Some letters

The latest small batch of letters is up. I know I’ve been through this rehearsal before, but lately I’ve been feeling the pique of not answering mail with much promptness. As I’ve said in the past, your mail is really what keeps this thing going. I appreciate it and look forward to it - especially in during times when I don’t have as much availability to answer it as I’d like. This usually means I’m more swamped at work, and your mail is my favorite excuse and form of escape. Thanks. On Gold City
I was reading through the letters and noticed 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. It’s Tim singing on my album, not Bill. Did he go in and redo the vocals?On the Lesters
Just saw the Lester’s last night. They’re fantastic as always. I think Brian is doing a great job of holding it together. Liz is stepping up to the plate and doing a great job. Jonathan is also doing a fabulous job. They’re sounding better than they have in a long time. Trecia is solid. She needs way more attention that she gets.

On credit and deans
Just read your mini-dissertation on the streamlining of the SG blogosphere…and noticed your comment about John Crenshaw being the “dean” of SG historians…and while I gladly concede and assent to the fact that he is probably the foremost authority of SG history and certainly, recordings of it, in this country…the “dean” of it would be our mutual good friend, Dean Adkins, who I know has been a contributor to your blog! Dean has close to 5,000 SG recordings, and he is a man that both Crenshaw and I consult on a regular basis about SG historical matters … in fact, I consider Dean second only to Crenshaw as an authority on SG history! Just wanted to put in a deserving plug for a deserving person!

On radio promoters
So the SN is ranting about a promoter who is…well…promoting? Wow, must have been a slow news day. The intended victim of Kirksey’s missive was surely Hendrix, but here’s what happens when you don’t think things through: were I a DJ/station manager/owner, I would quickly take offense being told that I haven’t the intellect to spot marketing tactics, that I am easily susceptible to the ether of propaganda, and that I can’t be trusted. There’s nothing like a good dose of alienation that will have a spouse looking around for another lover. Also, Kirksey’s soap box has become a witness stand. By threatening Hendrix & every sg-charting station, he has simultaneously revealed/admitted to the inherent problems with his chart model.

You commented that promoters have long been wining and dining radio stations for years. Hendrix’ practices are no different. Something tells me there is more to the story than we are being told. There are usually two truths in situations like these: the one they want you to know, and the one they don’t.

On my loudmouth
Before you pipe off the mouth you need to make sure you know what you’re talking about. The title to the song [”You’ll Never Run Out of Blood”] causes me to praise the sweet name of Jesus. This song has a powerful message. Ernie Dawson is one of the good guys in gospel music. You need to take your Howard Stern approach and attack something else. I have personally seen … ballot stuffing a male vocalist of the year. Singing News is aware and they promote the ones who play their game. All of this is many DJ’s desk in America.

On charts
I’ve rolled this whole thing over in my mind and still go back to the SN chart which is simply ludicrous. Why on earth would you have 20 stations in Southern markets decides what chart position the various “single” cuts are in when you and I both know there is no such thing as a “single” in music anymore anyway? Regardless of the answer, the system is flawed, unreliable, and only a figment of the imagination of SN and certain fans who buy into it. Ridiculous.

Anyway, since we only have Solid Gospel affiliates in my area (1 FM and 1 AM), they must not have followed the Hendrix call. I have not heard the song [”You’ll Never Run Out of Blood”] once. I finally went to their website and downloaded the snippet of it last night and was appalled. They can’t sing nor are they attractive. The fact that this song can become [No. X*] on their chart should convince SN that something is wrong. My guess is that any number of Greater Vision or, heck, anyone’s songs would sell much larger amounts even if you had to buy a whole $18 CD to get it. It is time for retail sales to determine chart position in SG. Like the clerk who wrote in other comments on another blog, there is no promotion of sg anywhere, so only us fanatics know what’s going on. Since that is the case, it’s easy for something like this to happen. And that means Palmetto State’s recent #1. And the Perrys recent chart success is simply fable. That’s sad because both of those groups deserve better.

