As the National Quartet Convention prepares to move from Louisville, Kentucky to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, several SGN Scoops magazine staff writers share their memories of NQC past.
Lou Wills Hildreth shares: My family –the Wills Family of Ft. Worth, Texas–sang at the first NQC in Memphis, and many years thereafter. I have only missed one NQC in all 56 years of the event. Howard and I will be greeting friends this year at the Scoops Booth. Praying God’s blessing on every song and testimony!!!!
Dixie Phillips shares: When I was 16, my Mom and Dad started attending church. The new pastor was an avid southern gospel fan. He and his wife invited my parents and me to attend NQC in Memphis. I was so excited when my parents agreed to go. I will never forget when Ben Speer sang “The Brush.” My life was changed forever. I was hooked. Southern Gospel Music is music with a message and I am so honored to be a part of it.
Lorraine Walker shares: I began to attend the NQC when it was still in Nashville. I remember a few highlights as well as the long cement slope to the basement exhibit hall . I remember hearing one of the last times that JD Sumner and the Stamps sang together, the announcement of Kim Hopper Greene joining the Hoppers, Tony Greene’s proposal to Taranda Kiser, as well as what would be the last NQC of Jake Hess, Vestal and Howard Goodman, George Younce and Roger Bennett. I remember watching a new family group called The Crabb Family come on stage with their whole church in one section of the auditorium cheering them on. I am sorry to be missing this last year in Louisville but I know great things are in store for future NQC’s!
Craig Harris shares: Moments and memories are what life in general is all about. They are what make anything that is important to you special. This is my 14th year of attending the National Quartet Convention and it’s hard to believe that it’s been that long. A one-song spot on the main stage on Tuesday evening surprisingly took me back to some of my earliest of days at NQC here in Louisville, which is the only NQC venue that this Southern Gospel follower has ever experienced.
As the Stephens Family stepped out on the stage, I had no idea that the soprano singer – Melody Stephens – was going to lead me on a brief stroll down Memory Lane. Stephens was the soprano for the Nelons when I first started following Southern Gospel music. I didn’t grow up around the genre as so many did. I simply discovered it – with the assistance of a few friends and borrowed CDs – around 1998. But the Nelons were one of those groups that came to the main stage in those early days and just brought it.
I was still learning and understanding the dynamics of Southern Gospel music when I attended my first NQC in 2000. I only stayed for two nights that year. NQC has been a week-long event ever since. That configuration of the Nelons – with Melody, Paul Lancaster (one of my favorite singers) and Dan Clark (who had a pleasant-sounding bass tone that simply fit the group well) – was probably my favorite. Songs like “Where Sin Had Been Pardoned,” “He Called Me Out,” and the vastly-underrated “You Ain’t Seen the Last of Jesus” suckered me in to this genre of music hook, line and sinker. In fact, “He Called Me Out” was on the NQC Live 1999 DVD and CD (along with the Perrys unbelievable version of “When He Spoke”), prompting me to want to make the journey from the Nashville area to Louisville to see what this Quartet Convention was really all about.
The Nelons followed that era up with more great singers like Katy Van Horn Peach and more great songs, such as “He Rolled Back the Stone.” They are still producing great music today and undoubtedly making memories for some person out there who is just figuring out what NQC is all about. The Stephens family brought some memories back to life for me on Tuesday night. I hope that you all are not only having fond remembrances this week but are also making new memories. Don’t waste an opportunity to truly live and experience all that there is to offer. Have a great week and simply enjoy.