Last Updated on June 19, 2017 7:35 pm
“Whosoever will may come.”
For 93 years, these words have welcomed one and all to Singing on the Mountain, a free gospel music festival set in MacRae Meadows at the base of Grandfather Mountain.
The longstanding tradition returns to Linville, N.C., on Sunday, June 25, featuring a full lineup of gospel music luminaries, including the Primitive Quartet, the Rick Webb Family, Michael Combs, The Cockman Family, Amantha Mill, Patricia Smith, New Covenant, Smoky Mountain Reunion and the Boone Mennonite Brethren Church’s Junaluska Gospel Choir.
One of the Singing’s most celebrated traditions is the combination of both gospel music and a gospel message. Like so, this year’s speaker is best-selling author Anne Graham Lotz, who The New York Times named one of the five most influential evangelists of her generation.
The music begins at 8:30 a.m. and will continue until 3 p.m., with a break around 1 p.m. for Lotz’s sermon. Immediately following the sermon will be a high-energy performance from the Junaluska Gospel Choir, which is making its Singing on the Mountain debut.
Singing on the Mountain is celebrated not only for its serene natural setting, but its notable speakers and performers.
This year, celebrated evangelist Anne Graham Lotz will deliver the sermon. Her father, the Rev. Billy Graham, calls her “the best preacher in the family.” She has been profiled on “60 Minutes,” and has appeared on such TV shows as “Larry King Live” and “The Today Show.“
Her “Just Give Me Jesus” revivals have been held in more than 30 cities and in 12 different countries. She is also a best-selling and award-winning author, with some of her works including “Wounded by God’s People,” “Fixing My Eyes on Jesus,” “Expecting to See Jesus,” and a children’s book, “Heaven: God’s Promise for Me.”
The Graham family has long shared a deep connection with the Singing. Billy Graham spoke in 1962, his son, Franklin, spoke in 1993 and 1999, and Franklin’s son, Will, spoke in 2013. In addition, Billy Graham’s brother-in-law, Leighton Ford, spoke at the Singing in 1989 and 2014.
To learn more about Anne Graham Lotz, visit www.annegrahamlotz.org.
Returning this year is the Primitive Quartet, a close-knit gospel group that’s been touring and performing for more than four decades.
According to the group’s bio, “We count it a joy and privilege to spread the gospel through song. Our ultimate goal is … to help lead souls to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.”
But the Primitive Quartet’s goals weren’t always so lofty. At first, the idea was to catch some fish. The quartet was formed on fishing trip, when a campfire sing-along yielded some outstanding four-part harmony. “From there, we started singing at our home church and other local churches,” the bio reads.
Now, the quartet travels approximately 50,000 miles a year, performing nearly 150 shows annually.
For more information on the Primitive Quartet, visit www.primitivequartet.com.
Hailed by SOGospel.com as “America’s premiere family vocal group,” the Rick Webb Family brings its chart-topping musical ministry to the Singing stage.
With 15 recordings on three Nashville-based record labels under its collective belt, the family was also named 2010 and 2011 Artist of the Year by some 3,300-radio stations worldwide.
“For 39 years, Rick and Phyllis Webb have ministered through music evangelism to nearly 3 million people worldwide, logging over 2 million miles and witnessing nearly 10,000 people make public decisions for salvation through Jesus Christ during their concerts,” the band’s bio reads.
To learn more about the Rick Webb Family, visit www.rickwebbfamily.com.
One of the most popular performers in the history of the Singing is performer Michael Combs, who looks forward to sharing his personal message of redemption — through music.
“After squandering many years living in the world and nearly destroying my life with drugs and alcohol, something wonderful happened in my life,” Combs said. “Or, better yet, someone wonderful happened to give me life — his name is Jesus.”
Almost immediately, Combs said, he found himself in a ministry of music.
“I never thought I would be doing what I’ve been doing for the last 25 years, but now I can’t imagine myself doing anything else,” he said.
To learn more about Michael Combs, visit www.michaelcombs.com.
The Singing will also feature performances by bluegrass-gospel stalwarts The Cockman Family (www.cockmanfamily.com) and Amantha Mill (www.amanthamill.com), celebrated recording artist Patricia Smith of Bluefield, W.Va. (abundanceofblessingsmusic.com), Smoky Mountain Reunion with Archie Watkins (www.archiewatkins.com/Archies_Reunion.html), The New Covenant (www.facebook.com/NewCovenant2) and the Junaluska Gospel Choir (www.boonechurch.com).
About the Singing
The spirit of the Singing is not so different than the first held in 1924, when founder Joe Hartley Sr. coordinated a Sunday School picnic on the same grounds. The festival’s popularity exploded in the 1960s and ’70s, drawing such names as Johnny Cash, Roy Acuff and Bob Hope.
Today, the Singing is recognized by the N.C. Arts Council and Blue Ridge National Heritage Area as part of the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina and is the oldest ongoing old-time gospel convention remaining in the Southern Appalachians.
“The Hartley family still comes, and they still bring their picnic like they did more than 90 years ago,” said Harris Prevost, vice president of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. “Little has changed, except for the size of our audience and the technology we use.”
If You Attend
Free, handicapped-accessible parking is available at MacRae Meadows, located on U.S. 221, two miles north of Linville and one mile south of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 305.
Attendees are encouraged to dress casually and bring lawn chairs, blankets and picnics. Concessionaires will also be on site. A goodwill offering will be collected to support the musicians who volunteer their time to perform.
Camping (no RV hookups) is permitted across from MacRae Meadows field on a first come, first served basis starting the Monday preceding the event. The event is held rain or shine.
The Singing on the Mountain remains free, according to the longstanding motto: “Whosoever will may come.”
For more information, call (828) 733-2013, or visit https://grandfather.com/events/singing-on-the-mountain/.