Saturday, November 4, 2017

Moments With Mercy - Interview with Nick Succi

Hey y'all, today we have a special treat for you.  As many of you know, while we are obviously fans of Southern Gospel today we love the history of southern gospel as well, whether it be from 10 years ago or 100 years ago.  A little while back, we got the idea to try and interview some artists that are no longer active in Southern Gospel.  So for our first interview in this "artists from the past", we'll be interviewing Nick Succi- former pianist for the mighty Kingsmen. :) 




Mercy : Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Nick : Hmmm, this is where I am supposed to discuss my humble beginnings, born to a struggling family of dirt farmers in a log cabin just outside Poverty, Ontario. We were poor… but we had nothing.
But since that didn’t happen, I’ll say this: the real Nick Succi loves to laugh and have fun more than anybody, and will refuse to take himself too seriously unless he absolutely must (and that includes this interview). He will also talk in the third person from time to time which, quite frankly, I find annoying.
So be forewarned, I (or he) may intertwine the serious with the… less serious. So, read on if you wish...
Mercy : When did you get saved?
Nick : (Seriously now) I was saved at a very young age, my father led me to The Lord. Since then, my spiritual journey has progressed through some winding roads but always striving to move forward.

Mercy : When did you start playing piano?
Nick : I started playing the piano when I was quite young. In fact, my sister was taking lessons first, not me – but I tended to fool around with the piano, and one day I realized I liked the sounds I was making… and have played ever since. I come from two very musical families, and like to think I inherited from both.

Mercy : Do you play any other instruments or sing?
Nick : I play bass guitar, but I’m smart enough to leave the singing to the professionals. However, I am an amateur bass player, so perhaps I should leave the singing to a professional bass player?

Mercy : What did you like and dislike most about being on the road?
Nick  : What I liked: Meeting amazing people, being a part of a ministry that touched people’s lives, the camaraderie among the group members I traveled with, traveling to parts of the country I have never seen, etc.
What I disliked: Not being able to be actively involved with my family as they grew up. This was by far the most taxing for me personally. I certainly admire and respect those who continue with their calling, however I feel I am exactly where God wants me in this season of my life and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I also disliked having to fire Tony Peace every time he made me angry! Don’t get me wrong, I love Tony and he knows it, love him dearly. Nobody made me laugh more than Tony during his year and a half with The Kingsmen and he is a dear friend to this day. But even though I had no authority to do so, I
nevertheless had to fire him whenever he upset me, which tended to be on a weekly basis. So Tony, if you’re reading this, get your stuff off the bus. You’re through, “Skeeter”.
There, I feel much better now. Ask your doctor if firing Tony Peace is right for you. (Are you reading this, McCray?



Mercy : What is your favorite song to play and why?

Nick : Not sure, to be honest. In Gospel Music, I might say ‘Can You Imagine’, because I always thought it was the perfect opener, but that was liking to play a song strictly for the music, not the content. For songs I enjoyed playing as well as for content, there were many. ‘More Than Enough’ (Carolina Boys/Kingsmen, “Ready”, 2003) springs to mind as an example.
For songs that I love for spiritual content but have never had the opportunity to play, there is only one song on my list: ‘Ticklish Reuben’ by The Cathedrals. Seek it out and let it minister to you. I think I even heard Hillsong do it once.
Mercy : What do you like to do in your free time?

Nick : In my free-est of free time, I love to rollerblade, kayak, cycle and get out with my friends however and whenever possible. I also volunteer a little at the Care Home for Retired Kingsmen (affectionately referred to as ‘Beautiful Home’). Say ‘hi’ to Big Squire Maynard if you ever have the chance to stop by.
Mercy : Who are some of your pianist heroes/Inspirations?

Nick : Good question. There were certainly many, as I tried to learn what I could from each that I liked and respected. Anthony Burger would have been the single biggest influence in my formative years, but this later extended to many others as my individual style shifted away from Anthony’s. I certainly have to mention Channing Eleton, who I always considered one of the most brilliant yet humble musicians to ever grace the Gospel stage. (Of course, my favourite keyboard player of all time is Mr. Jon Lord, but we gotta stay Gospel here. 😊 )

Mercy : What is your favorite Bible verse?
Nick : Recently, it would be Isaiah 40:31 – “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Mercy : Are you still active in the music industry?

