Your letters

The 18th installment of avfl letters is up. You really don’t want to miss this bunch … including letters about avfl not being fit for kids, the death of sg (and not), how flaming I am, and the reason why there will never be an avfl doll. There are also some really insightful letters.On NQC
My new thoughts on the NQC are I think they have the right to do what they want with Main stage talent but there are groups who work a lot of big Churches that will sale as much product on a Sunday as they will all week at NQC. From a ministry standpoint, you have a Church vs. NQC ? Most Churches will win that debate. You are going to see more groups that are successful in the outer circles of SG not caring about NQC. Figure this, You have a group that is a draw but not on Mainstage. They place them in a showcase where 1800 show up and pay $10. They pay the group $1,000. Would you move that group to mainstage? If you do, they will not draw at the Showcase. That is $17,000 profit and even if you pay a few other marginal groups the same you are way ahead for a 90 minute program. NQC makes some confusing moves, but they are not stupid. Maybe those types of groups will just decline the showcase and move on.

On less euphemism from the Rabbit
Well, it’s refreshing to see some heavily qualified frankness on the part of these individuals. “I’m only going to throw this much mud, in the interest of (partial) full disclosure and (selected self-serving) Biblical principals, of course.” You’re right, it’s better than the usual smoke blowing but only mildly so. I’ve been a SG fan for over thirty years and have worked in religious radio and the record/publishing/promotion end of things. I’m glad there’s a bit more openness today compared to ten or twenty (or more) years ago. But, you know, maybe what we need is to just let it all hang out. Let’s not kid ourselves. As much or more crap goes on in SG or CCM as in any genre, and to presume or pretend otherwise is blind-eyed and fool-hearted. Some of it’s true and some may be as-yet unconfirmed innuendo. But that shouldn’t stop us. Christians excel at gossip. (I just recently learned it wasn’t one of the gifts of the Spirit). If TBN were smart (big “if”), they would develop the “Dirty Christian Laundry Reality” network. Air lousy songs and music videos, I mean the worst you can find (and sadly, you wouldn’t have to look too far in SG or CCM). Revisit great marriages in the business. Do a hidden camera show. You’d probably have to pixelate the naughty bits but the tease factor alone would boost ratings. “Great Hairpieces of Gospel Music.” Offer a “Buffoon of the Week” Award to the industry person who insiders determine is the biggest boob. Only problem is you’d have to decide whether the statuette should be modeled after James Dobson, Jerry Falwell or Pat “Killer” Robertson. Create a game show called “Who’s Screwing Who?” with categories like record deals (”Hey, we’re 10 grand over budget on this project but don’t worry, I’m gonna hang it on the new group we just signed. They’ll never recoup”), marriages, bus pranks (”No, I never told the Murray State football team they could use the bus for tailgating”) and radio charts (”Payola? Schmaola! You pay, we play!”). Parody “American Idol” and have the panel include Eddie Crook (just because I love his name), one of the Unthanks (being such amazing intellectual and business giants), Candy Christmas (just because I love her name) and a life-size cardboard cutout of Ernie Haase (just because… well, you can figure it out). Have a talking head segment on songwriting in which the worlds “heaven”, “mama” and “the cross” cannot be used. Do a “Rate the Album” piece with live call-in and online voting where the loser is drowned in strings by Lari Goss. “Just Like Bill” would take industry newbies and Gaitherize them. Imagine some wide-eyed punk CCM band from Louisiana schmaltzing their way through “Thanks for Sunshine”. Thanks for sunshine? Thanks for Demerol. Oh well, it’s just a fantasy. Seriously, thanks for your site. I discovered it a couple of months ago and your viewpoint and concise writing offer a necessary (and previously missing) counterpoint to so much of the crap that’s out there. Thanks again.

On the Dottie Rambo Doll Scourge
Ah..yeah..can you say Norma Desmond in the closing scenes of “Sunset Boulevard”? Her music has been some of the most inspired of the last forty years; a simple songwriter with a wonderful gift of expression and nuance. But really. Do we need this? Maybe Hasbro will come out with a Buck Rambo doll so you can buy both, a la the old Rock-em, Rock-em Robots. Now that might be worth it.

On Charting and EHSSQ
This comment is in response to Billboard Charting and EH comments regarding same. The BIG “E” ( EGO) should be singing a song right off of the Toby Keith CD. I wanna talk about me, I wanna talk about my, wanna talk about me, me, my, my, my. I guess that is why the group formerly just known as Signature Sound Qt., is now known as Ernie Haase and SSQ. To say that this man is a Narcissist is putting it mildly.

On the Innies
Okay, The Innuendos. Let’s see how that would work: Grammys, Emmys and… The Innies! In braver times, of course, there could also be The Outies, hosted by Kirk Talley and Marsha Stevens. But who would attend? I bet we’d see mostly Kirkskrew.

On plain speech in sg conflicts
I think more than the words that were said and accusations here [in the Rabbit Easter kerfuffle], the heart of each individual and their reputation should be considered. I have known Rabbit all of my life and I know he tries to do what’s right for everyone. His character speaks louder than this situation does to me, and I hope others will keep that in mind. At least he tells it like it is, no cover ups.

On pinky rings and other things
I agree that the country is leaning more towards the middle and there are some strides being made in the Conservative Christian Movement. As long as the majority of the groups in SG believe in pinky rings, shiny cheap suits, broke down buses, product tables that look like a going out of business K-mart, Bling-bling hanging from the neck of a guy making $300 a week and a total blindness to what middle conservative Churches are looking for, I do not believe WE (SG) will ever be in the mainstream of Christian music.. There are groups in SG who fit that bill and some are not very recognized but they are providing the music that the large conservative churches are looking to use in their ministries. There is a place for each group but mainstream will be for a select few who have the music, The Ministry and the consistency to make it to that level.

On LS and releasing Wandering Heart as a single
My perspective - then and now - is that it’s a hurting world and a hurting church. People need that song, and the message it contains. On that, I’d bet we agree. And so, from the unusual approach of ministry first, business second, I think it was a risk worth taking. I also love LordSong…the people and their artistry. I’m so glad that Mark Lowry has provided a platform that enhances him, and exposes them. Good people. And if you’ve gotten to watch the new Lowry video, I think you’ll see that Amber’s eyes are open while she sings for everything with the exception of a very few seconds, once!

On Living in public
It’s amazing that Christian Record companies have to be so secretrative about things. You really can’t blame the other groups for getting upset because they see their own record company catering to The Crabbs. I know the Crabbs are hot but look at the inter turmoil within the family and it comes from all the success of the group. I would dare to say that The Crabbs will eventually go Country. For one thing, the promoters can’t afford to pay them what they’re charging in the Southern Gospel Music realm. That’s why they’re going with these high name people like Parsley, Hinn, TBN and others. I’m so glad God isn’t a respecter of people. In His eyes we’re all the same. One big I’S OR LITTLE YOU’S. I believe in giving credit where credit is due. The Crabbs are a fresh young group that took Southern Gospel Music by storm and when that happens, people within the industry develop a resentfulness toward them. I do not resent what fame has brought to their family. No one knows, until you’ve walk where The Crabbs have been. When you see a family break a part, that’s the worse thing a family can go through. But sadly to say, this is what happens when we take our eyes off the Lord. And I’m not saying they (The Crabbs) have taken their eyes off the Lord but in most cases, when you go through stuff, it’s because someone’s focus has been distorted. They need our prayers. I need their prayers. We’re all susceptible to the same thing, if we’re not careful and on guard. Especially, if you’re in the public eye. You can sing all day long but if you lose your family in the process, is it worth what you’ve gone through. That’s a question I’m sure a lot of people in Southern Gospel Music have had to ask themselves. I use to sing professionally and my family still sings professionally and believe you me, there is a price to pay. We’ve come through it all but the price was way too high. Now the lessons we’ve learned along the way have been tremendous but there’s a sad irony to it all. The Price was Way too High!

On The SN and the sale
Hmmmmm? Been thinking…. Given the sale of this publication by Maurice Templeton, will he be charged a fee (equivalent to other advertisers) to advertise his “homestead”? Or was free advertising part of the sale? Just a thought passing through an ever active mind.

On finding AVFL
Just discovered you on the internet and was blown away. I canceled my subscription to the Singing News last year because I got sick of hearing the same stories every month with only the artists names being changed. It is unbelievable that there is somebody (in the spirit of JD Sumner, God rest his soul) who will tell it like it is! It’s like reading about Southern Gospel in the style of talk radio. I couldn’t stop reading. Thanks for creating what I’ve been wanting to enjoy for years. Blessings!

