Earlier this year I was looking forward to seeing Tribute Quartet in Grove, Oklahoma, but after a tornado hit the area a few days before the concert, the event was understandably cancelled. Some may remember the big tornado that flattened Joplin, MO this past May, and the twister that cancelled the Tribute concert also occurred in that time frame. Well, the concert was rescheduled and I’m glad to say the only weather I could complain about on the way there was the heat! LOL!
Grove’s First Baptist Church filled in nicely with fans waiting for the concert to begin. We didn’t have to wait long before the pastor of Impact Ministries, the host for the night, came up and got the crowds attention and began the evening by reading Psalm 91. He spoke for a moment or two about this concert having to be rescheduled because their building, after the tornado, was flooded and without electricity. Impact Ministries’ building is still not repaired, and Grove’s FBC was so kind to let them borrow their church for the concert. The pastor joked that their congregation is actually meeting in the chapel of the local funeral home since they don’t have a building, and how that would not be an appropriate place for a concert! LOL! After opening in prayer, the night began with a local family group, the Barns Family.
The Barns Family: a husband and wife with their two daughters, kicked off the night with an up-tempo song (I’m not sure of the title, but I think it’s something like) I’m Going To Sing Just As Long As It Takes. That one and the following, Walk On Water, featured the father, who offered some encouraging words before the next song. He talked about Tribute’s bus fire and related that to spiritual warfare. “When you are doing something for God,” he shared, “the Devil is going to attack.” He continued to point out that the SGM groups who are really going after the harvest are having a hard time because of Satan attacking their ministries. Their next song was a fast number called Traveling Light and featured their 18 year old daughter. On the second verse, she stumbled and forgot the words, which happened again on the next song, It Is Worth It All, where all four stammered on the chorus unsure of the lyrics. No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus, a favorite among the old hymns, featured their younger daughter. “This has become our theme song,” said the mother as they began singing a Crabb Family hit, Through The Fire. The mother slipped off to the piano after that and another classic met our ears. This time, it was I Know A Man Who Can, which also featured their youngest girl. I started to feel sorry for her, because on the first verse, she forgot the words again! (Her sister rescued her though!) The next song was also sung with just the piano and closed their set.
Tribute Quartet opened their program with a song off their new Cd (The Waiting Is Over) called He Is Leading The Way. On the turn around of this up-beat song, Gary said, “Look at your neighbor and say, ‘I’m so glad you got to see me!’” After a chuckle or two from the audience, Josh gestured to those sitting in the front row as if to say, “Why didn’t you do it?” It Makes Me Wanna Go was their next song, and I had to giggle to myself, because the lady sitting in front of me was using her i-Pad to take pictures! Her pic’s were turning out great…but it was my first time seeing an i-Pad used in concert, and given it‘s size – boy did that look silly!!! LOL. Josh and Anthony shared solo’s on More Than Able, (another new song!), then Gary introduced the guys. “We like coming to Oklahoma,” Gary began, “because we like to sing to people who smile!” After introductions, Anthony showed off on the good ole’ number Look For Me Around The Throne. As Gary was getting ready to let Josh play a piano solo, he began telling the audience about the time when he first came into Gospel Music 26 years ago. He said that his grandfather told him this: “Stick with the Word of God and stick with the old songs.” Gary continued, “This was his favorite, it simply says – How Great Thou Art.” Josh played the same, and I do have to say, just coming back from Music School – there was a LOT in that arrangement! Cross hand technique and playing arpeggios with the melody in the bass (not easy to do!) are worth mentioning! When Josh finished, Gary lead the congregation in singing the hymn’s chorus, then bragged on his guys a little. Looks like Mr. Riley Clark is a Singing News History record breaker! Gary pointed out that after being in Southern Gospel Music for only SEVEN MONTHS, Riley has been nominated in three categories for the Singing News Fan Awards. One of those being Favorite Tenor! (Can you imagine? Favorite Tenor after only seven months of singing!) Whohoo! That IS quite an accomplishment (and an affirmation that you’re where God wants you). As proud as Gary was, he let the audience know that though those things are nice, he knows he’s a blessed man, because the Lord has given him three guys who love Him. Josh was featured on Sweeter As The Days Go By, then slid over to the piano to accompany Riley on the next song, Homecoming Day. This ballad has been making quite an impact on audiences since it’s release on The Waiting Is Over. This crowd was no exception – they were on their feet by the second verse! Gary and Riley had tears in their eyes during the song, evidence of hearts sensitive to the things of the Lord…when they encored it, you could hear the emotion in Riley’s voice. At it’s close, Gary asked, “How many of you are ready for some joy in your life?” None other than Bring On The Joy followed. It was a perfect song to follow up with! The audience clapped to the beat the whole way through and Josh would play a little on the piano, then get up and sing the rest of the song. Bring On The Joy finished up Tribute’s first set, and an intermission was then set in motion!
The Pastor for Impact Ministries asked if everyone was having a good time, and all the way from the back of the church, Josh hollered, “WHOOOOOOOH!” After ten minutes or so, Tribute took the stage once more!
Songs Of Zion kicked off Tribute’s second set and Josh had everyone clapping to the beat of the song. Gary stepped up and told of how he has traveled for a lot of years, and times were not always easy, yet, God’s always been faithful. “Vestal’s brother-in-law, Rusty Goodman,” he said, beginning to introduce the next song, “was one of the greatest songwriters that has ever graced Gospel Music. He wrote this song, and I‘ve not heard anybody sing it quite like this in a long time…Who Am I?” Riley sang the verses of this one with passion. Afterwards, Gary came off the stage and talked about the trials of life that they’ve faced.
This was a perfect set-up for The Climb, sung by Josh Singletary. This is another from The Waiting Is Over, and the first time done in concert. On the second verse, Josh came off the stage onto the floor to sing to the audience. Towards the end of the song you could hear the emotion cutting through in Josh’s voice. These guys truly are passionate about what they are singing about, and the presence of the Holy Spirit being in the room can be felt. As it ended, the message of that medium tempo-ed song was strong in the room, when Gary said, “I usually take the time to introduce this song, but I just want Anthony to come and start singing this song.” Anthony came up and sang Hold Me, before the second verse he said, “Listen to the words of this verse and see if you’ve ever been there.”
Afterwards, Gary began to share this story:
Continuing on, he had the audience sing an accapella chorus of Hold Me with them. (They sang without their mics too!) Save My Family, another ballad featuring Riley, followed. Once again, the emotion that Riley puts into his singing is very evident, and so it was with this one too! Gary asked everyone to stand, bow their heads and close their eyes. He began sharing that his Uncle recently passed away without the Lord, and that if we too, have loved ones who are lost, we’ were invited to come to the altar and pray for them. Some did go down, and after Gary prayed, he lead the congregation in singing Through It All. (When he began singing that, I felt like I flash-backed to the School of Music!) LOL! Tribute closed out the concert with another encore of Bring On The Joy. Riley improvised a little and began the chorus with, “Oh, everything is gonna’ be alright!” – what a perfect way to end a concert with!
Conclusion: It’s common knowledge that when an artist releases a new project, they sing songs from that project in their concerts. Tribute was no exception, but not only did they sing from it – they almost sang the whole Cd! Out of the eleven songs, we only missed hearing four of them in concert. Way to go guys! Tribute is taking the gospel forth and ministering in a way very few do these days, and with this arsenal of songs, they are equipped to impact lives for Christ! Bring on the joy! 🙂