February 27, 2009
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
Great gospel music has been a hallmark of the Tenn-Tom Chapter of the American Red Cross fundraiser for the past seven years, and 2009 will be no exception. On Friday, March 13, the renowned Ron Blackwood and The Blackwood Quartet present their "Hope for America" tour in Trotter Convention Center at 7 p.m.
"This is our main fundraiser for the year," said Red Cross Executive Director Becky Thomas. "The proceeds will go toward our local disaster relief fund, and since we''re in tornado season now, we need to make sure funds are available if people are affected."
The Blackwood''s have long been recognized as one of the first families of gospel. Over the years, the family has won eight Grammy awards, 27 Dove Awards and five All American Music Awards.
Now, after 19 years of theater performances, veteran Ron Blackwood is hitting the road again. After a long tenure in Branson, Mo., and 11 years in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., he is touring with an all-male traditional gospel quartet he refers to as "the super group."
"I have literally taken months to hand-select the ''best of the best'' singers out there," he explained.
The men behind the voices making up Blackwood''s dream team include John Rulapaugh, of LaPlata, Md., formerly of The Dove Brothers and Palmetto State Quartet. "John is a true, classic tenor," stated Blackwood.
Known as a "singer''s singer," Josh Garner, of Fairfield, Ill., formerly of The Florida Boys, sings lead. Tracy Trent, of Asheville, N.C., sings baritone and assists with road management. Newcomer Trent Adams, of Lineville, Ala., sings bass.
Pianist Joe Cox, of Cookeville, Tenn., provides accompaniment. Blackwood himself keeps every concert moving with his signature high-energy emcee work, touching hearts with his testimony. Audiences say his baritone voice is reminiscent of his father''s, the late R.W. Blackwood Sr.
"I''m more than ready to make this move," the group''s leader said. "Singing in theaters has taken me away from my true love -- quartet singing. I''ve enjoyed doing variety shows, but it is time for a change. I''m at an age where I realize that I have to be true to my father''s legacy."
Tickets for the benefit concert, which also features regional favorites The McAdams Quartet, are $15 in advance at the Tenn-Tom Red Cross Chapter office located at 220 Fifth St. N. Admission at the door is $10. Children 12 and under will be admitted free. For more information, contact Thomas at 662-328-5710, or e-mail [email protected]
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.