I couldn’t have said it better

The latest bunch of your letters is up. At this hour, you speak much better than I ever could.On Larry Petree and his message board
I just spent two hours over at that Larry Petree message board. I wanted to leave, but I just couldn’t. Sorta like looking at a car wreck……

On “God Bless America”
My trio wanted to sing this song. I couldn’t convince them not to, so I got the hymnal out and READ them the lyrics. That’s all it took!

On discoveries
I’ve been reading your blog since last fall, and Easter seems as good an occasion as any to tell you — as a personal note, really — what a delightful discovery your site was, and how satisfying it has been ever since. My first reaction was, “About time!” Yours is the only Southern gospel site I know with truly intelligent commentary on the artists, history and current scene. I gave up on Singing News a long time ago — it’s hardly more than a fanzine.

Your thoughtful, tolerant discussion of Kirk Talley’s homosexuality was my first real cue how different your whole attitude is. And it was such a relief to find a kindred spirit out there. I grew hearing my father’s Statesmen Quartet, Blackwood Brothers et.al. records (with some Mahalia in there, too), and those groups are my measure for contemporary gospel — especially the Statesmen, who as far as I’m concerned are to Southern gospel what the original Allman Brothers were to Southern rock. My father died 4 years ago, and his old Statesmen albums are one of the treasures of my life.

On rolls (drums and otherwise)
“Johnny Minick Reaching Lives In Irag” …. but the big question is (drum roll please) … is there a Cracker Barrel restaurant in the area???

On pet peeves
A huge pet peeve of mine is incorrect grammar or someone trying to sound professional and thus sounding ridiculous. If you’re a webmaster there are a few basics you should know about writing. If something is mistyped or mis-written it makes your client look ignorant. Here are two examples that I found that bother me:

#1 on www.theimperials.com
“Ian and Megan Owens are proud to announce that they will soon be parents of their first child. Ian and Megan’s first child is expected around the first of September. Ian and Megan as well as all The Imperials appreciate your prayers during this time!” IMO it should have been written as follows: Ian and Megan Owens are proud to announce that they are expecting their first child around the first of September. The Owens’ appreciate your prayers during this time. For crying out loud….do we really need “Ian and Megan” at the beginning of every sentence? I’m sure that in itself is breaking a huge English rule. We already know after the first sentence that this is their first child. Does that need to be repeated in sentence #2? And why on earth do the Imperials need your prayers because Megan is pregnant? I’m sure Megan needs the prayers more than the Imperials do.

#2 on http://www.singingnews.com/news/sg_wire/index.html
“Most of the times, these packages include bibles and recordings.” This could be a simple typo, but nonetheless it looks ignorant. “Most of the times”????

On not so good Fridays
Do you find it interesting that both Daywind and New Day are open for business on Good Friday? I mean……the stock market is closed…..as is every Christian label, distributor, church, etc., in this town. I find it odd that the employees are forced to take New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day as a vacation, but these so called Christian companies can’t observe such an important day for believers.

On spelling it “Irag”
I tell ya, you just kwack me up. Do you really expect the “National News Magazine” that thinks “Superfan’s granddaughter dies” is news is really gonna use spell check? C’mon, are you a newbie?

On the Lesters
I totally, totally agree with you. I am a native of the St. Louis Metro East and have followed the Lesters’ career all my life. They are some of the kindest, most down-to-earth people I have ever met. You are so right about their store on South 39th Street. It is a credit to them to have maintained their home there. I remember several times going to get concert tickets and walking over to the house and being made to feel like family. They are a rare breed and a breath of fresh air in the music field of sometimes over-hyped “superstars”. I wish them success for many years to come.

On refreshment
I heard a short segment of the show as I was driving and thought the Booth Brothers rendition of “I’m Wearing New Shoes” was a refreshing break from Jessy Dixon’s hog-the-mic and scream.

On hard working guys
Say all you want.. but if my goal were to get SG radio to play my song.. I would hire RICK HENDRIX in a heart beat.

More on hymnody
In 1633 William Pynne (English Puritan) questioned, “Whence hath the Church so many Organs and Musical Instruments? To what purpose, I pray you is that terrible blowing of the Belloes (bellows), expressing rather the crakes of thunder, than the sweetness of voyce?”

Prynne also stated, “If they want music let them sing psalms like rational beings, and not too many of these. But now a-dayes Musicke is grown to such and so great a licentiousness that even at the ministration of the the holy sacrament all kind of Wanton and lewde trifling songs with piping of organs, have their place and course.”

