94th Annual Singing on the Mountain This Sunday; “Whosoever Will May Come.”

Published Friday, June 22, 2018 at 5:26 pm

Joe Hartley: The first Singing on the Mountain took place in 1924 and has been an annual event ever since. Pictured is founder Joe L. Hartley Sr. Photo courtesy of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

Singing on the Mountain has been welcoming one and all for the past 94 years, and this year is no different. On Sunday, June 24, all are welcome to join in a free gospel music festival set in MacRae Meadows at the base of Grandfather Mountain.

The 94th annual Singing on the Mountain will return to Linville, N.C., with a full lineup of gospel music sensations, including: The Collective, The Cockman Family, Michael Combs, Patricia Smith and New Covenant.

Singing on the Mountain is not only about the music, but the gospel message, as well. This year’s message will be delivered by former N.C. State basketball player Tommy Burleson, who is passionate about sharing the gospel.

The celebration will begin at 9 a.m. and continue until 2 p.m., with a break at 1 p.m. for Burleson’s sermon. The day will conclude with a special performance of “Just As I Am” by all of the performers to honor the late Rev. Billy Graham.

About Singing on the Mountain

The spirit of the Singing is not so different than the first held in 1924, when founder Joe Hartley Sr. coordinated a Sunday School picnic on the same grounds. The festival’s popularity exploded in the 1960s and ’70s, drawing such names as Johnny Cash, Roy Acuff and Bob Hope.

Today, the Singing is recognized by the N.C. Arts Council and Blue Ridge National Heritage Area as part of the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina and is the oldest ongoing old-time gospel convention remaining in the Southern Appalachians.

“The Hartley family still comes, and they still bring their picnic like they did more than 90 years ago,” said Harris Prevost, vice president of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that oversees and operates the Linville, N.C., nature park. “Little has changed, except for the size of our audience and the technology we use.”

The Speaker

Singing on the Mountain is not only well-known for its beautiful natural setting, but the notable speakers and performers it hosts, as well.

The sermon will be delivered by Tommy Burleson, who serves as the director of Avery County Planning and Inspections. However, he is better known for his previous occupation — basketball player. Burleson was a part of the 1974 NCAA national championship team and the 1972 U.S. Olympic Basketball Team. 

Although he stands 7’2”, Burleson found a higher calling — ministry work in Africa over the past two decades. He also sells Christmas trees to help his friends in Malawi. He raises thousands of dollars each year to pay for travel expenses to the impoverished landlocked country in southeastern Africa, one of the world’s least developed countries, with a low life expectancy and a high infant mortality rate. Burleson also has taken many trips to the town of Nkhoma to deliver medical supplies to those in need.

The Performers

One of the most popular performers in the history of the Singing is performer Michael Combs, who looks forward to sharing his personal message of redemption — through music.

“After squandering many years living in the world and nearly destroying my life with drugs and alcohol, something wonderful happened in my life,” Combs said. “Or, better yet, someone wonderful happened to give me life — his name is Jesus.”

Almost immediately, Combs said, he found himself in a ministry of music.

“I never thought I would be doing what I’ve been doing for the last 25 years, but now I can’t imagine myself doing anything else,” he said.

To learn more about Michael Combs, visit www.michaelcombs.com.

The Singing will also host performances by: The Cockman Family (http://www.cockmanfamily.com), New Covenant (www.newcovenantgospelmusic.com), The Collective (https://thecollective1.com) and Patricia Smith (abundanceofblessingsmusic.com).

Important Information

Free, handicapped-accessible parking is available at MacRae Meadows, located on U.S. 221, two miles north of Linville and one mile south of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 305.

Attendees are encouraged to dress casually and bring lawn chairs, blankets and picnics. Concessionaires will also be on site. A goodwill offering will be collected to support the musicians who volunteer their time to perform.

The Singing on the Mountain remains free, according to the longstanding motto: “Whosoever will may come.

For more information, please visit our website at: http://singingonthemountain.org.

Singing on the Mountain Foundation Inc. is now a non-profit organization recognized by the U.S. Treasury. The foundation is now accepting donations to help fund the yearly event. To contribute, visit the foundation’s Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/events/194291111299860??ti=ia, click the “Donate” button below or send a check payable to “Singing on the Mountain Foundation Inc.” and mail to the address below.

Singing on the Mountain Foundation/

137 Cross Center Drive; Box 209
Denver, N.C. 28037


EDITOR’S NOTE:  A story on Singing on the Mountain was featured in our June issue of High Country Magazine. You can read the story online by going to our magazine here: www.hcpress.com/june-mag-2018


Tommy Burleson: Former N.C. State and Olympic Basketball Player Tommy Burleson will deliver the sermon at the 94th annual Singing on the Mountain. Photo courtesy of www.freewebs.com/milleniumcowboy/tomburleson.htm

Michael Combs: One of Singing on the Mountain’s most popular performers in its decade-spanning history is Michael Combs, who shares his personal message of redemption through music. He’ll return for the 94th annual event on June 24. 

The Cockman Family: The Cockman Family is a bluegrass-gospel band whose music blends encouragement, energy and entertainment.

New Covenant: New Covenant brings to the stage a blend of contemporary Christian, praise and worship and Southern gospel and is known to take audiences through a nostalgic journey of ’50s and ’60s music, from time to time.

The Collective: The Collective has been playing music in & out of the Mountains of N.C. for about 20 years now. Formerly known as “The Whip Daddy’s,” they have performed at concerts, festivals, country clubs and weddings.

Patricia Smith: Gospel performer Patricia Smith returns to Grandfather Mountain for the 94th annual Singing on the Mountain.








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