Blunders

Roy Pauley’s June column in the Singing News has all the makings of an interesting read: “Gospel Music’s Biggest Blunders.” And indeed it’s arguably true that, as Pauley has it, prematurely parking the Gospel Singing Caravan and consistently inducting gospel greats into the hall of fame posthumously have lastingly diminished the long-term viability of gospel music (I say arguably true because I don’t know enough history around the Caravan to say one way or another if Pauley’s right and in the case of the hall of fame, it’s unclear to me that the HOF’s role goes beyond the curatorial and actually serves to promote and grow white gospel music as a religious artistic tradition). I’m not sure these rise to the level of superlative failures suggested by his title, but they’re interesting ideas all the same.

That said, of course, two of the three “biggest blunders” in gospel music, according to Uncle Roy, happened before 1980. This is not terribly surprising. Pauley has little to say of interest or use about anything that happened after 1975 or so. And too, it is puzzling why, precisely, Doy Ott’s getting booted from the Statesmen in the mid-1970s counts as one of the most important missteps in gospel music. Would Ott’s staying have lastingly altered the landscape or prospects for gospel music more broadly? Pauley doesn’t say (maybe because it sure looks like Pauley’s getting less space in the magazine than he used to, or am I imagining things?). In fact, he actually makes a pretty strong case that the real blow to the “Statesmen magic” was Jim Wetherington’s untimely death in 1973 and the affect his death had on Hovie Lister. Contra his own thesis, Pauley’s treatment of Ott’s dismissal leaves the impression that firing Ott was just more unfortunate fallout from that earlier tragedy. But anyway … best not to contemplate the imponderable logic of serial nostalgia at work in Pauley’s “Opinion.”

Unceremoniously, then, let me offer a few contenders for a more comprehensive list of Gospel Music’s Biggest Blunders. Please feel free to add yours and/or quibble with mine, for I’m sure I’ll miss (or misstate) something. In order of historical importance:

1. Southern gospel’s surrender of its influence and active participation in the Gospel Music Association, which – lest we forget – was founded by what is today known so parochially as “southern” gospel. The old guard – represented most prominently by Les Beasley, who sits as a founding member of the GMA board but has little more than titular influence – couldn’t have stopped the drift toward more contemporary tastes that gave rise to CCM in all its variegated forms. But a savvier, less petty and more visionary leadership would have seen that “southern” gospel could play a profoundly important role in shaping Christian entertainment as the founding artistic tradition of GMA, and in the process elevate its own status in the bargain. As it is, sg is at best a quaint bemusement to GMA, at worst (and more often) the bumpkin brigade.

2. Southern gospel artists’ giving away their own farm to Gaither in the 1990s. There’s a lot to this issue that is both beyond me and the space I have to give it now, but with 15 or so years at our back since the Homecoming phenomenon took off, it’s pretty clear that the terms on which artists agreed to appear on the Homecoming tour and videos redounded almost without exception to Gaither’s benefit … and cut the rest of the industry entirely out of the bargain.

The basic deal, as I understand it, was this (please correct me where I’m wrong): Artists invited to appear on the Gaither tour and tapes signed a release that allowed Gaither and Co. to tape their performance and sell it (this is, by the way, the way things still are, with some minor variations; Gaither used to pay some travel expenses but no longer does so, for instance). In return, artists received the ability to buy finished Homecoming product at wholesale prices (the same as retailers receive) and sell it at their table. Gaither pays mechanical and what are known as “sync” royalties on all sales, but there is nothing paid for the performance, either live or on DVD sales. [Later note: artists who appear on the Homecoming tour live performances receive a modest flat fee for their appearance … thanks to TK for bringing this up]

This “deal” seemed worth it initially, on the theory that Gaither’s rising tide would lift all boats, that the exposure artists would get in the bargain would elevate their careers and cement their status in the broader world of Christian music, make them stand out from among the rest of sg. What you take be “success” will determine whether or not you judge the result to have confirmed or debunked that original theory. The Isaacs strike me as the best example of a group that parlayed their relationship with Gaither into real gains in audience, demographic exposure, and sales. EHSSQ may well follow, but it’s not clear yet that they can sustain their current level of success once the Homecoming umbilical chord gets cut. David Phelps certainly hasn’t, but then again he also seems to be doing ok on his own, too.

What of the rest? Setting aside the clutch of old timers whose careers were revived in the 5 or 10 years before their death, there are those artists who have come and gone from the tour with relatively little change in their professional trajectory (or disappeared altogether): The Hoppers, The Martins, any number of soloists. That leaves a handful of artists who have essentially arrested their own development in the first phase of things, with their attachment to Gaither, without ever trying to capitalize on that association and launch off anew and improved on their own. The Easters, Jessy Dixon, Ivan Parker, Lynda Randall. There may be others.

For the moment, I’m not interested in debating whether or not Gaither has been “good” for these artists’ careers (and of course it’s possible that any of these artists and/or others have their own, financially more equitable arrangements with Gaither). Nor am I interested in debating the fairness or the ethics of having artists, many of whom were under contract to non-Gaither entities, appear with Gaither for free – though that’s certainly a debatable issue (one of the more fascinating ironies of this situation is that in order for the labels whose artists were appearing for free on the Homecoming tour to recoup on the loss created by these artists’ Gaither appearances, the losing labels would first have had to sue their own artists for breach of contract, secure a judgment against those artists, and then go after Gaither for inducing the original breach – a scenario that required the labels to essentially cannibalize themselves in order to get at any portion of the profits their artists were helping generate on the Homecoming tour … obviously no one chose that route).

But for the moment, my interest is in the fact that artists signed themselves, their rights, and their artistic value as Homecoming performers – en masse – over to Gaither & Co. This sort of arrangement is all but unheard of, not just in the music industry more broadly, but in publishing, television, and film. And for good reason. Not only does it imply a fairly low estimation of what an artist’s contributions are “worth.” Practically speaking, it has had the effect within the southern gospel industry of vastly widening the gap between Gaither’s success … and everyone else’s struggle. Normally, with compiled work, one label or entity asks another for a side-artist appearance agreement – reflected in those “So and So appears courtesy of Such and Such” statements in liner notes when guest appearances are involved. In addition, the interested parties set up a 6-10% royalty rate, pro-rate it and divide it among the artists involved in the product. This didn’t happen here and the consequences have been vast, for everyone involved.

