The unsense of SGN awards nominations’s SGN Music Awards nominees were announced yesterday. Normally I would let this go unremarked upon, as these awards tend to function mostly as an index of the people with whom the Unthanks, SGN’s family of owners and staffers, are currently attempting to curry favor or do business. And I hate to break the cold war of pleasant silence that’s settled in between avfl and sgn. But this year’s Songwriter of the Year nominees really do boggle the mind for their illogic.

Three songs nominated for Song of the Year were written by Jim Brady, Barry Weeks, and Tony Wood. All three are impressive songs. Fine. Jim Brady, who of course sings with the Booth Brothers, is nominated for Songwriter of the Year (artist). Again, fine. But neither Tony Wood nor Barry Weeks is nominated in Songwriter of the Year (professional). Huh?

At first I thought this must reflect the comparative weakness of artist/songwriters’ abilities compared to professional songwriters’. But then I looked at the professional songwriters nominees. If songs of the caliber that Brady, Weeks, and Wood (a made-for-CCM group name) wrote together are the standard of excellence by which we are implicitly being invited to judge the quality of music one has to have written in the last year in order to make it into the SGN songwriter of the year categories, it’s hard to see what Ronnie Hinson and Steve Cheney are doing among the professional songwriter nominees. Nevermind that a client of the Unthanks’ Southern Spin Entertainment sings in the same group as Cheney and that associations with Hinson still carry with them a vague but palpable impression of one’s having The Hinsons’ blessing.

The more salient detail here is that Hinson and Cheney are both artists/performers as well as writers. So why aren’t they in artist/songwriter category, freeing up space for Wood and Weeks, who seem, by the SGN Awards’ own standards for Song of the Year, to deserve to be in those spots?

I really do wish there was another explanation that springs to mind half as readily as the one involving SGN’s own self-interest, because providing separate categories for songwriter/artist and songwriter/professional is a wonderful idea that at least theoretically begins to address the problem I’ve mused about (most recently here): the crummy treatment most professional songwriters receive from gospel music. Sadly, though, if the SGN crowd is renown for anything in southern gospel, it’s for almost always managing to besmirch their own best efforts with what so often looks like the smudgy residue of self-dealing.

Update: David Bruce Murray provides some useful context and counterpoint from the perspective of a former SGN staff writer.

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  1. Bethany wrote:


  2. BL wrote:

    Where is Annie McRae in the list? They have a song nominated for song of the year so logically she would be nominated for the song writer award, right?

  3. Daniel J. Mount wrote:

    Do the Unthanks do promotion for the Kingsmen?

  4. GC wrote:

    Why is Phil Cross always passed over on these awards? He had several radio hits this year by numerous artist. Just curious..

  5. scy wrote:

    I can’t even imagine what the winners do with these awards! I’m wondering if all the nominees show up for the ceremony.

  6. DM wrote:

    In time the awards show up at Goodwil or e-bay.

  7. JB wrote:

    Im suprised that they didn’t nominate Sunday Edition. lol

  8. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    There’s a sort of nasty glee that tends to come out when any popular entity in SG is criticized. I’m an ex-SGN staffer, as many probably know, but now that I’m on the other side of the coin, I still don’t see the point in it. I’m referring more to some of these responses…not Doug’s article.

    Now, regarding Doug’s article, I’ll approach it from this angle:
    On one side of this industry, we have the Singing News Fan Awards (which are selected by fans, obviously) and at the other extreme are the Harmony Awards (which are selected by industry peers).

    Of course, there’s a slew of other awards, that, in my opinion, tend to mimic the SG Fan Awards with slight variations.

    The concept behind SGN’s awards does stand out, IMO. Rather than allowing fans to merely vote for their favorites, the SGN staff makes nominations based on perceived accomplishments in the past year. There’s two distinctions there. The staff nominates. They base nominations on perceived accomplishments IN THE PAST YEAR ONLY rather than overall popularity. It’s the second part that has always confused fans for some reason.

    While I absolutely don’t agree with all the nominations (and who ever does?), the fact that it isn’t the same list of nominees and subsequent winners year in and year out has to be positive. The fact that it’s based on accomplishments from one year only, IMO, is what an annual awards show always ought to be about. Do we really need to know that for the 12th year in a row, Roger Bennett is still the fan’s favorite? (SN Fan Awards) or that Jeff Stice is the best piano player in the business? (Harmony Awards)

    Well, evidently, yes, we do.

    But SGN’s approach should at least appeal to an academic like Doug by demanding that some actual thought go into the process of voting.

    I agree that some SSE clients have an edge, but it’s really not as bad as it looks. Keep in mind that the SGN staff isn’t just the Unthank family. Regular review writers like James Hales, regular columnists, etc., all have a say in the nomination process. If these contributors have the same relationship I had when I was on the SGN staff, their articles are donated, so they really have no compelling reason to support SSE clients with nominations.

    On the negative side, I don’t think the staff, having made the nominations, ought to vote in the awards themselves, but they do…or at least, we did in the past. But that’s a minor gripe.

    Singing News Fan Awards carry the most weight (though they may take a hit in 2007 with recent changes in categories). It only stands to reason that Fan Awards are the most popular type of awards for fans.

    Aside from Fan Awards, though, the SGN Awards and Harmony Awards are the only other awards that any artist should care about winning.

  9. GospelMusicFan wrote:

    Just imagine if we didn’t have each other.
    We wouldn’t have any interesting ideas to discuss.

  10. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    In addition to what I wrote above in response to Doug’s article, the reason Ronny Hinson is listed as Songwriter (Professional) rather than on the artist side is due to how he primarily functioned during 2006 only. The fact that he toured with his family group as an artist years ago is not relevant. He’s a staff writer for Daywind. Even if he did make a few appearances, he doesn’t regularly perform any more.

    I don’t know enough about how often Steven Cheney performs to comment one way or the other, so it’s possible Doug may have a point there.

  11. JW wrote:

    I could use an extra door stop.

    I thought these things are useless? Am I confused…..

  12. Billy D wrote:

    I personally know Steven Cheney and I want to add here that his nomination had to do with 2 things … 1. Number of cuts in that given year 2. Professional writer means that he is not traveling in a full time capacity. I know that the group he is in does a limited schedule of about 20-30 dates a year. It seems that Doug would do a little more homework before he opens his mouth and inserts his foot. Besides … I haven’t heard anything he has done for our genre of music other than to belittle it and set himself up as some kind of SG no it all. Come on Doug … give these people their due … I bet you can’t even list the cuts these people have had … nor do you have a clue as to who should be listed or not.


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