Moment of the Night
About halfway through the evening, there was a ten-minute preview of tomorrow’s hymns and hymn stories showcase. After a video telling William Cowper’s story, a ladies’ trio of Kim Hopper, TaRanda Greene, and Kim Collingsworth sang “There is a Fountain”; Kim Collingsworth played piano.
TaRanda Greene and Kim Hopper are recognized as the genre’s two strongest soprano vocalists. Kim Collingsworth’s rich contralto provided a strong counterpoint. The only reason she isn’t recognized as one of our genre’s strongest altos is because her piano solos can overshadow her vocal solos.
Was it a perfect rendition? No, it wasn’t. But its beauty lay in those very imperfections, those spontaneous improvisations. There were points where TaRanda Greene or Kim Hopper would take the lead on a little vocal run, and the others would improvise around it—including even a vocal answer-back part at one point!
When you put together three voices that strong singing trio harmonies, it is sure to be vocal dynamite—either in a good way or a bad way. This combination was definitely vocal dynamite in a good way.
Greater Vision. Greater Vision had the often unenviable position of closing out the evening’s program. But they rose to the occasion. Their set was preceded by the “That’s My King” sermon clip and video. It’s sometimes awkward to transition out of that clip, but NQC producer Phil Brower had a wise suggestion—transitioning from the clip into “Champion of Love.” The transition worked perfectly.
They picked up the pace with their next song, “He’d Still Been God,” before Chris Allman raised the roof with “I Know a Man Who Can.” They transitioned into another uptempo song, “He Didn’t When He Could Have Passed By,” before closing their set with their “In Times Like These/Jesus is Coming Again” medley.
Brian Free & Assurance. Of all the new radio singles debuted on the mainstage this week, “I Wanna Be That Man” is the strongest so far. Brian set the song up perfectly by discussing how deeply the song moved him before he even realized that his son co-wrote it with Lee Black. They sang it with conviction and passion.
Bowlings. After two opening songs that were well-done, the set moved into “highlight moment” category on song three, ”Your Cries Have Awoken the Master. Kelly Crabb Bowling introduced it by testifying to the healing God had brought to their family since their July 2010 bus crash. Mike Bowling delivered a passionate encore. They closed their set with “I Still Glory in the Cross,” another strong performance.
Mark Trammell Quartet. Though they’re probably saving some of their most special moments—paying tribute to departing member Dustin Sweatman—till later in the week, it was still, vocally, the strongest moment of the first two hours or so of the program. They started with three songs from their new Lifetime project (reviewed here), “I Sing the Mighty Power of God,” “‘Tis So Sweet,” and “A Wonderful Time Up There.”
Then, Mark requested prayers for Clarke Beasley, Executive Vice President of the National Quartet Convention, and had the audience send their well wishes via the webcast. After introducing his grand-daughter Tessa, and recognizing the veterans in the audience, he closed the set with “Statue of Liberty.” It received the strongest response of the night, so far.
During the set, Nick Trammell sang lead, and outgoing lead singer/pianist Dustin Sweatman played piano.
10:03: Greater Vision. For the last several years, a video featuring a sermon clip about Jesus, titled “That’s My King,” has been played a number of times between sets. This time, though, it did more than just fill time; it set up Greater Vision’s first song, “Champion of Love.”
They picked up the pace with their second song, “He’d Still Been God.” Then Chris Allman delivered an incredibly strong performance of “I Know a Man Who Can.” They closed with an uptempo song, “He Didn’t When He Could Have Passed By.”
9:51: At this point in the night, 981 people are signed into the NQC live chat. That’s not necessarily everyone who is watching the live stream, either, since some are logged into a separate Facebook chat. It appears that at least half of the seats in the auditorium (which seats about 19,000) are empty. This means that the live stream audience is probably at least 10% of the total audience watching tonight—and it may well be 25%.
9:41: Gold City. They started off featuring Jerry Pelfrey on “I’ve Got an Anchor.” Danny Riley stepped forward for “It Won’t Be Long.” Tenor Dan Keeton was up third, with “God’s Building a Church.” It is a good pick for his voice type. Jerry Pelfrey turned in a strong vocal performance on “Lord of Life.” Probably pretty much everyone was waiting to see Tim Riley step forward and shine; they got their wish at the end of the set, when Gold City closed with “When He Blessed My Soul.”
