Highlights of the Night
The evening kept getting better and better; it is safe to call the five-song finale the strongest part of the evening.
- Greater Vision kicked it off with “I Know a Man Who Can.”
- Karen Peck and New River followed it with “Four Days Late.” It’s one of the strongest renditions I’ve ever heard them offer.
- The Booth Brothers sang “Still Feeling Fine.” 11 PM or not, I’m not sure the audience will sit down at all between Greater Vision and the final notes! (Was that Gene McDonald who came up by the end? I had to look away for a couple of minutes.)
- Mark Trammell Quartet, “I Want to Know.” I was surprised they didn’t sing it earlier; this was why!
- To top it all off, there was an unannounced appearance by the Gaither Vocal Band, singing “It is Finished.” Wow! Talk about a strong ending!
Other highlights, in reverse chronological order:
- Gold City’s set: Three classics and a recent favorite that unleashes the greatest legend amongst current Southern Gospel bass singers makes for a strong set! (And a cameo appearance from Jonathan Wilburn is never a bad thing.)
- “The King is Coming,” Mark Trammell Quartet. A rousing standing ovation!
- The Booth Brothers brought Bill Gaither up for the final song of their set, “I Played in the Band.” Before the final encore, Gaither had everyone who had sung in a choir, driven a bus, and done several other specific things he acknowledged, stand. Most of the room was standing.
- “He’s Alive,” David Phelps with the Gaither Vocal Band. It deserves its own mention!
- The Gaither segment. (Of course.) “That Sounds Like Home To Me” was particularly strong.
- Canton Junction’s surprise appearance at the start of the Gaither set was very well-received.
- The entire Karen Peck & New River set. It’s been their strongest of the week. They started with their current, catchy single, followed with two of their #1 hits, and left the audience on their feet with “We Shall Wear a Robe and Crown.” They did their two biggest hits (“Four Days Late” and “Last Night”) earlier this week; that they could do a set without either song and still turn in their strongest set of the week speaks both to their ability as performers and to strength of their repertoire.
- “If That Isn’t Love,” Isaacs, with Bill Gaither on the piano. We’re used to the Isaacs with Bluegrass arrangements; it’s nice to see them with Southern Gospel accompaniment once in a while.
- “The Living Years,” Isaacs. As Bill Gaither walked on stage for the next song, he talked the Isaacs into doing an acapella chorus and tag of this one. Nobody can touch Gaither’s masterful touch at making a good moment unforgettable.
- “Something’s Happening,” Hoppers. It was good throughout, but kept getting better and better. Then, when TaRanda Greene walked over to Kim Hopper and started singing a third above Kim’s soprano part, the raw musical power was simply too much for even Freedom Hall to contain.
- The Nelons’ entire set was incredibly strong. They started with their recent radio single, “Excuse Me, Are You Jesus.” Then, they took the daring and risky move of singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” a cappella. The set just kept getting better and better; song 3 was the Sandi Patti song “More Than Wonderful.” Soprano Amber Thompson nailed Patti’s high ending, hitting notes I’ve never heard her hit before. Then, with the Gaither band backing them up, they pulled off an energetic rendition of “I’m Going Home With Jesus.”
- Freedom’s Showcase Appearance: If this is any indication, John Rulapaugh’s new lineup is off to a spectacular start. But get Rulapaugh, Dale Shipley, and Burman Porter all into one group, and what do you expect?
Live Play-By Play
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