I can’t say for sure I would have done differently had I been one of the artists offered a spot on the Homecoming tour. More to the point, the lack of any apparent hesitation on artists’ part suggests just how badly the industry craved a savior or a life boat of some kind, even during what we now know was the relatively stable days of the early 90s, compared to now. Obviously, there’s a case to be made from an artistic/religious perspective that Gaither saved gospel music, and that he rightfully profited off a concept that was (more or less) his and that this is all sour grapes. But if Gaither did save gospel music, it was a salvation that arguably impoverished a good deal of the industry in the bargain, not least of all the artists who signed themselves away, as well as the other artists left out in the rain trying to convince audiences who became quicky accustomed to Gaitherized sg that what was left of southern gospel wasn’t all wet.

3. The industry’s cheap, orgasmic embrace of digital band tracks/eliminating live instrumentation from the gospel music stage. The trend in southern gospel toward preferring the appearance of sophistication to actually achieving real artistic excellence can, I would argue, be traced in large part to the disappearance of the live stage band (and this desire for the appearance of succes also probably accounts for part of what more secretly drove so many artists to take the Gaither “deal” above; this, we should note, leaves unsettled the question of whether Gaither’s “deal” to Homecoming artists was an exploitation of small-time performers desperate for the heat of brighter limelights or one of the smartest bidness moves in modern music-industry history). Artists still want to be taken seriously artistically, but nine out of tend of them ultimately decide it’s easier to make jokes about their band leader, Mr. Sony, and justify the corner-cutting by telling themselves that making a joyful noise on the cheap is still a joyful noise.

Artists aren’t only to blame because their labels have abetted the process. Imagine what it would be like if labels only invested in groups they believed in enough to send out on the road with a full band and backing vocal support. No cheesy bgvs from a can. No over-amped instrumental tracks. There’d be far fewer groups out there, obviously. But judging by how satured the market is with steamy crap, I can’t see a market contraction, spurred by a survival of the fittest and calibrated by the artistic judgment that could or should reside in every major label, to be a bad thing.

If you’re going to really take seriously what makes gospel music good, you’ve got to invest in the live experience of the music. … live bands are what make (or made) possible that excitement that comes from seeing the band leader count off to the rest of the band, of anticipating that last big drum kick when you see the drummer’s head go down and the sticks go up, of watching as Hammil or Rex or Tim Riley turned to the players to call the next tune and wonder … what will it be?

Contrast this expectancy and anticipation to the current state of static affairs: Even “live” recordings these days are almost always heavily mortgaged to canned band tracks (see BFA in NYC and L5 in Music City). It’s not so much that these recordings are bad (they’re not, actually); it’s that we don’t expect more of them to begin with.

Which is to say, the demise of the live band dragged almost everything else about showmanship and production – on and off the stage – down with it.

4. The NQC/Gaither Vocal Band split. It’s not the only reason NQC is on the decline. Even if Gaither were still coming to Louisville in September, the industry would have to grapple with the diminished prospects for white gospel music in Christian entertainment. But NQC’s inability to bring Gaither back to Freedom Hall is emblematic of the larger poverty of vision afflicting the industry’s flagship enterprise. By extension, this implicates the industry at large, which has too often valued blind loyalty and indiscriminate fealty to concentrated knots of power and influence over artistic integrity (see No. 3 above). Not to mention that in this case, Gaither at NQC is smart bidness too.

The best NQC has to offer us at the moment is the American Gospel Music undertaking, a puzzling fizzle of an enterprise that, even if it were to succeed, would only further erode the Quartet Convention’s integrity by casting all but a handful of NQC’s artists as – quite literally – spiritually and artistically unworthy to be associated with the NQC-backed AGM brand. Royght. Instead of launching an administratively bloated, cripplingly risk-averse attempt to replicate Gaither’s success at brand recognition, NQC should be doubling down on its core product - The National Quartet Convention - and doing whatever it takes to reassociate NQC with Himself. In this NQC’s 50th anniversary, it would be a fine year for a Gaither Homecoming Presents: A Half Century of the NQC, Live from Freedom Hall.

What have I missed?

*Edited for minor corrections

Update: David Bruce Murray makes a suggestion for an NQC/Gaither event:

If I were on the NQC board, I would try to set up a deal where Gaither’s film crew was in the building most of the week getting footage, from which NQC would receive a split of all profits. In exchange, I would let Gaither have a 1/6 share of the week’s ticket revenue, and he’d have complete control of the Saturday evening program…using his own artists just like it was a regular Homecoming tour event.

NQC is losing artists in the exhibit hall on Saturday night and I’ve heard attendance is down on Saturday as well. Fans are slowly realizing they don’t have the full benefit of meeting everyone in the exhibit hall on Saturday night, and let’s face it, the exhibit hall is as much of a draw as the evening performances on the main stage.

A Homecoming event on the last night of NQC would bring in new blood fans who might even make it a two or three day trip. Regular NQC goers would stay for Saturday night as well, because of the variety that a Homecoming event would offer.

Later Update: Another reads adds a blunder to the list that I missed:

I’d hypothesize that another mistake is the over-focus on radio chart success at the expense of sales success. The money and energy put into chart positioning stupefies me because anyone will tell you it’s completely unassociated with sales success. It really is a phenomenon unique to this genre. I could write a book on how this has hurt the business, but it might simply be symptomatic of the ego-driven nature of our business.

Even later update: An email this afternoon proposed a new blunder worth adding:

The Benson Co.’s campaign during the late 80’s and early 90’s to remove sg from CBA (The Association for Christian Retail). The effort to cut sg off from mainstream retail produced a kind of economic drought, creating the conditions under which the industry went looking for a saviour in the first place.

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Comments

  1. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    Great analysis…one of the best I’ve read from you lately.

    I too would like to see Gaither and NQC kiss and make up. There’s so much synergy potential in such an arrangement.

    If I were on the NQC board, I would try to set up a deal where Gaither’s film crew was in the building most of the week getting footage, from which NQC would receive a split of all profits. In exchange, I would let Gaither have a 1/6 share of the week’s ticket revenue, and he’d have complete control of the Saturday evening program…using his own artists just like it was a regular Homecoming tour event.

    NQC is losing artists in the exhibit hall on Saturday night and I’ve heard attendance is down on Saturday as well. Fans are slowly realizing they don’t have the full benefit of meeting everyone in the exhibit hall on Saturday night, and let’s face it, the exhibit hall is as much of a draw as the evening performances on the main stage.

    A Homecoming event on the last night of NQC would bring in new blood fans who might even make it a two or three day trip. Regular NQC goers would stay for Saturday night as well, because of the variety that a Homecoming event would offer.

  2. Rhonda Berry wrote:

    Love this one, avery.

    On NQC, many of the artists (like our group) with potential to attend one of the showcases do not feel the financial expense is worth it. We may be wrong, but it is the pay to play thing. Our group prefers to spend the money on quality product and equipment than on the slight chance someone may see us in one of the myriad of showcases that are outside of the main stage.

