Lari Goss

The master has signed an “exclusive agreement” with River Bend, the studio run by the former Goodman Johnny Minick and his son, Aaron. Now, “exclusive agreement” is a loaded and often deeply misleading term as it gets used in a lot of music-industry press releases (esp small-time southern gospel, where “X has signed an exclusive agreement with Y” often means that Y has agreed to ingratiate himself to the more famous X and then take credit in his own publicity for any success X reaps from Y’s work). But all this notwithstanding, my first reaction to this Goss thing is, What thuh …?

Seriously. Goss is probably the most talented orchestrator and arranger in the styles of Christian music he works in, and it’s hard to see what he gets out of an “exclusive arrangement” with a second or third tier production company like River Bend (if you want evidence, pick up Allison Durham Speer’s latest album, This Old House … it’s mostly a River Bend production … listen to the risibly shoddy keyboard work on “Had it Not Been,” which tries to be acoustical but only ends up sounding amateurish. Note, too, that I said mostly: I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the best track on the project – “I’m Bound for that City” – is also the one track for which Speer farmed out arrangement and orchestration to Wayne Haun, which probably means she couldn’t afford to have Haun do the whole thing).

It could be that River Bend is going to function as more of a management team in the arrangement: Goss will still work for all the people he used to work for but they’ll be booked through the Minicks. But even this doesn’t make a lot of sense for Goss, because the Minicks are not going to bring him any work he couldn’t otherwise get on his own. I’ve heard River Bend is really trying hard to get into film music, and maybe Goss wants to get into film scoring through them, but if this is the case (and I don’t know for sure that it is), Goss would seem better positioned to go about this by himself than with River Bend, which would appear to have an outside chance in this line at best. So yeah. What thuh …?

Update: Turns out there’s an “exclusive” problem with the original press release. Namely, the agreement with Goss is not exclusive at all. It’s just an agreement for Goss to do some contract and piece work for River Bend. A corrected version is here at sogospelnews. Seems a lot less dramatic, huh? I mean, Goss agrees to work on projects all the time and that’s really all that happened here. But at least we got a teachable moment out of all this - namely, the first lesson of PR: ring the bell at high noon and then when it turns out to be wrong, make a half-hearted attempt to correct the mistake late at night for not being able to unring it (notice the SN release, by far the most widely read, is still all about “exclusivity”).

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  1. KB wrote:

    I, too, was surprised to see this. I liken it somewhat to Ronny Hinson signing with Daywind’s music publishing (he has such a large and successful catalog already, and could easily make money by name alone), but perhaps it’ll be a guaranteed paycheck. Granted, both Hinson and Goss could probably live off of royalties alone, but we all know how reliable SG is with that.

    I guess as long as you’re under contract, you would be, in theory, getting a salary, which is something that independant producers/writers/arrangers don’t always get.

  2. arnold wrote:

    Infatuation . . . . . I let it go on the Janet Paschal rant, but here we go again! Does Mr. Haun pay you by the post?

  3. ITF wrote:

    Avery, you just can’t win. When you’re not being raked over the coals for being critical, you get hammered for liking somebody!

  4. KB wrote:

    Give me Goss over Haun any day!!!

  5. Videoguy wrote:

    I can’t say what to make of the Speer project, but to pass judgement (”second or third tier”) after one project is rather myopic.

    If you’d like a better picture of a Minick-Goss effort, a trip to is in order. Non-SG warning.

  6. CVH wrote:

    Personally, I blame it all on global warming. Goss, the Florida Boys, Roy Webb…flip off the Kyoto accord and look what happens.

    I’m one who has appreciated and enjoyed Goss’ work since I first heard it in the early 70’s. When he and his brothers were doing custom albums out of Atlanta their work made a lot of regional groups sound better than they would have otherwise. When Benson began increasing budgets to allow for orchestration on some of their projects, Goss’ work helped shape and define that era’s sound. Whereas Rick Powell (another great arranger although in a totally different style) had done a lot of good work and Ronn Huff (again, different approach/style) was just beginning to make his mark in Nashville, Goss began to create colors and textures in orchestral sound that enhanced both the given group’s vocals and the overall production values of the projects.

    Can he go over the top at times? Sure. And if you listen to a lot of his charts back to back there are obvious (and easy-to-anticipate) progressions, chord and key changes and a tendency to go a little heavy with similar instrumentation. But that can also work in a group’s favor: to my surprise, when I first heard Signature Sound’s cut of “This Could Be The Dawning” a few years ago, it was very close to a chart he did of the same tune for The McDuff Brothers back in 1971. Still, I’ve never found his work lacking the ability to bring something unique to almost any project and indeed his arrangements on some tunes have been the key musical element that helped define them as classics.

