Open Thread

I’ll be away for a few days doing my thing at the Singing Convention conference hosted by MTSU this weekend. As part of a recent effort I’ve implemented to minimize the number of devices through which I tether myself to the internet nearly without interruption, I’m not taking my laptop. So it’s just me and the crackberry, which is not really blog friendly, at least not the ancient model I refuse to let go of. Which means you’ll have to hope someone else provides live updates from what I think will prove to be an enjoyable conference (there’s a bonafide convention singing tomorrow night … woohoo!). But I’ll write up the experience once I’m back, I hope.

In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves. The new fake Florida Boys are getting some positive press here and there, but mostly here. Paul Lancaster joined the Greenes, which means somewhere a clock has started counting down the number of days until he leaves (if his erratic and sporadic history with other groups is anything to go by). And honestly, is that the best available photo of him? And finally, the Gaithers have received some sort of VIP award and Daniel Britt has some interviews coming out with HRH and wife on XM (sorry, Payton). That’s all the short-takes I can think of for now. Your turn.

See you next week.

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  1. Musicscribe Blog » Benefits Of Umbrella Classifications Despite Differences Between Sub-Genres on 14 Apr 2008 at 4:10 am

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  1. Trent wrote:

    The Singing News has posted their May Top 80 chart. Some questions for you fans who know the history of the SN chart:

    *The Reggie Sadler Family has a song that is doing well on the charts called “Winner Out Of A Sinner” (great song). It moved from #50 to #32 this month. When was the last time an African-American artist topped the charts?

    *Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver debuts their song “Help Is On The Way” at #41. When was the last time a bluegrass group took a song to #1?

    *Hope’s Call has a song called “In Jesus Name” that went from #62 to #49. Although it won’t have enough steam to go #1, when was the last time a disbanded group took a song to #1?

    *An artist by the name of Johnny Lee Cook has a song debuting at #72 called, “It’s Not Over ‘Til It’s Over”. Is he related to the Johnny Cook who once sang with the Happy Goodman Family?

  2. A. Nonemus wrote:

    Just out of curiosity, there has not been much mentioned about the SGM Fani Fair that has been going on this week in Chattanooga. Past FF’s have been considered to be not much, and I doubt this one has done much better. A majority of the “talent” are groups that are mostly unheard of with a smattering of pro groups thrown in to make it look legit, IMO. Anybody been or have any reports?

  3. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    I think the answers are: never and never on the first two questions. The Imperials had two number ones, but both were after Sherman Andrus left the group. Someone might mention Teddy Huffam or Charles Johnson, but neither had a number one song…despite the immense popularity of “Gone” and “I Can’t Even Walk” respectively.

    Some people considered the Bishops to be bluegrass…they had a number one in 1997 with “You Can’t Ask Too Much Of My God,” but it doesn’t sound much like bluegrass to me.

  4. Ron F wrote:

    Hey, has anybody heard the Fake Florida Boys,? Can they carry the Mail?

  5. volscot wrote:

    #2 - Re: SGM Fan Fair

    I work in a large complex directly behind the Chattanooga Trade & Convention Center where SGMFF is being held. Three years ago, which I believe was the inaugural event, there was a noticeable amount of extra traffic around the Trade Center with most of the on-street parking being full and lots of buses in and around the area.

    Each year, there seems to be less traffic. This year, all I’ve noticed is a few buses parked at the loading dock. There is absolutely no increase in traffic over what I see on a normal week.

    According to the schedule, it looks like there is one “recognizable” group and a bunch of lesser-knowns each night.

    And no, despite being this close, I have never attended the SGMFF. I also don’t recall seeing or hearing any local ads promoting it.

  6. Leebob wrote:

    No ads promoting a SG event??? Has Chattanooga gone the way of Dallas, TX? (still remembering AGM down here) Promtion, promotion, promotion…and when you think you have done enough, more promotion.

  7. Leebob wrote:

    #4…Here is the latest update on the FFB. I can’t say that I have heard them but it is beginning to sound like they are doing a good job of duplicating the RFB.

  8. GospelMusicFan wrote:

    Many of the artists are down at Bill Bailey Jubilee in Florida this weekend:

    Some other artist travel north to the Southern Gospel Music Expo in Van Wert, Ohio:

    Some of the folks like the honorable Charles Brady, the Hoppers’ family & Ray Flynn that did not want to travel stay close to home this weekend in Winston-Salem, NC:

  9. Brandon Shreve wrote:

    I might be wrong, but didn’t Darrell Luster hit number one in his solo days shortly after leaving CJ&TR? The song escapes me. He had a few that charted especially high. Seems to me one had to have hit number one. The only other artist I can think of would be Quentin Mills, who had quite a following, but I don’t think he hit the top of the chart. But I know we heard enough of him in the market I was in at the time (Greensboro, NC).

    Either way I like to see Reggie and family do well. I’ve always enjoyed working with them.

  10. Leigh wrote:

    #1 (Trent) & #3 (DBM) - Sometime in the mid-late 80’s there was a hit near or at the top called “I Found the Lily in My Valley” by an African-American gentleman named (I think) Quinton Mills. Yes?

  11. T wrote:

    Yeah Quinton Mills is native american, if you go to his website it’s in his bio. Unless Teddy Huffam had a number one song, i can’t really think of another African American group besides Reggie and his family.

  12. Norm wrote:

    I’m pretty sure Quinton Mills is Caucasian.

  13. Craig wrote:

    Isn’t Quentin Mills an American Indian, not African American? Seems like I read this when I Found the Lily in My Valley was popular.

  14. GoldCityGirl wrote:

    Quinton Mills is Cherokee and not African-American.

