Quote of the day

Via Canadia reader NG, Bill Gaither on music, history, and (dis)unity:

I grew up in the north but our music is a southern phenomenon. In America, because of the civil war, there is a divisive nature between the north and the south. The person who said music is a universal language lied because music is divisive. Just you try to find a radio station that both grandchild and grandparent like! Music is also divisive in terms of American churches. Churches can be divided very quickly between a traditional service and a contemporary service. The point is that what is contemporary is very temporary when all is said and done.

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  1. Philo wrote:

    I just read the whole article in full, Guy and Gloria and some good points at the close. As i’m from Belfast i know what she was saying about bluegrass having it’s roots in Irish/Scottish music afterall a large majority of sg artists can trace their ancestors to those shores.Personally i was listening to ’sg’ long before Bill G hit these Ilses .My dad imported early Blackwood Bros to our home and was hooked as a child over 40 years ago.

  2. Leebob wrote:

    Those who say music is a universal language have either A) never been a music minister or B) never spent serious time on this website.

    Churches who try to please everybody having both traditional and contemporary services soon find themselves having two churches in which congregation ‘A’ doesn’t know congregation ‘B’. Rare is the group that can actually unify the two congregations with their set or the music minister that can make the majority of his congregation happy with his selection.

    I will say this, it matters less what style you choose if it is done very well without the twang. (So much for unity with that last statement) Twang will lose the youngsters every time and without the kiddos we have no future.

    Philo, I too have listened to SG since before Gaither made his strides into the market in the 80s. I love what Bill has done for SG popularity. He had the foresight to find a market that had been forgotten by CCM and widen it. The question for the rest of us is are we going to do our part to grab more of the market or fritter away the opportunity by pettiness with one another.

  3. cdguy wrote:

    Leebob — Gaither was making strides LONG before the 80’s. The old “Gaither Trio” (Bill, Danny & Maryann) were making waves in the mid-60’s. The Speer Family was recording his music, beginning in the 60’s. Then he had this little song that got the attention of the Imperials (1969), and then some guy named Elvis Presley, who recorded it in 1971. It think it was titled something like “He Touched Me”.

    And he was a controversial figure, even then, because he associated with “Christian rockers” (a term often thought to be an oxymoron) and pentecostals.

    And talk about contemporary being temporary: I love the story Bill used to tell about a writer named John W Peterson. Many may not be familiar with his name, but he was a composer of church choir music, quite popular in the late 50’s, 60’s, and into the 70’s. John had received a letter, early in his career, critisizing his use of what was then considered “Broadway style” of music in his church music. I guess the letter writer chastised him harshly. 20 years later, that same person wrote another letter, this time to congratulate John, and thank him for “holding the line” musically.

    People– we are a funny breed.

  4. Philo wrote:

    Cdguy, i think leebobs remark about Gaithers’ strides into the market in the 80’s’was more a reference to Gaither the producer/innovater rather than Gaither the performer.Even as far back as the 60’s early 70’s the trio could hardly be called strictly sg evident in Gaither’s appqehension of appearing in front of a nqtc crowd for the first time around that period.

  5. John wrote:

    Cdguy, I believe the Imperials recorded “He Touched Me” in 1967(as did the Blackwood Brothers that same year).

    And Gaither’s songs were being recorded by groups like the Speer Family, the Golden Keys Quartet(who Bill’s brother Danny sang with for a time), and the Couriers Quartet as early as 1962.

    But Philo is right…the Gaither Trio was never a strictly southern gospel group, despite their late ’60s appearance at the NQC. Their music was always aimed more at the MOR/inspirational audience.

    Bill’s identification with the southern genre never really was evident until he formed his Gaither Vocal Band in the 1980s(first called the New Gaither Vocal Band).

  6. Ben Harris wrote:

    I agree about the twang factor. We need to rise above the three chords and a cloud of dust crowd and make solid, well arranged and well performed music. There was a time that gospel music was the innovator rather than the follower. We need to get back to that time. I am not saying be a mold of groups gone by and neither am I saying to step so far afield that we lose our core audience. Gospel music has already splintered once, it is time to graft it back together.

  7. Philo wrote:

    Q. Did i ever just get a much needed sweetener for my jaded sg palate? A. YES….. Torch(under 30’s 2005 nqtc).Listen and watch’We shall wear a crown’and count the grans and gramps, mums and dads and the odd ‘crazy ole uncle’standing to their feet in pure delight. Sure puts ole Bill’s perspective to bed……yawn nite nite.

  8. Ted wrote:


    This is interesting. Gaither videos has been taken international. I am a Canadian of Dutch parents, the Gaither videos have made there way on Dutch TV, now we have artists “as seen on Gaither videos” doing concerts in Holland

  9. BUICK wrote:

    I have to agree with those (#2 & #6) who say “lose the twang”. Although the “twang” isn’t the real issue, I don’t imagine. The issue is quality.

