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Terrorist attacks buffet National Quartet Convention

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–The 2001 National Quartet Convention began on Sept. 10 and, on Sept. 11, it became a gathering they will never forget.

“I can’t think of any better place to be at a time like this,” Millie Caffee, from Adamsville, Ala., said. “There’s been a lot of prayer. A lot of heaviness, too, you can sense; but you feel that everywhere right now. To be a part of this huge gathering of Christians has helped me deal with what’s been happening.”

Bill Caffee agreed. “We didn’t drive up until Thursday,” he said. “Our church [Westwood Baptist in the Forestdale area of Birmingham] held special prayer services Tuesday and Wednesday night. We wanted to be a part of those. We debated about going on to Louisville, but once we walked into Freedom Hall and heard the music and felt the oneness, we knew we’d made the right decision.”

Convention emcee Buck Morton said he was thankful to be at the NQC during America’s time of crisis after Sept. 11’s terrorist attacks on New York City, Washington and western Pennsylvania.

“There’s been a somberness, a sadness, especially on Tuesday,” he said. “And yet we’ve been able to stand together to honor our Lord and our country.”

Morton’s wife, affectionately known as Mrs. M, agreed. “There’s been such a tremendous expression of patriotism,” she said. “We’ve watched the news reports and have seen a cohesiveness come out of this. People all over the world are standing together in support of the United States.”

Group after group took the stage, most taking a moment to comment on the tragedy, many on occasion clearly overcome with emotion. The McKameys have long been respected among Southern Gospel musicians and Peg McKamey reminded her audience in song: “The God of the mountain is still God in the valley.”

McKamey has been using this time in “the valley” to sort out her own feelings on what has happened:

“I’m devastated,” she said. “It brings me to my knees for our [country’s] leaders. I couldn’t sleep last night…. I spent the time praying.”

Gerald Wolfe, lead singer for the group Greater Vision and a member of First Baptist Church, Morristown, Ky., took this year’s award for Favorite Male Singer during the 2001 Singing News Fan Awards. Asked his feelings about the assaults against his country, he confessed that the events still seemed a bit unreal.

“I don’t begin to understand what has happened,” he admitted. “But what I do know is that God can use any circumstance to draw us closer to him.

“There’s been a real heaviness in the audience,” Wolfe continued. “I think in this kind of a situation we sometimes forget what a great God we serve. He’s still on the throne. He’s still in charge.”

Wolfe’s group was the recipient of two more awards: Favorite Trio and Favorite Video (“Live from Morristown”). Rodney Griffin, Greater Vision’s baritone, also was recognized as Favorite Songwriter. Griffin attends Holt’s Baptist Church near Morristown.

Tim Riley sings bass for Gold City and attends Alabama’s North Glencoe Baptist Church along with the rest of his group. Riley confirmed his belief that the terrorist attack would serve as a wakeup call in many respects.

Gold City’s members were voted Favorite Traditional Male Quartet as well as receiving individual recognition as Favorite Tenor (Jay Parrack), Favorite Lead (Jonathan Wilburn), Favorite Baritone (Mark Trammell) and Favorite Bass (Tim Riley). As if all those accolades weren’t enough, the group took home the Favorite Album award for “Are You Ready?”

Undoubtedly gospel music’s most well-known pianist has to be Anthony Burger. He and his wife, Eva, were greeting friends and fans at their booth in the NQC exhibition hall.

“I just pray that everybody will see the light, realize that [those who were killed] could have been them,” Burger said. “Every person needs to be sure of their salvation, of their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. They need to know that they know that they know.”

During Jeff and Sheri Easter’s stage appearance Sheri spoke on behalf of many gospel artists at the conference.

“It’s been a really hard week to sing, but you know what? God gave us a job to do — to encourage believer’s hearts,” she said.

The audience enthusiastically applauded Easter’s declaration, embracing the outpouring of love from the singer who on Thursday night was voted Favorite Alto.

Easter followed her statement with her ever-popular song, “Roses Will Bloom Again,” singing a message that acknowledged the sorrows of this life while pointing to the eternal joy awaiting believers.

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  • Judy Woodward Bates