Sunday Morning, Coming Down to the River

Sunday Morning, Coming Down to the River
Matthew West performs at the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage in Downtown Nashville on Sunday, June 9 during the 2013 CMA Music Festival.

Matthew West performs at the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage in Downtown Nashville on Sunday, June 9 during the 2013 CMA Music Festival.

By Priyanka Aribindi

Country fans are known for being loyal, and the ones who braved showers to see the first-ever Sunday Morning At The River program put on by K-LOVE were no exception. The area in front of the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage was bustling well before the Contemporary Christian performers were set to take the stage, prompting the show to begin even earlier than the scheduled 10 AM start time.

Pastor Mike Glenn of the Brentwood (Tenn.) Baptist Church opened the event. “We’re here to celebrate the love of God,” he said, as he led the crowd in prayer. Nashville R&B singer Maureen Murphy sang “America the Beautiful” and covers of popular gospel songs.

Then Joey + Rory took the stage. With a gospel album slated for release in July, the husband-and-wife duo treated the crowd to a few new tracks along with old favorites, including “A Bible and a Belt” and “That’s Important to Me.”

The rain cleared up as Matthew West walked onto the stage before a packed Riverfront Park, starting with his single “Forgiveness,” then inviting the audience join in his rendition of the “Amazing Grace.”

“A few years ago, I asked for people’s stories to write songs,” West said as he introduced his next number. “I thought I would get a couple hundred, but I got 20,000. Outside of the Bible, it’s the best book I’ve ever read.”

Ricky Skaggs performs at the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage in Downtown Nashville on Sunday, June 9 during the 2013 CMA Music Festival.

Ricky Skaggs performs at the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage in Downtown Nashville on Sunday, June 9 during the 2013 CMA Music Festival.

One of the stories he received from a former drug addict named Jordan, the inspiration behind his next song, “Hello My Name Is.”

He finished with his 2010 single “Strong Enough” and then introduced 14-time Grammy-award winner Ricky Skaggs by recalling another time they shared the stage.

“I was performing at the Opry and Ricky Skaggs was introducing me, reading my stats from a sheet. He was like, ‘Matthew West has been nominated for three Grammys,’ and then turned to me and said, ‘You have a good shot son. Keep trying,” West said with a laugh. “Nothing like a dose of humility!”

Skaggs performed beneath bright skies and before an even larger audience, playing “Can’t Shake Jesus,” and “Someday Soon” and other favorites before closing the showcase.