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 …Email this Post