St. Jude Gospel Extravaganza
10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, March 23
Millington Civic Center Auditorium, 8077 Wilkinsville Rd.
Admission, $10, children $5, 5 and under free. For more information, call 901-873-5770 or visit millingtonciviccenter.com.
Gospel Extravaganza Schedule
11:20-11:50 a.m. The Ring Tones
11:55 a.m.-12:25 p.m. Saved by Grace
12:30-1 p.m. The Peppers
1:05-1:35 p.m. Crown
1:40-2:10 p.m. Beyond Measure
2:15-2:45 p.m. Erica Eubanks Ministry
2:50-3:20 p.m. Delta Blue
3:25-3:55 p.m. Cypress Creek
4-4:30 p.m. Closer Walk
4:35-5:05 p.m. Southern Grace
5:10-5:40 p.m. The Pounders Family
5:45-6:15 p.m. Kenneth McEwen
6:20-6:50 p.m. Glen’s Chapel Singers
6:55-7:25 p.m. New Spirit
Daniel Lee Pounders Jr. admits he turned his back on the church once before, but 2 1/2 years ago the Olive Branch short-haul trucker got an unexpected second chance to serve God as leader of The Pounders Family gospel trio.
“The problem was I had to get me a job, so I drove a truck over road and hated every bit of it,” says Pounders. “The Lord gave me a second opportunity, and I’m not going to turn my back on him this time. Not one bit.”
This Saturday, The Pounders Family joins a lineup of 14 local spiritual vocal and bluegrass groups at the 3rd Annual St. Jude Gospel Extravaganza at the Millington Civic Center Auditorium. The event is organized by Millington resident Mike Tarpley, who 15 years ago started the St. Jude Fun Fest in that North Shelby County community to help his wife raise money for the Memphis-based children’s research hospital.
“We started off Fun Fest with just a singing at a church, and it has grown every year since,” says Tarpley of his first foray into event production, a traditional carnival with music, rides, and games that has raised tens of thousands of dollars for St. Jude over the years.
About eight years ago, the Mississippi bluegrass gospel group Delta Blue performed at Fun Fest and was so well received it started Tarpley thinking about another event focused solely on music.
An enthusiastic Baptist churchgoer from childhood, Pounders had never so much as sung outside of the pews when the first gospel extravaganza was held in 2011. A few months later he was inspired to become a performer by the example of his son, Justin.
“He sings bass,” Pounders says proudly of the youngest member of the trio. “He’s a 25-year-old bass singer. He can get down low. He’s like them old bass singers back when.”
Justin had just started singing in a Southern gospel group called the Bluff City Quartet when Pounders and his wife, Judy, went to see them perform.
“One time we went to a singing down in Jackson Chapel, a little church down in Hernando,” recalls Pounders. “The group that was supposed to sing didn’t show up because there was tornadoes all around the Memphis area that day. So they asked the kids to sing, and the kids asked me and my wife, ‘Would y’all sing with us?’ That’s how we got started.”
Since then the Pounders Family, working closely with the Mississippi Southern Gospel Association, have become mainstays on the local gospel circuit. They regularly perform at Millington’s historic Strand Theater, where they will be again this Friday for a free show. They even have traveled to tiny Vaiden, Miss., where they sang at a cowboy church deep in the country.
“That was interesting to see a cowboy church,” says Pounders. “It’s so nice to see the different ways people fellowship to one God all the time. Some of them don’t wear suit. In a cowboy church they’ll wear their cowboy hats and boots and fellowship the Lord.”
Members of The Pounders Family are making their first CD, which they hope to have completed in the summer.
Their appearance this Saturday will be their first time performing at the gospel extravaganza, a prospect that has the group’s namesake excited.
“It’s for a good cause,” says Pounders, who is doubling as sound man for the event. “I’d do anything to help out St. Jude. Those little kids need all the help we can get for them. Bless their little hearts.”