The Southern Gospel Story Of My Life (1984) – Part 3

PaynesToday concludes the year 1984 in my three-part series of the Southern Gospel story of my life for this particular year.  As you know from the previous post, I attended my first week-long, outdoor event in 1984.  It was the Hoppers annual singing at Watermelon Park in Berryville Virginia.

We made it to Friday night (07/27/84) of the event where the Hoppers once again opened the program.  Next up on the program was another family group that I had never seen before; the Paynes.

From the moment they took the stage, their songs and stage persona captivated this young kid.  Mike Payne emceed his group’s program and he was a master.  He had the crowd on their feet several times and by the time they closed with “I’m A Jesus Fan”, the crowd didn’t want them to leave the stage.

I remember picking up three of their record albums at this event that afforded many hours of listening pleasure long after the event was over.  Here is a musical montage of what the Paynes were staging in 1984.

HemphillsTo close out the Friday night program was another family group I had seen just two years earlier; the Hemphills.

I remembered the Hemphills and a lot of the songs staged on this particular night were sung when I had seen them prior.  On this particular program they performed a song, that as a kid, I fell in love with; “It Wasn’t Raining When Noah Built The Ark”.  The group encored the song a couple of times and I couldn’t wait to buy the record.

Here is a montage of music from the Hemphills in 1984.

TalleysMy first week-long, outdoor Southern Gospel event was winding down as Saturday night (07/28/84) started with another crowd pleasing performance from the Hoppers.

Second on the program that night was a new group of performers that used to sing with the Hoppers; the Talleys.  They had just released their first major record album and the Hoppers band joined them on stage for several songs.

I remembered Roger and Debra being with the Hoppers when I first saw the group several years prior.  As a kid, I loved fast (up tempo) songs and I remember the Talleys didn’t have very many of those, so I sort of glossed over their performance that particular night.

Wendy Bagwell and the Sunliters would close the program that Saturday night, but I included them in part one of the 1984 series, so I won’t include them here.  Here is a musical mash-up of what the Talleys may have performed that night in 1984.

GreenesThe week-long event closed with a Sunday afternoon (07/29/84) concert with just the Hoppers and another new group for me to see; the Greenes.

The first night of the event I had seen the Kingsboys for the first time.  Here, on the final day there was another group of kids performing with their father (who sang and played piano).

These kids became an instant favorite of mine and I remember every year following the group getting better and better.  Next to the Kingsmen, the Greenes were my favorite group to see in concert during this time period.

Here is a musical montage of what the Greenes may have staged in 1984.

HoppersI decided to end 1984 with the group that gave six performances during Watermelon Park week; the Hoppers.

It was actually a concert at my hometown high school on August 18, 1984 with the Hoppers that forever left an impact on this young kid.  I remember the group showing up late to the event.  Many in the crowd and even the emcee didn’t think they were going to make it.

They arrived, set up and performed.  I remembered all the songs they sang that night from the week-long performances just a few weeks prior.  But, it would be what happened after the concert that forever changed a kid’s heart.

I know I have told this story before, but indulge me if you would.  As a kid, you truly don’t understand the struggles your parents may go through to try to keep food on the table and a roof over your head.  I remember the program closing and Connie speaking and asking those to come forward who needed prayer.  My mom stepped out of the aisle and went forward for prayer, where Connie prayed with her.

At the time, I didn’t realize my parents were struggling financially and barely had enough to keep food on the table.  After prayer and the concert closed, walking with my mother to the record table, she walked up and thanked Connie for praying with her.  At that moment, this nine-year old boy stood there as Connie grabbed some money and placed it in my mother’s hand.  A moment that left an impact on a young kid that left Connie Hopper a hero in my eyes.

Here is a musical montage of the Hoppers from 1984.


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