Famed gospel singer headlines Parker homecoming concerts
Gospel singer Ivan Parker may have made it in the world of music, living in Nashville, Tenn., recording dozens of albums and raking in many awards and honors, but he still has a soft spot for Lee County, where he grew up.
Parker, the youngest of seven children whose father was a Pentecostal preacher, was born in nearby Roanoke Rapids. The family moved to Broadway when Parker was little, and he lived there until he got married and started touring the country. He'll be back in town tonight and Saturday night for a concert and homecoming/family reunion event to which the public is invited.
Parker — who Gospel magazine Singing News named favorite lead vocalist every year from 1988–1993; favorite male vocalist from 1989-1995 and again in 1997; favorite soloist from 2001-04 and again in 2006; and fan choice male vocalist of the year in 2007 and 2008 — will be the biggest name performing in the two-night show, but not the only one, or even the only one named Parker.
Older brother Danny Parker is organizing the concert with his wife, Sue, and will also be singing with his own gospel group, the Harvesters Quartet. Both his group and Ivan Parker will be performing both nights; Friday will also feature Brian Free and Assurance, and Saturday will feature Karen Peck and New River, plus special performances by other Parker siblings.
"We grew up in church singing gospel music, and for that reason, it kind of became old hat — a tradition for us," Danny Parker said, adding that he thinks the biggest draw of Saturday will be an appearance by his 88-year-old mother Katie Parker, who will testify and talk about faith and family.
Family will be the theme of the event — which is in its 15th consecutive year and draws visitors from as far afield as Florida, Oregon, New York and even foreign countries — but Danny Parker said that their definition of family doesn't just include close relatives.
"People might not be super well-related to us, but they come year after year and become like a part of the family," he said.
Ivan agreed, adding that as much as he enjoys seeing fresh faces and meeting new people, he also loves catching up with old friends and even a few old teachers who come out to the shows.
"It's really fun to see those people and hear them say, 'So this is what I put up with for all those years,'" he said. "... This place is very dear to me."
Doors at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center will open each night at 6 p.m., with Friday's concert beginning at 7 p.m. and Saturday's beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets range from $7 to $30. More details can be found, and purchases can be made, by calling Danny or Sue Parker at (919) 776-4055, The Carpenter's Shop at (919) 776-7527 or Broadway Hardware at (919) 258-3843. More information can also be found online at www.harvestersquartet.com. Tickets are available for either night, or a bargain deal is offered for both nights.
What: Parker Homecoming Celebration concerts
Where: Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center in Sanford
When: 7 p.m. Friday, 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: Prices range from $7 to $30. Contact Danny or Sue Parker at (919) 776-4055, The Carpenter's Shop at (919) 776-7527 or Broadway Hardware at (919) 258-3843.