NQC 10: 100th Anniversary of SG

I took no notebook and made sure MNP insisted I surrender the extra ink pen I keep in my pocket in case I tried to jot notes on my hand (h/t, Sarah Palin) and just sat and listened. Which is just as well. The event wasn’t about music as much as memories and reunions, a chance for old groups - or what’s left of the people connected to them - to take the stage for a few minutes and let fans collectively respond to those old names and songs.

For me personally, I might have preferred that the memory of some of the groups like the Speers and the Downings and their music to stay undespoiled by these rather pale re-creations of them from among the remnants and spare parts of long-ago configurations dismantled by age, infirmity, death and scandal. But the rather smallish crowd (at least it was smaller than I expected given all the hype that surrounded it) was enthusiastic, especially for Gold City and the Hinsons. And I can’t say I didn’t enjoy myself.

My own favorites were the Hinsons and the Rambos. The latter’s set stood out for being the most intentionally and carefully arranged … there was medley of songs with some interesting transitions instead of just truncated clips of old favorites that started and stopped. Dottie Rambo wrote such vivid and visceral songs, and well know this, but something about hearing them revivified with a full, live band seemed to reanimate this truth. At any rate, the first verse of “Remind Me Dear Lord” brought me up short:

The things that I love
I hold dear to my heart
they are borrowed and
not mine at all

Nothing special in these words alone, but marry them to her melody and the way the score breaks up and emphasizes the thoughts, both syntactically and musically, and you begin to realize what made Rambo such a genius.

As for the Hinsons, they specialized in songs that just beg to be staged with live instruments, and though, like all the performances in this showcase, the singing  consistently ranged from uneven to pretty rough, the scarcity o f both  live bands in sg and material like the Hinsons’, which is written with a band as much as vocalists in mind, made their set stand out.

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  1. QwertyJuan wrote:

    So what was Gold City like?? I am really interested to know….

  2. joe wrote:

    Any chance that someone could post what songs the various groups sang? Also, did the Rambos acknowledge Dottie?

  3. lori k wrote:

    Dottie was a great writer. Probably the best of s gospel. I thik any singer would move you with her compositions. Hinsons were the greatest by far. Downings were pretty bad.

  4. KC wrote:

    #1-I’m not as talented as Doug is at describing such events, but I’ll attempt. Gold City sang When I Get Carried Away, followed by I Think I’ll Read It Again, and ended with Midnight Cry. It was awesome just seeing the four of them together again. Their sound forced my mind to remember their greatness, even if they no longer delivered like they did years ago. Ivan doesn’t hit high notes anymore (not sure why; I noticed this at last year’s NQC, too). Brian doesn’t sound as girly/squeeky/nasally (that sound he had back then is all part of their uniqueness) — guess age matured his voice so that he can’t imitate himself from years ago. Mike looks better now and sounds the same. Tim is as awesome as ever on bass — but the beauty of being a bass singer is they only get better with age. :) I thoroughly enjoyed seeing them, even if it didn’t sound identical to their past. Apparently they hadn’t rehearsed. Brian got a little crabby at the band and had them restart I Think I’ll Read It Again - a bit weird I thought.

    #2-I can’t remember specifically, but it was obvious that they were paying tribute to the sound and the songs that Dottie was responsible for. Buck came out on the last song. That was a bit bizarre. :)

    My favorite set was definitely The Rambos — beautifully arranged medley of Rambo favorites. I felt glorybumps a few times. :)

    The Hinsons may have been a little rough — but they did some cool stuff with their songs.

    The ending of the event with the Singing Americans made me want to rush home and listen to their old live recordings again. They definitely had a good sound back then.

    I’m glad I stayed for the event. And hoping for a DVD of it. :)

  5. Southern Sounds wrote:

    Man it was a Rambo Reunion and Buck only got to sing one song? If it were a Dottie Rambo tribute and not a Rambo Reunion why not just let anyone sing her songs.

  6. Lee wrote:

    #2, Joe,
    None of the groups mentioned their group members or loved ones that had passed on. It was all about the music. I had chills when Buck sang and he received a standing ovation. The Rambos set was truly spiritual and very moving!

  7. Gospel Has Been wrote:

    #5 I saw Buck Rambo draggiing a oxygen tank around with him before he got on stage so that is probably why just one song from him

  8. Jeffrey wrote:

    I thought that the Hinsons were amazing as well. I wish all this fawning over the Rambos would just stop. Other groups deserve some pats on the back. Every post that doesn’t praise this group brings an automatic response.

