June 21, 2019

GaitherFest

GaitherFest is held every Memorial weekend in May and it’s an experience for everyone who enjoys great music and fellowship. It’s held in Gatlinburg, TN and the surrounding hills make it doubly special and memorable. I’ve always loved the mountains and the Smokey’s are some of the most beautiful you will ever experience. Gatlinburg was teeming with vacationers that weekend and Bill Gaither’s gathering was part of that excitement.

Saturday morning I walked into the backstage area of the Convention Center to beautiful songs of praise. The singers had their eyes closed and their hands lifted as they shut out the troubling world around them to focus on Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit’s presence. Bill Gaither led that special time of praise as songs were suggested and as one started to sing, everyone joined in, in beautiful harmonies. The spirit of the moments in that 30 minutes carried us into the arena where the huge throng of people were waiting. These precious souls come most every year and never seem to get enough. The morning program had various artists singing, including us, and a special speaker closed it out. Our song that morning was The Secret.  

The evening show began at 6 pm and a few new faces showed up for that program. A few names of note that impacted me were Larnelle Harris, who still is one of the greatest singers of all time, and he is totally unaffected by his talent. He sang “I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked” and I felt His presence!  Buddy Greene sang and played his harmonica. The Isaacs, the Martins, the Booth Brothers, Karen Peck and New River, The Nelons, The Imperials, and many more.

Pictured along with this blog are two photos of the Imperials on stage at that event. They will do this again next Memorial weekend, the Lord willing, and while I don’t know if we will be there, you should make every attempt to come if you can. You will experience something unlike you’ve never experienced before.

April 26, 2019

The Imperials had so many opportunities …

after accepting Elvis’ invitation to work with him. One such opening was when Jimmy Dean asked us to sing with him. The picture accompanying this blog was taken at the Holiday House in Monroeville, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh, in 1971. The Holiday House was a 900 seat auditorium with a huge stage for orchestra and band. We were there for three weeks with no nights off.

One night, about halfway through our stay, Greg Gordon and I happened to be sharing the same hotel room right over the showroom. At the time, the Carpenters were exploding onto the scene and they had a special tv show one night while we were there. Greg and I were sitting there in our underwear engrossed in the sights and sounds of Karen Carpenter and her beautiful voice and we lost track of time. We are on the edge of our beds watching the show when we heard the band play the introduction to the show.  We jumped up like we had been shot! We had about three minutes to get completely dressed and get down to the stage and the song was well underway. We had a shirt, tie, pants, coat, and socks and shoes and we had to be downstairs before Jimmy walked on the stage. It’s the very same suit in this photo. Fortunately, he always started in the audience making small talk with the people and he took his time this night. He would say things to a man who was thin in the crown of his head, “Where do you get those haircuts with the hole in the top”? An older man might be there with a much younger lady and he would say, “Nice of you to bring your granddaughter out tonight”. Everyone laughed but the people he was talking to.  Fortunately for us, he delayed his trip up to the stage that night. Had he gotten on stage and we weren’t there, we would have paid dearly! We made it to the stage just as he walked up from the audience. Everything was in place except the laces on our hightop brown and white patent leather shoes which we just didn’t have time to tie, but our pants covered them so no one ever knew how close we came to getting a lecture. We were standing there with the spotlight on us with untied shoes while we sang the first three songs. We were only able to finish tying our shoes when the spotlight moved back to Jimmy at center stage.

Such incidents like this always made for exciting times and you never knew what might happen the next night. Jimmy was complicated. I could write a novel on him. He loved what we did and we added so much to his show but it didn’t have the energy and excitement we had with Elvis. I will always regret leaving Elvis but life is full of decisions. You can never tell what the future holds but decisions have to be made. Not all of them are good ones and not all are bad. God redeems even those bad decisions and He blesses the good ones.

January 24, 2019

David’s Psalm

It’s Tuesday, January 22, and I’m in my hotel room, having just gotten back from breakfast. The weekend was amazing! If you’ve been on Facebook, you’ve seen shots and videos that will show you how wonderful it was. We introduced our new tenor, Will Shaw, and featured him on a song from The Journey CD, David’s Psalm.  The song was taken from Psalm 27 and expanded into a beautiful narrative of dependence and reliance on God for all we have.  The lyrics are:

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is my strength and my Redeemer; whom shall I fear? If God is for us, who can be against us, for He, the Lord, is with us!”

