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Way Up with the Waymasters
by Darrell Frizzel


Hello America! With 2013 behind us, the high points and anecdotes are remembered with a big smile and a laugh or two.  And as many Gospel organizations drew to a close, they were holding their annual awards shows and banquets, in which the Waymasters played a big part. Some of these awards are voted on by the fans, others by fellow members, but all recognize the achievements of Gospel artists. One such organization is the United States Association of Gospel Entertainers and Musicians or USAGEM.

The USAGEM Awards Show and Banquet was held on November 16 in Nashville, TN. As 2013 was a wonderful year for us, we were asked to perform at the show, as well as present one of the awards. Now, we don’t know how many of you have ever had the opportunity to present an award at a function like this, but it’s not like you might imagine.  First of all, it’s happening on a schedule in front of a live audience while being filmed for airing on RFDTV and certain other Gospel cable channels at a later date. This means everything needs to run smoothly with little or no hiccups. A wonderful concept except it never applies in our case (see our previous article, “Timing is Everything”).

We were to present the Black Gospel Crown Jewel Award.  As you see on TV, when it was time for us to do this, we were introduced and happily made our way across the stage and to the podium to make our presentation.  As would be expected by anyone who knows us, we weren’t even able to execute that without looking like the Marx Brothers late for a card game. Standing at the podium, Tim, the shortest member of the band, stood behind Tommy and was virtually invisible to the audience. As Tommy explained the award, things seemed to be going as planned. Darrell then introduced the list of nominees for the award and again, things went well. Finally, it was time for the moment of truth: Darrell turns to the crowd and with a confident smile announces, “And the winner is…” The band looks at Chewie who was to announce the winner and he simply looks back. As everyone spun and twisted in a panic, looking at each other to see who had the envelope, it quickly became apparent that no one did. Oh no…now what? In our heads all we could hear was crickets. Deafening silence with an auditorium of people staring at us for what seemed like minutes rather than the actual second or two that actually passed.

We quickly took turns cracking one-liners and hoping against hope that someone from backstage would appear with the missing envelope and consequently end the slow, thereby sinking the panic that we now had found ourselves in.  How could things go south so fast?  We were almost home. All we had to do was open the envelope and announce the winner.  How hard could that possibly be? But no-o-o-o, this is the Waymasters.   do we ever do anything normal or without episode?

This was just another example of life on the “W” team.  Then, as if by magic, the lovely young woman who had been bringing out the awards all night suddenly appeared and handed Darrell the now fabled, elusive envelope.  Darrell quickly opened the envelope and with a silent sigh of relief, once again proclaimed “And the winner is…” and handed the envelope to Chewie. As if a switch had been flipped, again the dreaded quiet overtook the stage.  Chewie stood, staring at the card in complete silence.  Tommy leaned over and snapped him back to life while Darrell once again set the stage for the winner with a, “Tell us who it is Chewbacca!”  Chewie clearly and loudly read off the winner as if he had been doing it all night, and the drama was finally over . . . . or so we thought.

The winner of the award, Dewitt Johnson, was suddenly MIA.  The crowd was clapping and the music was playing but there was no Dewitt. We had just seen and spoken with him backstage, so we knew he was there, but the longer we stood there, the longer we stood there by ourselves.  One of his close friends came up to accept the award for him and as he was telling everyone how much Dewitt appreciates the honor, Dewitt walks up from backstage.

He did go home with his award, and we did finally get off that stage, but we would be willing to wager that the organizers of the awards show will think twice before they ask the three-ring circus that seems to follow the Waymasters around, to present another award!

Until next month, be blessed!


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