    As far as “canned” music. The trend toward that was and is economic. Having said that, I feel that the real problem with “canned” music is the trend toward using it to make a group sound bigger, better, etc. Our mantra is “If you can’t support it live, don’t do it on your project.” I have been roundly criticized for my comments on how it is used. While live bands are always better, that is true, the bigger problem is what is being done with the recorded music people are using and who is using it.

    You are right in that with the invocation of recorded music there are more “less than ideal” groups out there. But when I attend a concert or event I don’t worry about whether the music is live or memorex, I am listening for the realness of the artist. When I hear them using so many stacks they sound like a choir, when I hear them using another group’s stacks, I am suddenly thrust into the realm of “just how real are these people?” Right of me or not, it causes a question of integrity in my mind. Many of these people are willing to say that is not what they are doing even when I am not the first or only one to notice.

    Why do I pay so much attention to the music? Because the music is the vehicle that is used to get the message out to the public. Whether we like it or not we are dealing with human beings with their own set of preconceived notions on what they expect music should be. If, in order to make ourselves sound better or make ourselves viable we have to resort to these things, then haven’t we compromised the whole message to begin with? Then what is the point of staying in gospel? Just so we can say we do this for Jesus? If we are willing to compromise our individual integrity in this matter then how are we doing it for Jesus? If we are going to do it, do it right, and don’t tell me you didn’t.

  3. ST wrote:

    In the 80s a blunder was made by The Nelons when they recorded a more contemporary album. The next recording went back to Southern Gospel. Rex was announcing from stage, “We’ve come back to Southern Gospel.” However, the damage was done. They did get back on track and did have success after that. It was sort of like when Coca-cola came out with New Coke and it bombed. They quickly started regrouping. Same thing with the Nelons.

  4. John S. wrote:

    I agree with David…excellent analysis, Doug.

    Although you did go on a bit long about Gaither, I suppose that’s to be expected given Gaither’s position in the history of modern gospel music and the interest in activities concerning him.

    Regarding Pauley’s no doubt well-intentioned analysis of what he calls “blunders”, it’s doubtful that anything could have saved the Gospel Singing Caravan at the point of its’ demise. The consensus on that seems to indicate that that program was consumed from within by personality issues involving the principals…not to mention that at that point in gospel music history, “teams” were losing their influence within gospel music. The famous Blackwood-Statesmen team was dissolving around the same time as the Caravan did. So I don’t think the Caravan’s demise was any kind of “blunder”, but more an inevitability of history.

    With regard to Ott’s “heave-ho” from the Statesmen, that’s a much more complicated issue than even Pauley may be aware. It’s not entirely accurate to call that a “blunder”, IMO. Your comments about that were quite pertinent…it can(and often IS)argued that the Statesmen “died” when Big Chief did…granted, it took a while for rigor mortis to set in on the group, but losing a personality, singer, writer, and arranger of Chief’s stature was too big a blow for Hovie and the Statesmen to overcome.

    And to ST, remember the DMB band in the 1970s? Ed O’Neal apologized for that strategic misfire for nearly 20 years after he did it. Fortunately, the Dixie Melody Boys recovered quickly from that fiasco and have become gospel music’s premier “training ground” for up-and-coming talent.

  5. Howland wrote:

    Another “Blunder”: The over-use of recording studio magic. Yes, we all know that it has allowed non-singers to make serviceable CDs, but over-tuning and compression (making everything on a CD as loud as possible) has hurt geniunely good singers and groups.

    Almost no engineers record a group standing around one or two mics anymore, they have each singer, starting with the melody, do their part separately so they can later tune it, and move it around rhythmically.

    But when you mess with “pocket” (or groove) and pitch, you remove that intangible “something.” It becomes soul-less. Just listen to the “sound” of a Gold City record from 15 years ago and compare it to almost any group CD today. The openness and “naturalness” of GC in that era — as compared to the let’s-get-everything-as-loud-and-as-perfect-as-possible in this current era — is striking.

    While the average audience member may not have a sophisticated understanding of what I’ve described, they may “perceive” that some…magic, some “soul”, is missing. And “the thrill is gone” for them when they listen to the music, or at the very least not there like it used to be.

    I believe that this same phenmenon has hit Country Music. In fact, I heard recently that one of the major markets (either LA or New York) no longer has a Country radio station.

  6. ITF wrote:

    What was the contemporary album the Nelon’s did?

    I don’t know when the DMB Band started, but I’m pretty sure they were going in the 80’s. I don’t know anything about the situation , if they were a flop or whatever, but they actually had some very good Christian Country. In fact I always thought they were a better CC act than SG group.

  7. J C Lee wrote:

    Personal blunders, I think. When James and J. D. sold the NQC to J. G. Whitfield for a small price, and later Whit, who told me selling it at a riduculoous low price. Next, after Larry Gatlin put together the first taping of what went on to be Homecoming Friends, regardless of how unprofessional it was, let it get away from him, and also how I think he should have been included in its financial future from a moral standpoint. The two didn’t speak for a long time, but as it has been stated, Gloria interceded to patch things up.
    Another. The way the promoters let the agency’s, with the support of the artists
    over price the talent to the extent of concerts becoming regular losing ventures. Now a lot of groups have extended themselves financially to where they have to play to churches where a love offering is received, even if the church pays all, or part of the fee. Then it becomes almost impossible for a promoter to successfully have a ticketed event after a free sing.

  8. Jim E. Davis wrote:

    The “contemporary” Nelons album was titled Journeys. It was a risky step in the mid 80’s but was a welcome change for me (in my twenties at the time) and if you listened to the recording now, it would sound like most southern gospel groups of today. Produced by Ken Harding (of New Haven Records - most recently connected to Gold city and their latest project - Revival), the musicians were mostly from contemporary studios including Shane Keister on keyboards and Larrie Londin on drums.

    A few southern gospel writers were used but most of the songs were either collaborations of Jerry Thompson and Niles Borop or new inspo writers such as Babbie Mason, Dick and Mel Tunney and Karla Worley. Notable songs were “All Rise”, I’m Gonna Keep Walkin’”, and “Famine In Their Land” which featured one of the first concept videos released by a Southern group. They also surprised me by included a song that I had written (Joy) that was not exactly southern in style or arrangement.

    While sales may have been disappointing for the Nelons, it was an influence that would open the door for the success of the Martins, the Talleys and others. To say that these were blunders? More like growing pains in which Southern Gospel expanded to reach a younger audience. Perhaps the blunder is that the industry leaders did not embrace the new sound and integrate it with the mainstream groups before Bill Gaither stumbled upon the gold mine a few years later.

