|Living gospel music history will be on stage at 6 p.m., Sunday, March 3, when the Chuck Wagon Gang will appear in concert at Parkway Baptist Church, located on Lee Victory Parkway off Interstate 24 in Smyrna.
Members of the Chuck Wagon Gang pose with Grand Ole Opry and WSM Radio announcer Eddie Stubbs after appearing on his show Jan. 23, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo submitted)
Another layer of history will unfurl when the historic Southern gospel group is introduced by famous Grand Ole Opry and WSM Radio announcer Eddie Stubbs, one of the foremost recognized historians of all things Music City related.
The Gang is expected to perform “Someday,” a song penned by Marty Stuart especially for the group, which is preparing to cut a new album soon in Nashville.
The Gang’s appearance was arranged through Marty Stuart’s parents, John and Hilda Stuart, and his sister, Jennifer, all of who attend Parkway Baptist.
“We’re blessed to have this historic Southern gospel group that has performed all the way from the Grand Ole Opry to Carnegie Hall in New York,” said Michael W. Smith, who serves as music minister for Parkway Baptist.
There is no charge for the concert, but an offering will be taken to offset travel expenses.
“This is one ‘gang’ we welcome to our community,” said Mark O’Neal, town manager for Smyrna. “Because the Chuck Wagon Gang stands for what is good in our world.”
This appearance marks the 76th year of performances since the original Chuck Wagon Gang was formed in Lubbock, Texas, by founding member D.P. “Dad” Carter with his son, Jim, and daughters Rose and Anna, the
grandmother to the current Gang owner and manager, Shaye Smith.
The original Gang performed from the back of mule-powered wagons at outdoor church arbor meetings throughout the South before coming to Nashville in 1937 to record their early records.
“We’re so honored to appear at Smyrna Parkway Baptist Church, as Parkway members celebrate the opening of their new church building on that beautiful hill overlooking I-24,” Smith said.
Smith’s link to the Nashville music scene goes back to birth.
“I grew up in Louisiana after being born in Nashville,” Smith shared. “Grandmother Anna had married Jimmy Davis, Louisiana’s singing governor, by the time I came along.
“Sometimes, we came to Nashville when Grandmother Anna and Gov. Davis would appear on the Grand Ole Opry, where he would perform his hit song, ‘You are My Sunshine,’” Smith said, as she traced back in time. “That’s some of my memories of Grandmother Anna as I was growing up.”
What she’s learned from her grandmother’s early Gang roots is through old vinyl records and tapes of the members’ earliest performances in the 1930s and ‘40s.
“The original Gang came, like the rest of most Americans of that era, through the tough times of the Great Depression,” Smith noted. “We still sing out of hymnals at some performances, like the original Gang did.”
Over the decades, the Gang has sold more than 40 million records worldwide.
“We still sing many of the older, original songs,” she added. “We won’t stray far from what the Chuck Wagon Gang has stood the test of time doing.”
In “Echoes From the Burning Bush,” Smith echoes the alto part that Grandmother Anna helped make famously inspirational soon after the Gang started recording with Columbia Records in 1937.
Today’s fan reaction is monitored closely by Smith and fellow performers.
“Our goal is to use our God-given talents to reach the hearts of as many people we can about the love and grace of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ,” she explained.
Today, the Gang comprises Jeremy Stephens, a multi-talented instrumentalist andsong writer, and Stan Hill, who hits the high notes of tenor and harmony, as well as Julie Hudson, whose soprano notes ring the rafters pure and clean.
The last time the group performed in Middle Tennessee was in January when they taped “The Marty Stuart Show” on RFD Network and appeared on air with Stubbs.
Sources in the Nashville music scene share the Gang is currently rehearsing new songs penned specifically for them in preparation for a recording session later this year.
Stay tuned out there in radio land.