  15. Tom wrote:

    Not to rain on anyone’s diversity parade, as this is a worthwhile discussion. But isn’t Quinton Mills a Native American?

    There have been a few Native Americans in southern gospel. Have any Native Americans had any #1 southern gospel songs?

  16. md wrote:

    Forgive me if I am wrong but Quinton Mills is not African American. Indian, I believe.

  17. Angie M wrote:

    #9: Yeah, I was thinking of him, too. I think his big song was, “I Know What Lies Ahead.” Or was that with CJ&TR?

  18. pr wrote:

    From Quinton Mills’ website: “Quinton Mills, is a Native American Indian and a member of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe located in Hollister, NC.”

    Wasn’t Luster’s song “I Believe He Died For Me”?

  19. quartet-man wrote:

    I hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but I have read several times in real recent history that Quinton Mills is Native American, not African American. ;)

  20. matureman wrote:

    I believe the late Doy Ott of the Statesmen was a Choctaw Indian.

    There were a number of their songs that featured him… “Wait For Me” for example, but SG charting in the early ’60s may not have been done at that time… don’t know.

  21. Daniel J. Mount wrote:

    #15, Tom–

    Yes, as members of groups. As mentioned before, very few soloists until lately scored #1 hits. But Greater Vision picked up a few #1s while Jason Waldroup was with them, and Palmetto State Quartet had two #1 songs while Aaron McCune was with them.

  22. Grigs wrote:

    Isaacs went to number one with “From The Depths Of My Heart” IIRC.

  23. Aaron Swain wrote:

    So… I saw from a post on the SN Forums that a new quartet is formed. They’re going to have a name contest (info forthcoming about that).

    The lineup? Brent Mitchell, Josh Feemster, Craig West, and Chris West. No word on a piano player yet.

  24. Aaron Swain wrote:

    Actually, Brent will not be joining that group; just filling in for one date because they have not found a tenor yet.

  25. Ben Harris wrote:

    Calling the New Florida Boys by names that are degrading does not do anyone any good, including the authors of such comments. I really admire Doug and his willingness to not bow down to political pressure inside Southern Gospel Music, and being very frank about what is good and what is not, but this maybe unfair to several people in and around the New Florida Boys. Dustin Bearden from Alabama who is no their tenor is a prime example. He is a fine young man, and auditioned for us sometime back and did a great job. The only reason we went with someone else was simply Dustin was a very different tenor than we were used to. I actually told him to call Charlie Waller about the position he got. He is a great tenor and likely to become a household name in SGM. And Charlie Waller has done more for true Southern Gospel music than most in this fair land of ours. He is by far, no dummy and he loves SGM as much as anyone I know.

  26. Zack wrote:


    we all know a SG group is not a true SG group until it has a piano player!! lol Its like trios! Its just not true Southern gospel music until they get a base and make it a quartet! lol jk :D

  27. Andrew S. wrote:

    #15-Tom-Remember the Jody Brown Indian Family? Jody was Cherokee Indian,but I don’t think his wife,Donna,was.Jody and Donna had Stephanie (lead singer and songwriter) and Jeremy whose wife,Ashley, sang soprano.They had some good songs.Never really cared for their song,”Mad Mary”,very much though…

    Does anyone know how Jeff & Sheri Easter sound w/Morgan singing w/them fulltime? I heard Morgan & Sheri on The Gospel Greats talking about it,but I wonder if any of the fans have heard ‘em.

  28. A. Nonemus wrote:

    RE: #27,
    I truly believe that letting Stephanie Brown come more to the forefront and her getting the group to sway away from its roots is the key ingredient as to why the JBIF is no longer on the road, regardless of what any press releases said.

    Its common known fact that when they started leaning that way musically is when pastors and promoters that had booked them for a long time stopped booking them, and quite honestly, when their popularity began waning. I know that Jody Brown wanted his daughter to get more popular and visible, but in the process, they alienated their fan base…
    and songs like “Mad Mary” only added fuel to the fire.

    Anybody remember the old saying, “don’t forget what brung you to the dance?”

  29. Charles Brady wrote:

    JBIF, Martins, Crabb Family….. These are the top 3 that come to my mind as groups that left their original fan base in search of the promises of a larger/younger fan base. (If such a thing really exsists.)

    Who are some other examples and who do you think may be on the brink of “breaking out” of the SG mold looking for greener pastures……

    Do you think SG artists can really attrack broader audiences by switching from matching suits to the “soup line clothing collection” or do these extreme makeovers just drive a further wedge between the devoted fans the artists currently have and make the younger (potential) audience suspect of their real intentions?

    How far away from the “norm” can these artists go before they cross the line of no return? I know that fans are forgiving but how long will they really wait for their favorites to return?

  30. Erin wrote:

    I won’t say which site because I don’t wanna advertise somebody else on this site, but I saw a few minutes ago where The McRaes are having more changes AGAIN. Apparently that Amanda girl left and now the other younger sisters are singing from what I gathered. Seems like Annie McRae has a new group configuration every other month. We all know how hokey that TK and McRae flop was, so I just wonder if this is gonna be even worse. Anybody else heard anything more on this?

  31. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    Darrell Luster and Quinton Mills have never had number ones on the Singing News monthly chart.

    You may have been confusing Quinton Mills with another Mills. Walt Mills held the number one slot for three months in 1990 with “I’ve Got A Feeling,” but he is very white.

    Regarding #29:
    “I know that fans are forgiving…”

    Say WHAT? Where are these fans?

  32. canuk wrote:

    Who’s the dude singing baritone with the GVB?

  33. quartet-man wrote:

    #31. Funny, David, but also funny because there is some truth in it.

