The Formans are ready for a music-filled weekend at home.
Norman Forman and his wife, Marty Martin-Forman, spend many weekends road-tripping to southern gospel events. This Saturday, however, they'll be among six singing groups performing at the Heart of Missouri Gospel Sing.
This free event kicks off at noon at Harmony Hill Campground on Route O and lasts until 6 p.m. Concessions will be available for purchase, with proceeds going toward camp scholarships, and donations will be accepted. Bring your own lawn chair.
"I've been in and around Callaway County for most of my 60 years, and as far as I know, this is the first event of its kind here," Norman said.
Marty, Norman, his brother, Ron Forman, and friend Brenda Stanberry organized the event. It's something Norman and Stanberry have talked about for almost a decade, he said.
He caught the southern gospel bug as a child.
"My dad was a pastor and my mom played piano," he said. "Music has always been a part of the Formans."
He and his three brothers formed the Forman Brothers quartet and sang together through the late 80s and early 90s. All four are now ordained ministers, he added.
"To me, southern gospel is just uplifting," he said. "When I'm having a rough day, I'll turn on the radio, plug in a CD or just start humming a tune and it usually picks me up."
Upon marrying Marty, Norman introduced her to the musical tradition.
"I'm new to the genre," she said. "I've learned there's a difference between gospel and southern gospel."
Marty said she loves southern gospel's emphasis on harmony.
"Some contemporary church music is losing the harmony part," she said. "When you're singing this music, you get carried away with it. Sometimes you have to try a line again because you have tears in your eyes."
The pair travel together to Illinois and Iowa, where there are frequent southern gospel singing events.
"The happiest times in my lives are the weekends when we're out on the road," Norman said. "We'll be travelling for eight, nine, 10 hours to these sings. I'm driving down the road with my best friend and we're singing and having a good time."
Saturday's event, however, is right down the road. In addition to the Formans, Joyful Noyz, Matt Caroll Family, Shoal Creek Revival, The Liberty Bells and New Shoes will be performing.
Marty pointed out that Christina Trowbridge of the Liberty Bells lives in New Bloomfield.
"The other half of the duet, Dee Worley, writes original music for them," she said.
Another group, Matt Carroll Family, is working to bring up the next generation of southern gospel lovers.
"The average age of the people who support these things is somewhere in the 70s," Norman said. "But the Matt Caroll Family has two kids. One's a pre-teen and is already learning how to sing harmony."
He emphasized that the gospel sing will be family-friendly. There's plenty of room for children to run around at Harmony Hill Campground.
This event is sponsored by Auxvasse Christian Church, Ham's Prairie Church, New Hope Baptist Church, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Portland Baptistist Church and Unity Baptist Church and several area businesses.