Each week this summer the Express Eight will feature the upcoming Kirksville Arts Association Summer on the Square group.
Friday’s show features Renewed, which will perform at 7 p.m. on the Adair County Courthouse lawn. The concert will be moved inside Wrongdaddy’s in the event of inclement weather.
Here is our Q&A with Mel Bissey of Renewed.
How did your group get started?
The group consists of John Gorham, Tim Cason, Blake Pigg and myself. Blake and I had been a part of the Wildwood Quartet, another group that had a long tenure in this area. When that group disbanded in 2001, Blake and I felt we needed to regroup and keep the music going.
Your music obviously carries a lot of meaning. What does it mean to you to perform it?
I'm pleased that you realize that Southern Gospel music is music with a message. We are first and foremost a ministry, but we feel we are entertainers as well. We want people to enjoy our music and try to present it in a way that encourages the listener.
Your group has performed on the square before. Why keep coming back?
Since we do perform as a platform for presenting the gospel, this provides an opportunity to send out a message of hope and forgiveness in Jesus as the giver of eternal life. We believe we have a message worth sharing and are happy to have the opportunity to do it in a non-church setting.
What do you enjoy about performing?
I love to see people enjoying the concert and responding favorably to the message.
What are some of the more difficult aspects of performing?
We prepare a list of songs to perform but do not script our introductions and interaction with the audience. As the spokesman for the group, it is sometimes a challenge to "think on my feet" and keep the listeners "connected."
When did you personally get started in music?
I began singing with my brothers in church when I was 12. The Willdwoods started as a school quartet when I was a sophomore. That developed into a ministry that served full time for four years in the early '70s before we scaled down to a regional group.
When you aren't working on music, what else keeps you busy?
I volunteer with Christian Community Food Depot, serve at Kirksville First Church of God as the Worship Leader, and am the treasurer/bookkeeper of our church's regional Campground Board. My wife, Nancy, and I are proud grandparents of six; we find excuses to make frequent trips to visit them as they are not too far away (Springfield, Mo. and Glen Carbon, Ill.).
Any message you'd like to send to Kirksville about your upcoming concert?
Over the years, we have certainly appreciated the encouragement and support from the folks of Kirksville and northeast Missouri.