He continued, “AS for Divine Service and common prayer, it is so chaunted and misused and mangled of our costly hired, curious, and nice Musitians (not to instruct the the audience withall, nor to stir up men’s mindes to devotion, but with whorish harmony to tickle their eares) that it may justly seem not to be noyse made of men, but rather a bleating of brutish beasts…” Taken from: Tracing the Roots of Southern Gospel Singers by B. F. McLemore. 1988

On that Irag thing again
Who is the data entry person? If spell check isn’t an option, how about hiring a proof reader?

On bad dates
Not actually the first time the SN hasn’t got the Suwannee River Jubilee dates to align with the DE’s page. You’d think they could get it right at least once.

On things Ernie might say to himself?
“Hi, I’m forty, but want you to think I am the Dick Clark of sg. Once George is gone, I will then have to work for a living. The coattails will no longer be available.” - EH

More on EHSSQ
I enjoyed your piece on Signature Sound Quartet. … I do think they have one very fine group, but the dancing and hair styles are a bit hard for an old fogey like me to accept. I really see nothing wrong in what they do, but for me personally, it is a bit over the top. But they can forevermore sing a song.

And some more on EHSSQ
SSQ diminishes their influence by trying for the “boy look” that you described so well in your recent comments. Ernie himself looks ridiculous with the poofed-up hair and snapping his fingers, etc. when he has got to be approaching 35-40 years old. He is a man, and a man trying to look like a teeny-bopper always flops and looks silly to the people in the age group he is trying to appeal to. It’s a real shame that SSQ resorts to so much 19-year-old antics, too, because they are second only to GVB in regards to talent. If they will lose the silly stage frollicking, SSQ will heighten their measure of respect within the industry, and most importantly, likely influence lost souls more than they are now.

And since we’re on a roll
“The challenge for the boy band, of course, is that boys will be boys … until they grow up. And then there’s something not only difficult but also unseemly about overgrown kids trying to play the boy-band image that once came to them naturally.”

The best description of SSQ that I have seen.

Everybody … all together now …
Thanks for your comment about SSQ. I thought it was just me that thought it was a little weird seeing these guys act like they were reliving their high school years. At one of their appearances I was at their table browsing and I heard them talking between them about “chunky highlights”. These guys need to take GVB as a role model for their look and stage presence. You can still be edgy without reverting to “boy band” theatrics. Besides SSQ shouldn’t have to rely on it - they’re pretty good. Ernie needs to also put the tan in a can down. He’s beginning to look orange.

On competitive stupidity
Until just today I coulda matched this one….. The Mid American Gospel Music Assocation (MAGMA) had on their website the dates for their fall convention wrong. It wasn’t last year’s convention dates, it wasn’t this year’s convention dates, it wasn’t the weekend before or the weekend after….any of these coulda happened to anyone…. Nope it was just two dates pulled outta the middle of the week in the month of October 2005. Special kinda stupid. And I hate to admit this, 5 of those board members are personal friends. Special kinda stupid, oh but I repeat myself.

On EHSSQ and the bigger picture
The problem with Ernie Haase is basically twofold:

1. He has always had a penchant for the immature, i.e., the ‘Elvis-lookalike thing’ from his days with the Cathedrals. I remember hearing complaints about it back in those days, even from some insiders among the Cathedrals themselves!

2. As a tenor he is very good but certainly not the best…not even among the best the Cathedrals ever had. Funderburke, Talley, Mack Taunton, and certainly Bobby Clark, were all much better. Having a ’signature song,’ i.e., ‘Oh What A Savior,’ that you sing every night for over 10 years does not automatically make one a star, particularly since that song was the signature song for Rosie Rozell, the famed tenor of the Statesmen! ‘Oh What A Savior’ will always be Rosie’s song, not Ernie’s. At the height of Rosie’s career, he could sing circles around Haase, even on a bad night. Listen to the original Statesmen recording of the song with Rosie Rozell, and you will see what I mean.

Signature Sound Quartet is certainly good enough to be top tier, but the mere fact that they are lighting a fire right now is not automatic entry into that elite grouping. I think the verdict is still out on them. On the other hand, Scott and Roger seem to be the ones who truly matured on the road with Payne and Younce, taking the hard lessons of road life to heart. Although Haase may be Younce’s son-in-law, Younce’s and Payne’s true musical sons are definitely Roger Bennett and Scott Fowler. Legacy Five is the group that is taking its cues from the success-map of the Cathedrals in that they are laying a solid fan base among some of the larger churches in a slow, consistent fashion that will stand them in good stead many years from now. Rather than going for the ‘flash in the pan’ gimmickry, they are mature, consistent, persistent, steady, and faithful to their identity. If I were a betting man, I would put my money on Legacy Five remaining a top tier group for 30+ years rather than Signature Sound. That goes for the Crabbs as well–another flash in the pan gimmick that will probably create a lot of noise and excitement for 10 years at the most, but then fades as quickly as it rises.