    #32 The guy’s name escapes me, but he filled in for Mark Lowry on numerous occasions. I believe this is when Mark had other gigs. He was seen I think on all of the GVB stuff on Homeland Harmony (or whatever that show was called) although he was heavier and didn’t have all of the facial hair. The aforementioned peformances happened when Murray was still tenor and looks like spilled over into the Franklin territory. Maybe he is the 15th. alumni Bill is talking about for the reunion. ;)

  34. quartet-man wrote:

    I think the name finally came to me: Mike Eldred. He did background vocals and had some solo CD’s. I think Michael English sang background vocals on one of his. (Probably the first.)

  35. canuk wrote:

    quartet-man- I checked out some of his clips on It sounds like he’s been doing some Broadway stuff. He’s got a great voice. I’m surprised Bill didn’t ever snap him up to fill a tenor vacancy.

  36. BUICK wrote:

    Canuk (#32), thanks for the link. It was good to go back down Memory Lane and remember when BG could afford a suit.

  37. Derek wrote:

    Yea Walt Mills is very white…right down to his hair!

  38. SG Singer wrote:

    Has anybody had any problems today trying to get on the SN website?Every time I go the server won’t let me.

  39. mark twain wrote:

    What about a group that is Jewish? I don’t know if they have had a number one, but they did have at least a number two, I think. That is Young Harmony. He is a Jew, right? hehe!

  40. SG Enthusiast wrote:

    #39-Think about the Isaacs.Lily’s mom was in a concentration camp in WWII.So I’d say that they are Jew or at least mostly Jew.There was an article in Gaither’s Homecoming Magazine last year about their heritage.Anyways,I’ve got an inquiry for SG radio people or the ones who are involved heavily on SG radio singles.Does anyone know what the Perrys or Triumphant Quartet’s new singles will be?For the Perrys,I’m hoping “The Potter Knows the Clay”,”I Know It Was the Blood”,or “Every Question.” For Triumphant,I’d like to see either “Old White Flag” or “I Know I’m Going Home” go out to radio.What do y’all think?

  41. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    If you’re going to start counting fill-ins for the GVB, you’re going to have a ton of ‘em. Dean Hopper filled in. Clay Crosse filled in. The list goes on and on.

  42. tse wrote:

    #28 - It wasn’t until Stephanie stepped forward that the group had any real success. She took them to a new level and was one of the best young talents in SGM.

  43. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    #42, I agree completely.

    I saw JBIF attempt to do a concert when Stephanie was out sick a year or so before they disbanded, and it was just so-so.

    Her brother is very good on guitar…can’t sing too well. The girl who filled in was a good singer. But Stephanie was the only true star of the group and without her there, they were on the same level as a decent quality local group.

  44. A. Nonemus wrote:

    RE-#42…interesteing that you would say that the group got only real success when Stephanie stepped forward. Call me crazy, but I always thought that when you achieve “real success”, you work better dates and not have your dates dwindle down to almost nothing and you come off the road.

    Hope you, or someone else, can explain this real success theory and make me understand its concept.

  45. tse wrote:

    #44 - I don’t know what their touring schedule was like prior to their decision to leave the road, but they were reaching a wider audience through increased airplay then ever before.

    It would be wonderful to see Stephanie step out into a solo ministry. She would do well - especially if she went into Inspo/AC.

    She would be a great contestant on American Idol……

  46. wackythinker wrote:

    #45 — Contestant on American Idol? Why would you want to put someone you cared for through that machine? That would be cruel! Not only is the magnifying glass even worse than that of this blog, but it’s probably not the kind of pressure cooker most people with dignity would want to go through.


  47. sgnow wrote:

    The singing news website is nothing more than a self sponsoring money hungry propoganda site!

  48. quartet-man wrote:

    #41, David I I was just being silly. Don’t forget, Russ Taff filled in on lead as well.

  49. Derek wrote:

    #40… Are you talking about the next single after “Holy Shore” by the Perrys? Or, does that answer your question. They’ve recently released “Holy Shore” but you may already know that…

    Don’t know about Triumphant….

  50. MO wrote:

    #30- I too saw that. Very interesting(…)

  51. Grigs wrote:

    Ernie Haase was another GVB fill in, alongside English, Lowry, & Gaither.

  52. steven wrote:

    to #39
    If i understood right at the a perrys concert i went to last weekend, the new single will be “the potter knows the clay”. There new project has a lot of good songs on it that is single worthy. “the grip of grace”, “every question” ect

  53. tse wrote:

    The music chart has always been a great topic to kick around so let me toss this out there….

    What do you think about a major Christian music chart (not SG) that now is into artist promotion and promotes said artists to their own charting stations?

  54. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    Triumphant should release “Old White Flag.” People already love it in concerts…due in part to the way they ham it up, sure…but I think it would do well as a radio single.

    It would be a nice change from the ponderous titles labels are more prone to release.

  55. thom wrote:

    #40 - I agree: Daywind should release “The Potter Knows the Clay” as the next Perry’s single, that is an incredible song. But, counterpoint, there is a shortage of great up tempo songs so “I Know it Was the Blood,” would be another excellent choice.
    for Trimumphant - “I Know I’m going Home.”

  56. gospelman21 wrote:

    Other natives include,Parker Jonathan,Ivan Parker(who has had a song at #1),and Big Chief (of Statesmen).

  57. JW wrote:

    RE: Stephanie Brown, I thought she was great, especially “Jumping Out of the Boat”, but, yeah, I didn’t care at all for “Mad Mary.”

    No matter what direction they would have gone, it wouldn’t happen without Stephanie.

    I’m no insider at all, but I just figured her getting married was a main reason JBIF went kaplunk.

