Welcome to the 2011 Nation Quartet Convention!
The sun was shining bright over the Louisville Expo Center as artists and exhibitors thronged into the Exhibit hall to set up their booths. Among those exhibitors, was our three legged friend, Sheba, a fourteen year old, and a cancer survivor! Chris White, her proud owner, had her in a little buggy and came pushing her by our booth as we were setting up. She’s so sweet! He said that she is indeed the “queen” of their house! Being an exhibitor, one thing that stands out to me, is all the work that goes into making this event possible. Faithful Expo staff spend the afternoon unrolling the red carpets that make up the walkways in the Hall, and I’m sure many hours go into getting Freedom Hall ready for the Main Stage events including chairs, video, sound, etc. Not to mention over a thousand booths being set up and ready to go! Indeed, a lot of work goes into this great event and I would like to take this time to thank all of the NQC staff and all the Expo staff who are instrumental in making this event possible. Thank you!
Three thousand early birds packed the East Hall of the Louisville Expo Center on Sunday evening for a concert with the Hoppers, Greater Vision and the Booth Brothers. The 2011 National Quartet Convention (NQC) launched its week-long event with these three outstanding artists. Let’s make our way into the East Hall and see whose singing!
The Hoppers were the very first to take the stage and kick off the night. When I walked in and found a seat in very back of the Hall, they were singing a convention song called Jesus Saves. Next, Claude introduced his family. When he came to Connie, his wife, he said, “I’m afraid to introduce this lady because she doesn’t look the age that we’ve been married. We’ve been married for 50 years.”An applause from audience interrupted him, then he continued, “thirty-two years ago this lady was diagnosed with cancer…and thirty-two years ago, when you were diagnosed with cancer, that meant death. I called a pastor from a Church of God, I called a Methodist and a Baptist pastor, I called every one of them and had them pray.” He went on to testify that Connie was touched by God and hasn’t had a sign of cancer since then! Claude also told a funny story of when he took Connie out to eat one time. He ordered a filet minion and someway, somehow, it flipped down onto the floor! Claude went on to say that being a farmer, he didn’t have much pride, so he just reached down to pick it up when Connie told him, “Don’t do that, people are watching!” Well, a few moments later, he took his plate and bent down again to try and get it. Again, Connie instructed, “Don’t do that! Let the waitress pick it up!” Claude replied, “But my teeth are in it!” The next song on the set was I Will Serve Thee, and Claude stepped back and let Mike sing the bass part on this hymn. “When you leave,” said Kim, “we want you to take the message of this song with you.” The moving ballad, Grace Will Always Be Greater Than Sin, followed, and Kim performed it with the passion it merited. The snappy Yes I Am met our ears and must have pleased the crowd very well because everyone clapped through the song and began to stand at the end! (I was literally sitting on the back row, so when I could hear the clapping, you know it was good!) Dean had a solo on the second verse of the same, then had their pianist, Josh Simpson, play a short instrumental song on the piano. I’m not sure of its title, but it was very quartet sounding. Dean began to talk about a video they recorded in Dallas with a choir and orchestra, and paused to ask, “How many Texans do we have here tonight?” A thunderous applause was his answer. Getting back to the video, he told of how when they arrived at the church the pastor told them, “We usually start at six o’clock and end at seven.” “Well,” Dean said, “we have started at six o’clock and didn’t end until ten! And, the pastor still had a smile on his face when it was over.” Next, Dean asked how many from Missouri were in the crowd. The response was pathetic! C’mon fellow Missourians! There has to be more of us at NQC than that! (Maybe they just hadn’t arrived yet) LOL! Dean went into a Cd pitch after that, and then I’ve Come To Far To Look Back. Connie began to sing her solo, then became overcome with emotion, she said, “Stop that for a moment, I don’t know what’s wrong with me tonight.” She began to share that she wouldn’t trade anything in the world for what God has done in her life. This year was the 47th NQC she’s been to, and she told of the time when she came to play piano for Claude and his brothers. “I’ve seen God do so many great things and I don’t want to go back, because I know that the best is still yet to come.” Then, Connie went on to sing her solo and asked Kim to begin the chorus for an encore, which was done accapella. At the close of the song, some stood in ovation. Mike stepped away from the drums to sing with his family on the next song, Something’s Happening. This song is an epic! The first verse speaks of Christ’ birth and Connie gave a recitation for the chorus. Dean claimed the second verse about the crucifixion and Kim sang the last verse concerning the resurrection. This powerful song ended their set.
“Are you glad to be at the NQC? Amen.” Said our host for the evening,“ These next guys have made some great hits like My Name Is Lazarus and Faces. Make welcome to Louisville,Kentucky – Greater Vision!”
