Bringing joy, receiving joy

Bryan Elliott, a favorite of gospel music fans, performs with The LeFevre Quartet at Sand Spring Baptist Church in Lawrenceburg, Ky., on May 13, 2021.

LeFevre Quartet pianist Bryan Elliott reflects on lessons learned and lived through pandemic. And he’s mighty happy to be back on the road

By John Herndon,

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. — When he sat down at his keyboard Thursday night, Bryan Elliott showed that nearly a year off the road had not affected his very talented hands.

He can still make his keyboard talk.

OK, not quite, but it just seemed that way at times as he accented The LeFevre Quartet or brought the house down with rousing solo work. Elliott played everything from old-fashioned Southern Gospel to classical Christian and a lot in between. And his demeanor ranged from laser-like focus to hamming it up for a camera — mine!

It was more than 90 minutes of joy as The LeFevre Quartet opened the Sand Spring Baptist Church gospel concert series. 

Bryan Elliott hams it up after seeing the camera pointed in his direction. (All photos by John Herndon)

Pure joy. And everyone needed an infusion of the joy The LeFevres often convey in their songs.

After 14 months of shutdowns, fans were back at Sand Spring on May 13. The crowd appeared to be slightly less than half-full in a sanctuary that seats around 900 to 1,000 people. But the joy living in the crowd was immeasurable. 

“A lot of the churches we go to, they have started filling back up,” Elliott says. “Tonight was really good, I thought. It’s a big church.  A medium or smaller church would have been packed. It’s not something that affects us. We do the same thing we do if it was 20,000  It has been great.”

Part of the joy emanating from the concerts starts on the stage. The LeFevre Quartet leaves no doubt it is about ministry but the enthusiasm is contagious.

A serious moment on stage at Sand Spring Baptist?

”We love it and have a good time,” Elliott said a few moments after leaving the Sand Spring stage. “It’s something that we are the same way on the bus. We have a good time traveling with each other. …  There are days when it is rough and days when we miss things at home, but we need this. I need this. I need the guys on the bus. If we stay home for a certain time, I miss them and I need them. It’s like a family. We support each other. We build friendships and call each other during the week to see how everyone is doing.

“We truly enjoy what we are doing and I feel if you are called to do this, God will give you that joy.”

It’s apparent when The LeFevre Quartet takes the stage. The music is upbeat and, of course, tenor Jay Parrack is well known for his antics and enthusiasm on stage. It conveys a joy that Christians should have in their everyday lives. 

And it is a ministry to which Southern Gospel fans are responding.

“They are, and they are responding even more after the pandemic,” Elliott says.

Like most people, Elliott can give all the details of when he realized life would be changed by a virus no one could see. It was March 15, 2020.

“We were down in Florida, close to Miami,” he recalls. “We were getting ready to head over to set up and got the call that it had been canceled. We turned on the news and they announced everything was shut down, so we stayed at home quite a bit from March 15 until December.”

The LeFevre Quartet at Sand Spring Baptist Church. From left are Jay Parrack, Jordan LeFevre, Mike LeFevre and Will Lane.

The LeFevres weren’t completely idle. We had attended a concert in Shelbyville and had talked with Parrack then.

“We still did some dates,” Elliott continued. “That’s one thing about Mike (LeFevre). He didn’t cancel any churches or dates. The churches we still had, we went and hit those dates.”

They weren’t plentiful but some of those dates opened Elliott’s eyes to some new ways of worship. 

“We did a lot of outside dates, things like that, singing to cars, mostly. It was different,” he laughed. “Instead of applause, they honked their horns. And if they got real emotional, they turned their windshield wipers on!”

Elliott’s smile conveyed a joy at being a part of an unorthodox form of worship.

Bryan Elliott concentrates on one of his stunning pieces while playing for The LeFevre Quartet on May 13.

COVID-19 forced The LeFevre Quartet into a different mode of ministry, hitting the studio hard. “We actually recorded three projects,” Elliott said. “We have two on the (product) table. Our latest project is ‘Hope.’

“We took advantage of the time we had off. Any chance we had to get together and make music, we did.”

The “Hope” album contains mega-hits “Between the Prayer and The Answer” and “Practice What You are Preaching.”

The messages are not just tracks on a CD for Elliott. 

“We have the song, ‘Practice What You are Preaching.’ I have heard those words over the years and we have gotten up on stage and talk about faith in God and trust in God,” Elliott says. “That has basically been our anthem through this whole pandemic: trust in God, faith in God. 

“I didn’t really so much worry about things. I don’t think Mike worried about things so much. I know it was a struggle for him to take care of the guys and get us through that year, but it has been a rough year. We truly believe God will take care of us one way or the other. That is just what we have clung to, especially in the last year more than ever, our faith in God and that He’s going to take care of us and do everything to protect us. 

Jay Parrack reacts to some of Bryan Elliott’s keyboard work during The LeFevre Quartet concert at Sand Spring Baptist Church on May 13, 2021.

“I really feel like we are out here doing His work and if we are out here doing His work and are doing it for the right reason, He has a way of protecting us and keeping us and sustaining us.”

And now things are opening back up.

“I tell people all the time we need it just as much as they do,” Elliott says. “With these dates, we are getting blessed all over again.”

And those who hear Bryan Elliott and The LeFevre Quartet feel the same way. 

Catching up with The LeFevre Quartet

The LeFevre Quartet will be in concert in the Cincinnati area on Friday, May 21 at Zion Church, 340 Walnut Street, Lawrenceburg, Indiana at 7 p.m.

The quartet returns to Kentucky on Friday, June 25 at White Hall Baptist Church, 3401 Colonel Road, Richmond,Kentucky at 7 p.m.

The LeFevre Quartet cannot hide its enthusiasm onstage.

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