Look at the groups that are still around and doing well after 30+ years, and you will get a good idea of what it takes–The Florida Boys, Palmetto State, Dixie Echoes, Dixie Melody Boys, The Melody Boys. the Hoppers, etc. Even the Inspirations are rich with many good lessons to be learned. Theirs is a mountain sound, to be sure, but look at their enormous following after 40 years! These particular groups made their mark by a steady consistency, a commitment to staying close to their fan base, a mature knowledge of their identity and uniqueness, and a dedication to sticking with it through the grueling years of ‘working the trenches’ and slowly building a following by fostering trust.

On those odd Triumphity bios
That’s hilarious!!! It’s amazes me how adults’ actions are so similar to the 4 year olds I teach! Keep up the great work!

On Kim Hopper solo
Being a big Kim Hopper fan I bought her cd and was underwhelmed to say the least. Her voice certainly doesn’t shine on any of the songs the way I thought they would. I’m not sure if its Kim’s fault or the producer for not talking her into picking different songs.

More Kim Hopper
Thanks for turning me on to the cross rhythms site. I love well-written album reviews. as for Kim’s voice change. I think it’s just a matter of age (i.e. Sheri Easter/Janet Paschal [seriously, listen to Sheri Easter on their first few albums]). I think her range has lowered which is tough for a soprano. Listen to “I’m Going on with My Jesus” from the Greene’s album, “When He Sees e.” I love her voice on that album. It’s probably the best studio album she did with the Greenes. She wails on “I’m Goin on.” I think she’s pushed her voice to keep the highs. A few years ago she admitted to never having vocal training and that probably has a lot to do with it. I don’t like her version of “While I Wait” from her album. I think it was pitched in her upper range purposefully to show her range. It sounds forced. The main thing I don’t like about this particular cut is the way she sings the word “celebrate” the last few go-arounds is too sg for this pop-country ditty. The LordSong version of the song is perfect. There are a lot of stronger cuts on her disc than “While I Wait.” There are a couple written by Cindy Morgan (who is a favorite of mine) that are awesome. Cut #2 is worth buying the disc. I like her better in her lower range on the album. There are a couple of great slower songs like “Peace” and “Springtime’s Coming.” But much of it wouldn’t appeal to “Shoutin’ Time” fans.

On soloists
Your comments regarding Kim Hopper are right on the mark. I don’t recall her from her days with the Greene’s, but the shrillness she has now makes the entire Hopper group almost “unlistenable” as far as I’m concerned. That’s too bad, because I don’t think there are any nicer people out there than Claude and Connie. Someone ought to tell her the great singers didn’t sing at maximum volume all the time. Unfortunately, it’s an affliction that many of today’s SG singers have. David Phelps, Guy Penrod, Karen Peck and several other tenors and sopranos come to mind.

On that Heirline thing
If Ken Kirksey is telling the truth about SN being oblivious to Mr. Hendrix “working” Heirline’s “You’ll Never Run Out Of The Blood”, I wonder what we can expect to see on the June chart regarding this song? I’ll go ahead and make a prediction: Instead of the standard 3 or 4 notch drop, “You’ll Never Run Out…” will go down 10+ spots on the charts, just so SN can show Hendrix, the evil radio DJs, and fans in the know that SN is in control. At that point, who would be “working” the charts? Answer: Singing News Magazine

On the SN chart
Wow. When did the SN chart ever have any integrity. Won’t have until they chart ALL artists and songs even crossover artists as is done in other genres.

On Heirline
One DJ noted that Heirline “can’t sing, can’t find the tune/key?” Sure, they don’t fall into the category of a polished quartet; but to say they are out of tune is completely unfounded. I’ve heard them compared to the McKamey’s. The McKamey’s don’t have pretty voices, but they’re not out of tune for the most part. If you don’t care for the down-home style, don’t play it. But don’t be so ignorant as to say it’s not in tune. I don’t have Heirline’s track record in front of me, but this is not their first chart song. Heirline has had several top 40 songs over the past 7-8 years. It’s not like they appeared out of nowhere like the Haire Family (who have since mysteriously disappeared) a few years back with their #3 song (also promoted and written by Hendrix). Hendrix is not the only promoter who consistently asks for chart positions. Crossroad’s Jim Stover and Susan Whisnant are equally as guilty though more mild in their approach. A radio promoter asking for a chart position is no different than an artist or record company blatantly asking for SN fan award votes–which they do every year with each vocal part of the group clearly marked with each current group member all throughout the SN. Not to mention Daywind’s usual suggestions attached to the ballot. What’s the difference? I do agree with Kenneth’s current stance that the fault does belong to the DJ’s who don’t report based on airplay. I have no doubt that Rick Hendrix has swooned many DJ’s to play the Heirline song (also written by Hendrix). But that only shows he is an effective promoter (with questionable tactics) and that there are a bunch of buyable DJ’s.