    Sad Dottie Rambo wasn’t mentioned. Probably over the past comments. I guess it would have overshadowed their performance. Sad to hear Buck was on oxygen. How old is he now. I know Reba is close to Dottie’s age as I recall Dottie said she was a teenager when she had Reba. Buck must be late 70s?

  9. Lee wrote:


    Yes I agree, the Hisons were amazing. And Dottie’s name doesn’t have to be mentioned at all because she was in everyone’s thoughts at just the mention of the word Rambos. Some things just go without saying. No one mentioned Paul Downing or Ronnie Hinson, do you think that’s sad too?

  10. Kathy wrote:

    I loved this portion of the NQC. I know Karen Peck opened things up and mentioned that no one would be introduced because we would recognize the faces of those performing. I wish they would have introduced each group. Nonetheless, it was easy to recognize most of them. I loved the Rambos and thought the arrangement featuring so many of their hits was great! The best part was “New Shoes” and Buck singing “He Looked Beyond my Faults”. I teared up…..I also loved the Hinsons.I loved “He Can” and I missed Kenny singing “Lighthouse”, but they were still great! I know some of the artists were a little rough around the edges, but, they are the faces I remember as a child and for me, it brought back so many happy memories!:)
    Thnx to the NQC for allowing this southern gospel music fan to hear her faves one more time!!!

  11. Kathy wrote:

    I forgot to mention how funny it was the Michael English just flat out admitted that his vocals wouldn’t be up to par on “I Bowed on my Knees” and even brought in some extra support vocally!! Go Michael, it’s not always how perfect you sing, but what’s coming from your heart and you were awesome!!!!

  12. Tom Kirby wrote:

    Of course, some were better than others; however, this was the highlight of the convention for me!!!!!!!!!!!! Someone had a great idea and, given the time to rehearse, think they all knocked it out of the park!

  13. cdguy wrote:

    1. A dvd release is scheduled, I’d guess in 3-4 months.
    2. I disagree about the quality of the Downings’ performance. I thought they were in the top half, at least.
    3. Per Reba’s bio on wikipedia, she was 12 when she started singing with the Rambos, and she began in 1965. That would make her aprox 57 now.
    4. Did anyone else notice the female performer’s shoes? And Joy’s dress? Can anyone say “FMP’s”?
    5. Yes, Suzan Speer is still hot!

    All-in-all, it was a great showcase!

  14. Being Real wrote:

    I was looking forward to the Gold City reunion the most and was the most let down by them. They weren’t a group they were all too busy trying to out sing each other. I too thought it was tacky the way Brian attacked the live band (in the mic).
    The Rambo’s were great. Loved the arrangement of songs. They lack personality and warmth on stage though.
    The two segments that should have been left off, The Downings and Lulu.
    I know a lot of people have commented that The Hinson’s vocals were rough but I thought they knocked it out of the park. They got up there and sang they’re hearts out and weren’t trying to sound pretty and perfect. They by far had the most charisma. Would love to see them on a reunion tour in the future.

  15. Todd wrote:

    I think it’s funny that so many people put faith in a queer’s opinion… by the way this guy’s name is Doug Harrison

  16. Gospel Music Lover wrote:

    Karen Peck never lets you down as she is always among the classiest and consistant of Southern Gospel Singers. Hinsons were my favorites and this is one reunion that was long past due. Rambos were ok not the hype that has been mentioned over and over. We have discussed the McGuires here before and never had this much pro posting on their behalf. So I will let that speak for itself. I thought Buck looked frail but agree he should have been on the actual lineup vs the two singers that weren’t actually Rambos. Suzan Speer does look hot. She should share her surgeon information with Dottie’s daughter. The Downings did ok but not the calibur of their heyday. Speaking of aging Joy looks the same as she did in the 70’s. She doesn’t age and has that cute perky look. As for Todd’s comments about Doug. Get a life. I looked on google and Dottie was 74 when she died so if she were alive today she would be 76 so that would make Reba 60 or 59 since Dottie has said she had Reba at 16.

  17. Gospel Music Lover wrote:

    I forgot to mention the comment about not mentioning Dottie Rambo being compared to Paul Downing. Dottie is one of the Christian Music worlds Icons. Lee mentioned that just the mention of the Rambos name honored Dottie. He’s right when you hear Rambos you think of Dottie Rambo and certainly not the performers who sang. Buck is the only one that has anything to do with Southern Gospel these days.

