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Local quartet wins state fair gospel competition

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Traditional sound leads New Vision to first gospel crown

By John Herndon

You can forgive Ben Gee for not letting the speaker finish his sentence last Thursday.

“All I heard was, ‘The winner, from And …,’ and I lost it,” said Gee, an Anderson County resident who sings bass for New Vision Gospel quartet, the newly crowned winners of the annual rural gospel quartet contest at the Kentucky State Fair.

When the local group’s name was called, it marked the first time an Anderson County quartet had won the popular contest, which has been sponsored by Kentucky Farm Bureau since 1949.

It is quite an accomplishment for a group that has only been performing together for 18 months and has to juggle work and family schedules in order to pursue their passion. All of the group members work other jobs during the day.

“It took two years to put the group together,” said Doug Sallee, another Anderson County resident, who sings tenor. Sallee teamed with Bob Stopher, another local resident who handles the group’s sound system, in forming New Vision.

Others in the group are soprano Rachel Young, of Anderson County, and her father, Denny Dickerson, of Frankfort, a 30-year veteran of area gospel groups who sings baritone.
Gee, the rookie, learned of the budding group.

“I knew Rachel’s husband, Scott, who was youth minister at Alton Christian Church. She told me they might be needing a bass singer and I should try out,” he said.

Once all the pieces were in place, the group performed its first concert Feb. 20, 2011, at Alton Christian. The music is decidedly of the southern gospel variety, but also shows how things have changed. New Vision Gospel does not use a pianist who tickles all 88 keys.

“We download our music,” Sallee said. “We have a laptop on stage with us and hook that into the sound system.”

The group has about 25 songs in its repertoire coming from a variety of current gospel artists.
Last winter, Gee contacted Chuck Thurman, manager of the local Farm Bureau Insurance office, about the possibility of New Vision Gospel representing Anderson County in the state fair contest.

Once the ball was rolling, the Anderson County Farm Bureau Federation sponsored the group.

Last Thursday was the biggest moment yet for New Vision Gospel. The group has quickly become popular in Anderson and surrounding counties, but had never performed together before a statewide audience.

Eleven groups from around the state entered the competition with each allowed two songs.

“I wasn’t really nervous. Ben was!” said Sallee, a gospel music veteran of over 20 years.

It was understandable.

“This is the first group I ever sang with,” said Gee. “I sang in church and I was in the chorus in middle school and high school. I just always get a little jittery when we get ready to sing. My mother says that is God’s way of keeping you humble.”

But Gee passed the test, flawlessly performing a bass solo in a cover of the Gold City hit, “Under Control.”

“It is a song that showcases the bass,” Stopher noted.

The group followed with “I’m on the Battlefield” then waited.

“We give God all the glory,” Gee said. “We just went down there to worship. If it weren’t for God, we couldn’t do it.

“We want to thank our families and our spouses and children. We go so many places. There are so many times we go sing and someone from Lawrenceburg is there. That means a lot to us.”
The group has recorded a CD and has its own Facebook page. Its next scheduled performance in Anderson County is Sept. 30 at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church.

Thursday, when the results were in, the master of ceremonies announced the Allegiance Quartet from Edmonson County was third and the Lindsey Family of Green County placed second.

Then New Vision Gospel heard its name called as the winner.

“We are up on cloud nine,” Sallee said. “It is hard to explain.”

Gee, who played basketball at Anderson County High School, broke into a broad smile. “This is the first time I have ever been a state champion.”

For more information
New Vision Gospel is available for bookings. See the Facebook page at New Vision Gospel or contact Doug Sallee at 502-517-1627 or e-mail newvisiongospel8@yahoo.com.