Letter perfect

Here’s the latest the batch of letters. I feel like I need to apologize again for not responding to mail sooner than I do these days. I try to get to it once a week, but even then it piles up so mightily … it’s symptomatic of the increasing traffic (which is really blowing the roof off things right now, I must say), so I don’t want to complain. Just know that I thrive on your mail and my silence is nothing more than a comment on my limited capacity. Letter on letters
One of the [last batch of] letters mentioned lawyer Russ Farrar leaving NQC board. Signature Sound is also reducing its NQC participation. So that makes it interesting to note this dedication on the Signature Sound DVD “Live in Indiana: “To Russ Farrar for believing in us and our dream. Thanks for all the legal advice and support you’ve given this group by mainly thanks for your friendship.”On tradition
I was reading your latest batch of letters and came across this one line that caught my attention, being a Dove Brothers fan:

“I noticed your comments on the DBQ at the church in your area, and realized that the problem with them is that they’ll die before they embrace anything unique or different. The trouble with the Doves and others in the genre is that everyone is afraid to go against the traditional for fear of making someone at the top (NQC, Jerry Kirksey, or whoever) mad.”

Perhaps, they are not afraid to go against the traditional. Did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, they like the traditional? Why can’t people just get that not everyone is gonna be the Crabbs, Gold City, or SSQ? They’ll die before they embrace anything unique or different? That’s their problem? C’mon… As for me, I’ll take tradition any day.

On replying to replies
I was just reading Chris Unthank’s blog www.gospelmusings.com. I feel the need to defend myself about my nomination for the Imperials fan site as worst site. First of all, am I the only one that gets a serious craving for pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce after looking at their site? It’s hideously ugly. I love the Imperials and I love their music. So this is no attack on them as a individuals. But, I think they made a huge mistake when they signed with SS. A group with the heritage and talent of the Imperials deserves so much better. I don’t think anyone in the industry or otherwise is going to take them seriously as long as Amy, Chris, and Scott are riding their coattails. About the lack of updates, I check the Imperials site often and certainly do not see updates on a regular basis. Why is it that SGN posted a press release about the bass singer and his wife expecting a baby three days ago [as of the time the letter was submitted] and it’s still not on their official site? The first thing people are going to do after reading a press release is go to that artists’ official site for more info. It’s not there.

On the Crabbs
I noticed a recent letter that stated something like “the Crabbs are a joke in Owensboro.” That made my blood boil! I have been an avid Crabb follower for years, so I am going to defend them, but they have certainly merited defense! I began following the Crabbs when they first started, when they were “screaming” as the letter states. For the one child who asked to leave, there are hundreds, even thousands, who look up to the Crabb Family as role models and as a result choose to serve God. During my “Crabb Days,” I have noticed something:

1. Starting in 1995, they filled a 1,000 seat room in Owensboro consistently once a month for 21 months with no radio. The room was a lounge used primarily for country concerts, but they were not filling the building. The venue trusted Kathy Crabb with a deal to bring in gospel, and she did. They did this faithfully until they were so busy they could no longer manage to continue. Joke in Owensboro?

2. For five years they sang on Frank Arnold’s concert at the 1,100 seat Riverpark Center in Owensboro. For those five years, the night that they were on the program was the sold out night. The past two years, they have not been able to do the concert due to scheduling conflicts. The crowd has averaged 300. Crabbs a joke in Owensboro, huh?

3. The Crabbs no longer even live in Kentucky, yet the governor declared July 13 as Crabb Family Day in Kentucky because of their support at CrabbFest in Owensboro and their accomplishments throughout the state… Still a joke in Owensboro?

4. They recently turned down a deal to move their CrabbFest to Nashville because of their support in Owensboro. Nashville! How exciting!!! Yet they were so supported in Owensboro that they decided to stay. What a joke?

Why is it that when someone steps out to follow God with an anointing and a sincerity such as the Crabbs, they are criticized for every move they make. Is it jealousy or just the price they have to pay for faithfulness? If they are a joke in Owensboro, it is news to me. Crabb Family Owensboro loves you! Keep up the good work! We’re proud to be home to CrabbFest! Don’t ever leave!

On my problems
What is your problem? If you have nothing but bad things to say about gospel music, then get out of it all together. Quit listening to it and quit being so negative about everything in it! Every time I go to your website there is nothing but bad things about groups and this industry. Why are you doing this? Until you have made it in this industry, you have no reason to talk about it! Another point that I would like to make is that you are a COWARD!!! If you have a problem with people in this industry then be MAN enough to talk to them face to face instead of hiding behind your website. The word of God clearly says in Matthew 7 verse 1: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” And that is in RED! So until you have walked where they walk and your life is blameless, then don’t judge. I am not judging you in calling you a coward, everyone can pretty much see that you are one!

As a Christian I am saddened to see what people live like in the industry, But this is not the way to help this industry grow or become spiritually better. This only hurts SOUTHERN GOSPEL and it turns people off to this music that you and I both love and this is one reason why its declining! People like you do nothing but bad for this industry.

I challenge you to examine your own life, and until you do that and you find no blame, then don’t put everyone else down whose is trying to get over their past and their sin. Everyone in the industry has their faults just like YOU DO! Just because they sing for a living and have been called to ministry full time, doesn’t mean that they are blameless and their temptations are gone!

In closing, all that I am trying to find out is why? Did someone do something to you that has made you bitter? Could you not cut it in the full time ministry? What is it? I will not look at your website anymore because it does nothing but harm. Furthermore, I will do my best to tell people to boycott your website, until changes are made and good things are said about Southern Gospel. I look forward to your response.

On Rulapaugh and politics
This is the perfect example of what harm to folks who may be seeking God can be done. I went out of my way recently to encourage some young people to go hear PSQ at a local church. A couple of them were skeptical because of the “ultra conservative” reputation that sg has. The boys came through with a good but short program that was pleasing to everyone. Now, John has to go and do this. I won’t mention it, but it just goes to show you that the unlearned should keep their mouths shut.

After fully admitting that at 14 he really didn’t know the ramifications of his actions: “At his age, 14 if I’m not mistaken, I certainly did not understand the ultimate and lasting consequences of my actions and how they would affect the lives of others.” But, this kid should be put to death (the one who killed the bus driver). Then he goes on about the ten commandments case before the Supremes and uses his illogical reasoning to say the following: “Fortunately I was raised in a home where such (apparently far fetched) ideas as Thou Shalt Not Kill were taught and well understood beginning at very young age. I say “far fetched” because of the case currently pending before the same court. I am anxiously, if not nervously, awaiting their decision. I fear that the consequences of their latest decision bore fruit long before any of us would have hoped or expected.”

Huh? What am I missing here? Most folks, if not all, are taught not to kill. It just might be the most common denominator in homes across America. Even non-Christian, non-religious homes teach that. Even if they happen to be from broken homes and there is only one parent, I find it hard to believe that anyone teaches their kids that killing is OK! John has assumed because the Ten Commandments are not on every wall in our country that this kid killed his bus driver. No matter that he might have been taught the right thing at home or that he just went bad for any number of reasons, the reason the kid killed his bus driver was the Supreme Court decision on juvenile executions and a lack of seeing the Ten Commandments in print everywhere as if most of us (the vast majority) didn’t know what they are anyway. I wonder what part of Thou Shalt Not Kill (in the good King James Version language) applies to executions? Oh, I forgot. It doesn’t (this is not to say I don’t agree with the death penalty generally-I do think that a civilized society takes into consideration certain situations that might require such a sentence, but to make a blanket statement like Rulapaugh did took a lot of guts or ignorance-you be the judge [no pun intended])

It’s gotta be the Kool-Aid. I had heard that PSQ was losing dates over this. I asked a member of the group and really didn’t get an answer (he didn’t know), but I can guarantee one thing. If this kind of thing got out to some of our more reasonable folks-the ones who don’t happen to believe what he does or maybe do-to stay away from sg in general and PSQ specifically. You know, the thought probably never entered his mind. He left his brain at the door.

