The Singing News Fan Awards program occurred Wednesday afternoon. For those who haven’t heard who the winners were, I’ll list them below.
Soloist: Ivan Parker
New Artist: Goodman Revival
They sang the Happy Goodman’s hit song, “I Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now.”
Band: Kingdom Heirs
Dennis Murphy thanked everyone for their prayers. He mentioned that they’ve had a rough few years and commented on how God underestimates how much they can handle. The fact that they are still going, though, is proof that God is giving them strength in spite of the storms. It was a reminder to me to keep them in my prayers.
Mixed Group: The Collingsworth Family
Soprano: Kim Hopper
Tenor: Michael Booth
Radio Station: WJBX (Knoxville)
Pianist: Kim Collingsworth
Songwriter: Rodney Griffin
Alto: Connie Hopper
Lead: Ronnie Booth
Trio: The Booth Brothers
Young Artist: Riley Harrison Clark
Tribute sang “Nothing Stops the Savior’s Love,” which features Riley.
Bass: Eric Bennett
Baritone: Mark Trammell
Mark quoted Psalm 1:1 in his acceptance speech. He also commented about his ministry: “While it’s the joy of my life, it’s also the greatest responsibility other than providing for my family.”
They then sang their popular song, “Saved By Grace.”
Song: Amazing God (Triumphant)
Album: Living in Harmony (Triumphant)
Artist: Booth Brothers
Gerald Wolfe and Jason Crabb hosted the evening. They began and ended the awards show with the song, “Bye and Bye.” At one point, Gerald talked about how, whether you like it or not, people are watching you. He told the audience, “I know you’re human so you’re not perfect but do your best not to disappoint those who look up to you.” This applies to all Christians.
Each group that had a song nominated for song of the year sang those songs. They are as follows:
Greater Vision: “Put Out the Fire”
Triumphant: “Amazing God”
Karen Peck and New River: “Pray Now”
Wilburn & Wilburn: “You Asked Him to Leave”The Whisnants: “Worry Ends Where Faith Begins”
Tuesday was a great day at the National Quartet Convention. Rick and Phyllis Webb shared in the chapel service, with Karen Peck and New River doing the music.
Scotty Searan, a faithful reader to my blog, asked me to share songs from each group that were especially encouraging. I hadn’t planned to do as much of that this year but there were a lot of great songs sung the other night that I do plan to mention quite a few.
Freedom Quartet kicked off the evening and could not have done a better job. The group consists of John Rulapaugh, Burman Porter, Dale Shipley, and Preston Garner. They started with “God Rides on Wings of Love” then went on to sing “I’m Free Again” and “I Am a Christian.” This last song resulted in a standing ovation.
I am pretty sure The Littles were on the main stage last year, but I didn’t remember what they sounded like. They did an excellent job on a medley of “Shout to the Lord” and “How Great Thou Art.” Then they sang an a cappella medley of “Down by the Riverside” and “I Am Bound for the Promised Land.”
My favorite Primitive Quartet songs were an instrumental of “He Looked Beyond My Fault” and an a cappella version of “My Hope is in the Blood.” This made me really miss Norman Wilson.
Mark Bishop sang a song I’d not heard before: “Pray on the Little Days.” It really spoke to me. If you’ve not heard it, I encourage you to check it out. “Let God be God in the best of times and He’ll be God in the worst of times.”
Jim Brady sang “Every Cry,” a song he wrote for his sister who was dying of cancer. “He lovingly cares for His children. Let His love be the strength that you need.”
The Kingdom Heirs sang “Four Days,” with Loren Harris on lead. By request, Jerry Martin sang, “I Can Pray.” Arthur Rice said people keep telling them how good they are. Wait another couple weeks, and they’ll be really good. Loren Harris has only been with them about five days.
Carroll McGruder was inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Since Carroll has gone on to be with the Lord, the award was accepted by his son Eric, daughter Shawnee, and widow Sharon. Eric said his dad always talked about pulling up on those behind you and pushing on those ahead of you. He encouraged the audience to do just that.
Libbi Perry Stuffle sang LaBreeska Hemphill’s song, “Let the Blood of Calvary Speak for Me.” The Perrys ended their set with “Calvary Answers for Me.”
Triumphant Quartet did a great job on “This Blood.” They ended their set with Eric leading the congregation in singing “Nothing But the Blood of Jesus.”