We had recorded that song many years ago, around 1976, and at the time, Jim Murray sang it beautifully. Will is still learning our songs and blend but he has grabbed this song and claimed it as his own. The video sounds are not professional and yet I think you can see and hear the potential we have. We have introduced new material this year and will continue to do so in the months ahead. 

We are past the halfway point in our stay in Europe and from Vienna we make our way to Bonn, Germany on Thursday. We covet your prayers for safety there. I know Germany is relatively safe and yet, there are stories coming out that are of concern.  

Tomorrow is picture day as we will need to update our banner and promotional pictures.  We will get shots with James Burton too, as we hope to get an invitation to a very special venue in the next month. I will keep you informed on it. James has become a dear friend, and his wife, Louise, is one of our biggest fans. She and James secured our visit on the Mike Huckabee Show on January 3, and it was beyond our wildest dreams for success. We cherish their friendship and realize what an international star James is. We NEVER take advantage of that but we do enjoy his company. I have never heard James say an unkind word to anyone. Some interrupt him in the middle of a meal, but he’s always very gracious to them. We Christians are commanded to do the same. All are equal at the foot of the cross. There are no rich, no poor, but all bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. If you are a child of God, remember how blessed you really are! Many are called but few are chosen. I’m so thankful that God chose me. Did He choose you? By accepting Jesus as Lord, you have been chosen and are accepted in the beloved and destined for eternity with God, your Heavenly Father. 

December 6, 2018

A Really Wise Man

Thoreau is quoted as saying, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” I have paid a very high price for the amount of time and effort I have given to music and ministry. Sometimes I feel maybe I haven’t given enough, but other times I feel it’s cost me too much. I sit here in a hotel room in Vienna, Austria, away from my wife and my children and I hope and pray daily they are safe, happy, and provided for as I pursue this costly adventure I have chosen for my life. What about you? Do you feel your life matters to someone else? Are you in a job you hate, yet you have to feed your family, so you plod on in a dutiful way in a boring job that takes you nowhere? I am not saying you should quit. I am saying you should evaluate the cost of what you are doing against the benefits you are receiving. What is it you feel called to do?  Do you have a passion for something you never pursued, but had to settle for a lesser challenge because you had to feed your family? 

I was a reluctant warrior at the start. Graduation from college didn’t teach me anything but how to budget my time and maximize my efforts in preparation for life. I had prepared for music but had a back-up in business. While in that state of confusion, the Imperials called. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to leave the cocoon I had been in because I was comfortable there. However, there was an opportunity calling to make a real difference in the world, so I made the “exchange.” I traded the comfort of home for an unknown, uncertain world. I have had many ups and downs and made many mistakes, but I have never looked back in regret. Jim Elliot, the missionary who was murdered in South America as he tried to take the gospel to a primitive tribe, is quoted as saying, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep gaining what he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot paid the ultimate price to take the message of the gospel to people who never had heard. He was instrumental in that entire tribe coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Was it worth it? Some would say how foolish to die so young and miss out on raising a family with children and grandchildren to enjoy. I say Jim Elliot gave what he couldn’t keep gaining what he couldn’t lose; an eternal reward. This was a really wise man! 

October 4, 2018

You Light up My Life

About the time we were working with Carol Channing, we did a few dates with Pat Boone, the 50’s teen idol. At the time he had his first hit, Elvis was also beginning to make his name known in the rock and roll field. Pat was famous for his clean-cut image and had a number of hits, such as Love Letters in the Sand, (1957), April Love, (1957), Moody River, (1961) and many more.

He and his wife, Shirley were,  and still are very outspoken Christians and they traveled at that time with their four daughters, Cherry, Debby, Linda, and Laurey. We traveled and toured with them for a number of dates in the early 1970’s. When we traveled by bus, I wound up sitting with Debby most of the time. Debby was the daughter who had the mega-hit, You Light Up My Life. You don’t hear it much these days, but “You Light up My Life” was actually the single biggest song of the 1970s. It spent 10 weeks at Number One, a record not beaten until 1991 when Boyz II Men stayed on top for 13 weeks in 1991. The song was written as a love song, but Pat Boone’s daughter Debby always interpreted it as a song about her devotion to God.