On nit picking
Let’s see, you criticize Griffith’s lyrics by saying he might have had an off day using words like “little bitty,” and then in the next paragraph begin a sentence with “Griffin’s not got enough..” Looks like you may have had an off day on that one!

On the Florida Boys
Well, well, Avery, I see it’s back to the old, worn out mantra of ‘let’s bash the Florida Boys’ that you and some of your readers love to engage in from time to time, for some strange, unknown reason. In your comments on the lineup of NQC Radio airplay recently, you stated something to the effect of, ‘Enough, already. We get the point.’ Well, apparently not. And then you post a letter from one of your readers praising Florida Boys’ bass Gene McDonald, but stating that, ‘He would probably get much more recognition if he were not singing with the Florida Boys and instead sang for a “top-tier group.”‘ Huh? Gene was voted the favorite bass a mere four years after beginning his full-time national singing career with the Florida Boys, and consistently rates in the top five. Excuse me, but the Florida Boys ARE a top-tier group, although they are not often treated like one in the southern gospel blogosphere nor on radio airplay lists. It has been my observation that older, traditional groups often get the shaft when it comes to radio airplay and recognition. After all, they have been around since 1948 and everybody knows them, so it is easy to write them off as ‘old hat.’ That is very unfortunate if one’s true intent is to get quality southern gospel music in front of the public. These guys have, without doubt, the best sound in southern gospel music today, bar none. Their stage programs are fresh, inspirational, classy, fast-moving, fun, and with a heavy emphasis on MUSIC rather than useless chit-chat. And since the Florida Boys in my opinion get the shaft so often on radio, I am GLAD they are getting due recognition on NQC Radio. It is long overdue. Now, with regard to your reader and his rather short-sighted comments about the Florida Boys not being top-tier, I would like to suggest that such comments obviously come from someone who is highly ignorant about the ins and outs of this industry. The reason why Gene McDonald stays with the Florida Boys is in part because he would be hard-pressed to find a group that carries the financial security of a group like FB. In simple arithmetic, he would more than likely have to take a big cut in pay if he went with another group, unless he went with someone like the Gaither Vocal Band, Gold City, or Kingdom Heirs…and even the last two are doubtful. The simple fact of the matter is that despite the Florida Boys being viewed as yesterday’s headliners, in terms of the venues they play and the financial success that they are, they are definitely top-tier. To suggest otherwise is to stick one’s head in the sand and be content with one’s denial.

On Dottie Dolls
[Why are you] so hung up on being ugly. I think the Dottie Doll is neat idea. She is a very famous person in the SG and other music related industries. I do not think there is a chance of a “A Very Fine Line” anything that will happen, not a chance.

On me and nastiness
I must admit that I agree with a some of your articles and some are just plain trashy, but why be nasty and judgemental? We need to build up the SG industry with prayer, positve suggestions, facts, and professionalism.

On various things
Hello! First, I would like to say that I really enjoy your website. Sometimes, I don’t agree, but I probably agree 95% of the time. Anyways, I would like to ask what happened to Peg? I have attended several of the McKameys’ concerts, and she has kicked her shoes off at least 75% percent of the time. But I was in awe when she didn’t kick them off when I saw them sing a week or so ago. Although, I would like to commend them on their decency. Also I noticed that next weekend on Paul Heil’s “The Gospel Greats”, Bill Gaither is the featured artist with songs from his solo cd. Can we say blegh!? What is so strange about it is that Bill hosts a weekly syndicated radio program as well. Is this some way off making peace for the favorite radio program award? By the way, have you heard the Collingsworth Family? They are a great group and with a heart to serve the Lord. Their new cd, “God is Faithful”, is extremely awesome! I think you should listen to it,and talk about them more. Well, that’s all. Thanks for the great and true website! AS P.S.-Did the crabby chocolates give you a good day?

On Clear Cool
Clear Cool will be the destruction of all things SG in 10 years. There will no longer be any true gospel music, just a buncha vertical praise nonsense, and the Crabbs are the vehicle that will transport us to that destination.

On TNA and booing
Actually, it may have been Carl Lewis that got booed (@2004) later than Rosanne. And, it was justified too awful. The last star to get booed at Wrigley Field for his rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon.

On PDA in a song
Thanks for the good commentary on the “Jesus is my boyfriend” song. Can you imagine the Blackwoods or the Statesmen, or Lord forbid, David in the Psalms coming up with this sort of tripe? Most of these lyrics in the SG world of today would make their forefathers turn in their graves - no wonder the older generation is going so quickly. “I want to lay upon your chest”? Does God have a chest? I thought God was a SPIRIT. He doesn’t have a chest, a beard or anything - He is Spirit - I Cor. 15:45. I guess that is what you get for hybreeding two different kinds of love - Gods’ and mans’. Ugh…

More on TNA
Who’d of ever thought we’d be discussing TNA on a Gospel music website. I thought that sort of talk was reserved for quartets either on the bus or in a Waffle House. :) Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

On the Crabbs branching out with Clear Cool
The news of the Crabb Family group is disturbing to me. First of all the press release which Ed Leonard says that as Daywind’s artists are presented to the Contemporary music genre they win big every time. When has this happened? Can anyone name one Daywind artist that has won a Contemporary music award? Understanding the Crabb Family’s need to branch out is one of only economics. The Crabbs more than likely feel that they have achieved the highest level of success that they can reach in SG. I hate to inform them that they have not. Though they do very well they have not totally won the area of SG. It seemed they were on this path when they had their father with them however that seems to have diminished. Aside from this if you go to their website you see they are still playing some medium size churches and I dare say that contemporary’s Mercy Me more than likely wouldn’t play those type of venues.

On observations from the west
Hope you’re off to a good year, and apparently a very busy one… An observation about how the Gaither deals work: Originally the Gaither sked (as well as some artist friends) showed Gaither homecomings in Mar 24 in Omaha and Mar 25 in Denver. Apparently the advance sale stuff was not up to snuff. The next thing you know, the Gaithers had wiped the slate clean for those two dates. Artist friends still had ‘em. Talked with booking agencies, because I was curious about getting some groups expecting to be in Denver to come up to Montana. I know, cold does strange things to your mind. That didn’t work. But the friends booked other locales on those dates … finally it shows up on Gaither sked that Vocal Band and EHSSQ will do two concerts in Florida on those dates. Just those two groups. Since last posting something to you, we’ve had Palmetto State (October), Legacy 5 (November) and Stamps (Jan) in the Flathead Valley of Montana. Palmettos are much better without Tony, and the lead actually sang some leads. Andrew wasn’t as ambitious as on some other outings, they sounded very good with their new line up, altho the bass, Tex, was amped up a little too much thru the woofer. Leg 5 had a big night here, and one of our best crowds — 500 or so — for touring groups. Stamps came in right after their tenor of a few years, Royce Taylor, had quit in mid December to join a Blackwood group (which one I don’t know) and their young piano player had quit — homesick I guess, so it was Steve Warner’s first gig with them on a short, temporary assignment. They, too, sounded much better than the last time they were here, with Michael Helwig, I think it is, the Canadian guy, who’s been at baritone since the failing Ed Hill was bounced. Butch wasn’t as big and muddy in the woofer as on another occasion. Enoch said he had sent a letter to several folks (groups, I think) about how he saw the state of affairs for SoGo, and I’d like to see what he had to say.

On TNA and freedom
“Oh say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light? What so proudly we hailed, at the twilight’s last gleaming. Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thru the perilous fight, Oh the ramparts we watched, we so gallantly streaming. And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof thru the night, that our flag was still there! Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?”

No matter how many times you hear it, it remains inspiring. Enjoy your freedom to rant.

On commenting on Doug Riley’s death
In one long paragraph, you captured the essence of every question, every “why”, and every wondering of my heart since my Dad died, and 24 days later, my wife. Do not ever apologize for tackling the subject, and I beg of you to not ever be loathe to handle the death of anyone in sgm again. Whatever tributes will be written about Doug Riley, no matter how many eloquent eulogies will be spoken… Your words were more honest and more perfectly written, than any others will be. You honored him more than whole videos have honored men and women far more known. And I thank you.

