The 44th Annual Brumely Gospel Sing was once again held at the Cowan Civic Center in Lebanon, Missouri. The Sing began on Wednesday and went through Saturday. If my readers know me well, they know I couldn’t resist Saturday’s “Quartet Night!” The line-up that night consisted of a variety of quartets, including: The LeFevre Quartet, The Mark Trammell Quartet, Tribute Quartet, Brian Free and Assurance, The Dixie Echoes, The Blackwood Brothers and comedian Aaron Wilburn. After getting my ticket and catching up with my BFA friends, Kim, Bill and Julie, I settled into a seat on the floor as all the artists climbed on stage for the opening ceremony.
Duane Garren led the fans and artists in singing He Set Me Free. What followed was a Brumely tradition, where Bob Brumely read the words to a hymn and sang I’m Bound For That City as if he never sang it before. Josh Singletary was seated at the “white baby grand” and providing the only musical accompaniment as all the group members held a Brumely songbook and sang with the big American flag framing the wall behind them. With the congregational singing behind us, we greeted our neighbors and sat down. Finally, the real singing would begin!!!
“For the first time on the main stage at the Brumley Sing,” Duane announced, “make welcome the LeFevre Quartet!” Harold, Jordan, Mike and Randy (Randy Byrd was singing bass for them at this time) kicked off Saturday night with a wonderful reminder of what Gospel Music is all about, the title said it all, Without Him How Lost I’d Be. This was trailed by two well know snappy songs, The Glory Did Roll and The Cloud He’s Coming Back On. Mike asked for an “Amen” before the second verse of that last number began, and the crowd responded with a healthy “Amen!” Little Is Much featured Harold Reed’s strong tenor voice, and even though I was viewing the stage from a distance, I could still see the sincerity with which he conveyed it to the audience. As they began Keep Holding On they encouraged the crowd to clap, but like most large sings, that’s a challenge for the first group on stage. “Well, how are ya’ll doing tonight?” Mike asked the crowd. He went on to mention that they were at a matinee last year and introduce the group. As Harold introduced Mike, he teased, “You can’t have a LeFevre group of any kind without at least one LeFevre,” taking Mike by the arm he proudly declared, “and this is ours!” LOL Mike briefly spoke a few words about their closing song, “It tells us the reason why Jesus came – the tomb is empty, I’ve been there and that tomb declares that Jesus saves.” Their last song was one called Jesus Saves, the power and emotion in the message brought the crowd to their feet.
Duane came up on stage to bring on the following group and also announced that they found a ladies pocketbook and a Canon camera. (This happens every year! LOL) “These guys currently have the number one song on the Singing News Charts, I Want To Know, are you glad to see the Mark Trammell Quartet?” asked Duane. The five members of this group entered the platform and kicked off their set with Echoes From The Burning Bush. Live music is a rarity in Gospel Music now-a-days, but when this quartet sings with just their pianist (Dustin) and Mark playing bass guitar, it’s one of the fullest sounds you’ll ever hear. Applause filled the auditorium and the guys went right into singing Wedding Music. There was a group in the back that clapped even more when they heard the song! On the second verse, Mark set aside his bass and huddled into a trio with Pat and Nick for a line. “If you’re glad to be in Lebanon, Missouri tonight say, ‘Praise the Lord.’” Mark instructed. A loud and full reply bounced back to the stage. I Sing The Mighty Power Of God was introduced next, and after that one of Mark’s favorite hymns, Tis So Sweet. He also asked us to applaud those who worked very hard to organize the event, and we did, then he introduced the “men.” Going into another tune, Mark pointed out that it was the very first Happy Goodman song that he had ever memorized – it was Meet Me Over On The Other Side. As he spoke about their new project, he admonished the crowd to ignore his bass singer because he thinks Mark is old. But all of that was said so Mark could introduce that number one song that features their bass vocalist, I Want To Know. Though the crowd was clapping off beat something terrible, they quickly rose to their feet and caused an encore of the contagious tune. “Tomorrow is a bittersweet day for me,” Mark began, “and some of you know why. It’s the grand homecoming celebration for my sweet mother.” He explained that when his mom knew the end was near she made him promise that he would not go home early because of her. “So I’m fulfilling everything my mom has asked me to do.” Mark explained – and that statement alone received a standing ovation of its own. They dedicated the last medley to her, The Golden City Tour Medley. This one also received a standing ovation, but more importantly, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the faith, feeling and courage Mark sang it with. It was, as he said, bittersweet.
As I’ve mentioned in years past – the Brumley Sing doesn’t take an intermission, so when the next group came on, I took mine. 🙂 Unfortunately, I was out of the sing a little longer than I gauged, because when I went back in to see Tribute sing, they were almost done with their set! (Scream!) I walked back in when Riley was singing Homecoming Day (and was very sad I missed half of the song). But I did get to see them sing Inside The Gate and watch them come off stage and circle around one of the middle sections, singing their hearts out! Even though the building was large, I could still hear their voices clearly from a distance (they weren’t using mics.) This simple action brought the crowd to their feet. When they reached the stage again, Duane called out, “Did you enjoy these boys tonight? Give it up for Tribute Quartet one more time!”
“Here is one of the most awarded tenors in Southern Gospel Music history,” Duane announced, “give it up for Brian Free and Assurance!” As their first track began, Brian asked, “How’s everybody tonight?” Then Brian, Bill, Derrick and Jeremy began singing an old Dottie Rambo classic, What A Beautiful Day. Between verses, Brian asked, “How many believe that tonight?” After Go Tell The World, Brian introduced the ballad, I Believe, and recounted the miracles of old through his solo. “Amen! What a song,” exclaimed Brian at the ballad’s close, “We’re gonna’ turn our bass singer loose on this old one.” So as the tenor was featured on the previous ballad, Jeremy would be featured on the old hymn – Just A Little Talk With Jesus. After a few lines, Brian encouraged the audience to sing along with them. By the songs mid-point, scattered across the auditorium, fans were standing. After the introductions were made, Brian asked if they could sing their new single. Challenging the husbands and fathers, he spoke these words, “Men, this should be all our goals.” Brian sang the verses of this beautiful song; I Want To Be That Man. God Will Close The Door followed as well as two of BFA’s most well know songs: For God So Loved (which Brian knew that some of those present would know) and Long As I Got King Jesus – both of which, received standing ovations.
Conclusion: The Brumely Sing had a lot of talent on Saturday night and I enjoyed everyone that I saw. It was great to see the LeFevre’s again. Huggy Bear is one of my favorite tenors and when he sings, you can see that he’s singing right from his heart. MTQ did very well, the Brumley crowd is known for…shall we say, having low energy? – but they really responded well, and loudly, to MTQ. With the power and emotion they put into their singing, they could incite spiritual awakening into a stone! (They’re that good!) Like I mentioned above, I was very sad to miss Tribute sing, but I know they did well too. Brian Free and Assurance, well, what can I say, we save the best for last, eh? (Mr. Barker, you may not make a comment about that!) LOL ;-D Truthfully, the way that the fans were responding to the traditional SGM, I was curious to see how they’d react to BFA’s progressive sound – and it was as if there was no difference! BFA stuck to what they do, and the crowd liked it…and so did I. All in all, it was an absolutely wonderful evening!