In a discussion thread about genius in sg a bit ago, a commenter over at musicscribe.com asks about overrated genius in sg. The first thing to say is that genius is a badly abused word. Greatness is often mistaken for genius, which really should be reserved for vision or creation that genuinely transforms some part of the world in incontrovertible ways. Or whatever. Anyway, there have only been a handful of true geniuses in sg. JD Sumner, maybe (though he’s more myth than man these day, but then again maybe genius is mostly myth after all), the Gaithers for sure. If permanently changing the way things are done is one of our measuring sticks, then Mark Lowry’s brand of comedy probably ranks him in the genius category. You get the idea.
That said: on to overrated geniuses in southern gospel. I have a decently long list going, but I’ll just throw out two for the sake of getting the ball rolling, since I think it’s a good thing to have honest conversations – instead of lopsided “anybody makin’ a joyful-noise for Jesus is a genius” lovefests – about the people shaping and influencing gospel music:
- Rodney Griffin: despite his early promise and achievement, he’s basically been writing the same two songs over and over with slightly different titles, lyrics, and melodies for the past several years (with the notable exception of the wonderful “Voice I Could Not Resist”). I guess you can’t blame him that people keep asking for his songs, but he’s a good enough writer to know how his work does (and does not) stack up alongside the work of peers who have continued to grow and develop while he’s stalled in a kind of stagnate parody of himself. Perhaps it’s time – a la the Anthony Burger Award – for the Rodney Griffin Songwriters Award at the SN Fan Awards?
- Ronnie Hinson: cut the guy some slack … he’s had to be a kind of walking memorial for his dead brother, Kenny, for most of his professional life, so it’s probably impossible that anyone of whatever talent could live up to what people wish they might have been able to enjoy from the talented sibling who died young. But still … the Hoppers more or less jumped the shark on the “Ronnie = genius” myth with that video on NQC 07 depicting Hinson’s writing of “The Ride” as though it were the modern equivalent of Michelangelo painting the the