The Booth Brothers and Collingsworth Family did a set together. I was very touched when Michael Booth said to Jim Brady from the stage: “I know you’re not perfect but I know that, if I follow you, I’ll be following Christ.” Wow. There is no greater honor than for someone to say that to another. That is why we’re here: to point others to the Lord.
The Booth Brothers got a standing ovation for “Then I Met the Master.” Then they sang “Life’s Railway to Heaven” with the Collingsworth Family. The Collingsworth Family brought their 22-month-old granddaughter on stage to join them for “Show a Little Bit of Love and Kindness.”
I know people complain about too much talking during concerts but I find that the greatest blessings for me come when someone shares something that God has laid on their heart. Often it’s Michael Booth, and he said some things Tuesday that spoke to me, but Kim Collingsworth shared a bit too. She was talking about how music has rests and then turned it around to apply to life. “In times of rest, we think God has brought us to the end of our song. God doesn’t write the music without a plan. Our job is to keep going and not give up.” I’ve had several times in life where I’ve felt my song was done, and I tend to get depressed during those times. It’s encouraging to know that what seems like the end to us is not the end to God. The fact that we are still alive is proof that God is still writing the music of our lives. Sometimes we need to rest so that we can refuel, draw close to Him, and allow Him to use us more than ever before.
Kim Collingsworth played “My Tribute” as well as I have ever seen her play. The Booth Brothers and Collingsworth Family then sang “Jesus Saves” with Jim Brady.
Sheri Easter shared some things I’ve been pondering as well: “If we knew how loved we are, we would treat each other kindly.”
The evening ended with Jeremy Peace and the LeFevre Quartet singing, “O What a Savior.”
I have a lot to write about yesterday, but it’s almost time for today’s showcase so I’ll have to write it later. Thank you for taking the time to read my reports.
Yesterday was my sister’s last day here so I missed the beginning of the program but it was hosted by Jim Brady and Karen Peck Gooch.
Every time the Hoppers take the stage, I think about what a blessing it is that Claude and Connie Hopper are still able to travel and sing. This has been a rough year for them with Claude’s stroke and Connie’s battle with cancer but they continue to give God all the glory. The most touching moment of the evening was Claude singing the last verse of “Never Grow Old” to Connie. So fitting for two people who have spent the majority of their lives serving the Lord together.
Peg McKamey Bean was inducted into the Southern Gospel Hall of Fame. She didn’t have much to say except to thank everyone.
Ernie Haase and Signature Sound were not my favorite group on the platform last night, but Ernie did sing “O What a Savior” and nailed it once again.
I am always glad to see Squire Parsons on the stage. NQC is the only time I get to hear him but he can still sing, as can his son, Samuel. They did a great job!
I was really looking forward to seeing The Kingdom Heirs with Loren Harris. I am very happy to see him back on the NQC stage and hope to catch every one of their sets this week.
The Second Half Quartet sang again last night, and I enjoyed them even more than I did Sunday night. It was even more fun watching Gerald Wolfe getting blessed listening to them and playing the piano.
Gold City ended the evening with some of their old standbys. I’ve not kept up with them since Tim Riley retired but theirs is a group I want to start watching once again.
I debated as to whether or not I should post convention highlights this year and was actually leaning against it. What is a highlight to me may or may not be to you, and I don’t know how interesting it is to read my pared down list of things. There is also the fact that it can be hard to find time to post every day which makes me wonder if it is worth it. This morning, however, I decided I will go ahead and post fewer “highlights” than usual but I will post some things that I feel are of special note to give you a brief glimpse into the happenings. I assume that those who find these kinds of posts boring will just skip reading this week but, for those of you who are not at the convention, you may enjoy reading about it. I am not at the convention myself but I’m watching online, and I have already been blessed!
Sunday night was the kickoff with The Hoppers, Greater Vision, Legacy Five, The Mark Trammell Quartet, and The Jim Brady Trio. Each group sang 2 sets, going about 15-20 minutes each. The Hoppers and Legacy Five featured more of their newer songs. I especially want to get the Hopper’s CD. It sounds very good.
