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?”

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  1. Faith wrote:

    Interesting. Phelps was at our church some years back, and our pastor promised to never, never, NEVER have him back. His behavior was so diva-like, it was unbelievable. He acted like he was some heavenly being bestowing the beauty of his vocal presence on us, the little people. Disgusting.

  2. Kellie wrote:

    In response to “Faith” who wrote that her preacher was disgusted with David’s diva-ish behavior, I wanted to say that that was the first time I’d ever heard anything like that about David. As someone who has followed Phelps’ career for some years now, (I’m the “phan” who offered the solo concert tickets…..still waiting for one close to you!) that is the very FIRST time I’d ever heard anything remotely negative about his character or attitude. I’ve heard that he’s shy and I’ve heard than sometimes people (even his wife, occasionally) misunderstand his long silences (usually pre-concert silences in effort to rest his voice), but the universal concensus seems to be that he is one of the most humble, personable people you could meet. So, after years of reading nothing but glowing reports from others, and having met him a good twenty times or so myself and working at his product table many times in the past and never having seen anything remotely resembling a diva….I found it all very interesting that someone would say that. (OK, lower my grade for the run-on sentence!) And to the extent that a pastor would feel it necessary to relay that level of negativity to his flock; there must have been some heineous thing that was or done said or done to provoke it. I’m sure, based on my research, albeit non-scientific research, that it must have been an extremely isolated occasion. God gives lots and lots of second chances; I’d hope that that Church and pastor could see fit to maybe give DP a second chance one day.

  3. Michael Kaas wrote:

    Just read the articles about Jason Crabb and David Phelps solo careers, questioning the possibility of success they may find. In my opinion Jason has a wonderful voice and a great bluesy/black gospel style that brings great emotion to a song but is best served in the lead role. David Phelps has a great voice and the ability to convey emotion and also the ability to harmonize in support of other singers. Both men’s voices shine as front men but the unique quality of both voices would seem to be it’s own worst enemy in a long term career. David without the high and long lasting notes would still be a great talent but what would set him apart from many other very good tenors. Jason without the ability to display all that powerful sound and still hit the notes would not be the Jason Crabb southern gospel fans have come to love. I cannot picture Jasonoutside of that lead voice role. The GVB and Crabb Family allow both artists to shine forth their unique talents but also allow some breathing room to give the old vocal chords a rest. David’s return to Gaither may have fulfilled he writer’s prophecy. I would love to see Jason hook up with either the family or some other artists so his talent can continue to shine but share the load a bit. Both careers deserve to have a much longer life. I watched the 2010 DOVE awards last night and I gotta tell ya, Crabb and Phelps have so much more talent than I saw in the winners. But is their talent being put forth in a style that young music buyers are looking for? Will they drift toward popular or country music?

  4. Claire Barbin wrote:

    I have been listening to David Phelps since I saw him on the Atlanta Homecoming video years ago. He has a God given gift. He can sing gospel music, opera or any other kind of music he chooses. I have also met him on many occasions and have always found him to be very sincere and friendly. Any of us can have a bad day. Artist are human just like the rest of us. I will listen to him sing solo or with the GVB. His voice is always a blessing.

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