“At our table out in front …”

1. As much I try to talk myself out of it (and despite having been struck by the sincerity of this* when I first read it), I can’t help thinking this is a big part of what’s wrong with gospel music. Sixteen albums from one producer in under 12 weeks! The mind reels, the ears bleed.

*Note: This link takes you to a post of mine instead of the author’s original because the original post appears to have been taken down.

2. “JerUSAlem” hats, peddled by DayWind. I guess “Jesus Gits R Dun” wouldn’t fit.

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  1. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    On a whim, I typed Jesus Got ‘Er Done into Google.

    I swear, you can’t beat those T-shirt companies to a pun:

  2. Marty Funderburk wrote:

    Sixteen albums is not as scary as it sounds. I’m actually only producing the vocals. Most of these projects are singers adding their voices to existing soundtracks and we can typically do that in a day or two - if they are well prepared. Of course, we will spend as much time as the artists desire. Some groups will require 3 or 4 days to record vocals. My goal is to give each singer the very best product possible because the gospel of Jesus Christ deserves nothing less.

  3. Edie wrote:

    No offense, Mr. Funderburk, I think you’re a great writer and although I’m not familiar with your producing I’m sure you’re good at that as well. BUT, if you want to talk about what the gospel of Jesus Christ DESERVES, I think it deserves certainly a lot better than recording vocals to someone else’s pre-recorded tracks, especially in light of your previous post about the quality or lack thereof of some of your clients.

    I’m not saying you should not do what you do, I’m just saying don’t blame it on what the gospel DESERVES.

    Say it pays the mortgage or puts food on the table or gas in the car. But come on, this is what the gospel DESERVES??

  4. Marty Funderburk wrote:

    Edie - the scripture tells us that we should do all that we do in this life “as unto the Lord.” Be that digging ditches, changing diapers or mowing lawns. I’m not sure how you’ve come to the conclusion that an “existing soundtrack” is somehow less that what the gospel deserves…. If everyone who wanted to record an album had to hire musicians and create original tracks, most people could not afford to do so. Furthermore, we don’t chose who records with us. Singers seek us out and ask us to help them make the best recording possible for a fair price. The gospel of Jesus Christ deserves our all in every encounter of life. I give each client, regardless of their talent level, my best because I not only represent a company - I represent Christ. No matter what we do to make “a living” - we cannot compartmentalize that as being somehow separate from our faith. God has placed people with hopes and dreams in my path. My job is to help them refine their gift and capture it for posterity. I cannot judge whether or not they should attempt a career in gospel music, but I can help them put it on tape.

  5. cdguy wrote:

    I’m not sure giving your best to the Lord necessarily going into debt to record new tracks. A lot of folks feel called or compelled to record, even if only for their smaller-scale ministry, but can’t afford the extra thousands of dollars required to do fresh tracks. That doesn’t make it any less than their best. Nor anything less than the gospel deserves.

    I think the Lord is capable of honoring His Word (and a singer’s efforts) no matter how many other folks have sung/recorded with the same track. To follow your logic, no one should sing with a store-bought track on Sunday morning, either? Puh-lease!!!!

  6. Mary wrote:

    When I recorded a solo album a few years ago, I brought in the former KP&NR band for 5 songs, and for other 7 songs I used pre made tracks.
    Overall the band was cheaper. Looking back, I wish I used them for all the songs.

  7. Jim Markel wrote:

    Back in the day, I was part of a gospel quartet. We recorded three albums, all with studio musicians and our own pianist. I always believed that whatever people heard at our concerts was closely replicated on our records and tapes. I’m not sure how God’s spirit leads or influences every group or soloist to express themselves during a performance; however, I would never want to limit my on-stage expression to a packaged or canned music track, with which I personally had no influence or imput. One reason that many traditionalists feel that the spirit is lacking in our modern worship services is the reliance on background tapes and pre-packaged “worship” music. The greatness of God is that he can use anything to his glory. The foolishness of man is that we so often ask him to use our poor efforts, even when we could do much better. Personally, I would prefer to see some artists and groups set aside their need to produce revenue or satisfy their egos and instead work on projects that present our best efforts for God’s glory.