On me and the SN
Wow, you read a lot more into this column than I did! I think his whole point was just to show there was a time and place to speak his mind about his beliefs and that particular point in time wasn’t one of them, especially vis-à-vis his employer. And I don’t think he was implying anything racist on the part of Les Beasley at all — just pragmatism about getting his bus fixed without spending a fortune. I also don’t think he implied that his support for the civil rights movement was an immature flight of folly. He’s just saying he didn’t handle his “outrage” in a very mature manner in that context. You must really be spoiling for a fight with the SN folks! Seems like you’re looking (hoping?) for peccadilloes in everything they do. That’s my take on it, anyway. Later!

On Three Bridges
You are so right about them! Lotsa fluff in the bios. I’m sure if I look hard enough I’ll find where one of ‘em sung backup with Elvis

On Rulapaugh and politics
What struck me about this column was his comment that the judges had based their ruling on world opinion and not the Constitution. I will get my copy out and look at it again, but I really don’t recall that the Constitution actually prescribes a death penalty anywhere. The Bill of Rights prohibits “cruel and unusual” punishment, and lack of due process, and justices would have to interpret what “cruel and unusual” would mean in today’s context, since the constitution doesn’t define it.

Although the author says, “let’s don’t go there” I think the underlying theme is exactly what he names, the “legislating from the bench” complaint that conservatives rail against. Other examples are abortion being permitted, with restrictions, because of a right to privacy, or desegregation of public accommodations, because of the equal protection clause, etc. But courts also might interpret the second amendment to allow everyone to carry handguns or NRA types to own Uzis…because of the need for a “well-regulated militia.” The legislating can swing conservative on some issues just as easily as it can swing liberal…and sometimes from the same group of justices.

On SGN, the world’s biggest
Man, talk about hype. This almost borders on lying! I am almost embarrassed for them. It is ridiculous!

On sponsors needed for SGN’s fan festival
This is really something. I think www.averyfineline.com should be a sponsor of such an eloquent event. It is almost too comical to laugh. First they say: “We have several sponsorship plans available, some even include being a sponsor of both the Awards Gala and our huge 4 day 4 night Fan Festival held in July.” Then they say: “We only have room for one or two sponsors so be sure to contact me as soon as possible for full details.” Going on: “There will be heavy advertising done for this great event and becoming an official sponsor is a great opportunity to help you increase awareness of yourself in the Gospel Music arena.” INCREASE AWARENESS? is SG a disease? Talk about bad choice of wording. My question is, where will the “heavy advertising” take place? Who will read the advertisements? WHO KNOWS? Finally, the event is SO BIG, SO GRAND.. it’s next month and the event’s location is still in the finalizing stages~ lol Help all involved.

On me and T
I am hooked on your website…I have to keep checking in every day! Keep up the great work! I can’t believe this guy [Tony Gore]. I was reviewing the website…I mean, I quote: “This bag is just TOOOOO CUTE! Great bag, great colors, great for spring! You can’t BEAT this price!!!” What kind of guy actually talks like this? I find it repulsive, but then I can’t stand him in person, either. I saw him in concert a few years ago. He proceeded to tell the audience that he went to Meijer’s for a “weiner”, and no word of a lie, he stretched out the word as he said it - “Weeeenerrrr”. Really weeeeirrrrrrd…he grosses me out.

On BFA and live projects
You are right about a not making a live album, but a live album happening. [Our group] did one about 5 years ago and are thinking hard about doing another complete with DVD probably in early 2006 in Florida. (All the snow birds from the north are there then and the venue is packed). The first one we did was far too perfected. We fixed every note that did not fall dead on time and pitch wise and it took the feel right out of the project. Next time around the approach will be far different. Love your blog, keep up the good work.

On live stuff
To fairly rate SGM live albums through the years, you have to go back to at least the 60s. Most long-time fans familiar with recordings through the years rate the best ones as the Statesmen On Stage (their first live album-1960) and the Imperials (Gospel is Alive and Well-1969) . Those two albums also get a lot of votes as best SGM albums ever. Oak Ridge Boys (Performance - early 70s), Stamps (Live at Murray State University - mid-70s) are also terrific but the Stamps’ one would have been better as one record rather than two. Singing Americans’ first live album (with Strickland and English) is first-rate. Speers did a good double record one called In Concert in the early 1970s. You mentioned the Kingsmen who made some great ones but tended to get weaker as time went on. The Cathedral ones you cited are both super. It’s possible the earlier ones sound fresher and more exciting because they were “live” and not overdubbed and fine-tuned in the studio.

On BFA live
I like your commentary about Brian Free and Assurance’s latest recording, ‘Live in Brooklyn.’ You hit the nail on the head. It is just too smooth and ‘perfect’ for a live recording. With so much popular music these days relying on the well-scripted choreography and ‘lip-sync,’ even during live performances, one of the things that is appealing about Southern Gospel music is its authenticity…what you see is what you get, warts and all. Live performances are not meant to be perfect. Why? Because NOBODY is perfect! Even old Glen and George were known to wonder slightly off key every now and then. The studio can do wonders, even for a poor-to-mediocre singer. The truly outstanding singers, like Glen Payne, George Younce, Gene McDonald, Glen Allred, and Gerald Wolfe, are excellent, but excellent does not mean ‘perfect.’ Live performances in Southern Gospel involve so much more than the talent on the stage. The pathos, the interaction between the fans and the group, the spontaneity, are all part of the mix. This is why to this day some of the Kingsmen’s old live recordings are still very moving to me.

I will add something to your commentary, however, that will surely bring protests from some quarters–I think that the cut ‘Long as I Got King Jesus’ is absolutely atrocious as a radio single! Yes, it is well done. But it is NOT ‘our kind of music.’ This cut sounds like something that should have been released to an African-American radio audience rather than to a Southern Gospel audience. To me, it goes a bit too far in the direction of ‘black gospel.’ There is nothing wrong with it, it’s just not my cup of tea. When I hear it played on the radio, I simply change stations. I had much rather hear Brian & company sing ‘For God So Loved.’ I understand the group had to do some things that would appeal to the audience up there in urban New York City. But i think it was a mistake to release that to the Southern Gospel audience. We can do much better…and BF&A can do much better.

On Jerry Kirksey
I think you missed the point when you commented about Jerry Kirksey’s story about the bus during the Civil Rights Movement. I didn’t read his remarks as saying he regretted his stance on rights back then, but rather, that Les Beasley taught him a valuable lesson that anyone in the music business need to learn in a big hurry IF THEY WANT TO SUCCEED! And that is, STAY OUT OF POLITICS! At least when it comes to public pronouncements, stay out of it. You will alienate at least some in your fan base. This is a lesson that, regrettably, some of the big names in the music business turned a deaf ear to, much to their peril. One can only think of the misguided and plain STUPID remarks of the Dixie Chicks! Musicians are not experts on politics. I do not pay my money to hear them spout their political bias. I go to hear them SING (or play). If they get too grandiose in their assumption that their views are so all-important that they simply MUST lecture the audience about it, I will get up and leave. Simple as that. Les Beasley was RIGHT. And Jerry apparently learned his lesson.