The song had been turned down by many famous singers and Debby wound up with it. They were a close-knit family and their mother, Shirley, kept a close watch over her daughters. We would go out first and do our set of gospel songs and then Pat Boone would come out and do a show with his girls. Shirley didn’t sing but she was always there to support the family. I have much respect for this family. They’ve been through much adversity but their devotion to each other and to God remain intact, so I am told. So in heaven’s eyes, Pat Boone has made a lot of money and a lot of fame as well, but his children still love and respect him. He’s truly lived a great life.

 

 

When it’s all said and done, and your name is placed in the history books, if you were fortunate enough to achieve a level of fame or notoriety, your legacy and your mark in the world is not how much money you made or how many “hits” you had. It will be what you did for the cause of Christ and the upbuilding of His kingdom and did it impact your family too.

September 27, 2018

We All Must Make Decisions in Life

By the fall of 1972, the Imperials had left Elvis for work with Jimmy Dean. It turns out that our timing was awful!  January of 1973 was the huge world-wide tv special, Aloha, from Hawaii, that was seen by at least one billion people! Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to that special because we were working with Jimmy Dean.  We were busy as we could be fulfilling dates with Dean, singing with other celebrities as well.

We got the chance to be a supporting act for Pat Boone and for Carol Channing for a short time. Our work with Carol was interesting.  She was wonderful to work with but she had a tyrant for a husband who pretty much ran her life. Singing with her meant we had to rehearse dance steps to her songs. You had to see this to believe we even did it. Her big song was “Hello Dolly” and we ended each show with it. We worked many hours on our staging and steps that the choreographer had worked out for us. We did a three-week engagement at Harrah’s in Reno with her and it was memorable for us. We found out very quickly we weren’t cut out for that. At the end of her show, we were moving around on stage to the tune as we sang with her. The final note of that song and the show, we were to be down on one knee, surrounding her and with one hand lifted up in her direction. I was positioned right behind Joe and one knee up meant the other knee was on the floor. As I looked down at the bottom of Joe’s shoe that night, he expressed his exasperation and frustration with being in a setting that was so unusual for us as he had printed the word, HELP, for us to see and to get a good laugh after the show!

I think my point in this is to say, we all must make decisions in life, and many of them are very consequential to our futures. How tragic for us to miss Aloha, from Hawaii, with Elvis Presley,  but it didn’t change the dynamic of this wonderful group that had so many doors opened to us. We had no idea of the future and that decision provided many opportunities for us on network television that we wouldn’t have had if we had stayed. We had the unique privilege of getting to choose which door we would open. Many people never have so many options. I am forever grateful to the Imperials for providing the opportunity to work with the biggest name in the entertainment field EVER! Many lessons were learned and not the least was that, when you make a decision, OWN it. Don’t wallow in regrets and don’t look back because nothing can be changed after that decision is made. Know that God has a plan for each one of us and He knows what path we will take. He is always there, redeeming every decision and turning it around for our good. Blessings to you all!

September 20, 2018

Measures of Growth

As fun as Greg Gordon was, and a great singer, as well, he just didn’t work out. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when we were making our debut concert at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, TN and we were in concert with at least five other groups. We were there in time to set up records and do a sound check. So, Greg left, went home to change and assumed we would be on near the end of the show since we were one of the headliners. Unfortunately for him and us, they had put us on second. So when it came time for us to go on stage, Greg was nowhere to be found. This was before cell phones so all we could do was call his home and got no answer. We begged them to put us on later and they obliged us. When Greg arrived back at the auditorium, I’ve never seen Joe Moscheo so mad!  That was the beginning of the end for Greg. I was sorry to see him go as I always liked him so much and the people did as well. I saw him years later and we had lunch at Elliston Place Soda Shop in Nashville and we laughed about that incident that doomed his fate with the Imperials.

So, after a year, we were looking once again for a baritone. Our producer had heard a young black singer from California who had sung with Andre Crouch and the Disciples and he thought it would be a great idea to try him out. At the time, a mixed racial group had never been attempted and this was a bold move. Sherman Andrus’ style was so different from ours and at first, I wasn’t sure it would work. He was used to singing solos and blending wasn’t something he was used to doing. It took a few weeks but he developed both his harmonies and his blend so that the choice turned out to be a good one for us. He came to the group right after the Time To Get It Together LP was released so he just picked up where Greg had left off and sung his songs.

In what we do, critical decisions were made daily about songs, arrangements, concert schedules. Any number of decisions could adversely affect our careers and ministry. They actually became measures of growth and expansion for us and proved once again that change is inevitable for all of us. It’s how you adapt to those changes that is the measure of maturity.