprimanded, “so here’s the rumor squelching – nobody’s mad at Louisville, Kentucky. We love Louisville. The folks here in Louisville are precious to us.” This was all said in relation to the NQC moving to Pigeon Forge, TN in 2014. The honest truth is, another event asked the Expo if they could have the NQC week, and the Expo talked to the NQC board, offering to let them stay, but they were gracious and let the “boat show” have our week. “If you tell anyone anything other than that,” Gerald continued, “you’re making it up!” So there it is!
“This next group, we are so excited about,” Gerald said, “please make welcome the Voices of Lee!” This college choir came out and sang four songs. The first was a classical piece, the second a medley with Just A Little Talk With Jesus in it, He Looked Beyond My Fault and last but not least, Mary Did You Know? Each of the songs were done acapella, and the choir huddled around each corner of the stage for the four performances. Mary Did You Know, received a standing ovation.
“Ladies and gentlemen…The Talley’s!” Gerald exclaimed. A soft, Gentle Shepherd opened their set with Roger playing piano. Their second number was the bluesy Talk To The Lord About It, sung by Debra. “C’mon everybody! Snap your fingers with us!” Lauren encouraged on the same song, getting the audience involved. After that new song, Lauren addressed the crowd, “Thank you so much, this has been such a fun week for our family.” Then she sang a special song – The Broken Ones. Lauren set up her mic stand to sing this one, and as she began the ballad someone behind her let out a loud cheer – she smoothly turned and waved in that direction with a smile on her face. Her husband, Brian Alvey, was with them that night, and he was featured on their final song, Make Way For The Master. “Really let ‘em know it,” Gerald said as they left the stage, “that’s my neighbors.”
The Perry’s were the last group to have a full set on main stage on Saturday. Everywhere I Go, a fast song, kicked off their set. Tracy quickly introduced the guys cause he wanted to get a few of their new songs in. One of those new songs featured Joseph, it’s called Whosoever Will. “It wouldn’t be the NQC if not for this song,” said Tracy as the music for I Wish I Could Have Been There began. People went nuts over this song! From the very beginning they were standing and clapping! Michael Booth jumped up on stage and played drums. At the end, Tracy was trying to quickly introduce their last song, and Michael, feeling rejected because his drumming skills weren’t acknowledged, walked off stage with sagging shoulders. Immediately, Tracy played into the act and said, “Sorry Michael…how about Michael Booth?!” Everyone clapped. Their last song was Celebrate Me Home. As the ballad was sung, the screens flashed pictures of those who have gone before – Howard and Vestal, George, Glen and many more, including Libbi’s two brothers who passed away many years ago.
The Grand Finale was called the “Gospel Palooza Blockbusters” – featuring five number one songs from five great groups: Greater Vision, The Talley’s, The Hoppers, Karen Peck and New River and the Booth Brothers. First off, was GV singing My Name Is Lazarus. By then it was well close to midnight, but the anticipation of the end kept us all awake and excited. “And the Talley’s!” Gerald exclaimed leaving the stage. As the Talley’s came up, Debra announced, “The Healer is passing your way!” Of course, they sang The Healer. The Hoppers were on next with their classic Yes I Know. TaRanda sang with them again. But the funny moment was when Claude’s ear monitor wasn’t plugged in and Michael Booth skipped up on stage and had to go fix it for him! LOL This one received a standing ovation and was encored. Welcome To The Family began before the Hoppers could get off stage and the Booth Brothers on. The little traffic jam happened just so, that the trio had poor TaRanda cornered. They wouldn’t let her off stage! LOL Karen Peck and New River were next with Four Days Late. On the last chorus, everyone stood up in ovation. Gerald came on stage and gave Karen a hug. “You’ve heard the best music this week – Gospel music!” exclaimed Gerald. Then he asked for every singer who had been on main stage that week, if they were in the building, to come up on stage and sing the closing song – Statement Of Faith.
Conclusion: What can I say…the last night of NQC was both exciting and sad! Exciting because the NQC made it so fun and sad because we had to leave! The final song left a lump in your throat – sung with such conviction and power from everyone. It truly was a great year, and from what I hear, next year is going to be even better!