A dilemma. That’s what I found myself in almost one year ago when I learned that two of my favorite Gospel Sings were booked for the exact same dates for 2015. For the last several years, February weather had given The Truthseekers a few surprises during their Homecoming. Last year, a tornado wiped out the electricity and bus generator’s had to provide energy for lights and sound one evening. The year before that an ice storm kept us from the Thursday night concert and well, you get the picture. A move was in order! The Truthseekers moved their Homecoming from the third week in February to the third week in March. March 19-21, 2015. However, those dates were the same as another sing I like to attend, Praisefest Branson. So, which one would it be?
The first thing I found myself thinking was, “I couldn’t imagine missing the Truthseekers Homecoming.” The line-up would be The Collingsworth Family, Booth Brothers, Greater Vision and Mark Trammell Quartet – though Praisefest had an equally impressive schedule, I still couldn’t justify not pulling into South Market Street, eyeing the Marion Cultural and Civic Center on the corner and enter a theater that literally does not have a bad seat in the house. Not being a part of the unique setting that the Truthseekers work hard at creating at their Homecoming every year was not something I could justify! I remember my second year at the sing, waiting for the concert to begin and a lady entered the row in front of me who, upon seeing another couple, exclaimed, “I was wondering if I was going to see you this year!” All the fans seem to know each other and everyone is friendly, with kind smiles on their faces. I have yet to sit next to someone who wouldn’t introduce themselves, chat and make friends throughout the weekend. The people who come are special – just as the ones who host the sing. The Truthseekers are some of the nicest, happiest people you will ever meet! All of their families come to support the event, and when they sing, the Spirit of the Lord just fills the building. Their church is very active in the sing and they also support the ministries in the community. Therefore, Marion, Illinois it would be!
Thursday night, after The Truthseekers took the stage and sang their first number, Jim ushered their associate pastor to the stage to open the evening in prayer. Albert is also the architect behind the beautiful new stage prop this year – the stained glass windows. A number of ladies also helped with the project and Jim pointed them out as well. After the prayer, they sang Lord, Here I Am and In My Father’s House. The moment they sang, “We’re all family here, we’re in Father’s House…” the audience began singing along. This went right into the chorus of Because He Lives and created the sweetest atmosphere in the room. I Need You More Today followed. “Give Jesus a hand,” Jim exclaimed. “How many of you like having birthdays?” he asked. “We have someone on our stage tonight who is celebrating a birthday. Now, I don’t mean yesterday was their birthday, or tomorrow, I mean today! Now, I don’t want to mention names or anything, but her initials are LINDA…” LOL He did make sure that everyone knew he knew better than to reveal her age. *smile* Linda came and stood next to Jim while their bass player took up the keyboard to play Happy Birthday. Jim continued, “Linda played piano for us for what, 20 years? Oh no, we’re not going to go there either!” LOL Linda’s husband brought out a flower arrangement of roses and then we all sang Happy Birthday to Linda!
Before Jim could go on, a soft wail came from backstage and everyone smiled knowing that the youngest Collingsworth was in the building! Jim pointed out former Truthseeker members in the audience and then asked us to welcome their emcee, Dennis. He told many stories about himself mixed with Scripture verses and bite size inspirational thoughts before bringing the Collingsworth Family on stage. I couldn’t catch them all, but the one I liked best was Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.’ It’s about time we had some off that isn’t it?”
The Collingsworth Family kicked off with an up-beat song, I’ve Come Here to Tell You that the Lord is Good, which featured Brooklyn on the verses. The family then took a seat on stage while Kim played I’ll Fly Away on Lucille (the piano). All eyes turned to Courtney as she stood up and sang, “In the beginning He was a creator…” (When He Hung the Moon.) As applause rang out in the auditorium Brooklyn, Courtney and Kim repeated the chorus one more time a cappella. The girls returned to their seats and Phil stepped forward, “Turn to your neighbor and say, ‘Man, this could get good.’” A gentle roar came in response as everyone did as requested. (The crowd in Marion is always very active when artists ask them to participate and I think Phil was a little surprised in the large response.) He went on to say that this was their first time to Marion and introduced the next song My Debt Was Paid. Next, Phil picked up his trumpet and played How Big Is God with Kim accompanying on the piano. After the high ending Kim softly played Jesus Loves Me and asked the audience to sing along. (Which they did!) The next track began with the strumming of a guitar and then Philip Jr. sang How Great Is Love For Me.
Introductions were next… that even included the piano, Lucille – who has her own a/c, heater and box that “she” travels in. LOL The next solo that we heard from Kim was called Majestic and is one that she recently recorded with Stan Whitmire and Tim Parton. Afterwards, Phil teased, “Lucille will be receiving sympathy cards after the concert…”
“Twenty-eight years ago Kim and I got married and sang this song together,” Phil explained after introducing the rest of the family, which included four month old Emma. “We never dreamed that this many years later we’d have our own Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir to sing it with us!” They sang that song from the book of Joshua, As for Me and My House We Will Serve the Lord. This kicked off into Show a Little Bit of Love and Kindness.
After three encores the girls picked up their violins and played this popular piece from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee. Brooklyn and Courtney bowed in unison and Phil asked, “Would you like to hear another one?” So, they went on to play No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus. Courtney played the first verse in a high range and Brooklyn played the next one in a lower range with many flourishes.
This went right into At Calvary. As the family left the stage Kim closed the first set with To God Be the Glory. As the piece cresendoed the audience applauded before rising to their feet in a thunderous roar…almost as big as the one Lucille was making herself! *smile*
On the second half, the family finished their concert with the songs that one would expect to hear from the Collingsworth’s – such as; Grandpa Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days, How Big My God Is, I Can Trust Jesus and many more.
The first night of the Truthseekers Homecoming was amazing. The house was packed! There was not one seat left in the auditorium – the venue was completely SOLD OUT! When you walked in the building, paper taped to the glass doors announced that the auditorium was sold out and no more tickets were available. From the atmosphere in that building, one never would have guessed that there was another Gospel Sing only six hours away. The Collingsworth Family was awesome! This was one of the few times when I saw them sing a full concert. It seems like every time I see them, there are always two to three more artists on the same night and the sets are abbreviated. I enjoyed hearing more of their music and the variety that they brought to the stage through their different talents. I even hear that the Truthseekers are bringing them back next year!