Finally hearing Brian Free and Assurance worth the wait


Brian Free and Assurance in concert at Sand Spring Baptist Church, Lawrenceburg, Ky., Aug. 30, 2018. From left art Brian Free, Mike Rogers and Bill Shivers.

Acclaimed group delivers a night of pure gospel

By John Herndon,

FINALLY, I got to hear Brian Free and Assurance in concert!

It seems odd that someone who loves gospel music as much as I do had not seen one of the most acclaimed groups of our day before its appearance at Sand Spring Baptist Church on Aug. 30.

It was well worth the wait. And more.

Let’s just say everything I had read about BFA was on target. These guys can flat out sing — of course, you knew that already — and those tight harmonies underscored why the group has won nearly every award in the gospel music industry over the last 25 years.


Brian Free solos on “Sheltered in The Arms of God.” (Photos by John Herndon)

(A quick summary: I have a hearing impairment, corrected by cochlear implants. I rarely went to concerts for about 20 years. Now that I have implants in both ears, I make as many as I can. In addition, BFA’s appearance at Sand Spring was its first, which is also a bit of a quirk, given the number of high-quality concerts Larry Briscoe and company bring in every year. But it happens.)

I was keenly aware of Brian Free and Assurance, though. Their music is often on some of my Pandora channels and some of my favorites include “What a Beautiful Day (for the Lord to Come Again)” and “Calvary’s Cry.” So I made the short trip to Sand Spring expecting something outstanding.

It was. From the time The Capital City Boys, of Frankfort, Ky., opened the night of worship until Brian delivered a powerful invitation to accept Christ, it was a night with the focus on Jesus Christ.

Brian graciously took a few minutes after the concert to talk about a ministry that plays over 200 dates a year. It’s a ministry that seeks to reach the lost while challenging and edifying the saved.


Baritone Mike Rogers.

Sand Spring’s 900-seat worship center was almost full on a late summer Thursday night. He believes it is because the gospel message is still relevant in 2018. “Christians are seeing so much. We are seeing so much every day,” he said. “We see the shape our country is in today. What is going on is we are praising God and having church. We need to take advantage of that at every opportunity.”

Brian cherishes the opportunity to sing the many powerful hits, including Rosie Rozell’s great “Oh What A Savior” and some of BFA’s signature songs “He Will Carry You” and “For God So Loved.”

I asked Brian if, in a career that has spanned 38 years, the last 25 with his own group, he had a favorite song. “There have been so many,” he smiled. “God has blessed us with so many grat songs, but if there was one, it would be ‘For God So Loved.”

For God so loved that He gave His only Son

to suffer agony on a hill called Calvary

Heaven’s mercy reached my heart and bore my pain

hope was born through sacred blood, for God so loved

(Words and music by Terry Franklin and Barbi Franklin)

Spending a couple of hours watching Brian Free and Assurance in concert, then talking with Brian for a few minutes after the show, it was apparent that message drives the group.


Lead singer Bill Shivers.

Brian got in the gospel music business, singing tenor for Gold City for over a decade. In 1993 he formed his own group and has seen the many changes in the industry. Bands have largely been replaced by recorded tracks and many groups, including BFA, have incorporated some newer sounds while staying true to the Southern Gospel roots.

“Everything changes, but the message is still the same,” Brian smiles.

As lead singer Bill Shivers says on the group’s website, As Shivers says on the group’s website, the mission  “is singing songs with a message! The message of hope, love, faith and salvation.”

Baritone Mike Rogers rounds out the group, which has received a Dove Award nomination for Southern Gospel Song of the Year with “He Can Take It.”

He can take whatever’s broken, make it just like new…

It is the message Brian tried to drive home with an invitation as he closed the concert last week. “We have the invitation at every single concert we do,” he said. “I believe how can you present the gospel of Jesus Christ and not give people a chance to respond to what they have heard.”

And you can be sure that when you hear Brian Free and Assurance, you ARE going to hear the gospel.

See more photos in the accompanying photo gallery.

See or follow the BFA Facebook page for concert information.


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