  9. quartet-man wrote:

    Let me say that I personally discovered a lot of SG by their association with the Gaithers. I had already heard and was collecting the Cathedrals, Gold City and Stamps (along with the Gaither Vocal Band.) However, acts like the Hoppers, Talleys and Martins were introduced to me by Gaither. I love all three and have several albums by each. We do have a SG station now, so maybe I would have eventually heard these and other acts, however others might not.

    I do think that at first Gaither can be a big help. However, I will say that I have been disappointed in the Gaither shows for a while. Even in my area (Indiana) where not so many artists are involved in the concerts around here, there are too many who only sing a couple of tunes. Some of my favorites were not even here (the three listed above for instance.) I actually would like more from the GVB too.

    With that in mind, I think eventually the acts are a draw to the Gaither concerts too and should receive a better deal after they are there for a while and become a draw. However, no one is making the artists do this. They apparently feel that it is worth it to them and that they get value from the association.

  10. Tom K. wrote:

    Wow, it’s great to read all of this and find out things I never knew.

    Please, please; more on the Doy Ott debacle - never knew he was thrown aside. Heard about his health problem but never anything about Hovie letting him go! Smoothest baritone ever!!!

    Next, with respect to the Gaither item, are you referring only to The Homecoming Tapings where the artists are not paid? I wa told my an artist that they received their flat fee for appearing. Is this true - payment received - for the tapings, homecoming concerts, neither or both? The further comment from the artist was the opportunity to sell their product at the Homcoming Events with the large audiences over a 2 or 3 day weekend was a great incentive to being a part of The Homecoming Tour.

    Answers from someone, please??????

  11. Howland Sharpe wrote:

    Didn’t Darrell Harris (StarSong Records) also have something to do with that first Homecoming video?

  12. Bud wrote:

    In the early 1970’s, the NQC distanced themselves from the Oak Ridge Boys. This was an earlier step in the failure to attract younger fans, similar to the distance with GVB.

  13. John S. wrote:

    ITF is correct…my bad.

    The DMB Band DID make its’ brief presence felt in the 1980s…and not 1977 as I had earlier posted.

    Maybe I was subconsciously trying to help Ed O’Neal wash his memories of it away by pushing it back farther in time than it actually was.:-)

    I remember hearing their first album as the DMB Band…it was reminiscent of the country group Alabama soundwise, and the DMBs actually pulled it off well artistically.

    But there was never a huge promotional push for them, so left with just their basic gospel audience to satisfy, and knowing that audience’s antipathy to anything remotely “worldly”(the group’s casual, Alabamaesque appearance on the album cover photo among that), perhaps it’s not surprising that the DMB Band concept was met with a loud clamor of indifference.:-)

    In any case, O’Neal to this day contends he was mistaken to take his group in that direction…although one perhaps can’t fault him for his intentions.

  14. arnold cenzaboy wrote:

    Let’s see if this one makes it through . . . . I have not heard of anyone working a live concert event for the Gaithers without pay. Every Homecoming artist I have talked to (and I have many miles on my car getting to see them!) have told me that when there is a live audience, they get paid a fee plus expenses. If it is a studio taping, the hotels (usually 5 star), catering, wardrobe, hair and make up and other expenses are all covered. Why beat the Gaither Co. up for providing national TV exposure for a cast of hundreds who wouldn’t have a chance without him? Most of the “come latelys” love to expound between songs that they just finished a new Gaither taping. Gospel groups have done “free” local TV forever, just trying to get a whiff in a small market, while Gaither reaches millions of homes per week. It takes gall to slam someone when you don’t know them or their business, so I’ll give you that! You have gall. You’d be better off to stick to pontificating about things you have researched before inserting feet in facial cavities!

  15. Woody wrote:

    Yes, the Gaither artists are well compensated ,don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. No, Gatlin was not the author of the Homecoming concept, another false rumor.

  16. Charles Brady wrote:

    Woody maybe someone should tell that to Gatlin! I was in a room with about 30 students when Larry clearly stated to the class that it was he (Larry) who suggested turning those camaras on during that first session… So if it’s a false rumor then maybe someone should get the message to Larry….

  17. quartet-man wrote:

    Larry also mentioned it being his idea in his book. Now this is Larry’s account according to my memory. Bill set up the singers and later put together the video. However, Larry said that Bill was eating a sandwich or something and he (Larry) told Eva Mae to play something. She did, people started filming, and Larry motioned for the person filming to keep rolling. After the videos did well, he was bitter about it. He couldn’t stand to watch them until he listened to Jake sing and was convicted. Gloria later called to ask Larry something and Larry said that he wanted to talk to her, but needed to talk to Bill first. He explained to Bill how he had been bitter and why, Bill was puzzled and said something to the effect of “I always wondered how that happened” or something like that.

    Now, I wasn’t there and I have heard different accounts, but this was Larry’s and I may have seen Bill say something in print once about “someone” telling the
    film crew to keep rolling. (But I could be remembering that part wrong.) :)

  18. SPD wrote:

    I have a close friend who sang tenor for a ‘Gaither’ artist for a couple of years! He told me that the artist’s got anywhere from $500 to $1000 dolars for the days expeses and that was all from giather, but they were garunteed up to $5,000 in product sales! That may or may not be true! But if you think about it they’re singing to 10 or 12 thousand people so selling 500 cd’s is not so unimaginabel. This would explain why there are some artist on the Gaither program that you never see anywhere else! Has anybody seen Reggie and Lady Love at any other venue or Jessy Dixon and there are others! If the money is good why go into churches and starve!

  19. ng wrote:

    I don’t know who started the video cameras rolling at that first Gaither gathering. But I have to assume it was Gaither and not Gatlin who invited the artists, booked the space and hired the videographers. I do suspect Gaither got the idea to this when he attended the 1989 Grand Ole Gospel Reunion in Greenville, SC at the invitation of GOGR organizer Charlie Waller. Waller got Gaither to lead a chorus of gospel veterans and most of the big names (Lister, Blackwood, Sumner) who later turned up on Gaither videos were there. In fact, Waller did videos which he sold of his reunions from the very beginning in 1988. Unfortunately, the videos are not of the quality of Bill’s and could use a good editor.

  20. Shadow wrote:

    I could give you the names of five people who have claimed to have first said “hey, keep that camera rolling.” But even that doesn’t merit ownership in the idea. It was Gaither who saw the value in the raw footage, created the brand identity, put money at risk to get the product into retail, and buy the TV time to promote it. That’s called ownership.

    In the late 80s, I walked in a coffee shop and liked what I bought. I said to a friend, “this is great company, these guys should go public.” Starbucks doesn’t owe me anything for that errant comment. “Keep the camera rolling” is always good advice, however.

  21. burk wrote:

    Call me crazy but I don’t miss Gaither at NQC.