On hair and clothes
Taking Danny Jones, Jerry Kirksey, and Roy Pauley to task over their comments about dress and hair style is a very misguided course of action! THEY HEARD FROM THE FANS ABOUT THESE ISSUES! Year before last, at the National Quartet Convention, SN and the NQC heard so many complaints FROM THE FANS about these issues that they HAD to be addressed! This DID NOT arise from the ‘insiders’ or the groups. In fact, immediately following the NQC that year, Jerry, Danny, and company POSTED two full pages of excerpts from some highly irate fans concerning dresses too short, hair styles that looked too ‘funky’ for SG, and the like. The FANS spoke loud and clear. To make this an industry-driven concern is a big mistake. If we listen to the FANS, you will hear these negative comments about dresses so short you can see butt cheek up on stage, and hair styles that look like they belong more in a punk rock dope orgy than on a Gospel music stage! Think about it!

On Kirksey and Rulapaugh
Yes, Brutha Jerry’s latest entry left me scratching my head (casual observers might wonder if HE got terribly sick on last November’s Singing at Sea since that was the date of most recent entry prior to Monday). As many stories as I’m sure Brutha Jerry could tell, I mystified as to why he would first seek to get on the wrong side of civil rights issue. Beats me. However, he misses the boat (no pun intended).

First, Kirksey associates his liberalism with being “Mr. Democrat” in the early 60’s. As an avid student of political history, I can firmly assert that Democrats in the South in early 60’s and before were NOT liberal. It was the party of George Wallace, Ross Barnett, Marvin Griffin, Strom Thurmond, and Lester “Ax handle” Maddox, and that southern wing was filled with KKK. Those cats would make GWB look like a flaming lefty. It wasn’t until the McGovern campaign that the South finally launched its exodus of the Democratic party, the Dems turned left, and we got the ideological order that largely remains to this day. Thus, Kirksey’s effort to stereotype a 1962 southern “Mr. Democrat” as a liberal ring a little hollow.

I wonder why he would roll of the perceived “sin” of making nice with a good old U.S. of A. soldier, given today’s uber-patriotic sg world? I can just see Jeff Steele with his red, white, and blue suspenders raises his eyebrows over that as he writes yet another ditty that rails against everyone that is different from him. I suppose I am giving too much thought to a man’s (Kirksey’s) writing when clearly doesn’t think too much before hitting the send key.

Rulapaugh…well, what can I say? I have no idea why he would choose to weigh in (no pun intended) on the subject he chose. He case rings hollow, as you say. It is, however, interesting to see him deviate from the meat-and-potatoes sg soapbox issues (gays, abortion, school prayer,
ten commandments, et al).

On BFA Live
Found this review very enlightening. I share your concerns about the redefinition of “live.” I haven’t bought any “live” albums lately in the genres of music I follow, but I have a few older ones and they all share those endearing “not-quite-perfect” qualities that you mention when talking about the Greens. I thought you made a great observation when you said the energy between BFA and the crowd was so tight that none of it could escape to the rest of us. I’m a writer, not a musician, but I think that this is a problem with a lot of art I see today, and especially a lot of contemporary literature. Whatever it is that so captivates the writer fails to rise up off the page and enter my consciousness as a reader or listener, so that I can feel it too. And I think that may be what you are referring to about this so called “live” project that has been coiffed and wardrobed and polished so thoroughly that not even a teeny tiny hair is out of place. This is going to sound gruesome, but that’s what undertakers do.
On the Greats
Here goes. I just received my copy of the DVD recorded at NQC where they did a tribute to the greats. I was wondering if you attended that, since you were there. Anyway, just to show you how deprived we are of sg music even here in WV, I got my first listen of Triumphant’s “Terrible Time Down There.” For some reason, and I find this difficult to swallow being a Statesmen loyalist, I don’t remember them singing the song. I had heard that Integrity (there I go again) had recorded it, but hadn’t heard it. It was striking to say the least. I found it fascinating and brought forth some questions. I can’t imagine why the song didn’t go number one and I can’t imagine why their stage antics have gone unnoticed. Reminded me of SSQ so much I wondered why they hadn’t done it.

I noticed your comments on the DBQ at the church in your area, and realized that the problem with them is that they’ll die before they embrace anything unique or different. Of course, Integrity might die by being so bold as to bring out a 40+ year old song that’s not well received (and I don’t think it was). The trouble with the Doves and others in the genre is that everyone is afraid to go against the traditional for fear of making someone at the top (NQC, Jerry Kirksley, or whoever) mad. It is what has kept the Inspirations in business even though they are so second tier. Old age. I know at my age (I’m 56), I should be leaning toward that traditional music (and make no doubt about it, I love the old songs, but I thirst for the new songs and styles), and even though I do, I want this genre to survive and it’s not going to do that if we continue to do the same old stuff. I found the whole RTS program really invigorating in many ways. Even though the music was a tribute to the greats, you had Joyce Martin, Karen Harding, Reba Rambo, and LordSong up on the stage doing contemporary things with old songs. The thing that concerned me was that I didn’t hear a lot of response from the crowd. The crowd looked old and sat on their hands (except for the Rambo-Harding duet). And, once again, these were old songs.

I guess it just gave me a shot of reality tonight. Sg must evolve or die. There will always be a place for four part harmony. At least, I hope so. And I certainly hope there is a place for the old songs and the great hymns of the church. I also think we need some more groups like the Statesmen. SSQ has aspirations in that direction, but Ernie continues to push them toward old songs (I did notice that their Christmas album has some excellent new songs on it, though). Mercy’s Mark (who also had the wild hair like SSQ-maybe that was Garry’s idea) is doing the same thing. Maybe we need a new Lee Roy Abernathy?

On Dollywood in the fall
I just looked at the Dollywood sg schedule for the fall. Looks like sg every weekend, but only one group at a time, and a lot of those are second, third, and fourth tier groups (Angelina McKeithen? The Peasal Sisters? Jerry & Tammy Sullivan?). I’d say DW probably hit the point of diminishing returns on its mega-gospel weekends. You’re looking at a pretty small fan base with finite ability to make that trip. Also, there comes a point when Dollywood’s fall gospel festival starts to cannibalize the multi-group events at SDC at Branson during the same weekends. There’s probably some concurrent market strategy in play (I think SDC probably does it right: two long weekends–Fri.-Sun. & Wed.-Sat.–with two guest groups per night + the Cumberlands.) However, I still say sg (the way they package this year or in previous years) is very bankable and lucrative for these family values-oriented parks. (An aside: will Tony Gore be allowed to bring his flea market into Dollywood this year?)

On old stuff
Enjoyed your review of the Anchorman/Dove Brothers. I feel the same way about the Anchorman’s pianist. As for Dove Brothers, I rate them highly although they are doing nothing new. They are doing it well. Hester is great and Eric and Jerry have improved unbelievably since joining them. I don’t know if McCray or someone else should get credit for that. As for audience’s age, I’m 60 but am open to some newer forms of music (no rap, hip-hop or heavy metal). For example, I’ve been listening to the White Stripes and Jack White’s work with Loretta Lynn. One of the problems in trying new things with traditional music such as quartet southern gospel and some country is that it becomes a different form of music. Some country becomes pop or rock and southern quartet gospel becomes contemporary for want of a better word. It’s a very fine line to improve a type of music with new approaches but to not completely change the original so that it is no longer recognizable.

