Benson holds its traditions in high regard, taking time each year to celebrate deep roots in farming, community and rural culture. The small Johnston County town is synonymous with Mule Days in September, but it’s the State Annual Singing Convention that first drew a crowd to Benson.
The Sing will return this weekend for its 95th year — three days of music and competition from some of the best gospel acts in the music business.
Friday And Saturday
Friday night will kick things off with a three-hour “singspiration” from 7 to 10 p.m. featuring Full Reliance, The Hinshaw Family, Master’s Hands, Heart’s Song, Trinity Quartet and The Griffins performing 30-minute sets each.
On Saturday, “round robin” singing will usher in the second day of the convention at 10 a.m., followed by the start of the singing competition at 2 p.m.
An awards ceremony will be held for a selection of categories following the competition on Saturday. However, the two top prizes — the Grand Champion Cup and Consolation Cup — will be awarded on Sunday. The full list of competition categories includes duet, trio, quartet, family and church choir.
A concert will also be held on Saturday featuring host group Gold City Quartet at 7 p.m. Opening act the Adoration Quartet will take the stage at 6:30 p.m.
On Sunday morning, more round robin singing will wake attendees at 10 a.m., while the continuation of the competition will begin at 2 p.m. An awards ceremony for the top winners of the competition is set to follow.
“We’ve done a good job of praising the Lord through southern gospel music and we have the most dedicated fans in a three-state area” Convention President Danny “Mack” Holland told The Daily Record last year while getting ready for the event. “And as long as they show up, this will remain the best gospel show on the east coast.”
There will be no competition on Friday night and no solos due to time constraints. All sessions are free and open to the public.
Attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair. Registration for the competition should be completed by 1 p.m. Saturday. There is no online registration this year, groups are asked to register in the office on site. There is no entry fee to compete.
A Gospel Music Legacy
The origin of the convention dates back to the 1920s, when a small group of music lovers — consisting predominately of area farmers and town folk — gathered in a tobacco warehouse for a concert, eyes fixed on a makeshift stage.
From backyard choirs and grassroots troubadours, the event began to gain momentum, drawing waves of gospel music followers to see nationally renowned acts and swelling Benson’s population by the thousands each year in late June.
With the dawning of the 1950s, the Sing was well established and by the 1960s and into the 1970s — Benson’s Singing Grove had become a yearly destination for just about anyone with an interest in gospel music. Courtesy The Daily Record