The unsense of SGN awards nominations
Sogospelnews.com’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.Email this Post