  58. CLN wrote:

    From this observer’s standpoint…..JBIF went kaplunk because their record label tried to make them go contemporary and drained all of their money doing so. Crossroads is getting to the point that they’re charging some artists neighborhood of $20,000 to record an album that is “marketable”.

  59. SG Enthusiast wrote:

    From what I understand,she married former KP&NR band member,Dale Scragg.He looks a few ages higher than Stephanie’s.Anyways,IMO-Steph would do good in the Bluegrass world if she hasn’t tried that already.From what I’ve heard,she’s an awesome mandolin player.

  60. Bob wrote:

    Paul Lancaster hasn’t been a member of most of these groups you mention in your insulting post. He has been filling in with most of them because of his family life. He was however a member of the Mullins til it ended. The Martins til it ended. And “Everyday Driven” till it ended. It would be so nice if the moderator of this web site could stop pointing out what he thinks peoples faults are in life. The Guy needs to Get a life!!!!!!!

  61. SG Fan wrote:

    #58 CLN

    Just a quick point. $20,000 is not a whole lot when you are talking about a project that is to be promoted on a nationwide basis. Furthermore, JBIF may have taken a little more progressive turn in their last projects, but they were not Contemporary. In all fairness, many contemporary projects cost more than triple that amount. If you listen, CCM projects are usually superior in sound quality. The old saying, “You get what you pay for” is true of the music industry just like it is in every other aspect of life. There are some great SG groups and artists out there. Very few spend the time or money, very few have the time or money, to produce a product that will compete with the quality that you find in CCM. $20,000 is not a lot for a project in the long run. In fact, many of us drive cars that cost more. Just a thought.

  62. Radioguy wrote:

    #58 $20,000? Is that all? I’m not in the music business, but I was under the impression that would be a very good rate. There’s a local group up north here where I am that spends between 30 and 35 thousand of their hard earned cash with no label support. They do a new C-D every 2 years and even on a local level, they sell a pile of C-D’s. I heard Kevin Spencer say he spent 50 thousand a couple years ago. Now it is possible he didn’t mean on one project. Dave, Duane and Neil formerly of the Couriers I believe spent 50 grand on their last release in 2004.

  63. wackythinker wrote:

    Bob - #60 — Paul Lancaster “a member of the Mullins til it ended. The Martins til it ended. And “Everyday Driven” till it ended”? Sounds like he’s bad luck. :-)

  64. Dread Pirate Roberts wrote:

    “Life is pain, Highness! Anyone who says differently is selling something”

  65. Trent wrote:

    I promise you that you can get a sensational recording done for less than $15,000, using the best Nashville musicians and a great producer, great engineer and with a reputable person mixing the project. This price would be with 1,000 units in your hand.

    I encourage people who are looking to record a new project to listen to their favorite CD, then make a few calls and see about using the same people who produced, engineered, played and mixed that favorite project. You will get quotes anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000. But you can get a great project on the lower end of that scale if you are patient and comparison shop. Pray about it and choose wisely.

  66. SG Fan wrote:

    #65 Trent

    I guess it depends on your concept of sensational. If you consider the norm in SG today as sensational, then you are probably right. But $15,000 is not going to get you the quality that you hear on a Capitol, Warner, Curb, Sony, or even Provident of EMI project. To get that kind of quality, the top end of that scale you mentioned will not cover it. Again, as long as you are thinking small scale, 1000 units, then you will do just fine on that budget. To compete nationally, you are going to have to be able to invest more.

  67. john masters wrote:

    #65 - a sensational recording for $15,000? with product? SGFan is right. Putting out recordings like this - that wind up on the radio, in trade magazines and the charts - keeps Southern Gospel from seeing its potential. We have too many groups doing low budget, mediocre music. You get what you pay for, and we are truly paying for what we get . . . for 15K!

  68. burt wrote:

    Paying for the actual “units” aside, it is absolutely possible to get that “commercial grade” sound for less than 15 grand.

    Using “limited press” scale pay for 5 Nashville musicians would eat up about $7000 for a couple of good sessions. I’d say about $4,000 in producer/studio fees (if your producer is also the engineer). The rest is odds and ends stuff plus mastering and duplication.

    There have been a ton of Indie artists to hit mainstream music with a project of less than 20 grand. Take the rock band Creed for example. Their first album, My Own Prison was produced on a shoestring. Most of the money they used was in actually building the studio they used…just a bunch of ADATS.

  69. john masters wrote:

    burt says, “Take the rock band Creed for example.”

    I don’t recall seeing Creed on the Singing News chart. They are a band, and didn’t hire musicians. Can a recording be done for under 15k? Certainly. Can a limited pressing scale project with 6 or 7 Nashville musicians, with professionally edited vocals, with orchestrations, with proper mixing and mastering, with layout and artwork and duplication that will stand up beside any other commercial product or radio format be done for under 15k?

    No way.

    This corner cutting, get by as cheaply as you can mentality is slowly but surely choking the life out of SG.

    Does anyone smell that coffee? It is time to wake up!!

  70. jb wrote:

    Since this is an open thread, can anyone tell me where and how to go about purchasing a product table cover with your groups name on it? Thanks for all your help

  71. Realistic wrote:

    Wackythinker #63:
    Your comment about “bad luck” doesn’t even rise to the level of wacky. Humor has to have some truth to be funny. Most people know that Paul Lancaster would be a great addition to any group or demo session because of that incredible voice.

  72. Kyle wrote:

    I got a couple different quotes when I was doing solo work from two VERY well-known and reputable producers. I told them that I am on a VERY restricted budget, and they said it was entirely possible to do a retail-worthy product for roughly $10,000. It wouldn’t have a full orchestra, steel guitars, mandolins, harps, horns, glockenspiel, and the like, but it would still be of the utmost quality.

