By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com
If you need or want more gospel concerts the week after the National Quartet Convention, Mountain Gospel Radio could be the place for you this week.
The station, which is affiliated with Kentucky Mountain Bible College in Vancleve, Ky., is sponsoring a week-long “sharathon” featuring online concerts from some of the top regional southern gospel and bluegrass gospel artists from the Appalachian region. In addition, the station will be sponsoring a concert from The Perrys, one of the nation’s most popular and enduring Southern Gospel groups.
“We usually have a group of local artists that come in and at least one nationally known group,” says Seth Stevenson, the station’s general manager. “This year, our local group pool has been limited so we have groups that are further away than normal.”
The concerts will be presented each evening during the week of October 3-7 and will be live on Facebook and YouTube each night beginning at 7 p.m. The concerts are scheduled to last two hours each and will be archived on YouTube.
Stevenson says this is the third year that Mountain Gospel Radio has sponsored the online concerts.
Crossroads, a bluegrass gospel group from Maryville, Tenn., area will be singing on Monday night, October 3. Stevenson says the group has performed several times in eastern Kentucky, including appearances at the Williamsburg Gospel Barn. Crossroads is new to the station’s sharathon.
The Fisher Family, based in Winchester, Ky., is another newcomer to the sharathon. Stevenson says the group travels around eastern Kentucky and is popular at church events through the area. They will sing Tuesday, October 4.
Rejoice Trio is from Kentucky Mountain Bible College and travels the country as represntatives of the school. Stevenson says Rejoice Trio delivers a mix of Southern Gospel and contemporary Christian music. Rejoice Trio will perform Wednesday, Oct. 5
Family Sowell, a bluegrass gospel band from Knoxville, Tenn., returns to the sharathon for the second time. “They have a respectable following in the bluegrass genre,” Stevenson said. “They are five siblings that perform together full time.” The Family Sowell will be performing Thursday, Oct. 6.
The Perrys will punctuate the week with a Friday concert. One of Southern Gospel’s most popular groups for more than 50 years, the Perrys have received numerous Dove Awards and Singing News Fan Awards. The Perrys deliver a pure Southern Gospel sound, highlighted by alto Libbi Perry Stuffle, who has been with the group since its first performance on Dec. 25, 1971.
Stevenson says Mountain Gospel Radio can trace its roots to radio station WMTC, an AM radio station that was one of the first all-Christian stations in Kentucky when it went on the air in 1948. Eventually an FM frequency (99.9) was added in 1991. The station is now only broadcasting on the FM frequency but Mountain Gospel Radio purchased another station, Stanton’s WBFC (1470 AM) and added an FM translator to begin simulcasting at 98.7.
“The two stations are carrying a Southern Gospel/Christian Bluegrass format that is known as Mountain Gospel,” Stevenson says.
The stations sponsor two Sharathons a year but the online guests began in 2020 as a response to the Covid pandemic.
“In the past, we have had a concert on the Friday night of Sharathon along with a fish fry outside the station. Local folks would come to give their support largely in person during that night,” Stevenson recalls. “We knew that would not be possible in 2020, so the switch was made to do an online concert. That first time, there weren’t even any groups in the studio but they live-streamed it from their homes to here at the station then out to Facebook and YouTube as well as radio. Since then, a small video studio was built (at the station) and the artists come on-site.”
The Sharathons are presented to raise money for Mountain Gospel Radio and the concerts are supported by the generosity of the listeners. Stevenson says some businesses sponsor an hour of the Sharathons but the actual concerts are supported by listeners’ gifts. “There aren’t any sponsors for (the concerts),” he said. “We just rely on people’s generosity to give at that time. We have staff that can take phone call pledges, or folks can give on our website.
“Our hope is that the music is a blessing and people will help to not only fund Mountain Gospel, but these concerts as well.
“The real blessing is that now folks from around the country can enjoy a Southern Gospel concert free from their home. We have heard comments of how encouraged and uplifted some of our watchers were that were a part of these concerts and we weren’t reaching those people before.”
You can register to receive notifications when the artists are live by registering at www.triumphant22.com. Concert details and a link for giving are also found at the link.
“We would love to have people all over Kentucky and around the world join us,” Stevenson says. “I know you will be blessed.”
Station to sponsor in-person concert with Mark Bishop
“We are having an in-person concert with Mark Bishop on November 12 at Harvesttime Church in Stanton, Ky.,” Stevenson says. “This is only about 45 minutes from Lexington. We would love to have a good crowd that night. It will be on a love offering basis. Follow us on Facebook to learn more about this event as we get closer.”