Franklin's own gospel group, Blue Ridge, will be holding its annual Gospel Music Weekend at Holly Springs Baptist Church starting this Thursday, June 28. The weekend event, which will run from Thursday until Saturday night, will mark the event's 28th year.
Blue Ridge Gospel Music Weekend first began in 1983 when the Franklin Chamber of Commerce held an event called the Spring Fling Gospel Sing. “We had just started the group (Blue Ridge) just prior to that,” explained Kevin Corbin, one of the group's original members. “The next year the Chamber decided not to do the event and Blue Ridge picked it up and have been hosting it ever since.”
According to Corbin, Gospel Music Weekend started at the Franklin High School Fine Arts Center, then was outside at the FHS football field and the Recreation Park for a couple of years. “In 2004 we moved to the new Holly Springs Baptist Church sanctuary because of better sound, parking, food facilities, and it has been at Holly Springs since,” said Corbin.
Even though the event has been held for nearly three decades, each year guests can experience something different. In past years such gospel greats as Anthony Berger, Kirk Talley, Ivan Parker and The Goodmans have been guests of Blue Ridge. Performing alongside Blue Ridge this year are gospel groups, The Diplomats, Mountain Faith and The Rob Mills Band. “We change the groups/performers each year,” said Corbin. “This year we have the award winning Diplomats for the first time. We will also have Mountain Faith and the Rob Mills Band back to perform. There is always something new and different each year.”
According to Corbin, Blue Ridge will be doing a lot of the singing this year in order to be able to perform the group’s favorites and most requested songs. “We have had many of the attendees over the past few years request that we do longer sets and have a few less guest groups to allow each more time to share their music,” said Corbin. “That is what we have done this year with only one guest group each night.”
Each year the Blue Ridge Gospel Music Weekend draws around 2,000 visitors over the three days. “Most Blue Ridge concerts are on the road throughout the year, and this is one time that we stay home for home folks and invite guests to come to Franklin to be with us,” said Corbin. “We encourage our out of town guests to stay in local hotels/campgrounds and support our local businesses and restaurants.”
About Blue Ridge
Blue Ridge is a six member group which originated in 1980 and has one of the most consistent personnel line-ups in the music industry. Kevin Corbin, Dwight Vinson, and Kelly Corbin have been with the group since the beginning (Kelly came one year in) with the other three members, Neil Moore, Eric Hall, and Michael Conard, averaging more than a dozen years with this well known group.
The men who comprise Blue Ridge have developed a style of singing that has become popular with all who hear them. This Southern gospel quartet combines rich vocal harmonies with a program of gospel music which is enjoyed by young and old. While unmistakably Southern Gospel, Blue Ridge often mixes styles with their love for country-gospel, barbershop quartet harmony, as well as some occasional contemporary or old-time gospel sounds.
The group has toured extensively throughout the United States and has made appearances to enthusiastic audiences in Canada.
Blue Ridge has been the subject of a number of industry news articles including many stories in the Singing News magazine as well as other national and regional publications. The Singing News has recognized the Blue Ridge Gospel Music Weekend as one of the top multi-day events in Gospel Music. In fact, Danny Jones, editor of The Singing News will be the emcee all three nights of the event.
Blue Ridge has 24 recordings to its credit with a total of more than 240 songs. Eleven of the group's songs have been released nationally in the U.S. to Christian radio and have found a measure of success charting in the National TOP 100. Blue Ridge has also filmed three full length gospel music videos, which have received television airplay nationwide.
The group has been featured on several television shows including the Gospel Music Television (GMT) specials as well as regular appearances on Southern Entertainment Television (SET). With their appearance on the Gospel World Premier by GMT, Blue Ridge was declared one of the Top 50 artists in Gospel Music by the producers at GMT.
Admission to the Gospel Music Weekend is on a “donation” basis with a suggested $10 per night or a $25 donation for a three night reserved seat which can be obtained on Thursday night at the door.
All concerts begin at 7 p.m. with the doors opening at 5:30 p.m. Folks can get in then and reserve their seat and go to the fellowship hall of the church for food items such as hotdogs and pizza as well as drinks and snack food.
For more information on the group, visit http://www.blueridgeproductions.com/ or call Holly Springs Baptist Church for directions or more information.