|Karen Peck and New River - Susan Peck Jackson, Karen Peck Gooch|
and Jeff Hawes
Karen Peck and New River started the afternoon with "Ephesians Chapter One." They then went into their most recent #1 song, "Mighty Big God," from Reach Out. Jeff was featured on the next song "He Set Me Free." He has really come into his own with New River and really nailed this song.
Karen then talked about how it had been a tough week for a lot of people with Sandy on the East Coast. Susan sang "Sustaining Grace" which was so timely and fit the people in Sandy's path so well. I think Susan is one of the most underrated altos in the genre. I love hearing her sing this song.
They sang "I Want to Thank You" next. Then Karen asked the veterans to stand to recognize them, and then she sang "The Star Spangled Banner" a cappella. Karen's rendition of this song gives me chills every time. It is absolutely amazing.
Karen then talked about her experience working on Joyful Noise. She said a lot of people asked her why she would participate in a secular movie that was rated PG13. She talked about that God has called us to step out and be a light to the world and through this movie she was able to do that on an even bigger platform. They sang "Mighty High" from the movie with clips from the movie playing on the screen. This is such a fun song, and I'm glad they are including it in their concerts.
Jeff then sang "Look What the Lord Has Done" before Karen made the group's introductions. I am one of those people who really likes the long intros for the group members with the stories, but one thing I really like about Karen that she does every time is recognizing everyone who travels with the group. I think it's very classy that she takes time to do this every concert. She mentioned their bus driver, Tripp, is four years sober and drug free, and he always wants her to share that to encourage people who might be praying for someone struggling with one or both of those to not give up on them.
"I Can See Clearly" was the next song they sang. Karen went into the audience during the last chorus, and gave some people a chance to sing as well. Two of the singers she found in the audience were none other than Brenda and Elaine from 2nd Generation who were there to enjoy an afternoon off at the concert. Karen had thanked them earlier in the show for coming.
They ended the first half with two of my favorite songs. They sang "On the Banks of the Promised Land," which is I think the highlight of Reach Out. It's such an incredible song that speaks of the promise of Heaven. Then, they sang "Four Days Late." This is a song that never gets old, and always speaks to so many people. I'm sure it's one that they sing every concert, but they sing it with such power and conviction every time, and you can tell they never stop thinking about the message of the song and making sure that reaches the audience.
Before Karen Peck and New River came back to the stage, a couple of people from the church sang. Karen asked one of them, Chopper Ward, to sing with them. He took Jeff's microphone and sang "Truth Is" with them. It had been a while since they had sung the song, so there were a few forgotten words, but a great song with Chopper regardless.
funny moment, but they went with it. Karen, of course, gave Rickey a funny look when it started! Karen had both men who sang from the church join them on stage for the always crowd-pleasing song, even if it wasn't on purpose!!
She was able to slow the tempo back down for the next song, "My God Will Always Be Enough," which is another personal favorite of mine. Karen came out into the audience on this one as well to shake hands and really connect with the audience.
Karen then shared the story of their bus accident on Sept. 1, 2010. She said she thought eventually that they would stop telling this story, but God has them to keep sharing it. A man pulled out in front of their bus, and died in the accident. Just 10 weeks later, a semi hit their bus late one night. She talked about being fearful of getting back on the bus after two wrecks, but then quoted 2 Tim 1 where it says that God does not give us a spirit of fear. And they had to choose not to live in fear. She talked about being thankful for God's mercy and grace. Then she led into the invitation of the program. She made a clear presentation of the gospel and wanted to make sure that everyone there knew Christ.
At the end, she asked if anyone there wanted to share a word. One lady spoke up and talked about how her son had died at 17 after a hard-fought life. She said that at his funeral they played "I Wanna Know How It Feels," and she talked about how much the song meant to her and had helped her. She thanked Karen for the song and asked if she would sing it. Karen said of course she would. She actually wrote the song, and shared how she wrote it. She had been humming the melody for a while. But one day when she was missing her dad who passed away, she was folding towels and the song started coming to her. She had John Darrin Rowsey help her with it. They sang it for the lady, and it was such a sweet moment.
They ended the concert with "I'll Fly Away," and of course everyone in the audience was on their feet clapping along.
Karen Peck and New River always have great concerts, and Sunday afternoon was such a sweet time of not only funny stories and moments, but also of testimonies and worship. They definitely realize that this is special calling on their lives, and it is their ministry.
They are also some of the most personable people to talk to after a concert! I told Karen I just wished they came to Arkansas more often, because Sunday afternoon was definitely a blessing to me!