Concert Reviews

NQC 2015 Highlights: Day 6

  • Posted on October 4, 2015 at 2:04 pm

The last night of the National Quartet Convention was the best yet. The Jim Brady Trio kicked off the evening once again.

The Bowling Sisters did a splendid job on “If That Isn’t Love.” It was neat seeing Mike and Kelly Bowling get blessed as they watched their girls harmonize on that song.

Greater Vision did all requests which included: “I Know a Man Who Can,” “Put Out the Fire,” “Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is,” and “‘Til the Storm Passes By.” Gerald Wolfe cried as he sang this song, and I was crying along with Him. This is such a timely song for a lot of people.

Libbi Stuffle of The Perrys sang, “I Claim the Blood.” I cried during this song too, as I know this is even more meaningful to her now. I used to listen to Labreeska Hemphill sing this back in the 1980s so I was very happy to hear it again. Libbi did a great job. The Perrys’ message is not one of grief but of hope. It is summed up in the lyrics of their song which says, “Keep on. Be brave. Hold fast. Have faith. Pray hard. Fear not. Stay strong. Keep on.”

Karen Peck and New River sang, “We Shall Wear a Crown” with The Whisnants, Devin McGlamery, and Eric Bennett. I still enjoy hearing that song. It was fun watching Ricky Braddy, as he obviously loves it too.

The evening ended with different groups singing one of their number one songs. Songs sung are as follows:

The Whisnants: “I’ll Pray For You”
Mark Trammell Quartet: “That’s Enough For Me to Know”
Karen Peck and New River: “Four Days Late”
Triumphant Quartet: “Saved By Grace”
Greater Vision: “My Name Is Lazarus”
Ernie Haase and Signature Sound: “Get Away Jordan”

NQC 2015 Highlights: Day 5

  • Posted on October 3, 2015 at 4:23 pm

What a week this has been. I have laughed and cried and praised each night. I will probably not have a chance to post tonight’s highlights until tomorrow or Monday but I want to take a moment now to thank each of you who have read what I consider to be some of the highlights of this year’s National Quartet Convention.

Yesterday, I watched Kim Collingsworth’s Majestic showcase. I confess I miss the days where there would be 6-8 piano players at a time but Kim invited Tim Parton and Stan Whitmire to play with her on some songs so that was nice. Kim mentioned that it was ten years ago that Roger Bennett first invited her to be a part of his Parade of Pianos. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long.

One of Kim’s other guests was her nephew, Jesse. Kim told the story of how, when he was 2 1/2, he was diagnosed with retinal cancer. The doctor removed one eye and, in spite of trying hard to save the other eye, they ended up removing it when he was 4. It was a hard transition for him to go from seeing to being totally blind and he had a lot of anger. One day, when his anger was really bad, his mom prayed that God would heal Jesse’s heart. The next morning, he was able to tell people, “It’s OK. I’ll see in Heaven.” He then played “Great is Thy Faithfulness” on the piano and played and sang “Great is the measure of our Father’s love.” I’m sure there was not a dry eye in the place.

After that, Kim led the congregation in singing, “Jesus, We Just Want to Thank You” and “I Love You, Lord.” She mentioned that “Even in the midst of tragedy and when things don’t go our way, it doesn’t change God’s goodness.”

In the evening concert segment, Wilburn and Wilburn sang a song that was fitting since the shooting in Oregon the other day. It said, “God Wasn’t There … You Asked Him to Leave.” Stop and think about that one.

Riley Clark of Tribute Quartet did an excellent job on “Mary, Did You Know” with just the piano accompanying him. Then Tribute and the Talleys sang “Sweeter As the Days Go By,” each group singing their rendition and then joining together to sing the last chorus. Later, during the Talley’s set, Lauren Talley and Riley Clark sang “Our Prayer.” It was excellent!

The highlight of the Inspirations’ set was “Shouting Time.” Claude and Mike Hopper (who were hosting the show) joined them in singing at the end.

The Primitive Quartet did an instrumental of “He Looked Beyond My Fault and Saw My Need.” Jeff Tolbert was featured on the violin. The presence of the Lord was definitely there through that.

