After an uneventful ride through the western mountains of North Carolina and the eastern mountains of Tennessee, we arrived in Sevierville 58 minutes before the 5:30 PM concert was set to start at the 2023 National Quartet Convention. We quickly carried our luggage in and made our way over to the LeConte Center. The parking lot was FULL, partly because of the weekend crowd still enjoying The Island (which shares the largest parking lot), but also because the Sunday night NQC crowd appeared to be a bit larger than in past years.
By the time we parked up in the Mountain Lot, walked down the ramp, and made it to our seats, Lauren Talley was on stage singing “Shut Him Up.” After an excellent set by Lauren, we heard:
1. the new lineup of Heart2Heart (five singers now rather than a trio including former Carolina singer Riley Dotson & his wife),
2. Chris Bryant’s debut performance as the new lead singer for the Kingdom Heirs, (Bryant has already been filling in for Loren Harris for several weeks whose retirement from the group due to health issues was announced last weekend),
3. a great rendition of Nicole C. Mullen’s “My Redeemer Lives” by Rebecca Burke of The Littes,
4. an exciting up-and-coming quartet called Right Road,
5. short sets by The Chandlers and Justified Quartet who paid tribute to songwriter Dianne Wilkinson and had Joseph Reed filling in at lead,
6. inspiring music from the Whisnants and news of their recent live album release,
7. the first NQC performance by the current lineup of Gold City…pretty much the highlight of the evening as the addition of Josh Feemster along with Chris Jenkins and Jeff Chapman put them on par with the best lineups from Gold City’s past,
8. greetings from NQC’s executive leader Clarke Beasley,
9. testimony and song from Master’s Voice,
10. an extended set by Second-Half Quartet which is always enjoyable.
At this point, our lunch from 1:30 PM earlier in the afternoon was starting to lose its effectiveness, and so we made our way to Steak & Shake, missing the closing performances by Karen Peck & New River and The Inspirations. They’re due to sing again later in the week, though.
All in all, a good start to the week.
So why did I put an image of a box of SweeTarts on this post? Well, another memorable moment Sunday evening was when one artist (who shall remain nameless here) just happened to sit on the row in front of us and then managed to spill half a box of Sweetarts; such poise holding a microphone in front of several thousand people does not always translate off-stage, though the skill required is similar. We all had a good laugh.