  8. QN wrote:

    Right on!
    Live is best, and a groups’ pianist/bassist/musicians should be on the CD since the audiences want what they saw live on the project.

  9. Marty Funderburk wrote:

    Following Jim Markel’s line of reasoning… would it not be safe to say that, for God to be truly glorified, churches should bake their own communion bread and stomp their own grapes rather than buying them “canned” and having no “influence or input” in their production. And what about those pre-printed church bulletins? Should Mr. Markel not have used only friends and relatives to play on his album? Can God bless a recording that may include music performed by an unbelieving, or backslidden studio musician? Did he run background checks on the engineer who mixed the project? And if I may go even further - to insure that he maintained “influence and input” can we assume that he wrote all of his own songs? I agree with Jim that “the spirit is lacking” in so many performances, but I would look for the answer in the heart of the singer, not in the tray of the CD player.

  10. jb wrote:

    Way to go Marty!!!! If it wasn’t for the “canned” music, my family wouldn’t be singing. Some people think and act like the only ones worthy to sing, are the ones with the live band. A lot of us don’t have the means to hire a live band, but, believe me, God is and does move in the concerts we sing at with the canned music. Marty, what recipe could we use for the communion bread….

  11. Jim Markel wrote:

    I certainly never meant to deride anyone’s efforts. God knows their hearts and I don’t! However, how many times have you seen a group member gesture in a certain fashion, bow their head on a certain note or grab a mike stand at a certain crescendo because the group or person they’re trying to emulate did it the same way! Folks…let’s be very clear and honest…we need to be in the business of glorifying God and not in the ego stroking, dollar making, peer impressing, “get me into bigger venues” business of southern gospel music! What we really need are a few less pretty people on the Homecomming tours and a few more people ready to go into the highways and byways to let even people who can’t afford a $50.00 seat know that God loves them!

  12. clyde wrote:

    I am laughing too hard to type! Background check on the engineer. That is the funniest thing I have ever heard! Everybody knows that the gospel studio musicians buy their drugs from the engineer!

  13. GD wrote:

    I must say that this is some good stuff that I’ve been reading. Our family group has sung in churches where tracks are not allowed because “we don’t know the folks who played on the tracks. They might not be Christains.” Give me a break. How does that same pastor know if the suit he is wearing was sewn by a Godly tailor??? Also, we’ve recorded several times with Otis Forrest and some of the finest musicians Nashville has to offer. I don’t know those guys, and to be honest, don’t really care. My thoughts on that is, if the lyrics have the spiritual value that they should have, I believe God can use those lyrics as a witness to the players as they listen while laying down the tracks. What’s that scripture about the Word not returning “void?”

  14. Jim2 wrote:

    Crazy as it may seem, many producers would rather use their “own” studio musicians than the band of the group that is recording - it’s a smooth team that is used to working together and saves on that all-valuable studio time. If you’ve got your own recording studio and are not paying by the hour - that’s a different thing.

  15. Marty Funderburk wrote:

    Jim, I agree. We need uglier Homecoming artists. But seriously, we as Christians, not just Southern Gospel musicians, chase fads and presume that the blessing of God is found in methodology rather that in mere obedience. I remember when Jack Hyles started a bus ministry back in the 50’s or 60’s - suddenly every pastor from Tuscon to Tupelo HAD to have a bus ministry or God would not bless their church. The same thing happened with church schools, home cell groups, praise teams, “seeker-friendly” services, etc. AND etc. We love a bandwagon. If God instructs one group of believers to carry out a specific ministry and it results in measurable success, everyone scrambles to duplicate that phenomenon in their little church - while God may or may not be directing them to do that exact thing. It’s no different with singers. There are good, Godly singers out there who do it for all the right reasons, and there are those who seek a platform to meet some personal, emotional need. Many of the latter don’t even recognize their hunger for the limelight. Dillusion abounds. But their lives prove they love music more than they love The Master. That’s unfortunate, but to be expected when we elevate people. But sadder still is the fact that so few pastors and churches see it for what it is. Maybe it’s denial. Maybe it’s ignorance. Or perhaps it’s a telling commentary on the spiritual temparature of the average church in America that we fascilitate such careers. So I guess we get what we tolerate and ultimately deserve.