I don’t remember if I’d heard The Littles before, but they were good. One song they sang said, “We’ve just a few miles left to roam. We might as well make it on home.” I listened to it closely to make sure I knew what was being said. Sometimes life is hard and we don’t know how much more we can take, but it can be helpful to remember that we may have more years behind us than we do ahead of us. This is not the time to quit but to press on like never before.

Michael Booth said that a lot of people come up to him and tell him that singings is where they get close to Jesus. I can relate to that but he reminded people that, although music is great, and God uses music, it’s more important to read His Word. He challenged everyone to get into the Word and then listen to Gospel music.

Connie Hopper sang, “I’ve Come Too Far.” I love hearing her sing that.

The Dixie Echoes announced that Junior Shelton is leaving the group to spend more time with his grandchildren. They brought their new tenor on stage to sing a couple songs with them. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch his last name but I think he will do a good job.

The Kingdom Heirs brought the house down with “He Locked the Gates.” I was at the NQC where that was their new song. I loved it then and still love it now.

They ended the night with Jubilee (The Booth Brothers, Greater Vision, and Legacy Five). My favorite song they sang was the last one: “Beautiful Home.”

Claude Hopper had a stroke last month and has a hard time getting his words out at times but it hasn’t slowed him down. He is still doing what he loves: singing and telling stories. Thank You, Lord, for leaving him with us a bit longer.

NQC 2015 Highlights: Day 5

  • Posted on October 2, 2015 at 2:50 pm

Yesterday was a big day for Mark Trammell. He preached at the chapel service in the morning and then he and his son, Nick, hosted the evening concerts. At one point, Nick brought his 1-year-old son, Charlie, on stage so everyone could meet him.

Nick introduced his in-laws’ group, The Browns. They were fabulous as always. They sang “A Place in the Choir” which has a few fiddle breaks. At one point, Adam and Andrew Brown stopped playing on their fiddles to slide their bows across sister Michaela’s fiddle while she played too. Very talented. They also did an awesome job on “Soul On Fire” and “Didn’t It Rain.” I liked the variety of songs they performed so that there was something for everyone.

Greater Vision sang “Faces” and then sang Lari Goss’s arrangement of “A Mighty Fortress.” They played a video of a short tribute to Mr. Goss. Gerald Wolfe has been mentioning his new CD quite a bit lately so they also sang the title track of that: “As We Speak.”

I like The Perrys’ new song: “When words are not enough, just lift your voices up and sing.” I have found that to be very helpful at times. Tracy Stuffle sang “Time Has Made a Change in Me” with Karen Peck Gooch and Kelly Nelon Clark. They closed their set with Loren Harris and Joseph Habedank singing, “I Wish I Could Have Been There,” along with many other former Perrys members. Tracy even sang his part. That made the night for me!

The Mylon Hayes Family sang a song out of the Red Back Hymnal and even did a verse and chorus singing the shape notes. Stan Whitmire played piano for them.

Canton Junction did an excellent job on “When He Was On the Cross (I Was On His Mind)” and “Every Hallelujah.” What a powerful song!

Lillie Knauls made a guest appearance to sing “Oh Happy Day.” Apparently, she appeared on the Edwin Hawkin’s version of that many years ago. That was a nice surprise and change of pace.

The Whisnants sang “New Day Dawning,” which was a highlight since they have sung that at every NQC I have been to. I love that song!

The evening ended with Brotherhood, which is The Booth Brothers and Ernie Haase and Signature Sound. They sang several old songs but my favorite was Rusty Goodman’s song, “Home.” Ronnie Booth played guitar, and Michael Booth played drums on several of the songs. They will be touring out east so watch their schedules for a concert near you.

NQC 2015 Highlights: Day 4

  • Posted on October 1, 2015 at 4:48 pm

I missed the first segment of chapel yesterday morning, but I tuned in in time to hear Dan Spencer’s message. It was on Ecclesiastes 3 and how everything has a season and each season is ordered by God. I have struggled at times to know how much God controls and how much happens due to bad choices but I do know that God allows everything that happens for a purpose. I just need to trust Him and allow Him to work in my life. After that, The Hoppers sang a few songs.