On the SN and (lack of) reporting
Just think about the amount of speculation and rumors that could be put to bed once and for all with an annual Q&A feature article with Clarke Beasley in SN. It could include questions about group lineup selection, Nashville vs. Louisville, future plans, board dynamics, and whole host of subjects, even if you avoided sensitive topics like finances and personality conflicts. Then again, that would be real journalism.

I often think that many of these sg principals must be buying into the end-times rhetoric a lot of pastors rail about. Perhaps they truly believe that the end is near, so there’s no need to worry about the genre’s viability in future generations. Just do all you can to enrich yourselves and your buddies, have a good time, and don’t worry about a tomorrow that’ll never come. Chilling, but possibly true.

On concerts and letters
I really enjoyed your review of the live concert on your site. I live in a SG deprived area and also some health issues prevent me from attending many concerts but I still enjoy reading about what is going on….Good job !!! I spent a couple of hours pouring over the new letters that you have posted. I was glad to find that other SG fans shared so many of my feelings about certain things. On the Inspirations a few others wrote in with the same question that is churning around in my mind about their having to buy a “larger” truck to take their “weekly” mail order shipments to the post office. As anyone that attends SG concerts knows the groups sell the majority of their products at their table after a concert. If the statement that the Inspirations made was accurate they would need an 18 wheeler to follow the bus on the road to carry enough product for their table. I’m sure that the truck driver would have on a matching suit though…..(I couldn’t resist that one)

On Dolly, MIA
I got the latest Singing News and noticed the Dixie Stampede advertisement inside. It seems awfully funny that it now doesn’t appear to say “Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede” and her picture is gone from the advertisement all together. Parton still owns the theater but did Singing News refuse to run the ad with the picture and name? Could this be due to the Valentine Kingdom Heirs and Dolly recording for gay marriage? All previous advertisements said “Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede” and included a photo of Parton.

On the SN
Your writing on Danny Jones and journalism hit the nail on the head, as you so often do. However, your friend KM misses the point by saying that we try to hold Jones to a secular journalistic standard which he doesn’t aspire to. Bullfeathers! Have you read a state Baptist newspaper lately, or any denominational paper, for that matter? (MO Word and Way, TX Baptist Standard, NC Biblical Recorder, et al.) These are the papers that churchgoers depend upon to report the religious news–free, faithful, and fair–that needs to get out. Do their editors “cozy up” to the convention officers and leaders and only pump sunshine and roses onto the pages? Except for a few shill PR rags out there (MBC Pathway), no. Baptist papers, from the Baptist Press on down to the states, FOUGHT for the right to get inside the executive committee meetings of the SBC and state conventions to report the goings-on. Can you imagine an SN editor angling to report from the inside of an NQC or SGMA meeting?

Denominational papers and magazines report the good stuff–to be sure–but they also tackle subjects such as declining attendance and tithing, sexual abuse scandals, bitter theological debates, lawsuits, etc. If a denominational paper questions a religious college president over declining enrollment, should they be ashamed of “tearing the man or woman down”? Certainly, the college president must’ve done many, many good and Christ-like deeds in his or her time. I could go on and on with examples of quality journalism measured on any scale, both secular and Christian.

It all boils down to what kind of respect you have for your readers. Where does your loyalty lie: with your readers or with the subjects and people you cover (and sell ads to)? Do you respect your readers as thoughtful and discerning of the news they digest? Are you tough enough to take a little negative feedback on controversial subjects? I think I would prefer your answers to the ones I would get from SN!

On another angle to star gazing
[KM] makes a long argument that won’t wash. If you are the self-proclaimed “Printed Voice of Southern Gospel” and expend a great amount of energy to get a lot of people to actually believe this, then what? You have to live up to that claim and represent the genre fully, completely and honestly. SN does neither one of the three. This has nothing to do with ministry which by nature is incorporated into the music.

On several things, including SN
There was lots of good reading today from you and your audience. As for the pair, I assume the church sign is referring to Eve and the Snake. Couldn’t be Adam and Eve because Eve was to blame for our downfall according to the many of the churches which put up those signs. Biblical defense of the Singing News policy on its editorial material by your reader was well done. I personally prefer the commercial defense. Singing News is not going to be tough (with honest reviews and stories) because it depends almost 100 per cent on artists, record companies, promoters and SGM affiliated businesses for their advertising. It is not going to criticize artists and record companies who give it songs to put on those CDs and videos you get for taking out an SN subscription. SN also puts out commercial recordings — Top 10 SN songs of the year or decade — and it needs record company co-operation. Its owner runs a travel organization which operates cruises which uses the artists the magazine loves. Of course, those artists know where their bread is buttered which is why they sell SN subscriptions and allow their songs to be used on freebies. Its owner is on the board of the National Quartet Convention which can also help to keep artists, booking agents and record companies onside with what SN wants to do. The SN folks are involved in the Southern Gospel Music Association. Everybody knows everybody and is buddy-buddy with a lot of folks.

Of course their fan awards tie into all of this. You have to subscribe to SN to get a vote for fan favorites so it helps groups to sell SN subscriptions to their fans. SN also controls the major chart in SGM but it is not based on sales but on play by certain radio stations which makes it meaningless except to the artists. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this (even if you and I don’t like it) because the SN has never pretended to be anything other than a magazine doing everything it can to promote what it considers to be Southern Gospel Music. If anyone wants hard news or unbiased reporting or a different definition of SGM than they should not read SN.

SN also knows its audience based on the letters published and the fan favorite voting for groups like the Inspirations. Some folks think the fan voting is rigged because there are no independent auditors. Some think SN publishes only letters that agree with its views. I am not one of those people. I believe SN caters to its audience and gives them what it wants. If a lot of folks were not voting for the Inspirations or were not writing letters of praise, then SN would be fools to alienate its audience.

And the SN folks are not fools. They are most successful in their limited area. Trying to expand their current base by publishing negative stories and reviews or by suggesting the quality of SGM their readers like is not good or expanding coverage to include artists aiming for the country field or contemporary Christian market would lose them more readers than they would gain.

On several things
Just a few comments:
1. Pair probably means Adam and Eve (not Steve :-)) and references original sin. At least my experience with these “signs” means they are trying to be cute and not place too much burden on your brain.
2. Product unfufillment - I think SR did a great job and she was spot on in her comments. I’ve found the best artist sites to order from are Legacy 5, Greater Vision, and, of course Gaither. GV always gets me stuff in three days. It never fails and I order via the web all the time. Gaither is usually quicker by a day for some reason. If I order something on Monday, it gets to me by Wednesday by USPS! That’s amazing. I tried Legacy Five last week when I ordered the “Remember the Greats” DVD. I ordered last Thursday and got it on Monday. Not bad, I’d say, so they get special mention. BTW, I called the one in to L5 because the item wasn’t listed on the webpage, so that might have sped things up a little. SSQ ranks just below them at four days. Others do worse. PSQ - a week is the usual time via the web, but still better than those examples SR cited. As for the retail guys, Amazon is the best but they have little selection. Beware of the Christian sites. … [ie] Juniper Square, … Music Christian is only marginally better at 7 days.
3. Star gazing - I’m sure you going to write off anything else I send to you, but I have first-hand experience in another field that may apply to sg also. I have for the last 10 years had a hobby. In 1995, I started covering NASCAR races for a forum on the old CompuServe on-line service called Racing Information Systems. It’s on the web now and totally separate from that old service. It gave me access to press areas and allowed me to do some very poor writing for the “goobers” out there. It’s fun. In the beginning, most of the “name” reporters ( and the “non-name” reporters) were like SN and SGN. Not a discouraging word was printed. Everything was beautiful and if it wasn’t, they just didn’t mention it. In the press box, I’d hear this and that and ask why didn’t you print that. The response was always that they were afraid they would lose access because NASCAR was a dictatorship. Something changed about six years ago. Some new blood came along (somewhat like you) and started questioning everything. Guys like my friends Monte Dutton and Ed Hinton started asking questions and pretty soon it had everyone doing it-and printing the not-so-pleasant answers (or more accurately, the not-so-pleasant non answers). Now, you can read these guys and they are getting into each issue in detail and NASCAR doesn’t like it one bit. In fact, a couple of them have been banished to the infield media center instead of the press box for events (where the food is horrible and the view is non-existent). Access is not as good as it was, but it’s still not bad. And the truth is being reported. Might we not be seeing the beginning of that in sg? Oh yeah. Those early reporters also thought they were doing God’s work. Bill France told them so :-).

