So the first year I came to Nashville and Stamps-Baxter, I stayed a few days extra to explore Music City. On the Saturday night, Tracey Phillips, Joel Lindsey and I went to see a concert of Southern Gospel music at River of Life Church in Smyrna. It was fantastic! I got to see groups I'd only heard about, and I got to hear new groups (or new for me) who didn't travel to Canada. My second year at school, I returned to this concert, and this time I got to see the amazing Karen Peck for the first time.
Well, who knew that three years later, not only would I be living in Nashville, but I would be performing in that same Saturday night show???
I didn't know it at the time, but the SoGospel News Fan Fest is an annual festival designed to celebrate the essential ingredient to Southern Gospel music - the fan! For six nights in July, fans are invited to free concerts featuring the best of the best of Southern Gospel music. The Unthank family (who run www.SoGospelNews.com) bring in the biggest names in the industry, and the church is packed every night.
This year, they decided to feature regional artists like myself on Saturday night, which fit in just perfectly with my Stamps-Baxter schedule. There were seven of us on the program, and we were each given a 15-minute slot. I had the opening slot, which is always a little tough. Most people fit 4 or 5 songs into their 15 minutes, but I really wanted to share some stories and testimony, so I only did 3 songs. I opened with "Neighbour", which got everyone clapping along. I shared my story about attending the concert 3 years ago to talk about God's perfect plan, and used that to segue into "Faith Will Take You Farther". Finally, I spoke about the parable of the ninety and nine, and how I often feel like that little sheep that has wandered. I ended with "Shepherd of the Hills", which got a great response.
The other groups were a mix of soloists, quartets, and a husband-wife duo. One of the soloists, Darlene Chapman, loved my voice and asked if I'd sing at her funeral. I said yes, but not for a long time, please!
Overall, it was just a fantastic night! Great people all around, and good music to boot.
And now, I am sooo ready for a day off...