As you can probably guess, The Cathedrals Family Reunion is a group of some of the former members of The Cathedrals Quartet singing Cathedrals classics. I missed this last year, so I was glad they did it again. Interspersed with clips of George and Glen, this brought back a lot of memories. It was great to see Scott Fowler and Ernie Haase singing together again, as well as Danny Funderburk and Mark Trammell. Gerald Wolfe played piano but he also sang a verse of his signature song with them: “Champion of Love.”

After that was The Singing News Fan Awards. I thought of giving an in-depth report, quoting acceptance speeches, etc. but I know that Paul Heil will be doing a much better job of that in a few weeks so I will simply list the winners below.


Bass: Eric Bennett
Young Artist: Trey Ivey
Soloist: Ivan Parker
Male Singer: Ronnie Booth
Baritone: Mark Trammell
Alto: Connie Hopper
Lead: Ronnie Booth
Band: Kingdom Heirs
Tenor: Michael Booth
Mixed Group: The Collingsworth Family
Trio: Booth Brothers
Musician: Kim Collingsworth
Female Singer: Kim Hopper
Soprano: Kim Hopper
Non-performing Songwriter: Dianne Wilkinson
Songwriter: Rodney Griffin
Quartet: Triumphant Quartet
Album: Triumphant Quartet – Awesome God
Song: Greater Vision – “For All He’s Done”
Artist: Booth Brothers

It was really good to see Squire Parsons back on the main stage last night. Among other songs, he sang “I Sing Because,” “I Feel Good” (in response to people asking how he’s doing since his recent health issues), “and Samuel and Leah Parsons joined him to sing “Beulah Land.”

Archie Watkins and Smoky Mountain Reunion were good as always. The highlight for me was seeing Archie sing “Two Shoes.” I hadn’t heard that in a while but I love that song.

Melissa Brady sang Squire Parson’s song, “The Greatest of All Miracles.” The first group I ever heard sing that was Gold City in the mid-1980s, but it is still an amazing song.

This was Primitive Quartet’s first NQC without Norman Wilson. They did well as always, and Jeff Tolbert sang the last song Norman sang on that stage: “What a Singing That Will Be When I Get Home.”

This was The Erwins’ first time to be on the main stage, and they did an excellent job. My 13-year-old niece says they are her favorite group that she’s heard. A mixed group of siblings ages 15-22. You definitely need to check them out.

I always love seeing Jim Brady sing with Legacy Five on his song, “Truth Is Marching On.”

“He left no stone unturned but he left one rolled away.” Great lyrics to The LeFevre Quartet’s new song.

I like NQC because I get to see where the different people are now. You may already know this but I found out that Josh Garner is now singing with The Dixie Melody Boys. It was good to see them back on the main stage.

Jason Crabb brought his sister, Kelly Bowling, on stage to sing with him on “Through the Fire.”

The Booth Brothers dedicated their set to Mosie Lister’s memory, playing a short video and then singing songs that he wrote. They ended with “I Met the Master” and “Still Feeling Fine” (one of my favorites).

The evening ended with some of the former members of Gold City and the groups they now sing with performing old Gold City hits. Songs sung were, “When I Get Carried Away,” “Under Control,” “I’m Not Giving Up,” “One Scarred Hand,” and “Midnight Cry.”

NQC 2015 Highlights: Day 3

  • Posted on September 30, 2015 at 4:00 pm

I am sorry for the delay of yesterday’s highlights. I was really tired after the concerts last night. Then this morning, I woke in time to see some of the chapel and the programs today (which I will be posting about later), so this is the first I’ve had a chance to get Day 3 posted.

Last night was Family Night on the stage of the National Quartet Convention. The evening consisted of mostly family groups but, as Phil Collingsworth pointed out, even the quartets who performed included a father and son in the group. Mark Bishop performed, which would have seemed out of place but even he had his daughters singing with him on stage. What an evening!

The McKameys surprised me by singing mostly new songs but Peg did sing probably her most requested song: “God on the Mountain.” I feel old when I hear it because I remember when that song was on the radio charts. Yet its message is timeless.