Finally, this whole fiasco tends to make sg look a little foolish. I don’t blame Rick Hendrix for doing what he does. In my business, I get this kind of promotion all the time. … That’s the way it goes. But, then again, we go with quality regardless of who gives us what. It appears many in the industry are not concerned with quality but recognition (whatever recognition they might get from doing what Rick said in his “personal” note). How can this form of music we all love be taken seriously by even the mainstream Christian community when things like this happen? Sometimes, I just shake my head.

On the Anchormen, a dissent
Went to hear the Anchormen last night. Going to disagree with your
recent post about them. They sounded pretty good to me. Bryan was as always, quite enjoyable. Very pleasant young man that looks like he loves what he does. Bryan and Will did the sales pitch last night…what a RIOT!!

Will has greatly improved in the year since I last saw them. He managed the mic very well and was right on. He didn’t hunt the mic questioning pitch or anything. He boldly went where no man dare go. His bottom end has improved nicely. I see Will uses an ear monitor so maybe this corrected what you had seen prior.

Michael Hayes did a great job. I like him as a tenor. Not the highest around but certainly well capable of anything he needed to do. As much as I get tired of “Oh What a Savior,” he did it well. I was overly impressed that Michael preached a bit, at the invitation and 4 people said they made a decision for Christ!

What a great guy Jason seems to be. Of course in public, they would be stupid to give off any other impression, if they knew what was good for them. It certainly seemed genuine, we chatted about the industry and things a bit. As lead, he did a good job. His mic level could have been a little better, but nothing serious.

Chad just gives off an enjoyable aura. He has an extremely good personality and is a pleasure to chat visit with. He does a great job at baritone as well. You just cant get around his exuberance. He puts out like he is the happiest man alive. He closed with “Runnin my Way Back Home” or whatever the title is, it eludes me now. All in all, I gave them 5 stars all around for the evening. That’s is, that’s all…from this part of the island.

On last chances
Here’s what I don’t get…I haven’t seen any mention of this in your exhaustive blog about the SN/Hendrix deal, but has anyone brought up the “last chance” letter that Kirksey sent to Hendrix and all the SN charting stations last summer? The three-page edict was dated July 19, 2004, and went into great detail about how SN would no longer put up with Hendrix’s antics. Sounds like he’s getting another “last chance” for the umpteenth time. I have a copy of last summer’s letter. Let me know if you would like me to fax it to you.

On the top 10 songs
I am very disappointed in the top 10 song nominees. “Long as I Got King Jesus” by Brian Free & Assurance is a joke to Southern Gospel. Well done, mind you, but it does NOT belong in our genre. And of course, I am ALWAYS disappointed whenever a song by the Crabbs shows up either on the chart or on the list of most popular tunes.

In addition, I am disappointed in tunes by the McKameys and Mark Bishop showing up on that list. I know that both have their fans, but I can think of LOTS of other songs that are much better.

I know I am probably being a bit paranoid, but it seems to me that increasingly the songs that show up on the Singing News charts and ‘fan lists’ leave much to be desired. The better songs are strangely absent from both radio play and the charts. I have heard some songs by the Florida Boys, for example, that are better than 99% of anything out there, but they are nowhere to be found on a chart or on the “fan favorites.” I simply have a hard time swallowing it.

In spite of my disagreements with you in the past concerning the Singing News, THIS is a matter on which I think we both are in 100% agreement.

On Kirk Talley
I was recently introduced to your website and I like to viewpoint and comments. I’ll be checking back often, keep up the good work! I wanted to let you know that I voted for Kirk Talley on the Singing News…Why? Because I noticed that they don’t list or recognize him anymore. I’ve listened to Kirk and own almost every CD that he has produced his entire career. I believe that God has used him for so many years and he’s not given up on him. As a Christian, it embarrasses me to see organizations/people turn their back and judge others for their mistakes. The Bible says that we are all sinners but only by Gods grace can we be saved! I believe that Kirk has rededicated his life to God and he has a specific message/testimony to bring to so many people. God’s not finished with Kirk and neither should fellow Christians, Southern Gospel Music and Christian radio stations.

