LIMA — The Cathedrals Reunion Concert at 6 p.m. Friday at Lima Community Church of the Nazarene is sure to be a treat for Lima area southern gospel music fans. The concert, sponsored by WTGN, will feature Greater Vision, Legacy Five and the Mark Trammel Quartet whose founding members were all members of the Cathedral Quartet.
The Cathedral Quartet performed from 1964 until December 1999.
“The Cathedrals raised the bar,” said Gerald Wolfe who played the piano for the Cathedral Quartet from 1986 to 1988, and then went on to found Greater Vision in 1990, in which he emcees and sings the lead with Chris Allman singing tenor and Rodney Griffin singing baritone. “If you go back and listen to recordings before the Cathedrals, you can hear the difference. They were the first to record with the London Philharmonic in London. They weren’t afraid to try new things and stretch themselves.”
Legacy Five was founded in 2000 by former Cathedral Quartet member Scott Fowler. Along with Fowler who sings lead in the group, are Matt Fouch singing bass, Scott Howard singing baritone, Gus Gaches singing tenor and Trey Ivey playing the piano. The group has had a tremendous amount of success, performing an average of 130 times a year and being nominated for two Dove Awards.
Mark Trammell, also a former Cathedral Quartet member, founded the Mark Trammell Quartet in 2002. Nick Trammell, Mark Trammell’s son, sings the lead, with Dustin Black singing tenor, Mark Trammell singing baritone and Pat Barker singing bass.
While all three groups have enjoyed success on their own, they still kept in contact with each other. The idea for a reunion concert started about five years ago when all the groups were at the National Quartet Conference. “We were all there,” said Wolfe, “so we decided to attempt an afternoon concert called ‘Remember the Music.’ We had 4,500 people show up, but there were thousands of people there already for the conference.”
Since the first concert went so well, they have continued to perform at various locations over the past five years. Their most recent performance together was the Cathedral Family Reunion Concert in November. “We had people come from all over the world,” said Wolfe. “We even had people from as far away as India.”
The three gospel groups will hit Lima on Friday and then go on to Wooster for another reunion performance. Then in September, at the National Quartet Conference, they will do another concert together.
“We have these events scheduled through 2016,” said Wolfe, “so we know we’ll be doing them for at least two more years. Whether we keep doing them after that, depends on how many want to come.”
Based on the current popularity of gospel music, the end does not seem to be anywhere in sight. “More people listen to gospel worldwide than ever before,” said Wolfe. “That is in large part thanks to Bill Gaither — the video series he made was very popular. We get lots of emails from all over the place. Gospel is hugely popular in South Africa and Central Europe, and Australia has 500 stations.”
Wolfe, who has been on the road for almost 34 years, said that for him, performing never gets old. “The concerts aren’t challenging,” he said. “That is what I enjoy.”
The travelling can be a challenge, though. Greater Vision averages 150 concerts a year which adds up to a lot of miles on the road.
“We just did 16 concerts in a row,” Wolfe explained. “We did 16 concerts in 17 days. That was 9,000 miles of travel. That can be hard on a body.”
Despite all the miles on the road, Wolfe said that he finds performing to be very fulfilling. “I have always heard that music is the most powerful and influential medium and it is,” he said. “I see the impact the music and lyrics have on the faces of the people in the audience. In Gospel music, the lyrics are the most powerful. The music carries the message. That is what motivates us — even when we are tired — seeing the effects the lyrics have on a person in a powerful and positive way.”
Of course, Wolfe hopes that attendees in Lima come away from the concert with more than just a toe tapping good time. “I do want them to enjoy the music,” he said, “but I always hope they leave feeling better about life. Life is tough. You have bad days or weeks, even years. Gospel is very uplifting. Most of all, I hope they leave knowing that the only real hope is a real relationship with Jesus, not just religion. The purpose of the Gospel is to share the good news that Jesus cares and wants to be a part of our lives every day, not just Sundays.”
What: Cathedral Reunion Concert
When: 6 p.m. Friday
Where: Lima Community Church of the Nazarene, 2945 N. Cole St., Lima
Tickets: Call WTGN at 419-227-2525 or visit the station at 1600 Elida Road, Lima. Gold circle seats are $25 and general reserved seating is $20.