Grand Ole Opry star Mike Snider and gospel group Poet Voices will headline the 26th Jamboree.
Poet Voices returns to Ringgold Friday night for Family Gospel Night.
With six acclaimed recordings to their credit, including three No. 1 hits, Poet Voices is establishing a place at the cutting edge of Christian music.
“Poet Voices, no doubt, is one of the finer quartets in Southern gospel music today,” said Danny Jones, editor of The Singing News Magazine. “Though they have some tremendous vocal talents within the group, they have the extra benefit of having excellent songs always with an arm’s reach. Phil Cross is one the greatest songwriters to come along in our industry, so between the two, it can’t help but be good.”
Ringgold’s Phil Cross leads the quartet. Cross is a two-time winner of the Dove Award, Gospel Music Association’s highest honor.
“God is truly pouring out his blessings on us,” Cross said. “We strongly believe this is going to be a landmark year in our ministry.”
On the surface, the rise to musical success for Poet Voices appears to have come swiftly, but a closer look reveals otherwise.
Phil Cross began to emerge as one of Southern gospel’s leading songwriters more than a decade ago.
In 1998, he earned a Dove Award for his song, “Champion of Love.”
“Back in the early 1980s, they were advertising a boxing match between Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvelous Marvin Hagler. At that time neither one had been beaten. In the advertising, it kept saying ‘We must know the all time undisputed undefeated middleweight champion of the world.’ They repeated that line so many times it finally hit me,” Cross said. “That is the same thing that happened that drove Jesus to Calvary. The world had to know the all time undisputed undefeated champion of love, so I wrote that lyric around if you could introduce the champion of love to the world, how would you do that?”
Many of his songs are now gospel classics.
“God uses music to uplift people,” he said. “I believe He has allowed me to write songs that communicate the truth.”
Poet Voices’ latest CD is “This Changes Everything,” on Sonlite Records.
“I think this is the best CD they ever put out,” said Chris White of Sonlite Records/Pamplin Distribution. “It is the strongest project we have done with them.”
Cross is excited about the songs on the new release.
“We wrote nine out of the ten songs,” Cross said. “I think they are all great.”
The group is currently traveling throughout the U.S. and Canada 48 weeks out of the year, Cross said.
“We just got back from a tour of the West coast and Canada,” he said.
One California appearance brought tremendous audience response, White said. “The group was calling back after the concert for more CDs.”
Cross believes God has brought the members of Poet Voices together to communicate the truth. Currently the group features some of gospel music’s top entertainers.
Donny Henderson sings baritone.
“He is one of these guys who has it all,” Cross said. “He’s a great harmony and feature singer, songwriter, arranger, musician.”
Dale Brock sings tenor.
“Dale is my personal favorite tenor,” Cross said. “In all it takes to be a team member, he is a great one.”
Tim Duncan sings bass.
“He is pretty much a phenomenon,” Cross said. “At 29 years old, he is already doing the bass parts as good as the old-timers.”
Richie Works plays piano.
“Richie is 19 years old,” Cross said. ”He plays seven instruments and has never had a lesson in his life.”
In a free event for the whole family, the public will get another chance to hear them this weekend.
Performances by the Depot Trio, Stephanie Wittler, the New Bethel Quartet, Shady Hollow, Three For Thee, the Alterman Quartet, and the Hullender Brothers are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m., Friday. Poet Voices will appear at 9 p.m.
To find out more about Poet Voices’ latest CD, “This Changes Everything,” visit your local Christian bookstore or on the web go to www.poetvoices.com.
Snider will headline Saturday’s show.
“Come expecting to laugh, and hear some good pickin’,” Snider said. “We’ve got the best show we’ve ever had.”
A native of Gleason, Tenn., Snider has made more than 1,000 appearances at the Grand Ole Opry. In June, he will celebrate his 11-year anniversary there.
One of the youngest cast members of the Opry, he made his debut in January 1984 following an introduction by Roy Acuff. His first appearance garnered four standing ovations.
Snider, who won the National Bluegrass Banjo Championship at age 22, also plays harmonica and fiddle.
“I’m playing the fiddle more on the show now,” Snider said.
He has recently added musicians Matt Combs and Jeff Taylor to his already stellar cast of performers featuring Bobby Clark, Charlie Cushman and former Bluegrass Boy Blake Williams.
In addition to touring, Snider and his troupe can also be seen weekly at The Texas Troubadour Theater in Nashville.
The former “Hee Haw” star also enjoys flying. He feels it allows him more time with his family.
“Me, my dad and brother flew the radio-controlled airplanes. I got to wonder what it would feel like to ride in one of them dudes, so I had a friend carry me up in one,” Snider said. “ I just fell in love with it and started to learn how to fly. I got my license and decided to get me a little airplane to run back and forth to work in. It’s been a real neat thing.”
Snider, who made more than 150 appearances on TNN’s “Nashville Now” and “Music City Tonight,” credits Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs as two of his early influences.
“I got my first banjo for my 16th birthday shortly after hearing a Flatt and Scruggs album,” he said.
It is the traditional side of country, not the rock ‘n roll style, you will hear on Snider’s shows.
“It will be the old-timey style music, some Celtic music, just all kinds of music we like to play,” he said.
Saturday’s Jamboree events begin with the Ringgold Kiwanis Club Pancake Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Clogging classes begin at 9 a.m., the 1890’s Day Parade at 11 a.m., and the opening ceremonies at noon.
Snider will perform Saturday at 9 p.m. The Saturday entertainment begins at 1 p.m., with appearances by Cross Plains Cloggers, Tri-State Bluegrass, The Bluegrass Harmoneers, Jessie Thornton and Crew, Lewis Taylor and Friends, Junction Grass, Cherokee Wind, the White Oak Mountain Boys and Johnnie Sue, Taylor Ridge, Possum Hollow Grass, Incahoots, the Dismembered Tennesseans, Federally Funded, Barron County, The Lone Mountain Boys and the ChooChoo Cloggers.
The event will also feature more than 75 arts and crafts booths, classic Southern carnival cuisine, and kiddie-rides and slides. A thousand chairs will be available for seating outside the Catoosa County Courthouse in Ringgold. For more information, contact David Cummings at (706) 935-5516 or (706) 935-6612