9:20: Triumphant Quartet. They began their set by singing “Sweet, Sweet Spirit” acapella around one microphone. It was a perfect transition from the high energy of Brian Free & Assurance’s set-closer, “Long As I Got King Jesus.” Then they picked up the pace with “Saved By Grace.” David Sutton and Jeff Stice did their harmonica/piano duet on “Goodbye, World, Goodbye.” They closed with “Let’s All Stand For America.” This set didn’t have any huge, breakout moment, but it was very well paced and well received.
8:48: A showcase featuring hymns and their stories is tomorrow. To promote the showcase, several groups sang hymns. Greater Vision and Sisters sang “All Creatures of Our God and King” together. Kim Hopper, TaRanda Greene, and Kim Collingsworth sang ”There Is a Fountain.”
8:32: The Browders. They sang “The Message Of the Cross” and “Land of No Goodbyes.”
8:22: Clayton Inman led the audience in a sing-a-long of “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”
8:03: Primitive Quartet. They sang “I Don’t Have to See the Tomb,” “When He Beckons Me Home to Stay,” “This Old Wreck of Mine,” “Let Me Be More Like You,” and “He Included Me.” (guesses at titles). They closed with a salute to the trips.
7:58: Sisters. They sang one acapella song, “Come On, Let’s Go To That Land.”
7:40: Jason Crabb. He started his program with “When He Was On the Cross (I Was On His Mind).” He introduced a medley of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” “Meeting in the Air,” and “I’ll Fly Away” by saying that if he ever pastored a church, this would be the sort of music they would sing. He then told his live band that he was going to switch up his program, and started playing “Sometimes I Cry.” He wrapped up his set with a strong performance of “I’d Rather Have Jesus.”
6:35, Dixie Melody Boys: The Dixie Melody Boys started their set with “Go To the Well” and “Oh, What a Savior.” When introducing their third song, tenor Matt Felts asked the audience how many of them remember when God had the Israelites put the blood over their mantles. I didn’t see any hands over the live feed—but then, Ray Dean Reese might not have been in the room. Aside from that unintentionally funny moment, it was a touching moment in a story he used to introduce “God Will Hear Your Prayer.”
Jason Crabb made a guest appearance on that song. He’s a vocal hero to DMB lead singer Mike Rogers, and it was cool to watch Rogers’ face light up brighter than a Christmas tree in that moment!
Their set closed with ”Jesus in My Boat.”
6:33: Jeff Easter is telling road stories. Either this wasn’t announced, or they need to fill some of the open time left by Naomi Sego’s cancellation or the program’s overall running early.
6:22, Sneed Family: Unnanounced on the schedule: The Jeff Sneed Family. They have a live drummer and piano player. Their drummer’s looks almost as young as Jeff & Sheri’s drummer. Their first song was “Victory is Sweet.” On the live feed chat, the NQC Staff stated that the Naomi & the Segos set feel through at the last minute, and the Sneed Family was given their slot.
Jeff Sneed announces Naomi Sego’s absence in the classiest way possible—while dedicating the second song of their set, “Hallelujah Square,” to her. The young lady with the solo seems to have been significantly influenced by Kim Hopper. Corey Pearson of the Diplomats also filled in here.
6:21: NQC Producer Phil Brower recites the Gettysburg address.
6:01: Jeff & Sheri Easter set: “Anything But Happy,” “Like My Mother Does,” “A Good Old Gospel Song,” “Hear My Heart,” “I Get To.” Whoever wrote “Like My Mother Does,” it’s a perfect autobiographical song for daughter Morgan. The drummer is 14-year-old Landon Smith. Corey Pearson of the Diplomats was filling in on bass guitar. They had a 14-year-old drummer, Landon Smith. He’s not just a good drummer for his age—he’s a good drummer, period.
6:14: Any guesses as to the percentage of sets today that will incorporate a patriotic song? There are twelve full mainstage sets, and I’ll guess 5 of 12.
6:01: Mike Speck introduces “Sheff and Jerry” Easter, and quickly corrects himself. He turns it into a joke, a great move, and Jeff Easter does a similarly strong job playing along. The mark of a true stage professional is not that he never makes mistakes—everyone makes mistakes. The mark of a professional is ability to recover from an embarrassing moment, and Speck hit the curveball out of the park.
5:48, Opening Ceremonies: Things are under way! After Tim Lovelace finished his fan camera segment, Mike Speck led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance, the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and a salute to each branch of the armed forces. He did something unusual, calling on servicemen and women, their spouses, and their children to stand.
Is there any contest that, all issues of pride in a branch aside, the Marines have the best branch song?