Water surged straight up into the air; stretching, reaching for the highest places before it fell back into the pool and dissipated into the calm waves. You could say it is my favorite fountain in the Gaylord Opryland Resort. After all, being so near the Governor’s Ballroom, it’s the one I see the most during Legacy Five’s Celebration NYE. This year, actually, the day before the last day of last year, I sat on one of the ledges and enjoyed the soothing sounds of the water as we waited for our rooms to get ready. The Opryland in Nashville is known for being the world’s largest non-gaming hotel (perfect place for a Gospel Sing!) and has the most beautiful gardens within their nine acre complex for you to roam through at leisure. They have around 3,500 employees and the average bellman walks 12-15 miles a day…and that’s not during the holiday season! The first session of the week was set to begin in a few hours, but right then, I was content to stay in the Delta and soak up the view.
The doors to the Governor’s Ballroom opened at 6:15 PM that first evening. Besides our host, Legacy Five, we heard The Burchfield Brothers, Triumphant Quartet, Tim Lovelace, and the Collingsworth Family.
The Burchfield Brothers opened the evening and entertained us with a variety of instruments. When I walked in they were performing We Three Kings with classical guitar, winds and other instruments. “It’s a celebration of the wonderful things that Christ has done in our hearts,” said one of the brothers about Christmas, and then they went into Carol of the Bells. After that arrangement, the same brother added, “Sometimes all you need is a simple melody and a simple message – I can’t think of a better one than the message of this song.” That instrumental was the pleasant tune of Mary Did You Know, which they played to. Afterwards, he went on to speak of the times he believed God smiled down on him throughout his life, for example: when he was nine and went to the altar and when he and his brothers came to Nashville wondering where they would play their music and the Opryland Hotel opened its doors to them and wanted him to play classical guitar. Then he played an old “lost song” that was popular in the 1930’s – he used to play it down in the Cascades Restaurant. They ended with an old Gospel song, When We All Get To Heaven.
“You know that we have a reputation here to only bring in the best,” Scott Fowler said, introducing the second artist, “And it pains me to say it, but I think the best quartet we have here is Triumphant Quartet.” Triumphant Quartet came on stage with Because He Loved Me and encored the tune a cappella afterwards. When The Trumpet Sounds followed. “How’s everybody doin’?” asked Eric, “Are you glad to see Scotty Inman?” The following song featured Scotty and was a song he wrote, Somebody Died For Me. Eric quoted the verse in 2 Corinthians that says, “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift,” then they repeated the chorus. Eric talked about his granddaughter and how perfect she is! He used a little story about her to set up one of their new songs, This Blood, and gave the Gospel in a nut-shell. (The example being just like his granddaughter didn’t bring anything with her when she entered the world, but they still love her to pieces, we didn’t bring anything to God when we came to know the Lord, yet, He loves us and wants us just the same!) Eric had the crowd sing, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus…” after their ballad, This Blood. Then he asked, “Are you thankful for the blood?” How they hated to go from that powerful song to this one, he added. That comment alone was enough to give it away – everyone knew White Flag was next. For the next few moments, Clayton and the crowd entertained us with white handkerchiefs. “Bluegrass rules!” Clayton shouted in victory after the last note. Saved By Grace closed out their set.