The night was interspersed by piano solos from Josh Singletary and Tim Lovelace. Tim did a segment which included a variety of styles of music from the rhythmic playing of Hovie Lister to the soul of Ray Charles. He also featured some African American church music, as well as some classical and an imitation of what you may see when a new, young southern gospel player comes on the scene. Tim and Josh later did a duet on the piano of “Just a Closer Walk,”
At the end of Legacy Five’s set, they played a clip of the Cathedrals with George Younce giving Scott Fowler a hard time. This was my first time to hear Josh Feemster with Legacy Five. He did a wonderful job, ending with “He Made a Change.” I also enjoyed watching them sing “The Hallelujah Chorus.”
Replacing Tim Parton with the Jim Brady Trio is 23-year-old Layke Jones from Anderson, Indiana. In their second set, Jim’s sister Marla Henry joined them to sing a song. I grew up listening to the Brady family sing so this was a special treat for me. Jim talked a bit about losing his dad and sister and Melissa’s mom, all in the last year. They then went on to sing “That Sounds Like Home to Me.” This brought tears to my eyes. I’m sure everyone reading this has someone that has gone ahead. The older I get, the more songs like this become precious.
Claude Hopper talked a bit about the coming election and the state of our country. It seems most people put the emphasis on voting so I was surprised when he emphasized prayer and the importance of praying for our leaders. He encouraged everyone to pray about who to vote for but he said he is praying that they get saved because, if that happens, everything else will work out. Thank you, Brother Claude, for reminding us of what is truly important.
Usually at the convention, a few groups will go over, causing the evenings to end later than planned. Sunday night, they ended up being ahead of schedule so they threw in a bonus group: Second Half Quartet. The group sang “Standing on Holy Ground” and “Wedding Music.”
It’s been 8 weeks since I’ve written a blog post, except for a couple small ones recently. I don’t think I’ve ever gone that long without writing since I started this blog. To everything there is a season. As a writer, my brain is always working. Whether it’s a conversation, something I’ve read, or something God is teaching me, it seems like I should never run out of things to say. In some ways I don’t, but there are seasons where it takes a while to really hear what God is speaking and to find the time to get it down.
Since I’ve last written, life has been a myriad of ups and downs. I had a period of time where I struggled to find faith in the midst of trials, which was really my way of not accepting the lot that God has seen fit to give me right now. I hate growing pains and yet I know they are necessary to make me the person God truly wants me to be.
Lately, although I am still going through some trials, He is helping me to trust Him. I don’t understand everything and I know I will still have rough days but I pray to get God’s mind, to know what He desires of me, and to come through this full of faith and victory. I believe He will answer that prayer.
If you are going through a trial, don’t despair. God’s plans for you are good and not evil. He desires to make you more like Him, and sometimes it is the dark tunnels that cause us to turn to Him and realize how much we need Him to get us through each day. The bottom line is that: “If it takes a valley to really know Your grace and if it’s in the desert where I meet You face to face, then turn this path I’m traveling to some dark and lonely place ’cause if it takes a valley, then a valley’s what I’ll take.”
The Kingdom Heirs announced yesterday that Loren Harris will be their new baritone, replacing Brian Alvey who recently left the group. It’s been a while since I have been excited about a group change, but I am very happy that Loren will be back on the NQC main stage this year. I won’t be attending the convention, but I plan to watch it online, and I’ll be making a point especially to see the Kingdom Heirs set.
With this CD, the Talleys are celebrating 20 years of ministry as Roger, Debra, and Lauren. Their harmony and their lyrics are as strong as always.
It’s fitting that the CD is titled After All This Time. Throughout the years, God has not stopped being faithful.
There is Coming a Day talks about that day that we all wait for. Keep looking up. Our redemption draws nigh.
There’s Never Been a Mountain is a song of encouragement, reminding us that God is still in control.
Debra Talley sings What is This Thing Called Grace?
If you have listened to the Talleys as long as I have, you’ll remember a song they recorded in the ’80s called simply Naaman. Well, they’ve brought it back for this CD. It’s a very different song but a good message. I love the line that says “Power comes from doing what God says.”
Lauren sings lead on Jesus’ Blood is Enough. You don’t need anything else but Jesus.
The tempo speeds up with My Hope is in the Lord.
But I Need You More is a song of worship, telling the Lord how much we need Him. Nothing compares to him.
The People in the Line is a reminder to not be so focused on ourselves that we fail to see the needs around us.
Somebody’s Story is a song about being slow to judge because you don’t always know somebody’s story.
Lauren is featured in the old song, Who But God.