    I don’t know Wayne Haun or much about his background. But whether he’s a prodigy of Goss or not, his work, though similar in style, shows a bit of lightness in the texturing and a somewhat more restrained approach, almost under-orchestrating a piece rather than pushing it to the max. There are other arrangers who do good work in SG but honestly I think there’s a distinct and definable difference between Haun’s and Goss’ work and most everyone else’s.

    That’s why I too find the Minick arrangement surprising. I don’t see any apparent advantages for Goss but as you say, it could be a matter of semantics; what exactly does “exclusive agreement” mean in this context?

  7. wayne haun wrote:

    OK…going against all “advice” from friendly industry leaders, I have decided to post on a blog. I would post this on my own blog, but this one seems to have a much broader audience. Contrary to popular/”arnold” belief, I do not pay for posts or praises. And for the doubters out there, you can check the archives and find that I’m about 50/50 on this website for praise vs. criticism. In all honesty (no offense), I don’t really read blogs. However, I am constantly bombarded with e-mails from artists, family and friends either copying or linking the posts to this particular website. So have no fear averyfineline, people do read you. So now I’ll get to the point of my post. I’ll agree with KB. Give me Goss over Haun any day. It’s no secret that I am Lari’s biggest fan. Even my best friends tire of me constantly drooling over his work. When I first moved to Nashville, he was the one to “discover” me, if that’s even the right word. He was the first person to take my calls, listen to my work and take a meeting. And on top of that, he has been a constant encourager and big cheerleader for me the past 11 years. As far as the signing goes, I know that Lari has always had good repersentation, something he has begged me to do for years…. and every time I am burned, his words of advice ring louder and louder. This is probably just the first time he’s received press for such. I’ve only had the privilege of working with the Minicks a few times. I can tell you this much. 1. They’re good business people. 2. Aaron Minick is a force to be reckoned with! I first heard him sing with one our artists, Lillie Knauls. He sang a duet with her for the new recording (of course I had to get a product plug in) and what I heard from him was undeniably brilliant. I know he’s curretnly working on a new recording and I have made him promise me an advanced copy. So now that I’m at the end of my post, I’m wondering if I even have a point….maybe not. But here’s a shot in the dark
    1. Yes, Lari is amazing.
    2. When Aaron Minick becomes a household name, you heard it first here!

  8. Trent wrote:

    On the surface, it looks like a poor move for Goss. I’ve got a feeling we don’t know enough of the details.

    I believe Goss is a member of River of Life Church now, and his association with the Minicks through the church probably influenced his decision.

  9. RF wrote:

    Avery praises Goss and gives Haun kudos and still catches stuff. Amazing.

    Pretty impressive that Wayne responds (and for the record, I love both arrangers, but I’ll take Wayne any day).

    The deal? I haven’t a clue, but like Avery, it does seem like it wasn’t needed, but what do I know?

  10. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    The word “exclusive” in this case was an error.

    Lari Goss has not signed on to work for River Bend exclusively. Some sites are still displaying the original press release, but an corrected version has since been issued.

  11. KB wrote:

    Darn, there goes all the fun in this post!!!

    Wayne, no hard feelings…???

  12. Montana Man wrote:

    Is Lari more than a member at Minick’s church (see No. 8)? I thought there was a recent news release that Goss had become the minister of music, or some such title, at Minick’s church.

  13. Alan wrote:

    I wonder if this is a first…? I think it might be, in my experience with averyfineline. To see a post from Wayne Haun was startling! But then I read it, and was left smiling. What a classy posting, Wayne. No surprise, really, but it was both amusing and touching. I agree with much of what CVH wrote; Wayne’s arranging does usually have a lighter touch than Mr. Goss’s often do; perhaps even understated at times, and more versatile. His work with Janet Paschal illustrates that, and many others. But, inevitable comparisons and contrasts aside, they share some things in common that I feel need to be pointed out: both have turned good songs into great songs, and both have invested their talents and training into Gospel music. And for these, I say thank you to both of them. Every piece of music that they touch has come out improved.

  14. Eric Melton wrote:

    Let me clarify where everyone has questions. Indeed Lari Goss is the minister of music and director of the choir at River Of Life Assembly of God. His relationship with Pastor Johnny Minick goes beyond just the recording business. You see you have 2 men here that their ministry goes far past anything they do for Gospel Music. River of Life is a growing church that is will do things for the kingdom of God even if Brother Minick is not involved in Gospel Music any longer.

    As a fellow minister with the Assemblies of God our church no longer has Sunday night services. I attend Northridge Church in White House, TN which is one of the fastest growing Assembly of God churches in the nation. But on Sunday evenings I sometimes visit at River of Life. The worship is powerful and Lari Goss is doing an excellent job with the choir. Brother Minick is a good friend and I will defend him and whatever he is involved in. He made a God appointed decision when he brought Lari Goss to his staff of ministers.

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