I’d like to ask for your support to help keep Kirk’s ministry alive so GOD can use him to his fullest potential.

On writing and stuff
I always thought Kris Kristofferson could mold a lyric very well. Even Jimmy Webb. But, on occasion, both would use the wrong tense and wrong pronoun. I’ve never understood that for a lot of reasons. Many times, I think they did it for effect. always thought Kristofferson was pandering to his country audience or at least the audience that he was trying to sell songs to when he did that.

I don’t for a minute think the sg writers are doing that. Sad to say, but I don’t think they know any better. Kind of goes along with KK’s series on leaving your brain at the church door. How do sg artists and songwriters expect to woo the intelligent with this? I don’t think they even care. Look at Mosie Lister’s songbook. Find a grammatical error. You might, but it would be rare. Quality? That’s another thing that scares me. Mosie is past 80. Bill Gaither is nearly 70. ho’s going to fill those shoes? Becky Isaacs? Sobering at 3 AM, isn’t it?

On grammar
THANK YOU!!!! As an English teacher and a composer, it drives me absolutely nuts when I hear grammar used incorrectly in the lyrics of a song. It’s nice to know that there are others who do feel the same way. Great article.

On “God Bless America”
Amen to the ubiquitous GBA - give me “Take Me Out To the Ball Game”. The time it takes (especially in Yankee Stadium) is enough for a pitcher to lose his edge too. BTW, vocal gymnastics on the National Anthem should be charged as treason.

On calming down about artistic stuff
Hey puddin’….it’s just music. It’s supposed to soothe the calm, make the feet dance, make the mouth sing… ain’t no place for edumacation…… Chill my good brother!

On GBA again
It’s an elegant desire for God to bless us and our country, what’s jingoistic about that? And not “because” we have mountains, prairies, but rather bless America FROM the mountains to the prairies to the oceans to every far corner, the whole thing.

On charting and being a dj
The post on the “no-backboned dj” made me cringe, mainly because I admit to fulfilling some of the criteria. I started working at the afore-mentioned station straight out of high school doing, of all things, afternoon drive. But I had a wee-bit of the over-inflated head, the over-estimated “star power,” the over-calculated clout with the artists, and the under-paid salary. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, depending mainly on the artist. I fully admit to being male and wanting to help Lauren Talley, Misty Freeman, the McRaes, the Lesters (because of Tricia), etc, in hopes of being recognized and winning their affection. Alas, it didn’t work.

It took several years to break out of the funk I called “rookie-ness.” As I did, though, my airshifts got better (because I realized the fleecing of the employees that was the mindset of the station ownership-paying them chump change because “it’s a ministry;” realizing there was no future for me at the station, I started doing radio for the love of radio and the personal desire to be better than anyone else on the air), and my list of “playable songs” shrunk for the better. Gone were the days of trying to work in requests to make the vocal minority happy; if the song stunk, it didn’t get played. Gone also were the days of playing junky current singles because “pm drive is suppose to be top 40.” If it was slow and not a “power ballad,” it didn’t get played.

I probably went over the edge a time or fifty, but I didn’t really care (see above for the reasons–i.e. chump change and a disregard for the “ministry mindset”). As a collegiate in his early 20s, I had a strong desire to attract people like me (18-35s), and it wasn’t going to be done with poorly produced music, the weepy-whiny funeral-ish songs, and everything else you’ve already noted is wrong with sg radio (which makes a kid wonder, why do promoters even release some of this stuff to radio in the first place? Are they only concerned about getting an artist’s dollar or are they actually wanting to do a good job of promoting the artist?). So, while I turned into a typical progressive radio junky (all Crabb Family, LordSong, Martins, Talleys, McRaes, Crossway, GVB, etc., all the time), to me, it was the only stuff out there worthy to be played regularly during the drive time shift, and the only shot I had at attracting my desired target. Never found out whether it worked or not.

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