“Well, we’ve heard good singing, we’ve heard good musicians, are y’all ready to laugh?” Scott asked, “If you’re not in the mood to laugh you might want to leave, but I hope you don’t, ‘cause right here is the funniest man! Tim Lovelace!” Side Effects kicked off Tim’s set and when he came to that line “side effects,” the crowd echoed it with him. “How many of y’all had a wonderful Christmas?” Tim asked with a shout. “How many y’all are looking forward to the New Year?” he went on, “How many y’all looking forward to breaking some New Year’s resolutions?” LOL While I’ve seen him do the different “piano impressions” that night he did the same thing on the guitar. It was very fun! Then he casually said, “We all know I’ll Fly Away frontwards and backwards…” Most of us knew what was coming next and that was I’ll Fly Away backwards, therefore, Away Fly I’ll. (After that, it’s pretty safe to say that most of us don’t know it frontwards and backwards! LOL!) Next, he told “The Gymnastics Story,” which is a personal favorite of mine. In case anyone hasn’t heard Tim tell this story, I’ll spoil it for ya’! He begins by saying that one day his girls said, “Dad, we want to take gymnastics!” So he and Mary Alice went down to take a tour of the gymnastics building and see what they do. The young guy who was giving the tour had a very opinionated view of what they do with the kids that is so different from anything their parent’s generation ever experienced growing up. Of course, Tim challenged him on that! So, we found out that the exercise of climbing up a rope and ringing the bell is really no different than climbing up a rope, over a limb and jumping into the river. That you can exercise the same muscles whether you jump on a trampoline or on your parent’s bed. You didn’t need a balance beam when you had the railroad tracks and if you think jumping up and making a full turn is special, well, you obviously never went berry picking where there were snakes – and my all-time favorite, the similarities to Tai Chi and going through a barbed wire fence! When Tim came to the part about the fence, he rehearsed his script that he supposedly told the young gymnast when he asked, “Did your generation have any such exercise?” Where Tim answers, “Oh yes, we did. It too was an art form that my people practiced. Tons of my generation knew this art form…” Right then he laughed and said, “I can normally keep a straight face – y’all are wearing me out!” (Yes, the crowd had him that night!) Of course, the scene ended thus… “It is almost lost,” Tim told the instructor. The instructor asked if he would demonstrate it and Tim said, “Oh yes, I will if you promise not to talk to me.” So, Tim showed the young instructor how to go through a barbed wire fence…without the fence actually being present! LOL He went on to thank Scott and L5 for having the event and having him there. Tim was scheduled to be at NYE last year, but his grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and just had a few days to live. She passed on Dec. 28th and when he told Scott, Fowler didn’t hesitate to say, “You need to be with your family.” Tim closed his time on stage wrapping up his gymnastics story with the thought that there is nothing new under the sun, it’s just repackaged. So if you’re going through something, remember that: There’s nothing new under the sun, it’s just repackaged. Don’t complicate life. Then he sang Child of the King. When Scott returned to the stage he gave Tim a hug and told the crowd, “He’s the real deal, guys. What you see is what you get with him; Tim is one of the best people I’ve ever met.”
“They are adding more children to their family,” Scott teased of the next artist. From where he stood on stage, he could see the newest member sleeping soundly. Then he told the crowd that as long as they keep requesting this group, then L5 will keep bringing them …The Collingsworth Family. They opened with At Calvary and Phil exclaimed, “I want to hear this crowd say a hearty amen!” The crowd did as instructed and then Phil introduced the family. Olivia was the first to be introduced, and Phil shared how she recently acquired her license and told him, “Daddy, one day I’m gonna drive that big black bus!” One day she did, 60 feet across a parking lot! Last on stage was little Emma. I’m telling y’all, that little girl stole the spotlight! After introductions, Phil Jr.’s wife came up and sang We Will Serve The Lord with them. Show a Little Love and Kindness followed and folks not only clapped along but stood in ovation at the end of the encore. Phil shared that one of their Christmas traditions is caroling late at night on Christmas Eve at the hospitals in Cincinnati and how they didn’t get to do that this year, but wanted to know if they could do one for us? It was O Holy Night. (Beautiful!) That night and New Year’s Eve marked the Collingsworth Family’s 15th anniversary for being on the road. Though Fear Not Tomorrow featured Kim on the second verse, everyone waited in suspense when the spotlight moved to the glossy grand where Kim positioned herself to go into one of her solos. This one was Battle Hymn of the Republic like you’ve never heard it before! At one part, everyone in the audience seemed to rise as one.
After intermission, Legacy Five kicked off the second half of the night with Blood Washed Band and then Scott announced that the next night Gus would make L5 history – he would become the tenor that has stayed with L5 the longest! Gus then sang I Stand Redeemed. Who Is This Man? and I Found Grace followed. As Gus sang his verse to I Found Grace a commotion happened on stage, which, I believe was in the form of a bee. “Did you see how cool and calm I was?” Scott asked after the song. “I very calmly sent him to his Maker.” Howie added, “I was hoping it would hit Matt and he would scream like a girl.” LOL Scott went on to correct a mistake he made earlier in the announcements, “Oh, and by the way, there is no lunch!” (Every year Legacy Five has a breakfast for those with VIP packages and he accidentally called it “lunch.” So everyone was asking them at intermission about lunch because no one had a ticket for it!) He went on to say that someone requested a Cathedrals song – He Made A Change – The Cats last #1 song. And Scott sang it! Of course, in his excitement he stomped on the bee again. LOL.
Conclusion: The first night of Celebration was a hoot! Between the bee, lunch and Tim not being able to keep a straight face telling his own stories – we had a blast together!