One more thing. Tonight I was able to watch the new Gaither videos on DVD called Israel and Jerusalem. Watch out for the firestorm. Hardly a tint of sg is in either DVD. There’s a lot of CCM and a lot more of Jewish sounding selections. It’s not going to be popular with the faithful. I enjoyed it. The sound is wonderful, the scenery is beautiful and the music is good. I did notice that none of the real “homecoming friends” made the trip. You know, the old folks. There’s no Mary Tom or Rosa Speer. There’s no Florida Boys (in fact, the only two basses I saw were Mike Allen and Tim Duncan). Nowhere to be found are Squire Parsons, Calvin Newton, Eva Mae, or the Hayes Family. If he can sell this one, it will prove one thing. The sg crowd likes the Gaither show and the Gaither personalities. It should be interesting to see the sales figures. My suspicion is that the reason the T.D. Jakes tapes are usually on sale is that they didn’t sell. This one may also find a quick trip to the bargain bin. I think bill is slowly leaving sg. We’ll see. Thanks for wading through this.

On signs
I’ve heard preachers use this saying, but it went like this:
“It wasn’t the apple in the tree that cause all the problems, it was the pair on the ground.” I think we are both getting the same meaning out of that! :-)

More on that sign
Simple - I think. Off course referring to the fall of man. The apple (fruit usually typified in the garden) wasn’t at fault - meaning that we can’t blame our sins on a temptation. But rather it was a pair(pear) - meaning people are responsible for the choices they make

On that sign and T’s Treasures
I can’t really help you out on the church sign you mentioned, but I thought I’d share with the best sign I ever saw. It was a few years back on one of those blinking-arrow commercial signs in front of a double-wide modular church building (I think the name was like “Solid Rock Fellowship” or something like that). It said, “TURN OR BURN!”. I laughed so hard. It was so simple, yet it clearly conveyed the message I’m sure the church wanted to get across. I used to drive that route about every month or so, and that church wasn’t there much longer. I can’t say if they moved to another, more permanent location or folded up.

Going back to the Tony Gore cyber-junk store, I saw recently where a disclaimer was added to the front page: “All items presented by Ts Treasure Chest is in no way affiliated with, associated, sponsored by, or represents Brighton, Burberry, Channel, Coach, Dooney & Bourke, Fendi, Flori, Gucci, Isabella Flore, JP Todd, Prada, Versace, Louis Vuitton or any other above mentioned name brands or their copyrighted products. We do not represent our products to be original nor do we represent that they are exact copies; therefore they do not violate any copyright laws. We ask potential customers to compare the price, quality, and style of the other brand names to ours. Any reference to a brand name is made only for comparison. All Items are available on first come, first serve basis only.” I guess someone got them the word about how to properly sell fakes.

On the Crabbs
Once again …great site! The Crabb Family has been around for many years in this neck of the woods. The Crabbfest is huge in Owensboro. Although it’s in our hometown, very few Owensboro residents attend the fest. Around here, The Crabb Family is a joke. Many remember them singing at the local county fair or local opryhouse. My niece, who was 4 years old at the time, and I saw them perform in an outdoor event with about 25 people in attendance about ten years ago. She looked at me and said “Why are they screaming?” She cried and wanted to go home. Granted, they’ve come a long way, and Jason Crabb is by far the ’show’ of the group. It’s amazing what good producers, stacks, promoters, and a huge dose of delusions of grandeur can accomplish.

On that sign about me
…and to think, after all the talk about settling for a free-will offering……you whore!! :-)

On how mean I am
I have bitten my tongue off now for several weeks while you have made disparaging remarks about my friend, Gerald Wolfe and Greater Vision. Now, you do not like where they eat, what they write in their journals or anything that they do. Did they write the article to please you? I have always thought that a journal was for you to put the happenings of every day and, in my humble opinion, this is what they did. Have you made the effort to get to know them as people or do you consider them just artists? These are three of the finest men that I know. When I have needed prayer, they have dropped whatever they were doing and prayed for me and mine. When my mother passed away, they told me to use any music that they had ever recorded or ever hoped to record. I think that I have said enough.

On Pentecostalism
I read with great interest your take on the Crabbs musical evolution from their Pentecostal beginnings to a slick new “crossing over” style while going for a larger audience and how this might affect sogo music. You asked where does the Pentecostal/Charismatic style sogo performers fit in sogo music. It seems to me that there is less of what I call Pentecostal music today in sogo then the mid to late 60’s to the mid 70’s which I consider the ‘hey day’ of Pentecostal performers in sogo music….

I’m talking about The Goodmans, Hal Kennedy, The Rambos, Joel Hemphills and The Hemphills, The Hinsons, Jimmie Swaggart, Joy Dyson-McGuire-Gardner from The Downings, Andre Crouch and the Disciples, and later Lanny Wolfe Trio, Sharon Haygood, Janet Paschal, Geron Davis, just to name a few….many of these either came out of the United Pentecostal Church or The Pentecostal Church of God….I mean hardcore Pentecost!!-not that there’s anything wrong with that!!….In the early days they had a more country gospel shout your hair down sound that evolved into a “Greater is he that Is In Me” sound….

Their influence dominated gospel music during this time frame and pushed quite a few artists/quartets away from the mainstream or forced them to change their style more like The Kingsmen i.e. Statesmen/Blackwoods or forced them to leave gospel music altogether i.e. The Oak Ridge Boys/Thrasher Bros. …During this time period the purpose for singing changed, as you are well aware, for better or worse, from a “profession” to “ministry”…

During the late 70’s to mid 80’s Pentecostal music seemed to leave sogo…maybe due to the success of PTL and The Jimmie Swaggart TV show Pentecostal music moved away from sogo to early charismatic music?? Also, contemporary Christian music was on the rise during this time and Pentecostal artists, ever so slowly, started moving that direction, i.e. “More Then Wonderful”…Today, the Pentecostals have more of a “Black Gospel” or Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir sound to their music…..

Today there seems to be a few leftovers from this era as you mentioned - The MacKameys and The McGruders. It will be interesting to see if as you wrote the Crabbs evolution from being “too Pentecostal” to this crossover style is the new formula for success … I’ll be watching with great interest…keep writing….

On Dolly … oh my
“This month, Dolly Parton is not front and center in the advertisement. In fact, she’s now nowhere to be seen in the ad”

Well if Dolly was there, her front would certainly be centered!

