Monday, June 27, 2011

Gateway Singers Take Audience on a Trip Through the Years

The Gateway Singers led the audience on a trip through the years in their concert performance at the Sheridan Christian Church at Old Defiance Days Saturday evening. Jeff Blaine opened the event with prayer and the singers led the audience in singing “God Bless America” to start the performance. The event was moved from the park due to the weather.
They started by taking the audience through some popular gospel songs through the decades starting with the 1920’s and “Turn your Radio On.” The 1930’s were represented with “Life is Like a Mountain Railroad,” followed by the four-part harmony song “As you Travel Along” from 1943. The 1950’s were represented by “Along the Jericho Road,” followed by the 1960’s and “Put your Hand in the Hand of the Man.”
The Gateway Singers were formed in 1969 and they got their start logging trips all over the country, performing concerts at churches, and witnessing to hippies by rewriting popular songs with gospel lyrics. Since 1969, they have logged 2 million miles and 11,000 church dinners, but declared that Missouri had some of the best in the country. They said that many hippies were receptive to their message as they realized that Jesus was the answer and not drugs.
During the 1970’s, they began to have children and some of them sang with the singers as they traveled around the country. Now, they have 13 grandchildren. They had the audience rolling in the aisles with the 1980’s comedy “The Mississippi Squirrel Revival” about a boy who let a squirrel loose in the church and the pandemonium that it caused. The end result was 500 rededications, $25,000 in money raised, and 50 signed up for a missionary trip to Congo on the spot.
For more recent years, the singers sung “Go Jonah” to the tune of the Oak Ridge Boys classic “Elvira” for the 1980’s. For the 1990’s, they performed “God is Doing a New Thing” in rap style. By 2000, more and more contemporary Christian music had been written and they switched to modern Christian classics like “These are the Days.”
The singers did a couple of songs on fatherhood, including the popular country song “Daddy’s Hands” and another one named “I’m seeing my Father In Me” and encouraged people to be fathers to their children. “If more people were like fathers to their children, a lot of our country’s problems would be solved,” was their message.
The singers took requests from the audience, including “The Old Rugged Cross,” “I’ll Fly Away,” the popular 1970’s song “Cats in the Cradle” about lost fatherhood, and “Above All Powers.” The song “I’ll Fly Away” brought to mind some prison ministry that they do; that song was a hit among the prisoners that they performed to at a California state prison one time. One of their children was babysat by none other than “Tex” Watson, who was at one time the executioner for notorious serial killer Charles Manson but who had shown genuine remorse for his deeds and who gave his life to Christ.
In closing, they said they were thankful that they lived in a country in which they could travel freely; they performed “Proud to Be an American.” Jeff Blaine gave a closing prayer and the singers closed with “Happy Trails.”

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