On the last night of Singing in the Sun, I walked in the auditorium while the Allen Family began singing Turn Your Radio On as a male quartet. “How many remember that song?” asked their father, Todd Allen. He went on to explain the absence of their oldest son and then introduced There’s Life in the Storm. (That’s a good song!) Afterwards, Todd said, “We’ve been here long enough to know that there are some people here that still love hymns,” then brought their three daughters up to sing Fairest Lord Jesus. Gabrielle, Danielle and Abigail were each featured on a verse before singing the last verse together. Their harmony was beautiful! Standing ovation!
A choir ascended the stage as the next group was introduced. Finally, Karen Peck and New River took the stage, opening their set with Sustaining Grace. As the last few notes faded away, Susan, who was featured on that song said, “And Jesus is with you every step of the way.” Karen then shared, “Susan and I are sisters and it has been years since she has had a radio single, but this is my favorite she sings now.” (At that time, Sustaining Grace was rising in the Singing News Charts for KPNR and still is!) Karen went on to say how excited they were to have the Celebration Choir singing with them that night! After short introductions, they put the choir to work with a song that came from a special opportunity Karen had not so long ago. “A year and a half ago, I was in a movie!” Karen explained, and in the movie she played the part of…drum roll please…a Gospel singer! J Well, in the movie, Karen sang a song called Mighty High – and they wanted to sing it for us too! Our attention was brought to the screens where the scene with Karen in it began, and as the song began on the movie, it also began on stage. Between the movie, the choir and the group itself – it was the “coolest” Mighty High I’ve ever experienced in concert! Everything about the moment was perfect! This went right into Jeff’s solo, Look What the Lord Has Done, which received a standing ovation on the encore. On the Banks of the Promised Land followed with the choir joining in on their parts. After encoring the chorus acapella, Karen asked us to sing What A Day That Will Be with them. At the end, Karen asked, “And everybody said?” …and the crowd answered, “AMEN!” Four Days Late came next and with it, the Spirit fell. Everyone stood to their feet, KPNR encored it acapella again and then Karen asked the audience to sing the chorus with them. She went on to share the story of their father’s home going 20 years earlier. Those days were very difficult for the family because they had a wonderful dad, yet, the Lord brought them through. “God is real,” Karen said, “I knew He was real before, but once we’ve experienced that we can stand here and tell you that the joy of the Lord IS OUR STRENGTH…and He’ll be yours.” They sang the chorus to Four Days Late one more time and then left the stage.
“He’s one of the finest tenor singers in Gospel music…make welcome, Brian Free and Assurance!” BFA kicked off their set with I Keep Looking Up and If the Lord Says Do It. Introducing the next song, Brian said, “This song says what I think we need in our land and in our church more than ever, revival.” The tune simply titled, Revival, featured baritone singer Derrick Selph. “You and I as Christians should do this,” lead singer Bill Shivers encouraged, “for each other,” and then went into singing his solo I Will Be Praying. Afterwards, Brian added some thoughts of his own about the message of that song, “How many believe in the power of prayer? I know He doesn’t always answer in the way we think or in the timing we think He should, but He’s the Creator of the universe, He spoke the world into existence, and how much better does He know how to answer our prayers!” Before going on, Brian shared with the crowd that Singing in the Sun is his favorite place to sing at – he said the singing, preaching and everything about is just wonderful! Introductions were next and then they sang a song that has been one of my favorites since I first heard it on their Acapella recording – Over the Horizon! I think the crowd liked it too! Over the Horizon is a song they sing that features Brian – they sing it all acapella with nothing but their snapping fingers for accompaniment! It’s AWESOME!!! After singing their #1 song I Want To Be That Man, they brought up the choir and ended with Long As I Got King Jesus. This one brought the audience to their feet – everything about it had an energy that lifted the roof off the place!
Singing in the Sun met my expectations and exceeded beyond. I expected a regular “Gospel Sing,” but my spirit was renewed like I attended a revival – I expected concerts with five artists a night trying to squeeze in every song they could before their time was up, but each group took the time to say something meaningful about the Lord – and though I expected an ordinary experience I found an extraordinary staff that was focused on serving the people. Ray Flynn encouraged those who came to know the Lord to pick up a Bible by the doors before leaving (free of charge.) Singing in the Sun also offered a free breakfast of Krispy Kreme doughnuts to those who would come to the morning service with John Hagee on Saturday. To those who would pre-order their tickets for 2014 while they were there before a designated time, those names would be entered in a drawing where one group of tickets (whether there be 2 or 20 tickets in that group) would be given as a gift – marked paid in full. This is an event that is focused on the Lord and blessing His people; and the things I just mentioned are some of the ways they do it. If you have plans for attending Singing in the Sun next year, or have thought about attending, I guarantee you will love it! A special thanks to board members Ray Flynn, Karen Peck Gooch, Jeff Whisnant, Ivan Parker, Dean Hopper and Roger Talley; you guys (and gal!) do a wonderful job coordinating this event!