    Money does not a top-quality album make. Unless you have a producer who knows how to work with your sound and style and a mixer who knows what they’re doing, you can wind up with a $20-50K stack of coasters. I’ve heard plenty of big-budget bombs, and I’ve heard plenty of el-cheapo masterpieces.

  73. john masters wrote:

    Kyle said, “I’ve heard plenty of el-cheapo masterpieces.”

    I’d like to see the list.

    He also said, “I got a couple different quotes when I was doing solo work from two VERY well-known and reputable producers. I told them that I am on a VERY restricted budget, and they said it was entirely possible to do a retail-worthy product for roughly $10,000.”

    I can almost guess who those “well-known and reputable” producers are. The words “opportune and notorious” are more likely definitions to anyone with professional ears. If “retail-worthy” means ready for the record table outside the Backwoods Baptist Church, then Kyle is probably spot on. I’ve had all sorts of groups in my church through the years. Most “low budget recording” groups spend more than 10K on a trailer, suits alike and a fine Peavey sound system (including matching microphones, except for the special one for the bass singer). Where are the priorities?

    So, this is my last call for a Studio Altar Service. Everyone who wants to improve our genre, have enough faith to wait and pray until you have enough money to present the Gospel in song in a worthy fashion. And all God’s people said . . . .

  74. apathetic wrote:

    Come on folks. We’re talking Southern Gospel here. The common SG listener can tell no difference in a 10K versus 70K project. They can’t even tell the difference between live strings and a DX7. Or a fine tuned set of high quality DR’s versus a BOSS Dr. Rhythm.

    Sound quality is not what keeps SG from becoming something great. It is the old tired arrangements and musical/vocal stylings (with the exception of a few groups). The backing tracks to a lot of Quartet music sounds like something from Lawrence Welk. (Fine if it was 1940) And most of your Southern Gospel arrangements today are just plain goofy. There are several songs on the charts and the instrumental turn arounds and some of the melodies sound just like songs on my kids old Barney and Dora the Explorer DVD’s. Cartoonish at best. It’s the genre’s lack of development that limits it, not the amount of money spent on the project. I have heard SG projects that have the best mainstream country musicians in Nashville playing on them, but they come across “hokey pokey” sounding because of the producers or the artists/labels idea’s for the song.

  75. Trent wrote:

    #69, John Masters. Your tongue-in-cheek question was:

    “Can a limited pressing scale project with 6 or 7 Nashville musicians, with professionally edited vocals, with orchestrations, with proper mixing and mastering, with layout and artwork and duplication that will stand up beside any other commercial product or radio format be done for under 15k?”

    The answer is, absolutely. It can and has been done within the past year.

  76. quartet-man wrote:

    #74, I sincerly would be interested in hearing what SG groups you think are doing it right, which ones wrong and some examples of good songs and hokey ones.

  77. john masters wrote:

    In response to Trent, my tongue was not in cheek, it was simply stating truth. But I do believe in miracles. Perhaps it was done once within the last year, in a bonus room or garage on the outskirts of Nashville, by a hungry ensemble of contributors, or perhaps the project was produced by a non profit “ministry” who gave them tax credit. Sorry, numbers don’t lie, and you can hear quality just as easily as you can hear corner cutting.

    Why shortchange the message?

  78. Trent wrote:

    John Masters, I give up; you are right. The sky is green and the grass is blue and no one can get a quality recording done for under 15K, ever.

  79. burt wrote:

    John…come on man, why poke fun at my illustration? Creed topped the Billboard charts either way it goes. I was trying to make a point. There are many, many independent singers/musicians that have made it big with a budget recording.

    Also, you don’t have to go to Nashville to find great studio talent. I have tracked vocals on ADAT that sound just as good as anything from NashVegas.

  80. john masters wrote:

    burt and trent,
    find a couple of other singers, get some suits and an adat. You’ll only need eight tracks, one for each singer, one for each instrument. Ladies and gentleman, will you give a handclap of praise for . . . .

    The Budgetaires!

  81. apathetic wrote:

    #76. I would say that some of the groups that I think are “doing it right” (or having a sound that would sell more CD’s) would be The Isaacs, Crabb Revival, Austins Bridge, etc. Those that have a style equivalent to music that has been produced in no less than the past 10 years.

    “Hokey” sounding music? I would say almost all quartet music qualifies for this. IMO any song that starts with a descending or ascending chromatic scale is “hokey” and cartoonish (that would apply to at least 1 song on almost every quartet CD). Any song that has the Bass singer as the lead vocal is “hokey”. Has their every been a mainstreem song besides “Elvira” (released 27 years ago)that has this? Nope. And there is good reason for it.

    My Name is Lazurus. Come on. 7 key changes? Yeah, you hear that all the time in modern radio. LOL. IMO any song with more than 1 key change, 2 max is “hokey”.

    This is all just my opinion. That and $4.00 will buy you a cup of Starbucks.

  82. Kyle wrote:

    Well, John, if I were to name the two producers I spoke to, you might take your words back. Both are Dove award winners, and both are in very high demand. We’re not talking about the ones Nick Bruno warns us about….

    I love Signature Sound’s first two table projects. Very clean, crisp, and tight. So what if it it’s minimal production? Garry Jones knows how to arrange songs so that they sound great regardless (he did it for years with Gold City’s “Crystal Records” budget line).

