Over 800 people squeezed their way into the Freeland Performing Arts center in Bristow, Oklahoma, July 10th. What would cause people to travel from Texas, North Dakota and the Carolina’s to small town Bristow? Maybe an evening with Master’s Voice, The Talley Trio and the Hoppers could do it? Definitely. Master’s Voice Homecoming was SOLD OUT – boy, was I glad that I was there! I settled into my seat on the left side of the theatre like auditorium, waiting for the concert to begin. This would be my second time seeing the Hoppers and Masters Voice live, and my very first concert with the Talley’s – what a combination! I hardly noticed that it was after ten thirty at night when the concert came to a close after starting at seven o’clock. I honestly felt like I just got there when it was time to leave. It was a very powerful evening filled with great gospel music.
His Image, a local group from Bristow, opened for the main program with “A City I Call My Home.” The male trio followed their opener with a fast number Jesus Has The Power To Give Life Again. Their next song was written by Master’s Voice very own, Ricky Capps (owner). It was titled His Mercies Are New, and if you’ve ever heard Ricky talk about the Lord, you would immediately recognize that the lyrics to this song fit his style. Next, was an upbeat song featuring their lead singer, called Throwing Rocks, interesting message in this one. It talked about how we are to be encouraging our brothers and sisters in the Lord, yet how can we do that when we are “throwing rocks” like the people in the Bible who were ready to stone the adulteress, when Jesus said, “you without sin cast the first stone.” After that, they sang a song about the cross called He Didn’t Have To Do It But He Did. Pray Through Me, was a slow worshipful one about the Holy Spirit praying through us when we don’t have the words to speak. Then they closed with a up beat number We’re Almost Home, which received a standing ovation and many shouts of approval bringing an encore.
The promoter came out to introduce the next group, while doing so he said that this was the very first sold out concert that the Freeland Performing Arts Center has ever had . . .and it was a SOUTHERN GOSPEL concert! Many amen’s followed. He also made mention that they not only sold out this year, but they had to turn away over 200 people at the door! (That’s a lot of people!) After he finished telling everyone about that, he welcomed The Talley Trio on stage, who kicked off their set with He’s So Good To Me, featuring Debra Talley. The next song really engaged the audience in clapping to the up beat tempo of Lauren singing A Promise Coming Down That Dusty Road. Debra Talley introduced Amazing Grace by saying that she went to church all her life, memorized the verses, knew the Bible stories, but didn’t know Jesus. There’s a difference. After that, Lauren came up and introduced the next song as the one that they sing that has meant the most to people. It was The Broken Ones. She didn’t even sing the first line before the crowd whistled and shouted their approval. Lauren sang it with such passion, her stage presence was amazing! When that song concluded, she introduced her next song with her testimony of having Mono for three months and how 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 really encouraged her “In Christ Alone.” Which was the song that followed. I have to say, I’m not a big CCM fan, but Lauren sang that one better than the original artist! It was awesome! Roger came forward and said, “I think someone needs to hear this song,” and began singing My Hope Is In The Lord, a very popular radio single for the Talley’s not too long ago. Mountain Mover followed, after singing that one Roger said, “When we go to one of those first churches that are more conservative we save that one for AFTER the offering.” The audience liked that joke! Their closing song was also one of their recent popular radio singles, He’s Alive. When they came to the chorus of this song, the whole auditorium jumped to their feet in ovation. Some shouted, some waved their hands back and forth and some whistled. The lighting tech in charge of the spotlight had the spotlight going in circles and S’s over the audience which made you feel like you were in a Rock concert or something! This crowd obviously loved the Talley’s! And that kind of energy in a SG audience is great to experience.