On responding to Doug Riley’s death
I received an email from Southern Spin today informing me of Doug Riley’s death. Now I may be reading too much into the wording and it is definitely not my intention to be mud slinging in the middle of such a tragic event, but I really felt as if the wording in her email seemed a little on the tasteless side. Her email read “Please remember our client, Gold City…” Again, maybe I read too much into it but if it were me, the last word that I would use would be nothing less than “friend” even if it were used as a loose term. I don’t know, maybe I’m alone in this but I hope not. May God be with The Riley family in what would have to be the darkest day in their lives.

On passing the torch
I liked your writing this week on the Singing News’ latest issue. Good stuff. I do want to comment about the Torch video. I’ve … a review coming on my blog (in addition to the Gaither Canadian homecoming videos and the horrible sister of Torch called Having Church), but you and me will be the only ones to read it. If you’re upset with the name, join the club. No imagination at all, but the short DVD is simply wonderful. From the get-go, it’s wonderful. Starting off with Loren Talley, Scott Inman, the McRae sisters, and (of course) Adam Crabb, they do a rousing version of “The Race.” It’s very good, but too much Talley and not enough McRaes. Then we head off to that tired old standard, “Stand Up,” where we see the first of some very promising young quartets. This one includes Jeremy Peace, Josh Feamster, Derrick Selph, and Jeremy Lile (a surprising good bass). Excellent. If they had only done another song. It’s followed by “He Shall Wear a Crown” where host Mike Speck (who rubs me the wrong way-he’s loved by nearly everyone, but I find him obnoxious and too “preachy”-later proclaiming the second coming is just hours away) dips down into the vault for a old Nelon’s song featuring, surprise, Russ Nelon’s granddaughter. I did enjoy Christian Davis’ bass singing on this one. Mike brings up Jason Crabb for Midnight Cry and the kids of gospel music for “He’s Still Working on Me.” Ugh. Then, the program changes and we get the next quartet, made up of John Rulapaugh (in conservative suit), Lance Moore of Paid in Full (this kid is good-he needs to quit his job in Alabama ( the whole group needs to) and hit the road.), Josh Singletary, and Aaron McCune. McCune is probably the best bass in sg today. A real entertainer and I don’t say that because he lives near me. It’s followed by a forgettable version of “Grace” by three youngsters.

On the next song we get to hear Joseph Habedank, Katy Peach, and Jason Waldroup on “Who Am I” with “Oh What a Savior. Just fantastic. Habedank is simply what baritone singing is all about and for his young years is simply unbelievable. Peach is just wonderful and Waldroup, those cardboard-ish does a fine job. Then the Anthony Facello, Josh Gardner, Scott Inman, and Chris West quartet comes on to blow everyone on “Boundless Love.” These guys should form a group. Such enthusiasm! Facello may be sg’s best tenor, Gardner its best lead and West its second-best bass. They brought down the house. The last two songs are Ok, but not great, but it’s worth the price of admission for the two quartets and the trio of Peach, Habedank, and Waldroup. If there was any doubt that sg lacked talent, fear not. A lot of the young singers didn’t get a chance to share the stage. It was too dominated by Crabbs and other Daywind artists (as is expected with a Daywind showcase), but more later.

On letting sg be sg
The other day, while traveling in a new area, I hit the search button on my car radio and it stopped on a country station. I used to listen to country a lot, back in the 70’s, but haven’t really paid much attention to it recently. As I listened I realized the music hadn’t changed from 30 years ago. The melodies and lyrics were different, but the style was about the same. That got me to thinking. Why do some people think Southern Gospel needs to change? When I listen to a bluegrass band it sounds like bluegrass has always sounded. Dixieland is still Dixieland. Reggae and Calypso still sound the same even though new songs come out. Even hard rock hasn’t changed much (I don’t think - I really can’t stand the stuff), and when rap came along it simply was a new genre, not the “change” of an existing one. Southern Gospel is called that because it was necessary to separate the sound of the traditional male quartets from other branches of gospel music. Now we have people wanting to bring all sorts of sounds in Southern Gospel in the name of change, or progress. I say let Southern Gospel be what it has always been. If some artist or some listener wants something different, that’s fine. Just don’t try to include it in those wonderful, traditional, Southern Gospel sounds. I can still tell country music when I hear it, and bluegrass, but it’s getting so I can’t identify Southern Gospel any more, and in my mind that is not a good thing.

On Blurring the Lines
I noticed the Crabb Family’s new c.d. is all old songs. Could this have something to do with the split of Gerald with Kathy? Is there a possibility that he is no longer writing for the group? If so, will they be able to keep their present “fame” status without his awesome song writing contributions?

On gizoogle and other things
My students in class pointed me in the direction of a most humorous
website several months ago. It gives you the ability to translate any website into “Snoop-dog.” Me, being the wacky thinker that I am, plugged in the Singing News website. Results were hilarious …. Also, I was going back through some of my contemporary music selection, and noticed in the liner notes of Salvador’s first album a couple of songs–”Cry Holy” and “Hallelujah”–written by Benjy Gaither & Marshall Hall. Great songs, and I wonder how many more “contemporary songs” are out there that were written by those with ties to sg. I mean, we all know Steven Curtis Chapman wrote “I Can See the Hand” for the Cats back in the 80s, but I didn’t know it worked the other way too.

On breaking (and broken) news
What a disgrace. While the rest of the world is learning more and more details surrounding Anthony Burger’s death, as of noon the day after, this is all sogo has to say: “SGN just learned that Anthony Burger has tragically died from a heart attack. He was on a cruise and playing the piano when he died. We will post more info when we learn it. Please remember the Burger family at this tragic time.” I guess Anthony wasn’t buying into the Unthank publicity circle. This is embarrassing for an outfit that claims to be a “source” for information. Even GaitherNet had more information available without a subscription.

On my comments about Burger’s Death
What a nice tribute to one of Southern Gospel’s greatest performers. And what a performer he was!!

On blood pressure
To all the uber-moralistic people who criticized Allison Lynn for shacking up, well, she is now married: They need to find some other way to raise their blood pressure now. ;) I miss your regular postings, but don’t blame you a bit for cutting back. The tiny world of So Gospel is an interesting phenomenon, but still just that: tiny.

On losses
It’s been a very unpleasant 2006 as far as sg artists go. Losing Doug Riley and Anthony Burger so young is quite a shock. It probably is safe to say that Burger will be sorely missed. Even though there are those who have compared him to Liberace over the last few years, if you watched closely, here was a master of the piano. A real student of the classics and a very accurate player. The same could be said for Riley, except most thought he only played drums. I understand he was a terrific producer and sound engineer. Someone said he could hear a pin drop in the studio-his hearing was that good. Two very talented people are no longer with us.

On shutting up
It seems to me that someone thinks they are an authority on everything. It would be wise for those who cannot speak well of someone, TO KEEP THEIR POISON MOUTH SHUT.

On charity and the stage
Good thoughts about groups and “It’s for a good cause.” I sing in a local/regional group in west Texas doing about 25-35 dates a year. We’re nothing special and I would be frightened for you to comment on our musical abilities. However, like national touring groups we also have an operating budget and will not go somewhere just because someone says “it’s for a good cause.” While we aren’t relying on the “take” to make a living, we do value our time and our time away from our families and the other things we could be doing. Because of that we do limit the number of pro bono dates we do. Except in one such case here recently we hosted a benefit concert for wildfire victims close to our hometown. A town of 1000+ people lost about 40% of their town. Being that the town is relatively close to our hometown, about 50 miles, we thought it would go well. We asked 4 other artists to be involved who were also from our hometown. We were pleasantly surprised by the turn out 750+ people attended and the concert raised over $6,200. While I agree with you what you said, sometimes it does payoff! But, I would guess a benefit like ours would be the exception rather than the rule!

On defending avfl
I have been reading your website for the past couple months, and for someone who is GREATLY interested in the BUSINESS side of SG, your site is incredible. No more of the sugar-coated, cookie cutter press releases that only present what people WANT you to think (kind of a double standard, if you ask me). I WILL say that, at times, it borders on gossip, but overall, it gives fans a completely different perspective. I’d like to comment on the reader who was recently referred to your site via the Singing News Magazine (Ventriloquist). The easiest way is to tackle the comment a bit at a time.

*/I’m not sure why The Singing News told me to go []. /*They never told you to come here. They simply listed sites that dealt with southern gospel music. If the /Singing News/ told you to jump off the steeple….

*/I’ve gone through all your stuff and nothing has blessed me. /*I didn’t realize this was a sermon site.

