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September 5, 2008

40,000 expected for National Quartet Convention

Louisville Courier-Journal (KY):

Sandra Moore and some friends will soon be Louisville-bound for a week of gospel music at the National Quartet Convention. Moore, of Smithfield, N.C., will be flying in for her seventh convention, which runs Sunday through Sept. 13 at the Kentucky Exposition Center. "We will hit all the (shows)… and see some new talent we haven't seen or listened to before. There is music going on all the time."

More than 40,000 Southern gospel music buffs from at least 40 states and several foreign countries are expected for the event, said Clarke Beasley, executive vice president of the convention, which has its headquarters in Louisville. Beasley said the convention's arrangement with the Kentucky State Fair Board runs through next year. But he said things "are looking pretty good" to extend the contract through 2014.

The convention generates about $10 million a year for local hotels, restaurants and other primarily hospitality-related businesses, tourism officials say. The visitors book more than 10,000 hotel room-nights. Beasley said he doesn't believe that higher travel costs linked to fuel prices will have any dramatic impact on this year's convention. "Our advance sales are up across the board," he said.

For the first time, the convention expects to have more than 500 exhibitors at its trade show, which will be spread out in about 175,000 square feet of space in the new North Wing. Many of the performing groups will have booths at the trade show, offering visitors a chance to chat with the artists as well as buy their CDs. In addition to music, vendors also will sell clothing, recording gear and other items.

Nearly 50 of the most popular names in Southern gospel music will be featured throughout the event, including the Gaither Vocal Band, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, the Hoppers, the Kingdom Heirs, Gold City, Greater Vision, the McKameys, Legacy Five, the Inspirations and the Dixie Melody Boys.

Nightly concerts will be staged in Freedom Hall, with afternoon concerts and worship services also on tap. The trade show will be open 4 p.m. to around 11:30 p.m. It is also open to the public, as long as the person has an evening concert ticket.

The Pfeifers, a family singing group, have appeared at every National Quartet Convention since 1986. "Everybody in the industry is there, plus 15,000 to 20,000 fans," John Pfeifer said in a phone interview. "Record companies, publishing companies, the major artists are all there. A lot of business gets conducted, because everyone is in one place."

But the social aspects of the conference are also important, Pfeifer said, adding that the conference's atmosphere is very family-oriented. Southern gospel music, he said, "is very spiritual and emotional."

Posted by acapnews at September 5, 2008 10:03 PM


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