Phelpsians attack avfl … highlights at a 11
Well the diehard David Phelpsians seem to have discovered this website and are making up for their tardiness with plenty and bile and vitriol. You’ll have to wait for the next batch of letters to see the full-text citations, but I’ve received several thoroughgoing sermons (one from as far away as Croatia, no less) from deeply loyal Phelps Phans demanding retractions and apologies and all manner of mea culpa from moi for my “rude, unseemly, slanderous, and untrue” posts, as the Croatian reader put it, about David Dearest. Meanwhile, another Phelps fan is ready to buy me a ticket (front row, I hope?) to a David Phelps solo gig. I gather the idea is that I’ll get hooked on the David Phelps kool-aid.At any rate, Phelps has posted a series of messages from fans and his responses over at his website. Phelps is duly apologetic for the way the news leaked and seeped and oozed out while the principles in the affair stayed silent or let others do their talking for them. But it’s hard to square the line Phelps tows at his website (”the news got out before any of us were planning. Hopefully next time we can get the scoop to you first”) with the story he tells Chuck Peters: “I called up Bill about a month ago and asked if he would meet me at Starbucks to talk. I started to tell him and he finished my sentence for me. I guess he knew it was coming, too.” It’s strange how much this coffee klatch story is at odds with the Gaithernet release. If Gaither knew Phelps was leaving a month ago, as Phelps says to Peters, why did Gaither and Co. find out about “the timing” of Phelps’s departure like everyone in the world did - from that Word press release?
Anyway, looks like the “boy from Birmingham” theory about Phelps’s replacement is at least verifiable, which means pretty soon the confused hubbub about Phelps’s ungraceful departure from GVB will be overtaken by the fawning hubbub over his replacement. Save for the sg fans who really took a shine to Phelps and will continue to follow his career down its solo path, I presume he’ll pretty much fade out of the sg picture more or less after the replacement starts getting all the attention once lavished on Phelps. Obviously, that doesn’t necessarily mean Phelps will fade into general oblivion just because he’s headed in another direction, but it does make you wonder what he was thinking. As regular reader RF insightfully noted, Gaither, GVB and Gaither’s Antiques Roadshow made Phelps a star, plucked him from the obscurity in which he was toiling and where he’d probably still be (doing studio work in Nashville or teaching choral music at some high school in Texas, and the like) were it not for Gaither. The Gaither publicity and Homecoming’s popularity made Phelps a star among sg fans. And it’s not clear that Phelps stopped to think that, as RF also noted, the CCM world doesn’t have avenues like Gaither’s to promote and sustain a single career. The field of stars and break-outs and up-and-comers is crowded, and there is no one pushing videos (that turn into television specials) for independent artists the way Gaither is and does. Someone with Phelps’s voice surely must have chafed after awhile under the limitations of the Homecoming format. Here he was putting people by the tens of thousands on their feet night after night with just a few well placed notes, and yet his professional identity was subsumed within the larger popularity of the Vocal Band and, of course, Gaither himself, who is such a star these days that the success and popularity of the people Gaither chooses to surround himself with actually ends up accruing to Gaither personally. Who, in Phelps’s position, wouldn’t long for nights of uninterrupted applause for one’s own music? Who wouldn’t want a chance to get to keep all the credit for one’s own singing and not have it siphoned off by some baritone impressario masquarding as everybody’s favorite bass-singing uncle?
So yeah, Phelps seems to have wanted to break away from “old Bill” (RF’s phrase) and be a real star on his own terms. But I agree with RF: I think Phelps may be in for a large disappointment. As I and others have already noted, Phelps’s solo projects are largely absent the kind of marketability that one would associate with a bankable solo act. He may think that his solo project sales strongly support his decision to go solo. But while those numbers are on their face impressive, I’d wager that many copies of his last cd were bought by Gaither fans who listened to a couple songs or skimmed through the thing a few times and then put it away, regretting the purchase. “I was one of them,” RF says. Many Gaither fans RF knows have, he reports, traveled a long way to hear Phelps solo, and each time RF has gotten the same reaction after the concert: “it wasn’t what I was used to hearing him sing.” Perhaps Phelps will capture the imagination of CCM listeners and will offset the loss in sg fans and sales that will attend his departure from the GVB. But like RF, I wonder if in time, people won’t be asking questions on all the fan boards like, “Whatever happened to David Phelps?”Email this Post