By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com
It was kind of on a whim, but Wednesday morning I made the 75-mile drive to Renfro Valley to get the best possible tickets to The Oak Ridge Boys’ concert, set for April 25.
That I planned to get tickets is really not much of a surprise, since I have already seen The Oaks 38 times (that I can remember) dating back to the summer of 1973. I already had it on my calendar and I had planned to order online later that morning. But since walkup sales commenced an hour before tickets were available online and I had no concrete plans for the rest of the day, I made the trip.
I won’t give the seat location, but let’s just say my wife and I should be able to almost shake hands with William Lee Golden or Richard Sterban during the show.
The Oaks have sold millions of records since releasing their first country album in 1977 and, of course, their signature song, “Elvira,” went platinum in 1981 and is a part of every Oak Ridge Boys show. It was part of a fun time at the 2018 Kentucky State Fair when the Oaks performed the song with a group of officers from the Kentucky State Police and the Lexington Police Department.
And the song has been a part of several gospel projects with Bill Gaither. And that’s very cool with me since I have been a huge fan of the Oaks since a friend stuck a copy of their incredible album, “Light,” in his 8-track tape player as we were driving along a country road. As their tour manager, Darrick Kinslow, says during his introductions every show, the Oak Ridge Boys are “members of The Grand Ole Opry, The Country Music Hall of Fame and The Gospel Music Hall of Fame.”
In fact, my favorite Oaks songs include “He Did It All for Me,” “I Would Crawl All the Way to the River,” and “The Baptism of Jesse Taylor.” In addition, I absolutely love their “17th Avenue Revival,” a gospel album released in 2018. Their shows always have a good dose of gospel included.
The reason I bring that up is that while I love gospel music, there are plenty of great musicians who sing gospel along with other genres. Last year, I saw Josh Turner and Ricky Skaggs in concert and both devoted large segments of their shows to singing about Jesus Christ.
Last week, I visited The Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. During the show, Connie Smith delivered a stirring version of the gospel standard, “Peace in the Valley,” and Vince Gill closed the evening with his moving “Go Rest High Upon That Mountain,” which has become a favorite at Christian funeral services.
In my CD collection, I have gospel recordings from vintage Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash to Alabama to current stars like Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott. And, I have been to concerts where megastar Carrie Underwood sang “Jesus Take the Wheel,” “Temporary Home,” and “Something in the Water.”
Last year, rapper Kanye West made headlines with his hip hop album, “Jesus is King.” According to his Wikipedia article, it became the first album to top the Billboard 200, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, Top Rap Albums, Top Christian Albums and Top Gospel Albums at the same time.
I can tell you I am not a fan of West’s music at all. However, I am a huge fan of someone using his position to tell others about Jesus Christ.
And, in my mind, that’s what it should all be about.
Personally, my musical tastes gravitate toward Country, Bluegrass and Southern Gospel. But if the gospel message is getting out, I don’t care if it’s happening with a banjo and guitar backup or it’s being rapped. I hear the Word proclaimed often at gospel concerts and I am sure I will hear it on April 25 when I see the Oak Ridge Boys again.
Back in the 1970s, I became familiar with the great songwriter Andrae Crouch. He penned some songs that were unlike anything else I had ever heard at the time. He combined an old-time gospel feel along with some pop and soul influences. One of those great songs summed up how music, and our lives, should be in all things.
To God be the glory,
To God be the glory,
To God be the glory
For the things He has done.
(Source: Musixmatch; Songwriter: Andrae’ Crouch; My Tribute lyrics © Birdwing Music, Bud-john Songs Inc, Bud John Songs, Bud-john Songs Inc.