  16. Howland Sharpe wrote:

    When custom tracks are recorded by almost any group, even big name groups, the whole group has little input into the arrangement, tempo, style, etc. Usually it’s one or two individuals that make these decisions. Often the whole group isn’t even there at the tracking session, or if they are, they are standing around the control room saying “Oh, that’s great” when the engineer is still setting levels and hasn’t even started recording yet. Most of the group members spend the majority of their time during the tracking session on their cellphones or computers. Anyone who has been there knows what I’m talking about.

    Let’s not forget that when that group finally records their vocals, what are they singing to? “Canned” soundtracks. But so what? In the end, God can us this for His glory. Keep it up, Marty!!

  17. wackythinker wrote:

    This reminds me of the guy who said he only listens to “live” praise & worship cd’s, because they are “annointed”. What? The Lord’s not going to annoint you in the studio? Besides, most of what you hear on a “live” recording (other than the audience) was overdubbed or sweetened in the studio. People, people, people. ;-)

  18. QN wrote:

    Has anyone other than me caught the ironoy of a “Give It Away” concert tour that is tickited????????
    Seriously, I have not yet seen the Homecomming artists do a concert togehter for someone that is housebound and dying of cancer.
    But, to give them the benefit of my doubt, God may not have called them to fufill that aspect of the music ministry. Yet it would be SO nice for them to do something in the realm of a free or $10-$15 per ticket event.

  19. Videoguy wrote:

    Actually, I think the Homecoming idea has its origins with the Rusty Goodman benefit to help with his medical expenses.

  20. jp wrote:

    And there’s this guy that goes to my church that’s a contractor and I haven’t seen him give a house to any needy people either.

  21. Tony Watson wrote:

    I’m not defending the Homecoming Tour, but here’s an example of what you were talking about, QN.

    In Temple, TX about 3 years ago, a group of senior adults from Memorial Baptist Church in Temple, TX was headed to Fort Worth for a Homecoming Concert on a leased bus. It was a wet day and a hydroplaning SUV caused the bus to have to swerve and it ended up on its side and several people lost their lives.

    Bill Gaither mentioned it that night and said he felt responsible because they were coming to see his program. A couple of months later, the Vocal Band, Jeff & Sheri and a couple of others came and did a special concert just for that church - without any extra publicity - free of charge. In fact, Jeff and Sheri donated their check from Bill that week to the church.

  22. Tom K. wrote:

    Not on a hat but I heard a local christian country, previously country, artist Leon Everette promoting a new single “Jesus Gits Her Dun” on a local station in Augusta, Georgia earlier this week.

  23. Blueboy wrote:

    QN wrote,”I have not yet seen the Homecomming artists do a concert togehter for someone that is housebound and dying of cancer.”

    Why do people always expect SG artist to do benefits or think that its an easy thing to pull off, and that it will generate lots of bucks? SG events are usually money losers, not makers. Most promoters I know usually end up in the red after expenses. Groups don’t make that much either when the pay is divided several ways.

    My question would be when is the last time you and five or six of your closest friends decided to bear the expense of driving several hundred miles from home, going to work, and then donating the day’s pay for some worthy cause.

    I don’t mean to sound jaded or to get on anybody’s case, but it would probably be easier and generate more money if a promoter and/or a group would just write a personal check for the cause and save all the headache.

    In my experiance, benefit singings are usually best handle by local churchs that can put together local talent and invite local people (other churches) to come and contribute.

  24. jp wrote:

    Thank you, Blueboy. you made my point in a much less sarcastic manner.

  25. QN wrote:

    Tony Watson,I stand corrected. Thank you. That is the kind of thing I meant.

    Videoguy’s right about the Homecomming’s start.

    Yes Blueboy, I’ve been to plenty of benefits and know all about that. If the 20 groups and soloists who drove to sing 4 or 5 songs made a check for the one in need in the amount of their gas and other expenses, then it would actually be a benefit. Once a group gets to a benefit, most of their funds are used up and they can’t contribute to the cause.
    As I said before, that may not be their area of work in the music ministry.

