Life is too frustrating and difficult to be taken seriously every minute of the day, so sometimes a little break can be just what's needed. And gospel singing legend Ivan Parker knows that all too well.
His latest CD, "Joyride," spreads the message of taking some time to enjoy life in the moment rather than worrying and being too busy all the time.
He will bring that message to the Blair County Convention Center at 7 p.m. Oct. 26.
(Courtesy photo) Gospel artist Ivan Parker will stage a concert Oct. 26 at Blair County Convention Center. Parker previously sang with The Gold City Quartet and the Gaither Trio.
"There are really a lot of people out there who are feeling helpless and hopeless," said Parker, 54, during a telephone interview from his home in Nashville. He wants to encourage others on their journey so they don't give up on life and stumble across the finish life.
"Sometimes we need to spend a day just enjoying life. I think God intends for us to enjoy the journey," he said. "Put all that stuff down and take a joyride today. Take some time away from all these issues and take a joyride."
Parker believes that gospel music is the perfect way to share his ministry which focuses on his No. 1 passion - his love for God - and combine it with music that will touch listeners.
If you go
Who: Ivan Parker with The Master's Plan
When: 7 p.m. Oct. 26, doors open at 6 p.m.
Where: Blair County Convention Center
Cost: $15 in advance and $20 at the door
For tickets: Visit the Blair County Convention Center or itickets.com
"To me, the mission is that this is the greatest music in the world," he said. "Gospel music is the most positive message for the world. It lets people know there is hope for tomorrow and no matter what you are going through, there is always a song to encourage you and let you know that God has everyone and everything under his control."
That became a little clearer, he said, when he was listening to demo tracks while planning his latest CD project in 2010. One of the songs "Joyride" really made him stop and think about what it was saying.
"Almost instantly it put in my spirit, this is something I need to share," he said. "It was talking about laying these troubles aside for a little while and enjoying the journey God has prepared for us."
Sitting on his couch that day, Parker looked at his own life and decided to give it a try.
"You realize how busy you get. We're living in such a busy world, every second of our day is structured," he said.
Sometimes, he needs to take a moment to look at the great day God has given him.
"You can't always be making decisions and be concerned about everything. Sometimes that has to stop," Parker said.
One thing that hasn't stopped is Parker's singing career. He joined The Singing Americans in 1982 then joined The Gold City Quartet as lead vocalist in 1983 and went on to win numerous awards and top ten hits. He has garnered many honors and awards as a vocalist including Soloist of the Year in 1998 from the Southern Gospel Music Association.
He joined the Gaither Trio in 1996 and has sung in hundreds of Gaither concerts and been a part of most of the Gaither Homecoming videos. Although he tries not to schedule extended tours so he can spend time at home with his family, he manages to perform about 200 concerts each year.
"It just keeps me on the road every weekend," he said.
It was at one of his shows this spring in Ohio where he met Bruce Cornelius, a concert organizer from DuBois. Cornelius also sings in The Master's Plan quartet, which will be opening for Parker.
Cornelius said he enjoyed Parker's performance so much, he asked about scheduling him to come to central Pennsylvania. They were able to arrange for Parker to perform at Lakeside Methodist Church in DuBois Oct. 25 and in Altoona Oct. 26.
The Master's Plan consists of Cornelius, his wife Allison, their long-time friend Ray Alexander and newcomer Jean Anthony. Bruce Cornelius and Alexander met in the 1980s in a barbershop quartet, and they formed The Master's Plan in 2006. The group is currently in the process of getting songs to record their first CD, Cornelius said.
"We do a wide variety of music. There's a lot for everybody," Cornelius said. The group's music ranges from old-time gospel to hymns and spirituals as well as songs from modern gospel songwriter Jim Brady.
Cornelius said he was happy to arrange the concert with Parker because he believes in Parker's ministry.
"He sings from the heart, every word that's sung," Cornelius said of Parker. "It draws you in a closeness to the singer and the words he's singing. God gives the words; man just sings them."
Parker said it is a challenge to plan what songs he will perform any night because he has so many old favorites that fans love to hear as well as all his recent songs.
"God has been good to me," he said of his number of hits including "The Midnight Cry" which he calls his signature song.
"I originally recorded it in 1987, but the song just took off on its own life. It seems almost the longer it's out, the more popular it gets," he said.
He was asked to sing "The Midnight Cry" during the Gaither Homecoming Tour in 2007 when they filmed a video in South Africa. Again, the song took off and landed the No. 1 spot on the charts of the Gospel Music Association Network in Europe, 20 years after it was released.
"People just fell in love with it and expect it every night," he said.
No matter what songs he performs, Parker said he wants the audience to have a good time.
"Every night that I perform, I always want to keep it where they not only receive a blessing, but that they get some encouragement from it," he said. "Maybe they'll hear a song that touches them and helps get them through a situation."
He also makes sure to put some of that joy back into the concert, as well.
"I want them to laugh and have fun," he said. "Everything can't be serious all the time. We have to take the time to laugh and have a great time."
Just as parents love to hear their kids laughing and having fun, Parker said the heavenly Father loves to see his children having a good time, too.
"If we take these things too seriously, we can't enjoy the moment," he said. That's why he plans for two hours of singing and laughter at his concerts.
"People are so ecstatic, they don't want to leave," he said. "People have not laughed and let go in so long, they can enjoy this place . . . and just forget whatever is around them."