Gospel quartet to perform in Winchester
After a five-year absence from the area, an internationally recognized gospel quartet will be performing in Winchester in April.
Ernie Haase and Signature Sound will bring their music to the Fellowship Bible Church at 7 p.m. April 17. Since 2003, Signature Sound has delivered a mix of traditional and contemporary gospel music to audiences worldwide.
Haase, founder of the group, said the group’s music transcends cultures and generations.
“The thing about our group that has allowed us to hit a nerve in every market is the infectious joy of the music that is contagious to all cultures and all generations everywhere we’ve been,” Haase said.
“In a climate where things are very divisive with politics and styles of music and denominations and religions, we’ve hit upon a thing that is able to bring people together,” he added.
Haase said while the group does play a variety of religiously themed music, the fundamentals of a quartet still apply.
“We are who we are, we’re a gospel quartet,” Haase said. “There’s going to be a high tenor and a low bass, a four-part harmony … so the dynamic of that art form remain the same, just like jazz, just like country.”
Because the crowd comes from all walks of life, playing a variety just makes sense, Haase said.
“The crowds don’t mind us grabbing a praise and worship song at a church, they don’t mind us singing a hymn that is sung in a Methodist Church … they don’t mind us grabbing a Broadway song,” he said. “We’re able to do a lot of different styles, but it’s all unique gospel quartet that puts a brand on it.”
Haase said he caught the gospel bug at the age of 15, when he heard his first gospel quartet album, the Cathedral Quartet.
“It was before the Internet, before YouTube and all that stuff,” he said. “I went to my local Christian store and I said I heard the Cathedrals over the radio and I asked the lady at the counter if they had any records. She said yes, so I bought my first LP.”
After purchasing the record, Haase studied the music, picking apart the harmonies and the lyrics. All that time studying the music paid off, Haase said.
“Low and behold, 10 years later, I got invited by the Cathedral Quartet to sing tenor,” Haase said. “It’s like a basketball player who grew up watching Michael Jordan and being asked by him to play a pick-up game.”
The Promisedland Quartet, based in Woodstock, will open for Haase and Signature Sound, although founder Gene Hamman said it is a little more equitable than a typical opening act.
“We’re not treated like an opening act, we’re given equal time,” Hamman said. “They treat us great … they are some of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. We’ve toured with these guys before in the past four years.”
Hamman said the Promisedland Quartet performs mostly southern gospel music. He said while it’s a “high compliment,” the group is not like the Statler Brothers.
“Especially in Pennsylvania and the northern states, those folks are crazy over the Statlers,” Hamman said. “You take an all-male quartet and you’re from Virginia and you’re an hour from Statler [country] and they say, ‘You guys remind us of the Statler Brothers.'”
Hamman added, “Even though we have two completely different styles, we take it as a high compliment. To have your name associated with the Statlers is a good thing.”
Hamman is “the local guy” of the group, with his band mates residing in Warrenton, Winchester, St. Albans, West Virginia, and Springfield, West Virginia. He said while he could not speak for the rest of the group, his favorite aspect of singing gospel music is “changing people’s lives.”
“It gives us great joy to do not only what we want to do and feel like we’re called to do, but to know we’re helping to encourage, bless and change lives through our music,” he said.
For instance, on the way to a show in Richmond, the group stopped at a retirement home to play for the residents because one of Hamman’s friend’s wife was there. Then later, after the big show in Richmond, Hamman recalled meeting a gentleman after a show who had a lot of weight resting on his shoulders.
“His wife was sick and his brother-in-law had terminal cancer,” Hamman said. “He told me he wasn’t going to come, but something led him to … he had tears of joy, because for an hour and a half, he was able to forget his worries and refresh his soul with a good time.”
For Hamman, “the icing on the cake” is “if someone comes to know Christ through our efforts.”
“For 15 years, hundreds of folks, I don’t keep track, but the good Lord does,” he said. “We’ve had people tell us they’ve accepted Christ at one of our shows … we’ve even had a couple of occasions where someone told us they were saved at one of our shows and went on to be a pastor.”
The show is at 7 p.m. April 17 at the Fellowship Bible Church, 3217 Middle Road, Winchester. Tickets can be purchased through Promisedland Quartet Promotions by calling 540-212-3744.
Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org