  26. Jim wrote:

    I have used “canned” music in many services, and I only hope it glorified God. Most of the performances were on Sunday mornings, so maybe God was holding his ears. Hey, I tried. I love gospel music. I love singing gospel music, but I don’t make records. I know I’m not good enough and I’m really ok with that. God has opened many, many doors for me to walk through and serve in other rewarding ways. We have groups and soloists in our church all the time. Some are great. They usually have record deals and have songs on the radio charts that we hear every day, and by the end of the concert me and our music minister are rumaging through the product table to find soundtracks. Others are not so good. As a matter of fact, they’re pretty bad! They usually have a record table and a cruise to sell us as well. I’m sure they are good-hearted people with good intentions but COME ON! I’m just gonna be honest and say I don’t want to hear them and neither does most of the world. That’s why their “paying” out the nose for their hobby/ministry. I really think that singers get confused as to what “ministry” really means. It doesn’t mean an instant record deal or a bus or a charting radio single. Years ago, I heard Judy Martin on the Gospel Greats radio program. She said that they had been singing for 14 years full time before they ever got their first record deal. I really thought about that one. I consider The Martins to be at the top of their game. Clearly, they know how to do it. That’s why I gladly paid $100 for my family to go hear them in concert. And we weren’t the only ones forking it out. That chrurch didn’t have an empty seat, and by the end of the night, my kids had Martins hats and t-shirts and CDs and everything. But what I really learned from Ms. Martin was that things take time and practice makes perfect. Later, I heard Mike Payne on the same radio program saying that he remembered the Martins singing for his entire group at a Denny’s or IHOP or something late night during the National Quartet Convention. This was the 80s and the Paynes were at the top of their game. He said that the entire band all agreed that soon the world would hear this talented family and they would go so much farther than even the Paynes would. He was right. I’m sure the Martins’ sang at local churches and little radio stations for years long before they got their big break.Nowdays everybody wants to be an instant star. That’s why TBN has that tacky American Idol rip off each year. No I don’t think it’s a sin to enter your group in a local talent contest or try to get the right people to hear you. Alls I’m saying is haven’t we gone too far? I mean, if you have $5000 you too can have a record deal with a great producer and even sing to Gold City or Greater Vision tracks which I’m sure cost them more than $5000. In closing, I’d like to announce that my new solo recording is almost finished so call your local DJ and request my latest single, “God Thinks I’m In Tune” on the Almost There label. I had to take out a second mortgage on my house to pay for the soundtracks and the radio promoter but don’t I deserve a chance too?

  27. Nina wrote:

    What does JerUSAlem mean?

  28. Leebob wrote:

    Alot of excellent thoughts from different perspectives…this is what blogging is all about.

    Marty - I have quite a bit your songs with our choir and spent about 15 years as music minister and used much of your material in that capacity. As a music minister I realized that there were solo voices and choir voices. Then there were voices that I was quietly hoping might FINALLY see the light that their “calling” might not be music. There are different voices for different places in music. As a producer, you are in the unenviable position of deciding what is good or not so good.

    Let me give you a personal example. As a young child I wanted to be an astronaut. Then I went to Six Flags and after a couple of hot dogs, some nachos, and Dr. Pepper on a 103 degree day I rode the Spindletop. Not a good idea but it helped me discern that I was not meant to be an astronaut. Later, I desired to play pro football. My slender build and a couple of run-ins with a fellow we called “tiny” once again helped me discern where that dream should be placed in my life - back burner. Later, I wanted to be a youth director. My disdain for the teenage hormonal temper tantrums soon lead me to believe that perhaps this was not the direction I should be taking my life. Finally, I got to where God wanted me. I kept waiting for the “other shoe” but it never came and nothing would change that direction.

    To ALL - everybody is not called to Pastor. Everybody is not called to teach. Everybody is not called to “deacon”. This may explain why our churches are in such a mess today. Everybody is doing everything except what God wants them to do.

