By Paige Givens
In 1980, Gold City Quartet came together for the first time and added a new blend of voices that would change gospel music. Even though the group has undergone many changes in the past 36 years, with new voices coming and going, one thing has remained the same with this celebrated group: They still sing for the same One who brought them together in the first place! Their harmony on stage is only made sweeter by their harmony off stage.
Daniel Riley, baritone and owner of Gold City, explains the groupâ€™s current lineup. â€œThis is not a brand new group with four parts who just got together at once. Group members have come aboard to this already established group at various times. So, each member had a different start date. Joining me on stage now are tenor Thomas Nalley, lead Scott Brand, bass Chris West, and pianist Bryan Elliott.
â€œScott is our newest member. He had filled in a few weeks for us and auditioned in the process, but his first official date was at the Memphis Quartet Show on June 18, 2016. I think when we brought Scott on, we all knew there was something special happening, and it still feels like that now, on stage and in the studio as weâ€™re working on our next recording. Â Iâ€™m excited about this current lineup and what Iâ€™m hearing each night. If the feedback from fans and our peers is any indication, they are excited too.â€
Since its inception in 1980, this Gadsden, Alabama, group has won numerous awards from fans and the Southern Gospel music industry, has sung and recorded many number one songs, and has received prestigious honors. Yet Gold City Quartet continues to remain grounded and points all success to the Lord.
The group maintains a very full, year-round schedule of events. There are some that stand out to Daniel. â€œWe work so many dates each year, itâ€™s hard to pick a favorite. Some we love because of the venue, others because of the area of the country, most because of the great fans we have. We know when weâ€™re in a certain area, weâ€™re going to see certain friends there. We have so many promoters we work for who have become dear friends. I think weâ€™d be hard-pressed to pick just a few. We love what we do and Who we do it for.
â€œI think when you are called to do this, God puts a joy in your heart about it, and it really doesnâ€™t matter where youâ€™re at. Sure we do have those places and dates we look forward to, but I think itâ€™s as much about the people as it is the places. We have had some great experiences, for sure. We had an incredible time at Times Square Church in New York City a few years ago, and last year we traveled to Brazil where the people are absolutely crazy about southern gospel music, particularly quartets.â€
So much time on the road leads to much time on the bus. Daniel talks about how the groupâ€™s efforts to pass the time along have become somewhat of a sensation on social media called Live With The City. â€œThereâ€™s really not a way to explain what we do on there. We just show life on our bus, and people love watching us be us. It gets boring on the bus. We come up with crazy ways to pass the time. We have done the Chubby Bunny Challenge, a Taco-Eating Contest, weâ€™ve played the Bean-Boozled game. At least once or twice a weekend, we go live and you can see for yourself what happens when the five of us and our sound engineer, Dillan West, are held captive on a bus for long periods of time.â€
Along with silly road moments, Daniel realizes also that every moment has been a Â moment of Godâ€™s grace and provision. â€œWhen we had the bus fire a few years ago that totally destroyed our tour coach, equipment, and bus barn among other things, had that been a week we were scheduled to tour, we would likely either have been on that bus out on the road or there would have been men sleeping on the bus in the bus barn when the fire broke out.
â€œWhen you look at the tragedy in that perspective, it will cause you to find thankfulness really quick. I think of so many things that God has kept us from and carried us through, and that just reaffirms to me that He has had His hand of protection on this group from the start. That gives us all the determination we need to keep on keeping on, sharing the life-changing Gospel.â€
He continues, â€œIf you see us on stage, you will see five guys who are serious about what we do. I travel with guys who love to sing and love to share Jesus in the music we share. Weâ€™ve been given a gift and calling by God, and the best way we know how to honor Him for that gift is to give it back to Him, and we try to do that every night we are on stage. That is serious to us.
â€œLeaving our families and homes each week is not easy, so if what we do on stage isnâ€™t about the Lord, we would not sacrifice the people that mean the most to us; weâ€™d just stay at home. Itâ€™s our calling and ministry. When we get to a concert, everyone has their job. The bus door opens and we go to work. All the guys do their part to contribute to the goal of Gold City being the best it can be on and off stage.
â€œSpeaking of offstage, like I said, if you have seen us on Facebook Live or spent any time with us in concert, you know these guys are basically crazy. Theyâ€™re all fun to be around and we have a good time. Â That couple of hours you see on stage is the icing on the cake. Â Itâ€™s the easy part of what we do. Trust me when I say, as a manager, the harmony on the bus when weâ€™re traveling down the road is more important than the harmony you hear when weâ€™re on stage. When there are guys on the bus whose personalities gel and who all like each other and get along, itâ€™s a much more pleasant trip. And thatâ€™s what we have on our bus.â€
The other members in Gold City take a few minutes to describe their bandmates. Scott Brand says, â€œThomas is probably the most quiet one, (keeps) to himself most of the time, but he can be sneaky so you have to watch him.â€ While Thomas Nalley adds, â€œBryan is definitely the life of the party, but a real instigator. Â He actually has the rest of the gospel world fooled! Â Heâ€™s a pizza freak, and heâ€™s the most paranoid of anyone on the bus.â€
Bryan Elliot says, â€œChris is the loud one, and heâ€™s always keeping something stirred up.â€ Chris West declares, â€œDanny is the glue that holds everyone together. Heâ€™s the engine that runs the machine. The conductor of the orchestra. He also signs my paychecks!â€
Daniel concludes, â€œScott is devious, too. Heâ€™s always up to something. You can never take him seriously. He always has something up his sleeve. Â He fit right in from day one when he joined us. And so I guess the general consensus is that weâ€™re all just as liable as the next one to keep something going to keep it interesting on the bus while weâ€™re traveling. Â It does keep those long hours on the road from being so boring, thatâ€™s for sure.â€
So, in essence, what happens on the Gold City bus does NOT stay on the bus. The harmony and friendship that the group cultivates off stage really does shine through their entire ministry, whether they are singing on stage, recording albums in studio, or talking and listening to fans and fellow Gospel music lovers. The ministry starts within the group and it radiates outwards.
After 36 years, Gold City Quartet is still going strong! Daniel concludes, Â â€œGold City is hard at work on a new yet-untitled mainline recording on New Haven Records label that is slated for a release near the end of the year or the first of 2017. But prior to that, we are hoping to release a special compilation of some most requested hits along with a couple of new songs. We are booked exclusively by the April Potter Agency and our schedule is filling up for 2017 and we want people to check out our schedule and come see us in concert!â€
Photo Credits: Craig Harris and Gold City
By Paige Givens
First published in the November 2016 issue of SGNScoops.
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