Hey everyone. I know it’s late, but I hope you’ll join me anyway. I went on a river cruise and didn’t get home ’til about 20 after 9.
Best moment of the night: The end of the Perrys’ set, when Libbi received a standing ovation and then presented a brief glimpse of Tracy live on Facetime.
Best performance of the night: The Collingsworth Family, “Burdens are Lifted at Calvary”
Closing thoughts: Every time I watch an NQC, I’m surprised and encouraged. There were many great moments this week, and to those who say it was horrible and gospel music is dying, I say that I’m not sure we listened to the same week! Of course there were recycled moments and performances that fell flat, but as Dean Hopper said during his closing speech, “something has happened” pretty much every night to remind us all why we fell in love with this music to begin with, and more importantly why we fell in love with the people who make it. To all the artists I want to say thanks for putting on a great show and simultaneously inviting us to join you in worship. We love you and appreciate all of you. To the writers who have contributed all these great songs, I say thanks for your frequently unacknowledged work behind the scenes of this music. To all the camera crew and other folks behind the curtain, thanks for the integral part you played in making this a great week everyone could enjoy. And finally, thanks be to God for blessing these good folks with their gifts and giving us the freedom and opportunity to enjoy them.
Good night all. I hope you’ve enjoyed NQC 2013 as much as I have. Highlights and comments on what I caught of the final night are below.
Personal Highlights of the night
*Voices of Lee — J.J.’s testimony and “I Will Rise”
*Clarke Beasley reminiscing about Louisville and Freedom Hall
*Mark Trammell Quartet, “Too Much to Gain to Lose” — Mark dedicated this song to all gospel musicians who struggle with depression and discouragement.
*The Perrys, entire set, but especially “If You Knew Him” — I enjoyed watching David Ragan nail this on NQC mainstage for the first time. Also, they rolled a special message from Tracy Stuffle after “Celebrate Me Home” that got a standing-O from the crowd. But that wasn’t all. After “This Old Sinner Testifies,” Libbi got him on Skype for the audience to applaud him!
*Collingsworth family, “Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary” — Sung simply, around the piano, and complemented the emotion of the Stuffles’ moment beautifully.
*Legacy Five, “Til We Meet Again” — This stood out because of the moving way Scott set it up, by thanking fans of the group for being their friends through thick and thin since the group’s inception, but it was also a flat-out good performance!
*Arthur Rice singing “How Great Thou Art!”
11:30 Dean Hopper broke down on stage sharing a personal testimony about God has brought him through a spiritually dry period over the last few months. It was a moving, vulnerable moment. Now he’s introducing all the groups to sing “Statement of Faith.” Honestly, this is a poor man’s version of “We Believe,” nevertheless it’s always heartening to see all the groups singing it on the stage together.
11:10-11:29 Time for the closing sequence.
5. The Collingsworth Family — “Love and Kindness.” Hmmm, I know it’s catchy, but they sang this one already the other day, and considering this is the big finale, I was expecting them to do something more… well FINAL. Impressive. Maybe a chorus of “The Blood of Jesus”? Booth Brothers joining on the finale.
4. The Kingdom Heirs — “How Great Thou Art” Oh boy, Arthur Rice is gonna give us a BIG moment tonight! And sure enough, he did.
3. The Perrys — “I Wish I Could Have Been There,” a fantastic choice. I’ve been waiting all week for this one. Brian is filling Joseph’s vocals admirably on this one. Libbi has whipped out her phone and is filming the crowd while they sing. This seems to be Michael Booth’s night to start playing drums out of the blue!
2. Mark Trammell Quartet — They’re just singing a chorus of “I Wanna Know,” the same song they closed with last night. I like the way this keeps the momentum going but was kind of hoping for one more really big moment from them.
1.The Talleys are up with “Somebody Ought to Testify.” On fire tonight! This is actually the first time I’ve heard this one.
11:01 Scott Fowler is sharing memories about the Cathedrals’ last days and the history of Legacy Five and now they’re singing “Til We Meet Again.” I’d forgotten how this song builds to a great finish. Gus Gaches nailed his step-out. They could easily have closed on that one, but they’ve got one more up their sleeve with “Boundless Love!” And Michael Booth is up on drums. There was quick, funny moment in the background where he tried to twirl a drumstick and dropped it.
10:52 Legacy Five 1. He Loves Me So — I think this is a tastefully understated, somewhat different-sounding tune off their latest record. 2. Ask Me Why — Although Scott left off the by now familiar story of how this was inspired by the story of the Muslim woman and daughter who converted to Christianity, this would be a good time for me to mention that they could use your prayers right now. The father has sued for full custody, and they are now battling for the girl’s right to stay with her mother in court. So, pray for Hannah and Patty if you would.