*/ I don’t think your writing is anointed or you would be singing the praises of my favorite quartet the Inspirations and my favorite mixed group the McKameys. // /**/Now you talk about annointed. /*Love the Inspirations, like the McKameys. I also like The Oak Ridge Boys, Johnny Cash, and Vertial Horizon. Doesn’t mean that everyone has to listen to their music to be a Christian.

* /You go on and on and on but never seem to mention salvation or which group has saved the most souls at its altar calls. /*Maybe you missed the point.

*/ Maybe you better get right with the Lord before you write anything more about the only type of music that Jesus listens to. /*For some reason, I find it hard to believe that Jesus spent every weekend at an all-night sing with a piano and four voices. If I remember correctly, he spent most of his time with drunks, prostitues, and junkies (and I doubt they’d be listening to “God On The Mountain”!).

*Apparently, there are still some people who keep a copy of the Singing News next to their Bible on their bedstand (and I wonder sometimes which gets more reading time!). I guess all-in-all, there will always be extremes. In this case, it’s the ones who feel that those in SG can do no wrong. To those people, I quote Johnny Cash….”You’re so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good…” KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!!

On not being blessed
What is the deal with everyone saying that they haven’t been blessed? I read the Singing News and I am never blessed. I read it for entertainment. I get blessed when I go to church or hear a song that touches me.

On theology
Maybe this anointed NG [who wrote about not getting saved by reading my site] should check up on his/her theology and know that individuals or groups of individuals don’t do the saving.

On reading avfl
I really enjoy your website. After subscribing to the Singing News for many years, I was resigned to the fact that post-Cathedrals Southern Gospel music was limited to mediocrity and an extremely narrow worldview. Thank you for making an effort to promote professionalism and excellence in the product and Christian love and understanding in the hearts.

On keeping score at funerals
I don’t know, that’s just a little whack. Tsk-ing over what SG names weren’t at the funeral? Bemoaning the fact there weren’t more piano players there? Etc. etc.? Sheesh. I think she’s overworking herself a little bit.

On the Perrys, This is Day
I couldn’t have said it better. Everything you have commented on the “This is the Day” project is right on. This project should and will do down in Gospel Music history as one of the best. Every song on this project could have been a charting song. Even the ones with the bass lead!! As my dad lie on his death bed, the song “Wish I could have been there” was playing in his ear. As he took his final breath, Heaven’s gates opened wide and into the presence of God he was!! When I think about this project, the excitement of knowing the Lord swells to a depth that’s unimaginable. And knowing that there are groups out there who haven’t gotten to far away from the true southern gospel roots, that present their song with professionalism and crowned with the anointing of God, well what else could you look for. The bad thing is to top what couldn’t have or ever will be any better! The Life of Love was great and as I have heard you say about the song where Libbi goes up on the part “I’ve always had a song”, that too as good as it gets. There’s not a group out there to compare them to.

On the Burger funeral
I was glad to see that someone else thinks as I do. Even if the Kingsmen couldn’t be there in Nashville for the funeral, I think some mention could have been made of them at some time either verbally or in print. If you read all the accounts of his experience, it would appear that he went to a conservatory and there is a gap of several years before he joins the Gaither organization. After all, Anthony spent many years with the Kingsmen. I read today that he was 15 when he joined them and lived with Eldridge Fox and his wife and went to highschool. I don’t know for a fact, but I would venture that he spent about as many years with the Kingsmen as he did with the Gaither organization. Perhaps they were more widely represented and mentioned at the Cleveland service. I hope so.

On Talley’s comments after Burger’s death
How sad. I’m so sad. Anthony was such a wonderful man; it hurts my heart that Kirk is still so callous despite all that has happened. How could he even make such comments. Certainly we have all said and done things we regret. Goodness knows I have, but my mind or heart cannot grasp such mean-spirited venom, especially during a grief-filled time like this. I have said it before, and now more than ever, Kirk needs prayer. To Anthony’s family, I extend my deepest condolences. My thoughts and prayers go out to them.

On star gazing at death
Don’t you find it tasteless that this individual would use someone’s death as an opportunity for “star gazing” by attending BOTH viewings and the funeral?

On replacing Burger
I hope that what I have to say is not premature or dis-respectful in any to the legacy that Anthony Burger left behind but I feel a need to throw in my two cents worth. In Lily Isaac’s interview with I assume some radio station the question was asked of her who she thought would replace Anthony on the Gaither stage. She stated that Roy Webb with SSQ filled in on the remainder of the cruise after Anthony’s passing. It will be a sad sad day in the gospel music industry if some short tied shaggy haired clown from SSQ takes Anthony’s place. Anthony was the perfect example of an industry standard and if Roy does fill that slot then we will know without a doubt that Bill Gaither is not as true to Southern Gospel Music as he is acting.

On none of your bidness
Gosh, Avery….I wonder if whoever this was who gave you the “on the scene” account of Anthony’s funeral ever stopped to think that it really isn’t anybody’s business if someone didn’t make it there. You never know why. I’ve not been able to attend the funeral of some very very dear friends because of various things, didn’t feel I had to justify it to the public. I do know that several friends did attend the Cleveland funeral service.

On the George Younce Gaither video
The ‘Tribute to George Younce ‘ ANOTHER Gaither-make-a-buck event ! I couldn’t agree more. ALL Gaither productions sound alike…… Granted, he and his wife have written some wonderful songs, but this avalanche of Homecoming Videos have ended at my house . Do they feel by changing locations for those, they will be something different ???? NOT !! I loved Anthony Burger and I cringe to think what Gaither will do (OR IF) with a tribute to him…..ALL Gaither, would be my guess.. Is this strictly a ‘make another buck business’ on his part, or what ??? Most disappointing and as for me, I won’t be tuning in any more to the shows or buying another video, or DVD….They all sound the same !!!! How sad !

On pictures
The photo of Anthony Burger was amazing. It was as if he died doing what he loved to do. We hear that so often, but in this case it was true. It’s a terrible loss to gospel music in many ways. How do you fill the holes being made today? There is no one to replace a Jake Hess or a Vestal Goodman. Same is true with George Younce and Hovie Lister. While on pictures, another thing bothered me a bit. I was reading some message board and they posted a link to Mark Lowry’s site which had “pictures” of the Burger funeral. I thought that was strange, but, of course, I hustled on over there to see. Now, I have to admit that in my 50+ years of living I have never seen a camera or anyone taking pictures at a funeral. Maybe I’ve lived a sheltered life, I don’t know, but it’s never happened at a funeral I’ve attended. There are shots supposedly taken by Mark of most of the funeral, including one of Anthony in the casket. That’s just bizarre. It’s maybe uncouth or a southern tradition, but I’ve never seen it. I remember all the controversy when they leaked pictures of Elvis in the casket to the National Enquirer, so maybe it is a southern tradition. Anyway, like a lot of funerals, it was like a big old Homecoming reunion. I saw faces you don’t see in the videos anymore like Jim Hill, Lulu Romans, and others who I recognized but can’t name right now. Mark didn’t sing with the Gaithers. My guess that was because he was taking pictures. I still say it’s strange. And David Phelps singing with the GVB has to be the first time the Homecoming bunch has seen him and maybe the beginning of healing over the hard feeling when he left. I’m sure David could use the income from a Homecoming concert. Enough for tonight. We miss the fact you don’t post more often, but if anyone understands being busy, it’s me.

On what’s in a name
I couldn’t agree with you more on your comments concerning the “big name” songwriters. As a “no name” songwriter myself, I find it incredibly frustrating when groups send out e-mails and have blips on their websites saying….” We have this new project coming out, and it’s got great songs by Joel Lindsey, Gerald Crabb, Kyla Rowland…blah, blah, blah”. So what? Are they any good? Those words tell me that what they did, in all likelihood, was record songs by writers with a nice track history, who didn’t necessarily submit a substantive song. It also tells me that likely they overlooked some great songs sent in by the no-name songwriters. Rex Nelon once said that groups should always listen to every song they get in the mail and every song they get handed in person at concerts. Listen to them all. What have you got to lose? Nothing. What have you got to gain? Possibly a big hit song.

On the other Burger funeral in Cleveland
While that may be the one ‘no one remembers’ because it was not filled with names people know, it was truly the one that depicted Anthony in a complete light, not focusing on him as an artist. Everyone who spoke knew him well and loved him it was plain to see. The pastor gave a message of salvation, hope and comfort. Just thought you might want to know.