My favorite set was The Perrys. I cried as I watched Tracy Stuffle sing from his wheelchair, giving the devil a black eye. Among the songs they sang were “I Got a Hold of God This Morning” and “I Rest My Case at the Cross.” Troy Peach summed it up when he said that the reason they tell their story is not so people will feel sorry for them. “No, the reason we tell you our story is so you will have hope.” It’s the testimonies of others that remind a person who is feeling low that God still saves, heals, and delivers. It’s why many of these groups sing night after night: to deliver that hope and point people to the Reason we can have that hope.

It was good to see Jeff Stice back on stage playing piano for The Nelons. The highlight of their set was Amber singing “Then Came the Morning.” “Death had lost and life had won for morning had come.”

I love Triumphant Quartet’s new song. “This my song shall ever be: Amazing God, you’re still amazing me.”

The Lesters started 90 years ago, and Brian Lester is continuing the group with Matt Felts and Brian’s son Jonathan. Matt did a great job singing the old song, “My Savior First of All.” They ended their set with Brian singing his signature song, “He Didn’t Throw the Clay Away.” I’ve heard that song for years and, honestly, it has not been one of my favorites. Last night, I listened to it in a new way, however. What a message delivered in a heartfelt manner.

Dean Hopper announced that Buck Rambo has stage 4 bone cancer. I was not aware of that. Let’s keep Buck and his family in our prayers.

I have not kept up with The Inspirations since Mike Holcomb left the group but Martin Cook has put together a great lineup this year. The group currently consists of Melton Campbell, Matt Dibler, Harold Reed, and Joe Brown.

The evening ended with some songs from former members of The Cathedral Quartet: Ernie Haase, Scott Fowler, Mark Trammell, and Gerald Wolfe. Pat Barker sang bass. They sang “Wedding Music” and “He Made a Change.” Then Danny Funderburk joined them for “Jesus, We Just Want to Thank You” and “We Shall See Jesus.” They played a video of Glen Payne singing the last verse, which totally made the evening.


NQC 2015 Highlights: Day 2

  • Posted on September 29, 2015 at 12:20 pm

Jonathan and Jordan Wilburn hosted last night’s concert segment of the National Quartet Convention. The evening began with the pledge to the flag and a couple patriotic songs. Then The Mylon Hayes Family took the stage to sing a few songs.

During Jeff & Sheri Easter’s segment, Sheri shared something she had written in her journal a year ago. “In today’s world, friends walk away; sons and daughters leave; but God never leaves.” This jumped out at me, as that is exactly what I wrote about on here just the other day. I think that is the message God wants to remind so many people.

The Jim Brady Trio started their set with “On My Way Home.” That is probably my favorite song that they sing.

I thought it neat that Richard Simmons played piano for Freedom last night. I had not heard about him since he left The Dove Brothers so that was a treat.

The Whisnants sang a new song, “I’m Gonna Go Out Singing,” which was very reminiscent of my favorite Whisnants song, “New Day Dawning.” I’m guessing this will be a song they start singing at every NQC.

Kim Hopper noted that it’s been five years since her brother Tony passed away.

This was my first opportunity to hear Ricky Braddy with Karen Peck and New River. They highlighted him on “Were You There.” He did an excellent job!

I have not followed Gold City since the Jonathan Wilburn/Jay Parrack days but I have seen them at NQC and have not always been impressed with their lineups. The lineup they have this year is doing a great job. Granted, they would sing more southern songs at the NQC, bu it may be time to give them another listen.

Matthew Holt put together a mixed quartet out of Bethel University by the name of Renaissance. They sang “I’ll Be a Friend to Jesus,” “The Fourth Man,” “Champion of Love,” and “Standing on the Solid Rock.” I was impressed by the fact that they seemed so comfortable on that stage. There was no sign of nervousness at all, and they did an outstanding job.

Clayton Inman sang “Welcome to Heaven, My Child,” a song he sang with The Singing Americans many years ago. I’m so glad he brought that song back. I still love it.

The Hoppers ended the program with Claude singing, “If I Can Help Somebody.” Then the group sang “Shouting Time.”

I am now counting down the hours to tonight’s concerts.

National Quartet Convention 2015 Highlights: Day 1

  • Posted on September 27, 2015 at 9:31 pm

This afternoon, I watched the NQC highlights video from last year and got excited about this week. This evening, I was not let down. Performing were The Jim Brady Trio, The Mark Trammell Quartet, The Hoppers, Greater Vision, and Tim Lovelace.

