By David Knopf, News Editor
People who attend next week’s country gospel competitions will hear everything from hymns to bluegrass to traditional Southern Gospel and contempory Gospel, all with a country feel.
The Country Gospel Music Assocation, which holds several regional competitions leading up to an annual international event in Branson, has only one requirement for its contestants, local organizer Steve Mynatt said.
“You’re going to hear a little bit of everything,” said Mynatt, a Polo resident whose wife and daughter have won a variety of CGMA awards. “As long as God’s spoken to them to sing that song, we’ll let them.”
Next week’s convention will be held at the Farris Theatre, a first for Richmond. Mynatt expects 120 to 130 performers, all of whom will appear on the Farris stage from Monday through Saturday. There’s no admission charge, but organizers will accept free-will donations.
The schedule includes a 5 p.m. Sing ‘N’ Share on Monday and Tuesday, Nominee Showcase performances Wednesday through Friday, also at 5 p.m., and Saturday’s 5 p.m. grand finale, the Silver Heart Awards.
Several other events are planned, also open to the public. The convention gets under way this Sunday with a 6 p.m. kickoff at Henrietta First Baptist Church. Mynatt said the slate of entertainers will include around a dozen international award winners – the CGMA’s highest competitive honor.
There will also be worship services at 10 a.m. each morning at Richmond’s Assembly of God Church, 303 S. College, and a worship service at the Farris Theatre each evening at 5. Music begins at 6:30.
Mynatt said it was his wife’s idea to propose the Farris as this year’s venue. The Central USA event was in Springdale, Ark. in 2011.
CGMA President Billy Hale signed off on the idea, Mynatt said, and Hale and Central Division vice president Gary Warlick will share emcee duties during next week’s convention.
Mynatt said the audience is likely to grow as performers arrive to compete in their categories. There are around 35 areas of competition, Mynatt said, including solo and group performances, with a special division for teenage entertainers.
Mynatt said that country Gospel music is popular around the country, especially in the south and other areas served by specialized radio stations.
The closest venue to Ray County is a small radio station in Leavenworth, Kan.
Christi Mynatt has found success in the country Gospel niche with six No. 1 singles. Her most recent CD release, “Just Speak His Name,” was completed in 2011.
Local entertainers who’d like to enter the competition are still welcome. Mynatt said the only requirement is that a performer’s reason for singing is that “God’s spoken to them.”
There’s a one-time $50 CGMA membership that provides lifetime membership and privileges in the organization, Mynatt said. He can answer questions about the convention schedule, membership and competition divisions. Mynatt’s number is 816-200-8488.