    I suspect that the reason so many praise-team worship services are as appealing as they are is that the team practices together for 3 hours or more each week. Often, in a more traditional service, the pianist (and, perhaps organist or other keyboard player), gets to the auditorium 15 minutes before the start of the service, puts post-it-notes in the hymnal and is ready for the downbeat. (S)he has played this stuff for 30 years and can do it by rote.

    Most hymnal are written without dynamic notations and with no variation from the first verse to the last. And that’s they way they are played and led. The sameness becomes staleness and the people yawn in unison.

    If the musicians would commit to rehearse together the way the praise-teams do, the quality, variety and musicianship would enhance the service regardless of the genre of music.

    As Oswald Chambers said, “My Utmost For His Highest.” If my service is music, it should be the very best I can offer no mater what style. It is, after all, for Him. And if I give Him the stale crumbs from a song I “learned” two or three decades ago, then it is not my utmost.

    To twang or not to twang isn’t the question. My utmost or my adequate: that is the question.

    At least that’s the way I see (and hear) it - - almost every Sunday.

  10. Ted wrote:


    Gaither just did a concert in Rotterdam Holland. This link is a young Dutch couples persective with photos and videos. The videos include a great rendition of Jesus Loves me by GVB, a new comedy routine complete with dutch translator, although most of the dutch understand english. EHSS was also there, live video shots included.. Holland is a very permissive country almost anything goes, its not easy, and we have a young christian couple raising a family, going to Gaither concerts and praising the Lord. Check out there web site, leave a encouraging message for the Christian couple. The word “Plaatsen” means “Post”

  11. Dean Leach wrote:

    It should be reported that Kevin Spencer has been taken to court for not paying his royalties and that the Freeman’s are next in line.

  12. NG wrote:

    #14 Dean: Taken to court by whom and was the court challenge successful?

  13. BUICK wrote:

    Dean Leach - absent a credible source (which you didn’t provide), that is rumor about KS and speculation about the Freemans. Even with a source, it is gossip.

  14. Philo wrote:

    Sigh…..this sg world can be a sordid and nasty little place at times….

  15. Leebob wrote:

    I too was listening to Gaither Trio and GVB before they went to a more SG sound. They couldn’t go to much of a SG sound with Larnelle Harris adn his awesome vocals. Then again, who would have thought to use Phelps with this sound.

    For those who may think that I am stirctly a SG guy, we have made some in roads to the teens at our churhc simply because I may do the solo on a contemporary song such as “My Hope Is In The Lord” and the next Sunday be there with our group. That is the genius of BG ino that he did not allow himself to get stuck into one genre or another. Incidentally, Bill has brought the SG crowd a little ways the other direction as well. I think they call that having two sides try to meet somewhere in the middle.

  16. Dean Leach wrote:

    I will tell you what is not gossip, KEVIN SPENCER has been legally challenged over his now paying royalties and the Freeman’s won’t pay. I called a popular writer for the Free mans and ask him, he said they didn’t pay, except when their feet is held to the fire and then they’ll pay and stop paying again. That is what a popular writer told me.

  17. BUICK wrote:

    Mr. Leach, pardon me, but an unnamed “popular writer” is not sourcing your gossip. That isn’t enough of a footnote to get by in a third-grade book report. But if that’s the best you’ve got, then the best you’ve got is rumor, innuendo, gossip and slander…that you got second-hand from an anonymous person. And you expect us to take that as some evidence of anything? Seems to me that it is evidence about you but not about Kevin Spencer or the Freemans.

    But, hey, thanks for sharing what God laid on your heart (if that is really who laid it on your heart!).

  18. sockpuppet wrote:

    BUICK, #13, 17
    Seems to me you show an inordinate interest in the who and how, kinda like the biddies who want to hear every single detail of a sin before they’ll pray - 50 minutes of requests and 10 minutes of prayer.
    Did you stop to think that a “popular writer” who makes a portion of his/her living from this industry might not want their name trumpeted as ratting out the big ol’ pink elephant we all know is sitting right smack in the middle of the SG living room?
    Enough insiders read this blog that in the next few days you will see them come to the defense of KS and the Freemans (or not), and I’m sure there will be some other names added to the list - not paying royalties is a HUGE problem.
    I know we’ve heard here that Jeff and Sheri Easter are among the BEST at making sure that royalties are paid, and quickly.
    Who are some of the other conscientious, Christ-like artists or labels that do the same?

