Renee Martin, the Dixie Melody Boys, Sue Dodge, Buddy Liles and the Good News Quartet will headline the 34th annual Pennsylvania State Singing Convention and Reunion.
Sponsored by the Vicksburg Quartet of Duncansville, the singing celebration will also feature 150 groups, duets and soloists performing from Thursday through Aug. 16 at Morrisons Cove Memorial Park in Martinsburg.
Steve Aungst, organizer and promoter for the event, said more headliners have been acquired to please the crowd and boost attendance. He said the convention mostly draws people who are middle aged and older, but families are considered, too. A Clowns for Christ Kids Program for children will be held at 10 a.m. Aug. 15.
(Courtesy photos) The Dixie Melody Boys will appear at the Pennsylvania State Singing Convention and Reunion for the first time in about 30 years.
He said people who enjoy Southern gospel and country music attend the four-day event while those who enjoy contemporary Christian music attend the Creation festival held in June near Mount Union.
Although the Vicksburg Quartet stopped performing in 1996, Aungst and other former members continue to bring the convention to Martinsburg. It provides an opportunity for local vocalists and groups to be heard and hopefully acquire bookings. Most are from Pennsylvania with others traveling from West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and New York.
One of this year's headliners, the Dixie Melody Boys, attended the convention in 1980.
"They are a well-known Southern gospel group," Aungst said.
Led by Ed O'Neal, the Dixie Melody Boys have received a Grammy nomination and numerous fan award nominations from the Singing News Magazine, Southern Gospel Music's leading fan and trade publication.
They have enjoyed more than 20 Top 40 hits, including eight Top 10 releases and a No. 1 single.
Aungst expects Dodge to draw a crowd for her performance.
"She used to sing with the Spear Family from Nashville, Tenn. Now she is known for her Bill Gaither videos," he said.
Dodge is the winner of four consecutive Dove Awards for best female vocalist. Her national and TV broadcast appearances include "In Touch" with Charles Stanley, the "700 Club" and TBN.
Liles, another headliner, was a member of the Florida Boys Quartet for more than 25 years.
"He is a famous name in Southern gospel music and is one of the most requested artists on WJSM-AM radio in Martinsburg," Aungst said.
Liles performed on the "Gospel Singing Jubilee" for many years. He has been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and has appeared on many of the Bill Gaither videos.
Aungst said Martin was a backup singer for Faith Hill and Tim McGraw and sang before a crowd of 25,000 in Madison Square Garden. She also has been a backup singer for Patty Loveless, Jessica Andrews, Pam Tillis, Billy Dean and other artists in country, pop and gospel music. She continues to do backup work for artists in Nashville while pursuing her solo career.
Aungst said The Good News quartet is not as well known, but "it's a really good sounding group." It consists of singers from New York and Pennsylvania, including Mark Berkey of Windber. They sing Southern gospel, contemporary a cappella and traditional music.
"They sing in Pennsylvania quite a bit," Aungst said.
Admission and parking for the event are free. Participants should bring lawn chairs. Camp sites are available for $14 to $17 per site per night.
Activities such as swimming, roller skating, tennis, bowling, baseball and a children's playground are available. The roller skating rink will be open at a special rate from 7 to 10 p.m. Aug. 15.
Aungst said special provisions will be available for the handicapped.