  18. Mike McIlwain wrote:

    #15, We all know Doug’s lifestyle choice and many of us do not agree with it. However, you have crossed the line with your name calling. Doug hosts this site, gives us well written opinions, and allows those who disagree with him to have their say. He loves this music and wants to see it prosper.

  19. Getagrip wrote:

    Todd, “by the way”, you’re disgusting. Grow up.

  20. Christine Macmahon wrote:

    Just in case everyone isn’t already informed, I am told that Dottie’s old management makes posts here and other blogs that are always Rambo negative (appearance, age, talent, etc.) because of a personal issue…

    Now it makes sense- I couldn’t figure out why so many personal attacks on them and not really other groups at NQC…

  21. Lee wrote:

    #16 & 17,
    You have some nerve! Reba looks just like her mom, so if you’re blasting her looks, honey you’re blasting Dottie! Was that your intention? That’s sure how it comes across.

    And everyone who sang on The Rambos set is in the Rambo family… have you been living under a rock? Dony is Reba’s husband and has produced and sang with The Rambos since they were married. Destiny is Buck and Dottie’s granddaughter. Rambo is in her blood through and through.

    Each Rambo is important in their own right and we would NEVER have had that Rambo harmony minus any one of them. I do think it’s amazing that the sound was just as strong as if Dottie was there.

  22. kyle wrote:

    Did anyone else notice the bitterness that seemed to seep from Gold City? It was a trio along with Tim Riley. What could have happened so long ago that they couldn’t forget about it and have a good time?

  23. Lee wrote:

    OOPS! I meant Kenny Hinson, not Ronnie. Sorry!

    Lee wrote:


    No one mentioned Paul Downing or Ronnie Hinson, do you think that’s sad too?

  24. Jeff T. wrote:

    already had that figured out. Somehow they always seem to drag some crap comment out of their toilet.

    #13 -
    Suzan Speer is totally hot and not married either!

  25. Howard Frawley wrote:

    Singing Americans blessed me so much. I wish gospel music was more like that now.

    Buck Rambo was good to see him- we are about the same age (?)and it took me to the heavenly places- Rambos were a true blessing.

    Also the Hinsons were a powerful blessing.

  26. Gospel Music Lover wrote:

    This comment was made below:
    Each Rambo is important in their own right and we would NEVER have had that Rambo harmony minus any one of them. I do think it’s amazing that the sound was just as strong as if Dottie was there.

    My comment: Each Rambo important in their own right? Fair enough. Each important to Southern Gospel in their own right? No. Just as strong as if Dottie was there? Don’t think so. Dottie was the Rambos. Without Dottie Rambo you wouldn’t know who Buck or Reba was. Dony is not a Rambo.

    Disclaimer: I’m not Dottie Rambo’s management. I’m not Reba Rambo. I’m not Buck Rambo. I’m not Bill Gaither. I could be Barrack Obama. I can’t own up to it for fear of the National Security Issues. Grow up!

  27. Cathy James wrote:

    I loved the Downings, even without Paul. It is so sad that so many in these wonderful groups have passed on. Joy Gardner looked amazing, and I thought they sounded good.

    Karen Peck- spot on fantastic.

    I was sitting close and don’t agree at all with #16- Reba Rambo was beautiful and so was her daughter. No sure why you said that…

    Kyle- I did not notice the bitterness with Gold City, but maybe I am out of the loop on something?

  28. NG wrote:

    #22 Kyle: I wasn’t at NQC so don’t know if the former Gold City members showed bitterness.

    But it reminded me of a remark Tim made from the stage after the three had left the group. He said in Greenville, SC: “I don’t know why you’d leave one bus to get on another bus to sing for the same people.”

    I don’t know if he was joking but it seemed strange he wouldn’t know that singers, after 10 years working for someone else, might have dreams of trying something new such as going solo or starting their own group.

  29. Charlie G. wrote:


    You are right. I have noticed this and it is sad.

  30. Barbie S. wrote:

    Regarding #20
    This is pretty apparent. See Doug’s post about it here:


    Just ignore them and they will go away.