As I mentioned last year, the highlights I mentioned are just that–what I consider to be the highlights. I’m sure those who are actually at the Convention will have more to share. I am watching online but I was still very blessed this evening and expect to be the rest of the week.

The Jim Brady Trio made their debut as a group on the main stage, and what a blessing they were! They are one of the groups I am most excited about this year. They led off with “If It Had Not Been.”

Greater Vision is celebrating 25 years of ministry as a group this year. Gerald gave the background story of their current radio song before they sang, “Put Out the Fire.” It grabs you in concert.

Connie Hopper is one of my favorite people in the industry so seeing her sing is always a highlight. Of special mention is her singing the second verse of “Thank You, Lord, For Your Blessings on Me.” She sang it wish typical feeling and class.

Kim Hopper and Melissa Brady sang a duet on “There is a Fountain Filled With Blood.” Very good.

Mark Trammell sang, “It’s Almost Over” by request. The whole group got into this song which must have been powerful in person.

Dean Hopper introduced a young lady by the name of Abby Paskvan. She sang, “All Rise,” and she can definitely sing. Dean said he and Mike have just released a CD of hers. I expect we’ll hear more from her in coming years.

Concert/CD Review: Battle Cry (The Kingsmen)

  • Posted on March 3, 2015 at 9:14 pm

The Kingsmen 2-27-15

Friday night, I had the blessing of seeing the Kingsmen once again. I was surprised at how many of the songs they sang were off of their new CD since I typically expect to hear a fair number of old favorites. I was not disappointed, however. This CD has some great songs as well.

This is the second time I have seen this particular group in concert, and I am impressed with both Bob Sellers and Chris Jenkins. They are doing a great job.¬† People talk about the Kingsmen’s heyday in the 1980s but I’ve never liked the Kingsmen as much as I have in the last ten or so years. This group is no exception.

Kingsmen 2 2-27-15

The concert began with Beautiful City, an uptempo song about Heaven.

Then they sang one of their old songs, Meet Me at the Table.

Come and Dine is taken from the story where Jesus cooked fish for the disciples and fed them when they had been fishing all day but caught nothing. The second verse talks about arriving Heaven and being invited to come and dine at the Banquet Table.

Scripture says that God orders the steps of the righteous. I’ve Never Seen the Righteous Forsaken reminds us that God is in control no matter what you are going through. God will supply your every need.

Randy Crawford introduced the group and then they sang I Know, which talks about the joy of knowing you’re saved. It is possible to know.

A Kingsmen concert would not be complete without including their classic, Glory Road.

They included a summary of their old hit Excuses and then Randy Crawford sang a song he wrote, Here I Stand Amazed.

Chris Jenkins 2-27-15

Oh Yes I Am is the current #1 song across America. This was the first I’d heard it but I love it. Uptempo, this song is an encouraging message about going Home. Chris Jenkins puts energy into this song.

After a brief intermission, they came back to sing the title track from their new CD, Battle Cry. This is a great song. There is a time to rest but there is a time to answer the battle cry.

Faith is self-explanatory. Great harmony to some encouraging lyrics.

Ray Reese 2-27-15

Ray Reese sang Healing Stream and then they sang another old song, When My Feet Touch the Streets of Gold.

Cross of Grace is a powerful song about the cross.

They did a great a cappella arrangement of There is a Fountain Filled With Blood and ended with the chorus of their very popular song from the 1980s, Stand Up.


Songs not sung in concert:

Daryl Williams and Scott Inman wrote the toe-tapping quartet song, He Took Away My Burden.

It Should Have Rained is an interesting song about the Crucifixion.

NQC Highlights 2014: Day 7

  • Posted on September 28, 2014 at 12:53 am

Phil and Kim Collingsworth were the hosts of tonight’s National Quartet Convention. Phil began¬† by leading the people in singing “Blessed Assurance” while Kim played the piano.

Fanny Crosby was inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Phil Collingsworth accepted the award and mentioned that he and Kim raised their children two streets away from where Fanny wrote most of her songs.

