Helping Hands concert an event of a lifetime
An electrifying night of music by some of America's top gospel artists had the huge crowd at Rector's 2012 Helping Hands Foundation concert on its feet much of the night in enthusiastic response.
The Rector High School gymnasium was packed for the sellout event, the fourth in Rector to benefit the Helping Hands Foundation, which is widely recognized for the reach of its work in giving assistance to disadvantaged students and for the thousands of dollars it has provided in scholarships to many of the school's finest students, some who would not be able to go to college without help.
The concert featured Jimmy Fortune, who launched a successful solo career after winning fame as a member of the much-loved Statler Brothers, Dailey & Vincent, one of America's top and most exciting Bluegrass groups, and Jason Crabb, a Grammy winning gospel artist who recently took home awards for Male Artist of the Year and Artist of the Year at the annual Dove Awards.
Crabb, whose vocal abilities are closely matched by his humor, served as emcee for the evening. Declaring, "Let's get right to it," he introduced Fortune, who opened with a Statler Brothers favorite "Flowers on the Wall." Fortune then shifted to a slower pace, quickly mesmerizing the crowd with his soaring tenor voice on songs such as "My Only Love," "More Than a Name on a Wall" and "On the Other Side," those three among the many amazing songs he has penned as one of America's top songwriters.
On their third visit to Rector in support of the Helping Hands Foundation, Dailey & Vincent again earned repeated standing ovations, singing many favorites from their latest album, "The Gospel Side of Dailey & Vincent." Featuring the multi-talented Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent, who are backed by a fabulous bluegrass band, the group put the instruments aside to sing the a cappella favorite, "Hide Me Rock of Ages," showcasing the tight harmonies which have made them so famous. Handsome young singer Christian Davis, who joined the group in early 2010, displayed his surprising low and rich bass voice, singing, "Thanks to Calvary."
Fortune returned to the stage to join Dailey & Vincent in singing several numbers, including the Fortune-written songs "Elizabeth," "Come Back to Me" and "I Believe," winning thunderous applause.
Crabb delivered a powerful message of Christian love and witness, again wowing the crowd with his bluesy style on his second Rector visit. He sang several songs from his 2011 album "The Song Lives On," including the touching "When He Was On the Cross (I Was On His Mind)," "Midnight Cry" and "Through the Fire." Crabb, who grew up singing gospel music with his family in Kentucky, also sang a medley of favorite hymns and his popular "Somebody Like Me."
The entire group of performers returned to the stage for a finale featuring "Beulah Land."
"There were a couple of very special moments for me at the concert," said Helping Hands Foundation president Gregg Sain. 'More Than a Name On A Wall' was my favorite song of the night. It was remarkable to hear Jimmy Fortune talk about how he wrote the song and how he got to perform it before the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, DC. It was easy to see that he is proud to be an American as he described being part of the group that read every name on the Vietnam Veterans Wall, which he said took two days to do.
"I want to thank every volunteer that helped with the concert. We had great support from school superintendent Johnny Fowler and elementary principal Nate Henderson. Joey Pruett, Gail Burns and Cathy Manning did a great job making sure we were ready to have a concert. Gail handed out over 120 name tags for volunteers, and I am not sure everyone that helped had a tag. It would be impossible to have this concert if we did not have volunteers. We had a very large crowd that, with the help of the volunteers, were able to get in and out of the gym.
"The concert was a successful night that raised a lot of money that will help a lot of kids. Everyone in attendance saw what the Helping Hands is about when we filled the stage with the Ambassador kids and scholarship winners. This is helping kids have a better chance to succeed in school and in life."
Foundation co-founder Bill Carter of Lebanon, Tenn., producer of the Gaither Homecoming videos and a longtime force in Nashville, is responsible for bringing so many tremendously talented performers to his hometown.
Artists performing in earlier shows also include Lonestar lead singer Richie McDonald, gospel greats Russ Taff, Guy Penrod, Mark Lowry, The Isaacs, Gordon Mote, Reggie and Ladye Love Smith, Gene McDonald, Charlotte Ritchie and Kevin Williams, who served as emcee for the first three shows.
All of these artists perform free and, Carter said, have refused to even accept money to cover expenses for their trip to Rector.
"They all talk about the kindness and amazing spirit of love they feel from people here," Carter said in an earlier interview. "It makes me very proud of my hometown."
Prior to the start of this year's show, the Foundation's new student ambassadors were recognized. Also introduced were the organization's 2012 scholarship recipients, which includes Justin Beck, Jessica Scott, Kailee Carter, Emilea Vangilder, Ben Petty, Heather Myres, Ryan LaRue, Allison Harmon-Duncan, Ashley Cavaness and Kelsey Wynn.
Corporate sponsors for the 2012 concert were: Liberty Bank of Arkansas; Glen Sain of Rector, Kennett and Paragould; Greenway Equipment, Barton's and EAB (East Arkansas Broadcasters).