On buses and eating
I’ve been on several quartet buses, and they’ve all had a front lounge, a back lounge, and bunks in the middle. If there are enough bunks, they sometimes turn a couple into a closet. The bunk area is usually closed off by doors at front and back of it so as to be dark when sleeping (particularly since they need to sleep sometimes during bright daylight). I’ve spent about 10 nights on quartet buses and I think the layout is very smart. Some turn the back lounge into a video game or video watching area, some to an office, and others to a large bedroom.

In regard to GV’s eating habits, just because they eat at those places doesn’t necessarily indicate their diet. Gerald was diagnosed as a diabetic (diet controlled) a couple of years ago and follows his diet very strictly - to the point where many think he’s too thin.

On health and reading and eating
Yo Avery, nice job getting the subject filled in the e-mail rely! Throw those interns an extra bone or two! ;) Regarding the traveling groups’ choice of restaurants. yeah, I agree they are variety and health-challenged. Why do they favor chains so much? And chains that ladle the grease? They should watch Food Network’s “$40 a Day with Rachael Ray” and learn how to find the good places. Here in California, it’s absolutely laughable to subsist on a meat and potatoes diet. Where’s the sushi? Man, find a place that serves a great chili relleno!

Keep it going. Yours is the only sg website I check daily anymore. The attitude dished up by the Unthanks is like Cracker Barrel - ultimately unhealthy for the blood pressure.

A nominee for best website
Best website: http://www.janetpaschal.com/

Even while she is under chemo, she still keeps her site updated. I like the idea
there are short movies on her site, letting us in on her life off the road…and I
believe that is the greatest gift of an artist…to let the fans in on behind the
scenes.

On more bad websites
I’m astounded that no one has mentioned the Greenes. Their site is not only bad, but rarely ever updated.

On GV’s bad site
I completely agree that Greater Vision needs to improve their site–mainly the pictures section. The only thing they really need to change is to make an unbreakable rule: Drag from the corners ONLY when sizing the pictures. Dragging from the side or top distorts the picture. Greater Vision is one of my very favorite groups and I love to see pictures of them and their family! But please don’t distort them!

On my Crabbs concert review
Excellant a-mundo.. I have been.. and yes.. I wanna go.. again!

On free association
Maybe I’m just stupid, but I have one question about the GV article in SN. Each of them mention the internet. Gerald’s answering mail (he’s never answered me, and I’ve written him a few times), Rodney’s getting emails and doing business. How do they connect up? Cellular modems? Satellite dish on the bus that gives them both DirecTV and DirecWay internet? Just curious.

Another thing about their diet. Eating so late (it seems they eat both before and after their performances as well as breakfast and lunch), how do they stay so skinny (Jason looks like he’s getting a little chunky, though)? If I ate like that, I’d weigh 300 pounds. No wonder Tim Riley had to quit and developed diabetes. Wow!

Speaking of Gold City, with all the hype written about how First Class was selling so well, I picked up a copy along with Integriphant’s latest. I was disappointed to no end. Bill Lawrence is just abrasive and the new tenor doesn’t blend in like Jay Parrack did. The songs were not well arranged (unlike Walk the Talk last year), so I don’t see why it’s such a hit. Reputation? Triumphant’s album is super, if not traditional.

Thanks for the Crabb review. I attended their show in Beckley, WV a couple of months ago and I have similar thoughts. I also attended PSQ at a local church last nights. Good but not great. It may show where sg is going, I think.

On sg: steamier than Dallas
I recently stumbled across your site and started reading through your archives. Call me naïve, but I never realized that there was so much intrigue surrounding gospel music. Sort of makes Dallas in 1988 look boring. Anyway, I noticed that in most of the two-week post groupings that there was at least one mention of a member of the Hoppers. I travel daily on Highway 220 where their office is located. So, I’ve noticed the Corvettes and Hummers parked there when they are on the road. My mind started questioning whether this is a ministry or a business. I guess there is no simple, correct answer. People can have more than one income stream. I’ve seen them in concert several times over the last couple of years (with the Gaither bunch and without) and I have come to the conclusion that they at least appear to be sincere.

On signs
I saw this one over the weekend and thought of you.

“God wants full custody. Not just weekends.”

I knew you would love it.

On paths, almost crossed
Note: the writer attended the same Crabb concert I reviewed last week]
This was my 11th Crabb Family concert. I was impressed with the growth of their stage performance, I think. I’ve heard all those songs before. Some I’ve heard them do better. But I have not seen them so at ease without Gerald and Kathy before. I think the biggest thrill for me was watching Jason, whom I know pretty well, as Adam and Aaron ‘took over’. When they led the group, when they took off on one of their solos, sermons, etc. The big brother just relaxed, it’s not all on his back anymore, and I’m sure that relieves alot of Mike Bowling’s burden too….enough that he doesn’t have to travel with them full time anymore and is able to help The Bowlings out during their time of need. Having been a fan since the early, early prehistoric days, I’m sad to see them grow up…but man oh man what they’ve grown into. Sound? A live concert is never what the album is, that’s not what you go for. You go for the performance, for the sincerity, for the laughs, for the tangible….we were not short changed. And I liked the praise band, looked like the crabbers did too….did you see them filing in during the second song and filling the doorways and the stage edges? I did. The Pattersons coulda stayed home…but from what I understand, they raised the most money toward sponsoring the concert….so they had to let ‘em sing. ha. I wish I coulda met you in person….I look forward to your articles. c’ya

On how I need to pray more
I was reading what you had to say about, well everyone in Gospel Music. I wanted to remind you that the very ones that you are trashing and belittling are the ones that are out on the front lines of the battle. There are people that are dying everyday with out JESUS, and we (Gospel Music Industry) are reaching out and telling the world about HIM through music. What are you doing? I wonder just how people would take it if you were slamming soldiers that are overseas fighting for our nation, even if some of them weren’t the greatest marksmen. Well what you are doing is the same thing! I don’t know where you stand with your salvation, but I wanted to remind you of some scripture. I Chronicles 16:23-25 says ‘Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.’ This may be something that you should consider before ridiculing others in the ministry. We aren’t singing secular music; we are presenting the greatest music of all, GOD’s music. Choose it or not choose it, that choice is yours, but stop trashing what we do. I am praying that you develop a relationship with GOD and find what HE has called you to do.

On babies
What is up with all these older SG artists having babies? Jeff and Sheri Easter are going to have one, Kim and Dean just had one … who’s next Bill and Gloria? On Jeff and Sheri’s website it says that their baby is a surprise to them … don’t believe I would have said that.

On being wrong
You wrote: And second, how sad that he and I (have to) feel this way. How sad that living within a long day’s drive of Nashville, the “epicenter” of sg, we might as well be seventeenth-century Americans settling the first rugged outposts of the British colonies in New England for all the connection to or value we have represent for the vital center of sg.

Uhhh. Better think again. Yes, there are studios on the outskirts of Nashville. Yes, there are artists (ministers of song) who live on the outskirts of Nashville. Nashville does not have SG concerts. It is one of the hardest places in the world to book concerts. Most of the people in Nashville have never heard of SG. It is a true center of CCM music. Not sure if it is Boone or Asheville but the center of SG lies somewhere between North Carolina and North Central Georgia.

