NASHVILLE, Tenn., — The music was loud. The crowd was rowdy – clapping, cheering, singing and waving their arms in the air along with their favorite groups.
No, this wasn’t a teenage crowd rocking out to Skillet, Lacrae or the David Crowder Band. It was a sold-out event of about 1,000 senior adults getting down with the likes of Guy Penrod, Squire Parsons and Paid in Full.
They came from 20 states on April 6-7 to Nashville, Tenn., to the 2011 Music City Gospel Singing event hosted by Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The event began with the Peasall Sisters, three young women best known for their songs on the soundtracks of the movies “O Brother Where Art Thou” and “True Grit.”
Comedian singer/musician Aaron Wilburn had the crowd in tears of laughter telling about an “unexpected result” from the kidney he received from his sister-in-law in a transplant a few months ago.
“I was thrilled to get the kidney from my sister-in-law,” he said, “but downside is now every time I go to the mall I have to look at purses. I have learned colors I didn’t know existed. Fuchsia? What’s fuchsia? But, I just had to have a fuchsia purse!”
He spoke of his long marriage to his wife and the love they have for each other. He did say, though, that another woman has caught his eye.
“The only time in my married life I have ever thought I might have married the wrong woman is when I saw Paula Deen. It wasn’t her pretty hair or pretty smile. It was because this woman puts a stick of butter in everything!”
Three groups — Paid in Full, Tribute and Three Bridges — brought the audience to their feet with their classic Southern gospel performances.
Mike Harland, director of Lifeway Worship, moved some audience members to tears during a patriotic moment, honoring all attendees who had served in the military or had family members currently serving. Sadly, many stood when family members of military members who had died in the line of duty were honored.
After seeing so many stand, the singing of “America the Beautiful” took on a sacred tone.
Attendees were treated to a ride on Nashville’s famous General Jackson riverboat down the Cumberland River. Singer Jason Catron and musicians Bruce and Lisa Wethey performed during the cruise.
Guy Penrod, a crowd favorite, focused on love and family. At one point, his wife, Angie, joined him on stage. When he discovered a couple in the audience — Delbert and Thelma Butts — who had been married 68 years, he asked for their secret. To Penrod’s delight, Delbert Butts answered, “Keep the magic going.”
Lifeway President Thom S. Rainer welcomed the crowd to Lifeway and reminded them to “wake up, look up and get up” to see what God will do.
“Wake up to His power; look up at what all He has to offer; and get up and serve Him more than you’ve ever served Him before,” he said.
The event ended with a performance by gospel music legend Squire Parsons.
Parsons talked about his recent diagnosis of leukemia and how he has felt God’s touch in such a powerful way. He performed a new song, “I’m Still Here, ” that was born out of the experience.
“The Gospel Music Singing event is just so much fun,” said Lifeway’s Deborah Burnett, coordinator of the event. “The people who come are ready for a good time. They know these songs and these groups and really love them. It sells out just about every year because of the enthusiasm of the ones who come for the gospel music.”
The 2012 River City Gospel Singing will be April 30-May 1, 2012, in Chattanooga, Tenn., at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel. More information about this event and others for senior adults can be found at Lifeway.com/SeniorAdults.
by Polly House, Communications Department