On how to cover famous deaths
While this is sad that Anthony Burger passed away, the websites are saturated with it. I have followed gospel music all of my life and have enjoyed him since the Kingsmen, but, there are alot of people who have passed away that were not in the limelight and it is equally as sad for those left behind. I’m not saying we shouldn’t honor him, but, he is not any higher than anyone else.

On that NG comment about not getting saved after reading my site
Ouch! I just want to say one thing here. The majority of people who come to this site aren’t looking for salvation or a blessing, myself included. I come here to get some insight into the world of SGM. If I or anyone else wants salvation or a blessing, we go to church. I appreciate the fact that there is a place like avery that tells it straight and doesn’t care what others think. Plus, from what I’ve seen, everything that comes through is fact. Keep doing what you’re doing and let the nay-sayers go elsewhere. I’ll keep reading!

On the last pic of AB
It may just have been intensity, but Anthony appears to be in pain. A very poignant pic in any case.

On avfl
Hello! I am writing concerning your site. I have to agree about 25% with the letter on your criticism you posted from an appalled reader . Sometimes, it is like you are making fun of artists just because you don’t like them. It’s not right that you criticize an artist just because of one little thing they do on stage. I know you may not like them, but they are just trying to convey the message of Jesus’ salvation. You also need to actually pay attention to the lyrics of their songs (McKameys, Inspiration, Primitives, etc.). You’ll find that they are often better than the Crabbs, Greater Vision, Perrys, JBIF, etc. It makes your site look bad when all you do is criticize the clothes or stage presence, and DO NOT go for the real reason why they sing. It’s not what a person wears, the way they talk, SING, or act on stage!!!!! It’s all about the blood of Jesus and how He can save our sins. So you need to tone down on the criticism and just add some comments-unlike the stuff that has been posted on the site!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks, though, for your strong anti-Crabb demonstration!!!!! Thanks very much!

On Mercys Mark’s sophomore project
I see in the announcement that they will be “working on their much anticipated sophomore project from Daywind Records”. I realize that sophomore can be used as an adjective but why not just say their second ? Does that mean we’ll see a junior and senior project? At least it wasn’t described as sophomoric!

On The funeral sermon at AB’s service
I read the recounts of Anthony Burgers funeral on your website. I thought the comment about Rev. Dan Scott’s sermon being “okay” was way off of the mark. It was amazing! I asked for a copy and received it. I’ve attached it for you to judge yourself.

On both of us being right
You get so many emails you probably don’t remember this, but just after GC hired Bill as their bass. Replacing Daddy Riley, we both thought he wouldn’t last long. You said Tim would fire Bill and find another bass. I said Tim would be back with the group to tour in a year or so. Well, guess what? We were both right. Bill resigned today and Tim going back on the road with the group (though they say they are looking for a new bass).

On linking to myspace sg accounts
I think posting this was a creepy thing for DBM to do. This isn’t something that was intended for EVERYONE to see. It has caused a disgusting conversation over at amgs. (What else is new?) Usually I enjoy everything you cover. This time, however, I wish you would please rethink your link.

On the Imperials
I read where Jim Murray, Dave Will, Armond Morales and Steve Evans have signed a recording contract with Robbie Hiner and Nick Bruno to record under the name Classic Imperials…………and I find it amazing that Joe Moscheo, Terry Blackwood, Sherman Andrus and Gus Gatches are performing as the Imperials…….. And what really gets me is that the present group of Imperials can not get a mainstream record company to produce them and even have to team up with the Unthanks to get publicity…………….Seems to me when Armond retired he should have just retired the Imperials…………..and seems like its Murray, Morales and Will versus Andrus, Blackwood and Moscheo……………. Such an unhappy family!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On not messing with Sheri Easter
Can you believe the strong arm tactics used by the little old sweet Sheri Easter?

On good songwriting
Just wanted to say thanks for applauding what songwriters contribute to the world of southern gospel. You are one of a very few who understands the importance of great songs and appreciates the contributions of people like Joel Lindsey, Kyla Rowland, Wayne Haun and others.

On SN Forums
Hi! Just wondering if you’ve really checked out those Singing News forums. There’s some stuff on there that’s a little wild for the Singing News, don’t ya think? I’m talking about the For Men Only and the For Women Only personal discussion parts of the forum. Who’d have thought the Singing News site would become a place to go talk about sex?

On reading avfl and theology and stuff
Have thoroughly enjoyed the blog the last few weeks. Your wit, intellect, and sheer brilliance with the written word never cease to impress me. The piece on ambiguity was especially touching, because I have and continue to undergo changes in my theology. I don’t think I’ve ever doubted my salvation, but more and more I find myself wondering how exactly God works. How is it that a quick “God, help me accomplish this task” prayer can be as “effective” as a devoted time of meditation and intercession? Why is it that God says He’ll give me anything, and yet I feel so guilty asking for somewhat materialistic sorts of things, especially when so many people in my academic circle need salvation? I know God’s ways are higher than my ways, but it still doesn’t mean I don’t try to figure them out, and get somewhat frustrated in the process.

On the Gaither Jessy Dixon video
I saw this for the first time last night. Did anyone else get the impression that Bill and Jessy weren’t on the same page????????? Yea, verily, maybe not even in the same room or the same town? The delivery on both sides was a little wooden. About the only thing we needed was the dialogue in words appearing on the screen at the same time they spoke. Of course, Jessy answered in monosyllables and was something less than a scintillating interviewee. Bill could have done us all a favor and just run the clips and skipped the conversation.

From during the hiatus
Just wondering where you are? Have you ran out of nasty insults? Come on have we gotten a little laid-back and lazy? Maybe God was just sick of your crude negativity.

On Second Mile
Just wondering if you had a chance to hear the Second Mile clips. Curious on your thoughts. I love it. It’s exactly what the name of the project describes without going for the typical “naming the album after a song” thing. The message is very Vertical. Great photography, etc. I look for them to do some major touring as “openers” for your premier CCM worship artists. It’s interesting, Buddy’s voice is very marketable and his wife is very good to. Donny is solid. However, they are one of those groups that together collectively are awesome. Or I enjoy much better as a group than if they were just individual artists. Of course Channing’s not a shabby guy to have on hand either with his producing and arranging capabilities. Not to mention his talent at keys, accordion (which sounds great with this group on several cuts), piano and other synth stuff. Word is the live presentation is something to be seen. Lots of energy. Donny plays some piano, channing plays all of the above and Buddy rocks out on acoustic with some very SCC driving guitar parts. I listen to it all the time on my Ipod. GREAT GREAT GREAT

On vocal troubles
I just read that one of our favorite female vocalists Angie Hoskins has suffered a torn vocal cord? I just don’t understand how something like this could happen! What’s next….Evil Kneival breaks a bone?

On running my mouth
It’s interesting to me how the professionals in the “Southern Gospel field” continue to do nothing accept run Kirk Talley down. The question is, can the blood of Jesus Christ and cross he died on do what it claims it can do or not. Is it up to us to judge Kirk? I think that some of you gospel singers get on stage and talk out of the side of your mouth. If any of you gospel singers are with out sin, cast the first stone. Other wise, keep your mouth SHUT !!!!!!!!!

On mislaid lyrics
I don’t know why this is so funny. Unless your being dirty minded.

From during one of my hiatuses
Too bad the Unthanks don’t teach school!

More typos
Kind of reminds me of something I saw at my cousin’s wedding awhile ago. At the church they were handing out the wedding programs, and on the cover was a lovely picture of rings, and a Bible, and the verse at the bottom said “THRUST in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding………”

On the SGM FanFair
The Fan Fair organizers really were working hard in the ‘wishful thinking’ department the night that I was there. In comparison to their first event just barely 6 months ago their crowd was up. Which really doesn’t say a lot. In August I witnessed the Hoppers sing to 175 (generous estimation) in the larger convention center with 5000 seats. This time I saw Karen Peck and NR perform to maybe nearly 500 in the smaller wing of the convention center which actually had 1000 counted seats. The event organizers really ought to get some experienced promoters like Frank Arnold or Bill Bailey to help them out. I again heard several locals say from the booth area that they had seen no local advertising. I sincerely would like to see an event of this type gain some ground in a different time of year from NQC, but I don’t see how this is going to happen when your biggest profit is to sell booths to aspiring artists rather than tickets to fans. I also noted that there were only 2-3 recognizable name artists per evening in the concert line-up. You could almost describe it as a regional concert with 3 main artists and 20 local opening groups.

