Back on April 5, 2009 a funeral was held for Dewey A. Newton at a small country Baptist Church in Cobb County, GA. A group of folks gathered in the choir to sing some of Mr. Newton’s favorite songs before the service. Lamar, his son, came out from the back hearing the music and told Jeff Nunnally to continue singing those songs from the Red Back Church Hymnal, and the funeral service became a homegoing service with Mr. Newton’s favorite songs. Following the service Lamar and Jeff got together and started what is believed to be the FIRST Red Back Church Hymnal Singing. Since that time this type of singing has sprung up all over the South, including for the past couple of years a Showcase at the National Quartet Convention. Some major Southern Gospel Groups have joined together and produced a video of songs from the book.
On October 2, WATC-TV, Atlanta’s Channel 57 did a two-hour special about the Red Back Church Hymnal on their ‘Atlanta Live Seniors Today’ program. The program is usually scheduled on the first Thursday of the month and is hosted by Pat Mathis, Vice President of the station and Betty Cornett. Jeff & Lamar put together a choir to sing on the program. Their choir is always open to those attending Red Back Church Hymnals singings and it doesn’t matter what your church, or your age, is. They were honored with the choir being named Choir 1. Betty Cornett put together Choir 2, which was made up of mostly members of the Monroe Church of God.
Choir 1 opened the program singing ‘Heaven’s Jubilee’ after which Jeff explained how the beginning of that type singing began. After the brief interview the choir sang a set of four songs including “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder” and “I’ll Fly Away”. This was followed by the history of the Red Back Hymnal by Dr. Jerry Goff and Rev. David Ellis. Choir 2 sang a few songs ending up with “The Eastern Gate” with special solo parts by Mike Cabe and Venessa Cox. Betty and Pat did interviews in between each set including an interview with The Mylon Hayes Family who was a featured artist on the program. This award-winning family sang “Jesus Spoke To Me” adding to the song a verse sung in the ‘Do, Re, Mi’ fashion, like the song book is written, in shaped notes. The Hayes Family did other songs during the program. The entire program consisted of over 25 songs from the Red Back Book.
After several sets by both choirs, the choirs joined together for the closing number “Amazing Grace” as the program went off the air. DVD’s of the two-hour program are available from the station. WATC – TV 770-300-9829 on a pre-paid pre-order basis. DVDs are made at time of order.