The members of the Southern gospel trio Three Parts Grace, Susan and David England, left, and Tina Nichols Fletcher, will present Coming Home, a gospel music concert featuring nine groups, beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 12.
Nine Southern gospel groups will share glorious gospel sounds at Coming Home with Three Parts Grace on May 12 in Auburntown.
“We will have Southern gospel music in several different forms. We will have bluegrass gospel as well as a group of choirs coming in and also some of the traditional Southern gospel groups with us. Just a fun fellowship day,” said Tina Nichols Fletcher, who forms the trio Three Parts Grace along with Susan and David England.
“This is a gospel music day. We're not trying to make any money. It‘s just a day for people to come out and enjoy gospel music,” Fletcher said of the free event which begins at 1 p.m. “We’re kind of going into this a little blind on faith because it’s the first one.”
Two African-American choirs will perform during the day: the Society Hill Missionary Baptist Church Choir from Macomb, Miss., and the Hickory Valley Missionary Baptist Church Choir from the Kittrell community in Rutherford County.
“Ernie Dawson and Heirline and our trio are doing kind of the newer style of Southern gospel, not the contemporary praise and worship but what you’re hearing on the radio right now on the gospel stations,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher’s partners in sound, David and Susan England, who live in Auburntown, performed country music before making the switch to gospel and are truly glad for the change in style.
“We honestly enjoy being able to do something that makes a difference. We’ve seen people walk the aisle, and we’ve seen churches get healed spiritually that have had turmoil,” said David, a native of Sparta, Tenn., who is a project manager for Siemens Building Technology.
“I’ve been playing country music for 35 of past 40 years,” said Susan, office manager Murfreesboro dentist Dr. Brian Riel. “But I sang my first church special when I was 3 in a church in Brookhaven, Miss. I sang ‘How Great Thou Art.’ It was my grandpa’s favorite song.”
She, too, finds performing gospel more fulfilling than country.
“If you’re having a bad day and step up to sing a song, everything becomes peaceful to me. And if someone in that congregation is a having a hard time, it seems like the spirit settles everybody down. If you put your heart in the right place and really are reverent, everything comes together in that moment and it’s all peaceful. You’re just in that time with God that is really so sweet.”
As for their trio, which features “wonderful harmony,” it will debut its second album, “Part Two,” at the gospel concert. Susan says, “God really has a hand in this group.”
“We’ve been together for about a year and a half. We have been friends for many years,” said Fletcher. “The good Lord is truly blessing us. We will be singing at the National Quartet Convention this year in Louisville the second week in September.”
As for who sings what parts, she answers, “We kind of divide it out. We don’t have one set lead. We all have our songs. David and Susan are more comfortable singing leads.”
Three Parts Grace uses a lot of pre-recorded music but will also bring out their instruments: Fletcher plays mandolin, fiddle and bass fiddle, David plays guitar and Susan the mandolin. Among the songs they will perform are such standards as “When He Was on the Cross;” “Beulah Land” and “House of Gold,” plus their own composition, “What If I Did.”
The three met at Shiloh Baptist Church, between Auburntown and Woodbury, where Fletcher’s father serves as pastor. “We became very good friends from there. Friendship led to second family and the trio,” recalled Fletcher.
The gospel songfest will allow some of the local churches to share information about their congregations.
“We’re giving pastors the opportunity to speak between groups about events coming up in their churches. In general this will be for churches in the Salem Baptist Association and some of the Missionary Baptist churches in the area (Woodbury, Murfreesboro, Alexandria, Smithville, Milton, Lascassas), and we’re looking to expand next year,” said Fletcher.
She recommends that folks bring lawn chairs, while vendors will sell barbecue, burgers, hot dogs and soft drinks. “We will have canopy tents set up, so rain or shine, we’re gonna have it,” she says of the event.
“My expectations are for the community to have a good time,” concludes David England. “We’d really like to see this become an annual event.”
Gospel music in the park
What: Coming Home with Three Parts Grace
When: 1-8 p.m.; Saturday, May 12
Where: Hawkins Park in Auburntown
How much: free admission
Lineup: 1-1:45 p.m., Patterson/Jones Family (Smithville, bluegrass gospel); 2-2:30, Hickory Grove Missionary Baptist Church Choir (Kittrell); 2:45-3:30, Renaissance Southern Gospel (Murfreesboro); 3:45-4:15, Society Hill Missionary Baptist Church (McComb, Miss.); 4:30-5, Archie Watkins (formerly of The Inspirations and recently with the Smokey Mountain Review, Whittier, N.C.); 5:15-6, Ridgetop (bluegrass gospel, Woodbury); 6:15-7, Three Parts Grace; 7:15-8 p.m., Heirline.