On being overworked
Although he (Clarke) has been “shuffled” around in positions at NQC he will still remain in control. (full time position) Which requires numerous hours of work. ( I would think so). Now, onto his new position he has accepted with the State of Kentucky. (Which is described in the link provided) This, also, is a full time position. Which will also require specific work hours set by the State of Kentucky. As I was thinking, I have worked two full time jobs at the same time (prior to being married and having a family–when I had no life, lol) This can take alot out of a person. Mentally and physically. Let me go ahead and get to the meat of the matter. When he gets home for the office (Convention and Trade Show business) will he go straight into working on his NQC business. How much time does overseeing the NQC take? AND, will he be doing NQC business in the State of Kentucky’s office?

On being longwinded
Just a few comments while they’re still fresh in my mind. I was at first shocked that Farrar and Cumbee left the NQC advisory board. It appears that Russ, who was lauded by everyone as the legal guru of sg music just a few months ago, has fallen from favor in the industry. Why, I don’t know. I know you’ve commented on his problems with Ernie Haase, but it is curious to me that a man can fall so far so fast. That is, unless it’s all a part of the theory you present in your article today.

I see the adding of Wolfe and Fowler as another example of “taking control.” The NQC people are very paranoid and it all comes down to money. The NQC is a money-making event and they are doing everything they can to keep the cash cow going. Using the old theory, “you’re either for us or against us,” the first target was Bill Gaither (who never really threatened the NQC except in popularity, which bothered them a lot, I guess) and now their extreme paranoia has led them to shore up the conservative votes on the advisory board. I can hear it now. They see all the things going on - the Crabb Family making noises that they plan to move into other genres as well as sg, the continuing popularity of Gaither and the outpouring of rage when it was reported that their style and dress would not allow them to be on stage (something of which I’ve never gotten the complete accurate story told to me), and the move of many sg artists to explore new and different kinds of music. “We’ve got to keep everybody in line, boys,” is probably the saying most heard during the discussions.

In an earlier entry you mentioned your friend’s note to you about the confusion on why sg artists and the industry stay in the same horrid business cycle and don’t try to market better and offer a better product to people so the industry can grow. This all relates to the same conclusion. The “powers that be” in sg want it to stay small and regional for several reasons. First of all, guys like Danny Jones and Jerry Kirksley like it because they know everyone by name and that they are “good old boys,” who they can understand. Keeping things like they are means Danny can mooch at all the concerts because he is the Singing News. Expand this industry to the left coast means old Danny can’t be the kingpin anymore. They want to keep it in the Southeast, especially North Carolina and Kentucky (maybe Alabama and South Carolina) so that everyone is close and the true formula doesn’t get bastardized by those other parts of the country. I don’t know Gerald Wolfe or Scott Fowler, but reading their email list and some of their comments tells me that they are true believers of this credo. Imagine if sg caught on in the Western states and even (shudder) California. Why, some of them might not have voted for Bush! Can you imagine that? I think you see where I am going here. To sum this up, I just think they are ridding themselves of their perceived heathern and protecting themselves from what they consider the great Satan–”Gaitherizing” the NQC. I may be wrong, but I’d bet that seeing Alicia Williamson, Don Francisco, the Katinas, all the artists on that whole Bishop Jakes two-part Gaither video, and David Phelps scares them to death. What scares them even more is that those DVD’s and albums have sold more than what their traditional artists could ever hope to sell. It scares them so much, they think the solution is to bully those artists who have bought into the sg “formula” (you and your friend outlined it pretty well). The only defense these people have is to say that Gaither is all about the money and is not really a ministry because he doesn’t preach and he doesn’t take political stands (and BTW, what is it with folks today who think you have to take a certain political stand to be a “true believer?”). Fear, buddy. That’s all it is and they are reacting just like scared people do.

Just want to comment on your review of the “Remembering the Greats” DVD. First of all, I agree with 99% of it, though I did enjoy it. I agree that the highlights included Libbi Stuffle’s performance along with the quartet that backed her up (big grin here). Putting Mark Trammel, Gerald Wolfe and husband Tracy behind her was genius. The acapella singing was superb. I also liked Wolfe’s reading of “Champion of Love,” (along with the stacked vocals). For a traditional sg group, the Florida Boys are into a youth movement and the group sounds good. I am convinced that Josh Garner is a very talented man. I also liked Joyce Martin’s take on the Goodman’s theme song and the Perrys’ stab at “I Was There When It Happened.” I also agree with you that Loren Harris is THE reason for the Perrys’ rise to prominence. To disagree with you a bit, I thought Triumphant’s read of the old Lee Roy Abernathy song was a highlight. The stage antics reminded me of something Hovie would have endorsed had he been 30 years old in 2004, and I’ve always been impressed with their singing. Abernathy was a character, apparently. He wrote, “I Found Jesus in Mexico,” and “Terrible Time Down There,” and talk about non-conventional songs. Wow. … Mercy’s Mark is wonderful. They’ll go far. Garry Jones, IMHO, is a genius.

I hated what the program did to the Rambos. LordSong wasn’t well suited to the song they did, but the Crabbs did justice to “Homesick.” The marching out of Karen Harding to sing with Reba was high crime. The Rambos wouldn’t have recognized that. I noticed the crowd was less than enthusiastic, even though the canned applause was evident. The Stamps need a new tenor and bass. To be frank, Ed Enoch and Ed Hill can no longer carry a group like they could in the 70’s. It’s time to make some changes, boys. Ed Enoch can still sing, and Hill can hold his own, but the blend isn’t there. I also think the Statesmen got the short end of the stick on this video. There were much better examples of the Statesmen style than what was done. Did I mention that I liked “Terrible?”

Sorry to be so long winded. You’re doing some great stuff these days. Thought-provoking, hard-hitting stuff and you are to be commended for that. I’d volunteer for your “intern” position, but I just don’t have the time right now, though I’d love to do it. Keep on keeping on. I love it.

Just to segue back to my political comments above. WV voting for Bush must have had its effect. I logged onto the Crabb site to vote in their poll and looked at the schedules posted there. Our state has long been neglected by sg groups. Guess what? The Crabbs are going to be within 40 miles of me four times in the next six months including tomorrow night. I’m heading over to the concert and I’ll be sure to take earplugs (it’s a real small venue). Added to the PSQ concert last week and GV two weeks ago, I may be broke before this is all over.

On clarifying the Greats
I just wanted to clarify on the comments of the person who was questioning why there wasn’t any artist on the showcase except Daywind artists. This was a Daywind Records Showcase. Most record companies have a time set aside during the week of NQC for their showcase to feature their artists. Last year the Daywind showcase was the Greater Vision Quartets Live. I really don’t think that the person who made these comments understand that this was a record company showcase.

Also, The Stamps Quartet was on the RTG showcase and they are not a signed Daywind group. Just to explain the money comment….Daywind does not receive any of the money that people paid to attend this showcase. Again, this showcase where Daywind came up with the concept and put it together to feature our artists.

On terrible songs
I’ve read all the comments on “Terrible Time Down There.” The huge thing that bothers me about the song is it’s a fun song about h - e - double hockeysticks. How is the non-Christian supposed to take the reality of hell seriously if the Integriumphants are doing their stage antics that come off to me as mocking the thought that there is a hell. Heck.

On The Freemans and DW
I’m sure you’ve heard about it by now, but in case you haven’t, The Freemans have returned back to Daywind after a hiatus of a few years. Their new Greatest Hits CD (2004) is on Daywind, but their previous 2 projects (Closer and Highway) were indy releases. I believe “A Way With Words” (1999) was their last original CD with Daywind before leaving.

On SGN having it
I know as of 3:30pm EST, there is nothing on Brian Free on the SN website, but as of 2:24pm EST, SGN has got something on it!

