The anciety pyramids of gospel music

What is it about southern gospel artists and the allure of multi-level marketing (MLM)? I’ve written before about Kirk Talley and Noni Juice, and of course Tony Gore has never seen a “better than brand name” replica or dehydrated food pouch he wouldn’t endorse and try to sell to his fans from the back of his van … er, I mean, TsTreasurechest. But Brian Free and Assurance peddling vitamins? Alas, yes. Here I was hoping this was the next generation’s class-act, only to realize Brian Free’s hooked up with one of these health and wellness outfits (Vitamins 4 Life to be exact). Honestly. This is just unfortunate. With the exception of the rare Janet Paschals of the sg solo world who are probably richer than God and almost as popular, southern gospel soloists tend to form a kind of artistic peanut gallery of also-rans, lifelong aspirants, or serious artists who started out as quartet types but ended up preferring to trade fewer footlights and no more snoring bunkmates for more stable hours and self-direction. It should not redound to the discredit of all soloists if some among them fall prey to visions of being the next Ron Popiel or singing Amway mogul. Top-tier quartets, though? It won’t stop me from listening to their music, but the gaucheness of it all does makes me cringe. Thus BFA’s website: “We have been blessed to have found a Christian company called ‘Vision for Life’ that offers the BEST in a complete nutrition system called Foundation Essentials. All that you need for daily health in three bottles. I highly recommend this system. It has changed my life!” Do artists really think that putting “Christian” in front of the company name makes this boilerplate come-on any less tinny and fatuous? Are we supposed to think this is an extension of their ministry? And all, did you say - ALL? - that I need for daily health? Really? In just three bottles? Well, maw, clearly, this mustn’t be the imitation snake oil. My point is not to impugn the quality of the product; indeed, if price is any indication, this is first-rate stuff. But what are gospel artists doing selling it in the first place? For people whose life work involves singing about the life-transforming power of divine redemption, it seems particularly inapt to describe a box of vitamins as something that “has changed my life!” After that, not much left for the resurrected son of man to do, really.

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