Songwriters, ungrateful for the stale crumbs we give you

Too much A lot has been said about Gerald Crabb ebaying a Singing News #1 plaque for “Don’t You Wanna Go.” I was mostly content to let people talk themselves through this one — until I read a comment that suggested gospel songwriters who don’t hang on to every last piece of hardware their best songs generate and treasure it all as “family heirlooms” are snubbing their writerly noses at the attention lavished upon them by adoring fans, indebted artists, and other grateful industry professionals.

To suggest this is to entirely misunderstand the pecking order in gospel music. Plaques for hit songs are not evidence of how much writers are valued in sg but the stale crumbs tossed in the direction of lyricists and composers. A No. 1 plaque is, quite literally, the least that one could do.

Don’t believe me? Count how many writers make their lively solely off southern gospel music. Not singer/songwriters, not performers who also write on the side, but people who make their lively solely on writing songs for southern gospel. Finished counting? It shouldn’t take long because the answer is ZERO, thanks in part to declining sales but mostly because southern gospel artists and labels have a tendency to treat paying royalties like giving at a love offering –everybody says they put in their fair share but somehow the take always comes up short.

Unpaid royalties are part of a larger culture of neglecting writers. Thus at the SN Fan Awards, songwriters are neither listed nor announced for the Song Of The Year nominations. And judging by the Songwriter of the Year awards, fans don’t seem to know any writers exist outside those associated with a famous group.

Auctioning off one of his SN plaques under an easily identifiable ebayonym before the Farewell Thee Crabbs tour is even over was a PR blunder, to say nothing of tacky. But Gerald Crabb seems amply justified in capitalizing off the pitiful tokens with which the industry acknowledges songwriters and their artistic contribution to gospel music.

Now, about my cut for helping run up the price of that plaque on ebay …

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  1. Averyfinelinefan wrote:

    BRAVO Avery!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. DM wrote:

    In Nashville thrift stores you can find plaques from someone’s hit. Everything from record companies to Ascap. Someone can get so many awards they get piled up. It is better to sell it to someone who cares. No one outside of gospel music cares. Just like no one cares about a country music award.

  3. greg wrote:

    When I first worked with Gary S. Paxton, he used his grammy awards for door stops. I found that very entertaining and realized he was more intent on writing a great song than he was winning the award. There his awards so he can do what he pleases with them. Gerald should not even have to defend himself on that matter. By the way, Gerald has written many songs that have blessed me and I hope he continues writing and winning awards and selling them if he so desires.

  4. JW wrote:

    Not being in the music industry and just a casual observer, then what’s the point of these supposedly silly things, then?

    Now I know why I don’t listen much to southern gospel anymore. I’m just so unhip! Next time one of these Singing News Awards or other types shows are held I’m going to the movies or watch TV or something. Why waste my money watching someone collect yet another doorstop?

  5. GC wrote:

    What is your favorite Christian song ever? If the song won any awards, could you tell me where the songwriter has his plaque displayed?

    Not being a SG fan, I just thought I would ask you that question as a casual observer visiting a SG web site.

  6. JW wrote:

    I don’t know if I have a favorite Christian song above others. Not sure where the writers’ plaques are, I guess there are a lot of doors needing to be propped!

    I wouldn’t say I’m “not an SG fan”, just not a hardcore any more. Too much wading through the bad to find the good and lack of radio stations.

    No need to get upset, GC, I truly didn’t know these awards/plaques/etc. mean basically nothing.

    greg said, “By the way, Gerald has written many songs that have blessed me and I hope he continues writing and winning awards and selling them if he so desires. ”

    Why would Gerald or anyone want to win awards since you’ve guys just said they really don’t mean anything? Ok, I’m being argumentative here, but still it’s amusing to say they are not important but you hope he keeps winning them. But, don’t worry guys, I won’t tell!

  7. Mickey Mixon wrote:

    As for “unpaid royalties”, you said a mouthful, Bro. As for “awards”, I have worked with and supported hundreds of amateur and semipro SG songwriters, even some pros, since 1988 and no matter what some folks might think/say (and that’s okay) many writers, even some pros, consider awards (such as the SN Fan) as significant mile-markers in their songwriting careers and/or ministries. I respect Gerald and consider him a friend of mine, and though I may not totally understand why he or anyone else would sell or give away a mile-marker (except for charity and such) I can tell you some of us writers would sincerely appreciate being voted for and recipients of such an award simply due to what it means to us, personally. While some may mock the “Award” and despise “SG” some of us value these platforms and the opportunities they provide. Thanks AVFL!

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