On radio and charting
Preach on brother!! I manage three full time FM sg radio stations. Soon to be 4. I can’t get anyone at SN to give me the time of day. It’s not that I want to be a “charting” station. But when I see some of the stations that are it just amazes me. We met and talked to Danny Jones last year and asked him to do a story on the growth of internet radio. He basically blew us off.

On Hendrix again
I am not for sure about this, but didn’t Rick Hendrix write this song for Heirline. He also wrote a song about three years ago for the Haire Family called “Sheltered” that went to number 3 on the singing news charts. There seems to be a pattern between both of these accounts. The problem is that the groups end up looking bad, when in fact they do not always know what he is up to. Mr. Hendrix seems to have an answer for everything
On DW’s PW to US from UK from a PD, MD, DJ
As a PD, MD, DJ and Christian bookstore owner I wanted to comment on the P&W at New Day/Daywind. First New Day’s sales people for the most part are P&W/CCM’ers. Second, as for my store, if it does not have the words Crabb, Gaither or Isaacs on the CD, it won’t sell. The way commissions are set up at New Day, it takes 9 indy titles (Gaither or Isaacs) sold to equal 1 Daywind CD. This P&W stuff is licensed to New Day, so the sales people are able to make more on each piece of product. By the way, great web site, the anti-christ… err Rick Hendrix was the one to give me the link. Keep up the great work.

On hypocrites, perhaps
Here’s a thought.. If the SN holds onto its chart for 6 weeks to drum up an ad purchase from the #1 artist, will they go after Heirline to buy an ad for the May edition? And, if they do, doesn’t that make the SN a tad hypocritical?

On bribery
There IS bribery going on every day in radio–especially in the rural small to medium markets–if we want to call it that. At least 50%, and probably far more, of those stations are set up as 501(c)3 non-profits. They remain on the air by “the prayers and support of our listeners…”, so to speak. Sister Suzie, who faithfully sends in her $92 a month as a member of the “Heavenly 92FM Angels Club”, can call in as many times in a day as she wishes and request any songs she pleases (or the same song several times in a day) or request that a song NOT be played. To be sure, many non-supporters probably also make requests, but common sense would indicate that requested airplay largely follows the money. That’s why Mo Templeton’s view that chart action reflect listener requests, even if true, is a total joke.

It’s tough for a small station to work in new releases in airplay when they’re bombarded daily with repetitive requests for the McKameys’ “God on the Mountain” and the Easters’ “Roses Will Bloom Again”, not to mention the lackluster material released by the middling local talent. In this environment, slick radio promotion can propel a song to the forefront of a playlist that is sorely lacking for new material. However, when airplay is essentially auctioned off to a select few contributors (which both squeezes out most new material and effectively skews perceived requests), why not play fast and loose with the charting? A root problem is this: when your station is not playing for Arbitron ratings (and a large percentage of small-market sg stations are not) and not seeking out advertisers who are interested in seeking large audiences, where is the motivation for a large, quality playlist? When your “ministry” of selling a few timeslots to preachers and talk shows and relying on contributors and underwriters for income, the entire premise of relevant airplay of quality music to reach the masses is not nearly as strong. We would surmise that the premise of fudging the chart sheets is simply done out of embarrassment for airplay that woefully lacks new, quality material (an accurate chart of which would be just as counterproductive as what we have today). The promotional antics of Hendrix and others simply make the fudging easier.

Some more on EHSSQ
After reading your most recent post about EHSSQ, you have some very interesting takes on things. Of course it is perception really. My perception is quite different. Let me comment on some things you wrote. I think this 3 paragraph entry was your way of saying SOMETHING about SSQ, not one of your more well thought out pieces. LOL…Were you tired of picking about the Rick Hendrix stuff and SN?…I figure you knew you would get REACTIONs out of writing about SSQ.

