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Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022

Gospel artists to perform at NWPAC

VW independent/submitted infomation

Van Wert Live announces the unique opportunity to experience a collaboration of the Gaither Music Group at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

Acclaimed artists Jimmy Fortune, Bradley Walker, Mike Rogers and Ben Isaacs will bring their act to the NWPAC April 15.

Proudly presented by Eileen Manken, acclaimed gospel artists and Grand Ole Opry favorites, Jimmy Fortune, Bradley Walker, Mike Rogers, and Ben Isaacs will converge on the stage for a collaborative performance of their album Brotherly Love at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 15. Tickets are on sale now to Van Wert Live members and will be available to the general public on Friday, November 26.

Brotherly Love is a new album from the Gaither Music Group featuring the quartet, whose music has regularly crossed country, bluegrass, and Gospel boundaries. Each member of the group brings a wealth of experience to the Gaither Music Group project. Fortune rose to fame as a member of the Statler Brothers and penned some of their biggest hits (“Elizabeth,” “Too Much on My Heart”) before forging a successful solo career when the quartet retired.

Walker is a Dove award-winning artist with a strong following in country, gospel, and bluegrass. Isaacs has performed with his mother and sisters for years as the Grammy-nominated group The Isaacs. Formerly with the legendary Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Rogers is one of the most highly respected musicians in bluegrass music.

Each member brings their intriguing mixture of experiences and influences to Brotherly Love. The result is a diverse collection that spotlights some of the best-loved gems on America’s musical landscape. Walker takes lead on the mournful Hank Williams Sr. classic “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” Fortune’s pristine tenor shines on the Vince Gill hit “Go Rest High on That Mountain.” Rogers delivers a spirited take on the O Brother, Where Art Thou hit “Man of Constant Sorrow”; and Isaacs’ warm voice revives the Don Williams’ hit “Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good.”

Their friendship and camaraderie shine on the title track, “Brotherly Love,” a country hit for the late Keith Whitley and Earl Thomas Conley. The album also features the Statler Brothers’ classic “The Class of ’57” and Roy Orbison’s “Crying” as well as such gospel standards as “The Lighthouse,” “Daddy Sang Bass” and “Where No One Stands Alone.”
The seeds for this unique project were sown when Isaacs and Rogers began playing around Nashville just for fun. “First of all, I think it is a God thing,” Isaacs said of how the foursome originated. “Mike and I had sung on Jimmy’s records and we’ve sung on Bradley’s records, but we were playing downtown and [Gaither Music Group’s] Barry Jennings came and watched us play. He said, ‘This is too good for people not to hear.’ So he asked if we would be willing to do it with Jimmy and Bradley and I said, ‘Absolutely.’”

“We got together, and when we sang for the first time it was magical. Together the blend and the love we have for each other was so strong that I felt like it had to be shared.”

A 12-time Grammy-nominated producer who has shepherded many of the top names in the industry, Isaacs produced Brotherly Love.

“For me, it was a given that Jimmy sing ‘Go Rest High’ because there’s no one who is going to sing that with more heart than Jimmy Fortune,” Isaacs said. “It was a given that Bradley would sing ‘The Lighthouse’ and that Mike would sing ‘Man of Constant Sorrow.’ He does so good with those energy things. It was, ‘Here’s our favorite songs,’ and it was more about whatever song fit the personality.”

One of the most soulful moments on the album is Fortune’s rendition of the chart-topping 1979 J.D. Southern hit “You’re Only Lonely.” Fortune credits the late Chuck Dauphin for suggesting he record the song.

“He did so much for me and my solo career,” Fortune says of the award-winning journalist, who passed away in 2019. “We were getting ready to do this project, and I got a call from Chuck. He said, ‘Man, you were telling me about working with Ben Isaacs, Bradley Walker and Mike Rogers on this new project. Me and some of my friends were talking, and we would love to hear you do “You’re Only Lonely” from JD Souther.’ I said, ‘My gosh, that’s funny you said that because that song has been on my mind.’”

“A while later I called Chuck to tell him we recorded it, but he died before he got to hear it. I miss him so much but I’ve got a feeling he hears it. I loved him so much. He did so much for so many. He was a great writer and a good man.”

One of the moments that gave everybody chills was Walker’s cover of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”

“When you hear a voice that has been soaked in heart and soul that’s Bradley Walker’s voice,” Fortune said. “Bradley singing ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’ is the best I’ve ever heard it done. I’m not even singing on that and it’s my favorite song on the whole album. Man, it’s so stinkin’ good! When you hear the blend that comes in with Mike and Ben singing with Bradley on the harmonies, it’s just incredible. It’s a great cut on one of the greatest songs ever written.”

In addition to recording the album, the foursome also filmed a concert video at Rory Feek’s barn that will be featured as a television special on multiple networks. The award-winning singer/songwriter Feek conducted behind-the-scenes interviews with the group members as well as Bill Gaither and hosted the DVD, which captures special, in-the-round performances of the songs on the album, plus two bonus songs—“Elizabeth” and “I’ll Fly Away.”

“That night there was so much energy in the room and the crowd was involved. It just felt so good,” Rogers said. “The energy was just so incredible, and to sing on stage in the round like we did – it was just amazing. It was one of the coolest, if not the coolest, nights that I’ve ever been a part of ever in my whole time of playing music.”

The collaboration of Fortune/Walker/Rogers/Isaacs not only showcases great songs brought to life once again through amazing performances, it also celebrates the bonds of true friendship.

“If ever we needed brotherly love we sure need it in the world today towards one another,” Fortune said. “We need to look at each other with the love of real brotherhood. We’re all in this together. No matter what our differences are, we have more in common than we think we do, and that is love for one another. That’s what this whole project is all about, and that’s why we wanted to call it Brotherly Love.”

Annual sponsors making live entertainment happen in Van Wert are Central Insurance, First Federal Bank of Van Wert, and Statewide Ford-Lincoln.

VWLive Event and Membership information can be found at or through the box office by phone 419.238.6722 or in-person from 12-4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 12-6 p.m. on Friday.

The Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation presenting VWLive events is powered by the Van Wert County Foundation.

The box office is located within the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, 10700 SR 118 South.

POSTED: 11/11/21 at 4:50 am. FILED UNDER: News