  31. Larry Ferguson wrote:

    I’m the person that Dann/Carla a/k/a Christine is accusing of making the posts about Reba Rambo on this blog. This is my first post. I did share the link with the editor concerning the original story. When I have something to say I have no problem sharing my identity. Something you should know if I am supposedly going on blogs posting negative comments about appearance, age, and talent. I didn’t think the Rambos should perform for many of the reasons that have been mentioned. Yes, Reba and I have mutual personal issues. I don’t think they would serve either of us well to post them on this blog. Anyone that knows me knows I stand firmly with and behind Dottie Rambo and her memory. Next time you accuse me of posting something make sure you know what you are talking about. I will pray for you and whatever personal issues you have pro or con for me and the whole Rambo family.

  32. Shirlene B. wrote:

    I am so glad that the NQC celebrated the 100th anniversay with the reunion concert. We need to keep this music alive! It pays tribute to all those great artists who are now gone, but the music lives on.

  33. country blue wrote:

    I have to say The Singing Americans were my favorite of the program and my second favorite would have to be Jeff, Sheri and her Mother. But I cant help to be a little confused seeing Naomi Sego just sitting down there watching the other groups. I felt that if anyone desevered to be up there it would be her. 79 years old still travels 200 plus dates per year and being on of the first to sell over a million records…….Is anyone else confused? Or am i missing something?

  34. Avery wrote:

    Ok folks: I’m putting a stop to the Rambos nonsense, here and elsewhere. It’s dragged on and on - far longer than I should have allowed it, really - and it’s going nowhere. And to those of you posting under multiple names to make it look like there’s a lot more “people” on your side, remember, I can see your IP addresses, and I really don’t like sockpuppets.

  35. gina wrote:

    country blue - Did Sheri Easter’s mother (Polly Copsey) sing? I wasn’t at NQC so wasn’t sure, but I only saw her aunt Janis in the few pictures available. Polly was a phenomenal singer in her day and has recently had major health problems, thus my curiosity about her appearance. Also, I agree 100% with your comments about Naomi Sego.

  36. ABC wrote:

    The Gold City reunion was amazing. The crowd was on their feet before they sang a note, and stood throughout the whole first song, “When I Get Carried Away.”

    Considering they had not all sung together (not even rehearsal) in 19 years, they sounded unbelievable.

    “I Think I’ll Read It Again” started off pitch. Brian stopped the song and simply asked for the pitch. You can’t sing a song that the band starts off pitch. Besides, the drummer was Brian’s own son for crying out loud.

    Their set was magnificent and one of the greatest moments ever in my 6 consecutive years of going to NQC. They were really good and got the biggest response from the audience of any group at the reunion showcase.

    Tim was absolutely unbelievable. About the best I have ever heard him. Brian was good, Mike was good, and Ivan was pretty good.

    As far as the “rift” that apparently existed at the time of the trio’s departure from Gold City. I think this reunion marked a time of forgiveness and healing relationships. Tim embraced EVERY single one of the guys at the back of the stage as they were exiting.

    Gold City has had several of the all-time greatest vocal lineups ever in SG history.

  37. DeeAnn Bailey wrote:

    #35-Sheri’s mom did not sing it was her aunt

  38. Ted wrote:

    Having been there from the moment they opened the doors for set up, sound checks, to watching people come in, I saw people that had not been on stage for years, re unite, and a lot of healing came with this. The electricity in the air was awesome. What the public didn’t see was, there was no sound checks for the fact the doors had to be opened early for more people to enter and not be rushed. Pre show was a sight!! Old members hugging, crying, talking, laughing and coming back together leaving all differences aside and rekindling friendships.
    So it from my standpoint wasn’t that they hit every note, on top of music, or anything anyone on the sidelines wants to pick out and talk down about. If all we got from this was the picking and putting down, then we missed everything. The memories, friendships back on stage, lives changed and overall a very exciting experience for me and I thank all the artist who took time to get on stage and let me go back in time, and to the other artist sitting on the sidelines praying them on and enjoying the memories.
    To NQC and Norman Holland, WOW, it was great and my hats off to you. Thanks…

  39. gina wrote:

    Can anyone tell me which members of the Lewis Family, other than Janis Phillips, participated in this event?

  40. Dennis Dykes wrote:

    I feel the criticism of the Downings was a bit unfair. They didn’t even try for a replacement for the late, great Paul Downing, who is totally irreplaceable. Joy was sick all weekend and could barely talk but she got up and bravely tried to get through their set anyway. She should be commended and not criticized.

    The Rambo set WAS excellent. Dony is a great arranger. It was great to see Buck with them again, and he was really hitting some high stuff for a man at leaser 80.

    I too can hardly wait for the DVD release !

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