  19. BUICK wrote:

    sockpuppet, not an inordinate interest in who and how - and NO interest in the gossip and the unsubstantiated rumors. It just seems a very hurtful and unnecessary thing to have said so I was calling Dean Leach out. If what he is alleging is true, give the evidence. If it is a made-up story, it shouldn’t be passed along as if it were true.

    Nope, Sockpuppet, you have misinterpreted my interest. But I’m glad you let me know so I could clear this up. And I apologize for coming across like a biddy because I insisted on some evidence. My interest is NO?T in knowing sordid details. My interest is in stopping this unsubstantiated rumor at the source.

  20. Leebob wrote:

    WOW!!! Have we gotten testy or what? Neh. 6:3 “I am doing a mighty work for God and I cannot come down”. The key principle in that verse is to stay focused.

    How in the sam hill did we get from talking about how divisive music is in the church to spouting off who is and isn’t paying royalties? I know that writers should et their money but have we resorted to open blogging to damage reputations? We will be opening for the Freemans in June here in Texas so I get the unusual opportunity of allowing them the opportunity to clear their name in person without getting to rush off to judgement about how they conduct business.

    Perhaps this is part of the answer to the question “what is wrong with SG?” Whether it is NOT paying royalties or complaining about style or rumor mongering…we have to get back to focusing on the subject and the TRUTH of the Word, let the audience see your heart and much of everything else begins to line up. Then again, maybe the audience has seen the heart and this is why SG is struggling?

    I know, POLYANA THINKING, but if we search the scriptures, polyana or not, it is the thinking that God requires for us to be blessed. The choice is ours in this thing, trust God or please ourselves.

    It is now time for me to return to my anti-stone barricade and see what flies.

  21. oldtimer wrote:

    I don’t know anything about the Freemans or Kevin Spencer, but I wanted to give an example of people who operate with integrity. Legacy 5 recorded a song that I wrote but they could not find information on the author (me.) When a friend heard the song and gave them my information, Roger Bennett called me personally and apologized that they had not known how to get in touch with me. I had never had a song recorded before. He gave me much of his time (when he really didn’t have a lot of it to give for obvious reasons.) He helped me get set up as a BMI writer and then passed away before things went any farther. About 6 months after he passed away I got an e-mail from Scott Folwer apologizing for not taking care of this yet. He said that Roger had always done this and he was still learning and working through stuff that Roger left behind. Scott was courteous and professional and shortly thereafter a check from Legacy 5 was in my mailbox.

    We hear so much about guys that do it wrong - I just wanted to give props to guys that went the extra mile to do it right. Roger Bennet was and Scott Fowler is a man of intergrity. We need more like them.


  22. Montana Man wrote:

    I find this discussion about paying royalties of interest — who does and who doesn’t — because we finance our concerts with offerings (among other things), even if we’re paying a guarantee.

    As promoters, how can we enthusiastically pursue an offering if we know that the performing group has a reputation for not paying the writers of the music they sing?

    If not tithing is stealing from God, why isn’t not paying royalties stealing from the writers?

    Maybe that’s an important reason why a group like Leg 5 received the largest offering we’ve ever received for a group.

  23. Norm Graham wrote:

    #21 and #22 Thanks for those posts. It’s great to hear something positive about SGM entertainers. That Legacy 5 went out of its way to find the songwriter and pay him royalties is the way all groups should operate. I’m not in the business but I get the impression that is unfortunately not the way a lot of groups operate.

  24. cdguy wrote:

    I can’t name names, but there are individuals and companies who claim they can’t afford to pay royalties. Or they’re slow-to-pay, or just DON’T pay, with no explanation.

    I contend that’s just a part of doing bidness in the music bidness. If you can’t afford to pay rent, how long do you think the landlord will allow you to stay? Should be the same thing with writer/publisher/artist royalties.

    If the artist is not the record label, it’s not the artist’s responsibility to pay royalties — it’s that of the label. But if artists think their reputation is on the line in this regard, maybe the artists need to hold their labels accountable.

    If I think I can’t afford to pay proper royalties, maybe I need to get out of the bidness.

    Norm — I wouldn’t spend time or energy trying to find out who does and who doesn’t, but I would pray for wisdom in your bookings, just as you would regarding other moral issues surrounding the people you do business with.

  25. Leebob wrote:

    Should someone be in bidness if they can’t even spell “business”? Tacky but a point of pickiness on my part.

  26. cdguy wrote:

    Leebob — “Bidness” is a slang term used by folks in and around the music “business”. It has nothing to do with our spelling capablilites.

    And if you’d been reading this blog very long, you’d probably caught on to that by now. Or your pickiness may be selective?

  27. Leebob wrote:

    Yes I have noticed just haven’t said anything to this point. No I am not picky…it just sounds like “good ol’ boy southern talk” to me which may indicate yet another reason why SG is in the state it is in…it’s regionalism.

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