Pickin’, singin’ and a lot of grinnin’

While America’s media concentrated upon candidate negatives and battles in community streets, I was honored to spend some amazing hours away from these talking heads and among some of our country’s most amazing people.

They had not gathered over political policies, perceived injustice had not placed them on opposite sides of a demonstration.

Music had brought them together, from seniors to children, black, white, brown, and all shades in between, representing races and people from countries around the world. I stood in the hallways of the Raleigh Convention Center in North Carolina and its neighboring hotel, listening to various languages being spoken as they prepared to jam playing yet another tune or sing another song.


Randall Franks and Grand Ole Opry star Del McCoury pause backstage at the IBMA Awards Show.

They held banjos, fiddles, mandolins, guitars, and basses among others. They sang songs from the repertoire of Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, Jim and Jesse, the Stanley Brothers, Alison Krauss, Doyle Lawson and many others.

The International Bluegrass Music Association World of Bluegrass including their annual awards filled thousands of people’s faces with smiles and the hearts with a song. While there was a long list of artists who went away smiling holding awards which makes them the leading of their genre in the coming year, the greatest smiles were on the musicians which simply came to jam and make new friends.

Some key winners were The Earls of Leicester, Entertainer of the Year; Becky Buller, Female Vocalist; Danny Paisley, Male Vocalist; Flatt Lonesome, Vocal Group of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year; Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen, Instrumental Group of the Year; and Mountain Faith, Emerging Artist.

Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers took the Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year with “All Dressed Up.” Guitarist Clarence White and Rounder Record founders Ken Irwin, Marian Leighton-Levy and Bill Nowlin were inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame.

Distinguished Achievement Awards were presented to Bluegrass Unlimited magazine; Boston Bluegrass Union; Bill Emerson; Jim Rooney and SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction.

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When I left the IBMA event, I made my way to the National Quartet Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.


Randall Franks visits with Mark (right) and Kenneth Bishop at National Quartet Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

Once again I found thousands gathered, smiles on their faces, and a song in their heart as the brightest stars of gospel music shared their latest songs and the biggest hits.

The Singing News awarded this year’s leading performers and the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame inducted their latest honorees. Some of the winners were Ivan Parker, Favorite Soloist;

Goodman Revival, Favorite New Artist; Kingdom Heirs Band, Favorite Band; Collingsworth Family, Favorite Mixed Group; Booth Brothers, Favorite Trio; and Triumphant Quartet, Favorite Traditional Quartet.

Among the new SGMA Hall of Famers were Carroll McGruder, Lari Goss, Peg McKamey Bean, and Ronny Hinson. Music agent Ed Harper was presented the Southern Gospel Music Guild Lifetime Achievement Honor.

Fans visited with their favorites and enjoyed an uplifting song-filled experience that will continue in Pigeon Forge annually for several more years. Find out more at visit