    Most CERTAINLY, everybody is not called to sing. Somehow in the church only from the music side are we not required to use a little discernment when it comes to placing people in the right position. The very fact that we have to tip-toe around egos when it comes to whether they have “IT” or not should tell us something. Singing, no matter the type, is an ego driven art. What doesn’t help is when we start to listen to every grandmother in the audience who tells us how good we are and get disgusted when somebody dares offer a bit of positive criticism.

    I encourage all singers to listen to about 10% of the positive publicity and consider about half of the negative because that is where the genuine comments are at. That will help our pride keep in check and improve our overall quality.

  29. Rhonda Berry wrote:

    “In my experiance, benefit singings are usually best handle by local churchs that can put together local talent and invite local people (other churches) to come and contribute.”

    That is exactly how to do the majority of benefit singings.

    Last March we put one together for a dear friend with health issues. We picked the top four local award winning and nominated groups in the area and packed out the church. In fact, we thought too small and should have had a bigger church. Everyone involved had several calls from people who couldn’t either find a place to park or a place to sit for the event. When I say several I mean more than 10, so how many didn’t call will remain a mystery.

    The groups all donated their time, the facility was donated and the event raised over $2,000.

    While a group with national status would have no doubt increased that, the reality is that the men and women at that level have to pay bills and it is harder for them to do these type of events.

    If you want to do a successful fundraiser, make sure people care about the cause, find the biggest draws in the local/regional setting who are not dependent on the income, be sure you have plenty of room for attendees, and be willing to donate your time. In addition, advertise with every conceivable venue that will allow you to for free.

  30. GospelMusicFan wrote:

    This discussion about doing “charity’ concerts the the reason why we do not hear vary much about all the work the artists do in this area.
    The reason is that everyone has charities they believe is the most important one in the world.
    How would you handle the “ministry” concert requests?
    Your booking person booked a concert year in advance,1500 with 300 of the miles off the interstate at a regularly contracted price for a Sunday morning event.
    Later in the year a concert is booked for Friday night along the way. You have Sunday night all ready booked on the way back.
    Saturday is now open on that weekend
    A phone call comes informing you of a serious to a a faithful servant that took a risk with you 30 years ago when you
    when you were no-name.
    Without hesitation, you would say that you will do a “ministry” concert on that Saturday night.
    This is why “ministry’ concerts or charity work is not discussed and should not be discussed.
    How do I handle the Friday night, Sunday morning and evening hosts?
    Being a Christ-like Christian should lead us to say that I am thankful that by the grace of God I do not need that Saturday night “ministry” concert.
    I should stop here but sometimes we let the carnal man creep back into us once in a while.

  31. Edie wrote:

    Sigh…I’m just tired of people sounding like crap in the name of God.

  32. Practical Fellow wrote:

    Our family used to travel and sing. In the beginning we traveled on a love offering basis. Until we arrived three states away and the promoter told us it was a benefit. If it weren’t for the ministry of Master Card we’d have slept in the van that night. Live and learn. That night we determined to use contracts for all our dates with an agreed-upon honorarium. We also decided that we will only support and sing at benefits that were less than 100 miles from our home office.

    Benefits are a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community and use whatever name recognition you have to draw a crowd. But don’t be naive and start doling out advice for folks who are traveling. It’s stinkin’ expensive to travel and pay bills and if a group can’t (or won’t) sacrifice - that’s between them and their God.

  33. wackythinker wrote:

    Nina, “JerUSAlem” is a logo embroidered on a ball cap. It symbolizes America’s solidarity with Israel. In Genesis, God promised Abraham “I will bless those who bless thee, and curse those who curse thee.” That scripture has been the basis of our nation’s middle east policy since the founding of the modern state of Israel in the late 1940’s.

    Per the designer of the hat, Jerrel Brashear of Russellville, AR, it’s purpose is to remind of all that. See a picture and read more at: http://www.thebrashears.org/

    Hope that helps.

  34. AD wrote:

    It just goes back to….we don’t know the motives of someone else’s hearts.