More on the Fan Fair
i gotta get this off my chest, so i was hoping you would post something about the sgm fan fair, its poor attendance, and their fan awards……PUH-LEEZE?!?!?! “From reports I hear, the SGM Fan Fair was NOT a very well attended event. Does this not surprise anyone? To even conceive the notion that someone like Mike Shelby, who is best known for his “hip” looking lemon colored suit at NQC, who sings with one of those “we’re a full-time group, but nobody has barely heard of us” called Eternal Vision to win Favorite Baritone, right underneath Guy Penrod winning Favorite Lead Singer, and then to have other members of this “professional full-time” group win awards as well, to me, makes this Fan Fair nothing short of a complete joke. This whole thing stinks worse than a dead skunk in the summer heat.

On my comments about Talley
It doesn’t help to down someone when they are down and sin is sin and God can forgive anyone of sin. It doesn’t help to kick them when they are down!!!

On Blur the Lines
I am not body special in the world of Southern Gospel Music. I’m just an average Joe in middle America who enjoys hearing goods songs presented with a message. I would think above all else that my opinion mattered more than some critic, right? With that being said, let me say how very disappointed I am in the Crabb Family. Their latest project lacks substance, style and is in no way enjoyable. I am so disappointed in them. With Daddy Crabb gone it seems they have lost their direction. Kathy seems to be steering them in way that seems strange even for them. As the preacher’s some time preach, it’s like they are straddling the fence. The song, Friend of God sound just like the folks over at Lakewood singing it, Redeemer, is a fine song, but not an Crabb orginal, I go to the Rock, sound like it’s dragging. And what ever #3 is could be left off. As soon as I hear it start I click next. It’s one of those songs that gets in your head and drives you crazy. If this is the path the Crabbs are taking, give it a few years and they will be no more. Just like the hot shot tenors who leave the Gaither Vocal Band thinking they are the next big thing and within a year or so they are no more, or else the take up home decorating and hawking their wares on some reality show, as was the case with Jonathan Pierce. True Crabb fans will stay for a little while, but we are use to recording that speak to the heart and reflect every day life. This project is no more than a filler, meaning they put it out until they can get some decent songs of their own. Maybe Father knew best, after all. One can only assume.

On avfl
We love you! What would SGM be without you now. You have brought something to SGM that has been needed and it’s called “speaking the truth.” You’re our “Simon” of SGM. Most people think he’s a little crude but they like it because he’s truthful. It takes more to tell the truth than to tell a lie! Looking forward to having you back.

I just opened the history of the Internet usage on our home computer. A practice that any good christian parent should be doing! I saw the usual hits on Gospel sites. Then I saw your site. Curious I opened the site and did not think much other than I confirmed that it just another one of those sites that are a waste of time but oh well. Certainly not thinking on the things the Bible tells us to think on; but, that is what you have chosen and others have chosen to do with their time. I see a negative thought, but, a reference to prayer. Just as I was scrolling down I saw something that solidified my distaste for many of the so called gospel groups out there today. Yes, we are all human and all of us sin but to publish our sin around the world such as you did? The disrespect for the writer of that song. The disrespect to the artist and the disrespect to the sanctity of what God intended to be a beautiful act between a husband and wife. Sad you are. When is the last time you cracked your Bible? When is the last time you were in church? Do you faithfully serve in a local church? Here is the ultimate question, would you want your children to count you as a “hero of the faith”? My advice to my children today, Averyfineline has drawn the line and you are done in this house!!!!

On my hiatus
Dude, like where are you? Even though I disagree with you on many things, your a left wing liberal, I’m a right wing conservative, I still like to hear what you have to say. I mean, the LEAST that you can do is comment on what you think about the new Crabb cd and their pic on the cover of SN.

More on my hiatus
Where have you gone, Professor?! Again, we’re in withdrawal! You’re taking these unauthorized sabbaticals too frequently these days! My fear is that your Avery workload has you burned out - am I correct? I hope you can muster up whatever you need to get back writing again, because you’re missed…

And some more
Where are you these days? I may not always agree with your opinion, but, I still enjoy reading your comments. I hope you are just busy and not ill.

On finding avfl
I just discovered your site, it’s well written, I love your head on approach. I really dislike the Unthanks too, they’re everything why people in Europe sometimes hate Americans…hypocrites, and control freaks, who try to be best of friends with the high and mighty within the industry. And all to profit from it (I love money though, nothing wrong with making it) or to propel their mediocre singing group, yaaagh. Really think the administrators are the unfriendliest bunch of ‘christians’ out there. They banned me for life….to be honest don’t wanna be caught there ever again. I’m from Amsterdam Holland and I’ve been collecting SG-music from the late seventies/early eighties. I loved Ernie Haase up to the Cats - Climbing, Higher and Higher ‘90 album, after that he went down hill. Why is he always, when he finally hits a high power/solid note, taking the mike to his bellybutton level? What’s with that?? I have the same thing with him as Jason Crabb when I see Ernie sing, they look and sing as if, it really hurts. I’m not a bought by the blood bible believing Christian (as Hamill used to put it) but love the music. I believe in God, just never made a decision to …walk the talk, so to say. Imo the best thing that happened in the last 10-15 yrs or so, to southern Gospel music was Gaither hands down. Yet the worst thing to happen was also somewhat Gaither related talking about Michael Sykes …..i like what he done production wise, but the style of the early GVB albums was too far stretched. Dobro, harmonica, B3 organs, popped up out on the woodworks on almost every southern gospel release ever since. All the albums featured the same line up of studio musicians Kelly Back, Terry McMIllan, Bruce Watkins, Bobby All and David Huntsinger.. just to name a few. Only the A cappella GVB album and to some extend the ‘everything good’ album sounded different than others, but still haven’t heard something totally new. The ‘walk on water kinda day’ album of Crossway, had some interesting sounds, but still they choose to play it safe…and didn’t quite hit it off..because of it. The only quartet I really thought were sounding newer and fresher than most were Chosen Few…..still they’re not hittin’ home with the crowds. I haven’t heard a real new sound for over a decade….a shame. Love what you do, and I agree on almost everything I’ve read.

More from another convert
OK, I just discovered today. Where have I been? You have some fantastic articles and observations. I had to comment on your post about The Perry’s recording “This Is the Day”. I agree whole-heartedly that this album should be a classic for the SG enthusiast. In fact, the last few albums released by the Perrys are all quality recordings. They have definitely found their niche in the SG market. One other classic recording that should be added to your collection with “This Is the Day” and “Preparing the Way” (one of Gold City’s best efforts) is “Travelin’ Live” by the Cathedral Quartet. They are at their best on this one and the songs are lyrically superior to most of their recordings. Keep up the great writing. I enjoy your perspective.

On avfl withdrawal
It’s great to see another post….even if it’s short! I’m looking forward to having your posts back on a more routine basis. I feel like something’s missing in my life when I can’t get new stuff from averyfineline!

On junk peddling in sg
I have always referred to the product table as a Gospel Flea Market, this just further solidifies it. I wish I had someone like you years ago to e-mail to prove “I said it first!”

On Sheri’s bidness sense
Both of Sherri’s degrees are in business (BBA, MBA). Shows doesn’t it. In another vein, it is that you are posting again. You are without question the erudite commentator on the SG scene in the history of the genre. I hope to get the opportunity to meet you at the NQC.

On various things
Good to have you back on a consistent basis. You will never know how wonderful it is to have some intelligent commentary on sg music from someone. This genre just dies without someone keeping all involved honest. Though the powers that be would never ever admit it, they read you and while you were gone they smiled and kept on doing the thing they do best. Vegetate. Just one comment about Gold City to start. I think I told you that Tim would be back on the road mainly because that’s what singers do. Yes he wanted to retire and fish and not be on the road so he could control his diabetes (which leads me to wonder why diabetics just don’t make the arrangements to eat right. If I had a condition like Tim, planning is essential. My wife’s a diabetic and she goes through quite a ritual when we leave to go places. It may mean going to iHop and ordering the coffee and going back to the bus and eating fruit, but you do it), but he’s a singer. They tried Bill Lawrence who dropped off the face of the earth after getting his “dream job” (just have to wonder what happened) and regardless of what super fans said, he was simply not the answer. They say they are looking, but Tim (at only about 60) is the answer and the glue that keeps it together. Since 2003, they’ve lost their tenor (Jay) and hired Steve, who is great, but thin and green. They lost Doug, who had more to do with this group than many imagined. Tim had to come back to make it Gold City. That and the fact that he showed up anytime that the groups legitimacy needed to be shown. GC is in a period of make it or break it. One more loss (Jon Wilburn??) would significantly kill them. Tim holds it together. I say he stays for awhile. We’ll see.