The first time I saw SSQ was at NQC03 with Wesley and Roy. I meet Ernie once prior at Dollywood with OFQ. I remember I couldn’t wait to SEE this new group Ernie had put together…I had Stand By Me and followed from Garry and Ernie announcing and picking new guys, Tim resigning and Tim rejoining, up through Garry and Shane leaving, etc. I remember watching Ernie have so much fun on stage!! The movement, the matching suits, the odd ties and all. I told Mrs….”Look at Ernie, he is having a Ball!” Never once had the BOY BAND image come to my mind. I just thought WOW something with some energy and excitement…little did I know what would come over the next year…they do “seem to be lighting a fire everywhere you go these days”

I understand the point (I think) you are trying to make in the first paragraph that…boys grow up. Well for the most part they are grown up…I know Ryan is pretty young. I think with “boy bands” of 80’s and 90’s was that they and their music was aimed at school girls and the like. When they start to grow up, yes they lose their appeal…but from what I know of it…they seem to self-destruct before that ever really happens. Boy bands and their music seemed like a FAD or flash in the pan. If they don’t change and evolve with time they are doomed. Look at Prince for instance…he has been making music for nearly 30 years…but he has never stayed the same, he has changed with the time…not to say he has compromised or sold out…I think he has stayed true to his music. Will SSQ evolve in time? I am sure. Evolutions are slow things and go unnoticed until you look back. I have faith in Ernie that he will do the right things at the right times with God’s guidance. I see large development from Stand By Me to Great Love and the b-lines in-between.

I can’t wait to hear their newest recording! I hear it is going to be HOT!

Next paragraph about Ernie, Roger and Scott. What you say here probably makes sense to most. But is it accurate? I dunno. I don’t think Ernie and Garry were striving for 2 old friends bit. Roger and Scott, maybe, seems like it anyway. Did Scott and Roger ever ask Ernie to sing with them as L5s tenor in the planning stages? I remember hearing Ernie (in an interview? Or Print?) saying ?no? They never asked him but (my speculations) not because they didn’t want him. Ernie was already involved in a solo ministry the last years of the Cathedrals. He had dates on the books and commitments. To me Roger and Scott might have thought Ernie might not be interested. The way I understand it, the three of them were focused on different paths. Both L5 and EHSSQ has benefited from the legacy of the Cats.

Last paragraph. Ernie is and is seen as the world’s connection to George. No questions there.

Ernie has way too much energy and is too young at heart to be the “old man” He can keep up with those fellas I am sure. Praise God, Ernie and the guys have good health (and hair) I would hope to see SSQ lineup stay consistent but change is bound to happen …When changes come about as EH continues in this ministry, his choices of personnel will effect how he is seen within the group — old man or one of the guys. Only time will tell what becomes of EHSSQ on this issue.

How will Gaither’s involvement with EHSSQ affect them? The increased #s of people EHSSQ are exposed to thru Gaither is a big deal! The Homecoming videos are definitely going to be a boost for EHSSQ. Will it influence their appearance, hair etc or is Bill still loving what they do? I think Bill likes what they are doing and bet encourages it. Bill is a smart man…I bet it was his idea for Ben Issacs to wear the hat (photos from your link.) I like it! I told someone not long ago I could see a SGM group in some classy fedoras and two-tone wing tips soon!

About matching suits. Am I wrong or are you reading into this too much? I like matching suits on occasion, in a video maybe or NQC Saturday night. In our group I prefer non-matching but I don’t think it makes or breaks it. I haven’t seen anything that EHSSQ have worn that seems out of place, fad-ish or too hip…”aesthetically subdued”?? The pictures I looked at looked like EHSSQ to me — the hair is still there and the ties and the energy. I think your off base here. Matching suits or not, do you mean to imply that you cant sing as well or you are not focusing on the singing, if you are rounding out the other aspects of your group? It is a total package, the image, the music, the vocals, etc. It is like establishing a brand name. I don’t know that matching of suits or not have ever affected my thought of a group as far as “grown-up/professional” or not. If so, based on that premise, the Inspirations are mere infants? LOL….

If they have you toned it down that much…I don’t see it. I only ever noticed it last year at an un-named conservative church, when they didn’t do the whole bit with Heavenly Parade and didn’t sing Stand By Me. I think they read their venue carefully but they still RAWK!

Again, I think alot of this post was to fill a void and try to stir the pot. Those guys ARE classy and CAN set a house on fire no matter the hair or suits or ties. Their choice in clothing is refreshing to say the least! I am a fan of fashion. I loved the new suits at NQC. They are bold but not overly trendy. The style is not immature or juvenile. If that were the case they would be wearing your jeans, flip-flops, ruffled and untucked shirts and hiking boots on stage. That sounds like the style preference of a family group that owns any SGM website they can register the name of. LOL I think that EHSSQ should just keep doing what they hear God telling them to do in their hearts and they cant go wrong.

Just thought you would like to hear another angle on it all. Or not. LOL

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