    If you can’t tell the difference, who cares?? My point was, just because you have money doesn’t mean you’ll have a hit. It’s all about who you have working BEHIND THE SCENES to make it sound good. These mid-range, regional groups who spend a fortune on a project that comes out mediocre does more damage to the genre than a top-tier group releasing a budget project. At least the top-tier group (hopefully) has enough talent to still produce a decent project.

  83. quartet-man wrote:

    #81 No doubt there is hokey usic out there, but to dismiss all quartet music is sacrilege I tell you. ;) As far as bass vocals, you forget Dream On by the Oaks for one. If you are only referring to a few lines like Elvira there were quite a few.

    Surely you would have nice things to say about the Cathedrals, Gold City, Gaither Vocal Band and Oak Ridge Boys. Yes, I know that quartet singing is seen as old time music and that in these days you don’t hear a lot on mainstream radio, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good or that it is akin to Barbershop music (which is quite different.)

  84. quartet-man wrote:

    Kyle, I could guess that the initials of the two you are talking about would be in the following: MS,WW,DP,GJ, EC. Am I right? :)

  85. apathetic wrote:

    #83, there are a few quartet tunes out there that I like (those in the Gaither vain, especially with Russ Taff), but my first comment wasn’t about what I like, it was about what I think limits the genre or keeps it from expanding/growing in sales. More about it’s commercial viability. There are many positive secular country songs out there that mention faith and even the name of God. There is no reason that a modern sounding (arrangement/instrumentation/vocal style) SG tune couldn’t cross over to mainstream country radio. What keeps this from happening? Hokey arrangements, instrumentation, vocal stylings.

    Take a look at CCM music. Mercy Me’s I Can Only Imagine crossed over to secular pop and easy listening stations! They didn’t even have to change their lyrics. The song talks about seeing Jesus face to face. It doesn’t say, “seeing our creator, face to face” as to become relatable to the hosts of other religions out there. It was a great success for christian music. It is highly unlikely you will see this happen with a SG tune, let alone a tune with a 4 C’s below middle C contrabass on lead vocals. Why??? Because the instrumentation/arrangements/vocal stylings have not kept up with modern music (in most cases).

  86. Madison E. wrote:

    I never like to speak up too much, but I’m gonna have to agree 100% with apathetic. But I’m just a 20 year old kid, what do I know? Another thing that, I feel, is crucial to an amazing sound, is something all of the groups listed by apathetic have….a band. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with the ol’ Instant Replay, just not my cup of tea to hear only “canned” music when I go to see a group “live”.

    On a different note, I was just thinking about something the other day…

    Southern Gospel (the title) acts as an umbrella (ella ella… sorry) to, in my opinion, two main styles of music. The quartet style and then you have more of a country vibe, in which the groups apathetic listed fall under. It’s almost absurd to an extent that the two completely different styles of music are just kind of thrown together. Anyone want to elaborate on this topic?

  87. Kyle wrote:

    Good guesses…..two of those are right.

  88. Leebob wrote:

    #69 “This corner cutting, get by as cheaply as you can mentality is slowly but surely choking the life out of SG.” NOT!!!

    What is choking the life out of SG is that people expect to continue doing things without giving thought to what God may or may not want. You still have to stay within a budget. Groups are having trouble keeping schedules full and placing fannies in seats. So now we say throw more money at it. Throw all the money you want at SG and that doesn’t mean it is going to get listened to more.
    The songs, first and foremost, must honor God before you can expect the return of blessing. Then they must be done as excellent as possible. AND BY ALL MEANS….pray about taking out the TWANG!!!

    $7000 would be a good price for groups starting out with a reputable company as I have done the research recently. $15,000 with a 1000 cd’s at $15.00/piece you haven’t made a dime! talk about choking the life out of SG artists.

  89. burt wrote:

    John….I’m up for the challenge! The Budgetaire’s first single from Belly-Up records comin’ at ya!

  90. apathetic wrote:

    Madison, I agree completely with you. You stated “I’m just a 20 year old kid, what do I know?”, you may just be a 20 year old kid, but you are also a consumer, a concert goer, and a radio listener.

    On the topic of the amount of money spent on a project, you can most definitely get a commercially viable project for under $15,000. Not far under that, but under it none the less. (no product or art included) The latest project by a well known SG artist cost under $15000 and they had the top musicians in Nashville play on it. And no I don’t mean Mike Seivers, Dirk Johnson, Jerry Croon, etc (not that they are bad players, but they aren’t Master Series players). I’m talking Brent Mason, Bryan Sutton, Paul Leim etc. Mainstream Master Series country pickers. It can be done. Now, there were was no Nashville String Machine on it, but refer back to #74 “The average SG listener can’t tell the difference between live strings and a DX7″

  91. john masters wrote:

    LeeBob says “Groups are having trouble keeping schedules full and placing fannies in seats.”

    That is the crux of the situation. If a group can’t put “fannies in seats” or “schedules full” - why in the world make a new cheap charlie record every year? Take a year off from recording, for heaven’s sake, and save up to make something that will sound good enough to provoke a few fannies to flutter into the seats and make the phone ring to book a date!

    $7000? That covers your 1000 cds and a two color graphic design and a tolerable mix. How do you plan to finish the rest? Wow, I am beginning to see why this ole ship is in the shape she’s in!

  92. CLN wrote:

    The Statler Brothers are a great example of low-budget recordings. While most of the artists go into the studio and work out their songs and eat up hours and hours of time recording their album, the Statlers found the right musicians from the start, and worked out all of their arrangements before they even cracked open the studio doors. Marshall Grant, their manager, said that they recorded the quickest and cheapest albums in the business. The result? An album with a string of Top 10 and No. 1 hits.

