WBU alum living his dream in gospel quartet coming to area 

Release Date: July 7, 2009    

NORTH CAROLINA – When the gospel quartet The Anchormen makes a short tour through West Texas this coming week, it will represent not only a first for the North Carolina-based group but a homecoming of sorts for a local boy living his dream.

The group includes bass singer Paul Harkey, who grew up in Petersburg and graduated from Plainview High School. After earning his bachelor’s degree in music at Wayland Baptist University in 2003, Harkey served as music minister at the First Baptist Church in Hereford.

But all the while, he was holding out hope that somehow God would allow another dream to come true.

“I’ve always wanted to sing in a quartet,” he said. “I knew that was my calling.”

On a whim one day, Harkey said he went online and did a search for “bass singers needed.” One of the first results was the gospel group Crystal River, based out of Tennessee.

“They were going to be in Texas in just a few weeks, so they sent me a tape of a few songs, and I auditioned for them,” Harkey recalls. “I did a few concerts with them, and then sang with the group in Branson at Silver Dollar City for two months over the Christmas holidays in 2007.”

Harkey knew the gig with Crystal River was only temporary, but he hoped it would lead to other opportunities to fulfill his dream. It did. The day after his last concert with the group, they shared a venue with The Anchormen, who just happened to be needing a bass singer. Crystal River recommended Harkey, and the group flew him to North Carolina for a quick audition. He was hired the second night.

Harkey officially joined the group in February 2008 and has toured all over the eastern United States with The Anchormen. He said the group sings heavily in West Virginia, Virginia, Georgia and North and South Carolina, and he has enjoyed the change in scenery though he misses Texas people.

He feels like his dream really has come true, and he said God has truly blessed him through being part of the group. Everything that has happened has been confirmation that he’s where God wants him to be.

“God just laid it all out for me. I’ve been really blessed and am happy I stuck it out. God had a bigger plan for me that I couldn’t imagine then,” he said.

The past 16 months has held much excitement for Harkey. Right off the bat, he went into the studio to lay down tracks for an album the group was recording, and The Anchormen are releasing a new album titled “Always a Road” just as their West Texas mini-tour begins. Harkey notes the album is more pop-country and progressive than most gospel albums being made.

He has enjoyed the company of his bandmates as well. He has high praise for lead singer Keith Casstevens, a native of Booneville, N.C., as well as baritone Michael Bartlett of Oklahoma and Karl Rice, the group’s tenor from Charleston, S.C.

Harkey notes that so far, highlights of his time with the quartet have included sharing a concert with noted gospel group The Hoppers and attending the national quartet convention where every notable group was in attendance.

“All the big groups are there, and it was so cool getting to meet all those people you’ve idolized all your life,” he said. “I got to meet my favorite bass singer, Jeff Chapman of the Kingdom Heirs, and got to visit and sing one on one and just learn from him.”

Harkey said the experience feels somewhat surreal from time to time, but he’s enjoying every minute of it.

The Anchormen will be in concert Sunday in Lubbock at the 8:15 and 11 a.m. services at First Baptist Church; in Hereford on Sunday night at 6 p.m. at First Baptist Church; in Petersburg on Tuesday, July 14, at First Baptist Church at 7 p.m.; in Plainview on Wednesday, July 15 at 7 p.m. at College Heights Baptist Church; and in Olton on Thursday, July 16, at 7:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church.