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Kingsmen, local group Pure Harmony to perform

POSTED: August 18, 2014 10:45 a.m.
Special photo / For the Barrow County News/

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The Winder Community Center will be filled with true southern gospel sounds as renowned traveling singers The Kingsmen Quartet perform on Friday night, with vocal trio Pure Harmony reuniting for the opening act.

The Kingsmen, hailing from western North Carolina, first formed as a group in the mid-1950s and has been performing since, according to the group’s website.

The site goes on to say that numerous artists have come in and out of the group including such names as Eldridge Fox, “Big” Jim Hamill, Squire Parsons, Johnny Parrack, Anthony Burger, Ernie Phillips and Gary Sheppard, among others.

The Kingsmen have performed for former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan during their terms; they were the first group to film and record a live performance at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry; and they were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Christian Music Hall of Fame in 2008, according to the bio on their site.

“They’ve garnered multiple Dove Awards and numerous Singing News Fan awards…” the website says. “The Kingsmen band was voted favorite band a record 17 times making this quartet one of the most awarded groups in Southern Gospel Music.”

The group currently consists of Bob Sellers (lead), Chris Jenkins (tenor), Randy Crawford (baritone), 2008 Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame inductee Ray Dean Reese (bass/manager) and his son Brandon Reese (drummer/sound).

“The key is to never lose sight of what we are working towards,” Ray Reese said on the website. “We tour year in and year out to spread our music to people across the country. Our music has a message: the message of Christ.”

Opening for The Kingsmen Quartet will be a reunion of Pure Harmony, a southern gospel trio who traveled together for about seven years, from 1999 to 2006, and gets back together for reunion shows every couple of years, according to the group’s baritone singer, Wayne Bartlett of Winder’s Progressive Realty.

The other members are Chuck Pettyjohn (tenor) and Dustin Sweatman (lead), who will be reuniting with the other two for the first time since 2000, Bartlett said.

Sweatman, who Bartlett said has been on the road performing full time for 14 years, was honored in 2004 as one of the top five vocalists for the Horizon Individual Award. When Sweatman first began singing with Pure Harmony, Bartlett said he was 17 years old.

“He was a young prodigy on the piano and singing,” Bartlett said. “And he’s considered one of the top lead singers in southern gospel music. Everybody enjoys him.”

Bartlett said Pure Harmony performed two years at a well-known southern gospel event—Singing in the Smokies, which takes place annually in the mountains of North Carolina—and also achieved Top 80 status on gospel charts with three of their songs: “Palms of Victory,” “I’m Gonna Be Moving” and “A Wonderful Time Up There.”

Bartlett’s favorite song to perform, however, is “Moving Up to Gloryland,” while the group’s most favored song is probably “First Day of Heaven,” which Bartlett wrote and said is “just a fun song.”

The concert is being presented by the Barrow County News. It will begin at 7 p.m. this Friday at the Winder Community Center. Tickets are $15 in advance or $18 at the door. To order tickets, look in the Barrow County News for the ticket order form that you can mail in or call the office at 770-867-7557 for more information.



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