The Easters thing as well as the SSQ thing was bizarre. After scheduling both [at NQC], they disappeared probably because of the Gaither thing (which for crying out loud must be fixed-why?). EHSSQ had held firm to stay away, but the Easters found a way in. Would someone tell the NQC folks that they are not in the position to decide who and who cannot sing? One of the highlights of the NQC for a guy who wasn’t there are the DVD’s we can buy of the main program and the showcases. I keep going back to the Torch DVD. On there was excellent bass Jeremy Liles of Crystal River. Talent like that needs to go on the main stage and yet, they get dissed. Why? Their dress. I lived through the 60;s when my long hair (it really wasn’t that long, but I lived in rural WV where anything other than a buzz cut was long), bell bottomed pants and mutton chop sideburns were considered of the devil. That was over 35 years ago. It’s time they change.

As for MMQ, I am really upset. I don’t know why Chris West left (that family thing is getting old), but that guy needs to be singing somewhere. And Anthony is just too talented to sell real estate ( I’ve done that and the feast or famine thing will get to him after awhile). The replacements don’t thrill me and though they might make it, my guess is that the all-star format of the original bunch will never be duplicated. Christian Davis is OK, but West’s stage presence was a lot of MMQ’s appeal to me. And they do need to hire a legitimate baritone. All this is academic. If they’re singing by January, I’ll be shocked.

On my Crabb wedding crack
I take offense to your comments about Kathy and Steve’s wedding. … I hope Kathy can finally be happy with her new husband. … I hope every one will pray for them instead of being so critical of every thing they do. I would think that the divorce was kept quiet because of the children . I am sure that living in the public’s eye and have everything you do critiqued by people like you must be very hard. Especially if you are trying to live for God and help people when you feel like you need help most of all. I am sure that this has been very difficult for everyone concerned. If they had wanted to have the reception at the Golden Nugget with the Crabb kids in baby-blue tuxes and pink chiffon dresses, so be it! Some how that doesn’t seem to be any one’s business but the concerned party.

On finding avfl
I just found this site and have bookmarked it. I get tired of being “in the dark” about stuff. When someone suddenly drops out of a group or drops off the radar, often nobody says why. I feel like the big SG publications are only telling the sugar-coated side of the stories. I want to know what is really going on. Thanks for keeping us in the loop.

On Chuck Peters
Is it just me or does it seem like around a year ago that Chuck started being “goody-goody” on the message boards? He used to be a little more argumentative/differing in opinion with the staff in some of the posts and there were some pretty strained exchanges in the past but now everything seems to be “Sunshine and Roses” all of the time between the two internet SGM media members. Of course, Chuck does seem to spend more time in self-promotion of his internet business than sharing opinions these days with fellow message board members.

On visiting a Gaither Homecoming show
I recently attended the Gaither Antique Traveling Carnival of Hucksters in Winston-Salem, NC (April 22). This was my fourth GATCH show in approximately seven years and will no doubt be my last unless the format changes. Although I’m not sure how it would change with that many “artists” in tow. Anyway, it was my first exposure to the side-show of Ernie Haase. EHSS have been in the area a couple of times recently, but I wasn’t in a gospel concert mood at those times, so I passed. However, now that I have seen them, I can honestly say that I am thoroughly bored by them and their act. This is definitely a case where once is enough, if not too much. Obviously, I am in the minority in my opinion, but these guys are just exceedingly tiresome on stage. By the way, is this clear nail polish or just the way the light is shining in this picture? Not to mention that, vocally they aren’t really any better than, say a group like the Anchormen, or for that matter any 4 random guys that sing at Anytown Church of Christ Baptist Church of God during a Sunday morning P&W service. Then during the obligatory “break” they are hawking their product like the Miracle Tonic salesman in a bad episode of Gunsmoke. Which reminds me to ask, why is there the need for a “break” in a GATCH concert anyway? The “artists” only perform 2 songs then go sit down, for crying out loud. Maybe it’s more tiring than it looks? I don’t know. Why doesn’t Uncle Bill just say: “Everyone on tonight’s roster has performed, go jam the halls and buy some product while we set up some chairs. Then we’ll sing for 30 more minutes to make you feel better about the $35.00 ticket you bought and the $7.00 you paid to park.” Other observations from the evening:

* The pre-show emcee, a DJ from the local gospel radio station, seemed to be thrilled that the concert had moved from Greensboro to Winston-Salem…. not sure why, but they “plan to keep it in Winston-Salem”. I guess if we turn back and look toward GSO we’ll become a pillar of salt??
* Mercifully, there was no “Christian Comedian” at this show to bore the crowed for 15 minutes or so as in past concerts.
* Kevin Williams was absent, which was a let down. He’s a fine musician, not to mention that his one-liners are usually humorous. His straight man roll was relegated to the sound man.
* The Hoppers weren’t around at this concert right in their back yard. (In at least 2 past GATCH concerts they have brought up the “Original Hopper Brothers and Connie”).
* Russ Taff’s placement on the program provides a great opportunity for a rest-room break. Someone really should tell this guy that those black peg-legged pants and black pointy shoes are not a great look for him. Which reminds me, “What Not To Wear” could film an entire season with this Gaither bunch.
* Referring to the above point, most people in the crowd seemed to prefer a break during the Jessy Dixon segment (at least 150 people, by my estimate)
* Becky Isaacs appeared to be so bored to be there, that had she worn a placard declaring her boredom it would have been less obvious.
* The “bonus” CD, commemorating 10 years of GATCH is bound to have cost Uncle Bill all of 13 cents to produce - - glad I got mine!!

On Gayther and stuff
Although I don’t always agree with you (which I know you would not want), I thank you for these comments and think they are right on the mark. I had always been very encouraged that Mr. Gaither had not at least openly condemned gay people. It saddens me some now. It may sound blasphemous, but I can’t help thinking it may boil down to concert attendance and record sales. … Southern Gospel Music is my “church” and has been my connection to my faith for many years. I don’t attend concerts anymore of the groups who in my opinion are openly expressing hate. This includes the Steeles, the Dixie Melody Boys, and the Pfeiffers to name a few. I am certain that I will encounter more in the future. My biggest pet peeve with a lot of concerts is they don’t seem to know that their ministry is their music, and they feel the need to preach. That is not what I am paying for. It also seems to me to be like “preaching to the choir.” It is not like these concerts attract alot of heathens or people who don’t attend church regularly.

On ambiguity
Could you have made your “few comments about ambiguity” any lengthier or any more….ambiguous?

On thoughtful ambiguity
Just thought I’d drop you a note to let you know I think this is your most meaningful post yet - for myself anyway. I don’t think you’re the only one out there who has to let things go, sort things out, rebuild bridges . . . there’s lots of us out there who don’t necessarily “believe” strongly or easily in the things we’re supposed to - and I’m being ambiguous here because I suspect that my tradition dictates somewhat different cultural absolutes than yours. But we all have the search in common. I hold that if God is faithful and true, he will faithfully reveal himself to those who seek Him stubbornly, and Him only . . . and don’t too easily fall back on laziness or iron manmade absolutes. He has promised to reveal himself to those who seek Him with their whole heart, and I’ve found so far (though I’m merely twentysomething) that He does, just not always how you would like Him too, or how you’d expect. Thanks for the post. It takes a bit of courage to bare your heart online - but I suppose you’re getting somewhat used to it by now.

On what an idiot I am
you know, when you comment on Southern Gospel, there is no one better. You are cutting and insightful. Enjoy it thoroughly. It is what you do best. When you comment on politics and social issues, you are well below the level of moron. Best to stick to what you do best. Your comments on homosexuality would be mildly amusing if they weren’t so sad. Whether you intend to or not, you come across as blatantly pro-homosexual. Before you get on your little high horse and hammer me, I cannot tell you how many homosexuals have attended the services I run. I have publicly stated that they are welcome to come and hear the preaching. But I’m not going to back down from the fact that their lifestyle is an abomination. I’m not a Gaither fan nor am I his defender. He got himself inot this mess, he can dig his own way out. I am just suggesting that you do what you do best - biting, relevent commentary on the Southern Gospel industry. Politics? Go back to school, kid.