Nick : I certainly am, though in a different genre altogether. Since stepping away from The Kingsmen after six years in 2007, my Gospel Music days have been behind me (at least for now, but you never know, I might be persuaded to turn around ‘Glory Road’ one more time). Since that time, I have been playing keyboards and organ with various blues artists. Presently, I am playing whenever possible with an incredible blues guitarist named Jack De Keyzer, and have to say that I love every minute of it!
But as I said, you never know what’s around the corner. I am pretty sure I can still kick off ‘Saints Will Rise’ in an emergency. So one never knows...
Bonus Fun Question - what is the difference between Canadian bacon and any other bacon? 🙂
Nick : Simple: I think Canadian Bacon was a short-lived and poorly-received sitcom from the 90’s about an overweight family, and all the tomfoolery and misunderstandings they got up to each week, whereas any other bacon is pork, in all it’s porky goodness.

Nick, Thank you so much for doing this! Readers, I hope you enjoyed. 
Mercy





Behind the Songs : Maria Kramer Wolfe!

Hey, y'all!

Modesty here this morning, and I want to share an interview with you.  I'm very excited about this one myself, and hope you are as well.  Maria is one of the absolutely sweetest girls you'll ever meet, and I was thrilled when she agreed to appear on Two Sisters'!


Before we get started, here's a little bit of information about The Kramers Music... "The Kramers are a national and international gospel music family group currently touring and ministering at 200 events per year.  Members are D. Scott Kramer (vocals, guitar, keyboards) Rachel West Kramer (vocals) and Maria Kramer Wolfe (daughter – vocals, ukulele, mandolin, piano, guitar). They are recording artists with Electric Station Records label group and booked for ministry events through the Covenant Agency based in Madison, Indiana."

Monday, October 23, 2017

Moments With Mercy - Interview With Jay Parrack

Hey y'all, for my first post-NQC 2017 interview, here is my interview with Jay Parrack.  I was first able to meet Jay at NQC in 2015 when they had a Gold City Reunion.


As part of the 60th anniversary NQC celebration, they brought back the popular Gold City reunion again this year, so I contacted Jay and we set up an interview for Saturday evening of NQC.  I was so thrilled that we were able to do this since my family has been fans of Jay for quite some time! We have followed and loved his singing since we first heard him with Gold City. The first song I ever heard Gold City do was God's Building A Church, and let's just say from that moment, I was hooked! Several years after leaving Gold City, we were so excited when Jay started singing part-time again, as Jay Parrack and Vocal Event. We have all three of the cds this trio has out, and they are some of our family favorites! Let me tell you a little bit about Jay Parrack and Vocal Event-
"With a soothing blend of old southern gospel, to an upbeat, contemporary harmonic mix, Vocal Event is a group that brings versatility and southern roots to their audience.  This Gadsden, Alabama based trio brings to the southern gospel scene, Darren Morton – BaritoneAnthony “Bubba” Hallman – lead, and former Gold City Tenor Jay Parrack. Jay Parrack, sang with Gold City for over ten years and remains one of the leading tenors in gospel music. He brings with him, a heritage of gospel roots and embeds them within the harmony of this group.  Audiences have proven to instantly fall in love with the smooth contemporary sounds of Vocal Event as well as to their unique arrangements of old gospel hymns.  This group is grounded to their southern roots and is committed to delivering a trio sound that appeals to the very soul of true gospel music. With Jay Parrack’s unique tenor sound and the blend of Darren and ‘Bubba’, they prove to provide not only entertainment but a time of true worship straight from the words of scripture as well as from new words of worship and praise. Darren Morton and “Bubba” Hallman blend perfectly with Jay Parrack with a ‘smooth as silk’ sound that eases the senses. Their first project, “Simply Southern”, released in 2012, is a collection of Southern Gospel days gone by that you will most definitely come to love all over again. Their 2nd project "Sometimes He Whispers", brought them their first top 25 hit with its title release. They are currently producing their 3rd project...Jay Parrack and Vocal Event LIVE soon to be released! Each member of Vocal Event has a sound of his own, and each sound blends into a perfect harmony of old time gospel reunion. Jay Parrack and Vocal Event is a group sure to win yourheart, as they proclaim the very heart of Jesus through their own love for gospel music and its irresistable heritage and sound."
 So without further ado, sit back and enjoy this interview!