    A quality Southern Gospel album does not need 30 different musicians to make it good. It needs GOOD SINGING and DECENT SONGS!!! It needs about 5 good Nashville musicians (David Johnson plays 5 or 6 instruments by himself) and vocal arrangements need to be worked out long before the recording process starts.

    Do that, and I seriously doubt you’ll crack above 15K.

  93. jb wrote:

    Wow! I’m so thankful that when God called, yes I said called, our family to sing, he didn’t say we had to have $15,000 recordings and a live band. All he wants is our willingness. God is opening doors and we are walking through with our “canned” music in hand.
    Just got our budget recording this week and it sounds great….Thanks Daywind.

  94. john masters wrote:

    CLN said, “Marshall Grant, their manager, said that they (Statlers) recorded the quickest and cheapest albums in the business.”

    That explains why most folks can’t tell the difference between their real recordings and the Roadhog ones. Statlers, like so MANY SG acts, are an aquired taste!

    And . . . If everyone would pay poor old David Johnson what he’s worth, he wouldn’t have to work so hard. He is worthy of union scale and benefits! So are the other Carolina players. But that is another story.

    I just don’t know why it is so important to so many folks to scrape the bottom of the barrel. Good grief!

  95. Norm Graham wrote:

    Statler Brothers: Maybe they recorded quickly because they practiced constantly in advance of the sessions. But I don’t see how their sessions could be that cheap with the lineup of musicians they used through the years.

    I checked a few of their recordings and the musicians included over the years the cream of the Nashville crop including : Bela Fleck on banjo; Harold Bradley, Ray Edenton and Chip Young on guitar; Bob Moore on bass; Pete Drake on Steel; Hoot Hester on Fiddle; Pig Robbins and Larry Butler on keyboards; Charlie McCoy on Harmonica; Buddy Harmon on drums and a string section of 14 musicians.

  96. Brittni wrote:

    Madison, I agree with the umbrella theory (minus the Rhianna syllable repeats of all words lol). I think there are more than two styles represented under this “umbrella” though. You have the country vibe, which ya’ll fall in to, quartet style, and a progressive style that fits into neither of the other two categories. The question is, does it hurt or help the sub-genres by blanketing them with the name Southern Gospel?

  97. quartet-man wrote:

    Kyle, the first two were my main guesses, but I figured the others were possible too (especially GJ. :)

  98. CLN wrote:

    john masters - “I just don’t know why it is so important to so many folks to scrape the bottom of the barrel. Good grief!”

    Groups are expected by most fans to record a new album usually about every year, despite whether they have the money or not. I’d say that $20K plus is pretty hard to come by when you’re paying over $400 for diesel fuel every time you run out, or pay $600 for every blowout on a bus tire, and then you pick up a love offering from a church that rounds out to about $100 at most. That offering amounts to about 1/500 or less of what some of the respectable secular acts pick up for a normal concert date.

    Some of our top groups are in debt up to their eyeballs. The Crabb Family was in major debt when they retired.

    When it comes to albums, I’m simply talking proper money management here. If the money isn’t there for the SG artist to put out whatever your price range is for a “high quality” album, then the money isn’t there. That’s when you get good mileage and real quality instrumental sounds with the 5 or 6 musicians you can afford, have the songs picked and the arrangements worked out before studio time starts, and make the album as productive and cost-efficient as possible.

    I’m all in favor of top-flight products if they are feasible, but if you don’t have the money for any more than a project worth $10K or less, what do you do? Take another offering? Start a telethon? I doubt either will accomplish much.

  99. Brian wrote:

    I usually do a lot of reading and not a lot of responding. However I feel a need to respond to John Masters. Nothing personal just want to put this out there.
    Most Ministries out there today that do not have Gaither backing, which is most, are having a rough time of it. They are struggling to make payroll, struggling to make the bus payment, really struggling to pay for fuel. Maybe you don’t see it on stage, which is a good thing, but it’s real. They are receiving, today, the same $5.00 bill in the plate that they were 10, 15 years ago. I know what you’re thinking, “awe come on they all have flats”. You would be surprised at who is settling for “love offerings” or maybe a small flat ($500.00) and an offering. Maybe they settled on a flat with a promoter, then when it comes time for the check…”I’m sorry Brother Singer, but I just didn’t make budget. Here is half of what I signed a contract for.” I guess what I am getting at is, where is this big recording money supposed to come from? It isn’t coming from the offering plate, it isn’t coming from the promoters, there are no sponsorships that you see in secular music. You make it seem that those boys (or gals) on the road should get off the money that they have hidden in the bus seat cushions and get a “real” project done. The average full time group doesn’t have 30k or 40k to put into a project, and I might add here that there are no “record deals” in SG.
    So budget project? You betcha. Until the income gets out of the 1980s you will see most doing the best they can for as little as possible.

  100. Jim2 wrote:

    A wealth of riches in the Nashville area this weekend. Greater Vision will be performing at Grace Nazarene in the Opryland area of town and the Perrys will be at College Heights Baptist in Gallatin, just a mile or two from TBN. Both concerts will be at 6:00 pm on Sunday the 13th.
    I’m hoping to make it to see GV and hear Jason one last time

  101. Ben Harris wrote:

    I do a handful of complete projects per year and I can guarantee EVERYONE, I can get a band of 5-6 major label session players, strings by Milton Smith or Jason Webb, vocals and 1000 retail ready CD’s for under $15,000.00, and most of time, a lot under $15,000.00. I can also guarantee that the finished mix will stand with ANY gospel or rock record on the planet, or at least the tracks and mix will. I cannot make singers who can’t sing sound like Celine Deon. Our project that we did last year, and nominated for the best traditional recording of 2007 was far under that figure. It can be done, but now by the less than desirable of our genre who only want to do it down and dirty and take the money and run. My only requirement is give me the time to mix and master properly. No one anywhere or anytime can mix a complete project in one or two days and have it sound worth a flip. It takes me weeks to mix an entire project, and I won’t let it go until it is right.