Parsing my ambiguity
Hello Mr. Harrison, it is very late, and I have just read this entry with understanding, and it’s very sad. With this entry you have shed your tough outside layers. At first, I loved your tell it like it is hard nosed way of thinking, but then you got off the music, and let us know that your a liberal, (of course, you’re a college professor) and now your defending homosexuals any chance you get. So at this point, I am taking your comments fwtheirw. But with this new entry your really letting us inside your heart.

“Lately, though, I’ve found myself not just listening but thinking - specifically, contemplating a question that I’ve vaguely batted around for years: what is so captivating about this music, this style, this genre? This isn’t just an intellectual exercise for me. One of my favorite jokes is that I’m a recovering Baptist, but I’m only really half joking, and in part that means I have a more complicated relationship with things like faith and theology than I once did.”

Complicated. That’s what your problem is. Your making the gospel too complicated. It really is very simple. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.

” A lot of the things that used to “work” for me spiritually, religiously, theologically don’t any longer.”

In other words, all the things that you thought made you a believer, you are finding that they don’t really make you believe any more.

“Except gospel music. I know this to be true, and yet it’s not at all obvious why this should be so.”

You don’t understand why your still able to listen to gospel music when all the rest of the religious stuff doesn’t affect you anymore, yet the music still does.

” It probably won’t shock regular readers to find out that easy answers don’t satisfy me much.”

This is called pride and rebelliousness. And lack of faith.

“By this I mean no disrespect to people who possess the surety of faith and unshakeability of belief that I’ve always only read about or heard others describe.”

It’s sad that you have never experienced surety of faith or unshakeability of belief. But this explains why easy answers don’t satisfy you much. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

“But neither do I mean to surrender or disown the authenticity of my feelings simply because of their unorthodoxy.”

Surrender. That’s an excellent word. That’s what you need to do. Surrender to Jesus. Your knowledge, career, life, sins, whatever it is that’s keeping you from child like faith.

“Something that I don’t get anywhere else keeps me returning to the staggered endings and suspended harmonies and I-IV-V and turnarounds and glorious encores of gospel music, and since I’m not given to disingenuous commitments, I assume that that something is of at least a little significance.”

In other words you feel like your so far away from God because your faith is so weak, and you feel like at least the music connects you to where you know you should be.

“At this point I begin hearing voices: “You just need to get saved” (any number of concerned readers’ - in the past and, after this post, probably in the not so distance future). “That’s the convicting power of the holy spirit” (my father). “I’m not the only one, though, right?” (my own).”

I don’t understand your question. You’re not the only one to what?

“For a long time, I asked this question haltingly, feebly, a little defensively, shamefully almost. The sum of what I believe and don’t and can’t”

Can’t. What is keeping you from having a relationship with the Lord?

“puts me beyond the pale of anything like the “simple faith believing” that’s so often interpreted by fans and artists of gospel music (and evangelicals more generally) to mean “don’t ask, don’t tell, keep your mouth shut and your head down, young man; just toe the line.” This kind of interpretation only worked for me so long as I internalized the self-denial embedded in it”

Thats what the gospel of Jesus Christ is. Deny yourself and live for Him. This is the foundation of being a christian. I am saying this in the most loving way honestly. I think you need to take a look at your surroundings, what you feed into your mind and your heart. Certainly the enviroment in which you work in can’t be good even for a strong christian. Do you want to go to heaven? Do you want to go to hell? Seriously. It’s that simple. Where will you spend eternity? Who rules over you? Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and everything that He did or don’t you?

” and for a long time I did. And then I didn’t (the old way stopped working),”

Maybe the old way wasn’t the right way. But just because your old way didn’t work, doesn’t mean that God has changed or is no longer there. Jesus said I am the WAY, the truth and the life, no man can come unto the Father but by Me.

” which meant a lengthy period of exile from just about everything I had known and much of what I loved: family and family traditions, some friends, the familiarity of fitting in, of knowing “my place” without thinking about or working at it. But spiritual ex-patriotism has this benefit: you learn to rebuild bridges to the parts of the past that are worth reconnecting to, to grieve but ultimately begin to let go of what’s lost or unsalvageable. In my own experience, this has been my real salvation: a genuine process of regeneration rooted in the necessity of coming to my own authentic terms with questions of (un)belief and what it means to live justly, love mercy, walk humbly. ”

Are you turning gay?

On ambiguity again
Just want to say that maybe this is one of the few times in your blog where the “real” person is allowed to be seen. Couldn’t agree with you more. Faith/belief is not a simple formula.

More on ambiguity
I loved reading your thoughts on “ambiguity”. I, too, have been a lifelong Baptist, but find myself increasingly unable to reconcile some (not all, but some) of my deepest beliefs with what I have seen as a tremendous move to the political right by my denomination. Okay, I guess it’s always been there, but maybe I’ve just noticed it more in the last few years. This questioning of whether or not I belong in a Baptist church, however, has not caused me to question or doubt the basis and root of my faith. Rather, in an odd sort of way, it has caused me to grow stronger, and more determined to walk closer with the One who saved my soul. I guess I’ve just been rebelling against what I see as the unquestioning and lockstep approach so many of my fellow Baptists have toward their denominational leanings. That said, I fully agree with the Baptist belief in salvation by grace through faith and eternal security, and I fully intend to spend eternity in heaven with Jesus. As to your thoughts of SG music, I agree. I’m a listener to all types of music (as I gather you are) and I find much in Southern Gospel to recommend it to (1) the already saved, (2) the unsaved but seeking, and (3) the merely curious. Thank you for your thoughts. I always enjoy reading them.

On … well, I’m not really sure
Wow, it is great to finally come across a web site that I can go to and laugh at. Seems I had a co-worker invite me to a singing the other night and I went. Being a musician, I knew the group because I got the invite to play on their last recording. They seemed to be very genuine in their actions. But after reading your blogs and other SO CALLED CHRISTIANS, I can see that we aren’t different in any shape, form or fashion. You people just put the title of CHRISTIAN to your name. I can go directly to the bible and quote you scriptures that tell people not to use their tongues to put their fellow brothers in Christ down but to uplift them. And if I remember right, doesn’t it talk about the tongue being a two edged sword? So, as a NON CHRISTIAN, I have to ask you and the other SO CALLED CHRISTIANS out there, WHY? Why should I become a CHRISTIAN when in reality, I am one. I’m no different than you people. I can critisize with the best of them. I am e-mailing all my friends to let them know about this web-site just for their enjoyment. It’s not often you get to see other SO CALLED CHRISTIANS putting each other down and then calling it reviewing and blogging.

On flaming ambiguity
Your latest writings finally convince me you are a Flaming.

More on finding avfl
I love your site! To me it is the testicles of Southern Gospel Print ( he he). I have sang most of my 35 years and have actively sang Bass in various quartets for years. I tell you this not to gloat but to further by saying I have seen both spectrums of the ball, part-time and full-time and there both an emotionally challenging roller coaster, BUT over the last year I have seen soo many groups hang it up ! With the pioneers of this industry passing on and NEW groups seeming to be going more progressive sound where does the standard traditional SG male quartet stand to succeed? … I do want to thank you in advance for reading this “redneck’s brain drewl”!

On strange things
About two weeks before AB’s untimely death I drove over to Tyler, Texas to hear him with Kirk Talley and Shane Dunlap (The Trio). During the product pitch Anthony already had his “Best of” DVD for sale and during his pitch made the statement “Gaither did a “Best Of” DVD of Vestal and she died. He did one for George Younce and he died. Then he did one for Jake and he died. You might want to pick one of these up tonight, if you want it autographed.” I guess it’s just one of those things that makes you go “Hmmm.”

On “Much Too High”
“Much Too High a Price” changed my life. Thank you for reminding us all of this milestone in Christian music. Oh that we could somehow return to this level of musicality and spirituality.

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  1. Alan Rose wrote:

    My wife and I sit in our livingroom and have a taste of heaven. We hear, George Younce, Glen Payne, and so many others singing. We are 61 years old and actually yearn for the time when we will be able to sit in heaven and hear these people sing heavenly music. Thank you Bill Gaither, for your gift of giving us music. I would pay anything for it. With all the garbage that hollywood puts on our tv’s, we need to sit and listen to this music. Jason, Sherry and Jeff. God bless all of you.

  2. brent james wrote:

    Dear Avery.
    Found your site while trying to find the recent whereabouts of Terry Blackwood. Dont know you, but I’d say, based on what I have read here, that you should find something better to do with your time. Really, Christian music and its failings should only be the fodder of bitter gossip mongers. I dont suppose youre one of those?

    Brent James

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