Jay, Thank you so much for doing this. Readers, I hope you enjoyed!
~Mercy

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The 2017 National Quartet Convention!

Hey, y'all!

Fall is my favorite season for many reasons... the cooler weather, boots, sweaters, candles, baking, etc.  Something else that makes Fall even better than it already is?  The National Quartet Convention!  I am not exaggerating when I tell you that even on the way home from one NQC, we are already planning things for the next year.  We always come home brimming with stories from the trip.  You all already know that we pretty much grew up listening to SG and attending SG concerts... to us, NQC is more like a homecoming!  We get to spend all week hanging out with dear friends, getting to see some groups/artists we may not see often, as well as get to meet some of the new and upcoming artists!



I'm sure those of you that have attended will agree that convention has a certain atmosphere to it... the world and it's troubles seem to almost fade away, and you get to just enjoy your time there with likeminded people.  Listening to the wonderful music, enjoying good Godly fellowship, hearing the morning speakers, etc.  And that's just at the LeConte center!

This photo is one of our first times at the LeConte Center!

We were there all week long (including the special Sunday Night Bonus Concert!), and absolutely loved every minute of it.  Times we weren't at the LeConte Center we were stopping in at our favorite PF restaurants (Z-Mex Grille, Pottery House Cafe, Mama's Farmhouse, The Old Mill...), making a run to Gatlinburg for the Donut Friar, checking out local attractions, etc.  One morning we even headed out to the TN/NC state line at 6:00am to catch a stunning smoky mountain sunrise!


There were so many special moments on and off stage at convention this year.  The reunions were so much fun-- Kingsmen reunion, Inspirations reunion, Gold City reunion, etc... the crowd loves to see current and former members come together for a special set on stage as part of the 60th Anniversary of NQC.  Saturday afternoon featured a showcase remembering and honoring the Gospel Singing Jubilee show.  It was a neat experience for all present as videos from the past were shown on the screens in between performances of current groups.  The morning showcases were a fun way to start the day, getting to see some of the new talent in SG!  A Bus Lot Jam Session on Thursday evening made a great end to the night.. from eleven-fifteen until twelve o'clock many of your favorite musicians gave an off the cuff concert.


Here are a few of Mercy's biggest highlights from NQC2017!

1. I was able to meet Kirk Talley!! I've been a Kirk fan for years, and was so excited when I saw him near the Talleys table.  A photo was a must, of course.

Hope and I with Kirk.
2. The Gaither sing-along was a lot of fun!  This was my first, and it was so neat to get to meet them all.  Some that I were most excited about, were Charlotte Ritchie, Wes Hampton, Reggie Smith etc.
 
With Wes Hampton
3. I know I said this after last years convention, but getting to see Joseph Habedank is always a big highlight for me! We rarely get to see him and hearing some of his new songs was fantastic. By the way, if you haven't heard his new music you need to go take a listen to it.  "Here He Comes" is my favorite on his new cd, but they're all great songs with a great message.  


4.  Getting to see Jay Parrack again was a lot of fun!  This was only my second time ever getting to see him. The Gold City reunion was amazing and we also got the chance to interview Jay (coming soon!).


5.  Lastly, It was (as always) just so good to see everyone! NQC is always our time to hang out with friends, make new friends, and see people that we don't often get to see (and babysit lol).  The entire week is so much fun and it's definitely something you don't want to miss.  This year was fantastic with so many memories that we'll never forget. 

With Adaline (Aaron and Suzanne Hise's baby).