On Daywind’s shrewdness
Was just reading your post about the Daywind project in tribute to legendary groups. You said it best when you said that some of the Daywind artists could have been out sung by other label’s talent. Daywind in it’s shrewdness has really been a big self promoter with it’s projects.

On the NQC, last to know
It amazing when you consider that the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion is breaking new acts, strange as that sounds. Both the Booth Brothers and Dove Brothers made their first big impact at GOGR based on what I’ve read.

On the site, for better and worse
I have several observations to make about your site and your comments.

First, I think you have a wonderful site, and I like the basic idea behind it. It meets a definite need, and I think you do a commendable job in addressing issues that are not presently being addressed anywhere else.

Second, having said that, I will have to say that I disagree with you much of the time and find myself becoming quite irritated at some of your suggestions and assumptions. In no way does this cause me to stop visiting your site. On the contrary, I take your opinions seriously…including those of the ones who write to you.

Third, you halfway redeemed yourself by your positive, complimentary statements about the legendary Florida Boys. Les Beasley is a musical and marketing genius and does a fine job behind the quartet on the bass guitar. The present lineup of talent puts the Florida Boys in a very elite category of traditional quartets. They are perhaps the best traditional quartet on the road today with Gene McDonald (the finest young bass on the road), Glen Allred (the finest baritone EVER!), Josh Garner (an awesome lead), and Harold Reid. And Derrell Stewart is just as solid a pianist as ever…and just as funny. So, thanks for recognizing their tremendous talent and saying a few kind words (minus your rather abrupt quip about the tenor).

And this brings me to my points of disagreement.

1. You say the industry is in deep trouble. Well, it always has been ever since the mid-1970s. With the advent of ‘contemporary Christian’ the naysayers were saying back then that ‘quartet music’ was on the way out. To quote a famous person from the past, ‘The news of my demise is greatly exaggerated.’ Such is the case with traditional quartet music. Christian music will always be on the peripheral in terms of public recognition and sales. That is a simple fact. Can we broaden the audience? Sure we can. But to expect this industry, ANY segment of Christian music, to take the music world by storm is a pipe dream. Look at the demographics, for heaven’s sake. The Church itself is NOT keeping up with the growth of the population. And to a rather large segment of the Church (such as the liturgical denominations), Christian music in its popularized version is a non-entity. They simply do not listen to it and have no interest in it except at Church (and then it is ‘high-church choral music). So what? Somehow or another this industry finds a way to survive. And the particular ’style’ is not the key ingredient! If the music is performed well, it will sell, regardless.

2. You say that creativity is lacking and this will do us in. Balderdash! You mention as evidence the fact that most of the audiences are made up of older people. Well, here again, so what? It has ALWAYS been that way as long as I can remember, and I have been following this music since the early 1960s. As people get older they tend to get more conservative. There are people today in their 60s and 70s who love traditional quartet music who would have NEVER admitted to it or listened to it back when they were in their 20s.

3. You assume that in order attract a younger audience the groups must somehow cater to them with a new sound that denotes innovation and creativity. Well, explain Glen Payne and George Younce, then. Their concerts were FILLED with younger people. Did they come to see Ernie and Scott? NO!! Ask ANYBODY and they will tell you that they were there to see Glen and George. Yes, they could be creative and innovative, BUT WITHIN CERTAIN BOUNDARIES AND LIMITS. They never lost their love for and adherence to the standard quartet sound. They were just better at it than anyone else, and THAT is what attracted the audiences, young and old.

4. Your obsession with the Crabbs gets on my nerves. I can’t stand them. Musically they are mediocre at best. I hope that is NOT where we are headed as an industry.

5. Gaither’s problems with the NQC are of his own making to a great degree. I remember he once placed an add in the Singing News years ago promoting the latest GVB recording that claimed, ‘The GVB is Southern Gospel’s top selling quartet.’ This brought howls of protests from people all over, fans and insiders alike, including ME! GVB has NEVER been a Southern Gospel Quartet! They are a contemporary male group that sometimes sings southern gospel quartet music. I was livid that they would make a claim like this when the Florida Boys, Cathedrals, Gold City, Kingsmen, and others had been out there night after night building their southern gospel fan base in the trenches, while Gaither had been out in the hinterlands of contemporary music and then comes back expecting to receive the accolades of the fans when he had essentially forsaken us for about 25 years! And here again, Bill’s present difficulties with the Homecoming Reunions stem from the fact that so many of the QUARTET greats are DEAD. THEY are who the people wanted to see! (Note my earlier statement about Glen and George).

6. Concerning your relentless attacks on the Singing News, remember that SN was NEVER envisioned as a true, objective journalist newspaper of detached ‘reporters’ who deliver hard news. When JG Whitfield first started the tabloid in 1968 or so, he did so in order to ‘promote the concerts.’ That was HIS statement of purpose. Whit at that point promoted concerts all over the south and had at one time owned both the Dixie Echoes and the Florida Boys. He used the publication to promote his groups and his concerts. Thus, the purpose of a mag like SN is NOT to report gossip, bad news, etc, etc, but to promote the concerts and the groups who sing in them. You are setting up an expectation of SN that was never intended to begin with. To report the news, reflect on it objectively, even when it is bad, may be YOUR purpose, but that is NOT the purpose of SN! It never has been. And this righteous indignation of yours concerning SN being in cahoots with the NQC or whoever, is misplaced, since, as I said, their purpose has ALWAYS been to promote SG and the concerts and groups. Big deal.

Thank-you for letting me get this off my chest. Southern Gospel Music is my passion, and I had these things on my heart that needed to be said. Having said them, let me reiterate my initial statement that I do appreciate what you are doing. You are keeping our music and people who sing it at the forefront of our thinking, and that is good. Keep up the good work. We may not always agree, but I am glad you are there.

On labels using their own writers
This is nothing new. Elvis Presely management insisted writers turn over half the publishing rights of songs he recorded. Initially, because he sold so much, many writers agreed. As time went on many wouldn’t and he ended up recording a lot of bad material. Jake Hess felt the Statesmen’s recordings in his later years with them (first time round) were not as good because they did a lot of songs written by group members. Hovie said there were a few complaints but the guys loved getting those royalty
checks.

On what a tier is and does it matter?
As usual, you make some good points. However, I am at a loss at who or what decides what is top tiered or not. As far as I can tell several of the groups listed are way under the industry radar. I don’t believe there is any excitement about a lot of groups that are so called top tiered. I don’t hear of any companies trying to acquire these types. They probably do not sell enough product to pay for fuel. Their singing ability not withstanding. I suppose any one with a blog can say what tier any group is. I do agree that the NQC is becoming irrelevant. I have several artists(tier?) that are not going to NQC this year. The board is trying to beat a dead horse in my opinion. Falling attendance for the last several years should be an indicator that something is wrong.

On sameness and miracles
Has anyone else noticed that Wayne Haun, who produces much of the SG from Daywind, is suddenly a “much-in-demand” songwriter on Daywind projects?. His compositions are on everything coming from their stable. Not only is Daywind excluding outside, talented songwriters, Haun’s own pen (he no doubt has strong coersion powers since he’s already calling the shots on many areas of each project) is alienating the writers that Daywind has on staff, even. If any songwriter not connected with Daywind gets past Haun, Lindsey or Griffin and actually onto the project, miracles have happened.

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Comments

  1. DianeGlasco wrote:

    I don’t care to much for the Crabb Family they made a mockery out of homesick with homesick. Reba should not even agreed to sing with them, what was she thinking

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