  22. Ben Harris wrote:

    I think this thread got off on a critque of all things Gaither instead of blunders in SG. So, to get back to the topic, I think allowing country gospel and bluegrass gospel to be included under the umbrella of Southern Gospel was, in hind sight, a mistake. It changed the focus of the music and confused an audience already reeling from the influx of CCM, to even greater depths. I am not against those genre’s of music, just in the one umbrella covering all. I have had pastors tell me they don’t want a southern gospel group for they are much too country for their church. This is a false perception of many of southern gospel’s groups, as many are far from country, but alas the perception persists.

    I would like to see NQC and Gaither heal the wounds, far we are far better off joining forces than being splintered as we are now.

  23. Grigs wrote:

    Jerry Kirksey said that he suggested to one of the camera guys at the original Gaither taping to keep rolling because Bill might want the footage. I have no doubt that both he and Gatlin are telling the truth. They might have not been the only ones.

  24. Buster wrote:

    I was friends with a guy who was there as an electrician’s helper, hooking up the mic cords, and my friend plugged in the electrical cord for the guy who connected it to the lights, and he helped the guy who connected it to the camera and he was best friends with and helped the guy who set up the camera and handed it to the guy who held the camera. My friend’s friend asked him if that camera really worked, and the guy said, “I think so, I’m supposed to take some film of Mr. Gaither for his wife”, and since it was already plugged in, my friend’s friend helped him take some film, and held the camera stand. So there you go. It’s that guy.

  25. RNGfreckles wrote:

    I don’t really care one way or another when it comes to live or taped music. When my family sings, it’s with a mini-disc player or CD player. I play the piano, but I’m no Roger Bennett. =+)

    I think the real reason a lot of sg groups are no longer using live music is the cost of taking these extra people around with them. My family looked into having 3 guys play for us, but it backfired when we realized just how much money it would take to support them and us. We would have had to charge a large $ donation for singing, which we had never done before. We were used to singing wherever and whenever and not asking for anything but what they felt the Lord would have them give us - which in a lot of cases was a meal or >$200.

    Perhaps this is why there are more groups going with pre-recorded music…

  26. RNGfreckles wrote:

    I meant to say “less than $200.”

    Oh, and I don’t care for the Bill Gaither of today - EHSSQ, especially. I would not go to see them at NQC.

  27. John wrote:

    Question for RNGfreckles — Since this post and responses are about blunders in the SG music field, why did you throw in the comment about EHSSQ? I understand that you are entitled to your opinion. I also realize that in a more general way, Bill Gaither’s involvement in SG music is part of this posting. But to suddenly — out of nowhere — suddenly throw in your “Oh by the way, I don’t like EHSSQ” comment sounds like you have some issues. This entire posting has nothing to do with EHSSQ, and they haven’t even been mentioned.
    We all have our preferences, we all have our differences, and most of us like certain groups and don’t care for certain others. That is fine — we are free to have different tastes. But what I don’t understand is the rabid way some people don’t liek EHSSQ. And why did you just throw it in when it has nothing to do with the topic being discussed? Sounds like a heart issue to me!

  28. dkd wrote:

    John…for goodness sake, Get over yourself! RNGfreckles is entitled to his/her opinion just like the rest of us. There are several themes running in this blog and why not throw EHSSQ in the mix? They are certainly linked to Gaither/probably joined at the hip. For you to insinuate that someone has a “Heart” problem because of a comment he/she makes in a blog, well my friend, maybe you have your own issues to deal with. (but don’t we all?)

  29. RNGfreckles wrote:

    Let’s get this straight - I do not hate EHSSQ. I will explain what I meant by what I said.

    First, EHSSQ has something to do with the Gaither. They are (as dkd put it) attached to Gaither’s hip. Second, I’m sure that they are blessing lots of people with their music and testimony. But I, personally, do not care for their style. That is why I would not care to see them at NQC. Besides, there are other artists that travel with Gaither that I do not care for.

    I’m sure there are a lot of people in my area that do not care for my family’s style, either. I’m not offended because it really doesn’t matter in the end anyway.

    I did not want this to turn into a debate about EHSSQ. I’ve heard/read enough of those. Let’s all move on now…

  30. RF wrote:

    They come out of the woodwork to love or hate Gaither, don’t they? Must be because he is successful, don’t you think? Jealousy? Never.

    Blunders? When Gold City’s Tim Riley retired, he chose Bill Lawrence as his replacement. I am assuming Lawrence was chosen because of his voice which was similar to Riley’s. It didn’t work, and Gold City has been catching up since. And I might add, they are doing better than ever.

    You might also mention GC’s shunning Daywind to go with Cathederal Records which folded after two albums.

  31. Tom K. wrote:

    I don’t know where this thread is going but, if I remember correctly, I wasn’t there but I told the guys to keep the cameras rolling.

  32. Leebob wrote:

    GREAT ANALYSIS!

    Whether you like or dislike Gaither, the man helped rescue a dying industry (more on that later). At the very least give him that.

    JC Lee - I couldn’t agree more. Handling the majority of our booking while we are a weekend group, I think I understand why national groups went to the agencies. I barely have time to do what we are doing now, I can only imagine what a full time group would have to go through to keep a full schedule.

    I have noticed that most of the people on here approach this from the industry point of view. I suppose that is okay because you have to earn a living somehow. Back in the day (I know, “good ol’ days syndrome”) the majority of these groups started as a ministry. Somebody told them they were good and before too long they had an agent and began to make money. They forgot why they started doing this in the first place and have allowed the agents to dictate their schedule and their price. I am not opposed to paying groups what they are worth (I have given groups their full cost on several occassions, all losing ventures I might add) but agents blanket the cost without giving any consideration to what the market will bear. Their vested interest is their back pocket. I miss the times when you could catch a group on the way back from their major event for a fee and a love offering, to “fill in a date” they used to say.

    Now for the biggest blunder of all: the above situation has cost groups the ability to play to the midsize churches, thus having less of a connection with their audience. Phil Cross once told me that he enjoyed going to these churches the most because it always brought him back to what he was doing this for in the first place. He gets it when it comes to reaching an audience, not only from a song writing perspective, but from a human standpoint.

    I know I am going to hear about how some people are willing to pay $75/ticket for George Strait and the “cheap” Christians aren’t willing to part with $35/ticket. Remember this…the majority of your paying fans are on a limited or fixed income. Having talked with them, many of them are somehow asked to survive on $700 - $1000 a month. So for the couple to go to one event you are asking them to drop as much as 10% of their monthly income for one evening.

    The majority of people that attend your concerts are also people with a different set of values than the majority of the George Strait crowd. They tend to be more conservative with their money and plan where to spend their money rather than having buyer’s regret later, wondering how they are going to pay the next bill.