Back to Modesty now-  I want to take a minute and address a sort of controversial topic-- Louisville vs. Pigeon Forge.  I have heard many arguments for both sides.  I'll be honest, when the move from Louisville was announced, I had a few misgivings about it.  I mean, Louisville had a lot of special memories attached to it and nobody knew what the new venue would be like.  However, the first year in Pigeon Forge put all my fears to rest... the newly built LeConte Center was beautifully designed, the surrounding scenery is gorgeous, the many family attractions were a plus, everything you'd have need of (hotels/lodging, grocery stores, laundromats, restaurants...) all within a short distance.  What hit me most of all though, was the very warm welcome and hospitality from the city of Pigeon Forge. Have there been a few glitches?  Absolutely!  The City of PF, the LeConte Staff, and Clark Beasley + the NQC Staff have gone above and beyond to work together and come up with solutions to any complications that arise.   They have added larger viewing screens, as well as elevated and staggered seating to eliminate any viewing issues.  They have installed acoustical treatment on the walls.  Additional trolley lines were also set up to help move the attendees quicker and easier.  So many improvements have been made since 2014.  Golf carts make rounds in the parking lot to pick up/drop off at the convention center.  I have personally seen officers of the PF Police Department helping elderly concert attendees into cars after the evening concerts.  You aren't going to find that friendly and caring attitude just anywhere!  So the next time you feel the urge to complain about a certain aspect, please have a little understanding and remember that they are doing everything they can to address the issues.  If you attended in 2014 and haven't attended since due to being displeased with the venue, I highly encourage you to return in 2018 and give it another chance.  I have been very impressed with NQC+The City of PF working together to make our time as pleasurable as possible, and I personally hope that the National Quartet Convention continues to be held in Pigeon Forge for many years to come!









More photos from convention can be found on the Memories by Modesty Facebook Page


The 2017 National Quartet Convention was a very special time for all of us.  Yes, you come away exhausted (sleep is a rare occurrence during this week!), but it's a good exhausted and you will come away refreshed.  We're already planning for next year!  September 23rd-29th of 2018... be there!  You can purchase tickets and view vacation packages on www.natqc.com, as well as find information regarding the event.

~Modesty + Mercy

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Master's Voice "Walk Worthy" CD Review

Hey, everyone!

It's Mercy here, back to share another cd review with y'all!  Today we're going to take a look at Master's Voice's new cd titled, "Walk Worthy".  This is a fantastic cd that has a little something for everyone! 

Here's the song list:
1. He Saw Me
2. Another One Like Him
3. Love Goes A Mighty Long Way
4. One Day Longer
5. Yes He Did, Yes He Does, Yes He Will
6. Without You I Haven't Got A Prayer
7. More Then Enough
8. Sowing The Good Seed
9. Do What Jesus Did
10. Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary
11. Where My Savior Is
12. Lift Up Your Hands When You Can't


To start off with, they have songs written by some of the best songwriters available on this album... Dianne Wilkinson, Joseph Habedank, Phil Cross, and Marty Funderburk... just to name a few. 

Some of my personal favorite tracks are "He Saw Me", "Love Goes A Mighty Long Way", and "Sowing The Good Seed".

"He Saw Me" talks about God watching over us and guiding us even when we don't understand or "can't see".  It's easy to get caught up in our little troubles and trials and not realize that we do indeed have a Heavenly Father keeping watch over us through every little thing.  "Through pain and despair, I saw that He was there. Never for a moment did He turn away from me..."

Track #3 begins with the fall of man in the Garden of Eden and explains how, in spite of how sinful man has been, Jesus gave his life for us because "Love Goes a Mighty Long Way".  One of my favorite lines in the song is, "Only God could love a sinner who had broken all his laws, bring him to his knees and see him saved".  None of us are worthy of God's love and grace, and yet still He gives it and receives us.

It's easy to get discouraged and feel like what you're doing isn't really having an impact, isn't it?  "Sowing the Good Seed" encourages us to keep going, even when you feel like it's a futile effort.  Some seed will fall by the way side, some on stony places, some among thorns... but you never know how the Lord is working, and some will fall on good ground.  "They get the good seed but choose not to believe, you cannot make them change don't be discouraged."

I will be playing this cd a lot (as I already have lol), and I'd definitely recommend to a friend!
~Mercy


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Channing Eleton-Fredericksburg #CDReview

Hey everyone,

We had an absolutely amazing time at NQC this year and while we were there, we filmed several interviews which we'll be posting over the next couple of months.  One of the artists we were able to interview is Channing Eleton, former Gold City pianist and a talented soloist. It was great to have the chance to talk to Channing while there, and we are thrilled to be able to share his new cd with you all! As we get started, I just have to tell you-this cd has been on repeat ever since we got it!

