This installment will be briefer than usual. I decided to just enjoy the showcase and not blog much. But I’ll provide a song list and brief comments here and there.
Up On this Ridge, written and performed by Channing Eleton: Inspired by his mother, who he would often see “talking with God” by the fireplace, this is an upbeat take on the mental picture of praying to God. Channing brought his accordion up on stage with him!
One Holy Lamb, performed by Tribute Quartet: Phil Cross told a great story about how his co-writer Cindi Ballard got the idea for this song in a dream, and Riley Clark turned in a PHENOMENAL performance. Standing ovation from all the writers and the audience.
Hear My Heart, performed by Sheri Easter: Sheri shared about how when she was going through chemo for her breast cancer, Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey went through her notes together with her and found two slips of paper with what became the chorus to the song. Joel, who had also battled cancer, came up with the beginning verse. Sheri performed it movingly.
Preach the Word, performed by Gold City: Writer Jim E. Davis set this up great, saying that when he brought the chorus to his wife, she said, “That’s good, I like that. Don’t mess up the verses.” He comes from a family of preachers, and the tradition has been carried on. Dan Keeton delivered a powerful vocal with Gold City. It was not as strong as it could have been, but he carried it well, and people were standing before the end.
When You Bow At Jesus’ Feet, performed by Jim Brady: Jim wrote this song by himself and had the Booth Brothers there to back him up. Their mikes were deliberately turned down, and they stood back aways behind him to let him carry it. I wouldn’t have minded it if they had been a little more present, but it was nice for them to intentionally give him the main spotlight as the writer. I hope they do this on mainstage tonight.
We Will Stand Our Ground, performed by the Kingdom Heirs: Dianne Wilkinson came out and said: “I’d rather be an old-time Christian than anything I know.” She then spoke about how the devil “hates old-time Christians” because we have the truth. “So he’s scared of us, y’all.” She had everybody standing before the song had even begun! The Kingdom Heirs came out and knocked it out of the park. My one complaint is that Arthur Rice was miked so loud that he drowned out Jerry Martin, which means we lost the melody towards the end. However, everyone was on their feet before it was over. A tremendous moment.
My Name is Jesus, Mark Bishop: Something feels off about this song, but it was neat to see various guest vocalists up there to “play” the various roles in the song. Bill Shivers sang Ivan Parker’s part as Peter and did a great job, but it was Lauren Talley who really stole the show and got people standing by the end.
Fall On My Knees, performed by the Browders
Another Child’s Coming Home, performed by Chris Allman and Jeremy Medkiff: This may have been my favorite moment. Chris said that this was the song God sang over him during a time when Chris was wandering. He did it completely unplugged with Jeremy Medkiff—Chris had a guitar, and Jeremy had a guitar. Very simple and tasteful.
Do You Love Me, performed by Sisters: Phil Cross introduced this powerfully by saying this was his heart’s cry at the age of eleven, when he wondered if God really loved him. He said that out of all the songs he’s written, this one means the most to him. I was unfamiliar with the song and was deeply moved by Sisters’ performance. Just wow.
No Longer Chained, performed by Greater Vision
Redemption Draweth Nigh, performed by Greater Vision: Gordon Jensen told a great story about how this song came to be. As a very young writer, he took it to a major group, and when they heard the line “war and strife on every hand, and violence fills the land,” they said it would never work. “People are trying to get their minds OFF of war and strife.” Gordon was totally crushed and almost threw it away. But when Duane Allen of the Oak Ridge Boys heard it, he told Gordon that even though it wasn’t an ORB song, it would become a timeless classic. They took another song Gordon had written and said it might be a hit for a few years, but this one was going to last and last. Duane was absolutely right. Gerald Wolfe sang it very powerfully, although my favorite version will always be the one Ernie Haase did for a Homecoming.