    All things considered, I still think SG is the best music but perhaps the problems we are discussing shows us that we are in the process of finding ourselves at the crossroads of balance between ministry, Christian entertainment, and making a living. If we have the right heart, usually everything else lines up.

  33. Shadow wrote:

    Tom K. … I wasn’t there either, but I remember telling the cameraman to keep the cameras rolling, just before you told the cameraman to keep the camera rolling. Then, Jerry came in and told him to keep rolling, then Larry came in and told him to keep rolling, then ….

    I also wasn’t there when Hovie fired Doy, but I can tell you what really happend ….

  34. Bubba wrote:

    Hey Shadow,
    low and soulful
    Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

  35. Rod wrote:

    First of all…I am not biased one way or the other regarding Bill Gaither…I do believe he is worthy of our respect for his huge contribution to the music industry as a whole. If it wasn’t for Gaither SG would be dead…I will say that much on the subject. I do think NQC and Gaither need to make up if not for helping with the crowd on Saturday maybe for the good of the industry. However I do believe almost everyone I have talked too lately have been less than complimentary on these latest “homecoming” concerts. Also as far as compensation…A lot of these groups make/made a killing in product sales and bookings. And whoever told several of the posters they were getting flats plus expenses from Gaither are LIEING through their teeth. Some of the faithful were getting something but not much.

    The biggest blunder I believe is allowing “part time groups or church groups” ANY airtime (Radio) or advertising in professional publications (Singing News, if that’s what you want to call it). I think this industry needs regulation more than anything. We allow every Tom, Dick and Harry the ability to promote junk because they have the money to do so…If you’re good then you’re in…If you’re not good you’re not in. I know this is a pipe-dream…BUT. We also need to separate genre’s (Bluegrass, country, etc) from SG.

    Also for the promoters…Start promoting in Churches or venues that will give you the building for free or at a minimal price, get a street team (volunteers) to promote it (also free), and quit wasting your time on who you think will draw or who has a chart song. Actually research your area and local stations and see who people really like not who you like. Also ask for a rider (In writing) that doesn’t allow the group to be in your area a couple of months before and after your event. As an artist I do mainly churches and to be perfectly honest with you Christians (Churches) are the cheapest people alive when it comes to supporting ministry (Music and youth) but if we want to make it we need the $300.00 dates. Not much by itself but 3 or 4 will make the budget work.

    As far as tracks go…I agree, but most of us can’t afford a band. The problem is most groups in SG can’t sing…They need stacks, loud music and choreography to cover bad singing. I would love to hear these guys do one program with just a piano and their “singing britches”. Excuse me for the slang…My true roots cometh to the forefront. It would be extremely entertaining I can assure you.

    I’ll shut up now and get blasted…I’ve been off a while.

  36. dkd wrote:

    Rod: $300.00 dates? Are you kidding? Who can afford to travel (not even a soloist) for $300.00. Maybe back in 1975 but not in 2007.

  37. Leebob wrote:

    YIKES!!!!!!! Talk about your extremes! Even Ransomed, as the lowly part timer, as you refer to us averages better than $300 date on basically love offerings. When I discuss the problems of agents(#32), I am not talking about stripping national groups of their income but allowing the promoter to know his neck of the woods. I know promoters abused groups in the past but now we have done a full turn and the agents are seriously over rating their group’s draw.

    Rod - one of the reasons some groups are part time is because of the financial stress that it lays on their families and the precarious balance of leaving their jobs and going it full time. In that aspect we are quite literally talking about a missionary endeavour and I hope none of us in the SG music field are ready to lay claim to THAT. Are we?

    Yes there are some horrendous part time groups, and national groups I might add, but there are also some very high quality ministries out there without the sticker shock of an agent.

    GHEESH!!!! You refer to us as a 2nd class citizen in SG. Trust me, if it weren’t for the “part time” groups in the Dallas area getting into some of the medium size churches, much of what is SG would not be heard or recognized. Ransomed has not bought our way into a contract or full time “ministry” as others are presently doing. What we have now has simply been built quite literally from the ground up. I have no disdain for national groups and quite honestly learn many things by going and observing, even how they interact or not with the crowd. We are one of the few part time groups who actually show up to national group events and don’t have jealousy issues for what they have attained.

    Many groups, national I might add, have been formed simply from the standpoint of “we sound good and should be able to make money doing this”, we have a name and should accomplish some things in this, or perhaps we have connections because of a prominent person. I suppose that’s okay but I wonder how many “national” groups have built from the ground up. It would probably only be those that have the long tradition or family groups that simply started around a piano or for reasons other than money.
    They simply were blessed for trying to honor the Lord.

  38. Rhonda Berry wrote:

    Rod,
    I would strongly suggest you listen to ALL the groups you are bad-mouthing as part-timers or “church groups” before you degrade us like that. Those of us who are “part-time” know even more than you how good and bad the groups can be.

    Start with our group. Especially the acapellas (in answer to your comment about going at it with a piano and vocals only). I was in the studio when our guys recorded “To The Lamb Upon The Throne”. One take, bud, and it was done.

    While there are many “church groups” who have stars in their eyes, not all do.
    The problem isn’t with these groups. The problem is with the industry people who take the money of those who aren’t that good and help them buy their way in. That needs to be stopped. That is what is dragging down SG, not just the groups themselves. You don’t want to know how many groups I personally have seen come in from country and pay their way to national status in SG. They couldn’t do that in country, but they were able to do it in SG. Then there are the groups who form just to become national groups. Our group has turned down more offers to go full-time than several of those groups have had bookings.

    Why did we turn it down? Because several offers were just what you complain about-bogus; and they wanted us to buy our “success”. While we know there will be some financial output, we just don’t think we should have to pay the whole cost.

    So while alot of what you said makes sense on its face, you disqualified yourself in the responsibilility department when you blanketed all of us who are part-time. Just because the industry people care more about making money than the quality of the music they are putting out, doesn’t mean we all think it is okay.

    Also, where did you start? Are you one who started with a part-time or “church” group, or are you one who paid your way in or knew someone. Everyone starts somewhere and that means you did too. No one starts on top.

    I know what I think may sound idealistic, but where would we be without idealism? Still part of the British Empire probably.

  39. Rod wrote:

    Whew…Some of you guys need to read and re-read my post…First of all I am NOT bad mouthing PT groups…Here is what I wrote since we need to to clarify to the class.
    We allow every Tom, Dick and Harry the ability to promote junk because they have the money to do so…If you’re good then you’re in…If you’re not good you’re not in.

