By Michael Williams
The National Quartet Convention kicked off Sunday at the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge. The annual convention attracted more than 60,000 visitors to the area last year and is expected to attract more this year.
The convention, which features dozens of gospel quartets from across the nation, will conclude Saturday, Oct. 3.
Among the acts scheduled to appear are: Greater Vision, the Hoppers, the Jim Brady Trio, the Mark Trammell Quartet, Tim Lovelace, Diplomats, Freedom Quartet, Gold City, Jeff & Sheri Easter, Jim Brady Trio, Karen Peck & New River, Legacy Five, Mylon Hayes Family, Old Paths, Renaissance Quartet, Tribute, Triumphant, Whisnants, Wilburn & Wilburn and others.
Local favorites, the Kingdom Heirs, will perform during the week. The Kingdom Heirs perform daily at Dollywood. The Hoppers are celebrating a milestone this year marking 50 years in gospel music.
Returning to Pigeon Forge for the event is Michael Frost, best remembered for his roles at the Smoky Mountain Opry and the Biblical Times Theater. Frost performed at the Opry in “The Miracle” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” He also performed in the Biblical Times Christmas show and in “Moses Mountain of God.”
The Blackwoods Morning Variety Show welcomed the convention to town by inviting some of the performers to perform at their show. Each day throughout the convention the Blackwoods will feature a performer from the convention.
The Blackwoods have a long history with the National Quartet Convention. The group is celebrating 81 years in gospel music this year.
The National Quartet Convention was the “dreamchild” of my dad, R.W. Blackwood, Sr. and my uncle James Blackwood back in 1954 before my father was killed In a tragic airplane crash on June 30, 1954,” said R.W. Blackwood, Jr. “After my father’s death, uncles James and Cecil Blackwood and J. D. Sumner brought that dream to fruition with the first NQC in 1957. Clark Beasley and the board of directors of the National Quartet Convention have continued to carry on that tradition that began so many years ago and keeps gospel music alive all around the world.”
A new sound system was installed at the LeConte Center in recent months which will provide a much enhanced sound for attendees to enjoy the music of the artists. The convention will be available to fans on a webcast beginning Oct. 19 and running through Dec. 31. For more information about the webcast and the convention, visit NatQC.com.