Southern style: new quartet convention worth the trip

ZZ Randall Franks at NQC

Randall Franks with Dr. Jerry Goff and his wife Little Jan Buckner-Goff.

This year I took advantage of visiting Pigeon Forge, Tenn. to take in the National Quartet Convention. It’s in its new home at the LeConte Center, moving from Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky.

I was greatly impressed by the atmosphere of the facility, the lodge feeling of the interior and the closeness to the artists the booths allowed. It seemed less like an exhibit area and more like visiting with the artists in a well-decorated mountain retreat.

The concert, area with the stage centered, provided an opportunity to watch the show. The artists were able to work all sides thus gave the audience a full effect.

Attendees were also able to take in activities around the area including shows at Dollywood and convention related and regular entertainment events in the area.

The only issues mentioned to me by other attendees related to limited parking and traffic delays. Pigeon Forge rolled out all stops to ease the expanded presence of convention attendees with additional police and support to move people through in congested areas.

Amongst the convention concerts, the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame inducted several new members including Eddie Crook, Paul Heil, Claude Daniel Hopper, Faye Ihrig Speer and the following late inductees: Claris G. “Cat” Freeman, Colbert Croft, Warren Lester Roberts, and Francis Jane “Fanny” Crosby and Van Alstyne. Congratulations to all the new inductees and you can learn more about them at the Hall of Fame located at Dollywood or by visiting, sgma.org.

A couple of the funniest hours I spent at the event were attending a Southern Gospel Music Guild event honoring Dr. Jerry Goff of the Singing Goff’s with the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award.

His group was one of the most successful of the 1970’s and 80’s. With love and humor, friends and former group members praised his service in the Lord. The room was filled with artists, industry executives, and music enthusiasts whose admiration for Dr. Goff was apparent not only by their attendance but by the time they lingered before and after the event.

A talented singer, musician, and songwriter, he also helped pioneer some of the most successful ventures into television in the 1960’s. Behind the scenes of the popular Gospel Singing Caravan, he stepped forward with his own popular gospel music program several years later under the title America Sings, where his musical abilities earned him the unofficial title of “Mr. Gospel Trumpet.”

He also became well known as a Gospel Music emcee. A talented performer, speaker and promoter, Jerry Goff always represented Southern Gospel with class and dignity. Congratulations to Jerry on his honor. Thanks for all the great music and the inspiring words that have touched millions.

If you are considering attending the National Quartet Convention next year in Pigeon Forge, I encourage you to do so. Plan ahead and it will be a trip to remember for you and yours. Find out more at natqc.com.

(Randall Franks is an award-winning musician, singer and actor. He is best known for his role as “Officer Randy Goode” on TV’s “In the Heat of the Night” now on WGN America. His latest CD release, “Mississippi Moon,” is by Crimson Records. He is a member of the Independent Country Music Hall of Fame. His latest book is “Encouragers I: Finding the Light.” He is a syndicated columnist for http://randallfranks.com/ and can be reached at rfrankscatoosa@gmail.com.)

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