    I was a part-timer for several years before I joined a fulltime group so I do know there are “good” groups out there but I think the point has been made by Rhonda even as idealistic as she is. :)

    Also I can name 5 top SG groups that have worked for $300.00-500.00 in the past year.

    Lee Bob to a degree we are missionaries…I am not a top name artist but I do know my way around the business and I make more money than 75% of any one artist out there…No bragging intended just blessed…But I work 130 dates a year and I am humping it every day on the phone and then traveling every week. I can tell you it is no picnic trying to be a one man operation. I work hard for every penny…However if I could I would do it for free…God changed me (drugs and prison) and now I get to do what I love to do and support my wife and five children doing it. Cool Huh?

  40. Rhonda Berry wrote:

    Rod,
    You wrote “The biggest blunder I believe is allowing “part time groups or church groups” ANY airtime (Radio) or advertising in professional publications (Singing News, if that’s what you want to call it). ”

    So I think LeeBob and I are right in that you put down part-time groups. The words may not be there, but the attitude is. Your quoted comment suggests that anyone who is part-time (good or not) is not worthy of sharing the same radio air space as you. That’s the way I took it, and I wrote my comments before I knew anyone else’s. So obviously I am not alone in interpreting your comments that way.

    My idealism works to our advantage. We hold ourselves to a higher standard. That is where the line should be drawn. Instead of getting rid of all part-time group exposure it is again the responsibility of the industry (radio and otherwise) to be responsible. Exposure for those who are up to the higher standard and none for those who aren’t. Your implication that no part-time group can meet that higher standard comes thru loud and clear.

    Another thing that we at our low levels hear is the lack of consistency in personnel with some of their favorite national artists. At our level groups that have formed for the correct reasons and allow the Lord to work and take them where they need to go stay consistent with their personnel. I don’t have a problem with people changing teams (I have been a baseball fan for 33 years and have gotten used to the free agent thing) but I do think that constant change like we have seen for several years is hurting the industry as well.

    Another thing to take into account is the area you work the most in. Part-time groups work certain areas most of the time. If they care about what they are doing then they know the idiosyncrasies of their neighborhood. Because they all work full-time jobs AND they minister on the weekends they are limited in the exposure they get outside of that area even when they are good. So if we had the standard you are advocating in that they shouldn’t get ANY radio time, then SG would definitely die because there would be no way for them to get exposure outside of their area to give the better ones the opportunity to go full-time, that is unless they buy their way in, of course.

    The Dallas market for SG is unique. Reference the AGM. Unless you court and expose people in the small and medium churches, you lose the audience. And where does that put the national (full-time) groups?

    My last point? When I wrote a blog last year about the need for quality and standards in SG, I was asked who would be the judge of what is and isn’t quality. And that is true. There are groups I do not like the sound of, but are they bad. Not to someone else. Yes, there are basic standards, but until the industry people hold people to them, they won’t be applied.

    I think I will stick to my idealism. Right now the industry is showing more pragmatism (i.e. money versus quality) than idealism, and look where it has gotten us.

  41. Rhonda Berry wrote:

    Rod,
    Forgot to ask. Who are the 5 top groups you mentioned? Was that on pass thru dates or was that their regular flat? Your top 5 may not be my top 5. Give me a list and let’s see if it compares.

  42. Leebob wrote:

    One of the things about Blogging is that intent cannot be conveyed in writing the way it can be in hearing.

    Rod - I think we are on the same wave length…just not quite connecting. Your first blog (#35) did come across to me as though you felt part-time or church groups were 2nd citizens in the SG world.

    Even from your own admission, you started as a part time ministry. How much sooner could you have moved to a full time ministry had your material been played on the air. From what I have heard around here, some of those that get air time actually get less bookings (boy how I hate that word) because of it.

    I digress back to the original blog (blunders). Apparently there are alot of blunders that have been made through the years, some by mistake and some quite deliberately. I agree that some in the church have been overly conservative when it comes to their giving. What I have learned through my growing up process (still going on btw), is that when one place gives you a less than glamorous offering, somewhere along the line God makes it up. Ransomed and a couple of other groups have begun making a practice of tithing back to the church where we just sang. Chris usually writes the check before we leave. This says two things about Ransomed and the churches interaction with us: 1) The pastor or music minister is looking us in the eye when we hand him our tithe check, regardless of the sum. If it is $1.67 per person as is the average, he can better lead his congregation in the matter of taking care of a group and 2) we care about our ministry back to the church and being an example to his flock about financial responsibility to the Lord.

    Again I say, when SG “ministries” stray from their roots they run into issues and we continue to have a reason for AVERYFINELINE (not a knock on this sight because I love this stuff) being in existence. It’s like a doctor telling you you have cancer and then only giving you something for the pain. You still have cancer but you feel a little better. Once we get the basics taken care of, many of these other minute points begin to take care of themselves.

    note to AVERYFINELINE: I would like to see what would happen to a thread about getting back to the basics. Maybe this has already been done and I missed it because I am relatively new around here. Thanks for your ideas that you present to us.

  43. Rod wrote:

    Again…I also said…Now watch closely this is the last time I am writing this…If you’re good then you’re in…If you’re not good you’re not in. I also believe it is up to the industry to police standards…You have gotten your little “part time” feelings hurt and you can’t get the point…I am putting down bad partime groups.

  44. Rod wrote:

    Part time

  45. Rod wrote:

    Lee Bob

    That’s my point when I say if you’re good you’re in…The industry needs to take that particular group and do everything necessary to make them successful. It’s kind of like this Christian music Presenters deal…They research and interview the artists and many referrals (So I’ve heard) and they choose to accept or not to accept. Only in this case money wouldn’t be changing hands. If you have excelled musically you will be rewarded. It’s like in the “good ole” days when you had that special something you would get signed. TALENT RULED…We need that to a certain degree again…Maybe I’m the one with too much idealism this time around. But one could hope.

  46. Rod wrote:

    oh yes Rhonda…I forgot to give you the list

    Kingsmen
    Old time gospel hour quartet
    perrys
    Dixie melody boys
    Triumphant quartet

    I have several more but these are probably the tops…The whisnants have had many top five songs so you can count them or discount them as a top group.

  47. Leebob wrote:

    Rod - I would LOVE for that to be the case again but….

    With promoters trying to play off of “sangers” pipe dreams the best we can hope for is probably a two way street, which is all I ask. I used to think that we were doing pretty good on our schedule with all of us working full time but then I heard some of the other groups and saw their schedule. Amazing what is considered acceptable by some churches. I tell you it is feast or famine. Perhaps we have it all wrong and that is the biggest blunder. The poor kids are growing up thinking “this is all you got?”