Jeff Sneed acknowledged Naomi Sego, who was there this evening, then they sang “Hallelujah Square,” followed by “He’s Leading the Way,” which they encored twice.

Clarke Beasley said this year was their largest convention since 2001.

It was really good to see the Perrys one more time. They started their set with Libbi singing “God Walks the Dark Hills” and ending with “I Wish I Could Have Been There.”

Phil and Kim played an instrumental of “Until Then.”

Arthur Rice quoted his pastor as saying, “A lot of people use prayer as a last resort when it should be the first response.” That is so true.

The LeFevre Quartet and The Booth Brothers sang “Jesus Saves” together.

Soul’d Out sang “Arise, My Love.”

For the finale, the following songs were sung or played:

Mark Trammell Quartet: “I Want to Know”
Collingsworth Family: “Show a Little Bit of Love and Kindness”
Kim Collingsworth: “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (Piano)
Booth Brothers: “Blind Man Saw it All”Triumphant: “Saved by Grace”
Whisnants: “I’ll Pray for You”
Hoppers: “Jerusalem”
Brooklyn, Courtney, and Kim Collingsworth: “Power in the Blood” (violins and piano)
Greater Vision: “For All He’s Done”
Congregation: “Bless the Lord, O My Soul”

Goodbye, NQC 2015. There were some showcases I may give highlights from next week, as well as other thoughts. I only had time to do the evening concerts this week. Stay tuned.

NQC 2014 Highlights: Day 6

  • Posted on September 27, 2014 at 11:48 am

I have not caught a showcase winner all week but last night I tuned in just in time to see 10-year-old Chloe Fuentes sing “Something’s Happening.” She did a fabulous job. Even Tim Lovelace was in tears after her performance. I will be surprised if it doesn’t make it onto YouTube.

The Erwins were the acapella group tonight. They sang the McKamey’s song, “I Know How I Made It.”

Sonya Isaacs had mentioned the night before last that her grandma had fallen and had surgery, and that is why Lily is not at the Convention. Last night, she announced that her grandma passed away. Please keep The Isaacs in your prayers. Then they sang “Grandpa, Tell Me About the Good Old Days.”

Ernie Haase said he woke up with “Walk With Me” running through his head so he started his set with that. Then they sang “Sometimes I Wonder.”

Jason Crabb, along with his band and background singers, dressed in vintage clothing and brought out a vintage mic to sing a whole set of hymns. He even sang “This Little Light of Mine” with his daughter.

Melissa Brady joined the Whisnants to sing a song she wrote, “All is Well.”

Trey Ivey opened Legacy Five’s set by playing “His Name is Wonderful” and “Because He Lives,” which the crowd sang along on. Then Legacy Five sang “I Found Grace,” one of my favorite songs of theirs. Gus Gaches did a fabulous job on “I Stand Redeemed.” Then they sang “Truth is Marching On,” with Jim Brady and Michael Booth joining in. Jim sang at least one of the verses. I was doing something else and didn’t notice if he sang both verses or not. Legacy Five was my favorite set last night.

Canton Junction started their set with “Sweeter as the Days Go By” and ended with “In God We Still Trust.”

Ivan Parker’s son played electric guitar and led an instrumental of “Shout to the Lord,” which some background singers sang. Although not very southern, I would have loved to have been there to worship with thousands of people at that moment. Then Ivan sang his signature song, “Midnight Cry.” He called some friends on stage to help sing the chorus, among whom were Jason Crabb, Canton Junction, Jim Brady, and The Talleys. Jason sang the first part of the second verse and said he was thrilled to be able to sing with Ivan Parker.

Triumphant started their set with “Saved by Grace.”

Rita Pearson was not there last night due to being under the weather but The Diplomats did a great job anyway.

Jeff and Sheri Easter had asked people which song they would like to hear the group perform at NQC. The most requested song was “Roses Will Bloom Again.”

Melissa Brady sang “Tell Me the Story of Jesus” with The Booth Brothers. Everyone was a bit emotional when Michael Booth announced that this would be Jim Brady’s last full set on NQC stage with The Booth Brothers. I hope to see The Jim Brady Trio there next year. I think they are going to be fabulous.

The night ended with The Kingsmen.