10:30-10:50 The Collingsworth family is up. 1. Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary — Phil shared the story of how the rehearsal of this song got hundreds of thousands of Youtube views within a few days, and most of the people commenting on Facebook didn’t even know who they were! I’ll never cease to be amazed with the depth and breadth of sound this family can create (with NO stacking!) 2. The Lord’s Prayer — A surprise solo by Phil Jr.! I saw Wes Hampton sing this arrangement, so Phil is obviously taking a leaf from him. This is wonderful so far, I can’t wait to see how he finishes it. He finished great. Oh come on folks, that was great (response seems a bit hesitant). I really enjoyed seeing this different side of Phil’s voice. 3. At Calvary — This has become a stage staple for the group, and rightly so. Listening to them sing prompts me to ask, have they EVER have an off night? They are to family groups what Chris Allman is to tenor singers. 4. A Mighty Fortress — I wondered if Kim would close with her sugar stick “How Great Thou Art,” but this is something different. And no background vocals. Yay! Hope they don’t sneak up on us at the end… Kim is reciting the lyrics out loud for the audience. I wonder if she’s going to have them sing along. I wish she would do all her solos like this! Oh, it’s suddenly shifted to the “Hallelujah Chorus” with track–sigh. But you kind of need a big sound for Handel, so I don’t actually mind the orchestration here. The crowd is standing.
10:25 Dean called for a round of applause in Libbi’s honor. Folks are in tears and on their feet. A prolonged ovation! And not only that, but Tracy was just called up on Libbi’s iPhone to watch the crowd applaud via
Skype (sorry, Facetime–my bad).
10:06-10:23 The Perrys! I’m so happy to see them a second time this week since I missed them the other day. 1. If You Knew Him — If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time they’ve staged this song this week. David Ragan is going to kill it, I know already. I think everyone is really discovering what a great vocalist he is for the first time. Joining the Perrys has given him a tremendous opportunity to show his stuff. 2. It Was the Blood — Poor Libbi, she sounds utterly exhausted, but what a trouper for making it out to all three performances this week. 3. Celebrate Me Home — Libbi always draw me into this one, and they rolled a special greeting afterwards from Tracy Stuffle! 4. This Old Sinner Testifies — They’re dedicating this one to Tracy. A rousing barn-burner, they could easily close with this one. Libbi is giving it her all and killing it! The young woman who has been filling in for them on tour dates (not clear on her name) has also joined them on stage. Ah, it’s Leah Page. I’m so glad to see her on stage this year. She’s a great singer in her own right and has come through for the group in a big way with all they’ve been through.
9:48 Mark Trammell Quartet: 1. How Long Has it Been — this suits the new tenor’s voice very well. 2. Guide Me Oh Thou Great Jehovah — I’m hearing more strong work from the tenor. I wonder if he’ll get a feature all to himself tonight. 3. Way Past Ready — This is a whole lot of fun. 4. Too Much to Gain to Lose — Mark set this up with a touching word about how singers like him in the business have down, discouraged days when they wonder whether all that they do is worth it. He dedicated it to his fellow artists.
9:43 Clarke Beasley’s words have generally been skippable, but he’s actually sharing some moving memories about past NQCs in Louisville now. He’s remembering the time Tony Greene performed to Taranda, the performances of 9/11 (especially Gerald Wolfe’s performance of “Redemption Draweth Nigh”), George Younce’s last performance… “I’ll walk through these corridors tomorrow, and I’ll hear all the music that echoed through them… I’d like to think some portion of that will always echo through the halls here.”
9:33 The choir director just shared a moving story about the tenor who just sang on the last song, saying he recently lost his sister to brain cancer. Now he’s singing “I Will Rise,” the song he sang at her funeral. A surprise choice, but a moving one. The whole choir is building it and making for an exciting finish. Young J.J. (that’s the featured vocalist) just nailed a difficult key change.
9:26 It’s Voices of Lee, and they just did “Old Rugged Cross.” Now they’re doing a different take on “Movin’ Up to Gloryland.” They’re turning it into a lush, pop kind of thing with a black tenor. I never thought of the song this way before, but it kind of worked for that first verse. At the same time, the song is so gimmicky that I’m kind of tired of it. Thankfully they’re turning it into a medley with a couple other “glory” themed songs. The black chick who just started singing is killing it! I also like the bass guy, although I liked the one last year better.