Next up, was Bristow, OK’s very own – Master’s Voice. When the promoter introduced these guys, the audience was on their feet to welcome them on stage before they even started singing. (Yes, we had an exceptionally excited crowd that evening!) Master’s Voice began their time on stage with Get Ready, a medium tempo song encouraging all to be ready for the Lord’s soon return. Following, was the country flavored What On Earth Are You Waiting For? The crowd clapped to the beat and during the turn around Ricky Capps (group owner and tenor singer) welcomed everyone to Bristow and their Homecoming, ending his introduction with “more than hearing great gospel music, if you are here tonight and don’t know the Lord, we’ve got a question for you.” Which lined up perfectly with the message in the chorus which says, “What on earth are you waiting for, there’s nothing here worth missing Heaven for.” How true that is! Joey, the trio’s baritone singer introduced their next song, I Know Just What He Did For Me, as currently being #52 on the Singing News charts. I was so excited when they started singing their next song, Everything The Blood Touches Lives, because it is my favorite song that this group sings! To hear it live was such a treat! It begins by featuring Joey, then moves up to feature their lead singer, Drew. It’s a very powerful song with a message like none other! Next, they sang the classic Winds of The World. Introductions followed, when Joey began talking about Ricky, he said, “He picks on us all the time and we don’t pick on him nearly as much as we should, so I’ll start tonight. I believe that Ricky Capps has the best female voice in all of Southern Gospel Music today.” Ricky then came and introduced all of the trio, and let their pianist, Ben, play a solo. Ben played a very short complex version of I’ll Fly Away at top speed, the crowd roaring their approval at the end, and Ricky looking a little smug – with that, he very light heartedly said, “Big deal! I could do that if I wanted too . . . I just don’t want too!” Ricky went on to tell the crowd how Ben can play by ear, until muddy chords projected out of the speakers to draw attention to Ben sitting in front of his keyboard using the side of his head to play the keys! The audience roared in laughter again. Introductions finished, Master’s Voice proceeded to sing three songs off of their new CD they released that night, the first was a Dottie Rambo classic, He Looked Beyond My Fault And Saw My Need. The brand new arrangement was refreshing and the vocal dynamics invigorating. You could see and hear the emotion that they put into the song. Next on the set list was, Oh The Glory Did Roll. On the ending, Ricky hit a sky high note that received a great response from the audience. Canaan Land Is Just In Sight followed, and everyone clapped to the familiar tune of the old hymn. That one completed, Joey came forward and told how he came to know the Lord as an into to He’s All The Above, which featured Ricky. Their next song was a very powerful ballad called He Took The Cross. They closed their set with thanking all of the ones who have served in the military past and present, and in tribute to them, sang In God We Still Trust, which received a standing ovation.
The Hoppers came on stage next opening with the classic Going Home. Roger Talley played piano for them that night (their pianist was playing at his sister’s wedding and wasn’t able to be there.)
Dean introduced their second song with, “In the book of Isaiah we call Him Immanuel, and throughout the Scriptures He has many names, but here tonight we’re going to call Him Yahweh.” They proceeded to Yahweh, (my personal favorite song that the Hoppers sing). Claude talked about how he grew up on a tobacco farm and how he and Connie have been married for 49 years. They sang O, It Thrills Me, a snappy song with a tune that can’t help but make you smile. Kim was featured on one of their recent radio singles Grace Will Always Be Greater Than Sin, and Connie’s solo was I’ve Come Too Far To Look Back. On the latter, Claude let Mike (his son/drummer) sing the bass part. No Hopper concert would be complete with out their two signature songs, Jerusalem and Shouting Time. Jerusalem came first and stirred the crowd while Shouting Time followed. They encored Shouting Time two times, then the promoter came out and had them encore it again. My mom’s comment of Kim was, “When he came out and had them do it again, I didn’t think she could do it again, but man, that girl can sing all night!” Kim did hold some incredible notes and did it with such ease one couldn’t help but admire her abilities. Intermission followed.
When intermission ended, all the artists came together on stage and sang a few hymns together. Connie Hopper started with The Love Of God, and shared the second verse with Kim. Beulah Land followed along with I’ll Fly Away, sung by Lauren Talley. The audience approved the evening of Gospel music with many shouts and applauses.
In closing, I would like to say that this is one of the best concerts I’ve been to so far. The artists all had a great selection of songs they performed and superior stage presence. The highlight of the evening had to be the Talley’s He’s Alive, The Hoppers Shouting Time and Master’s Voice In God We Still Trust. All of these, brought the audience to their liveliest. The amount of enthusiasm in the auditorium that evening was electrifying! You have your typical SGM concert, where you will find those fans who are overly enthusiastic with their shouts, hoots, hollers and whistles ….. But it isn’t often you attend a concert where the entire audience “roars” with excitement and enthusiasm the entire evening – start to finish! This crowd was appreciative and their enthusiasm could be felt in the air. All of the groups did great, and I can’t wait to see them again!
A huge thank you to Master’s Voice, for hosting a very classy Homecoming with an excellent line-up. The facility was classy with very comfortable seating. You can tell time and thought were put into the event. I am very much looking forward to next year, when Master’s Voice will host their homecoming on July 8 & 9,2011 in Bristow at the Freeland Center …. And host two nights of concerts!!! What a line-up they have planned with the likes of Jeff & Sheri Easter, Gold City, Mike & Kelly Bowling, and Karen Peck and New River! I predict next year’s Homecoming to sell out quickly! Anyone within driving distance that might plan to attend yet your tickets NOW!
Next stop – Steve Hurst School of Music!