  48. Rhonda Berry wrote:

    Rod,
    I am perfectly aware that you were referring to the “bad” parttime groups, but your original post said ALL. By your obviously sarcastic comment about getting my “parttime feelings hurt” you again identified yourself with an attitude that those who are not able to make their living full time in SG are less than worthy.
    Let me reassure you, I did not get my feelings hurt and am not surprised at your response. Until the Lord calls us to full-time we are content to be part time. Part of what we do is try to bring professional, quality sound to the table in the context of the area we all live in. When we just attend an event (not to sing but to be blessed) people know who we are, they let us know that they appreciate what we are trying to do, and they know that if we are there we believe the groups that are there are quality ministries themselves. No one in our group has been silent on this issue.

    My contention with you comes from your lumping everyone together. It is just as disdainful for those of us who are part time either by choice or necessity, but also care that we present the best to the listeners and especially to the Lord, to be lumped in with those who are not at that level. But you are the one who said it about ALL part-timers, not me.

    Your list is a good one, and I won’t disagree with the quality you have presented in it. We have talked to, seen, or worked with all these groups except the Kingsmen. The only problem is that the $500 plus a love offering days stopped a long time ago. How do I know? We have checked with this same list (except the Kingsmen).

    Now here is my list of the top 5. Let me know if any of them would do a pass thru for $300 to $500.
    Gold City
    Booth Brothers
    GVB
    EHSSQ
    Hoppers

    Let me add a couple more
    Legacy Five
    Greater Vision

    So while you picked some very good groups, my list of top groups is different. As you can see it is a taste thing.

    Lee Bob is right. I, too, wish that talent was what was rewarded, but it isn’t and won’t be because no one can agree on what is the top 5, or 10, or 100, even.

    The last thing. I am thrilled that the Lord delivered you and has given you the ability to work full-time for Him with your talents. We all have that in common, don’t we? Man only says which sins are big or small, in God’s eyes they are all the same. In actuality you and I are on the same page on this issue, I just choose to judge groups on their merits, not on their status.

  49. Rod wrote:

    Rhonda…I am not judging based on status…You misunderstand me again…And my attitude doesn’t have anything to do with me being superior as a full time artist. That again is the opinion of someone that has their feelings hurt and can’t understand a post that I have tried to clear up over and over…Lee Bob finally understand and it only too him once. Secondly our tastes are not different. The groups I listed consider themselves (As do most in the industry) a top group…Also your list includes the only groups (maybe a few more) who can afford not to work a go through date for $500.00. That explains a lot about this industry when there is only a handful that will not work for that. That’s one of the problems also in this industry. If a church or promoter can get a quality top or “part time group” for $500 then why pay L5 or Gold city $3500. Let me then tell you what else is gone…The days when Gold City and the Cathedrals were getting $7,500 to 12,000 per concert. Tell me how many groups are getting that every night or even One night. Maybe GVB and few more…Try booking four of those a week and I’ll bet GVB couldn’t even get it. This industry simply can’t handle it nor do they have the fans to support it. It’ll be worse in another 10 to 15 years when there are even fewer fans. I said 10 years ago that SG would be basically dead in 20-25 years and I still believe that.

    Also let me tell you something else I believe 100%…God doesn’t “CALL” men and women to leave their wife/husband and children to be on the road 250 plus days away from them. That is the biggest lie and cop out in the music/evangelism industry and it has destroyed thousands of families…Obvious by the amount of adultery going on in SG. God instituted the Family before he did the church. By the way most fulltime groups laugh at “Part time groups who say “God hasn’t called us yet” or we are “working’ on going Full time. So I wouldn’t say that around your favorite groups if I were you…You’ll be the brunt of the next joke on the bus.

  50. Rod wrote:

    Sorry for my grammar and spelling…geez

  51. Rhonda Berry wrote:

    Rod,
    I think LeeBob said it best when he said that it is hard to tell the tone when writing. I base my comments on what you wrote. This whole thing has only very thinly stayed on track on avery’s original post of blunders. You wrote that the biggest blunder was letting ALL part timers have radio airplay and advertising. Your original post didn’t distinguish between good and bad. Your later posts did. So I did “get it” by what you originally said. Another post you stated that I got my “part time feelings hurt” Again, I can only base my opinions on what you wrote. Sorry if you think that my interpreting your exact words means I don’t get it.

    The reason there are some very quality groups staying part-time is because they know their families come first. We are one of them at this point.

    As far as being the butt of a full-time groups jokes, I really am not concerned about that either. I will not apologize for having a full commitment to doing what is expected of me in my capacity with our group by God, even if that means being the butt of someone’s jokes. And to be honest, your statement is strange to me because in discussing the next step with the full-timers they are the ones who gave us the advice about being sure that it is what God wants us to do. And all who want to go full time do have to work toward it. Experience helps before you make that leap. Nor do I think that the desire to be full-time should override common sense in making the decisions.

    My list was the list of not only the ones I personally enjoy, but also the ones that would be the draw in this area. We had the Perrys a few years ago for one of the $500 pass thru dates. We only had 25 people, but when we had the Poet Voices 3 years in a row (during their quartet days) we had about 300 each time. Does that mean the Perrys are bad? Absolutely not. It was just a matter of what the market wanted.

    As for SG being dead in another 15 to 20 years, I am sorry you feel that way. I will let my teenage and young adult sons (oh and the church that had to change the date they booked us because the youth department didn’t want to miss us) that they are riding a dead horse. I personally won’t give up so easily. Where your statement could be correct is if no one is fighting to make the changes and just wants to let the bad practices continue. It may not make me popular, and it may make me the butt of jokes, but I will keep ringing the bell when possible.

  52. Leebob wrote:

    Rod - That is an interesting statement about SG being dead in about 10 - 15 years. In a sense you are right.

    I believe that SG, AS WE KNOW IT, will be a totally different market. I personally feel that more and more “nationally” known groups, because of fuel, family, and economic considerations, will be more of a regional. There will be numerous nationally known groups but only a hand full that will travel to the extent they do now. The southeast will be base for most groups, a handful will be based in the southwest sector of the country and very sparse beyond that. It is simply a matter of adjusting to what our genre will support.

    As far as SG being dead I seriously doubt that it will come to that. Watching the growth of country music should dispell that notion. Even in my own mid to large congregation, there are sworn CCM & P&W people who will make one of our events because they know the harmonies are going to be tight, they will be in for, dare I say, entetaining evening, and they will be lead in a tremendous worship experience. I still maintain that if our hearts are in the right place, people see a genuine love of Christ on our face they will continue to support our ministry. Even if we simply go regional, there are enough churches in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma to keep any quality group busy for several years without having to return to the same place twice.

  53. Howland Sharpe wrote:

    Man, I miss the Thrasher Brothers….

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