Greater Vision brought the crowd to life with their up-beat He Could Have Passed By. Gerald and Chris shared solos on the verses. “Man, it’s great to be here tonight! I’m so excited about this week!” said Gerald. A ballad featuring Chris, I Could Never Praise Him Enough, was sung back to back with When They Ring The Bells Of Heaven On That Day. After the song, Gerald said, “I had to get that one out of my system since I heard Josh play that convention song.” He went onto to say that they’re going to be singing some old songs because he knows we like the old ones, but also some songs that we’ve never heard before. Like this next one, that Rodney wrote a little over five months ago. The selected number was No Longer Chained, a medium tempo song featuring Rodney about a Roman soldier. He’d Still Been God, a song they’ve been singing for 13 years, had the lights flashing in different colors of red, blue and orange like a disco ball! The fans just loved the number and gave a standing ovation! “There are some people here who came all the way from Northern Ireland, and shortly after NQC last year, we went there. We sang that song to 1200 people and they gave a standing ovation too! After the concert, at the table, I noticed this lady was going through our cd’s on the rack, I asked if I could help her find anything. She said, ‘I’m looking for that fast one that you sang.’ (Gerald mocked the Irish accent perfectly!) He responded and she said, ‘The one with all the words,’ he replied, ‘you really liked that one didn’t you.’ She informed him, it’s not that we liked it, it’s because we were amazed that people from east TN can sing words that fast!’” The audience once again roared with laughter. This next song was requested when they sang at a church in California – at that time they had never done it before. Afterwards, they found out that it was broadcast live over the internet and were told every state and six foreign countries were watching! Gerald said that this one became their most requested song overnight! The song was none other than I Know A Man Who Can, featuring Chris. They did this one without tracks – just Gerald on the piano and Rodney on bass guitar. The ballad was so well received that it received a standing ovation and was encored. Another new song was The Only Way. Gerald said this is the first song that Rodney and Chris have written together that GV recorded. “Both Chris and Rodney are prolific songwriters,” Gerald said, “Chris has written 80 songs, Rodney has written a little over 400 and I’ve written 2…of which you will never hear!” Gerald went on to say that Rodney was the only one on stage that has a college degree. As he was poking some fun at Rodney – Rodney made the perfect face to go along with it! Gerald went onto say that there are four questions that people ask them every night no matter where they sing. Those four questions are: How many days a year are you on the road, does your family ever travel with you, who drives the bus, and what kind of gas mileage do you get? As an introduction to the next song, Gerald said, “I’m not going to stand here tonight and say that I know when God is going to answer your prayer, because I don’t know how He operates, but I will say that it is our job to pray without ceasing…” It Pays To Pray followed, and after it Gerald stopped the concert to lift up a prayer himself for the privilege we have in coming before His throne. This closed Greater Visions set.
A video from Compassion International played next, and then our MC said that he wanted to do something special for the Booth Brothers. He wanted to give them the best intro ever! Being September 11, he said that we generally have negative thoughts about this day, but today we want to change that and have positive thoughts…so with a great introduction the Booth Brothers were brought out on stage!
The Booth Brothers kicked off their set with a whooooooooooo from Michael and up-beat song He’s So Good To Me. Michael asked, “Are you ready for a whole week of Southern Gospel Music?” Then, Jim went into I See Grace. “Oh my goodness! I think we are in for a great week, we got a lot of new songs for you tonight and here is one written from Jim Brady,” Ronnie said and then sang Masterpiece of Mercy. After a short count off, the guys went into Welcome To The Family. The audience clapped through the song and I had to cease taking notes for a few minutes to join them! Michael began to share that when they come to NQC, they come looking forward to singing to the best fans who love SGM. He then pointed out that those present Sunday night came early, and have to be the best of the best! He even suggested to give us a Singing News Fan Award! LOL! Michael went on to say that, “One of the things you will notice about this field of music here is that we are still in love with the hymns. We don’t love the old hymns just because they’re old, I’m not here to wave a banner for what is old, but I’m here to wave a banner for the truth.” Continuing on, Michael encouraged, “Get this for the week – if you experience anything good here this week, know that all of the notes come from God, all the voices and all the songs come from God for our edification. If you’ve been encouraged, you don’t have to come back to NQC to be encouraged, all you have to do is go to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!” This all lead up to the Hymn Medley they do of Peace, Peace Wonderful Peace, The Old Rugged Cross and How Great Thou Art. On the last, they had everyone sing the chorus with them…you could really hear them sing it too! Another number featuring Jim, Trading This Ole’ Cross In For A Crown, was up next. Everyone was clapping to the beat and Jim encouraged everyone to keep it up through the second verse. Towards the end of the song, people began to stand and that standing ovation turned into an encore. While Michael was pretending to be out of breath, which obviously brought on a comment from Ronnie, Michael replied, “I’m not out of breath – I’m out of shape!”…”Here’s one we did on the Jubilee Two Album, let’s see if we can do it without the guys!” The ballad was none other than another great song penned by Jim Brady, Don’t Hang Your Head And Cry. Michael began introducing the next song by saying that when they look for songs for a new recording, they pick ones with messages that are universal. They sing to many different people who are going through different things in their lives, and they want a message that will minister to all of those people in one song. However, they broke their own rules on this next one because it speaks to them personally. Michael told of how their grandma suffered with Alzheimer’s, and said, “There’s always hope and even the title of this is hopeful – She Still Remembers Jesus Name.” Ronnie sang the same, and Michael brought to our attention that though there are parts of that song that are hard to listen to, it’s not phony-baloney. “When you have to go back to life on Monday, what I’m hoping that what you carry with you isn’t Gospel Music, but the truth of the Gospel in Gospel Music. The only time a Gospel song is a good song is when it points us to Scripture.” He read from Scripture, Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” “When the Father see’s you,” Michael said, “He sees you through Christ in whom He is well pleased.” This introduced a song that Jim sings called When You Bow At Jesus Feet, which went right into See What A Morning. “Here is why we have hope!” said Michael, as the Celtic music played it’s intro. The Booth’s closed their set with the classic Still Feeling Fine, and on the encore, Michael literally ran across the stage in excitement!
Before the evening ended, Gerald Wolfe came out and talked about 9/11 and how he was at NQC on that day in the bus, getting ready to come into a meeting when the first plane crashed into the building. “We’re not celebrating what happened, because there’s not much to celebrate, but we are here to remember the thousands of people who lost their lives on that day…and who died not ready to meet God.” He encouraged us to pray for the ones who lost their loved ones that day. A video was played to the track of our national anthem to which everyone stood, hands over their hearts, and watched in remembrance of that fateful day.