HOMECOMING: How do you stay motivated, after so many years in this business? After all, the life of a performing group is not only about what the fans see on stage.
CONNIE HOPPER:What they see on stage — that’s the shortest part! (laughing) I have to say, it’s not only the music, because I’ve always loved music. I can sit down in the audience and listen to groups sing and just enjoy it, because I’m a fan of the music. Earlier on, I had a lot to do with arranging, and it was always great to take a song and see how you could get the best out of it . . . I love that part of it. And I love the stage, being able to sing for people. But I guess the thing that has always inspired me to keep going on is that we’ve have always had an altar service, and have shared the plan of salvation in some way or other, although we didn’t preach. I’ve seen God do a lot of things!
Years ago, I didn’t know what I was getting into — I didn’t know much about gospel music when I started to play piano for the brothers. I didn’t know where it was going, and then after 50 years, look where we’ve been able to go; look at all the doors that God has opened! So it’s been the combination of a love of music and a love for what God has done — there are just a lot of things that make me not ever want to quit.
It’s an interesting and spiritually rewarding thing. Of course, Kim added all the extra things that were needed vocally — she’s an amazing vocalist. She can take a song to any level, and we all just hang on. I guess it takes all of us together to have a certain sound, and everybody has a part. And now, we just have fun on stage — we never know what Claude’s going to say or do! We came off stage in California and someone said, “Y’all must have worked hours on working out this routine; that’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.” I wanted to say, “We didn’t have a clue when we got on stage!” But it’s just fun. Of course, it started out with the Hopper brothers, and they still sing together occasionally. But for [the current version of] our group to get together and sing for the last 22 years — that has to be God.
HOMECOMING: Did you all enjoy your time on the Gaither Homecoming tour?
CONNIE: It was a great thing for the Hoppers to be part of the Homecoming tour — I mean that from my heart. We didn’t know Bill and Gloria; we just saw them from a distance. Claude and I went up for the first taping in 1991 or ’92. Then when we went the next time, Gloria sought me out, and we had lunch together. And I found out that to be as brilliant as she is, she can just come right down to my level. So we have become friends, and I enjoy talking with her. It was a great experience for us, to be part of that tour — you learn from everything.
One night we were singing somewhere on a Christmas tour, and I was walking down from the stage and some of the stagehands from the coliseum were coming out. One of them called out to another one and asked “What’s going on?” and the other one replied, “Same stuff, just a different day.” He just made nothing out of it, and I thought “Wasn’t it a great day? When Christ was born, it was such a different day, and that’s what we’re celebrating.” I got on stage that night and told what I’d heard them say, and I thought, “We’re here to celebrate the birth of Christ, and that was a totally different day.”
Click for more about Gaither Homecoming friends, the Hoppers.