Paul Belcher ready for a big night in Ashland; Primitive Quartet to perform in Farewell Tour
By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com
TELLICO PLAINS, Tenn. — Paul Belcher can only laugh when talking about the first concert he promoted.
He’d booked The Hopper Brothers and Connie for a night of gospel music in his hometown of Detroit and was waiting when the group arrived for the concert. Belcher chuckles as he picks up the story. “To this day, Claude Hopper still tells the story if I am in the audience,” Belcher says. “He says they pulled up to the auditorium and here comes this little fat boy up to the bus and says, ‘I’m Paul Belcher.’
“Claude says, ‘I drove 800 miles for a 17-year-old kid.”
Gospel music fans near Ashland, Ky., can experience a night of powerful worship when The Kingsmen, The Perrys and Karen Peck & New River come to town on Thursday, Oct. 6.
The stellar lineup of southern gospel greats will be at the Paramount Arts Center that night. The singing begins at 7 p.m.
“Ashland is a very special town,” promoter Paul Belcher says. “Folks come to worship. It’s totally different than any other market we come to promote. People rejoice and praise the Lord. It’s a church service.”
Belcher has put together a lineup full of southern gospel history but all three groups continue to receive accolades after decades in the business.
The Kingsmen, formed in 1956, features Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Famer Ray Dean Reese singing his distinctive bass. The group’s sound blends the best of traditional southern gospel with more contemporary sounds.
The Perrys first performed on Dec. 25, 1970 as a family trio that Libbi Perry Stuffle continues to lead today. She remains one of gospel music’s favorite altos and her late husband, Tracy Stuffle, who sang bass with the group for more than 30 years, was inducted into the SGMA Hall of Fame in 2018.
Karen Peck and New River has been one of gospel music’s top groups since forming in 1991. Karen Peck Gooch is also one of gospel music’s beloved performers, being named to the SGMA Hall of Fame last year.
All of the groups have multiple No. 1 hits and have been awarded many times by the industry.
The Paramount Arts Center routinely brings high-quality acts to the Ashland-Huntington, W.Va.-Ironton, Ohio area and Belcher says it is a great venue for southern gospel. “The history of the Paramount is so rich,” he said. “We go to the Paramount because it’s a neutral location. We seldom go to a church for a ticketed event. Every denomination feels comfortable coming to a service there….Sonny and Barbara Sites promoted there for years. I love Ashland, Ky.”
Belcher said he has been promoting at The Paramount since 2019 when he booked the McKameys there for part of their farewell tour. Common Bond, based in Ashland, was also on the card that night. “It was special. Being there last year, folks responded very well,” Belcher said.
Belcher said tickets, which are priced at 20 and 25 dollars, are “going rather well.” He advised that even with tickets available less than two weeks before the concert, fans should not wait.
“The last week is always the busiest with ticket sales,” he said. “I believe we will have a great crowd.”