Here's the song list:
1. Launching Out Into The Deep
2. Fredericksburg
3. Big Top
4. Modern Day Prodigal
5. Bring To Me Isaac
6. Pour Down The Peace
7. Keep On Movin'
8. Bigger Than The Sun
9. The Silence Of God

This is a fantastic cd and every song has a good message! One of the neatest things to me about this cd is that Channing wrote all the songs as well as playing a lot of the background music. Channing has a talent for taking a "common" theme (the prodigal son, Abraham and Isaac just to name a couple) and putting a very unique spin on them to turn it into a beautiful song. There is a good mix of upbeat and slower paced songs that will keep you popping this in your player over and over.

Fredericksburg, track 2, is one of the most unique songs I've ever heard and I love how personal it is. It's not often you hear somebody's salvation testimony put into song. I love it because it will bring your own salvation experience to mind and at the same time, this will challenge those who haven't accepted Christ as their Savior.

Bring To Me Isaac (my personal favorite song on the cd) shares the account of Abraham being willing to sacrifice his son, but goes a step further by highlighting the blessing that followed Abraham's obedience. This is compared to us as believers, and how God will bless our obedience if we give Him control of our dreams. This song is a prime example of that unique aspect I mentioned earlier!

The Silence of God is another of my favorites (although I think I actually claim five of the nine songs as favorites!) that will encourage any believer. Whether you're going through a trial right now, or you're looking back at something you just came out of, this will give you hope and comfort when you feel like God isn't listening.

If you are looking for a new cd to try out for yourself or as a gift for a friend (the Holidays will soon be here!) do yourself a favor and pick this cd up! I promise, you will be encouraged, blessed, challenged, and uplifted!
~Mercy

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Moments With Mercy - Interview With Kennedy Hayes!

Hey y'all, It's been a little bit since I've been able to do an interview on here, and I'm so excited to share the one I did with Kennedy!  We first heard the Mylon Hayes Family sing a few years ago at NQC and really enjoyed them.  We've heard them many times since and are always glad when we get the chance to see them.  Kennedy is one of the most talented young ladies in Southern Gospel Music (music period), and I know y'all will enjoy learning a little bit more about her just like I did.  So, let me tell you a little bit about the Hayes family and then we'll get started!

"The Mylon Hayes Family, from Hudson, NC, is a complete family ministering on full time basis. Mylon is originally from Boone, NC and has sung most of his life with his family, The Hayes Famil
y.
Wendy is originally from Morganton, NC and sang solo’s in her church throughout her life as well. Mylon and Wendy were married in 1995. God has blessed them with 3 wonderful teenagers, twin boys Conner and Bailey who are now 18 years old and a daughter Kennedy that is 14. The kids are homeschooled allowing them the flexibility they need to travel. This family’s desire is to lift up the Lord with the music they sing, pointing people to the Cross. Jesus said in John 12:32 “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me”. He was lifted up on that cross and took our punishment because of His great love for us all. The Mylon Hayes Family hope you see Jesus and realize His great love for you in the songs they sing and the words they say."

And now for the interview.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
"Well, here goes! I turn 15 this year and I'm the lead / soprano singer with The Mylon Hayes Family! I love playing piano and singing with my family!"

2. When did you get saved?
"I got saved when I was 8 years old after a revival service!"

3. What is your favorite part of singing with your family?
"Ugh, hard question. There's so much I love! But I love traveling and seeing new places! And I love to see young people still enjoying this music!"

4. What is your favorite song to sing?
"Current favorite is probably " I Choose To Stand"

5. What do you like to do in your free time?
"SHOP!!!!"

6. What is something most people don't know about you?
"I may seem like your typical girly girl but I LOVE to fish!!! But I get my brothers to bait my hook haha!"

7. If you could meet anyone (in the past or present) who would it be?
"To say I'm a huge " Little House on the Prairie" fan is an understatement so probably Laura Ingalls Wilder!"

8. Who is your Biblical hero?
"It would have to be Noah. Not just because of the fun story, but because he wasn't afraid to step out in faith!"

9. What is the hardest part of being on the road as a young person?
"Trying to keep up with my schoolwork and traveling is not so easy but I make it work since I'm homeschooled!"

10. Where do you call home?
"We live in a small town called Hudson, North Carolina!"

Kennedy, thank you so much for doing this! Readers, I hope you enjoyed.  If you'd like to see if The Mylon Hayes Family is ever singing around you, go check out their website.
Thanks for reading.
~Mercy