    I do know one thing, or at least I think I know this one thing (the older I get the less often I say I KNOW, ’cause I’m finding out that I actually know about 1/100th of what I used to think I KNEW…if God calls you to do something, according to the Scriptures, He will equip you with everything you need to carry out that call. Sooo, if He puts a song in your heart, don’t you think He’d put it in your mouth? Maybe this is a question to ask oneself if there’s that burning desire to sing….for HIM? ad

  35. Edie wrote:

    The story of the JerUSAlem hat is ridiculous — why are some Christians always looking for ways to make us all look stupid. If you look at my name, the last three letters spell “die” does that mean I’m going to die…oh wait, I guess I am — It must be GOD!!!

  36. cdguy wrote:

    I’m not sure this hat makes us look any more stupid than we already look on blogs like this — criticizing each other, questioning motives, shooting our wounded, etc — or our “leaders” who do heineous immoral acts in public.

    Maybe we need to major on the majors, and quit majoring on the minors. I’m not sure most of what is said in this forum has anything to do with kingdom-building.

    Myself included.

    I pray the all who read these blogs are already saved, and won’t let what we say here get in the way of their relationship with God.

  37. Edie wrote:

    So I can sit on stage and pick my nose and make armpit noises as long as my “motives” are pure. That seems to be the rule around here. Anyone can do anything or sound anyway they want and no one can question or critique it as long as they profess it to be a ministry or “giving their best.”

    Well, I think sometimes God must sit up there and look down at our “gifts” and say “ummm…did you save the receipt?”

  38. jp wrote:

    “seems to be the rule around here” ???
    I don’t think so - one of the reasons I read this blog is because Avery isn’t afraid to take people to task for shoddy work, no matter how big the name. It’s one of the few places on the internet you can find honest reporting about the elephant sitting in the middle of the Southern Gospel living room.
    Is everyone entitled to their own opinion? Sure, but the tone of the blog (not necessarily the commenters) is definitely NOT one of acceptance of less-than-professional-effort we can throw out there and call ministry.

  39. Michael wrote:

    May I ask, are your comments about the caps New Day Christian Dist. is carrying (JerUSAlem) anti-semitic or do you not believe we should stand behind Israel?

  40. Edie wrote:

    JP, yes you’re right. When I said “around here” I really didn’t mean Averyfineline, I was really referring to the southern gospel industry at large.

    Michael, about the hats: they’re just tacky. In the way that the little roses that light up that they sell at NQC are tacky or “Tommy Hellfighter” t-shirts are tacky. It has nothing to do with being anti-semitic or standing behind Israel. My big beef with a lot of “Christian” merchandising is not so much the message as it is the tacky way they package and market things. And, as far as the story behind the hats goes, puh-leeze, let’s not blame that on God.

  41. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    Doug wrote two sentences about the ridiculously stupid hat Daywind is selling with no comment that had anything to do with the Jews.

    Your line of thought makes the sort of leap that would impress Evel Kneivel.

  42. Brett wrote:

    The last 2 words of American are I Can.

  43. Michael wrote:

    David & Edie,

    The funny thing about your comments are the public appreciates what they stand for. Night after night people say “What a timely item”.

    Edie, for you to question how a person received an idea is out of line.

  44. GospelMusicFan wrote:

    Talking about Evel Kneivel?

    Check this contest out with the winner getting free CD.


  45. Jim2 wrote:

    Your icon is working! Very cool!

  46. Revpaul wrote:

    Hey Brett, that’s good! Amer-I-CAN.
    That’d make a great cap!
    And so Christian!

  47. David wrote:

    Going back to the conversation about benefits. We are in very rural SW Alabama. When they speak of a benefit around here it is ALL LOCAL talent. Questions such as what is pitch and anybody know what page Halleluyer Sqire is on is heard at each one. But even if it is someone that everyone is not very crazy about they do the Christian thing(even if they do not proclaim to be christian) and give. Never less than 1500.00 and for one ol’ grouch that really needed it over 3K. They would not even think of some national artist. They want to hear”real music” not sum perfessionals. Nothing agin em’ folk but we have to travel a ways to find folks that even believe in paying for a group.

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