The CD ends with a medley of I Love to Tell the Story and Blessed Assurance.
There are times that I think God underestimates how much I can take in this life. The strength I used to think I had has disappeared, and now it is time to lean on Him. But, when I think about it, that is what I’ve been doing all along. Sometimes He just needs to remind me that I am weak, but He is strong.
The fact is that God does know how much we can take but He also knows how much He can carry, and that is immensely more than we can imagine. If you are His child, He will stretch you as much as He has to in order to bring you into a deeper relationship with Him.
This is something I struggle with, but I am learning to sing from the heart:
I surrender all! I surrender all!
ALL to Thee, my blessed Savior
I surrender all!
Surrender is not something that comes overnight, but it is something we must learn as we walk with our Savior and pray to please Him. We can’t pick and choose what we want to surrender and what we want to keep. Jesus gave everything for us. How can we give any less to Him?
No one likes to go through trials but one reason I don’t care for them is that they reveal things in my heart that I would rather not see. I like thinking of myself as a strong woman of faith who praises God in every circumstance. Yet, when the storm comes, wham! That all blows away.
I don’t know why it is hard to trust God. He has never been anything but good to me and yet I tend to think I know better than Him. If He would just _________, then I could serve Him better. And yet God says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect through your weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). And He’s always right!
I am currently going through a trial which I know is, in part, to bring me into a greater place of trust and surrender, but I confess this has been hard for me. I console myself that this trial is light and momentary and is a sign that God will complete the work He has begun in me, but it is taking me a while to rest in that.
Part of the problem is that I have plans. I have ideas of how life should work out, and when my plan doesn’t turn out, I don’t handle it well. I can quote Proverbs 16:9 (“A man’s heart plans his way; but the Lord directs his steps”), but knowing it and really embracing it can be two different things.
I’ve stated it before but it’s been a while so I’ll say it again. I don’t write because I have all the answers. I write because there are things that God is teaching me, and I expect I’m not the only one who needs to learn these lessons. Maybe not every post will speak to you but, if you read my writings long enough, I’m sure some will.
Life is not all mountaintops. And it’s really not all valleys. The fact is you will have some of both. The key is, in whatever state you find yourself, to press on, keeping your eyes on the Light, not looking to the right or the left.
Things I am reminding myself and, therefore, reminding you:
1) Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This is not always easy, and I don’t believe this means that we need to thank God for the trial, but it does say we need to give thanks. There is always something to be thankful for, so find that.
2) God’s plans for you really are good. You don’t have to doubt. They may not be the plans you made, but your plans may not have been for your best. You need to trust Him.
3) This is the hardest point for me right now, but I’m learning that sometimes God does what He needs to do make us slow down and spend more time with Him. I don’t realize how much I am rushing through my prayer and Bible reading times until God rearranges my schedule to where I can’t do many other things. I’m learning that resting is more than just sleeping or not doing anything; it is making your mind and heart rest in accepting God’s will, even when it isn’t easy.
Lately, I’ve been singing “The Potter Knows the Clay” by the Perrys. You may be going through a difficult time but, one day, you’ll be able to sing:
Friend, I just came through that trial not too very long ago
And looking back I can see why and that my God was in control
I also think of the song by Jamie Owens Collins:
Don’t give up; don’t give in; Give it all to Him
For He cares so much more than you know
When it seems who you really want to be is someone you’ll never become
Just look how far you’ve come
When I need love, I look to the Lord
For His is the love that I really long for
A love that is full and that never will end
When others desert me, He’ll still be my friend
I know I’m unworthy of this kind of love
But I gratefully receive it from my Father above
When I lack peace, I look up to my God
His peace like a river comes in like a flood
It’s not based on circumstance or what I see
But on the assurance God knows what’s best for me
Some days I must fight for this peace that I crave
But God is so faithful to comfort and save
When joy eludes me, I praise my dear Savior
For pouring out blessings and undeserved favor
His mercy is so great that it’s overwhelming
Which helps me refocus and turn to thanksgiving
How can I be down when I’ve been given so much
Now I am required to tell others of His touch
And so, dear Father, I ask Your forgiveness
I’ve been so ungrateful, forgetting Your kindness
Your love and Your peace and Your joy are all there
If only I would cast on you every care
I’m sorry for trying to make it on my own
Thank You for reminding me I’m not alone