Gospel music lovers throughout the county are in for a treat this month, with three concerts being hosted by local churches. Two of the concerts are free.
Ivan Parker will be the guest performer at 7 p.m. Friday at First United Methodist Church of Spring Hill, 9344 Spring Hill Drive. Tickets are $10 per person.
Having won almost every gospel music vocalist award possible over the years (while singing in quartets, beginning in 1982, and as a soloist since 1994) Parker could place the emphasis on being a successful entertainer. But for him, performing music is about more than entertainment. He considers it his ministry.
"One of the most important things that I love to do on stage is see how a particular song is ministering to someone," Parker said in an interview with the Times in 2008, when he previously performed at Methodist Church in Spring Hill. "When I see how the song is ministering, I know they got it."
Getting it, he said, means that the song is helping someone.
"All the messages of all these songs that I sing are very important to me. I sing a particular song for a reason. Maybe someone is just hurting and they need a touch of God in their life right now. It's so good to be able to sing a song that I know has really hit home for someone."
Parker performs about 200 concerts a year and has recorded 13 solo CDs.
Since his earlier visit to the church, he was awarded the Southern Gospel Male Artist from England's UK Gospel Music Awards in 2008. The "Best of Ivan Parker" DVD topped Billboard Magazine Charts across gospel genres.
In 2009, he was awarded Soloist of The Year by Singing News Fan Awards, Visionary Award Nomination and released his CD Unity.
The artist released another DVD, Exclusively Live, in 2010 and was nominated for two Christian Music Hall of Fame Visionary Awards Southern Gospel Male Vocalist of the Year and Inspirational Male Vocalist of the Year.
In 2011 Parker released his latest CD, Joyride, and won Favorite Southern Gospel Soloist by the Singing News Fan Awards.
The singer has also performed at Northcliffe Baptist Church.
Doors for next week's show will open at 6 p.m. Call (352) 686-9114 for tickets. For credit card purchases, call toll-free 1-800-965-9324. Tickets will be available at the door. Visit ivanparker.com.
Spring Hill Baptist Church will host the Talleys at 10:50 a.m. Jan. 13. It will be the first time the award-winning trio has performed in Hernando County.
While Roger Talley began singing as a youth with his brother and sister in east Tennessee, it was in 1984, after Roger had performed with the Hoppers, that the brothers formed a trio with Roger's wife, Debra, who had been singing with the Songmasters and the Hoppers.
When Roger and Debra's daughter, Lauren, was 2, she occasionally came on stage to sing with the trio.
Once Lauren began school, the Talleys came off the road and the group disbanded in 1993. By 1996, the group began touring again,this time as the Talley Trio, which then included just the parents and daughter.
Kirk Talley occasionally sings with the group as well as with other artists, such as Ivan Parker.
Now, again billing themselves as the Talleys, Roger, Debra and Lauren, known for their close-knit harmonies, perform more than 100 concerts per year around the world.
According to their website, thetalleys.com, besides concerts throughout the United States, the trio has performed in Norway, Northern Ireland, Italy and South Africa.
They regularly appear on the National Quartet Convention stage, and have been featured artists at Singing in the Sun, and Gatlinburg Gathering gospel music events held in various locations in the Southeast. They have appeared on several Gaither Homecoming videos.
Awards and nominations for their music include Dove Awards, Singing News Fan Awards, Southern Gospel Music Guild Harmony Honors, BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) Awards and SGN (Southern Gospel News) Music Awards. Each member has received individual honors for his or her work and each has produced solo albums along with numerous group albums.
The most awarded, recognizable and requested songs include Searchin', The Healer, I Love the Lord, The Answer is Christ, That's Enough and Life Goes On.
There is no charge for the concert; an offering will be taken.
The church is at 3140 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill. Call (352) 683-5685.
Faith Fellowship Church will present the Weatherfords with Roy Pauley in concert at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 18.
Lily Weatherford, who now sings with her son, Steve, has been ministering in song since the 1940s, launching her career with her husband, Earl, who formed a quartet in 1944 in Long Beach, Calif.
Their classic album, In the Garden, was produced by Chet Atkins and released in 1959.
Over the years, well-known members of the group included Glen Payne, George Younce, Armond Morales, Jim Hammel and Henry Slaughter. A chronology of the singers and their individual careers is available at theweatherfords.com.
From 1953 to 1963, the Weatherfords were on staff with one of the first television ministries, the Cathedral of Tomorrow with the Rev. Rex Humbard.
Some of the Weatherford's most memorable songs include What a Precious Friend, Tell My Friends and The Easter Gate, each of which are requested and sung at every concert by Lily.
In 2000, Lily and Earl, now deceased, were inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame, according to the group's website, it was the first time a husband and wife team was inducted together.
Lily Weatherford continues to perform about 200 concerts a year and appears on Gaither Homecoming videos.
Pauley has sung with the Weatherfords before, as well as several times at Faith Fellowship Church with his wife Amy on the keyboard. The Orlando resident is known for his column in Singing News magazine and has been featured on two Gaither Homecoming videos.
The concert is free; an offering will be taken.
Faith Fellowship Church is at 19255 Campground Road in Brooksville. For further information, please call Pastor Ward Hall at 352-796-6589 or Frank Bibber at 352-754-9330.