Gospel project from Rhonda Vincent this summer

Sunday Mornin' Singin - Live: Rhonda VincentFor someone who has been so deeply involved in bluegrass Gospel for so many years, it seems hard to believe that Rhonda Vincent’s upcoming live album, Sunday Mornin’ Singin’, will be her first all-Gospel release.

Rhonda performed in her youth with the Vincent family band, Sally Mountain Show, where Gospel music was a big part of their repertoire. As a solo artist, she has included at least one Gospel song on each of her bluegrass records, and they are featured on every show with her road band, The Rage. Yet here we are well into a certain Hall of Fame career before seeing a full album of Christian-themed music.

It takes a great deal of confidence – not to mention musicianship – to approach recording a live project for widespread release. Make it a Gospel CD, where close harmony and careful vocal phrasing are so critical, and the task is ever more daunting.

But Rhonda and the Rage had no reason to fear, as anyone who attends their shows can attest. Sunday Mornin’ Singin’, due for release July 10 on Vincent’s Upper Management Music label, was recorded over the course of three days in late June of 2011 at the Greentop Methodist Church in her hometown of Greentop, MO. Those performances were captured on both audio and video, with a CD and DVD in the works. No release date for the DVD has been announced.

Rhonda tells us that they had to overcome some pretty hefty challenges to get the recording completed.

“The entire process was a challenge. We arrived at the church to film on June 27, with a recording crew, film crew, and guests who had traveled hundreds of miles, plus fans, friends, band, and staff.

A storm the night before had knocked out electric power in Greentop and all surrounding counties. We pondered driving to another church that had electricity. Before we did that, we decided we should go to the church and evaluate the situation. Everyone started gathering, and the first thing we noticed was the sheer heat inside the church. And electricity wasn’t going to help with the heat, since the church doesn’t have air conditioning. We knew we were going to be very hot during the filming.

But everyone agreed the special feeling at the church and the incredible acoustics made it the perfect place. Our bass player, Mickey Harris, and an electrician from Iowa (Jim Goodman) decided they could connect power with multiple cables to our tour bus. A few hours later it was lights, camera, action.

It was a steady 100 degrees inside the church for the entire filming. We would stop after each song to quickly wipe the sweat. We would start in the morning at 10:00 a.m., and by afternoon the temperatures would soar to an unbearable high. We would film until we just couldn’t take it anymore.

I am so proud of everyone who joined together to create this project. It was some of the most unbearable circumstances, yet one of the most special moments of my lifetime.”

The CD will include 16 songs, some that Rhonda has recorded previously (Prettiest Flower There, Fishers Of Men, Walking My Lord Up Calvary’s Hill, Where No Cabins Fall, I Feel Closer To Heaven Everyday) and others being recorded for the first time. There is even a feature number for Vincent’s fiddler – and son-in-law – Hunter Berry, who leads the band on a version of the ever-popular God Put A Rainbow In The Clouds.

Rhonda says that the DVD will include additional songs, with some special guests who are not found on the CD.

“The DVD is still in process, but plans are to include a 90 minute performance at the church along with bloopers and a photo gallery. It will contain 7 additional songs and include specials guests, the legendary guitarist Bob Saxton, and 7 year old Carson Peters from East Tennessee featured on fiddle and vocals.”

More details about a DVD release date are expected shortly. These are items that Rhonda Vincent fans will be eagerly awaiting.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.