  102. jb wrote:

    Brian, #99. Very well said.

  103. wackythinker wrote:

    CLN & Brian — I think you’re both absolutely right. Offerings haven’t gotten better over the last 20+ years, and most of the groups are as horribly in debt as the rest of the general population.

    Now, part of the debt problem, IMHO, is because (like the general public) artist-types don’t know how to budget. A few live a little too high-off-the-hog when things are good, then don’t have anything socked away for the slow times. They travel in new busses (sometime multiple busses), take everybody’s families and their brothers on the road, and don’t work smart. They go into the studio (as someone else suggested) spending money for rehearsal time (could have been done at home in the basement or family room).

    Some Christian artists think that, just because pop and country artists write/rehearse in the studio at $250/hr or more, they should do that, too. If Christian artists (CCM, s/g, whatever) were selling as many cd’s as mainstream, it might be ok, but paying studio time for writing and reheasing really doesn’t make sense in our bidness.

  104. quartet-man wrote:

    If anyone doubts Ben Harris #101, he has a lot of exerience in the studio with Ronnie Milsap among others.

  105. Tim Nichols wrote:

    Ben Harris (#101), I’ve been hoping I’d see a comment from you…knew you’d have some good input on the topic! Great post. Looks like Ronnie taught you well…! : )

    After all, “Nobody Likes ‘Bad’ Songs”…

  106. john masters wrote:

    Okay . . . I give.
    Everybody, go make your 15K projects. I will send a request to the Singing News to add an award category. Should it be called the “Benny” the “Brian” or the “Wackythinker” award for best project at half the price of a decent recording?

    Non Profit groups only!

  107. Kyle wrote:

    John, I am not disagreeing with you on the price of projects. If I have to hear one more drum machine or sythesized strings project, I think I’ll puke. My point is that it is possible to make a GOOD project on a budget, but it takes the talent to do so. It is a rarity, but still a possibility.

  108. john masters wrote:

    #107 Kyle
    Thanks for those words. I think the genre was better when it was just too expensive for hundreds of groups to release projects. There was more mistique and an aura of speciality when the booths at NQC were real, bonafide, full-time, national performers. The bar is so low now, that the Wauhobs could be a serious award contender with a new release! The whole flea-market, medicine show mentality has cheapened and severely watered down the appeal. The hall is filled with folks paying money they should have spent on production instead of booth space. But, with thousands of dollars made by the NQC . . . the math is just too appealing, I guess.

    The situation is not far from the bad joke I once heard about a big storm coming through a town that did $15,000 worth of improvements!

    I will bow out gracefully on the subject, and give the naysayers the last work!

  109. Brian wrote:

    John Wrote: “There was more mistique and an aura of speciality when the booths at NQC were real, bonafide, full-time, national performers. The bar is so low now, that the Wauhobs could be a serious award contender with a new release! The whole flea-market, medicine show mentality has cheapened and severely watered down the appeal. The hall is filled with folks paying money they should have spent on production instead of booth space. But, with thousands of dollars made by the NQC . . . the math is just too appealing, I guess.”

    Actually John, on this point, I could not agree more. But to me this is completely different topic. I do think that everybodys brothers, cousins, great niece that sang “Jesus Loves Me” at the age of three or the four guys from Church that someone told them they sound great having a booth and going “full time” hurts the real, bonifide, full time Southern Gospel Artists. There is no question about it because that group goes in before the “real” group for less money and stinks the place up. Then the “real” group does not stand a chance of getting in there because, “the last group we had in here, well they were somewhat of a dissapointment.”
    So don’t bow out so soon, we may agree more than you think. I just don’t think the resolution to any issue is to throw money at it. To call a project less than good just because it didn’t cost a fortune…, well lets agree to listen to it first and ask how much you spent second.

  110. Brian wrote:

    By the way, I have never had an award named after me…kinda cool.

  111. Ben Harris wrote:

    Hey Tim, not sure about “Ronnie teaching me well”. Within those circles I have been accused of creating a monster. I taught Ronnie how to do vocal comps and get the best performance from any number of source vocal tracks. Many blame me for the extra work that created. He did teach me a lot about being very time sensitive and about mixing for clarity. So I guess we both learned in the 14 year process.

  112. Tim Nichols wrote:

    My comment (#105) about you being “taught well by R. M.” was (of course) tongue in cheek! God bless ya, brother!

  113. Buddy Mullins wrote:

    I would just like to say something about Paul Lancaster having spent over twenty years of musical life together I believe I actually have firm ground to stand on. This gentleman is one of the most dedicated persons one could have in a group. He never seeks the spotlight he always feels at home in the support role. Making whoever he sings with sound better than they already are. He should never be made to shoulder the burden of why groups come to an end. As I have been a part of a couple of these ventures one lasting twelve years with five out of the six members staying in tact the whole twelve year run and the other a short year and a half for Paul when God began to move on my heart about taking a position as worship leader at a church both Paul and Channing Eleton prayed with me about this possible move. So if there was a cause to the ending of Everyday Driven that would fall squarely on me. I know it’s fun to speculate why things happen but when statements are made that cut into the character of another person you don’t realize how hurtful it becomes. You can be assured that I know the man Paul Lancaster. He loves his wife and family more than breath and has but one desire and that is to know God deeply and to use his gift to bring maximum glory to God the Father. Of that I know.

  114. marthafines wrote:

    Merry Christmas to all… and to all a good night.

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